"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

20 Dec 2014

Issues of religion and culture

The parents of a high school student in Farmville, North Carolina, are seeking answers regarding a Common Core-aligned vocabulary assignment given to their child that they claim is essentially Islamic propaganda.
Read more: http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/12/19/mom-says-she-uncovered-very-shocking-content-when-she-decided-to-look-over-her-childs-vocabulary-lesson/

‘First pure olive oil produced in 2000 years’ says Temple Institute

Being Britain’s nicest man isn’t always a breeze. For a start, you’re up against the nation’s ingrained cynicism: after all, who gives anyone something for nothing these days?

Well, actually, Luke Cameron does. He does a good deed every day. He’s on a mission to make our hearts soar, to dispel gloom, dispense joy and make the world a lovelier, more generous-spirited place.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2881318/Why-people-cruel-kindest-man-Britain-Everyday-year-Luke-s-good-deed-strangers-reward-Gratitude-yes-suspicion-mockery-abuse.html#ixzz3MSdEaus2 

Yesterday I linked to an article titled Muslims & Jews Unite vs. Abercrombie & Fitch.

In the United States, Jews and Muslims have a great deal in common. The most obvious being that both Judaism and Islam are minority faiths in America. Both are about 2 percent of the overall population. And sadly members of both communities have been targets of bigotry and endured discrimination and worse simply because of their faith.

While anti-Semitism in the United States is thankfully at all time lows, it was not always like this. ...Regarding Muslims, we have clearly seen in recent times an uptick in anti—Muslim bigotry. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/12/16/muslims-jews-unite-vs-abercrombie-fitch.html

As I read the above paragraphs, it seemed to me that Muslims had more to fear regarding being targets of bigotry. But, after reading the data presented by the FBI about Hate Crime Statistics for the year 2013, I realized I was wrong.

Religious bias
Of the 1,223 victims of anti-religious hate crimes:
  • 60.3 percent were victims of crimes motivated by their offenders’ anti-Jewish bias.
  • 13.7 percent were victims of anti-Islamic (Muslim) bias.

Thomas Friedman opines, This Israeli Election Matters.

In a NYT article he writes the "Israeli right today is no longer dominated by security hawks and free-marketeers like Netanyahu. It is dominated by West Bank settlers and scary religious-nationalist zealots like Naftali Bennett."
He writes about allowing "Israel to securely withdraw from most of the West Bank, either in a negotiated deal with the Palestinians or unilaterally."

Yes, the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza worked so beautifully, why not try it again?

I asked a relative why Friedman pressures Israel and doesn't ask for any solutions for the Palestininans to adopt. Why not let Friedman call for sanctions against the Palstinians whenever a rocket is tossed over to their neighbors instead of allowing them cement to rebuild which can be used for terror tunnels?

He responded, "Because that would not be a popular article."

Click here to listen to Yishai Fleisher's take on the article in a radio show titled Will Tom Friedman Ever Give Up the Israeli Concessions Paradigm?

19 Dec 2014

The tenets of Yiddishkeit

Our Chachomim explain the Hellenist’s decree against keeping Shabbos, Milah, and Rosh Chodesh as follows.
One can understand that Shabbos and bris milah are the tenets of Yiddishkeit, bringing emunah into the hearts of our brothers. Shabbos proves that the One Above created the world in six days, and rested on the seventh, while the mitzvah of milah is a fundamental one, for which Klal Yisroel have risked their lives throughout the generations. However, what of Rosh Chodesh?
Continue reading: http://www.yated.com/kortz-un-sharf-short-and-sweet-chanukah-vertlach.7-1382-7-.html

Parshas Mikeitz/Shabbos Chanukah 5775 - Defining Moments

Parshios Miketz; Chanukah

ימים ההם - בזמן הזה: הנס של הרב גרוסמן • טור

Muslims & Jews Unite vs. Abercrombie & Fitch

'Obama Freed Three Hostile Cuban Spies, Why Not Pollard?'

In a December 17th press briefing, White House Spokesperson, Josh Earnest stated about Alan Gross, who was incarcerated in a Cuban prison, "The fact of the matter is, Mr. Gross was released on humanitarian grounds at the insistence of this administration."

How about releasing Jonathan Pollard on humanitarian grounds?

I don't get a question asked at the same briefing relating to the European Union’s  removal of Hamas from the terrorist list and after Mr. Earnest opined, "The decision that’s been made by the United States to designate Hamas as a terrorist organization is based entirely on Hamas’s terror activities; that we saw them use missiles to target innocent Israeli citizens.  We saw them use tunnels to carry out attacks against Israeli civilians.  These are the hallmarks of an organization that’s committed to terrorism, and it’s been designated as such by the U.S. government."

Q    But you don’t have any evidence there’s been international engagement in any kind of terrorism act outside Israel or the Palestinian territories?

Higher aspirations

David Suissa writes about being in attendance at the White House Channukah party when a man next to him queried the President.

