"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

26 Apr 2011

A glance in all directions

Happy birthday to a close relative on a special birthday.

The following is an excerpt from an email I received from the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation.
"Our Sages state:

R’ Yehoshua ben Levi said: The term “Torah”, appears five times in the chapters which discuss the metzora [whose affliction is punishment for having spoken loshon hora].1 This teaches that one who speaks loshon hora is considered as if he had transgressed the Five Books of the Torah (Vayikra Rabbah 16:6).

R’ Yochanan said in the name of R’ Yose ben Zimra: Whoever speaks loshon hora is considered as if he had denied the existence of God, as it is written, (Tehillim 12:5), “Those who have said, ‘With our tongues we shall prevail, our lips are with us, who is master over us?’ ” (Arachin 15b).

Sefer Yereim explains that when someone wants to speak loshon hora, he first casts a glance in all directions to make sure that the subject of his evil words is not present. His seeming lack of concern that his words will be noted Above conveys an impression that, to his mind, Heaven is not cognizant of what he is about to say. This is why speaking loshon hora is akin to denial of belief in God."

So remember, next time you want to say something negative about someone, don't look around, look up.

24 Apr 2011

Passover and freedom

The following is an excerpt form a JWR article titled Truth Stands the Test of Time by Chief Rabbi Dr Warren Goldstein. In addition, the rabbi relates a fabulous story about the NYTimes which I urge you to read.

People think that the immediate gratification of materialism and physical pleasure brings a life of happiness, whilst we know that in fact it does not. All the things we are enslaved to are so transient; they are like grass that grows very quickly but withers. Only when we build our life on the good solid values of the Torah are we able to achieve that ultimate sense of meaning and satisfaction from life itself; as it says : "[The Torah] is a tree of life for those who grasp it, and those who uphold it are happy." (Proverbs 3:18). Only when we sink our roots deep into the nourishing soil of our Judaism, can we discover and nurture our true sense of balance, purpose, inner peace and happiness.
And this is the real secret of freedom, which we celebrate on Passover.

Read full article: http://www.jewishworldreview.com/0411/goldstein_truth_passover.php3

Click here for Part 2.

Prayer for rain

On Passover we stop reciting the prayer for rain [in the Amidah], for rains that fall at the end of Nissan are considered to be a bad sign for the world, the time for the grain harvest has begun and rain will cause the sheaves of grain lying in the field to rot, instead , we pray for dew to fall and moisten the crops without harming drying grain. The first day of Passover was destined from Creation as the time for dew to fall.
...We begin saying Morid HaTal at Mussaf on the first day of Pesach. We say VeTein Brachah in the 9th Brachah of Shemoneh Esrei, beginning with Ma’ariv on the Motzaei Yom Tov, Wednesday night, April 20.

There are two reasons mentioned why we begin reciting Morid HaTal on the first day
of Pesach:
1. The Beis Yosef cites a Yerushalmi that states that we pray (daven) for Tal (dew)
and not for geshem (rain) because we want the Three Festivals to have pleasant
2. In Pirkei De’Rebbe Eliezer it states that on Pesach, the Heavenly storehouse of
dew is opened.

I find it ironic that in the month that we cease to pray for rain, Governor Perry issued a proclamation for days of prayer for rain.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, RICK PERRY, Governor of Texas, under the authority vested in me by the Constitution and Statutes of the State of Texas, do hereby proclaim the three-day period from Friday, April 22, 2011, to Sunday, April 24, 2011, as Days of Prayer for Rain in the State of Texas.

23 Apr 2011


Stella Paul pens a new dayenu in which she describes her prayer for deliverance from failed Jewish leadership.
Among the verses which resonated with me was the following;

If they only had declared their mission was to take dwindling Jewish resources and devote them to helping Muslims build mosques in America, for the sake of fighting the mythical sin of "Islamophobia," all the while ignoring the anti-Semitism destined to spew forth from those mosques -- Dayenu -- they would have failed.

I was reminded of a "rabbi" blogger who collected money for carpets for a mosque which had been damaged but had not asked for donations for victims of numerous terror attacks in Israel.

