"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

28 Jul 2010

Following the rules

A 12-year-old passenger dialled 911 to report her drunk-driving mother as their car swerved down a New York state highway, her blood alcohol level more than double the legal limit, police said.

A 39-year-old Massachusetts woman with her two children in the back seat was charged with driving under the influence at a sobriety checkpoint on Saturday.

In an article titled The limits of multi-culturalism, Christina Patterson began by explaining how she would like to teach her neighbours some manners regarding road safety.

When I moved to Stamford Hill,... I didn't realise that a purchase by a goy was a crime to be punished with monosyllabic terseness, ... or that road signs, and parking restrictions, were for people who hadn't been chosen by God.

The fact of the matter is that two people can commit the same felony or misdemeanor. When a pedestrian crosses the street when the light is red, nobody takes much notice. But, when a religious Jew does the same act, it becomes a chilul Hashem.
Breaking the law is a no no for everyone. But, we should pay attention to our actions, whether we double park or drive while talking on our cell phones. Because our actions can be used as fodder for articles in the Independent to denigrate a whole sector of people. But the actions of two mothers driving under the influence are not written up in an article to sully the reputation of all mothers.

Red roses

Author unknown
Red roses were her favourites, her name was also Rose.
And every year her husband sent them, tied with pretty bows.
The year he died the roses were delivered to her door.
The card said, "Be my Valentine," like all the years before.

Each year he sent her roses, and the note would always say,
"I love you even more this year, than last year on this day."
"My love for you will always grow, with every passing year."
She knew this was the last time that the roses would appear.

She thought, he ordered roses in advance before this day.
Her loving husband did not know that he would pass away.
He always liked to do things early, way before the time.
Then, if he got too busy, everything would work out fine.

She trimmed the stems and placed them in a very special vase.
Then, sat the vase beside the portrait of his smiling face.
She would sit for hours, in her husband's favourite chair.
While staring at his picture and the roses sitting there.

A year went by and it was hard to live without her mate.
With the loneliness and solitude that had become her fate.
Then, the very hour, as on Valentines before,
the doorbell rang and there were roses sitting by her door.

She brought the roses in and then just looked at them in shock.
Then went to get the telephone to call the florist shop.
The owner answered and she asked him if he would explain,
why would someone do this to her causing her such pain?

"I know your husband passed away more than a year ago," the owner said,
"I knew you'd call and you would want to know."
"The flowers you received today were paid for in advance."
"Your husband always planned ahead he left nothing to chance."

"There is a standing order that I have on file down here,
and he has paid well in advance. You'll get them every year.
There also is another thing that I think you should know,
he wrote a special little card...he did this years ago."

"Then should ever I find out that he's no longer here,
that the card...that should be sent to you the following year."
She thanked him and hung up the phone her tears now flowing hard.
Her fingers shaking as she slowly reached to get the card.

Inside the card she saw that he had written her a note.
Then as she stared in total silence this is what he wrote...
"Hello my love, I know it's been a year since I've been gone.
I hope it hasn't been too hard for you to overcome."

"I know it must be lonely and the pain is very real.
For if it was the other way I know how I would feel.
The love we shared made everything so beautiful in life.
I loved you more than words can say. You were the perfect wife."

"You were my friend and lover; you fulfilled my every need.
I know it's only been a year but please try not to grieve.
I want you to be happy even when you shed your tears.
That is why the roses will be sent to you for years."

"When you get these roses think of all the happiness
that we had together and how both of us were blessed.
I have always loved you and I know I always will.
But, my love, you must go on, you have some living still."

"Please...try to find happiness, while living out your days.
I know it is not easy but I hope you find some ways.
The roses will come every year and they will only stop,
when your door's not answered when the florist stops to knock."

"He will come five times that day in case you have gone out.
But after his last visit he will know without a doubt,
to take the roses to the place where I've instructed him,
and place the roses where we are, together once again."

Oseh mishpat yatom ve'almanah

Devarim 10:18
He brings justice to the orphan and widow, and loves the foreigner, granting him food and clothing.
Oseh mishpat yatom ve'almanah ve'ohev ger latet lo lechem vesimlah.

An article in the Jpost provides us with a brief glimpse into the lives of the six soldiers who persihed in a helicopter crash in Romania this week.

“Kisses to everyone,” Lt.-Col (res.) Avner Goldman, 48, wrote in a text message to his wife, Orit, hours before he was killed along with five other IAF airmen and a Romanian officer during a helicopter training flight in Romania on Monday.
...Goldman, a father of four, celebrated his birthday just before leaving for Romania last week. ...In Moshav Sharona near Tiberius, Duby Keshet spoke with reporters about his son, Maj. Yahel Keshet, 33, from Kibbutz Hatzerim, who was married and the father of two small children.
...Boxes were still stacked outside the home of Lt.-Col. Daniel Shipenbauer, 43, who moved to Moshav Kidron with his wife and three children just before leaving for Romania.
...Maj. Lior Shai, 28, from Tel Nof, was married with a four-month-old infant.
...St.-Sgt. Oren Cohen, 24, from Rehovot, followed his father into the air force..
...Lt. Nir Lakrif, 25, from Tel Nof, was married last year. His wife is four months pregnant.

Recently I hear a lecture on Torahanytime.com given by Rabbi Wallerstein. He began the lecture by dedicating it to a forty-one year old woman who had passed away from cancer. She discovered that she had the disease at the age of twenty-six. A rabbi advised her to commit to performing a specific mitzvah and she took upon herself to collect money to help finance weddings of orphans in Israel. Before her death, she was instrumental in helping provide funds for over one hundred weddings. A rabbi who heard that the woman had passed away asked the brides to write letters about the woman's activities. The deceased was buried with more than one hundred letters from orphaned brides.
Who is going to supply testimony to our lives? We are not going to be buried with five dollars, but we can take with us the five dollar receipt for a donation to charity. We don't know how long we are destined to live - whether our lives will be cut short by a helicopter crash, a plane crash such as the one that happened today, and so on. So, let's make the most out of our lives and do mitzvot while we can. In a week where the parshat hashavua talks specifically about orphans, perhaps we can find out if the families of the fallen soldiers need financial help.
Incidentally, while listening to a shiur on Torahanytime.com, I noticed a message on the site stating that donations are critically low. Why not make a donation in the merit of the fallen soldiers?

