If you Find an Ancient Coin, Don’t Tell the Israeli Government

The bastards will steal it from you and you’ll get nothing but a “certificate of appreciation.” Leave the country with the coin, find a Jewish collector you can trust, and sell it at market value privately. Or just keep it in your family if you don’t want the money. Don’t let them take your property for nothing.

From Times of Israel. An 8 year old girl found a machatzis hashekel minted on Har Habayit during Bayit Sheni:

On Wednesday, the coin was handed over to the archaeological unit of the Civil Administration, or COGAT, which overseas Israeli government activities in the West Bank. According to Israeli law, all archaeological finds must be turned over to the government. Hallel received a certificate of appreciation for her find.

Hallel said she was a little sad at first to turn over the coin, but got over it. And as for the feeling of holding something so historic in her hand, she said, “I felt that wow! It was written on it ‘Jerusalem the Holy City.’ That’s really exciting.”


Appoint A King Over Yourselves? Not so Fast!

The Role of Government in Israel: Almost Nothing, or Absolutely Nothing?

“You shall surely place a king upon yourselves, one that Hashem your God has chosen…”

~Deuteronomy 17:15

We are told in this week’s Parasha that we are required to place a king upon ourselves. From here it is assumed that the Torah supports the idea of monarchy. It’s not that simple.

There are two main tanaitic positions regarding this Pasuk. The more familiar one originates from the Tanah Rebbi Yehuda Bar Ilai. He holds that having a monarch is a positive mitzva. If so, what are the monarch’s responsibilities?

According to the Rambam, Hilchos Melachim 4:10, the only areas of jurisdiction he has are defense and courts. Nothing else.

Not education, not welfare, not culture, not price controls, not central banking. In libertarian terminology, we would call this the minarchist position, meaning absolute minimum government.

But there is another position, that of the Yerushalmi Rabanan. Says Midrash Rabba Shoftim:

“Say the Rabanan: Said the Holy One Blessed Be He: In this world you requested kings and kings from Israel rose up and killed you by the sword. Saul killed them at Mount Gilboa…Ahab stopped the rain…and Zedekiah destroyed the Temple.

“When Israel saw what happened to them during the reign of their kings, they all started screaming: We do not want a king from Israel! We want our original King! (Isaiah 33) For God is our Judge and our Legislator. God is our King and our Savior!

“Said the Holy one Blessed Be He to them: By your lives! This I will do!

“As it says (Zechariah 14) ‘And God will be King over all the Earth etc.’”

The Rishonim Abarbanel and Ibn Ezra agree with this second position. Says Ibn Ezra:

“A king is only an option. Only a prophet or the Urim and Tumim may choose one. The people may not elect one themselves.”

So much for democracy.

Abarbanel says explicitly that the minarchist position is incorrect and that the pre-Monarchic regime of the Shoftim was preferable. Essentially, appointing a king was therefore an option, but a mistaken one.

Let’s not forget that this pasuk about a king has been abused by evil people like Rav Shlomo Aviner who defended the expulsion of Jews from their homes on the grounds that the government is like a King and must be obeyed.

The most important thing though is that the machlokes in Halacha on government’s role is between absolute minimum government as per the Rambam (courts and defense only) and no government at all, as per the Ibn Ezra and Abarbanel.

Whichever side you fall on, there is no legitimacy to the government doing anything else whatsoever.

Why I Will Bring the Most Votes to Zehut

There are about 300 of you, Zehut International members, last I checked. (If you’re not one, click here now and you can vote in the December 17 primaries.) There are 3 of us campaigning for your vote for slot #10 on the Zehut Knesset list.

I’ve been in contact with Rav Spitz and David Sidman. They are both great candidates. There really isn’t much we disagree on substantively. So why vote for me?

When I went to the meeting at Zehut headquarters in Tel Aviv for all our Knesset candidates, we introduced ourselves, naturally. Most of us spoke briefly about our qualifications, what we want to do in the Knesset, what we want to accomplish and why, our backgrounds and such.

When we were all finished with our schpiels, Shmuel Sackett got up and said the following (paraphrasing). “I don’t care what your background is or what degrees you have or what your qualifications are. The only thing I want to know is this: How many votes can you bring to Zehut?”

That, of course, is the essential question.

Let’s put this starkly. Besides G-d, Zehut is Israel’s last hope. I firmly believe that. Because I have faith in G-d, I also firmly believe Zehut will succeed, because we have to. At the same time, we have to elect people who will bring the most votes possible to our party in order to succeed. It’s that dialectic between reliance on G-d and hishtadlus, making a real effort and doing our part.