If they only had turned their back on the land of Israel and our brethren there, indicting Israel for every perceived imperfection and loaning their prestige to those who would endanger our homeland -- Dayenu -- they would have failed.

I was reminded of a "rabbi" blogger who urged fellow rabbis not to sign a letter calling on Representatives and Senators not to cut any foreign aid to Israel. As Israel used the Iron Dome defense system recently in a successful manner, intercepting missiles headed for its territory, I wondered how this person could write about not providing financial aid to the Jewish state, particularly given the staggering cost of the protective system.
Read full article: http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/04/this_passover_free_us_from_a_f.html

22 Apr 2011

Posturing and speechifying

A Republican invitation for Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to address Congress next month is highlighting the tensions between President Obama and Mr. Netanyahu and has kicked off a bizarre diplomatic race over who will be the first to lay out a new proposal to reopen the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Two journalists read the above article and came up with two different takes. First, Huffington Post's Steve Clemons writes:

Helene Cooper of the New York Times has published a great what's up story on the new behind the scenes scramble by the Obama administration, Prime Minister Netanyahu and various Palestinian officials to act as if they have some plan to move the peace process forward -- when in fact, most of it is insincere posturing and speechifying designed to pour concrete on what has thus far been failure.

I read the New York Times article and fail to see where Ms. Cooper wrote about Palestinian officials having some plan to move the peace process forward. She focused soely on the US and Israel.

Leo Rennert in American Thinker agrees that Abbas is conspicuiusly absent from Ms. Cooper's article.

As I picked up my copy of the April 21 edition of the New York Times, my eyes caught sight of an all-caps headline atop the main front-page story, "DIPLOMATIC RACE OVER PEACE PLAN FOR MIDDLE EAST."
My first thought was that this really could be a newsworthy development -- a race between Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian President Abbas to be the first to lay out a substantive peace proposal.
But alas, it was not to be, as the sub-head made clear: "OBAMA VS. NETANYAHU."
...But conspicuously missing from Cooper's "scoop" is the Palestinian side of the peace-process equation. No mention whatsoever of Mahmoud Abbas. If a preview piece about new moves to resume serious negotiations warrants top front-page placement, one would have expected that the Times also might show some curiosity about the peace parameters of Mahmoud Abbas.

Read full article: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2011/04/ny_times_mindset_peace_hinges.html

21 Apr 2011

Religious bias

I came across a website named charactersunite which calls upon people to "stand against intolerance, prejudice, discrimination and hate."
On a page devoted to religious tolerance, the following was reported.

•There were 1,376 hate crime offenses motivated by religious bias in 2009.
•Of the hate crime offenses motivated by religious bias in 2009, 70.1 percent were anti-Jewish, 9.3 percent were anti-Islamic, 8.6 percent were anti-other religion, 4.4 percent were anti-multiple religions, group, 4.0 percent were anti-Catholic, 2.9 percent were anti-Protestant and 0.7 percent were anti-Atheism/Agnosticism/etc.
Source: FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Program, "Hate Crime Statistics 2009"


With all the focus on Islamophobia, it seems that members of another religion are targeted at a much higher rate.

And, what is the first question to be asked at yesterday's United Nations briefing? Of course, it has to do with Israel.

So what to do to solve the problem of anti-semitism and the obsession of the world with the Jewish state? I don't have the definitive answer but I am sure that performing mitzvot is one good place to start.
How about counting the omer? Click here to check the day of the omer.

The Passover message

The following is an excerpt from Barry Rubin's Obama’s Passover Message Misses the Message of Passover.
Finally, there is another aspect of Passover that Obama could have chosen to emphasize, though I doubt he heard the Reverend Wright preach on it. The purpose for which God took the Jews out of Egypt in the first place. For otherwise, the creator of the Universe might merely have transformed Egypt into a multicultural society, right?
“God spoke to Moses, and He said to him, `I am the Lord…I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob….I established My covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan….’”
At a time when Israel’s right to exist is coming increasingly into question — mainly so among Obama’s supporters — that would have been a nice gesture.

