"Where does it say that you have a contract with G-d to have an easy life?"

the Lubavitcher Rebbe

"Failure is not the enemy of success; it is its prerequisite."

Rabbi Nosson Scherman

27 Aug 2014

Chodesh Elul

YeranenYaakov pointed to me to a LifeinIsrael post about it being Aaron Sofer's birthday today and that his mother requested "that people please say perek bet of tehillim and in the zechut of a safe return for Aaron ben Chulda."

This morning I received an email from the Hakhel Email Community Awareness Bulletin which began with the following sentence.

1.  Rebbi Yisroel Salanter was known to say that “Truly the entire year you should feel like it is Elul--but in least in Elul you should feel like it is Elul!”

I also received the following quote in an email today.

More then the yetzer hara wants you to sin he wants you to be sad that you sinned. This will prevent you from doing more mitzvos; his true aim. (Tanya)

Montgomery County Police have issued an arrest warrant for a former employee of Benny’s Bar and Grill in Potomac, who is suspected of phoning death threats to the restaurant’s owner.
...The anonymous caller “made several threats to harm the owner and made anti-Semitic remarks,” the police report continued. “The suspect also told him to take his Israeli flag down from the restaurant.” http://washingtonjewishweek.com/15145/warrant-issued-for-suspected-death-threat-phone-caller/

26 Aug 2014

Gratitude and a good eye

Sara Debbie Gutfreund writes about Elul: The Secret to Change.

Rav Noah Weinberg ztz”l used to ask a simple yet fascinating question: If you put an envelope full of a million dollars in a homeless person’s cart, but he doesn’t  realize that it’s there: Is he rich or poor? If you have thousands of gifts in your life  that you are too distracted or depressed to see, do you really have those gifts  at all? Technically, the homeless person with the million dollar envelope
is rich. And you do still have thousands of gifts in your life even if you don’t  notice them. But if you don’t look inside the envelope, you can’t use what you have. And this may be where we can begin. It is perhaps the greatest secret to change: gratitude.

Ledavid Hashem

Hamodia writes about Giving Back.

A Jewish couple, taking a walk Monday night in the upper east side of Manhattan, were attacked by a group of people who made anti-Jewish statements, Police said.
Read more: http://jpupdates.com/2014/08/26/manhattan-nypd-jewish-couple-taking-a-walk-attacked-in-bias-incident/

Caught: Hamas Reports Terrorist’s Death as a Civilian Casualty

As we begin reciting LeDavid Hashem Ori, Tehillim Perek 27, from tomorrow though Yom Kippur, it is interesting to read the third last verse which specifically mentions חָמָס .

יב. אַל תִּתְּנֵנִי בְּנֶפֶשׁ צָרָי כִּי קָמוּ בִי עֵדֵי שֶׁקֶר וִיפֵחַ חָמָס:

24 Aug 2014

Guards at our hotspots

We read Parshas Shoftim in the beginning of Elul because the first step to Tshuva is to put guards at our hotspots. "Shoftim V'Shotrim Tetein Lecha B'Chol She'arecha"; place judges and policemen at all your gates. These gates allude to the gates of your body; your eyes, ears, mouth, etc., says the Bnei Yisaschar. The gemara says the eyes see and the heart desires. This is the mechanics of Aveira. We need to watch both what goes into our mouth and what comes out of it. Once we have honest judges guarding these flashpoints from evil we are on the road to tshuvah.

If we do stumble we must have a mechanism for punishing ourselves whether it is in the form of promising to give money to tzedoka or withholding something that we enjoy for every time we slip. This effective idea was popular among the Talmidim of Rav Moshe Kordevero says the Bnei Yisaschar.

Rabbi Levi Garelik speaks about Mashiach and this week's parsha over here.

Muddying the waters

Jodi Rudoren Muddies the Waters Regarding a Hamas Port

Advertisement removed after resident expresses offense

AN old Jewish joke goes like this: “What’s the definition of a Jewish telegram? ‘Start worrying. Details to follow.’ ”
Continue reading Deborah Lipstadt's article Why Jews are Worried.

Seth Frantzman writes Why It’s So Easy for Liberal Jews to Judge Israel.


TruthRevolt asks Why Did Forbes Delete Pro-Israel Opinion Piece?

On Tuesday last week, Yasmina Haifi, an official at the National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism in the Netherlands, tweeted: "ISIS has nothing to do with Islam. It is a preconceived plan of Zionists who want to deliberately make Islam look bad."
Read more: http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/4641/isis-zionist-plot#

TSA Admits Lying About Illegal Aliens Flying Without Proper ID

I was in Israel a while back when I overheard someone who had come for a short visit to the country making a negative comment about Israeli taxi drivers to an Israeli woman. She became incensed and chastised the man, "Can you make a postive comment about Israelis?"
She firther reprimanded him, "It's easy for you to come from your country and criticize us, but I am in the front line and I sacrifice my kids when they join the army and fight to maintain the country so that you can come here when you want or have a place to escape to, if need be, if the situation in your country becomes intolerable."

I was reminded of the conversation when I came across an article in the New York Times in which the author speaks about the end of liberal Zionism and criticizes Israeli racists, Israeli actions and ideologies. I wish the author would spend some time with the Israeli woman who would state her case. If the author comes to Israel, lives under the constant threat of rocket attacks and sends his children to the army, then he could have the option of writing an email to the Prime Minister to express his views. But, in the safety of the diaspora, I believe the man should keep his opinions to himself.

