"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

31 Jan 2011

The harsh prophecy

Yeshayahu- Isaiah - Chapter 19

1. The harsh prophecy of Egypt; Behold the Lord is riding on a light cloud and He shall come to Egypt, and the idols of Egypt shall quake from before Him and the heart of the Egyptians shall melt in their midst.
2. And I will stir up Egyptians against Egyptians, and they shall war one man against his brother, and a man against his friend, a city against a city and a province against a province.


by Walid Shoebat

...The most plausible outcome for Egypt’s chaos is a future election as demanded by world opinion, the outcome of which can be seen from the experience we had in the Palestinian elections, on which president George W. Bush insisted. The results ushered in a divide between Islamists and so-called moderate Palestinian Authority. Palestinians were killing Palestinians in the streets as Hamas ran rampant, executing other Muslims who didn’t agree with their agenda. But unlike that miniature state of psychosis, the scale of mayhem in Egypt will be immense! Egypt’s “democratic elections” will simply change one form of dictatorship into another!


On faith

Some comments about the unfolding events in Egypt.
Hillary Clinton - We continue to monitor the situation very closely. We are deeply concerned about the use of violence by Egyptian police and security forces against protestors, and we call on the Egyptian Government to do everything in its power to restrain the security forces.http://www.america.gov/st/texttrans-english/2011/January/20110130135349yggep0.9111074.html?CP.rss=true#ixzz1CbYC851P

Prime Minister Julia Gillard - "We are going to monitor this closely, day by day, indeed hour by hour..."http://dubbo.iprime.com.au/index.php/news/national-news/govt-organises-egypt-evacuation-flight
Olympic holdays - We are continuing to monitor the situation in Egypt closely.http://www.olympicholidays.com/information/egypt-travel-advice.htm
How come I don't have any faith in these monitors? I'll reserve my faith in the One Above. And speaking of faith, click here for a Rabbi Lazer Brody story about emunah related by Rabbi Z. Wallerstein.

30 Jan 2011

A spoonful of grapefruit juice

You should say a beracha rishona before eating even the smallest amount of food. A beracha achrona, on the other hand, is not recited unless you eat a minimum of a kzayis of solid food or a rviyis of liquid.

Check out the berachot for common foods by clicking on the above link. You will even find the beracha for grapefruit juice by clicking on the letter g.

The gift of giving

by Rabbi Dr Raymond Apple
The sidra opens with a command to Moses to tell the people v’yik’chu li t’rumah, “They shall bring Me a donation” (Ex. 25:2).
Most expositors concern themselves with the purpose of the donation and the manner in which it was to be brought; the Chida focuses on the word li – “to Me”, which can also mean “My”. Rashi translates the verse, “They shall bring My donation – i.e. a donation dedicated to My Name”. The Chida takes li literally to indicate that God Himself promises a donation… God’s name is at the top of the donors’ list!
In what way does God contribute? Maybe the rest of the verse provides an answer: me-et kol ish asher yid’vennu libbo tik’chu et t’rumati – “From everyone whose heart moves him shall you accept My donation”. God’s donation is the spirit of generosity implanted in the human donors. Where do the donors get that spirit? From the Creator. What motivates them to exercise it? The Almighty.


As I read the dvar Torah above about generosity, I immediately thought about a video clip which I had been sent by email this morning, which truly embodies the spirit of giving.

28 Jan 2011

The committed marriage

An East Yorkshire couple aged in their 90s have remarried - 57 years after getting divorced.
Leslie Harper, 93 and Elsie, 90, from Driffield, first married in 1941 but separated several years later and both went on to remarry.
It was when the pair lost their partners that Mr Harper plucked up the courage to get back in touch with his ex-wife, leading to them reuniting.
Mrs Harper said: "It's much better this time. We laugh every day."

Read full article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-humber-12302146

And nothing but the truth

Two versions of an incident. Which one is the truth?

Israeli settlers 'shoot Palestinian teen' near Nablus

Police: Palestinian shot in self-defense
Police said Thursday that a man, apparently a settler, who shot and killed a 19-year old Palestinian Thursday in the West Bank, had been attacked by a group of Arabs and was acting in self defense.

27 Jan 2011

Peace is a conduit

The following is an excerpt from an email by Rabbi Eli Mansour that I received this morning.