Read full article: http://pajamasmedia.com/barryrubin/2011/04/20/obamas-passover-message-misses-the-message-of-passover/

Click here to read Glenn Beck's take on the President's Passover message.

And speaking of the President, WND has just published an article titled Why do 3 supporters own Obama home?

20 Apr 2011

Concocting questions

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.

18 Apr 2011

The endless story

Nice thought by Bella Schapiro in a story titled An Easy Life.
Click here to read.
Wishing you a happy and kosher Pesach.

17 Apr 2011

Victims of terror

About a week ago, I received an email about a teenager who was found to have a malignant brain tumor. Those who wished to participate in saying sefer Tehillim were asked to send an email if they would like to say one perek on the boy's behalf. I signed on and was asked to recite Perek 27. Since then, I have said the Psalm every morning and asked G-d for a refuah sheleimah for the young boy named Yosef Simcha ben Zakah Basya. I also added the name Refoel David Aryeh ben Tamar to my list. And, this afternoon, I shed tears when I found out that I will no longer be able to pray for the recovery of Daniel Viflic. May his parents and family be comforted and may they know no more sorrow.
A reader left a comment on a JPost article about the tragedy.
If deliberately firing an anti-tank missile at a schoolbus and killing a schoolboy isn't a war crime, nothing is. Where are the Voices for Peace? Where is Judge Goldstone? Where is BanKi Moon? Where is the Human Rights Commission?....
Read full article and comments: http://www.jpost.com/ArtsAndCulture/Entertainment/Article.aspx?id=217003
The following is an excerpt from a letter to the Fogel children by Rabbi Shmully Hecht.
There is hope in this unspeakable tragedy of Jews being killed once again for being Jewish. I was taught by the Lubavitcher Rebbe of blessed memory, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, that we must outweigh every evil act with goodness. Read full article: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Articles/Article.aspx/10165
Let's see how the media reported the arrests of the Palestinian teenagers accused of killing the Fogel family members.
This is from IsraelNationalNews.
Murderer Was Allowed into Itamar for Olive Harvest
The IDF lifted a gag order on the investigation of the murder of five members of the Fogel family on Sunday, and revealed the identities of two young Palestinian Authority Arab men who have confessed to the vicious crime. The announcement caused particular excitement and distress for Itamar security workers, who recognized one of the killers as having been in the town shortly before the killings – with IDF permission. Hakim Awad, 18, was permitted to enter Itamar along with other PA Arabs in order to harvest olives. The IDF Civil Administration allowed PA Arabs from the nearby village of Awarta to harvest olives within Itamar that they claimed belonged to their village, despite concerns voiced by Itamar residents, who expressed fear that some PA Arabs could use the opportunity to learn the layout of the town in order to plan an attack.
More Israel news: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/143616
Here's the BBC take.
Fogel murders: Israel arrests two Palestinian teenagers ...There are almost 500,000 settlers living on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Settlements are regarded as illegal under international law although Israel disputes this.

Asked and not answered

Question: Why is this night different from all other nights.
Response: Because we were slaves in Egypt...

Question: Orly Taitz brings up the issue of the President's social security number.

Response: I'm gonna end this conversation now.

Question: WorldNetDaily reporter asking about the President's social security number.

Answer: I uh I uh I uh Iuh I I I ....

16 Apr 2011

Four cups - four questions

The history of the world is divided into four phases, Olam HaZeh, Yimos HaMoshiach, Techias HaMeisim, and Olam Haba. This is alluded to in Shabbos davening. Ein Aroch Licha... BaOlam HaZeh
V'Ein Zulasecha Malkeinu L'Chayei Olam Haba
Efes Bilticha Go'aleinu Limos HaMoshiach
V'Ein Domeh Licha Moshi'einu Lis'chiyas HaMeisim

It is said in the name of the Vilna Gaon that these four worlds are represented in the four kosos. The first kos is Kiddush. In Olam HaZeh we need to make ourselves holy and rise above the mundane world, to make the world Kaddosh as well. The second is Go'al Yisroel which is the redemption of the days of Moshiach. The third kos is Birchas HaMazon which talks about Hashem sustaining us and granting life and alludes to Techias HaMeisim. The fourth kos is Hallel which is the purely ruchniyos singing of Shira to Hashem and represents the perfect world of Olam Haba.