I will bring the most votes to Zehut for two reasons, both of which play off the other. First, I have an insatiable need to tell the truth. I cannot stop myself. No matter how ugly the truth sounds or how crazy it makes me look or how much I know people do not want to hear it initially. I can’t even sugarcoat it in the most superficial way to make it sound better. When I try to dress the truth up and blunt the sharpness of my words to make them sound more pleasant to the political ear, it just doesn’t feel right and it sounds awkward coming off my tongue. I feel like it’s someone else talking when I try.

I can’t even use nice words to convince you to vote for me!

Second, I can’t stand politicians. I just cannot play their game. Go through the actual content of what any of them (except Moshe Feiglin) say, Right or Left, very carefully, and you’ll realize there is no substance to any of it. The same generalities over and over, spoken so you’ll feel nice and gooey and apply whatever beliefs you may have to the extremely loose and imprecise language they use. Whichever empty shell of a man is best at saying nothing but making you feel that your values are somehow contained within the absolute vacuum of nothingness he spouts off, is the man that wins and runs the country.

Benjamin Netanyahu is the absolute best at doing this. He’s Prime Minister, but nobody likes him.

I am the absolute antithesis of this. A vote for me means a vote for dropping an antipolitical bomb right into the heart of the Knesset.

Now, I fully understand that a man like me cannot lead Zehut. I’m too one-dimensional for that job. I should not be permitted on the front lines and will never vie for that position, because I understand it’s not for me. That’s Moshe’s job.

But Zehut needs a man like me to make headlines, to get up in the middle of the Knesset and say straight out with an acid tongue how much I disdain the place and the politicians in it. How everything they do, almost without exception, just makes all of our lives worse, desecrates the Name of God and embarrasses the Jewish People globally. I say what all of us think and feel but don’t want to say out loud because for many it causes despair. Not for me. It gives me hope, and it will rub off on voters.

The very first thing I will do in my inaugural speech as a Knesset Member is paint a big fat target on myself and tell the MKs that I am not a “Chaver Knesset“, meaning Knesset Member or literally “Friend of the Knesset.” Rather, I am an Enemy of Knesset and I am here to stop them from abusing the Jewish People.

I won’t even be addressing other MKs whenever I speak (excluding Zehut MKs of course). I will be talking directly to the Jewish People, the ones producing value in the economy, off whose work politicians live, so we can eat and live and survive. The victims of the political class and bureaucracy who get taxed and regulated and tazered at the Temple Mount for praying to HaKadosh Baruch Hu. The Jewish People who get bombed and killed by Arabs because the politicians are too cowardly to cut a deal with the Arabs to leave our land and finally end the war because it is the war that gives the politicians the perpetual power they love so much.

The politicians that take our children into Gaza and Lebanon to fight and die with no strategic goals whatsoever, using our kids as cannon fodder for their own political power so they can give sickening stump speeches taking advantage of our nationhood screaming Am Yisrael Chai while they have absolutely no plan to actually win anything. It drives me out…of…my…mind.

The solutions are not complicated. You just need to implement them. For example, say a rocket falls on Ashkelon from Gaza and hits a house. Simply pinpoint the exact area the rocket came from, expel the people living there within an X-mile radius, seize all their assets, and offer the property and assets to the victims of the rocket attack to do whatever they want with it. Simple criminal-victim restitution practiced everywhere.

My point is this. I do not believe there is much of a substantive difference between myself and my co-runners, at least not from what I can tell. Perhaps I’m wrong and of course I’ll let Rav Bentzi and David speak for themselves. The difference between us, I believe, is a matter of style.

I am shock value. Am Yisrael is drowning in a swamp of government. We need to get their votes, and in order to do so we need to get their attention. You don’t get a drowning people’s attention by lightly tapping them on the back as they’re sinking. You grab them, pull them, scream, and wake them up before they sink.

Why will my style get the most votes? Because at bottom, everyone who is not a politician or a bureaucrat in Israel, does disdain the Knesset and the government as a whole, just like me. I just have the ability, or perhaps handicap, of being absolutely unable to hide it.

Whenever Israelis speak of the place they roll their eyes at it. They’re embarrassed by it. I remember this from as far back as when I was a kid in sleep-away summer camp. The camp had Israelis come for the summer to introduce kids to Israel and its culture. One of them, I distinctly remember, and this was back in 2000 and he was a left-winger, was talking about the Knesset.

“You come out of that place embarrassed to be Jewish,” he said.

Yes. Israelis do feel this way. It’s a real thing. I will tap into that reality and give the people some release. I’m the one who is telling them that these feelings, these true negative feelings they have towards this place, are good. They’re OK. They’re correct. They can indulge in them. It means they’re normal.

