Archive for June, 2008

Russia Prepares for War at the North Pole

June 30, 2008

Russian Flag

This headline appeared last week in several German newspapers.

In 2007, the Russian expedition “Arktika”, made the first descent to the ocean bottom below the North Pole, and planted a titanium flag of Russia in the seabed.

In the past submarines traveled below the Arctic ice cap, but in 2007 man reached the seabed below the North Pole for the first time. The Mir-1 and a second Mir-2 submarine faced the challenge of diving 13,980 feet (4,261 meters) deep, and then having to resurface at the exact location where they’ve submerged, because they were not strong enough to penetrate the ice themselves. The nuclear ice-breaker vessel “Rossiya” kept the ice open for the research ship and the submarines.

The expedition ship “Akademik Fyodorov” carried over 100 scientists to the North Pole. “Apart from the purely scientific goal of a comprehensive study of the climate and seabed at the North Pole, this expedition may help Russia to enlarge its territory by more than one million square kilometers,” said Russia’s Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute. The mini-submarine Mir-1 successfully reached the Arctic seabed. “Our mission is to remind the whole world that Russia is a great polar and research power,” said expedition leader and deputy speaker of the Russian parliament Artur Chilingarov, Russia’s presidential envoy to the Arctic under President Vladimir Putin.

Russia claims that the sea-bottom at the North pole is connected to the Russian mainland, saying that a continental shelf called the “Lomonosov Ridge runs from Siberia on the Arctic seabed to the North Pole. As such, it would be an extension of Russian territory. This can be true, knowing that before the ice age all land was connected as super-continent (Pangea).

The United States and Canada scoffed at the Russian submarine expedition that planted a Russian flag on the seabed under the North Pole. Coming home to a hero’s welcome, the famous polar scientist led the risky voyage did not mince words in responding:

“I don’t give a damn what all these foreign politicians there are saying about this,” Artur Chilingarov told a throng of well-wishers. “If someone doesn’t like this, let them go down themselves … and then try to put something there. Russia must win. Russia has what it takes to win. The Arctic has always been Russian.”

“This isn’t the 15th century. You can’t go around and just plant flags and say; ‘We’re claiming this territory’”, said Peter MacKay, Foreign Minister of Canada.

The claimed territory could contain undiscovered natural resources such as oil and gas. Russia’s military has begun to arm themselves for possible war plans in the Arctic. This has been aided by the fact that arctic warming has become so dramatic, scientists report that the last ice on the North Pole may melt this summer.

Russia’s bold and sometimes confrontational positions have brought it increasingly at odds with the West. – Is Russia preparing for an ice-cold war at the North Pole?

Good Night Irene and Thank You

June 25, 2008

Irena Sendler

In the fall of 1999, Mr. Conard, a school teacher, encouraged students to work on a year-long National History Day project under the classroom motto, “He who changes one person, changes the world entire”.

Four girls accepted the challenge. Mr. Conard showed them a short clipping from a March 1994 issue of News and World Report, which said, ‘Irena Sendler saved 2,500 children from the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942-43’. He told the girls the article might be a typographical error, since he had not heard of this woman or story. The four young students from Kansas began their research, and discovered a Catholic woman, who saved Jewish children.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OVw1PANUcdg

Irena Sendler – a white-haired, gentle and courageous woman – passed away on Monday May 12th, 2008. Who was she?

Her story almost went unnoticed – an unfamiliar name to most people – but this remarkable woman defied the Nazis and saved 2,500 Jewish children by smuggling them out of the Warsaw Ghetto. Irena Sendler was born in 1910 in Otwock, a town some 15 miles southeast of Warsaw. She was greatly influenced by her father, a doctor, whose patients were mostly poor Jews.