Click here for an updated cartoon version of the four questions asked at the seder.

12 Apr 2011

A positive attitude

I'm sure many of you know this famous story.
After the conclusion of World War 2, Rabbi Eliezer Silver (1882-1968) was active in visiting DP camps to give physical and emotional support to the survivors of the Holocaust. One day Rabbi Silver was organizing a minyan for the afternoon prayers in one of the camps, but one man refused to join. The man explained that when he was in a concentration camp, there was a religious Jew who managed to smuggle in a siddur. He “rented out” the siddur for use in exchange for a person’s food rations. When this man saw how a religious Jew could take advantage of his siddur at such a time, he resolved that he would never pray again. Rabbi Silver gently suggested that instead of focusing on the actions of the man with the siddur, perhaps it would be more appropriate to recognize how many Jews were willing to give up their precious food rations in order to be able to pour out their hearts to Hashem in prayer.

The story sprung into my mind this evening as my husband and I went to pick up our Pesach order.The scene was chaotic with hundreds queueing for wine, grape juice, macaroons and so on. And as I waited, I chose not to focus on the long lines, and the cars weaving dangerously close to the customers as people loaded up their purchases. Instead, I chose to see the beauty of families united in their desire to spend a kosher and happy Pesach with friends and relatives.

The New York Times published an article titled Rabbis Sound an Alarm Over Eating Disorders. Some comments reflected the constraints of Orthodox Judaism. But I was heartened by one who commented, "i am saddened by the bleak picture painted in the article as well as the comments. orthodox judaism is a vibrant, spiritually uplifting religion and way of life, directed towards self-realization, and not just full of no-no's. there is plenty of room for creativity and expressing one's opinion, within the norms of the halacha (oral and written law)..."

In The Matzav Shmoooze: Stop Kvetching About Pesach Food the author tells us to be elated about the approach of Pesach.
The author ends with the following.
Let’s remember that what we say and feel about Pesach will be given over and remain in future generations forever and ever.
Let’s give over a positive attitude.

I second that.

11 Apr 2011

The good and the bad

The good
The Internet was key in arresting a suspect.
A man suspected of using a never-before-seen launcher to fire a projectile at a California synagogue was nabbed by the FBI in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, after he apparently sought shelter at, of all places, a Jewish center, officials said.
Click here to read about how an individual recognized the suspect form a photo on the VIN website.
The bad
Scientists at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisiana analyzed the lifestyles of more than 17,000 men and women over about 13 years, and found that people who sit for most of the day are 54 percent more likely to die of heart attacks.
Read article titled The Most Dangerous Thing You'll Do All Day and then I suggest you take a break from the computer.

For mankind to enjoy

Blessed are You, O God, King of the universe, who left nothing lacking in His world, and who therefore filled it with beautiful creations and pleasurable trees for mankind to enjoy.

Answer: Rosh Chodesh Nisan marks the start of the season for saying Birkat Ha-Ilanot, the unique bracha said upon seeing fruit trees in bloom (as stated in Brachot 43b). This is one of only 4 brachot said by all Jews just once each year!
The Bracha is: B.A.A.E.M.H. shelo chaser b’olamo klum, u’bara vo briyut tovot v’ilanot tovim, layhanot bahem b’nei adam.
 Ideally, we say the bracha when first seeing fruit-bearing trees flowering in Nisan; but the bracha may still be said for as long as the fruit has not yet ripened. A “hidur Mitzva” is to say the bracha on 2 or more trees together, with a minyan. But a single person may also say it on a single tree. http://rabbistewartweiss.com/2011/04/01/what-is-birkat-ha-ilanot/

The following is an excerpt from an email by Rabbi Eli Mansour.
Rav Pinhas Zevihi...writes that one must make a point of reciting Birkat Ha’ilanot – the Beracha over the blossoming of fruit trees – as early as he can during the month of Nissan. Once Rosh Hodesh Nissan arrives, one should endeavor to see two blossoming fruit trees and recite the Beracha without delay.