I won’t be leading Zehut. I will be adding hot sauce to the party. Zehut needs its soft-spoken candidates for sure, but it also needs a flavor of righteous anger so that frustrated Israelis can look at Zehut and say, “There’s a party that has just had enough!” Nobody does that better than me.

What will keep my head straight? What ensures that I won’t become a politician myself? Because they’ll have nothing over me, nothing on me, no leverage. I won’t be taking a salary, I’ll drive my own car that I bought with my own money, and I won’t be seeking any special positions, committees, or anything. I don’t want any of that. I just want to talk to the Jewish People and tell them I’m on your side. I’m not taking any of your money. I am fighting for you. Now get up and fight with me.

My Fairy Godmother, Lehavdil

I have a friend from college. His name is Jon. It’s one of those strange relationships where I don’t really interact with him all that much, but when I do it’s very consequential. He helped me through some very difficult times and whenever he’s in Israel we hang out and talk. We’re both type 5’s on the Enneagram, a system I helped introduce him to 12 years ago. I altered the course of his life and he altered the course of mine. I can sense there is a lot more we will be interacting about in the future.

I feel alone most of the time, notwithstanding my amazing wife and family. But here and there someone pops up who, surprisingly, also gets it, and gets me, mostly.

The webmaster at Hyehudi is one of those guys. See his post on Women at the Wall here. Not what you’d expect from a Haredi guy. I don’t know who he is and he wishes to remain anonymous, understandably so. He’s some sort of Haredi libertarian guy. I can’t make it out completely. There’s a lot I disagree with him about but the disagreements are all inconsequential and academic, since they are restricted entirely to the private sphere of our own thought and not public policy which affects the lives of others.

It’s people like him and Jon who help me realize I’m not alone. As I said in a previous post I am mostly a dark side guy. I still need a little bit of light to keep going though, and these people supply that.

There is no ye’ush (despair) in this world at all, because there cannot be if God created it.

Look at his website and subscribe to his newsletter. It’s well worth it, if only to hear thoughts from someone like me who has stayed closer to mesorah and Torah Shebe’al Peh than I have.



The Beautiful Thing About the Bitcoin Split

Bitcoin split into two different currencies today. I don’t really understand why except vaguely something about the software being too overloaded and needing to be either upgraded or split to lighten the transaction burden on the network. Or something like that.

There was something amazing about the bitcoin split that isn’t being reported by anyone. That is, no government was involved in the decision to split the currency into two. There were no squabbles, no politicking, no building coalitions, nobody forcing anything on anybody. The guys who hold up the bitcoin network, they simply came to an amicable decision to split up, and social justice warriors were not even involved.

And what happened to the bitcoin price? Nothing much at all. It was fine. The people who use it are fine. The people who buy it and sell it are fine. Everything is fine.

Whenever I suggest privatizing something – roads, courts, airport security, garbage disposal, the water supply, etc. – I am invariably asked how the private sector could possibly handle X. Well, this is how the private sector would handle a money dispute. Amicably, cleanly, efficiently, and quietly. So we can all live our own lives.

Beyond all the thing things I want to privatize, first and foremost and my utmost priority, is to privatize money creation. Let the government have the shekel if they want. Manage it however they want. Print it, don’t print it, I don’t care. Just let the private sector produce its own money and allow people to use whatever money to pay their taxes at market value.

Why is this my top priority? Because the Israeli government is the source of 99% of all problems in Israel. From the Temple Mount and the government-funded police who beat and tazer defenseless Jews on Tisha B’Av to skyrocketing real estate prices to the war with the Arabs and Oslo, it’s all their fault. All of it.

Government power needs to hacked away and the single greatest power – the source of all the other powers the Israeli government has is the ability to print money that we are all forced to use. The monetary monopoly is the seat of all of its power. Break the State’s monopoly on money, and you have hit the weak spot at the center of the Death Star. You break the State’s biggest power monopoly by far. Once money is privatized, the State can no longer inflate with impunity because the shekel would deteriorate fast. The government in an environment with monetary competitors, must either shrink fast or go bankrupt even faster.

How do you privatize money? Just allow taxes to be paid in any currency at market value, and allow business to create money. Gold, silver, copper, stocks, bonds, dollars, euros, bitcoin, ethereum, whatever. It’s all up to the market whether to accept a currency or not.

How would the private sector handle money creation and money squabbles? The answer: very simply, as we just saw with bitcoin.

Imagine if there was a political effort to split the dollar or shekel into two currencies. Could you imagine the fighting that would be involved? All the worthless news we’d have to read, all the voodoo econometricians babbling about GDP and XYZ and 123 and using words that make us all feel dumb and unqualified to have an opinion?