In 1939, Germany invaded Poland, and the brutality of the Nazis accelerated with murder, violence and terror. At the time, Irena was a Senior Administrator in the Warsaw Social Welfare Department, which operated the canteens in every district of the city. Previously, the canteens provided meals, financial aid, and other services for orphans, the elderly, the poor and the destitute. Now, through Irena, the canteens also provided clothing, medicine and money for the Jews. Irena and her helpers made over 3,000 false documents to help Jewish families and registered them under fictitious Christian names. To prevent inspections, the Jewish families were reported as being afflicted with such highly infectious diseases as typhus and tuberculosis, something the Nazis feared would spread beyond the ghetto. As an employee of the Social Welfare Department, she had a special permit to enter the Warsaw Ghetto, to check for signs of typhus.

Helping Jews was very risky — in German-occupied Poland, all household members were punished by death if a hidden Jew was found in their house. This punishment was more severe than those applied in other occupied European countries.

In 1942, the Nazis herded hundreds of thousands of Jews into a 16-block area that came to be known as the Warsaw Ghetto. The Ghetto was sealed and the Jewish families ended up behind its walls, only to await certain death. Irena Sendler was so appalled by the conditions that she joined Zegota, the Council for Aid to Jews, organized by the Polish underground resistance movement, as one of its first recruits and directed the efforts to rescue Jewish children (under her cover name Jolanta).

To be able to enter the Ghetto legally, Irena managed to be issued a pass from Warsaw’s Epidemic Control Department and she visited the Ghetto daily, reestablished contacts and brought food, medicines and clothing. But because 5,000 people were dying a month from starvation and disease in the Ghetto, she decided to help the Jewish children to get out. For Irena Sendler, a young mother herself, persuading parents to part with their children was in itself a horrendous task. Finding families willing to shelter the children, and thereby willing to risk their life if the Nazis ever found out, was also not easy.

During her visits, she wore a star armband as a sign of her solidarity to Jews, and began smuggling children out in an ambulance. She recruited at least one person from each of the ten centers of the Social Welfare Department. With their help, she issued hundreds of false documents with forged signatures. Irena Sendler successfully smuggled almost 2,500 Jewish children to safety and gave them temporary new identities.

Under the pretext of conducting inspections of sanitary conditions during a typhoid outbreak, the children were given false identities and placed in homes, orphanages and convents. Some children were taken out in gunnysacks or body bags. Some were buried inside loads of goods. A mechanic took a baby out in his toolbox. Some kids were carried out in potato sacks, others were placed in coffins, and some were disguised as packages. She also used the old courthouse of the edge of the Warsaw Ghetto (still standing) as one of the main routes of smuggling children out. The children were placed with Polish families, the Warsaw orphanage of the Sisters of the Family of Mary, or Catholic convents at Turkowice and Chotomów. Some were smuggled to priests in parish rectories where they could be further hidden. They entered a Catholic church in the Ghetto which had two entrances. One entrance opened into the Ghetto, the other opened into the Aryan side of Warsaw. They entered the church as Jews and exited as Christians. Irena had a remarkable record of cooperation when placing the youngsters: “No one ever refused to take a child from me,” she said.

“Can you guarantee they will live?'” Irena later recalled the distraught parents asking. But she could only guarantee they would die if they stayed. “In my dreams,” she said, “I still hear the cries when they left their parents.”

Irena Sendler carefully noted, in coded form, the children’s original names and their new identities. She kept the only record of their true identities in jars buried beneath an apple tree in a neighbor’s back yard, across the street from German barracks, hoping she could someday dig up the jars, locate the children and inform them of their past. – In all, the jars contained the names of 2,500 children …

She hid lists of their names in jars, in order to keep track of their original and new identities. Żegota assured the children that, when the war was over, they must be returned to Jewish relatives.

In 1943, Sendler was arrested by the Gestapo, severely tortured, and sentenced to death. Żegota saved her by bribing German guards on the way to her execution. She was left in the woods, unconscious and with broken arms and legs. She was listed on public bulletin boards as among those executed. But the Nazis became aware of Irena’s activities, and on October 20, 1943 she was arrested, imprisoned and tortured by the Gestapo, who broke her feet and legs. She ended up in the Pawiak Prison, but no one could break her spirit. Though she was the only one who knew the names and addresses of the families sheltering the Jewish children, she withstood the torture that crippled her for life refusing to betray either her associates or any of the Jewish children in hiding. Sentenced to death, Irena was saved at the last minute when Zegota members bribed one of the Gestapo agents to halt the execution. She escaped from prison but for the rest of the war she was pursued by the Nazis.. However, almost all the children’s parents had died at the Treblinka extermination camp.

