"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

16 Apr 2014

Next year in Jerusalem

The HuffingtonPost writes about three junior staffers working on the 2008 Presidential campaign who conducted an impromptu seder at the Sheraton hotel. They were joined by Senator Obama.

Eric: And at the end everybody raises their glasses and there is a tradition when you say: Next year in Jerusalem. So we all raised our glasses and said ‘Next year in Jerusalem’ and then we all put our glasses down and then Obama raised his glass and said: ‘Next year in the White House.’ And we all said yes, and raised our glasses. It was a very poignant moments because it was really one of the lowest points within the 2008 campaign.

Frank Bruni writes about The Oldest Hatred, Forever Young.

Following 9/11, there was enormous concern that all Muslims would be stereotyped and scapegoated, and this heightened sensitivity lingers. It partly explains what just happened at Brandeis University. The school had invited Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a celebrated advocate for Muslim women, to receive an honorary degree. But when some professors and students complained, citing statements of hers that seemed broadly derisive of Islam, the invitation was withdrawn. Clearly, university officials didn’t want their campus seen as a cradle or theater of Islamophobia.

But other college campuses in recent years have been theaters of anti-Israel discussions that occasionally veer toward, or bleed into, condemnations of Jews.

Thomas Friedman opines, "Kerry, in my view, is doing the Lord’s work."

Does Mr. Friedman have a version of the Old Testament with the verse "And the Lord said to John Kerry, Thou shalt pressure My nation to release prisoners who murdered my people but Thou shalt not free Jonathan Pollard"?

His version of the Haggadah must read "Next year in a divided Jerusalem.

14 Apr 2014

Matza on Pesach

In the Hagadah we say that the reason we eat Matza on Pesach is because the dough did not have a chance to rise until the Melech Malchei HaMilachim appeared to us and redeemed us. Why is this so integral to the story of our redemption that Matza takes center stage and plays the leading role on Pesach?
The Maharal explains that the whole point of the ten makos and all the miracles in Mitzrayim was to teach the world, and Bnei Yisroel as well, that Hashem created and controls everything that happens in the world. Man is so egocentrical that despite all of Hashem's miracles and all our own shortcomings, we easily forget this point. Without constant reminders we oftentimes believe that we control our own fate and destiny.
So too the Bnei Yisroel in Mitzrayim, despite witnessing all the miracles, at the time of leaving Mitzrayim may have entertained notions that they somehow freed themselves through their own efforts. Therefore Hashem caused them to leave at a time that was clearly not desirable to them. They would have preferred to finish baking their bread before embarking on their treacherous desert trek. Hashem wanted to leave this mark on us for generations and Matza symbolizes what Pesach is all about, belief in Hashem.

13 Apr 2014

A child's morals

The Hagada tells us regarding the Rasha, "U'Lfi SheHotzi Atzmo Min HaKlal Kafar B'aIkar", because he removed himself from the tzibur he is a Kofer. Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer asks shouldn't it say the opposite way around, since he is a Kofer he has removed himself from the tzibur?

He answers with a story from his Rebbi, Rav Chaim Soloveitchik. A person who had left the Torah way came to Rav Chaim and said that he had a number of questions about Judaism. Rav Chaim said to him that if he has questions, he has no problem to answer them for him. However he doesn't really have questions, he only really has answers. He has answers and excuses why he has left Yiddishkeit, cloaked in the form of questions. However he left Torah because it was convenient for him and he merely concocted the questions to justify his actions. Questions like that can never be answered to the questioners satisfaction.

This is what the Baal Haggadah says about the Rasha. Since he has chosen to remove himself from the tzibur that keeps Torah in order to chase his heart's desires, therefore he is Kofer BaIkar. His Kefira is only a justification for separating from the religious way of life and is not a real theological issue. http://revach.net/moadim/hagadah-shel-pesach/Rav-Chaim-Brisker-The-Rasha-What-Comes-First-The-Kefira-Or-The-Lifestyle/4475

The NYT has an interesting article titled Raising a Moral Child.