27 Jul 2010

Long relationships

This morning I came across two items highlighting octogenarians. The first was an obituary of Judith Peabody, a Manhattan socialite, philanthropist and volunteer. Mrs. Peabody chose not to rest on her privileged position in society but, rather, to help make the world a better place.
Judith D. Peabody, a doyenne of New York society known equally for her philanthropy and volunteer work, especially on behalf of people with AIDS and their families, died on Sunday in her Fifth Avenue apartment in Manhattan. She was 80.
Mr. Peabody said that he met his wife at a dinner party when she was just 20 years old and that they were engaged a week later. She was working at a youth center for delinquents at the time, he said, and for one of their first dates he picked her up there.
“She said, ‘Please don’t tell my mother,’” Mr. Peabody recalled. “ ‘She thinks I’m having French lessons.’ ”
Read full article: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/27/nyregion/27peabody.html?_r=1&hpw

The video below shows how a senior citizen, living in an assisted care facility, had her dream realized with the assistance of an organization which provides help for seniors. May we merit to bring joy and help to others less fortunate.

An overture of Torah

Click here to read an article by Rabbi Yaakov Salomon about how a discouraged Jew was motivated to persevere in his Torah learning because of a short anecdote in the life of Arturo Toscanini.

26 Jul 2010

Investigating war crimes - not

At least 45 civilians, many women and children, were killed in a rocket attack by the NATO-led foreign force in Afghanistan's southern Helmand province last week, a spokesman for the Afghan government said on Monday.

The release of some 91,000 secret U.S. military documents on the Afghanistan war is just the beginning, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange promised Monday, adding that he still has thousands more Afghan files to post online.
...He said he believed that "thousands" of U.S. attacks in Afghanistan could be investigated for evidence of war crimes,...

Where is the special UN General Assembly meeting? Where is Richard Goldstone? Oh, I forgot. Israel isn't involved in these alleged incidents so, there's no rush to investigate.

Tu B'Av - Is he a mentsch?

Tu b’Av (named for the date in the Hebrew calendar, the 15th (Tet = 9, Vav = 6; 9+6=15) of the Hebrew month of Av) is one of the lesser known holidays in the Jewish calendar...
...The first mention of Tu b’Av is in the Mishna (Taanit), where it says (attributed to Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel), “There were no better days for the people of Israel than the Fifteenth of Av and Yom Kippur, since on these days the daughters of Jerusalem go out dressed in white and dance in the vineyards. What they were saying: Young man, consider who you choose (to be your wife).” (Taanit 4:8).


A relative told me that she had heard a speaker on an Israeli radio station discussing the difference between Tisha B'av, the saddest day on the Jewish calendar, and Tu b'Av, a joyous holiday. Tisha B'av, (tet Av) and Tu B'av are separated by six days. The difference between the two is the letter vav. That letter is used in the Hebrew language to connect two items. If the letter is placed in front of the second of two items, vav is then translated as "and." It is known as vav hachibur - the vav of connection.
The speaker concluded that if we are connected with one another, then we can change the saddest day of the year to a joyous one. The Second Temple was destroyed because of baseless hatred. If we feel a deep connection with one another, we will treat each other in the way we wish to be treated and will merit that Tisha B'av will become a holiday of happy celebration.
This week, Hamodia published an article about Harav Chaim Ozer Grodzenski, seventy years after his passing. It was related how the Rav had written a letter to his kallah's grandfather, Rav Yisrael Salanter, with his chiddushei Torah. Rav Yisrael then wrote a letter to "his son-in-law, congratulating him on finding a genuine Torah scholar for his daughter. "However," he added typically, "I hope that he is a mentsch besides."
On this day of Tu B'Av, when we focus on making the right matches, let's concentrate on what is really important when we look for a prospective mate. Is he a mentsch?

25 Jul 2010

Life is a boomerang

Thanks to someone who advised me to listen to Louise Hay and helped me through a rough patch this morning, after a well meaning acquaintance made a dent in my self worth by offering "constructive criticism" in a fashion that was not "constructive."

Your own endeavours

By Rabbi Dr. Raymond Apple

“What a strange world it is,” Rabbi Henoch of Alexander said, “When it comes to our material livelihood, which in the end is in God’s hands, we boast about how well we have done for ourselves, but concerning our reverence for God, which is up to us, we say God has made it too hard to come close to Him”. The right way, said Rabbi Henoch, is in the sidra: “When it says, ‘What does the Lord your God ask of you, but to revere the Lord your God?’ (Deut. 10:12), the important word is ‘me’immach’ – ‘of you’. It is your own endeavours that will bring you to reverence for God!”
An analogy: the Talmud (Shab. 88b) says, “When the Almighty sought to give the Torah to Moses, the angels objected. A unique treasure like the Torah should stay in heaven, they argued! Human beings would not appreciate it!” God told Moses to answer the protesters. “What does the Torah say?” Moses asked them. “‘I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage’. Were you angels slaves in Egypt that God needed to take you out? What does the Torah say? ‘You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain’. Do angels ever go to court and feel the temptation to take the Divine name in vain? What does the Torah say? ‘Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy’. Do you go to work and need a day of rest? ‘Do not kill, do not steal, do not commit adultery’. Are you tempted to commit human transgressions? You do not need the Torah; human beings do.”
The moral? Only angels have a ready-made spiritual life. In the Divine Presence they constantly proclaim “Holy, holy, holy” (Isa. 6:3). It is not so with human beings. They are subject to countless earthly temptations and can take nothing for granted. Unless they work on their spirituality it will not eventuate. Unless their hearts feel, their eyes see, their ears hear and their minds reason, life will not reveal God to them. But if they make the effort, they can rise, as Maimonides says, even higher than the angels.


24 Jul 2010

Free from animal products

A Muslim businesswoman has launched Britain's first range of halal make-up, free from alcohol and animal products.
...Under Islamic law, alcohol and certain meats are forbidden. Pork especially is taboo, so Akhtar was shocked to learn that some of the products she used contained fatty acids and gelatin from pigs.

After reading the article above, I found an excerpt on Star-K Online regarding whether makeup has to be kosher.