After the war she dug up the jars and used the notes to track down the 2,500 children she placed with adoptive families and to reunite them with relatives scattered across Europe

But most lost their families during the Holocaust in Nazi death camps. The children had known her only by her code name Jolanta.

But years later, after she was honored for her wartime work, her picture appeared in a newspaper. “A man, a painter, telephoned me,” said Sendler, “`I remember your face,’ he said. `It was you who took me out of the ghetto.’ I had many calls like that!”

Irena Sendler did not think of herself as a hero. She claimed no credit for her actions. “I could have done more,” she said. “This regret will follow me to my death.”

The www.irenasendler.org web site tells more about Irena’s life (under home page and additional information). The Life in a Jar students who brought her story to worldwide attention, continue to share her legacy and the play (Life in a Jar) to people all over the world.   

Truce or Hudna?

June 20, 2008

HamasThursday morning I read that at 6 am, when the sun was barely peeking over the horizon, Israel and Hamas entered into another uneasy truce.
 
The ceasefire is supposed to be absolute, binding both the IDF and all terrorist groups in Gaza. If the truce lasts after several days, Israel agreed to reopen the Karni and Sufa goods crossings, allowing large quantities of food, fuel, building materials and other goods into the strip, in order to facilitate its economy.  Once the Karni and Sufa crossings open – and prior to the reopening of the Rafah crossing – the negotiations to release kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit are to be accelerated.
 

Amos Gilad, Head of the Defense Ministry’s Security-Diplomatic Bureau, said yesterday that “unless Gilad Shalit is released, the Rafah crossing will not be reopened” and; “I think the ceasefire is the only way we can hope to be able to facilitate Shalit’s release.”

 

To a Western audience, the word “truce” suggests a Hamas commitment to a peaceful resolution. In Arabic such a truce is referred to as “hudna.”

 

Hudna (هدنة) is an arabic term coming from a verbal root meaning “calm”. It is sometimes translated as “cease-fire“. In the Lisan al-Arab (Ibn al-Manzur’s definitive dictionary of classical Arabic, dating to the 14th century) it is defined as follows:  hadana: he grew quiet. hadina: he quieted (transitive or intransitive). haadana: he made peace with. The noun from each of these is hudna.”

 

Shu’ada hudna?” (What is a hudna?) Sayed Ahmed Youssef, adviser to Palestinian Hamas PM Haniyeh, explained the meaning of “hudna” to us ignorant foreigners in the August pages of 2006 in the New York Times: “A truce is referred to in Arabic as a ‘hudna.’ Typically covering 10 years, a hudna is recognized in Islamic jurisprudence as a legitimate and binding contract.” – Americans should thank the New York Times for this bit of enlightenment. As we know, the US lacks Arab speakers, and this maybe the reason why the media nearly everywhere translates the term into English as “truce”.

Will a hudna with Hamas really mark a “major breakthrough” toward a nonviolent future?

 

The answer lies in the historical meaning of the Muslim expression, Hamas’ track record, and the terms of the road map itself. Hudna has a distinct meaning to Islamic fundamentalists, well-versed in their history.

 

It began with Islam’s most revered founder, Muhammad. He declared a 10-year “hudna” with the Quraysh tribe that controlled Mecca in the 7th century. Two years into the hudna, Muhammad had acquired enough troops and arms to abrogate the hudna and conquer Mecca, the holiest city in Islam – decimating the Quraysh in the process.