But bitcoin split into two in a mutually agreed upon divorce by the developers. No violence, no public bickering, no social justice warriors, nobody blabbing on about how the poor or the rich or the middle class would be hurt by the split or the non split or anything. That’s how the private sector would handle money creation and monetary disputes. With peace and quiet.

With private competition against the shekel, inflation would end. People’s savings would increase in value. Real estate prices would plummet. The war with the Arabs would have to be ended for lack of money to keep it going. If you believe that’s a bad thing, you probably have a PhD in macroeconomics, Rachmana Litzlan. (Yes, many PhD economists actually believe war – AKA the mass destruction of goods and services and people – is actually good for the economy. It isn’t.)


Don’t Improve the Israeli Government – Just Shrink It

Originally posted at Times of Israel. Please comment there.

Besides war, political campaigns are perhaps the worst thing man inflicts on man. War brings death. Political campaigns…they bring taxes.

Never in my wildest nightmares did I ever guess I would be running in a political campaign. Then again I never guessed I’d end up in the Golan Heights married to a girl I met in kindergarten in Miami. But here I am, playing politician of all things. I’m running for slot #10 on Moshe Feiglin’s Zehut Knesset list.

Let’s get the obligatory politicking out of the way first. Any Jewish person in the world can vote in Zehut’s primaries for slot #10. All you have to do is sign up to Zehut International by December 1st at the link, and you will be eligible to vote online on December 17th. If you believe in what I’m about to say here, then you should vote for me. If you don’t, then you should sign up anyway and vote for somebody else.

So let’s begin. Why are political campaigns such horrible things? Because essentially, they are nothing but a contest for who can convince the most people of the nicest sounding lies. The winners are invariably the worst of the worst, because they are the absolute best liars in the world. If they weren’t they wouldn’t be on top. As Nobel Laureate Austrian School Economist F.A. Hayek wrote in his book “The Road to Serfdom,” it’s always the worst that get on top.

And here I risk another campaign trope to tell you why Moshe Feiglin’s Zehut is different. It’s different because we’re telling you the truth. How can you know we’re telling you the truth? Because the truth isn’t pretty and it isn’t nice, and no real politician would waste his time trying to get votes by telling the truth.

So here’s the truth. The Israeli government stinks, as all governments do. Nothing it does improves anything. Everything it does hurts someone. Everyone in Israel hates the government for one reason or another. Every interest group in Israel hates every other interest group in Israel because of government power used against one group for the sake of the other.

So here’s where I tell you how I’m going to fix it, right? And that’s why you should vote for me, yes? No. I am not going to “fix” the Israeli government. I am not going to make it any better. I am going to shrink it. I am not going to use government in order to make Israel great again. I am going be a voice in the Knesset to allow the People of Israel to make Israel great themselves by getting government out of the way. I am going to do this by supporting any bill
that shrinks the size or scope of the Israeli government and starves the beast, and by voting against any bill that feeds the beast.

In the following paragraphs I’m going to suggest abolishing entire government ministries, and I’m not even going far enough here. If this frightens you, ask yourself if you trust free Jews to provide these services on the free market in the absence of a government ministry. If you don’t, keep in mind, 80% of us never left Egypt.

Do I have any grand master plans? In a manner of speaking, sure. I have an education plan. Not to devise some magical one-size-fits-all curriculum that happens to reflect my personal values and that will make everyone happy somehow. I don’t have that kind of hubris. My plan is nothing. Literally, my plan is to get rid of the entire education ministry, sell off all of its infrastructure and assets and return all proceeds to taxpayers. Let Jews educate themselves on the free market without any government interference. Return education to the private sector and watch schools compete with one another on the free market, instead of watching Jewish kids locked up in inner city Tel Aviv cages where my wife once served as a teaching intern. Teaching basic literacy at these places is considered a major achievement and can get you a serious award. The bureaucrats at the education ministry will all clap for you. It’s a real thrill, I hear.

Zehut’s official plan is a voucher system, which I support. Why, if I want to get rid of the whole thing? Because vouchers allow a basic level of choice for parents and kids. That does weaken government power just a bit, so I support it. But I’m not going to even try to claim that the voucher system will fix everything. It won’t. Fights over the official State curriculum will still abound, religious and secular will still be at each other’s throats over whether the other deserves voucher coupons, Jews will still argue about what gets to be considered a “school”, and fake “schools” will pop up like mushrooms after the post Simchas Torah rainstorm just to collect a voucher check. These are the problems I foresee with a voucher system, but they’re not as bad as what we have now, so it’s a step forward. The Israeli education system will never be fixed until government education no longer exists.