In a classic experiment, the psychologist J. Philippe Rushton gave 140 elementary- and middle-school-age children tokens for winning a game, which they could keep entirely or donate some to a child in poverty. They first watched a teacher figure play the game either selfishly or generously, and then preach to them the value of taking, giving or neither. The adult’s influence was significant: Actions spoke louder than words. When the adult behaved selfishly, children followed suit. The words didn’t make much difference — children gave fewer tokens after observing the adult’s selfish actions, regardless of whether the adult verbally advocated selfishness or generosity. When the adult acted generously, students gave the same amount whether generosity was preached or not — they donated 85 percent more than the norm in both cases. When the adult preached selfishness, even after the adult acted generously, the students still gave 49 percent more than the norm. Children learn generosity not by listening to what their role models say, but by observing what they do.
Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/12/opinion/sunday/raising-a-moral-child.html?_r=0

Professing the Jewish religion

The Telegraph has an article titled Britain's 'first Jewish PM': does Disraeli have the title?

British Jews have been allowed to sit in Parliament since the passing of the Jews Relief Act in 1858.
The same law — which remains in place — says that no person “professing the Jewish religion, directly or indirectly” may advise the monarch on appointments in the Church of England.
Read  more: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/ed-miliband/10761635/Britains-first-Jewish-PM-does-Disraeli-have-the-title.html

Jonathan Tobin writes about Brandeis and the Real War on Women.

12 Apr 2014

NYT reporting on Israel

This week the Times of Israel reported that a "Kfar Saba court denied a request from the Loewenstein Hospital Rehabilitation Center Thursday to enforce a decision to discharge a girl who was wounded when Palestinians threw rocks at her family’s car in the West Bank last year."

Adele Biton is the victim of the non-violent resistance esposed by those opposing Israel. For over a year she has remained largely unresponsive and her family must prepare the house for her homecoming, as well as hire carers. It is unlikely she will ever run a marathon.

Yet, Jodi Rudoren in a NYT article titled Mideast Tensions Sideline a Gazan Marathon Runner, chose to focus on a Gaza victim, who was unable to run in a marathon this week because Israeli authorities denied him a permit to travel to the West Bank.

Ms. Rudoren, how about devoting a lengthy article to a real victim, one who will be unable to run for life, not because of being denied a travel permit but, because of a policy in which a country allows those bent on its destruction to travel freely through its territory?

The NYT has another article titled Are Iran and Israel Trading Places?

11 Apr 2014

It would have been enough

The Wall Street Journal has an opinion piece by N

Dipping twice at the Seder

Rabbi Yehuda C Aronovitz provides us with an explanation as to why we dip twice at the Seder. Click here to read Dipping into the Waters of Change.

Collive has posted a video of an event of tribute for "Rashi Minkowicz obm, Shlucha to North Fulton, Georgia who passed away recently at the young age of 37."

At the 1'13 mark in the video,  one of her young sons can be heard speaking about the last words his mother uttered to him, "Don't give up, no matter what situation you're in."

10 Apr 2014

Being helped

KikarHashabat has a story about a soldier who entered the army with a beard and tzitzit but forsook his religious lifestyle after serving in the army for a number of years.

Tomorrow, the 11th of Nisan, is the yarzheit of Rav Elchonon Yosef Hertzman, who the Yeshivaworld described upon his passing 5 years ago, as "a prominent alter Mirrer, baal mussar, and mechaber of seforim, including Neis Hatzoloh on the Mirrer Yeshivas miraculous escape during the WWII period, who was close to the Mirrer mashgiach Rav Yeruchem Levovitz zt'l."

Chadrei Chareidim writes about the request in his will in which the Rav states that people should learn for an elevation of his soul, as he didn't leave any children.

I am going the way of all humans if  Mashiach doesn't come speedily. Those who toiled for Shabbat will eat on Shabbat - this refers to the next world. Unfortunately, didn't serve even a small percentage of what I owed to the Creator, especially for all the  favors that were granted to me, having surviced the great fire of war.

...The Rav requested that one should give charity in memory of his neshama, Elhanan Yosef ben Shmuel and Tzipporah. Those who say 10 perakim of Tehillim,  ט"ז, ל"ב, מ"א, מ"ב, נ"ט, ע"ז, צ', ק"ה, קל"ז, ק"נ
at his grave or anywhere, or learn mishnayit, he will try to help them with what they need.
Since his passing, many can bear witness to being helped after heeding his words and gedolei Yisrael are advising people to go to his grave. The Rav is buried in Bnei Brak.

Incidentally, don't use the translation tool on this article because, just seeing from the headline, it may come up with strange results.

Lois Lerner and Elijah Cummings may need help, but probably not.