It is said in the name of Rav Haim Vital (1543-1620), "Mahaloket Ahat Dohe Me'a Parnasot" - "One argument deters one hundred sources of livelihood." What this means is that peace is a conduit of material blessing. Regardless of one's efforts to earn a living, the presence of "Mahaloket" - strife and discord - will prevent the blessing of Parnasa (livelihood) from being bestowed.
...The Mishna famously comments, "The Almighty found no better receptacle to hold blessing than peace." A person can purchase $250 worth of groceries in the supermarket, but they will not help him without bags with which to bring them home. Somebody can offer us the most flavorful and highest quality wine in the world, but without a bottle we have no means of enjoying it. The same is true of God's blessings. Even if we are worthy of material blessings, they cannot come down from the heavens without some kind of receptacle. And the Sages teach us that the receptacle that holds the blessing of Parnasa, the conduit through which these blessings are sent to this world, is "Shalom," peaceful relations. And the more peace a person achieves, the more "pipes" he makes available to bring down the "Shefa" (God's abundant blessings) from the heavens.

Read full devar Torah: http://www.dailyhalacha.com/ - insert January 27 as date.

Let's work on achieving peace, be it marital harmony or repairing strained relations. Let's stop allowing comments on websites which don't contribute to achdut. Let's merit a peace in which we will no longer face the danger of being stoned while on the way to visit a spouse's grave or be stabbed for wearing a Jewish star around our necks.

His own faults

About a year ago I signed up to receive two halachos a day regarding loshon hora by email from the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation.
Yesterday morning's email began with the following words.

Generally, a person who speaks loshon hora does so from a somewhat smug and haughty perspective. Such a person, says the Chofetz Chaim, shows himself to be conceited, because by speaking as he does, he apparently sees himself as faultless. If he were truly aware of his faults, he would be reluctant to speak badly of others, for perhaps his own faults are greater.

Would you believe that I stopped myself twice from voicing aloud my thoughts about others when I remembered the above words? As I was about to say something to a member of my family about someone, I asked myself two questions. Am I any better? What about my faults?

I kept my mouth shut and felt good for not saying anything derogatory.

26 Jan 2011

The replacement

Recently, the group who is planning to build an Islamic center near Ground Zero, replaced Imam Rauf with Imam Abdullah Adhami.
In the clip below, which is titled The Relationship between Judaism and Islam - Shaykh Abdallah Adhami, the lecturer mentions that during the sin of the golden calf, a select few of Jews who transgressed were turned into apes and pigs. He states that it says so in the Talmud and that he read it there.
Since he didn't state the source of his readings, I was curious if someone more proficient in the Talmud could point me in the right direction.
An article relating to this topic does not offer any further elucidation.

The headlines

Two protests - different coverage of the events.

BBC's headline after a protest in Bilin reads, Palestinian dies after inhaling gas at W Bank protest.
A Palestinian woman has died after inhaling gas fired by Israeli troops during a protest against the West Bank barrier at Bilin on Friday, medics say.
Jawaher Abu Rahmeh, 36, died early on Saturday despite undergoing hours of treatment in a hospital in the nearby city of Ramallah, its director said.
The Palestinian Authority condemned what it called an Israeli "war crime".


So, in the first few paragraphs the cause of death and the word "war crime" is used.

Contrast the headline when 3 people were killed in Egyptian riots.
Egypt protests: Police disperse Cairo crowds
Egyptian police have used tear gas and water cannon to break up rare anti-government protests in the capital.
...At least three people died during Tuesday's nationwide internet-inspired "day of revolt", which the government blamed on a banned opposition movement.

The New York Times' headline reads, Violent Clashes Mark Protests Against Mubarak’s Rule.
Buried in the middle of the article is the fact that, "There were reports of three deaths and many injuries around the country."

The New York Times' headline about Bilin reads Tear Gas Kills a Palestinian Protester.
A Palestinian woman has died after inhaling gas fired by Israeli troops during a protest against the West Bank barrier at Bilin on Friday, medics say.

25 Jan 2011

Distance yourself from falsehood

Lying is one of the most disgraceful sins. So much so that the Torah doesn't simply say not to do it, rather the Posuk (Shmos 23:7) tells us to distance ourselves from untruth, Midvar Sheker Tirchak, an admonition not found by any other prohibition in the Torah.

Click here to view a video about two boys who learned that honesty pays.

All the news that's not fit to print

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?
If the New York Times and Washington Post don't report it, is it news?
WND published an article this morning relating to the President's birth certificate.