We are familiar with the Torah law prohibiting one from eating non-kosher food. This halacha only prohibits the consumption of non-kosher food. One may, however, derive benefit from non-kosher food. The "minhag haolam" (custom) is to include in this category the application of non-kosher cosmetics to the skin. For example, it is permissible for one to apply facial creams or lotions containing animal derivatives. One may even apply non-kosher ingredients to one's lips (e.g. lipstick, lip balm). This is true even though one may inadvertently swallow traces of lipstick that mix with food. These trace amounts of lipstick are batel b'shishim (1:60 or less).
If there is no intention to swallow a non-food product (e.g. toothpaste, mouthwash, floss), one need not worry about the ingredients. Nonetheless, it is a hiddur to use kosher products if they might inadvertently be swallowed. If a product is intentionally swallowed (e.g. breath spray and breath freshener strips), the product requires kosher certification.

23 Jul 2010

Nachamu Nachamu Ami

Please pray for a refuah sheleima for Rav Kanievsky, Rav Shmaryahu Yosef Chaim ben Pesha Miriam רבי שמריהו יוסף חיים בן פעשא מרים
who is in the ICU after falling ill.

The Haftarah we read this week begins with the words "Nachamu Nachamu Ami." Be comforted, be comforted my people. May we be comforted with the building of the third Beis Hamikdash bimhera beyamenu.

Below is a video containing the lyrics of Nachamu Nachamu Ami. At the end of the video, tribute is paid to Irena Sendler, who saved approximately 2500 Jewish children from death during World War II.
Ms. Sendler was in contention for the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize which was ultimately awarded to Al Gore for his work on global warming.
It is particularly appropriate to pay tribute to this heroine during the week that news circulated about her grave being defaced.

By the rivers of Babylon

Psalm 137:1 By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.

1970s disco group Boney M performed at Ramallah this week, but the local music festival prevented it from performing one of its biggest hits, because it features the Jewish people's yearning for the Land of Zion, the Associated Press reported.
Lead singer Maizie Williams said Palestinian Authority concert organizers told her not to sing "Rivers of Babylon." The organizers said they asked for the song to be skipped, because they found it "inappropriate."

More Israel news: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/138738

So, for those who would like to deny the Jewish people's connection to the land of Israel and to the city of Jerusalem, the video below is a rendition of "By the rivers of Babylon," a song which takes its theme from Psalm 137. This chapter also contains the following verses.
137:5 If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.

137:6 Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I remember thee not; if I set not Jerusalem above my chiefest joy.

22 Jul 2010

Listen to your mother

On July 7, 232 North American Jews made aliya on a charter flight sponsored by Nefesh B’Nefesh and the Jewish Agency. While its safe to assume that all of the immigrants will be missed back in their hometowns, former New Yorkers Yonit and Yosef (Joe) Serkin, should be especially missed in Manhattan.Before making aliya, Yonit, 27, worked for nine years as an adviser to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, helping craft municipal politics at the very highest level in America’s largest city.

Reading the above article sent me on a search to read the Serkin's wedding announcement in the New York Times, published a few years ago.

Both the bride's mother and the groom's mother were employed at Yeshiva University.
...The couple met on a blind date their mothers set up in 2007. Ms. Golub said she had given her mother carte blanche in helping in her search for Mr. Right after her mother said that Ms. Golub could never seem to find someone worth going with on a third date.
She remembered telling her mother that if she was so convinced that finding the right man for her is easy, “then give him my number,” Ms. Golub said.
But her mother would not settle for any ordinary Joe. Three years later, in her first week at Albert Einstein, her mother met Mr. Serkin’s mother. Mrs. Serkin saw Mrs. Golub’s daughter in a family photograph on her desk. Both mothers compared notes and agreed that Yonit and Mrs. Serkin’s son, whom she referred to as Yosef, might have enough in common to hit it off.

Finally, the following paragraphs are excerpted from an INN article.
Tu B'Av, the 15th of Av, was a half holiday and the time that those who had not yet found their lifemate could choose one in ancient Israel.. The Sage Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel said, "There were no better (i.e. happier) days for the people of Israel than the Fifteenth of Av and Yom Kippur, since on these days the daughters of Israel/Jerusalem go out dressed in white and dance in the vineyards. What were they saying: Young man, consider whom you choose (to be your wife)?"( Taanit, Chapter 4).
....Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics publishes information about marriage rates in honor of the half holiday.

...The average age of marriage among first-time grooms was 27.5 (29.5 among the Jewish grooms). The average age of marriage among first-time brides was 24.7 (25.7 among the Jewish brides). In comparison, in 1970 this age among grooms was 25.0 (both among the general population as well as among the Jewish population). In the same year the average age of first-time brides was 21.7 (21.8 among Jewish brides).
more Israel news: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/138720

So, if you don't want to end up an old maid or a confirmed bachelor, take my advice and listen to your mother. As for me, I have to end this post because I am going to be busy sending a job application to Yeshiva University. You never know who I can meet there, maybe even my prospective machateinista.

16 Jul 2010

Claims at face value

This morning I heard a report on BBC radio by Dawood Azami who related, "a man who says he is the renegade Afghan soldier who killed three British troops in Helmand province in Afghanistan has contacted the BBC."
During the interview, the man said that he was angry with British troops and accused them of killing civilians. Another reason he gave was that he wasn't happy and wanted to be rewarded in the hereafter.
Mr. Azami ended his interview by saying that the UK's Ministry of Defence had issued a statement. "While we cannot comment on the legitimacy of this individual's claims to be the suspect responsible for this cowardly attack, it is ridiculous to suggest that we are engaged in suicide attacks or are deliberately killing civilians.
Insurgents and those who are against the coalition mission in Afghanistan routinely make false and exaggerated claims and so care must be taken not to accept their accounts at face value."


I guess we cannot take at face value the claims of insurgents in Afghanistan, but it is not a problem to take at face value those claims made by those on the Flotilla, insurgents in Gaza, the West Bank and those against Israel, as evidenced by the 2002 reporting of the massacre in Jenin.

What happened that day was said to be a massacre on the scale of Bosnia, Kosovo and Chechnya, with entire buildings flattened and hundreds of Palestinian civilians killed.People around the world assumed this to be true because United Nations aid workers, The Independent, the Times of London, The Guardian, BBC News and a host of other media organizations across Europe reported it to be so."Massacre evidence growing," a headline on BBC's website blared on April 18, 2002.
There was just one small problem. None of that happened.

Thanks to you and you

This morning I was pleasantly surprised to peruse my email and find the following in my inbox.

Congratulations! .... and your blog, Mashiach is Coming, has received our 2010 Top 50 Judaism Blogs award! You can see your name amongst our winners here at:www.onlinephdprograms.com/top_judaism/#Mashiach_is_Coming Winners were chosen through a scoring system led by internet nominations,which came from your reader base!...