Click on the link below to see Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv shlit”a, who celebrated his 101st birthday this Rosh Chodesh, performing the mitzvah of reciting the blessing on the trees. May we all be inspired to perform mitzvahs with the same alacrity and zeal. And may we learn not to take things for granted, such as the coming of Spring and the blsossoming of the trees.

Religious freedom

A woman was arrested at Avignon station this morning as she tried to board a train for Paris wearing the niqab [full veil] on the first day of the controversial new law on wearing the burqa and niqab.

The issue of religious freedom vs. separation of church and state is always dicey and sports is not immune. A growing number of MLB, NBA, NHL and NFL clubs are offering Christian, Jewish and Mormon nights.
But a national Muslim advocacy group doesn't think it's appropriate for teams to mix religion and sports. If sports teams are going do it, then the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) wants equal time for other religions.

Did Cair think it was appropriate for the Lee County school district to invite an imam to speak to the students, to the exclusion of speakers from other religions?

10 Apr 2011

From generation to generation

The New York Times has a review by journalist Frankiln Foer of Deborah E. Lipstadt's  "The Eichmann Trial."
Here is an excerpt about world reaction to the kidnapping of the war criminal by the Israelis.

The Washington Post editorial page condemned Israel’s “jungle law”; The Christian Science Monitor equated Israel’s claims to those of the Nazis. William F. Buckley Jr. said the kidnapping was symptomatic of the Jewish “refusal to forgive.”

From generation to generation - some things never change.
While some things do.

In Giving a Haggadah a Makeover a New York Times journalist describes updating the Hagaddah's English translation to today's vernacular. For instance, the word vermin has been changed to lice.

Next year in Jerusalem

The following is an excerpt from an article titled Passover's gift: the promised and undivided land by Victor Sharpe.
May Prime Minister Netanyahu and his government take to heart the pleas of Melanie Phillips, Walid Shoebat and the millions of Jews who yearn for a principled and resoundingly firm response from him to the ever humiliating demands upon the Jewish state to surrender from the Obama Administration, the State Department, and all the flawed Chanceries of Europe and beyond.
And it would not go amiss to remind the increasingly Godless European Union of Passover's gift to the Jewish people: The promised and undivided land.
Oh, and by the way, for centuries Jews have uttered a prayer at the conclusion of the Passover meal. In Hebrew it is L'Shanah HaBa'ah B'Yerushalayim. In English it means, "Next year may we be in Jerusalem," the 3,000 year old eternal capital of the Jewish people.
But in the beginning of the second decade of the 21st century the world, through the hateful two-state-solution, is forcing Jerusalem to again be divided by a wall of concrete and Arab hate. Those who call themselves Palestinians demand the eastern half of the city and the ancient Jewish prayer at Passover may become a bitter and tragic joke.
Worshipers will be forced into saying, "Next year in West Jerusalem."


9 Apr 2011

The bashert

This evening a relative related a story he had heard during a lecture this Shabbos.
A young man approached Rav Kanievsky because he was having a hard time with shidduchm. The young women that he had met couldn't get past the cuts on his face.
The Rav listened attentively to the young man and advised him that the next time the issue came up, he should relate the story behind his cuts to the young woman.
And so, a shidduch was suggested and the young man was asked what had happened to his face.
He explained that he had been walking in Jerusalem when he noticed an Arab approaching a family. He immediately ran to help them out. The Arab brandished a knife and stabbed the young man as he tried to fend him off.
Upon hearing the story, the young woman exclaimed that it had been her family who had been attacked and she had been searching for her young savior for a while, to no avail.
Needless to say, the shidduch went through.

