Monday, February 26, 2007


Zechariah - Chapter 12

1. The prophecy of the word of the Lord concerning Israel: Says the Lord, Who stretches out the heavens and founds the earth and forms the spirit of man within him:
The prophecy of the word of the Lord This is the completion of the word that he began to speak about the retribution of those who devour Israel - Esau and his ilk.

2. Behold! I am making Jerusalem a cup of weakness for all the peoples around, and also on Judah, [that he] shall be in the siege against Jerusalem.
a cup of weakness a vessel of weakness, as in (Exod. 12:22), “in the blood that is in the cup.”
weakness an expression of bewilderment, [it means] the clogging of the heart and the limbs, for, like man enwrapped in a garment, they have no strength, as in (Nahum 2:4), “And the cypress trees were enwrapped” ; and (Isa. 3:19) “And the bracelets and the veils.” In the language of the Mishnah (Shabbath 6:6) we find, “Arabian women may go out veiled.” It is involopiment in O. F.
and also on Judah the nations that will be in siege against Jerusalem will impose upon Judah, for the house of David will be inside and the gentiles will besiege them. And also, the children of Judah will come, against their will, to besiege Jerusalem. So did Jonathan render it.

3. And it shall come to pass on that day that I will make Jerusalem a stone of burden for all peoples; all who bear it shall be gashed, and all the nations of the earth shall gather about it.
a stone of burden A stone of burden placed upon men by order of the ruler, to carry it and to load it on their shoulders. It is very heavy, to the extent that all who bear it become gashed.

4. On that day, says the Lord, I will smite every horse with bewilderment, and its rider with madness. And upon the house of Judah I will open My eyes, and all the horses of the peoples I will smite with blindness.
I will smite every horse of those gathered there with bewilderment and blindness, and their riders with madness (Shem Ephraim). But upon the [members of the] house of Judah, who are among those gathered against their will, I will open My eyes to protect them from this plague.

5. And the princes of Judah shall say to themselves, "The inhabitants of Jerusalem were my strength through the Lord of Hosts, their God."
And the princes of Judah shall say to themselves when they see that the others who were gathered are plagued with this plague, and they are saved.
The inhabitants of Jerusalem were my strength, etc. The inhabitants of Jerusalem, who know that we came upon them against our will, strengthened my help with their prayer by the Lord, their God.

6. On that day I will make the princes of Judah as a fiery stove among wood, and as a brand of fire among sheaves. And they shall consume on the right and on the left all the nations round about, and Jerusalem shall still stay in its place in Jerusalem.
I will make the princes of Judah They will return and wage war with those who brought them there.
as a fiery stove Like a great bonfire. The word כִּיוֹר is an expression of כִּירָה, a stove. So did Menahem (Machbereth, p. 109) classify it.
in its place lit. under it.

7. And the Lord shall first save the tents of Judah, so that the boasting of the house of David and the boasting of the inhabitants of Jerusalem shall not increase over Judah.
And the Lord shall first save the tents of Judah Before the inhabitants of Jerusalem come out of the city, they shall have a salvation - to return to their tents and to their homes - and afterwards the salvation shall come to the inhabitants of the city. That is the salvation concerning which it is stated (14:3): “And the Lord shall go forth and wage war.”
so that the boasting of, etc., shall not increase to boast over them and to say, “ You were saved only because of us.”

8. On that day the Lord shall protect the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and the weakest of them shall be, on that day, like David. And the house of David shall be like angels, like the angel of the Lord before them.
and the weakest among them Heb. הַנִּכְשָׁל
like angels Jonathan renders: like great ones, like angels.
like the angel of the Lord before them They will prosper like the angel of the Lord before them.

9. And it shall come to pass on that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come upon Jerusalem.
I will seek to destroy I will seek their destruction, and I will be exact in judging their iniquity. And our Sages (Avodah Zarah 4a) explained this verse as concerning merit. I will search in the books of their deeds; if they have merit, I will spare them; otherwise, I will destroy them.