My heartfelt appreciation goes out to those who nominated me and I would like to congratulate fellow winners. May we use our blogging skills only for the good, and provide a positive lashon hora free atmosphere on the net.

15 Jul 2010

The status of Jerusalem

A while ago, I wrote about how I had checked out the weather in Jerusalem by clicking on Yahoo weather. I was shocked to see that Jerusalem had been divided into Jerusalem, Il and Jerusalem Ps. Subsequently, the folks at Yahoo weather reunited Jerusalem.
My curiosity aroused, I checked out the weather of Jerusalem on the aljazeera site the other day. When I selected the country of Israel, the only option on the drop down menu of Select city was Tel Aviv. When I selected Palestine the only option on the drop down menu of Select city was Jerusalem.
As we are in the period of the nine days with Tisha B'Av fast approaching when we mourn the destruction of the two Temples that were built in Jerusalem, it behooves us to read an excellent article written a couple of years ago titled Why Jerusalem is special by Rabbi Shlomo Riskin. The following is an excerpt from the Jpost article.

In 1978, at the end of the Camp David peace talks between Israel and Egypt, US president Jimmy Carter pressed prime minister Menachem Begin to sign a letter in which he would “merely” agree to place the final status of Jerusalem on the negotiating table. Begin refused. Emotionally, he explained that in the Middle Ages there lived a beloved rabbi: Rav Amnon of Mayence, who was pressed by the bishop to at least consider converting to Christianity. After a lengthy argument, the rabbi agreed to ponder the issue for three days. As soon as he returned home, the rabbi was smitten by despair. Three days later, he returned to the bishop. “Punish me, oh Bishop,” he cried. “I should never have agreed to think about such an egregious act. The tongue which said I would ponder, the hand that shook yours in acquiescence, the leg that came to do your bidding – remove them from my body.”
The bishop did so. The next day, Rosh Hashana, the rabbi was brought in agony to the synagogue, where he cried out before the congregation the Unetaneh Tokef prayer he had composed the day before. Begin told Carter: “Jerusalem is the fount of our Torah, the focus of our mission. Our Psalmist declared, ‘If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand be removed from my body, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I remember thee not….’
“Please don’t ask me to sign your letter; I would rather forfeit my right hand and my tongue. I cannot repeat Rav Amnon’s transgression….”
Click here to read full article.

Predicting life's outcomes

"Life has a way of confusing us, blessing and bruising us..." (from Fiddler on the Rroof)

I once read that when a census was taken of the Israelites in the desert, Binyamin's descendants were far fewer than the number of descendants of Dan. This would seem counter to intuition as we would expect Binyamin, who had ten sons, would have had many more descendants than Dan, who only had one son. When I read this, I realized that we can't predict how life is going to turn out and what we worry about may turn out fine in the end. The things that we least worry about might give us the greatest sorrow in the future.
The above came to mind when I read about an interview with Shalom Menora, a man who lost his father and two daughters in a plane crash this week. His 13-year-old son was badly burned and prayers are needed for a refuah sheleima for Netanel Yosef ben Simcha Sima.
During the interview, Mr. Menorah stated that he he has two sons serving in combat roles in the army. They are fine, while his daughters who were away on holiday, safe from the combat zone, were killed.
Let us hope that the Menora family will find the strength to cope in these difficult times and that their young son should merit a speedy recovery. May they know no more sorrow.

14 Jul 2010

Seize the day

by Rabbi Dr. Raymond Apple
Starting the Book of D’varim this Shabbat reminds us that the Jewish year is almost over. We began B’reshit on Simchat Torah and now we have completed four of the five books of the Chumash and have embarked on the fifth. Before we know it, Rosh HaShanah will have arrived.
From the mathematical point of view, it takes a whole twelve months to get from one Rosh HaShanah to the next, but in reality the older you get the shorter the years seem to be. Time, in Yehudah HaLevi’s words, is the deceiver of all mankind. A year seems to take twelve months but they fly fast. The message is to use every day while you still can.
The only Latin some people remember from their schooldays is “tempis fugit” (time flies) – and “carpe diem” (seize the day). Seizing the day means finding a mitzvah to do today and doing it without prevaricating or postponement. The mitzvah may be for other people. It may also be for yourself. Finish the jobs you always meant to do. Read the books you always planned to read. Tell your dear ones that you love them. If you don’t do it now the opportunity may never be there again.


Of mice and heroines

Somedays, you can spend hours on the internet and come out none the wiser, with a feeling of what a waste of time. But, for those who missed the article Greater than Angels by Daisy Benchimol, I don't believe it is a waste of time to read about the heroines who served as shining examples of the greatness and goodness of the human spirit.
There is an old Polish legend about a dragon named Smok who was in the habit of roaming the streets of Krakow in search of young maidens to eat, while spreading terror and destroying everything in its path. In her stirring Holocaust memoir, To Vanquish the Dragon, Pearl Benisch describes the encounter of the Jewish community of Poland with the Nazi dragon of the 20th Century; and the victory of the maidens who dared to fight the beast.
Read full article: http://www.aish.com/ho/p/97788879.html

13 Jul 2010

A solution to the shidduch crisis?

She's taken meddling motherhood to a whole new level.
Geri Brin is so anxious to marry off her 31-year-old son, Colby (pictured), she's launched a Web site where she and other parents can find perfect matches for their single kids.
Colby isn't the least bit embarrassed about being fixed up by his mom.
"Look, I'm a Jewish guy who grew up in New York," he said.
"Obviously, I'm a momma's boy. Who are you kidding?"
...Starting today, any other parents looking to marry off their kids can play matchmaker by clicking the "Date My Single Kid" link on the Web site Faboverfifty.com.

As much as we roll our eyes about the "meddling mom" story above, sometimes it takes just that to marry off your kids. A relative was able to marry off his son when he asked his dentist if he knew of a girl for his son. The suggestion was accepted and the couple are happily married for years.
My grandfather set up a grandson with a daughter of a friend who rode with him on the train every day. The couple who were set up have been married for decades.
Another relative kept on asking a young man if he knew someone for her daughter. Time after time, he replied in the negative. Undeterred, the woman persisted, asking the young man whether he had a suggestion each time she met him. A number of months ago, he finally did come up with a young man who is now my relative's son-in-law.
The fact is we can't sit at home waiting for the phone to ring. We've got to take an active part in bringing about an end to the shidduch crisis. And if we are accused of being "meddling relatives" it is a small price to pay if we can be a part of Hashem's plan of bringing together the right matches for our children, friends and relatives.