8 Apr 2011


The first mention of the name Nisan is in Megilas Esther when Haman draws lots to decide which day of the year he will kill the Yehudim. This event, says the Megila, took place in the month of Nisan. The Bnei Yisaschar says the name Nisan is for “Nisim” miracles. It is a month of open miracles where Hashem turned the natural world on its head to rescue His beloved nation. The Torah tells us this special time was planned from the creation of the world and will always be a time of miracles and redemption for Am Yisroel for all generations. “Leil Shimurim Hu LaShem… Shimurim L’Chol Bnei Yisroel L’Dorosum”
The word Nes is made of the letters “Nun” and “Samech”. The gemara tells us (Brachos 4b) that although in “Ashrei” each pasuk starts with the next consecutive letter of the Aleph Bais, the pasuk beginning with Nun is omitted. This is because a pasuk with “Nun” speaks of the downfall of Klal Yisroel. “Nafla Lo Sosif Kum Besulas Yisroel”. Even though Dovid left out the Nun he still lifted it up again with Ruach HaKodesh, as the pasuk after the missing Nun starts with the letter Samech and says, “Someich Hashem L’Chol HaNoflim”; Hashem supports all those who have fallen.
This, says the Bnei Yisaschar, is the significance of the word and month “Nisan”. It is the month that Hashem lifts up his downtrodden nation, both in the time Galus Mitzrayim and also in the day of Moshiach Sheyavo Bimheira Biyameinu.

Let us hope that the month of Nisan is a month of miracles. May Jonathan Pollard be freed in time for Pesach.
Daniel Pinner calls upon readers of INN to Join a Pollard Pesach Initiative and write letters to him.

Although a young boy has been crtically wounded in the attack on a school bus yesterday, a miracle occurred that the driver had let off many children at the previous stop and there was only one boy on the bus at the time.
Please pray for Daniel Aryeh ben Tamar, who was seriously wounded in the attack.
Read a moving article in Hebrew about him.

And what kind of miracle will it take for President Obama to produce his long form birth certificate?

The state appeals court affirmed this morning the denial of a request to inspect and review President Barack Obama’s birth certificate.
In a 3-0 vote, the Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeals upheld a 2009 ruling by then-state Circuit Judge Eden Elizabeth Hifo, who dismissed the lawsuit by a man identified as “Dr. Robert V. Justice,” who represented himself.

7 Apr 2011

In every generation

The following is an excerpt from an article titled Alan Dershowitz and Norwegian Anti-Semitism.

Norwegian Israel-haters routinely insist, of course, that their hatred of the Jewish state is not an expression of anti-Semitism. But the record strongly suggests otherwise — and it’s a record that goes back a long way. Every May 17th, Norwegians cram the streets of their cities, wearing quaint native costumes and waving Norwegian flags to mark the day in 1814 when their nation’s constitution was signed. One fact that has long since been dropped down the memory hole is that the second article of that constitution banned Jews from the country. (The exact sentence, in the quaint Dano-Norwegian of the day, is: “Jøder ere fremdeles udelukkede fra Adgang til Riget.” Translation: Jews are still excluded from admission to the Kingdom.) http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/alan-dershowitz-and-norwegian-anti-semitism/

The following is an excerpt from an article by Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis titled The Tragic Vacuum.
In every generation, anti-Semitism is marketed differently in order to make it more palatable to the masses. During the time of Hitler, it was acceptable to excoriate Jews because of their "racial inferiority." Today, that type of Jew-hatred is not considered politically correct. It has been replaced by the equally pernicious anti-Zionism that loudly proclaims it is not against Jews the civilized world protests but against the "oppressive policies of Israel." But we all know only too well that anti-Israelism and anti-Semitism are one and the same.

Rebels in eastern Libya say their forces have been mistakenly hit in a Nato air raid.
...It is the third such incident in recent days involving international forces deployed to protect Libyan civilians.
There is considerable anger among rebel troops after what appears to have been a terrible mistake.
They are asking why rebel units were hit, when they could be seen clearly advancing in a westerly direction towards the front line.
"It is unbelievable," said one Benghazi resident. "Nato, with all the equipment they have - is this the second mistake? Is it really a mistake or something arranged secretly.

Though NATO and the US have been shrugging off most reports of civilian killings in their strikes, they have come under renewed scrutiny since a top Catholic official in Tripoli said that his city alone lost 40 civilians in the bombing campaigns.

Where is the Goldstone report about the intentional killing of civilians by Nato forces? Or are we only concerned when Israel stands accused?