"Mr President," he said in his booming voice, "when I told my Christian friend I was coming to a Channukah party at the White House, he told me, 'I didn't know the President was Jewish!"
The President let out a serious belly laugh.
...After about three or four seconds, as he was walking away, and looking at no one in particular, the President just said, "I am, in my soul."

In his latest video about Chanukah, Rabbi Wallerstein relates an anecdote he heard when he paid a shiva call at the home of a woman who was niftar in her thirties. The father said that a good friend of the girl told him something that the woman had kept secret all the years she had worked in a clothing store.

Every time a girl walked into the store and she was a bit overweight, the woman would bring her a size larger. When she tried it on, it would be too big and the girl would turn to her mother and say,  "You told me that all my clothes are tight on me. But, you see? I lost weight."

Rabbi Wallerstein went on to state, "Such chesed from such a simple little idea. Who knows how many girls walked out of the store happy.

...Such gadlut, where does that come from? From being a Rosh Yeshiva, from being a Rebbetzin, from being Mama Rochel?"

I was invited by a friend to attend a lecture this evening on the topic of the birth of Abrahamic religions. I knew I was lost when the Professor stated that he would be taking the etic rather than the emic approach. He definitely engendered feelings of inadequacy within me. At the end of the lecture, people were invited to ask questions. I had wanted to ask him a question but I was too intimidated, not knowing how to formulate a question using words such as "polemical hermeneutics" and certainly not knowing whether my question involved the etic or emic view.
On the other hand, I did catch him on several mispronuciations, including "zealot", "duplicate" and "kaleidoscope." Inexcusable in the era of googling pronunciation of words.
Score one for the native Engliish speaker.

I can only aspire to his level of knowledge.

18 Dec 2014


A far-right Swedish leader has caused an uproar in his country after saying people who identify as Jews cannot be seen as true Swedes.
Read more: http://www.timesofisrael.com/swedish-far-right-leader-jews-are-not-true-swedes/#ixzz3MEs5GhTo

A school in Stamford Hill has been told to revise its admissions policy “as quickly as possible” after a number of breaches were found in its arrangements, a government report has ruled.

The admissions arrangements for Yesodey Hatorah Senior Girls, a Charedi Jewish school serving Stamford Hill’s Orthodox Community, do not conform in a “significant number of ways” with the requirements, the report said.

I received an email from Yeshiva Ateres Shimon regarding a New Program on Prayer- In Memory of Kedoshei Har Nof.

One can sign up for  Daily Chizuk on Tefilla.

Additionally, every Tuesday one will receive an email titled Praying with Passion.

I clicked on a sample PDF and was directed to some thoughts about the prayer of "Modeh Ani."

Appreciation of what one is given is the key to finding happiness and satisfaction. One who has no appreciation can never feel satisfied.

Sharon Ballantine writes about Gratitude In The Face Of Adversity.

On top of all this, science is discovering that gratitude actually has physical health benefits. People who regularly practice feeling grateful report they sleep better, have lower blood pressure, healthier cholesterol, and fewer aches and pains.
Read more: http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/parentingonpurpose/2014/12/gratitude-in-the-face-of-adversity.html#ixzz3MEo3XKfW

The numbers

The Algemeiner writes about comments made by John Kerry in a speech he delivered in London this past week.

Addressing the Israeli-Palestinian dimension of the conflict, Kerry stated that the “ongoing unrest of the last weeks has brought new tensions to all sides…Earlier this month, two Israelis were stabbed as they shopped for groceries in the West Bank. Two more were axed to death while praying. And we were all devastated and shocked by the acid attack against an Israeli family last week. Palestinians have mourned the death of a Palestinian official, Ziad Abu Ein, and they have suffered indefensible price tag attacks, so-called price tag attacks, including the recent burning of a mosque near Ramallah.”

Critical scrutiny of his remarks is likely to focus on his incorrect statement that two, rather than five, people were murdered during the axe attack at a Jerusalem synagogue last month, as well as his claims about the burning of the mosque. As media monitoring group CAMERA has pointed out, several media outlets have already corrected initial reports that arson was behind the mosque fire. http://www.algemeiner.com/2014/12/16/kerry-recycles-discredited-claim-that-west-bank-mosque-fire-was-indefensible-price-tag-attack/

Click here to listen to John Kerry make those comments starting at the 8:46' mark.

Rabbi Paysach Krohn speaks about those who were murdered (more than two)  in a lecture titled Shloshim Commemoration For The Har Nof Kedoshim: Disconnect To Reconnect.

State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki was asked the following question at today's briefing.

QUESTION: ...The Palestinians say that they have six votes in the Security Council that are – that they said they will vote for them. So would that give you a preference to vote on it now, and this way the United States does not have to cast a veto, so to speak, because you need nine? Or if you wait till January, then there are four others that are very pro-Palestinian, like Malaysia and other countries and so on, will be members of the Security Council. In this case, you would have to cast a veto.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I certainly understand the desire to play this out, but there hasn’t been a proposal formally submitted, so let’s wait for that to happen.