Targeted for conversion

Two articles I came across about trying to convert Jews. Unfortunately, these people expend great resources in targeting Jews. Hopefully, they won't succeed.

A VIN article reports that "Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) is alerting the community about the dissemination of a missionary paperback book entitled, Ten Amazing Jews: They Thought for Themselves currently being mailed to teenage residents throughout Boro Park. For wider distribution, free copies of the book are also being dropped off at various shuls in Boro Park..."
Read full article: http://www.vosizneias.com/59919/2010/07/12/brooklyn-ny-alert-missionary-books-being-distributed-to-homes-shuls-throughout-borough-park

A second article describes how "The Hope of Israel is a Christian church targeting Jews for conversion to Christianity."
The Hope of Israel Congregation occupies the second floor of a swanky new building in Brighton Beach. Looming above a glitzy Russian produce market the angled façade of the four-story citadel straddles an obtuse corner of the neighborhood’s busiest intersection. A banner hugging its wall reads, “Hope of Israel – Savior and Light of the World.”
Read full article: http://www.brooklyneagle.com/categories/category.php?category_id=31&id=17314

Incidentally, I liked the copyright notice at the end of the article, making people aware of what exactly the author would tolerate in terms of having his article copied.

© Brooklyn Daily Eagle 2007
All materials posted on BrooklynEagle.com are protected by United States copyright law.
Just a reminder, though -- It’s not considered polite to paste the entire story on your blog. Most blogs post a summary or the first paragraph,( 40 words) then post a link to the rest of the story. That helps increase click-throughs for everyone, and minimizes copyright issues. So please keep posting, but not the entire article. arturc at att.net

12 Jul 2010

Happiness is a state of mind

Just a quick thought from a shiur I attended this evening by Rabbi Paysach Krohn about attaining simcha in challenging times. Rabbi Krohn stated that in the month of Adar, we are supposed to add joy, but in the month of Av, we minimize joy. Keep in mind that we are told to decrease joy but not to do away with it. A yid has to be besimcha (happy) always.
The letters of the word בשמחה (happiness) can also be flipped around to give us the word מחשבה(thought).
Rabbi Krohn related to the audience that Rav Pam used to say that people are always searching for the city of happiness, but they don't realize that it is a state of mind.
(If it weren't the nine days, I would end the post with a clip from the song - Don't worry, be happy.)

Occupied Jerusalem

A blog post titled Seperation Wall's Sub-contactor meets Livni in Jerusalem details a meeting between Ahmed Qurei and Tzipi Livni at the King David Hotel. The article states that the Fatah leader "Ahmed Qurei met in occupied Jerusalem on Sunday with Israeli Kadima party leader and former foreign minister Tzipi Livni."

A travel guide offers places of interest in West Jerusalem with the King David Hotel being described as, "opened in 1931, this majestic accommodation is Israel’s 5-star hotel."

Under the title Jerusalem/West, wikitravel.org lists the King David Hotel.

Can someone explain to me why the King David hotel meeting was described as a meeting in occupied Jerusalem? Am I missing something? I thought the Palestinians only had their sights on East Jerusalem.
Incidentally, the title in the blog post about the meeting has a spelling mistake in the word "seperation." (separation) Perhaps there is a factual error, as well. Or are there factual errors in the travel guides?

Aharon HaKohen's yahrzeit - Rosh Chodesh Av

The mishna says: "As Av enters, we diminish joy". Rosh Chodesh Av is the beginning of the stricter mourning period for the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash - First and Second. The restrictions of the Nine Days generally apply to Rosh Chodesh Av. (This is the Ashkenazi practice. S'faradim begin the restrictions on the second of the month.) It is one of two months on whose Rosh Chodesh fasting is not forbidden.

The yahrzeit of Aharon HaKohen occurs on Rosh Chodesh Av. We do not believe in coincidence. A connection must exist between the passing of the individual who personified brotherly love and the advent of the month which heralds a period of national mourning for the losses of our Batei Mikdash. The destruction of the second Bais Hamikdash was precipitated by sinaas chinam, unwarranted hatred, among Jews. Veritably, we do not find anywhere else in the Torah in which the date of the passing of a tzaddik, righteous person, is recorded, except for that of Aharon. It is as if the Torah wants us to remember that this spiritual giant died on Rosh Chodesh Av. Indeed, the Tur Orach Chaim, 580, writes that although it is Rosh Chodesh, one may fast. Chazal refer to this as taanis l'tzaddikim, fast for the righteous. Clearly, this day carries great significance.
Chazal exhort us to "be among the disciples of Aharon, love peace and pursue peace" (Pirkei Avos 1:12). Horav Shimshon Pincus, zl, interprets Chazal to be teaching us that we require a mentor to teach us to love peace. Apparently, most people enjoy a good dispute, a raging controversy. It adds zest to life. When things are peaceful and everybody gets along, it is too quiet. Furthermore, when there is peace, too many people are taken for granted. No one notices them; they are not seen or heard. During a machlokes, controversy, these "little guys" suddenly come out of the woodwork, articulating their opinions and making their demands. Suddenly, they have a venue, an audience that will listen to them.
This is why we need a rebbe, mentor, of the calibre of Aharon HaKohen to teach us the significance of living peacefully. People would rather live with strife. In order to promote peace, however, we must first learn to love peace. Only then can we go to the next level in order to create a venue for peaceful coexistence.
This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah NetworkPermission is granted to redistribute electronically or on paper,provided that this notice is included intact.

11 Jul 2010

Thoughts behind the act

The following paragraph is an excerpt from an article by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach.

In the end of days our Sages tell us that there is going to be a world trial, like a post Nuremberg trial, except that there is going to be only one judge: The One Judge; G-d. And G-d will ask the 70 Nations: "what did you do to promote Torah in this world?" And the Talmud says that all the Nations will come forward with their new understanding of world history, and they will try to take credit for having enabled Jews to learn Torah by providing them with such necessities as marketplaces, roads, bridges, and bathhouses. But G-d will reject their claim telling them: "Although your achievements did actually benefit the people of the Torah, it was only because My Divine Plan of World History put you in a position to do so; but, in fact, your motivations were purely selfish ones: either for economic exploitation or physical gratification."