 

This became known as the “Quraysh Model,” which defines the meaning of a hudna. When you are militarily at a disadvantage, declare a “hudna” until you are militarily strong enough to discard it and win the war. This is a Muslim tactic that has been used over and over again throughout history with devastating success. According to Umdat as-Salik, a medieval summary of Shafi’i jurisprudence, hudnas with a non-Muslim enemy should be limited to 10 years: “if Muslims are weak, a truce may be made for ten years if necessary, for the Prophet made a truce with the Quraysh for that long, as is related by Abu Dawud” (‘Umdat as-Salik, o9.16).

 

The “Quraysh-hudna” tactic is something that fits perfectly into the plans of terrorists who have already sworn they will never make a permanent peace with Israel.

 

Once Palestinians have a state, they can bring all manner of weapons and trained militants into the heart of Israel. Israel will be forced into indefensible borders and have only one ultimate military option – nuclear weapons.

 

The “hudna” that Muslims make with non-Muslims can never be more than temporary, and is entered into only because the Muslim side feels it is too weak to conduct open warfare, and would benefit from a respite from open hostilities. If the hudna is undertaken in order to give the Muslims time to gather their strength, then the Muslim side is then not merely allowed, but required, whenever it feels strong enough, to re-engage in open hostilities.

 

The idea of a permanent peace between Israel and Palestine is a “pipe dream.” It is a self-deception for those who ignore the history of the Quraysh-Hudna Muslim tactic. To the followers of the Quran, this is just a tactical interlude in a long-term strategy for the ultimate annihilation of the state of Israel and the return of what they view as sacred Muslim soil to its rightful owner – Allah.

 

In the case of land previously conquered by Muslims, now under the control of “infidels,” there is no time limit for the obligation of true Muslims to take it back for Allah. It never means a permanent peace. It is only a tactical interlude in which Muslims rearm for a successful jihad.

 

Hamas has proven time and again their commitment to a tactical hudna

replenishing their strength during the quiet periods, then returning with increased deadliness. – As documented by The Washington Institute, Hamas agreed to no less than ten ceasefires in the past ten years, and after every single one returned freshly armed for terror. Hundreds of Israeli citizens have paid for these hudnas with their lives.

 

So beware of the limited cease-fire, called “hudna!”

The Footsteps of the Moshiach

June 11, 2008

Footprints

One of the signs of our times is increasing crime everywhere. In America this has been a problem for quite some time, but today it is also happening in Israel where common forms of crime include drug trafficking, money laundering, burglary, extortion, murder for hire, fraud, car theft, human trafficking, corruption, and black marketeering. – Cocaine and heroin abuse is increasing in Israel, with drugs arriving from Lebanon and Jordan.

We read in Israeli news reports about teens accused of raping their younger sisters, and a 64-year-old man stabbing his doctor during the examination in the emergency room. A 10-year-old boy extorted fellow students at an elementary school. The same boy also admitted to stealing computers from the school. A 21-year-old murdered his father, and a mentally disabled woman was gang-raped. The list goes on….

Many of our sages expected the coming of the Moshiach to be preceded by a period of tribulation. They predicted the time of tribulation and coming of the Moshiach at the end of the time of exile to be accompanied by a “wicked generation”. (Mishnah)

The Rabbis spoke of the footsteps (or footprints) of the Moshiach (Ikvot Ha’Mashiach). We find an ancient reference to this in the Mishnah, which reads: “With the footprints of the Moshiach presumption shall increase and earth reach its height… the wisdom of the Scribes shall become insipid and they that shun sin shall be deemed contemptible, and truth shall nowhere be found. Children shall shame the elders, and the elders shall rise up before the children, for ‘the son dishonors the father, the daughter rises up against her mother, the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law: a man’s enemies are the men of his own house.’ The face of this generation is as the face of a dog…” (Mishnah Sotah 9:15, citing Micah 7:6).

 

Rabbi Jannai said: “If you see one generation after another cursing and blaspheming, look out for the coming of the Moshiach, as it says, ‘Your enemies, Adonai, have flung their taunts, flung them in the footsteps of your anointed one.’” (Midrash on Song of Songs 2:13, citing Ps 89:52)

 

The Rabbis derive this expression “the footsteps of the Moshiach” from the sufferings of David described in Psalm 89.