16 Dec 2014

Obviously inadequate

The Senate has confirmed Rabbi David Saperstein as the State Department’s ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, making him the first non-Christian to hold the job.

The Washington-based Interfaith Alliance applauded Saperstein’s confirmation:

“When David steps into this position he not only achieves a remarkable capstone to what has been a long and successful career, he brings to our nation’s foreign policy a wealth of knowledge and a fierce dedication to religious freedom and the rights of religious minorities,” said the Rev. C. Welton Gaddy, president of the alliance.

“David’s work has always been guided by the Jewish commandment to repair the world — he has now been given an incredible platform to do just that,” Gaddy said.

Which number commandment is "repair the world?" Does it come before or after "Thou shalt not steal"?
In an earlier post, I called attention to an article written by Davod Benkof titled Liberal Orthodoxy, Not Jewish Orthodoxy: ‘Repairing The World’ Isn’t In The Torah.

Now, the actual phrase “tikkun olam” goes back many centuries – although it’s not used even once in the Hebrew Bible. It appears most prominently in an important prayer (the Aleinu) and in Kabbalah – Jewish mysticism. But the term never referred to a broad program of social change until very, very recently.

Queens Public Menorah Vandalized

TheDailyMail has a headline New York schoolboy 'made $72million trading stocks on his lunch breaks' - and now takes his friends out to dine on $400 caviar, drives a BMW and has definitely made his immigrant parents proud.

The DailyMail based its information on a New York Magazine article which clarifies, "We were duped. Our fact-checking process was obviously inadequate; we take full responsibility and we should have known better. New York apologizes to our readers." http://nymag.com/news/articles/reasonstoloveny/2014/mohammed-islam-stock-trading/

The New York Observer has published an interview with the teen. As you can read below, he definitely did not make his immigrant parents proud.

So what did your parents think when they’re reading that you’ve got $72 million?

Mohammed Islam: Honestly, my dad wanted to disown me. My mom basically said she’d never talk to me. Their morals are that if I lie about it and don’t own up to it then they can no longer trust me. … They knew it was false and they basically wanted to kill me and I haven’t spoken to them since.

Read more at http://observer.com/2014/12/exclusive-new-york-mags-boy-genius-investor-made-it-all-up/#ixzz3M5knhY1d

An incident which has echoed around the world

A bitter row has broken out in the close-knit world of Jewish stand-up after the owner of a leading comedy club refused to book anyone who plays benefit gigs for a pro-Israeli organisation he claims is “racist”.
Read more: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/comedy/news/jewish-comics-blacklisted-over-support-for-racist-charity-9926891.html

Not very funny.

Wigan chairman Dave Whelan has accepted a Football Association misconduct charge over comments he made regarding Jewish and Chinese people and has requested a non-personal hearing.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2874565/Whelan-accepts-FA-charge-regarding-inappropriate-race-comments.html#ixzz3M2wT3o7G 

Ancient rock adds evidence of King David’s existence

So does Tehillim.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has made some comments and asked some questions regarding the siege at the Lindt cafe yesterday.

"This is an incident which has echoed around the world," he said.

"Tens if not hundreds of millions of people right around the world have been focused on the city of Sydney which has been touched by terrorism for the first time in more than 35 years."

"How can someone who has had such a long and chequered history, not be on the appropriate watchlists?" he said.

"And how can someone like that be entirely at large in the community?

Daniel Greenfield reports on a letter the hostage taker had penned to President Obama.

15 Dec 2014

The candles burning bright

Century Later, Jewish Soldier May Get Top Medal

As the Festival of Lights is fast approaching, I found it ironic to read, "CBS's Mark Knoller reports that the lights went out briefly at the White House this morning. "

The InternationalBusinessTimes has an article titled Hanukkah 2014: When Does The Jewish Holiday Start, 5 Things You Need To Know.

Each night, for eight nights, Jews light a branch of a menorah. The middle and tallest branch of the candelabra houses the shamash (helper candle) that's used to light the other candles. Each night, a new candle is placed from right to left. They are lit from left to right. Three blessings are said during this time.

Those of you using IBT as a paskan should be advised that three blessings are recited the first night and two blessings thereafter.

A relative made me aware of a blog of an amazing individual who demonstrates what  gratitude to Hashem really is about. Mazal Tov to Rifky and her chosson. May they be zocheh to build a bayit neeman beYisrael.

Visiting the sick

The Talmud (Nedarim 40a) teaches that visiting the sick can literally restore them to life. But it’s not often that the result of this mitzvah is as apparent as it was recently to Rabbi Getzy Rubashkin of Miami, Florida.
Continue reading about an amazing series of events:  http://crownheights.info/shlichus/464147/timing-is-everything-chabad-visits-a-sick-friend-and-saves-her-life/

As Jews around the world gather to mark the first night of Chanukah on Tuesday, the Chabad Center of Kendall & Pinecrest in Miami will take some time to honor the memory of Steven Sotloff, the 31-year-old freelance journalist and Florida native who was abducted and later beheaded by Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists.
Continue reading: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/188658#.VI72YJVATIU