Legal Insurrection writes about the vote at Cornell regarding divestment from Israeli companies which is scheduled to take place over the Passover holiday.

Jewish and pro-Israel groups are organizing, and have started a Facebook Page and Petition to the Assembly against the Resolution (the Petition is open to “members and friends of the Cornell University community” — that would include not only students, but family, alumni and anyone else).
Read more: http://legalinsurrection.com/2014/04/cornell-anti-israel-divestment-group-doubles-down-on-passover-strategy/

A new and viciously anti-Israel ad is running on Washington, DC buses, reading “We’re Sweating April 15 So Israelis Don’t Have To! Stop US Aid to Israel’s Occupation” and featuring a grim-looking Uncle Sam waving an Israeli flag.
 - See more at: http://pamelageller.com/2014/04/pamela-geller-breitbart-american-muslims-palestine-anti-israel-ads-run-dc-buses.html/#sthash.mi7K1bBT.dpuf

9 Apr 2014

Live the impossible

A pro-Palestinian campus group at Cornell University is apparently trying to push through a resolution urging the school to cut ties with Israel, slipping it onto the books on the eve of the Passover holiday.
Continue reading: http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/04/09/pro-palestinian-campus-group-plans-passover-meeting-to-push-anti-israel-resolution-while-jewish-students-are-away/#

I just finished reading an interview with David Copperfield in Hello magazine. He describes how he became hooked on magic early on but met resistance form his family, especially his mother when he wanted to make it his career.

Desperate, one night I threw out all my blueprints, plans, drawings, etc. in the rubbish before I went to bed," remembers David. "My father asked me; 'What's wrong?' I rold him that everyone was trying to make me believe my dream was impossible, so I had decided to quit."
"I was so overwhelmed that I cried myself to sleep. The next morning when I woke up, all my blueprints, drawings and plans were spread out around me, and with them was a note form my dad: 'You have to live the impossible.'"

The society in which we live

D.B. Ganz writes about what the story of Noah has to teach us today.

Several relevant lessons emerge from this narrative. First and foremost: the world and its human inhabitants are not an evolutionary accident. God created the world and sustains it. And when there is a pervasive disregard for basic traditional morality, His destruction may follow. However, those who do not succumb to the prevailing moral breakdown may escape the ravages of the demolition, just as Noah did.
Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2014/04/08/noah-the-3300-year-old-version-of-the-story/#ixzz2yNF71q1K

Eternal and evolving laws

WND reports on a case involving a photographer who declined a job at a same gender ceremony. The U.S. Supreme Court let stand a ruling by a New Mexico court in which the photographer was ordered to pay compensation to the couple.
WND wrote about the earlier decision by the New Mexico Supreme Court to uphold the decision of a lower court.

The judges stated:

At its heart, this case teaches that at some point in our lives all of us must compromise, if only a little, to accommodate the contrasting values of others. A multicultural, pluralistic society, one of our nation’s strengths, demands no less.

Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2014/04/a-government-every-american-should-fear/#Sb3oP8dUiihk2gOp.99

Andrew Cohen writes about retired Supreme Court Justice Stevens change of heart on the death penalty over here.

So laws are subject to the passing whims of a particular judge based upon his opinion at that moment in time. In contrast, the Torah laws are eternal.

8 Apr 2014

The thank you note comeback

Yesterday a relative informed me that there were  a few fruit trees a couple of blocks away from where I lived and I could recite the blessing for blossoming fruit trees upon them. As I recited the blessing, I was cognizant of the fact that I was thanking G-d for giving us trees that grow fruit.

Last night I caught a NYT article by Guy Trebay about the resurging trend of handwritten thank you notes. I resolved that I would post about it this morning.
Coincidentally, when I checked the comments awating moderation, I was gratified to receive this comment from an anonymous reader regarding my previous post.

So nice... Thank you!! *:-)

Whoever you are, thank you for taking the time to write the above comment.

When Jimmy Fallon sits down to write his weekly thank-you notes on “The Tonight Show,” he is both ribbing and breathing life into a custom many felt was headed the way of the dodo.
...Mr. Fallon’s routine is a hoot, of course, a joke that points up the truth that the boring stuff your parents made you do never actually goes out of fashion and that also inadvertently supports recent scientific findings linking gratitude to increased optimism, stress reduction and a better night’s sleep.
Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/06/fashion/the-found-art-of-thank-you-notes.html?action=click&contentCollection=Opinion&module=MostEmailed&version=Full&region=Marginalia&src=me&pgtype=article

An Israeli taxi driver owes a thank you to an Orthodox doctor after the driver complained of schest pains and the doctor told him to go immediately to the hopital to undergo a catherization which probably saved his life. Read the article in Hebrew over here.