Chef Herschel Pesach Dvar Torah

I caught a video which will be helpful to me in making a pot roast for Pesach. After watching chef Herschel's two videos below, I would like to ask Hashem to help us in ensuring that we all have a Pesach kasher vesameach and that our pot roast comes out to our liking.
In another video, the chef relates how his rabbi, married close to sixty years, sits down at the Shabbos table on Friday evening. Each times he eats his wife's chicken soup, he says, "this is the best chicken soup I have ever had." - A guaranteed recipe for shalom bayis.

6 Apr 2011

A number of questions

A number of questions.

To the New York Times. Why was the term birth certificate changed to certification of live birth? And  if it were a Republican candidate whose life story contains inconsistencies, would you assign reporters the task of digging up the dirt?

Despite evidence to the contrary from Obama aides — they posted his birth certificate, from Hawaii, on the Internet during his presidential campaign

“I want him to show his birth certificate!” Mr. Trump said on “The View,” despite the fact that the president has indeed produced a certification of live birth showing he was born in Honolulu.

To the United Nations spokesperson  - why do you think a question posed to you yesterday was a mischaracterization of the Goldstone op-ed?  What do you think Goldstone wrote in the op-ed - that he affirms the United Nations is not biased?

Question: ...And on Goldstone, following his column in the Washington Post last week in which he retracted some of the claims made in the report…
Spokesperson: I think that is a mischaracterization of the op-ed, but never mind.

Last, but not least. Caught this on the Muqata.
Click here to read new lyrics composed to the song below. The song is titled "What did you learn online today?"

A rally for what?

At the initiative of Muslim Peace Coalition USA 100 Imams in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut are calling Muslims in that area to come out for April 9th rally to oppose wars, condemn terrorism, and fight Islamophobia.
In an article about the rally, Dr. Shaik Ubaid is identified as the New York State Co-Chair of Muslim Peace Coalition USA. Below is an excerpt from an article which seems to be authored by the same individual who is calling for peace.

"Yeah, too bad"! I said to the ugly triumvirate of neo-conservatives, evangelical fundamentalists and militant Zionists that rules my country's foreign policy today.

One of the signatories to the call for a rally on April 9th is Imam Rauf.

5 Apr 2011

The same bowl

Reporter Kimi De Freytas has published an interview with Hiroyuki Kohno, one of the Fukushima workers.

Kohno told De Freytas that as a single man with no children, he felt obligated to answer the call and join the team that the media has dubbed the "Fukushima Fifty." Better that he face the risk, he explained, so as to spare his colleagues who have dependents counting on them. Besides, he added, the workers in the plant are his brothers and sisters, and he feels an allegiance to them.
"There's a Japanese expression: 'We eat from the same bowl.' These are friends I shared pain and laughter with. That's why I'm going," he explained to De Freytas.


And here's news of two leaders who didn't eat from the same bowl, but did have lunch together.

Peres also mentioned that he asked Obama to pardon Jonathan Pollard ahead of Passover. He noted the president listened but that he didn't expect him to give an answer on the spot. The two also discussed the issue of Gilad Shalit.

Let's hope that this month of Nissan, a month meant for redemption, will see a release for Yehonatan ben Malka and Gilad ben Aviva. May they celebrate this coming Passover with their families in Yerushalayim Habenuyah.

What goes in and out of the mouth

The parsha of the week is Metzorah which speaks about the affliction that one receives for speaking lashon hora.

Israel National News has a heartwarming article titled Yoav Fogel: A Once in a Lifetime Boy.

“He had an average of 100 in all the subjects and after winning first place twice in a row in the school contest he decided not to participate anymore, saying that other children should have the opportunity to participate and win.”
Rabbi Amos Cohen, Yoav’s teacher this year in the fifth grade, said: “Yoav loved to study Torah, prayed with devotion, avoided defamatory speech, and almost never had a quarrel with anyone in the class.
“He really took care to not speak libel. When he heard his friends gossiping he would quickly put two hands over his ears,” said Yoav’s aunt Neta.


And speaking about what shouldn't go out of your mouth, here's something that can go into your mouth.