This morning I pushed open the door to the elevator in my building and a neighbor, laden with packages, walked in and said "thank you" as I was exiting. "Why did he say thank you to me?" I asked myself. I wasn't opening the door for him. I opened the door to let myself out. And then I recalled Rabbi K. speaking this week about the above related story in the Talmud. If only I had had in mind to help out my neighbor, I would have been credited with a mitzvah. The same act of opening a door can be viewed as a positive deed or can be judged as an act solely for one's own benefit, depending upon the person's thoughts when performing the act.

Cut it out

A couple of weeks ago I read an article titled 12 signs it's time to quit Facebook. The following is an excerpt.
You haven't seen your husband/wife/significant other recently
See that person you're listed as in a relationship with on Facebook? Well they also exist away from the computer too, remember?
Facebook was recently found to be a factor in one in five divorces, and we're sure the figures are even higher for relationship break-ups. If you've not seen your other half in a while, you might want to make sure they aren't filing the divorce papers and packing their bags while you're busy updating your status.

Read full article: http://tech.uk.msn.com/features/photos.aspx?cp-documentid=153612340&page=3

Soon after reading the article, I listened to a shiur by Rabbi Zecharia Wallerstein in which he made a point about a sculptor who was asked how he made a sculpture of an elephant. He replied that he cut away all that wasn't elephant.
The rabbi said the same thing could be said about becoming a bat Yisrael. Cut out all that is not bat Yisrael. "Cut out Facebook," was one of the rabbi's suggestions.
The next week, Rabbi Wallerstein's lecture began with the following words.

"For all those who don't believe there is a problem with Facebook. This week three broken marriages that I know of because of Facebook. Eleven children between the three of them.... Get off facebook. Get off the internet. It is destroying klal Yisrael."
To listen to the whole lecture, click here.

5 Jul 2010

Who stood to benefit?

A doctor who said the man convicted of the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 had only three months to live now says the Libyan could survive another 10 years, London's Sunday Times reported.
...According to an earlier Sunday Times report, a former British justice secretary wrote to his counterpart in Scotland that it was "in the overwhelming interests of the United Kingdom" to make it possible for al-Megrahi to return to Libya.
The letter was written in 2007 during stalled negotiations over a BP oil exploration contract worth billions of dollars.

Click here to read full article and watch MSNBC where a reporter states , "the oil company that allegedly benefitted from his release - guess who BP."

For those of you who missed this excellent article by Leo Rennert titled What Obama Doesn't Understand About Zionism, click on the link below.

Keeping your promises

by Rabbi Dr. Raymond Apple
Diplomacy is a very important thing. Being diplomatic in your dealings with other people helps to ensure there will be peace in society. Diplomacy as a profession is also an important part of international relations. Indeed when I was very young I thought I might like to be a diplomat myself. I might even have been good at it. What changed my mind was that being a teacher of Torah came to seem a more satisfying challenge.
I have since come to know quite a number of diplomats. Most of them I found very stimulating people who served their country well. And on their behalf I have often been affronted by an old saying about diplomats: “When a diplomat says ‘yes’, it means ‘maybe’; when he says ‘maybe’, it means ‘no’; when he says ‘no’, he is no diplomat”. Why am I affronted? Because the language of negotiation seems to require a certain amount of fluidity. Diplomatic ambiguity has its place, but it has its limits. And in ordinary day to day speech the better rule has to be, as the sages put it, “Your ‘yes’ should be ‘yes’; your ‘no’ should be no’”.
The Torah emphasises this lesson when it says in today’s sidra, “If a person makes a vow to the Lord or takes an oath imposing an obligation upon himself, he shall not desecrate his word. He must carry out all that crosses his lips” (Num. 30:3). Notice what the verse says. Not merely “he shall not break his word”, but “he shall not desecrate his word”. Words, especially promises, are holy. If you do not mean to live by them, you should keep quiet and say nothing. How often do people fall out because someone made a promise and then forgot all about it, or did not really mean it seriously? How often do people say “yes”, when they mean “maybe” or even “no”, and then wonder why others do not trust them any more?

4 Jul 2010

Father knows best

"A father is obligated to do the following for his son: to circumcise him, to redeem him if he is a first born, to teach him Torah, to find him a wife, and to teach him a trade. Others say: teaching him how to swim as well."
Kiddushin 29A

The following are excerpts from a NYT wedding announcement.

Jenifer Lauren Steinhardt and Craig Benjamin Hollander are to be married Sunday evening at Beth El Congregation in Baltimore.
The couple were introduced by their fathers in March 2007, when Mr. Hollander’s father was his synagogue’s president and the bride’s father was the first vice president.
“They both had the brilliant idea,” Ms. Steinhardt said, adding that she was very reluctant about the whole thing.
Mr. Hollander also displayed little enthusiasm. “What are the odds you’re going to like your family’s friend’s daughter?” he said.
“My mom was very funny,” he recalled. “She pretended to look behind me, and said, ‘It’s funny, I just don’t see anyone else lining up for you.’ ”
...Ms. Steinhardt added: “We both resisted the introduction, but we both agree that fathers know best.”

She/he/I am taking a break from dating. I've recently heard that comment twice in the past few weeks. Yes, I realize that the dating process can be frustrating and it's very hard to face rejection after rejection or to go out on dates with someone entirely unsuitable. But, it only takes one. So, hang in there and be open for suggestions, from your parents, friends and shadchanim. Before you turn down the one that can be the bashert, ask yourself who's lining up for you. Take the chance. You might be pleasantly surprised.
And those doing the setting up. Make sure that it makes sense. Don't set up solely because he is a guy and she is a gal or that both are extremely tall. Take the time to do the research. A little while ago I read a forum about honesty in shidduchim. A young man complained to the shadchan. When you said that she is 24, I thought you meant her age, not her shoe size.
May those who are looking find their right matches easily and speedily. For those where the process is taking a bit longer - don't lose hope. Listen to the suggestion with open ears, particularly if it comes from your father.

July 4th, 1776 and 1976

On this July 4th, the anniversary of American's independence and the anniversary of the rescue in Entebbe, let's give a moment's pause to be thankful for being able to live in a country tolerant of religious practices, and to reflect upon Yonatan Netanyahu's supreme sacrifice in securing the freedom of others. May his name be blessed.