10. And I will pour out upon the house of David and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplications. And they shall look to me because of those who have been thrust through [with swords], and they shall mourn over it as one mourns over an only son and shall be in bitterness, therefore, as one is embittered over a firstborn son.
a spirit of grace and supplications That it should come into their mind to supplicate Me, and they will be in My good graces.
a spirit Talant in Old French, a desire.
they shall look to Me because of those who have been thrust through Jonathan renders: And they shall supplicate Me because of their wanderings. And they shall look to Me to complain about those of them whom the nations thrust through and slew during their exile.
and they shall mourn over it Over that slaughter.
as one mourns over an only son As a man mourns over his only son. And our Sages expounded this in tractate Sukkah (52a) as referring to the Messiah, son of Joseph, who was slain.

11. On that day there shall be great mourning in Jerusalem, like the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the Valley of Megiddon.
like the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the Valley of Megiddon Hadadrimmon has no connection to the Valley of Megiddon. These are, rather, two cases of mourning. [The first is] like the mourning of Ahab the son of Omri, who was slain by Hadadrimmon the son of Tabrimmon in Ramoth Gilead, as it is stated (I Kings 22:36): “A cry passed through the camp.” That is the mourning [of Ahab. The second case is] like the mourning of Josiah the son of Amon, who was slain by Pharoah the lame in the Valley of Megiddon, as it is stated (II Chron. 35:25): “And Jeremiah lamented for Josiah, and all the singing men and singing women spoke in their laments, etc.”

12. And the land shall mourn, every family apart: The family of the house of David apart, and their wives apart; the family of the house of Nathan apart, and their wives apart.
the house of Nathan the prophet. Some say that it refers to Nathan the son of David, as it is said (II Sam. 5:14): “Shammua and Shobab, and Nathan and Solomon.”

13. The family of the house of Levi apart, and their wives apart; the family of the Shimeites apart, and their wives apart.
the house of Levi The priests and the Levites.
the family of the Shimeites Shammua the son of David. Scripture first makes a generality about the house of David, and then it specifies each one.

14. All the remaining families-every family apart, and their wives apart.
All the remaining families of the house of David.
and their wives apart because of decency. Now why were the families of the priesthood and the kingdom [mentioned]? In order to restore their crowns to them, as it is stated in the beginning of the Book (4:14): “These are the two anointed ones who stand before the Lord of all the earth.”


Congressman: Bush 'doesn't give a damn'
Republican blames White House for failed appeal by Ramos, Compean

Posted: February 24, 2007
1:00 a.m. Eastern

By Jerome R. Corsi
© 2007

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif.
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., denounced President Bush for his refusal to intervene in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals decision to deny the bond requests of imprisoned former Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, pending their appeal.

Rohrabacher, in a statement, spared no words in laying the blame on the White House for not freeing Ramos and Compean on bond:

"Acquiescing to the insistence of the White House, the court has decided to treat Ramos and Compean worse than they would common criminals, which is consistent with the way the Bush administration has handled these two border agents from the beginning," Rohrabacher said. "To suggest that this underscores President Bush's mean-spirited and vindictive nature is an understatement."

Rohrabacher said the "lives of Ramos and Compean are obviously at risk, and the president not only doesn't care about securing our southern border, he doesn't give a damn about those who protect it."

Ramos and Compean entered federal prison last month to begin sentences of 11 and 12 years respectively for their actions in the shooting and wounding of a drug smuggler who was given immunity to testify against them.

A spokesman for Rohrabacher's office told WND the White House "was afraid of a public relations disaster," explaining why the White House refused to back-channel support for releasing the two imprisoned Border Patrol agents pending their appeal.

"The visual of Ramos and Compean free and able to talk to the media is a nightmare for the White House," Tara Setmayer told WND.

An emotional Monica Ramos, the wife of Ignacio Ramos, told WND she and her family and friends "had been so hopeful that Nacho would be home soon."