Today we live in a world constantly threatened by shootings, mothers killing their own infants, parents killing their children, children killing parents, inhuman behavior is becoming the norm, and we have run amuck having no restraints.

Why? Without law and real accountability, there is only lawlessness. The more tolerance today the less morals we have. There is a relationship between the two, no standard and anything goes. – In Israel’s apostasy at the end of the Book of Judges reads just as our society today, “everyone did what was right in their own eyes.” (Judges 21:25) People commit suicide because they have no hope. Euthanasia is becoming an accepted alternative. Light is called darkness and darkness is light.

We live in a time unlike any other; terrorism, hate crimes, and behavior without restraints.  Lawlessness is increasingly becoming the norm of society. Sex scandals of presidents have no affect on their popularity, people don’t care; they are not in a position to point fingers for that would make them guilty as well.

Our leaders have become arrogant. Those who fear sin are despised and truth is missing. The young shame the old, and the old have become weak. The son rebels against his father and the daughter against the mother, both without shame. A wicked and adulterous generation, corrupt before G-D, and filled with violence.

If our sages are right, we can already see the footprints of the Moshiach today. – Psalm 89 begins with words of praise for G-D’s goodness and covenant faithfulness. It recounts the promises made to King David, and the covenant which God had established with him, then the Psalmist laments in what seems like G-D’s lack of remembrance of his covenant promises. But finally, in the closing verse of the Psalm, the Psalmist’s tone changes once again, when he proclaims, “Blessed be the L-RD forever! Amen and Amen” – Hashem is the only one we can trust, because He said: My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips.” (Psalm 89:34)

Temple Mount ‘100% Islamic’

June 3, 2008

Temple Mount

FROM WND’S JERUSALEM BUREAU

Temple Mount ‘100% Islamic’

‘Warning: ‘Any action that offends holy site will be answered by 1.5 billion Muslims’

Posted: June 01, 20083:40 pm Eastern

By Aaron Klein© 2008 WorldNetDaily

JERUSALEM – Jerusalem and the Temple Mount belong to the Muslims and any Israeli action that “offends” the Mount will be answered by 1.5 billion Muslims, declared the chief of staff for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. “Jerusalem is Muslim. The blessed Al Aqsa mosque and Harem Al Sharif (Temple Mount) is 100 percent Muslim. The Israelis are playing with fire when they threaten Al Aqsa with digging that is taking place,” said Abbas’ chief of staff Rafiq Al Husseini.

The Temple Mount is Judaism’s holiest site. Husseini was referring to Israeli plans to construct a new bridge from the Western Wall area to the Temple Mount. The old bridge was damaged two years ago. When Israeli workers tried to repair it, Palestinian leaders claimed the work was threatening the Al Aqsa Mosque, even though the mosque is located hundreds of feet away, the work did not tunnel under any Mount foundation or touch any structure connected to the mosque, and the repair work – which had been pre-approved by Jordan and the Mount’s Muslim custodians – was conducted under the scrutiny of an accessible 24/7 webcam. “Any hurting of Jerusalem will explode the whole negotiations between us and the Israelis … we must work to strengthen Palestinian ties to Jerusalem,” al-Husseini said.

Israel has been negotiating with Abbas in line with talks started at last November’s U.S.-backed Annapolis Summit, which seeks to create a Palestinian state before the end of the year. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is widely expected to offer the Palestinians most of the West Bank and eastern sections of Jerusalem.

The Temple Mount is located in eastern Jerusalem. Mainstream Palestinian leaders claim the Temple Mount is Muslim in spite of overwhelming archaeological evidence documenting the first and second Jewish temples.

In a WND exclusive interview last year, Taysir Tamimi, chief Palestinian Justice and one of the most influential Muslim leaders in Israel, argued the Jewish Temples never existed, the Western Wall really was a tying post for Muhammad’s horse, the Al Aqsa Mosque was built by angels, and Abraham, Moses and Jesus were prophets for Islam.