In 1972, a TV commercial changed the way Americans looked at kosher food. It showed Uncle Sam munching on a Hebrew National beef hot dog as a heavenly voice assures him it is free of the additives and byproducts present in lesser processed meats.
“We answer to a higher authority,” the voice proclaims. Trust us — we’re kosher.
...American Jews have always tried to balance their desire to be fully American with an equally strong desire to preserve their Jewish identity. As the social historian Jenna Weissman Joselit points out, one way that immigrant groups cement their position in a new society is by appropriating the foods of the dominant culture while simultaneously integrating their own into the mix. What better way for Jews to signal their full acceptance into American society than by stamping their imprimatur — kosher certification — on that most American of food products, the hot dog?

Read full article: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/04/opinion/04fishkoff.html

Justice denied

The amount of jail time for the confessed mastermind of the attack on Israeli athletes in Munich?
Mohammed Oudeh, a former math teacher who became the mastermind of the deadly attack on Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics, died Friday in Damascus.
...In later years, as a graying member of the Palestinian old guard, Mr. Oudeh, most commonly known by his guerilla name, Abu Daoud, showed no remorse for the botched hostage taking and killings of 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team that shook the world.
...“Would you believe me if I tell you that if I had to do it all over, I would?” he said in a 2008 interview with The A.P.

The amount of jail time for seven activists who caused £180,000 worth of damage in an arms factory?
Two more pro-Palestinian activists who broke into an arms factory in Brighton and caused £180,000 worth of damage have been acquitted after they argued they were trying to prevent war crimes in Gaza.
...Judge George Bathurst-Norman told the Hove Crown Court jury in his summing up: “"You may well think that hell on earth would not be an understatement of what the Gazans suffered in that time".
But the Israeli ambassador Ron Prosor sharply criticised the judge's comments. He responded: "After reading the judge's statement, there is no doubt that this is not a great era of the British justice system. I assume that Sderot's children, who have lived under thousands of missiles, for years, will be able to enlighten the judge as to the meaning of 'hell on earth.'

3 Jul 2010

Money can't buy happiness

The United States may be the richest nation on Earth, a new study indicates, but it's not the happiest.
The new analysis of Gallup World Poll data suggests, however, that trying to compare the happiness of one nation to another is not straightforward.
Rather, there are two major categories of happiness: overall life satisfaction; and more moment-to-moment enjoyment of life. And while overall satisfaction of life is strongly tied to income, meaning richer nations and individuals have more of this overall bliss, how much one enjoys life (by measures such as laughing and smiling) depends more on social and psychological needs being met. These include having social support and using one's abilities, as opposed to sitting at a mind-numbing job.
Read full article: http://news.yahoo.com/s/livescience/20100701/sc_livescience/usisrichestnationbutnothappiest

2 Jul 2010

Putting your fingers in your ears

When counting all the families of Bnei Yisroel we find a new family in Gad called Azni. Rashi says that although this family never appeared previously, it is Mishpachas Etzbon. The Shela HaKadosh explains that the gemara (Kesubos 5b) says that Hashem made the fingers perfectly suited to fit inside the ear to stop yourself from hearing Lashon Hara.
The Mei Shiloach says that when they went down to Mitzrayim to an atmosphere of Tumah they were called Etzbon as in Etzba or finger in their ear not to be influenced by Mitzrayim. Now as they stood on the threshold of Eretz Hakedosha they were called Azni, as they opened their ears to soak up the sounds of Kedusha from Eretz Yisroel.
The Iturei Torah brings that Gad encamped with Reuven and Shimon. Reuven participated in the Lashon Hara of Korach and Shimon had Zimri. Etzbon needed to shut their ears not to be influenced. Now the both Korach and Zimri were no longer alive they opened their ears and became Azni.


Have a good Shabbos. And, if you are placed in a position where you are about to hear Lashon Hara, just put your fingers in your ears.

Berucha habaa

Harriet Sherwood, has written an article titled Jerusalem, my new home in which the Guardian's new Jerusalem correspondent gives her first impressions of the city. I would have written the article differently.

The golden Dome of the Rock, the revered and iconic Muslim site from where the Prophet Mohammed began his ascent to heaven, gleams high above the Wailiing (or Western) Wall, the equally revered and iconic Jewish site where the devout bury prayers in the cracks between stones and mourn the destruction of their ancient temple.

If I were writing the article, I would have added the words, "according to Islamic tradition" after "his ascent to heaven."
This is but one example. Read the whole article here. And let me know if you come away with the same impression as I do. Namely, Ms. Sherwood's opening salvo rates a score of Palestine 1 - Israel 0.
I look forward to future unbiased and impartial reporting from the Guardian's new Jerusalem correspondent.
Ms. Sherwood, berucha habaa - Shalom.

Continued prayers

The other day I posted about davening for Moshe Feiglin's son, Dovid Yosef ben Feigie Perel, who was involved in a serious car accident. Included in the post was a video of Mr. Feiglin from over a year ago. At the end of the speech he stated, "we will deepen our connection to the holy Torah of Israel."
Yesterday, as I recited my morning prayers, I davened that Mr. Feiglin's son should merit a speedy recovery. My thoughts turned to the video I had seen of Mr. Feiglin calling for a deeper connection with the Torah. My eyes filled with tears thinking aboout this special man who wants to bring the Torah's spiritual values to the Jewish people living in Eretz Yisrael. May his son see a complete recovery and may his dream for an Eretz Yisrael based upon the Torah be fulfilled.

Yesterday I received an email in which Shmuel Sackett describes how he and Moshe Feiglin prayed for Dovid Yosef.

