President Donald Trump and his administration have long been on a path to diminish Palestinian declarations of statehood. The Trump administration recognized the Golan Heights as part of Israel, and in a historic move relocated the American embassy to Yerushalayim. David Friedman, US Ambassador to Israel, is recognized for engaging the White House on such a transference, and must be commended for his painstaking efforts since assuming his position.

The recent comments by freshman Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib during a podcast have been discussed thoroughly in the Jewish, and non-Jewish, community. Tlaib, who spun an ahistorical lie that the surviving Jews of the Holocaust were welcomed with open arms by her Palestinian ancestors, has her defenders in the Democratic Party. The nefarious aspect of the defense tactics is not claiming that she is right; rather, they attack the criticizers themselves. By doing this, their goal is to silence their opponents, and this silence has a history all its own.

Not only one has risen against us to annihilate us, but in every generation they rise against us to annihilate us.” These words, recited during the most emotional point of the Pesach Seder, still ring true, despite the incredible freedoms American Jews enjoy. Six months after the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, last week another shooting occurred at the Chabad in Poway, California. A few days earlier, The New York Times published a cartoon of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu depicted as a big-nosed dog with a Jewish star necklace leading a yarmulke-wearing, blind President Trump. Anti-Semitism rears its ugly head in many forms, and American Jews must be knowledgeable of who our enemies are and where they come from if we are to continue to survive.

In our previous article, we began exploring the question of why Hashem created the world. The Maharal, Ramchal, and other key Jewish thinkers explain as follows: Hashem is absolute and ultimate goodness. However, there are two aspects of goodness. Hashem is good, but He also has the ability to do good unto others. Before Hashem created the world, there was only Hashem Himself. Therefore, Hashem was internally good, but He was not actively expressing this goodness by giving or doing good unto others. Hashem chose to express His capacity for doing good unto others by creating man, upon whom Hashem would bestow the ultimate goodness.

Thanks to the efforts of Rabbi Pesach Lerner, chairman of Eretz Hakodesh, the Orthodox Charedei party in Israel’s National institutions, the status quo at the Kosel Hamaarovi did not become the subject of a resolution by the board of governors of the JAFI-Jewish Agency for Israel, a powerful and influential international organization.

Rabbi Lerner, who is a member of the JAFI board of governors representing the Eretz Hakodesh party, was in Israel for the JAFI’s three days of board of governors meetings.

He attended a meeting, Tuesday, July 12, of 250 members of the executive board and the board of JAFI. The meeting was originally scheduled to express their indignation and anger after an incident that took place on June 30 at the Ezras Yisroel area at the Kosel set aside for mixed prayer. A small group of religious Jewish teens disturbed three “bnei mitzvot” ceremonies being held there.

The response from the Reform, Conservative and other liberal movements was fast and fierce, painting the Orthodox community with a broad brush and calling for wide-ranging changes to be made to the prayer setup at the Kosel, asking for the Israeli government to implement the Kotel Compromise Agreement that is currently on hold.

At the gathering, the Jewish Agency board members expressed their desire, in response to the June 30 incident, to pass a resolution implementing those changes.

Rabbi Lerner, speaking on behalf of Eretz Hakodesh, standing as an individual against a group of many, was adamant that the Kosel’s status quo must remain, and that, while he condemned any and all violent confrontations, no changes can be made to compromise the kedusha of the Kosel

Thanks to Rabbi Lerner’s strong position, the resolution to implement the Kosel Agreement was shelved. The Jewish Agency resolution that remained condemned the June 30 incident and called for a completely halt to all violence.

“The presence of Eretz Hakodesh enables us to have a voice,” Rabbi Lerner observed after the meeting. “It is so vital that we be able to have a seat at the table, so to speak, to ensure that the chareidi viewpoint is heard and that the arrangements currently in place at mekomos hakedoshim remain”

Rabbi Lerner, who took the lead, was aided by others who assisted in making sure that the original anti-kedushas haKosel resolution never made it to the full board of governors. The Kosel agreement would give non-Orthodox streams official representation in the management of the Kosel and grant official status to the mixed section. 

“This was historic,” said one of the Orthodox members of the board of governors. “The Orthodox voice had never been heard before at the JAFI. Kudos to Rabbi Lerner and EretzHakodesh for taking the lead.”