What about my healthcare plan? Once again, nothing. Get rid of the health ministry and let hospitals and clinics and doctors compete on the free market. And let dying patients try any drug they want, approved or not, at any time. That must sound really controversial, to let dying patients try any drug at all, as if mercy for the terminally ill is a controversial Jewish value. No repeal and replace here. Just repeal. Israelis wonder why there is always a chronic shortage of rooms and doctors at hospitals. When one central government authority controls supply of
doctors and medicine and the movement of resources, there are going to be shortages. People die because of this.

Diplomatic plan? The Israeli government has no interest in ending the conflict, because fighting terror brings votes, and too much peace makes voters restless and puts power in jeopardy. The answer as those familiar with Feiglin and Zehut know, is to pay the Arabs to leave all of Israel voluntarily and with dignity. Zehut’s plan is to have the government pay each Arab family $100,000 to leave. I support that, but I do not believe government is even necessary for this.

Norway for example has a voluntary tax program where people can donate to the government if they believe their tax rates are too low. I want the government to simply allow private Jews to pay Arabs to leave through such a voluntary program and buy Arab property in a concerted worldwide Jewish effort. I believe we could raise much more than the $1,325 the Norwegians raised if we knew the Israeli government acquiesced and did nothing to stop it.

What about an economic plan? I’m an economist, so yes, I have one. First let’s admit that government is the only institution that tries to convince you that the more money it takes away from you, the better off you’ll be. Taxes are spent to “stimulate the economy” right? Sure. The only problem is, a mugger can make the same exact claim when he puts a knife to your throat and takes your wallet. Believe me, he spends the money, too, and it stimulates the economy just fine. Except you’re poorer in the end anyway and you feel violated.

My economic plan is to support any and all tax, spending, and regulatory cuts without exception. That is the only way to shrink government short of a bond and currency collapse when debt gets too high, as happened in Israel in the 1980’s and everyone lost their savings. See below.

The more tariffs, restrictions, and regulations we get rid of, the better. Tax and spending cuts targeted at whatever class and in whatever proportions in whatever department, if it’s a tax or spending and regulatory cut, I support it.

We’ll get to other subjects soon. We have until December after all. But first, here’s the only thing the government should actually do. The Israeli government should be doing nothing except physically protecting the People of Israel and enforcing private property rights. That means fighting to win rather than to prolong the next fight. It means returning Jewish property into Jewish hands, including Gush Katif, the Cave of the Patriarchs, and the Temple Mount.

Zehut will become the ruling party when we stick to these principles and everyone in Israel knows exactly what we stand for. We stand for liberty. For cherut. For the very reason God took us out of Egypt. Anyone remember Pharaoh’s tax rate? It was 20%. Israel’s is 50%.

Just some food for thought

Trading Alert – Calling a Stock Market Crash Between End of August, End of September

I explain why here.

Read that first.

Yesterday I entered the following positions in order to prepare:

4 contracts XBI Sept. 15, 2017 61 PUT, at $0.19 a contract, total cost $76

17 contracts XBI Sept. 15, 2017 62 PUT, at $0.21 a contract, total cost $425

From July 18th, 2015 (today) to the low on August 24th, 2015, XBI fell 33%.

I’m expecting something similar to happen again. My guess is August 27th but it could be any time before October.

If what happened then plays out again, the target low on XBI will be $52.50.

At that price, the 61 PUTs will be worth $8.50. The 62 PUTs will be worth $9.50.

Total risk = $501

Maximum gain on 61 PUT: $3,324

Maximum gain on 62 PUT: $18,801

XBI on August 24th, 2015:

Why Rafi Farber’s Knesset Platform is So Simple

People are asking me my positions on various issues. It’s an understandable question. I’ll answer it briefly here, but I want to emphasize in the post exactly why my personal official Knesset platform is so streamlined and it doesn’t address issue by issue. My platform, to reiterate, is that I will vote against any law that expands government size or power, and for any law that shrinks it. The only exception is if I am personally convinced Israel is under existential and imminent military threat, in which case I will vote to mobilize the army even if government spending is increased as a result.

In terms of positions on specific issues, generally, I agree with much of the Zehut Platform, at least its general direction. For example, I am not a supporter of the government school voucher system per se, but I would vote for it if given the choice between the status quo and school vouchers, because vouchers do limit government power somewhat, and leave it with a little bit less than it has now. So I’m for it, relative to the status quo. Though my goal is to get rid of all government education entirely and to fire every single person in the Education Ministry and repeal the Mandatory Education Law.

So issue by issue, whatever question you may have, I will always come down on the side that I believe is less government power.

Buy why, in a deeper sense, am I restricting my official platform to simply voting against every law that increases power and for any law that decreases it, rather than going issue by issue elucidating details? It goes back to 2012, in a Republican debate in a back-and-forth between Ron Paul and Rick Santorum. Santorum was asked his position on the “No Child Left Behind Act”. This was of course an asinine bill that had the Feds come in and issue these pedantic cookie-cutter exams that did nothing but waste time. Santorum, by his “principles” is against this, which is good, but he voted for it and violated his supposed principles because, in his words “Politics is a team sport.”