22 Aug 2014

Performing mitzvos

Chazal tell us (Kidushin 39b), "Schar Mitzva B'Hai Alma Leka", there is no reward for Mitzvos in this world, only in the next.  The pasuk by Tzedaka (Re'eh 15:10) seems to contradict this as it says נָתוֹן תִּתֵּן לוֹ, וְלֹא-יֵרַע לְבָבְךָ בְּתִתְּךָ לוֹ כִּי בִּגְלַל הַדָּבָר הַזֶּה, יְבָרֶכְךָ יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ, בְּכָל-מַעֲשֶׂךָ.  If we give Tzedaka Hashem will give a bracha to all our work.  Is there reward in this world or not?

The Ksav Sofer answers that for the mitzva itself there is no reward in this world.  However for the Simcha, the joy with which you do the Mitzva, there is a reward in this world.  If we look carefully at the pasuk we see that the pasuk clearly says this. נָתוֹן תִּתֵּן לוֹ, give tzedaka.  וְלֹא-יֵרַע לְבָבְךָ בְּתִתְּךָ לוֹ, there should be no ill will in your heart when you give it, only joy in doing Hashem's mitzva. כִּי בִּגְלַל הַדָּבָר הַזֶּה, יְבָרֶכְךָ יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ, בְּכָל-מַעֲשֶׂךָ, because of this aspect of the mitzva , the simcha you had, you will be rewarded in this world. 

Hamodia has an editorial titled More Ammunition is Needed.

Many of us spend much time closely following, discussing, and analyzing current developments in Eretz Yisrael. It would be highly beneficial to take some of that precious time and dedicate it to doing something practical on their behalf. Every moment of learning Torah, every perek Tehillim that is recited, and every mitzvah that is performed, arouses great zechuyos and provides desperately needed ammunition in Shamayim.
Our brethren in Eretz Yisrael are relying on us. We dare not turn them down.

A catchall sentiment

FreeBeacon reports, "Eleven lawmakers backed by liberal advocacy group J Street either voted against or refused to vote in favor of increased funding for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system, which has been a critical life-saver during Hamas’s latest assault on the Jewish state."
Read more: http://freebeacon.com/national-security/j-street-endorsees-in-congress-refuse-to-support-iron-dome-funding-for-israel/

Miami: Muslim funded by US government and hailed by Jewish leaders says US “contaminated by Jews”
See more at: http://pamelageller.com/2014/08/miami-muslim-funded-us-government-hailed-jewish-leaders-says-us-contaminated-jews.html/#sthash.p3Ip3ivB.dpuf

Kenan Malik writes about Muslims and Jews being targets of bigotry in Europe.

At the same time, the emergence of “anti-politics,” the growing contempt for mainstream politics and politicians noticeable throughout Europe, has laid the groundwork for a melding of radicalism and bigotry. Many perceive a world out of control and driven by malign forces; conspiracy theories, once confined to the fringes of politics, have become mainstream.

Anti-Semitism has become a catchall sentiment for many different groups of angry people. The distinction between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism has eroded, as many see Israeli action in terms of grand conspiracies.
Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/22/opinion/kenan-malik-muslims-and-jews-are-targets-of-bigotry-in-europe.html?_r=0

21 Aug 2014

The wedding feast donation

A Georgetown University professor whose father pled guilty to terrorism charges is facing criticism for comparing Israel to the terror group Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL or ISIS) on Twitter. Continue reading: http://freebeacon.com/national-security/k-i-l-l-i-n-g/

KikarHashabat has an interesting article about Maran HaGaon HaRav Aaron Yehuda Leib Shteinman Shlita and his opinion about the resumption of fighting in Gaza. The Rav said that we are witnessing great miracles and that we should strengthen ourselves in our observance of speech and keeping the holy Shabbos.

Tonight (Thursday) the wedding of Major Benaya Sarel, Hy"d, and Gali Nir was to take place. But the couple will never stand together under the chupa (wedding canopy), as Sarel was killed in Rafah just a couple weeks back, while fighting in Gaza. Family and friends of the soldier decided to make the tragedy count for something by taking the wedding feast and donating it to a Jerusalem soup kitchen.
Read more: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/Flash.aspx/302233#.U_YhAJVO7IU

YidwithLid writes about fighting terrorism.

In the video below, an eerie scene takes place when Robin Williams in The Angriest Man in Brooklyn discusses what his character's tombstone will read.

"And my tombstone will say ... 1951 - 2014." - Those are the exact dates of Robin William's year of birth and year of death.
As for the tombstone, doesn't look like the actor will have one.

Spilling out into the open

An article titled New York Times Fixes Embarrassing Obama Golf Headline injected some humor into my day while an article in the JPost injected a dose of reality.

French Jewish leader Joel Mergui is extremely concerned that people expressing anti-Semitism in France are no longer ashamed or frightened to do so in public.

Speaking while on a solidarity trip to Israel, Mergui said on Wednesday that declarations and comments heard in France against the background of Israel’s military operation in Gaza had previously been uttered only in secret, but that hate speech against Jews in France has now spilled out into the open.