Former Hawaii elections clerk Tim Adams has now signed an affidavit swearing he was told by his supervisors in Hawaii that no long-form, hospital-generated birth certificate existed for Barack Obama Jr. in Hawaii and that neither Queens Medical Center nor Kapi'olani Medical Center in Honolulu had any record of Obama having been born in their medical facilities.
Read full article and see signed affidavit: http://www.wnd.com/?pageId=254401#ixzz1C1tkstvN
If you Google "Hawaii elections clerk Tim Adams" it is difficult to find a link to a mainstream media report about his claims.

An American Thinker article by Leo Rennert titled Harrowing testimony of Israeli commandos aboard Gaza-bound ship -- 'Armed Mob lynched us'-- Unreported by NYT, WaPo describes how Israeli soldiers' testimonies of what happened on the Marmara is virtually unreported.
Mainstream media have devoted extensive coverage to the dead Turks, but virtually none to the attacks on the Israeli commandos and to their extensive injuries.
Mr. Rennert concludes, "None of this, however, is news that's fit to print in the New York Times and the Washington Post."
Read full article: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2011/01/harrowing_testimony_of_israeli.html

24 Jan 2011

Trim down and exercise

'Venishmartem meod lenafshotechem' ['You shall take care exceedingly of your lives' -- Deut. 4:15)

Jack LaLanne, the fitness guru who inspired television viewers to trim down, eat well and pump iron for decades before diet and exercise became a national obsession, died Sunday. He was 96.

After reading about the death of fitness expert, Jack Lalanne, I clicked on some of the short clips on YouTube featuring him. What can I say? He was a visionary - someone who impacted on the lives of many. If only we take his sage advice to heart. The following is a comment posted a number of hours ago.

What a legend! R.I.P. Mr. LaLanne. Thank you for the difference you made in so many lives, including mine.

The upside down "B"

Below is part of a fascinating speech given by the UN Secretary-General at the Park East Synagogue on the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust.

Yesterday, at UN Headquarters, I met a group of young people. They came from several countries, and several faiths.
They were accompanied by several Holocaust survivors.
What united them was remembrance. All were members of the International Auschwitz Committee.
Each year, these young people spend several weeks working at the camp ? keeping it in shape, preserving the past for generations in the future.
One young woman told me of cleaning the victims' shoes. The childrens' shoes, so small, affected her especially deeply.
Another young person spoke of Auschwitz as a “terrible place.” And yet, it is an important place, she said.
It is important because whoever goes to Auschwitz is changed.
He or she never sees the world in quite the same way again.
Toward the end of our meeting, they surprised me with a gift.
Here it is.
This is not just any letter “B”. It is a replica of the “B” that appeared in the infamous inscription on the gates of Auschwitz: Arbeit Macht Frei.
Prisoners at Auschwitz had been ordered to make that sign, I was told.
And in their anger, they decided to make a stand.
If you look carefully at pictures of the gate, you will see that the “B” is upside down. What might appear to be a mere piece of design is actually a daring act of defiance.
Hidden within the German message emblazoned on that gate, the prisoners of Auschwitz delivered a message of their own:
All is not right here. Something is upside down. Brutally so.
The prisoners saw their act as a sign of hope.
Read full article: http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2011/sgsm13361.doc.htm

16 Jan 2011

Thanks to a spouse

The Guardian published a feature titled The 10 best film award acceptances - in pictures which included poignant speeches by best supporting actress Hattie McDaniel and Holocaust survivor Gerda Weissmann Klein.
I was very taken by Alfred Hitchcock's acknowledgement of just how much his wife contributed to making him what he became. Let's take a moment's pause to reflect on our spouses' support and help in our lives and let's be grateful.

In 1968, Hitchcock won his sole (honorary) Oscar and said: “Thank you” - just that. Eleven years later, as toast of the AFI, he spoke for six minutes and was amusing for all of them (the allotment-sized flower arrangement helps). Hitch’s thanks this time had a direction: his wife, Alma. “Had the beautiful Miss Reville not accepted a lifetime contract without options as Mrs Alfred Hitchcock some 53 years ago, Mr Alfred Hitchcock might be in this room tonight, not at this table but as one of the slower waiters on the floor”

The whole picture

"One shall not covet your fellow's wife, his manservant, his maidservant, his ox, his donkey nor all that belongs to your fellow man" (v'chol asher l'rei-echa). One may ask, after the Torah spells out that the prohibition of coveting applies to a neighbor's wife, and male servants and female servants, his oxen, his cows, his donkeys -- what is the summation "and all that belongs to your fellow-man" really adding?
The Meforshim explain, it is coming to teach us how to prevent jealousy towards a friend. One might look at a neighbor's wife and see how wonderful she is. One might look at his house and see how well he lives. One can look at his job and his children and think "This guy really has it made!"
The Torah is telling us to consider "kol asher l'rei-echa" -- look at the whole picture. Everyone has his or her own "Pekeleh" of problems in life. No one's life is perfect. As apparent as it may seem that this person has it 'made', we do not know the whole story. We can never know for certain. It is always necessary to take into account "kol asher l'rei-echa" [all that is doing with your neighbor].
Many times, when we learn about "all that is doing with our neighbor," we will not want to trade places.