Freida Rochel Atkins—all of 7 years old—has been especially busy these past few weeks.
She was recently in and out of the hospital due to severe anaphylaxis, a condition that happens sometimes; her body can produce too much histamine. But that didn’t stop her from arranging to send more than 100 cans of macaroons to U.S. military troops in anticipation of Passover, which begins at sundown on Monday, April 14.
Read more: http://www.chabad.org/news/article_cdo/aid/2550537/jewish/Seven-Year-Olds-Work-Hard-to-Get-Passover-Macaroons-to-US-Troops.htm

7 Apr 2014

Two stories

CrownHeightsinfo has two cute stories you might enjoy. The first is about a lesson in not embarrassing someone and can be read here. The second story is one of Hashgacha Protis in which an airport security official recognizes the Lubavitcher Rebbe from a picture found in a young man's luggage. Click here to read.

Finally, the video below was featured on the site this week.

Dedicated to outreach

A newscaster reporting on the arrest of  Omar Arce describes him as a UCLA student leader who had dedicated himself to service, to outreach in the community. You can see the video and read the article about his arrest over here.

In a Daily Bruin article about a resolution which was voted down "calling for UCLA and the University of California to divest from companies that profit from the Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank" Omar Arce was identified as a co-sponsor.

Facilities Commissioner Armen Hadjimanoukian of the Bruins United slate, Community Service Commissioner Omar Arce, an independent councilmember, and General Representative Lizzy Naameh of the LET’S ACT! slate sponsored the resolution.
...Arce said he and other councilmembers sponsored the resolution to demonstrate that slate politics did not interfere with the decision to bring it to table.

What a great example of an individual dedicated to service and outreach.
Incidentally, the article at the DailyBruin begins with the following words.

Editor’s note: Because of the offensive nature of discussion around this article, commenting has been closed.

Speaking of BDS, Israel Matzav alerts readers to  the New York 'Jewish' Federation allowing people who call for BDS of Israel to join  the Israel Day Parade. There is a rally scheduled for tomorrow to protest against the inclusion of those groups. Click here for more information.

TheBlaze reports on a fourth-grade teacher who took $11,000 to the police department  after a bad had flown from a car traveling ahead of them.

“I feel very richly blessed and it has nothing to do with my bank account.”

The NYPost reports on an airport advicay group who is trying to tracj down a man who found a diamond ring at Newark Airpot and turned it over to a TSA officer who brought it to lost and found. The owner was reunited with he ring and now the group would like to offer the person who found the ring a free flight as an award.

If no one steps forward by May 31, the voucher will be donated to a charity.

Separation of church and state

A Muslim parent said in a recent interview that he was upset school officials in Michigan gave his two kids fliers promoting an Easter egg hunt slated for April 12.
...“[U]sing school teachers paid by public funds … to pass out these fliers that are being distributed by a church. I think that’s a serious violation of church and state,” he said.

Majed Moughni is the administrator of the DEARBORN AREA COMMUNITY MEMBERS Facebook page.

A February 24 post reads:

Sia-Umd Connect shared, "The Hijab Experience", a video produced by Students for Islamic Awareness and Muslim Student Association at the University of Michigan- Dearborn."

You can click here at Youtube to see how university students are asked to try on the hijab. Where's the separation of church and state and use of public funds complaint?

In this article, Mr. Moughni talks about freedom of speech but the Dearborn Facebook page has posts about trying to cancel the screening of Honor Diaries at the University, as well as a TV show Alice in Arabia being canceled by ABC. 

So much for freedom of speech.