Tamimi is considered the second most important Palestinian cleric after Muhammad Hussein, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. “Israel started since 1967 making archeological digs to show Jewish signs to prove the relationship between Judaism and the city and they found nothing. There is no Jewish connection to Israel before the Jews invaded in the 1880s,” said Tamimi.

“About these so-called two Temples, they never existed, certainly not at the [Temple Mount],” Tamimi said during a sit-down interview in his eastern Jerusalem office. The Palestinian cleric denied the validity of dozens of digs verified by experts worldwide revealing Jewish artifacts from the First and Second Temples throughout Jerusalem, including on the Temple Mount itself; excavations revealing Jewish homes and a synagogue in a site in Jerusalem called the City of David; or even the recent discovery of a Second Temple Jewish city in the vicinity of Jerusalem.

Tamimi said descriptions of the Jewish Temples in the Hebrew Tanach, in the Talmud and in Byzantine and Roman writings from the Temple periods were forged, and that the Torah was falsified to claim biblical patriarchs and matriarchs were Jewish when indeed they were prophets for Islam.

“All this is not real. We don’t believe in all your versions. Your Torah was falsified. The text as given to the Muslim prophet Moses never mentions Jerusalem. Maybe Jerusalem was mentioned in the rest of the Torah, which was falsified by the Jews,” said Tamimi. He said Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and Jesus were “prophets for the Israelites sent by Allah as to usher in Islam.”

Asked about the Western Wall, Tamimi said the structure was a tying post for Muhammad’s horse and that it is part of the Al Aqsa Mosque, even though the Wall predates the mosque by over 1,000 years. “The Western wall is the western wall of the Al Aqsa Mosque. It’s where Prophet Muhammad tied his animal which took him from Mecca to Jerusalem to receive the revelations of Allah.”

The Kotel, or Western Wall, is an outer retaining wall of the Temple Mount that survived the destruction of the Second Temple and still stands today in Jerusalem.

Tamimi went on to claim to WND the Al Aqsa Mosque , which has sprung multiple leaks and has had to be repainted several times, was built by angels. “Al Aqsa was build by the angels forty years after the building of Al-Haram in Mecca. This we have no doubt is true,” he said.

The First Temple was built by King Solomon in the 10th century B.C. It was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. The Second Temple was rebuilt in 515 B.C. after Jerusalem was freed from Babylonian captivity. That temple was destroyed by the Roman Empire in A.D. 70. Each temple stood for a period of about four centuries. The Temple was the center of religious worship for ancient Israelites. It housed the Holy of Holies, which contained the Ark of the Covenant and was said to be the area upon which God’s presence dwelt. All biblical holidays centered on worship at the Temple. The Temples served as the primary location for the offering of sacrifices and was the main gathering place for Israelites.

According to the Talmud, the world was created from the foundation stone of the Temple Mount. It’s believed to be the biblical Mount Moriah, the location where Abraham fulfilled God’s test to see if he would be willing to sacrifice his son Isaac. The Temple Mount has remained a focal point for Jewish services for thousands of years. Prayers for a return to Jerusalem and the rebuilding of the Temple have been uttered by Jews since the Second Temple was destroyed, according to Jewish tradition.

The Al Aqsa Mosque was constructed in about 709 to serve as a shrine near another shrine, the Dome of the Rock, which was built by an Islamic caliph. Al Aqsa was meant to mark what Muslims came to believe was the place at which Muhammad, the founder of Islam, ascended to heaven to receive revelations from Allah.

Jerusalem is not mentioned in the Quran. It is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible 656 times. Muslims worldwide pray with their backs away from the Temple Mount and toward Mecca. Islamic tradition states Muhammad took a journey in a single night on a horse from “a sacred mosque” – believed to be in Mecca in southern Saudi Arabia – to “the farthest mosque” and from a rock there ascended to heaven. The farthest mosque became associated with Jerusalem about 120 years ago.