15 Jan 2011

What's going on?

What is the story behing the replacement of Imam Rauf, cultural leader behind the Ground Zero Mosque, by Imam Adhami?
Rauf's replacement, Imam Abdallah Adhami, who has been active in New York's Muslim community, will now handle religious programming for the project, known as Park51.
Critics of the project pointed out that Adhami has a link to Imam Siraj Wahhaj, of Brooklyn, whom prosecutors fingered as an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Wahhaj also was a character witness in the trial of convicted terror plotter Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman.
Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/manhattan/mosque_sheik_up_yK7ViqWCwHy8ioXABc41XK#ixzz1B7pgTVVb

First birds and fish, now dead cows. What's going on?
200 dead cows found in Wisconsin field
An investigation is under way after 200 dead cows were found in a field in the Town of Stockton.


14 Jan 2011

Shalosh Seudos

On the first Shabbos after Moshe had informed the Jewish people that no Mon would fall on Shabbos, but that instead, a double portion would fall on Friday, he told the people, "Eat it today, because today is HaShem's Shabbos. You will not find anything in the field today." (Shemos 16:25). The Gemara in Shabbos (117b) derives from the fact that the Torah uses the word "hayom", today, three times in this Posuk (Ibid.) that there is an obligation to eat three meals on Shabbos. The Gemara further on (Ibid. 118b) documents the great rewards given to one who is careful to always eat these three meals.
Read full article: http://www.tzemachdovid.org/thepracticaltorah/beshalach.shtml

13 Jan 2011

Happy Birthday and Happy Birthday

Just came across a feel good story about identical twins who will be celebrating a special birthday this coming weekend.
On Sunday, there are likely to be more double-takes when some 150 friends and family members gather in San Fernando to celebrate the identical twins' 100th birthday.
"I don't feel a century old," Harries said. "I probably don't feel any older than in my 80s."
Shaw nodded in agreement. "We both eat good food," she explained.
Read full article: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-0114-twin-centenarians-20110113,0,6143105.story

What's their favorite book? I'll leave you in suspense but the answer is in the article.

Wreckless language

With the term "blood libel" in the news the past few days because of Sarah Palin's injudicious use of the expression, the New York Times gives a brief history of the term's origins.

The expression “blood libel,” used by Sarah Palin in her denunciation of pundits and journalists, has its origin in a charge against Jews that took hold in the Middle Ages in a period of rising anti-Semitism.
The first known accusation surfaced in 1144 in Norwich, England, when a boy named William, an apprentice to a tanner, was found dead in the woods.
The town was soon in an uproar, blaming Jews for his death...
Read full article: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/13/us/13bloodlibel.html?hpw

12 Jan 2011

The Kabbalah and Leonardo

Is the enigma of Mona Lisa's eyes to be found in the Kabbalah?

Silvano Vinceti claims he has found the letter "S" in the woman's left eye, the letter "L" in her right eye, and the number "72" under the arched bridge in the backdrop of Leonardo da Vinci's famous painting. According to the researcher, the symbols open up new leads to identifying the model, dating the painting, and attesting to Leonardo's interest in religion and mysticism.
The number "72," Vinceti argues, is found in the Kabbalah, a form of Jewish mysticism, and in Christianity. Even when considered separately, "7" is full of symbolic associations in both Judaism and Christianity, for example to the creation of the world, and the number "2" may be a reference to the duality of male and female, said Vinceti.


The yarmulke kid dunked!