6 Apr 2014

The Jewish perspective

Konstanty Gebert writzs about the Ukrainian Revolution’s Jewish question.
“And from a Jewish perspective?” I asked Josef Zissels. The veteran Ukrainian dissident, Jewish activist, and passionate advocate of Ukraine’s “Maidan” movement, had just finished briefing a Warsaw audience about the movement’s spectacular victory and President Viktor Yanukovych’s fall from power. “There is no Jewish perspective,” he answered. “There are Jews on both sides of the divide.”
Continue reading: http://www.newvision.co.ug/news/654227-the-ukrainian-revolution-s-jewish-question.html

In Brooklyn, Orthodox Jewish Women Lead Latest Dance Craze: Kosher Zumba

Participants Take Classes in All-Female Setting With Sanitized Song Lyrics; Some Rabbis Balk
Read article at: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304157204579474231170762964?mg=reno64-wsj&url=http%3A%2F%2Fonline.wsj.com%2Farticle%2FSB10001424052702304157204579474231170762964.html

5 Apr 2014

Let them eat pork

France’s National Front leader Marine Le Pen has slammed down hard on the recent suggestion to changes in the menu served at public schools. “Eat pork or go hungry,” Marine reportedly told the RTL Radio.
Read more at http://www.inquisitr.com/1201180/marine-le-pen-slams-eat-pork-or-go-hungry-to-muslim-suggestions-for-school-canteens/#8bvWf4i67UeGfCZ2.99

Chadrei Charedim reports that Rav Mishe Sternbruch elaborated on what he had spoken about a few weeks ago regarding that in the tradition of the Gr"a, when Russia occupies Crimea, we will be in the period of the bells of Mashiach.
Rav Sternbruch spoke about how Rav Chaim of Brisk z"l said that the conquest of Crimea is a call to us to work towards bringing the Mashiach through strengthening in learning Torah. However, if we don't wake up, then this opportune time will be missed, chas veshalom, and we will have to undergo the pangs of the times of Mashiach.
Rav Stenbruch is particularly worried about the hundreds of yeshiva students who have no kolel in which to learn after Pesach due a reduction of allotted places. What is more is that it impedes the coming of the Mashiach and increases the power of Amalek, when Torah study is weakened. We can only hope and pray to our Father in Heaven to have mercy on us in this time of trouble. http://www.bhol.co.il/article.aspx?id=66783

Ladaatinfo reports on a wrong letter written in a sefer Torah which was discovered today in the course of reading the parsha at the Belz Shul in Yerushalayim. The Torah was brought to the shul only two months ago and the wrong letter was not spotted by proofreaders or by a computer check. http://www.ladaat.info/article.aspx?artid=11688

4 Apr 2014

An ugly sound

Camera.org points to the opening paragraph of a piece at the New Yorker about annexation.

Annexation has an ugly sound, owing to an unhappy past. The term describes, among other tragedies, Saddam Hussein’s attempt, in 1990, to swallow Kuwait whole, as the nineteenth province of Iraq; Indonesia’s invasion, in 1975, of East Timor; Morocco’s absorption, the same year, of Western Sahara; and Israel’s declaration, after the 1967 war, of East Jerusalem as part of a united capital. The German word for it is Anschluss.

Camera.org explains, "With the exception of Israel, the annexations Packer lists - by Iraq, Indonesia, Morocco and Germany - share common traits; they were unprovoked acts of aggression ordered by authoritarian rulers. Israel's annexation of east Jerusalem was the result of a defensive war fought by a democratic state responding to aggression committed by Jordan. That's a big difference."

'Miracle' Saves Hareidi Soldier From Terrorist's Gun

TruthRevolt and others have petitions vowing to stop using Mozilla after CEO Brendan Eich voiced his support for traditional marriage and is no longer at the helm of the company.

Rabbi Eli Mansour speaks about the importance of not profaning one's speech.

The Torah teaches in Sefer Bamidbar (30:3), “Lo Yahel Debaro Ke’chol Ha’yoseh Mi’piv Ya’aseh” – “He shall not violate his word; he shall do in accordance with everything that comes from his mouth.” On the level of simple interpretation, this means that one who takes a pledge must ensure not to violate his word by failing to fulfill the pledge. However, Rabbi Levi Yishak of Berditchev (1740-1809) explained this verse to mean that if a person does not profane his speech, and he ensures to use his faculty of speech for only positive and constructive purposes, then Hashem will fulfill “everything that comes from his mouth” – meaning, He will answer his prayers. Often our prayers go unanswered because the same mouth which uttered the prayers was contaminated through the utterance of Lashon Ha’ra. By guarding our mouths against improper speech about other people, and ensuring to use our mouths only for the right purposes, we help guarantee that our prayers will achieve their goal and receive a favorable response from G-d.
Read more: https://www.dailyhalacha.com/WeeklyParasha.asp