This morning I picked Moshe up at 5 AM and we went to the Kotel to daven. Immediately afterwards we immersed in the Breslov mikvah (in the Moslem quarter of the Old City) and then ascended Har Ha’Bayit (The Temple Mount). A very interesting thing happened just before we went up to Har Ha’Bayit.
Yesterday, I emailed Rabbi Nachman Kahane (brother of Rabbi Meir Kahane) and asked him to meet us before we go up to the Har so that he can give Moshe a bracha. I must point out that Rabbi Nachman Kahane is a rare “kohen me’yu’chas” which means he can trace his family’s line directly to the first High Priest of Israel, Aharon HaKohen! In addition to that, he is a Talmudic scholar who has written more than 40 holy books. Finally, he is a member of Manhigut Yehudit and believes strongly in Moshe’s ability to become Prime Minister of Israel (very soon with Hashem’s help).
Just before we arrived, Rabbi Kahane saw Rav Shlomo Aviner, chief Rabbi of Bet El and Rosh Yeshiva of Ateret Kohanim, in the Moslem section of the Old City. Rav Aviner is also a Kohen and Rabbi Kahane asked that he wait to bless Moshe as well. Shortly after that Moshe and I arrived, together with our dear friend, Dovid Shirel, who came to join us from Hebron. Rabbi Kahane explained that when one Kohen blesses a Jew it has the status of a “Rabbinic blessing,” but when two Kohanim bless a Jew it has the status of a “Torah blessing.” Both these men held Moshe’s hand and blessed him simultaneously with the traditional priestly blessing!
After receiving that wonderful blessing, Moshe, Dovid and I went up to Har Ha’Bayit. While there we had the very rare opportunity to fulfill a unique Halacha. The Mishna in Midot (chapter 2, Mishna 2) states that when people ascend the Har they walk towards the RIGHT. However, if the person is in mourning or has another problem – on which the commentaries explain that he is praying for a sick relative – the people walk to the LEFT. This is so that people already on the Har will see that the people are walking in the opposite direction and will ask them what happened. When they find out, they will say (in the case of illness), “May the Dweller in this House (meaning Hashem) grant your son a quick and speedy recovery”. Therefore, when we ascended the Har, instead of walking to the right, we walked to the left in fulfillment of this requirement. About 30 minutes into our walk around Har Ha’Bayit, some of the regular people who ascended Har Ha’Bayit a bit after we did, noticed that we were walking towards the left! They immediately asked Moshe, “Why are you walking towards the left?” and Moshe replied, “Because my son is sick and needs a Refuah Sh’laimah.” Immediately they replied, “May the Dweller in this House grant your son a quick and speedy recovery” – EXACTLY THE WAY THE MISHNA DESCRIBED IT OVER 2,000 YEARS AGO!!! I had “chills” down my spine for a long time. After all, it’s one thing to learn the law, but to experience it is 1,000 times more incredible.
Ten minutes after we left Har Ha’Bayit Moshe received a phone call from his wife, Tzippy. She told him that about 20 minutes earlier Dovid Yosef started moving his leg and an arm! The doctors were ecstatic about this small – but very significant – progress! Imagine that – he started improving at the EXACT TIME we were davening for him on Har Ha’Bayit as well as living the law in the Mishna!
Let’s hope for more progress each and every day!
Moshe and Tzippy Feiglin have asked me to express their heartfelt hakorat hatov for the outpouring of prayer and encouragement and request your continued prayers for their son.

1 Jul 2010

A few questions

Question 1.
France24 published an article titled Israeli aircraft strike Gaza, no injuries. Can anyone find a headline and article on any website (besides the Israeli newspapers) which descibes the rocket attack from Gaza on the factory in Southern Israel? Or is it only the Israeli attacks that make news?

Israeli aircraft struck three targets in the Gaza Strip on Thursday but nobody was hurt, Palestinian security officials said. A military spokeswoman said the air raids were in response to a rocket attack from Gaza on Wednesday in which a rocket fired from Gaza slightly damaged a factory in southern Israel but caused no casualties.

Question 2.
Yahoo news reported that accused Russian spy Metsos used a passport from a dead man's brother. As Israeli diplomats were expelled from various countries after Israeli spies were accused of using false passports, is Cyprus preparing to expel a Russian diplomat?

Red-faced authorities in Cyprus searched airports, ports and yacht marinas Thursday in a hunt for a suspected Russian spy-ring paymaster who vanished after being allowed to walk free on bail.
...Metsos' disappearance is a major embarrassment to Cyprus... Authorities have promised to do everything possible to find the suspect who claimed he was a tourist traveling on a Canadian passport.
...A man in Canada says the passport stole the identity of his dead brother.


Question 3.

Has anyone read an article By Steven Simpson in the American Thinker titled Why Islam Will Never Accept the State of Israel?
It is a common belief that the "Arab-Israeli conflict" is a conflict of two peoples fighting over the same piece of land and is therefore one of nationalism. Rarely, if ever, do we hear or read of the religious component to this conflict.
However, if anything, the conflict is more of a "Muslim-Jewish" one than an "Arab-Israeli" one. In other words, the conflict is based on religion -- Islam vs. Judaism -- cloaked in Arab nationalism vs. Zionism. The fact of the matter is that in every Arab-Israeli war, from 1948 to the present, cries of "jihad," "Allahu Akbar," and the bloodcurdling scream of "Idbah al- Yahud" (slaughter the Jews) have resonated amongst even the most secular of Arab leaders, be it Nasser in the 1950s and 1960s or the supposedly "secular" PLO of the 1960s to the present.
Read full article: http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/06/why_islam_will_never_accept_th.html

A call for Gilad Shalit's release

Rabbi Shmuelly Hecht has posted a video in which he offers the residents of Gaza $5 million dollars of humantarian goods in exchange for the release of Gilad Shalit.
To sign a petition calling for his release and to watch the rabbi make the same appeal in Arabic and Farsi, click on the following link.

Time to act

by Rabbi Dr. Raymond Apple

Pinchas was indignant. Things were being done in the Israelite camp which were morally intolerable. His conscience would not let him remain passive. “Vayyikkach romach b’yado” – “He took a spear in his hand” (Num. 25:7) – and he went after those who were flaunting their immorality for all to see, and he killed them. The consequences of his deed may have compromised his position as a priest, but at that moment his instinct told him, “It is a time to act for HaShem; they have broken Your Torah” (Psalm 119:126).
The No’am Elimelech looks at the word “romach” – a spear – and finds that its letters have the numerical value of 248, the rabbinic enumeration of the limbs of the body. The implication is that Pinchas responded to the crisis with every fibre and facet of his body.
But 248 is also the number of positive mitzvot in the Torah – the “thou shalts”. This suggests a further interpretation: that Pinchas countered the challenge positively, not with violence or with passion and emotion, but with reason and persuasion.
The historical fact is that the “romach” he used was a real spear, and he really did carry out an act of indignant violence, but on another level the link with 248 can suggest that there is more than one “romach” with which one can attack a crisis. Most of the time the calm voice of reason should be used to correct and contain a situation. There are times to appeal to the emotions and enlist heart as well as mind in moving from an unacceptable to an acceptable solution. Only in a real emergency when nothing else is working should you contemplate losing your cool and becoming physical.