Team USA brought home the gold from the 2010 Maccabi Australia 18-and-under basketball tournament. And the squad did it while wearing yarmulkes.
For the first time, the majority of the American team was composed of Orthodox Jewish students.
...While the Maccabi Games are open to Israelis and Jewish citizens, the number of religious Jews who play in the Maccabi Games is small, according to Steinmetz. That made the team’s wins, a cluster of bobbing yarmulkes flying down the basketball court, all the more surprising. Steinmetz recalled that he kept on hearing people exclaim, “I can’t believe the yarmulke kid dunked!”
Both Feld and Rosenberg said they believed the event had been a kiddush Hashem, a sanctification of G-d’s name.
“We were respectful and that definitely helped,” Rosenberg said. “We wore our kippot to show our pride and we won.“
...Rosenberg and Feld helped another Jewish player put on tefilin in the airport for the first time in four years.
Read full article: http://thejewishstar.com/stories/Bringing-home-the-gold,2153

11 Jan 2011

Gaining and losing customers

One article about attracting new customers, another about dissuading them from buying.
The Spanish government has sponsored an ad on Palestinian television supporting the boycott of Israeli goods, according to Palestinian Media Watch.
Channel 2 on Tuesday night said that the Spanish government was investigating the matter.

Read full article: http://www.jpost.com/International/Article.aspx?id=203143

After a Glock-wielding gunman killed six people at a Tucson shopping center on Jan. 8, Greg Wolff, the owner of two Arizona gun shops, told his manager to get ready for a stampede of new customers.
Wolff was right. Instead of hurting sales, the massacre had the $499 semi-automatic pistols -- popular with police, sport shooters and gangsters -- flying out the doors of his Glockmeister stores in Mesa and Phoenix.

Segulah for livelihood

A friend sent me a link to a clip of two very talented men playing Mozart on the guitar. What a great way to earn a living by using your talents and enjoying what you do. And speaking about one's livelihood.....

[Today] On The 3rd day of the week of Parshat Beshalach: There is a Segula passed down from Reb Menachhem Mendel of Riminov found in the sefer Lechem Abirim to say Parshas HaMon Shnayim Mikra ViEchad Targum.

Dreaming of Moshiach reminds us that it is a Segula for livelihood to say Marshat Man from שמות פרק טז פסוּק ד
וַיֹּאמֶר ה' אֶל מֹשֶׁה הִנְנִי מַמְטִיר לָכֶם לֶחֶם מִן הַשָּׁמָיִם
Exodus Chapter 16;4
Till the last passuk, וְהָעֹמֶר, עֲשִׂרִית הָאֵיפָה הוּא.

To access Parshat Man, click here.
May we all merit having our prayers answered for the good.

10 Jan 2011

Don't waste time

According to halakha

According to halakha, the oldest normative definition used by Jews for self-identification, a person is matrilineally a Jew by birth, or becomes one through conversion to Judaism.
...Reform and Liberal Judaism do not accept the halakhic rules as binding, and accept a child of one Jewish parent, whether father or mother, as Jewish if the parents raise the child as a Jew and the child fosters a Jewish identity...

I wasn't surprised to find some websites and blogs write articles about the Jewish lawmaker, Gabrielle Giffords. After all, The Reform movement accepts her as being Jewish because of her Jewish father. But, I was surprised to find some websites and blogs leaning to an Orthodox point of view refer to her as Jewish. Perhaps Aish.com got it right when she was described as follows.

Ms. Giffords narrowly won, and became the first Jewishly identified representative from her state.
Rep. Giffords did not always consider herself Jewish. With a Christian mother and a Jewish father, Rep. Giffords began to identify herself as Jewish after a political visit to Israel ten years ago.

And here is a part of a comment posted at the end of another article.

Her mother is not Jewish.
She did not CONVERT according to Jewish Law.
HENCE, she is NOT Jewish.
She may be a RIGHTEOUS GENTILE, but certainly NOT Jewish...
Unless we let everything and everyone decide who is Jewish or not accept Jewish Law and Tradition of 3,000 years.
It would be like letting a microbiologist decide how to better perform orthopedic surgery, a mechanic decide how to run a biology experiment, a painter deciding how to graft a plant rather than a botanist.

May she and the other victims have speedy recoveries.

9 Jan 2011

Truth or scoop?

PBS "Newshour" reporters said this morning that some of the early and erroneous media reports on the Arizona shootings illustrate the need for news that is more concerned with the truth than with "being first."
"To be first and be wrong is bad," said Ray Suarez, "Newshour" senior correspondent. He was referring to inaccurate reports on several 24-hour cable news stations that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the target of the shootings, had died.
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/2011/01/09/2011-01-09_erroneous_early_reports_about_gabrielle_giffords_death_show_need_for_accuracy_ov.html#ixzz1AZIjkrrK

This weekend I came across an error in a caption under a photo which could have been so easily corrected with a bit more proofreading.

Would you rather be known as being the first to publish or as being a trustworthy news source?
Wishing Rep. Gabrielle Giffords a speedy recovery.