In New York, even rabbis get endorsement deals.
When he's not leading Kehilat Rayin Ahuvim, a modern orthodox congregation on the Upper West Side, Rabbi Adam Mintz lends his name and likeness to "Rabbi Mints," the world's first classic kosher mint.
"It's a mitzvah for your mouth," the rabbi said, of the Altoid-style confections now being sold for $2.50 in tins bearing his image...
There's nothing in bad taste about a rabbi endorsing a product that ends bad breath, Mintz said.
"Part of my job as a rabbi is to provide service to the community - and helping to provide a kosher product that does not exist is such a service," he said, noting that a portion of the profits go to charity.

Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/rabbi_kosher_mints_mitzah_for_your_o5s2lpEimkM3xCIsEdm6hK#ixzz1IcxdF3VS

In the video below, the rabbi discusses the reward one achieves for rejecting lashon hora. Unfortunately, Yoav Fogel is no longer able to fulfill the mitzvah of not speaking lashon hora. Let us try to emulate Yoav's deeds and may it be a zechut for the aliya of his neshama.

4 Apr 2011

Rosh Chodesh Nissan

"Hashem said to Moshe and Aharon in the Land of Egypt, 'This month shall be for you the beginning of the months; it shall be for you the first of the months of the year.' " (Shemot, 12:1-2)

“Rabbi Yehoshua said, ‘In Nissan the world was created. In Nissan the Patriarchs were born, in Nissan the Patriarchs passed on. On Passover Isaac was born… In Nissan they [i.e. the Jewish people] were redeemed, in Nissan they will be redeemed again in the future.”
Tractate Rosh Hashanah 11a

A special mitzvah, which can be fulfilled only once a year, is to recite the berachah ("blessing" or prayer) made upon seeing a fruit tree in bloom: Blessed are you G-d our G-d, king of the universe, who left nothing lacking in His world, and created within it good creatures and good trees with which He gives pleasure to people. Today is the first opportunity to make this blessing, but it can be done anytime during the month of Nissan (referred to by the Torah as "the month of spring" ). Many visit botanical gardens during this time, so as to avail themselves of an opportunity to observe this beautiful mitzvah.

Contemplation and regret

"ViHinei Nirpa Nega HaTzoraas Min HaMitzora; And behold the Tzoraas is healed from the Mitzora." (Mitzora 14:3) This pasuk seems backwards, as it should say the Mitzora is healed from the Tzoraas. The Yagdil Torah brings from the Medrash Shmuel (Hakdama to Pirkei Avos) that by nature Tzoraas comes from depression. The natural cure is to stroll in pleasant places and socialize with friends. However, the Torah tells us that on the contrary, his only cure is through Tshuva and regret for what he has done. The Mitzora must sit alone outside the Machaneh after sowing discourse among people. That is why the Torah says that the Tzoraas will be cured from the Mitzora. Only through his own contemplation and regret, can he be cured and not by any natural process.

Richard Goldstone seems to be expressing some regret for the initial conclusions of the report named after him. Israel Matzav posts about a claim in Yediot Aharonot whether "the world's most important newspaper [i.e. The New York Times] refused to publish Goldstone's retraction article."

Leo Rennert has an article titled NY Times: with tears for Goldstone, but none for Israel. 

 Here is an interesting article from 2009 with reactions to the Goldstone report.Melanie Phillips has nothing to apologize for and seems to be clairvoyant but will someone write a post on his blog regarding his turnaround in thinking? Don't hold your breath.

3 Apr 2011

Building worlds

This afternoon, the Machzikei Hadas community in Antwerp conducted a beautiful ceremony for the new Chief Rabbi of the kehillah. One of the things the Rav spoke about was how we have to be careful with what we say when we are asked about shidduchim. The Rav said that our words can be boneh olamot or machriv olamot. (buid worlds or destroy worlds.)
The other day I listened to a lecture by Rabbi Wallerstein in which he related how a single girl had given bad information which put an end to a shidduch. Rabbi W. told her that she let personal issues get in the way when she related the information. Had she really been well intentioned, she would have asked a Rav if the information could be divulged.
Words kill. Once spoken, they are hard to retract.
As we read Parshat Metzora this week, let us be wary in our speech and help build worlds instead of destroying them.