In other words, he may have his principles, but when push comes to shove, he has to “play the game”. Here’s the video:

Ron then skewered him, rightfully, by saying this:

Ron continued smashing Santorum beautifully on his voting for Planned Parenthood using the same “politics is a sport” logic. Listen:

Now here’s my point. We can all have specific positions on specific issues, that’s fine. However, if your positions on specific issues do not all flow from the same principle, then you are subject to being abducted into the game of politics and voting for bills you don’t agree with just to get other Knesset Members to vote on bills you want passed. This is what grows government, and I will not play this game.

I will be like Ron Paul, not Rick Santorum. I will not vote for government-funded abortion on the logic that I’m also introducing some stupid government-funded abstinence program. Or, to use the voucher example again, which is on the Zehut Platform, I will not vote for a tax raise just so I can get the school voucher program passed. It’s all a trap, and total nonsense. No deals. If we make deals like this we will never lead the country.

The way laws are passed in the Knesset is that all the menuvalim team up and play the sport and compromise with each other in order to expand the size and scope of the State in some respect, so it never, ever shrinks. I will not violate my principles and vote yes on some spending bill or on any law that restricts liberty just for the sake of having some other politician support me on some other issue. I promise I will not do that. 

So, if you’re a Zehut International member and you are voting in this primary, you should know exactly what I’ll do on every issue, and that’s why I am giving you my principle. If it shrinks government, I vote yes. If it expands government, I vote no. No games, no compromises, no teaming up and violating that principle just to get a different law passed. Zehut must be consistent or we will never lead the country. That means we should never compromise and vote for something we don’t believe in.

If that means voting against the budget even if Zehut is in a coalition, I will vote against the budget. If I’m sanctioned by whoever, then so be it. The way you survive fully human without being eaten alive and becoming a politician is by never giving an inch, just like Ron Paul.

If I win this (in order to vote for me please become a Zehut International member!) I am determined to come out human on the other side, not a politician. If I am to not become a politician, I can never break this principle.

And from this principle, you will know exactly where I stand on every single issue. It’s simply deductive logic. If this is what you want to see, then sign up to Zehut International in order to vote for me.

Rafi Farber for Knesset – If You’re Jewish, You Can Vote

Announcing my campaign for Knesset for seat #10 on Moshe Feiglin’s Zehut Party Knesset list. Before you read anything below, please watch this video.

If you want to see me in the Knesset, then pledge here now please.

Let’s not beat around the bush here. I’m not doing this for money. Not even for a bleepload of money, as Lonestar said in Spaceballs. I won’t be taking a salary or benefits from the State of Israel. Not a shekel. All of my Knesset salary will be donated to the Mises Institute and to the Zehut movement.

I’m doing this, rather, because the Jewish people needs somebody to galvanize the liberty movement in Israel, someone who understands what liberty is and why it is the cornerstone of humanity. Moshe Feiglin, the leader of Zehut, is quite good at that and I don’t want to supplant him, but he needs me to keep him on track philosophically, to keep his eye on the ball so to speak. I was his neighbor for 7 years and he is my investment. We argued constantly about economics on our trips to the Temple Mount in his car. I’ve done my best to keep him on the right path and make sure he does not veer away from liberty. If I’m in the Knesset with him, it will strengthen him.

What will I do as a Knesset Member? Very, very simple. I will vote against every single bill that increases the size or power of the Israeli government. I will vote for every single bill that shrinks the size or power of the Israeli government.

Whenever I am personally unsure if a particular bill will increase or decrease the power of the Israeli government on net, I will confer with Moshe Feiglin because I trust his judgement. It doesn’t mean I will automatically listen to him. I will take his opinion into consideration.

There will only be one single exception to this rule of mine. If I believe the people of Israel are in existential danger from a foreign power, I will vote to mobilize the IDF in self defense. Beyond that, no exceptions.  No coalition discipline will apply to me. I will not yield to any pressure by any interest group under any circumstances. That promise is not directed at you. It is directed at myself.

If this is what you want to see in the Knesset, then support me by pledging at StartSomeGood in order to vote for me when the time comes.

Those with political ambitions, even good ones, try to craft their message to their audience with some kind of intricate step-by-step plan. Formulate what they’re going to do in the Knesset, what bills they’re going to pass, which groups of people they are going to fight for, how they are going to proceed A, B, and C etc. Some of these intricate plans, like Moshe Feiglin’s for example, I even like to some degree. Most of these intricate presentations, however, are not worth much. Why? Because the Knesset does not wait for your step-by-step plan. Spending bills and new laws restricting our lives and milking us for all we’re worth are passed all the time and no intricate, step-by-step political plan can stop it unless you have absolute power. None of us do.