She expressed hope the appeal of the court decision would be successful or a new trial might yet be ordered.

"I have three small children to raise, now without a husband. I have to be brave and trust in God that my husband will be home soon and that my husband will be safe and protected away from us," she said.


Vets on the Street

Hundreds of U.S. soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are ending up homeless. How could this happen?

A homeless veteran lies on a bed at New Directions, a private nonprofit residential and substance-abuse program for homeless veterans in Los Angeles
Charles Ommanney / Getty Images for Newsweek
A homeless veteran lies on a bed at New Directions, a private nonprofit residential and substance-abuse program for homeless veterans in Los Angeles


By Sarah Childress
Updated: 1:41 p.m. CT Feb 24, 2007

Feb. 24, 2007 - Kevin Felty came back from Iraq in 2003 with nowhere to stay, and not enough money to rent an apartment. He and his wife of four years moved in with his sister in Florida, but the couple quickly overstayed their welcome. Jobless and wrestling with what he later learned was posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Felty suddenly found himself scrambling to find a place for himself and his wife, who was six-months pregnant. They found their way to a shelter for homeless veterans, which supported his wife during her pregnancy and helped Felty get counseling and find a job. A year later, he's finally thinking his future. "I don't want to say this is exactly where I want to be—it's really not," he says. "But it's what I can get at the moment."

Story continues below ↓

Young, alienated and often living on their own for the first time, Iraq and Afghanistan veterans increasingly are coming home to find that they don't have one. Already, nearly 200,000 veterans—many from the Vietnam War—sleep on the streets every night, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. But young warriors just back from the Mideast—estimated around 500 to 1,000—are beginning to struggle with homelessness too. Drinking or using drugs to cope with PTSD, they can lose their job and the support of family and friends, and start a downward spiral to the streets. Their tough military mentality can make them less likely to seek help. Advocates say it can take five to eight years for a veteran to exhaust their financial resources and housing options, so they expect the number to rise exponentially in a few years. "Rather than wait for the tsunami, we should be doing something now," says Cheryl Beversdorf, president of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans.

The problem is mainly a lack of resources, advocates say. There are only about 15,000 beds available in VA-funded shelters or hospitals nationwide, and nearly every one is taken. In some smaller cities there simply aren't many places for a homeless veteran to go. And as affordable housing units shrink nationwide, veterans living on a disability check of, say, $700 a month, (which means a 50-percent disability rating from the VA), are hard-pressed to find a place to live. Most shelters require veterans to participate in a rehabilitation program, but a "fair amount" of veterans just go back to the streets once they leave, says Ed Quill, director of external affairs at Volunteers of America, the nonprofit housing group for veterans that helped Felty.

 Two homeless vets share their stories in the dorm at New Directions in L.A.
Charles Ommanney / Getty Images for Newsweek
Two homeless vets share their stories in the dorm at New Directions in L.A.

The VA says it's making a concerted effort to reach out to vets before they hit bottom, says Pete Dougherty, the VA's coordinator for homeless programs. Intake counselors are trained to ask questions, especially of newer veterans, to seek out mental health or other problems that could lead to homelessness. "We're much more sensitive than we were 40 years ago for signs of problems," he says. And they have expanded some services. Last week, the VA approved $24 million to boost aid for the homeless, which will allow them to add about 1,000 more beds and increase the number of grants to help the growing population of homeless women veterans and those with mental illnesses.

Much of the work with new veterans is being done one soldier at a time. At New Directions in Los Angeles, a center that rehabilitates homeless veterans, Anthony Belcher, a formerly homeless Vietnam vet who now works at the center, looks out for one particular Iraq veteran who shows up at the center about once a month, filthy, drugged out and tortured by PTSD. "He's a baby," Belcher says. "You can see it in his eyes." So far, the young vet is too wary to accept more than a night's bed or a hot meal. But as Belcher says, at least he has a place to go. That's more than many of the thousands of vets on America’s streets can say tonight.

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