According to research by Israeli Author Shmuel Berkovits, Islam historically disregarded Jerusalem. Berkovits points out in his new book, “How dreadful is this place!” that Muhammad was said to loathe Jerusalem and what it stood for. He wrote Muhammad made a point of eliminating pagan sites of worship, and sanctifying only one place – the Kaaba in Mecca – to signify the unity of God.

As late as the 14th century, Islamic scholar Taqi al-Din Ibn Taymiyya, whose writings influenced the Wahhabi movement in Arabia, ruled that sacred Islamic sites are to be found only in the Arabian Peninsula, and that “in Jerusalem, there is not a place one calls sacred, and the same holds true for the tombs of Hebron.”

It wasn’t until the late nineteenth century – incidentally when Jews started immigrating to Palestine – that some Muslim scholars began claiming Muhammad tied his horse to the Western Wall and associated Muhammad’s purported night journey with the Temple Mount.

   

The G-D of Glory Thunders

June 3, 2008

Giving of Torah

We are about to celebrate the holiday of Shavuot, the time of the giving and the acceptance of the Torah. This acceptance at Mount Sinai gave us Jewish people our identity as a Torah nation.

Having encamped before Mount Sinai over 3000 years ago, the Israelites were told that from this mountain they would receive the commandments of G-d, and that they would hear His very voice. They were commanded to give three days to preparation for that solemnity, for on the third day G-D would come down on the mountain in sight of all the people. Moses set a boundary up to which they might go, and they were prohibited under penalty of death from even touching the mountain. On the third day the mountain was enveloped in a cloud; it quaked and was filled with smoke as G-D descended upon it, while lightning-flashes shot forth, and the roar of thunder mingled with the long blast of the shofar. Then Moses appeared upon it and promulgated the Ten Commandments, after which G-D instructed him in His Laws. The entire nation of Israel was in mortal fear over the smoking mountain and the blasts of the shofar that accompanied the sight.

We are told that at Mount Sinai, a sound from heaven, like that of a ram’s horn, increased in volume so that it was inescapably loud, like the sound of a violent rushing wind. The sound filled their entire beings and vibrated through their bodies.

You shall be holy men unto me (Exodus 22:31) — Thunder and lightning began early on the third day. Then the powerful sound of the shofar came from the sky, louder and louder until the very air rang with it. By then the mountain writhed in smoke and fire. This visual display would have made Fourth of July fireworks seem like a child’s sparkler. Exodus 19:18 tells us that the L-rd descended in fire on the mountain, but other Jewish sources provide additional imagery. As the people watched with intensifying terror, Moses went up to God, who spoke to him. They could hear his voice, though it is unlikely they could understand the words. Perhaps he spoke in a language they could not understand, or perhaps their comprehension was overwhelmed by the awesome presence, the true and terrible dimensions of “G-d with us.”

Can you imagine hearing the voice of the Creator speaking — there was thunder, lightning, noisy ram’s horns and the mountain smoking! High atop Mt. Sinai, G-D revealed the moral, civil, and ceremonial laws. Mount Sinai was then enveloped in a cloud for six days, while on its summit, fire, the emblem of G-D, was seen burning. On the seventh day Moses was commanded by Hashem to ascend the mountain to receive the tables of the Law; he remained there forty days and nights (Ex.24:9-10,16-18). An ancient manuscript, called a targum, found in a library in Egypt, states the following: “The first commandment, when it left the mouth of the Holy One; …as meteors and lightning and as torches of fire: a fiery torch to its right and a fiery torch to its left, which burst forth and flew in the air of the heavenly expanse; it proceeded to circle around the camp of Israel.”

The Song of Moses refers to the solemn promulgation of the Law on Mount Sinai (Deut.33:2); so does the Song of Deborah (Judges 5), which declares that the “earth trembled,” the “heavens dropped, the clouds also dropped water,” and the “mountains melted” (comp. Ps. 18:9,17).

These accounts are similar to the biblical accounts in Exodus and of King David: “The voice of the Lord divides the flames of fire. The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness” (Ps.29:7-8)

God’s “special effects” at Sinai grabbed the attention of the children of Israel and etched the giving of the Law into the collective memory of the Jewish people.”