I could go into excruciating detail about what I want to see happen, from privatization of money, all the way down to minimum wage (abolish it). But you don’t have the time and we don’t need to weave fantasies here. Let’s get real.

That’s why my promise is so extremely simple. Any law that increases the power or size of the Israeli government I will vote against. Any law that shrinks it I will vote for.

I will represent no particular group of people, no pooled interest, because that would mean I will be the enemy of a different group of people. I will represent no one in particular. I will simply be fighting for everyone whose lives will benefit from more liberty. In other words, everybody, whether they realize it or not.

This is what I promise, and this is what I will do. If ever I get any more power or influence somehow, I will continue that promise from higher positions, if that’s what God has in store for me.

Now, the choice is yours. Pledge here and help me win.


My Father’s Dvar Torah on my new daughter’s name

This is my father’s sermon on the name of my new daughter, Serach Cherut Farber. Literally “Extra Freedom Farber”. I will add my own insights after this post. The literal translation “Extra” has no special significance. The name is based on a biblical character, see below. But “Extra” may be appropriate here since she is, thank God, our 4th בלי עין הרע and my father’s 14th grandchild.

Beth Torah Benny Rok Campus

June, 2017 – Rabbi Ed Farber – The arrival of Serach Cherut

As you are all aware Laurie and I just returned from a three week trip to Israel which was scheduled for the beginning of June so we would be there for the birth of our 14thgrandchild – the 4th child of our youngest son Rafi and his wife Natasha . Although the timing was off – our daughter-in-law was 8 days late  – everything went just fine. She ended up giving birth at a different hospital than planned but with the socialized medicine in Israel it really doesn’t matter. You don’t know which Dr. is going to be there when you give birth anyway so not much of a difference.

A week later we were able to celebrate the baby naming ceremony in their synagogue in Katzrin – which is in the Golan – and it was a wonderful and warm group of people and they put out a beautiful Kiddush afterwards. A few days later we were on a plane back home to Miami and after driven back and forth from Zichron Yaakov  near Haifa -where our eldest and his family lives  to Katzrin on the Golan – helping with the planning of our granddaughter’s wedding as she thinks I might know a thing or two about planning weddings especially on the beach – and giving special attention to each of the other 9 grandchildren there – we came home feeling very blessed and very tired. And by the way – they say that dry heat is not as bad as the humid heat we have in Miami – it’s a myth – don’t believe it – at least you realize it’s warm here – there it dries you up so quickly that if you aren’t drinking every few minutes you find yourself ready to plotz. Yes we might sweat more here – but we plotz a lot less!

The fact that there were already 13 other grandchildren on the Farber side and on the mother’s side very few people needing to be names meant that all the bases had been covered. Everyone who needed a name to be perpetuated had already been taken care of – some of them multiple times.  So Rafi and Natasha found themselves as free agents in choosing a name. The name they chose – while being a biblical name – is not that well known. As someone who has been a Torah reader on and off over the years I heard of the name. But quite frankly I had no idea of any particular significance to the name – There is no story behind the name as it appears in a genealogy list in the book of Genesis and again later in the book of numbers with no explanation – no story behind the name.

But as is often the case the story is hidden in the sense that it is untold but if one is sensitive to the text – one realizes there is some kind of story behind this name. Rafi and Natasha had dug deep to find the story and that story so intrigued them that they ended up choosing that as the name of their fourth child and third daughter.  It is that story which her father taught to the congregation at Serach baby naming that I want to share with you today because of its deep meaning and the lesson it teaches.  Let’s start with the first appearance of the name Serach. It is as I said in a genealogy list in the book of Genesis. The list is important as it contains the names of all those who went down to Egypt from Canaan with our ancestor Jacob.

Remember the circumstances behind Jacob’s decent to Egypt. Famine had seized the land of Canaan as well as many surrounding lands and Jacob’s sons had gone down to Egypt to buy food. That is when they encounter the brother they had sold into slavery – Joseph. After some fascinating twists and turns the brothers reconcile and they return to Canaan to bring the entire family down to Egypt where they could live and avoid starvation. Little did they or Joseph know it would turn into slavery. In this list of those who went down to Egypt we find the following: “Ahser’s sons: Imnah, Ishvah, Ishvi, and Beriah and their sister Serach.”

Ok – sounds pretty straight forward. But when you look at the rest of the list you realize that it doesn’t mention the birth of daughters – just sons – except here – it bothers to tell us that the daughter of Asher also went down. She is referred to as the sister of Asher’s sons. In other words the appearance of her name in the first place is unusual and the way it is mentioned is also unusual. That in biblical literature terms is a red flag that says – dirshuni – check this out.  So we look and ask if her name appears elsewhere and what might we learn. Well it does in the book of Numbers. What are the circumstances – it’s another genealogy list. This one lists those who entered the land of Israel. Well – do the math. If she is in the list of those who went down to Egypt and those who entered the land of Israel you have at least four generations! That means she lived for hundreds of year which before the flood might have not been unusual but after the flood 120 is supposed to be the maximum.

It also means that in addition to the very famous twosome – Joshua and Caleb – who didn’t die in the desert – we also have Serach. The Rabbis noticed these very strange seeming contradictions and concluded that since she is the only woman mentioned in these genealogies the Torah must have been trying to hint at something important. That’s where the Rabbi’s imagination and creativity takes over and through the midrash they fill in the ‘blanks’ of Serach’s life. Since we actually know nothing about Serach’s life from the Torah other than that she apparently lived a very long time the Rabbis were free to create pretty much any narrative they chose. In one Midrash we are told that Serach – Jacob’s granddaughter -was asked by the brothers to play music that would calm Jacob while telling him that Joseph was alive in Egypt and he would be able to go see him.

The brothers had two fears – one was that the dramatic news of Joseph being alive after so many years could cause the elderly Jacob to have a heart attack. Another reason was that the brothers feared their father’s wrath when he realized they had lied to him about Joseph’s demise. Serach succeeded according to the midrash at her task. Another midrash says that it was Serach who told Moses where to find Joseph’s bones allowing Moses to fulfill the promise made to Joseph to take his bones to Canaan when the Israelites would finally leave Egypt. She was alive when Joseph died and still alive when they people left Egypt so she had firsthand knowledge of where he had been buried.

The Rabbis did not mean for us to take these stories literally. They were using the mysterious mentions of Serach in the Torah to teach some very important lessons. One is very basic. Sisters would never have done to Joseph what his brothers had done – sell him into slavery – and a granddaughter has a special ability to calm an aggrieved grandfather – something the sons could never have done. On a more global level however Serach really represents all Jews. According to the Torah’s subtle mention of her as having gone down to Egypt and also having left Egypt she becomes every Jew. Every Jew needs to remember what it was to have lost one’s freedom and be enslaved by Egypt. Every Jew needs to remember what it meant to finally leave Egypt and enter the land of Israel. And every Jew needs to remember his/her commitments to the past and bring it with them to the future as Serach did with Joseph’s bones.

Isn’t that what the holiday of Pesach and the seder experience is meant to convey. “Every Jew is obligated to see him/her self as having gone out of Egypt.” Serach experienced exactly what all future Jews would need to experience to understand the Jewish journey from slavery to freedom to independence on our own land. To forget that experience is to forget what it means to be a Jew. And Serach doesn’t just experience the history of the Jewish people’s formation – slavery to freedom – Serach is active in that history. She is a peacemaker within the family by successfully preventing a fall out between Jacob and his sons after learning about Joseph being alive in Egypt. She moves Jewish history forward by telling Moses of the whereabouts of Joseph’s bones making sure that the past is not forgotten or left behind. The Rabbi’s wanted all of us to be Serach – to feel what Serach felt and to experience those key moments in Jewish history.

We are also told that Serach is like Elijah in that she never died. How could the Rabbis say that? Like Elijah there is no recording of her death in the Bible. She therefore comes to represent the eternity of the jewish people. As long as jews remember and internalize the experiences of slavery to freedom – as long as Jews seek to heal the family as Serach did – then we are like Elijah and Serach – an eternal people.  Our Serach will be known mainly as Serri – the preferred nickname for Serach in Israel. She has a middle name as well. That name is Cherut which means freedom. Serach went from freedom to slavery to freedom. Only in freedom could she stand at Mt. Sinai and accept the Torah.

That is the lesson of Jewish history – in fact it is the lesson of all of human history. Without freedom there is no possibility of moving history forward –without freedom there are no ten commandments – without freedom there is no human dignity.  Our little granddaughter – the 9th girl of the fourteen grandchildren – bears a name that is filled with history, meaning and hope. That is not just what every Jew needs – it is what every human being needs if humanity is to continue its move from slavery to freedom – a movement that began over 3000 years ago and is still incomplete. Only people with the awareness and experience of the Biblical Serach can achieve and hold on to freedom. All this –  the Rabbis learned from the mysterious mention of a daughter and sister named Serach who lived Jewish history and in her quiet way helped move it forward. May her life experience reflect the beautiful name she has been given and may she always know freedom and the sense of Jewish history that her namesake represented.

Shabbat shalom.