"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

27 Jun 2011

American Thinker

Two articles at American Thinker caught my attention this morning.

Leo Rennert writes about the double standards of the Washington Post in an article titled It depends on who is doing the disparaging...
My beef is with the Post's double standard -- that it uses a sharp aggressive lens when it reports on Israel, but switches to a sympathetic, benign, soft-color lens when it deals -- or fails to deal -- with what the "moderate" Mahmoud Abbas is really up to.

Stuart Kaufman describes his experience at the International Arab Festival in Dearborn in an article titled My Weekend in the Belly of the Beast.

26 Jun 2011

War is peace

David Harris has a article at Aish.com about the Hamas Flotilla in which he addresses George Orwell.
Actually, you anticipated it when you wrote about the Ministry of Truth in your classic book, 1984. What were the ruling party's slogans on the outside of the 1,000-foot-tall building housing the ministry? Weren't they "War is Peace," "Freedom is Slavery," and "Ignorance is Strength"?
Incidentally, the Depatment of State has cautioned U.S. citizens to avoid traveling to Gaza.

Unfortunately, many articles in the news today are rife with stories of a world gone topsy-turvy, with marriage being redefined and a child being used as a suicide bomber.

An eight-year-old girl has been killed after insurgents used her in a bomb attack on police in southern Afghanistan, the government has said.
The interior ministry said insurgents gave the girl a package and told her to take it to a police vehicle, detonating it as she approached.

Read full article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-13919946

A husband and wife carried out a suicide attack that killed eight people at a police station in north-western Pakistan, the Taliban has said.
...The pair entered the police station dressed in burkas, hiding rifles, hand grenades and suicide vests underneath.

Read full article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-13920976

Finally, there's a strange story titled Justices’ feud gets physical.

Being held accountable

An Israeli site has an article about Snir Guetta (hope I'm spelling his name correctly), a football player who has given up playing for his team in Ashkelon because he has to play on Saturdays. He thought about it and realized that after 120 years, when he goes up there, he will be held accountable. He also asked the question, "if we play on Saturday, so what's the difference between us and the entire world of sports?"
Click here to read the article in Hebrew.

Tzidkat Rashbi
reminds us about praying at Amukah on the Yahrtzeit of Rebbe Yonatan Ben Uziel, Tuesday, June 28th.
"Tradition has it that Rabbi Yonatan Ben Uziel gave a blessing to all those who are unmarried that if they visited his resting place they would merit to meet their soul mates and marry within the period of one year."
Click here and scroll to bottom of page to send a kvittel - a small note wth a request.

25 Jun 2011

The rock

by Rabbi Dr Raymond Apple
Moses was told to speak to the rock and tell it to gush forth water. Instead, he struck the rock. The water still flowed, but Moses was severely punished for disobeying his instructions. Yet there had been an earlier occasion when God had told Moses to strike that very same rock: “Take in your hand your rod with which you smote the river. Strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, so that the people may drink” (Ex. 17:5-6). If striking the rock was allright the first time, what was so wrong with it now?
A Midrashic answer is that God never performs the same miracle twice. Here the first miracle would occur by means of striking the rock, and the second by speaking to it. We see how Divine miracles never repeat themselves in the fact that when Moses needed to sweeten bitter water he was told to cast a certain tree into it (Ex. 15:25), but when Elisha had to make water drinkable he was told to cast salt into it (II Kings 2:21).
In a sense we get the same message when the Siddur states that the Almighty “renews every day the work of Creation”. This does not necessarily indicate that God repeats the same creative miracle every day, but that every day is a new miracle. And since every day is new and miraculous, it offers human beings a wonderful fresh opportunity. God does not go in for sameness, and neither should we.


24 Jun 2011


Dear United Nations Spokesperson for the Secretary-General,
I have followed your transcripts over the past few months and have seen that an inordinate number of questions posed at the daily briefings relate to Israel. Masood, in particular, doesn't miss an opportunity to raise questions about Israel. I was particularly upset with the way he framed his question on Thursday, the 23rd of June.

"Oh, yeah, this question about this flotilla; it seems that the Secretary-General and the United Nations has succumbed to what the Israeli point of view is, that should anything, any aid should go through them. My question is: does the Secretary-General… can that aid that is being sent to Gaza by international donors and international NGOs and also some well-meaning Americans and all other citizens of the world, can that be screened before coming in so that you…"

Spokesperson: "I have no doubt that that is precisely what is advocated; that, as you put it, well-meaning donors can provide aid through established channels. The notion that this is finding favour with one party or another is just simply not correct. And as I have said a number of times, not only have we said that a flotilla at this point would be ill-advised simply because of the tensions that are already in the region, and because there are established routes, but also we’ve made it very clear that the reason why people might want to mount such an operation, such a flotilla, is because they are frustrated about the plight the people of Gaza and at the fact that crossings are limited and people have difficulty in moving in and out, and so do goods. So it is, therefore, incumbent on the Israeli authorities to do something about that. That’s an even-handed and very frank approach to the problem.

After your answer stating that the UN feels the flotilla is ill advised, the next question is about how Israel hasn't responded to the UN requests and not about how the people on the flotilla haven't responded to UN requests.

Question: "Obviously the Israelis are not responding to these requests by the United Nations and the international community."

Spokesperson: Well, that’s simply not true. As we announced earlier this week, they have told us that projects to help complete two areas of housing in Gaza have been given the go-ahead, and this is an important step. We welcome that; we now need to see it implemented as quickly as possible.

Out of a total of 11 questions, four dealt with Israel and the Palestinian territories.

My question to you. Can I attend your briefing and ask questions that would be more evenly balanced? And can you ask Masood to turn his focus to other countries which are in need of more immediate help?

Responding to fights and arguments

The story told in Parashat Korah highlights the destructive nature of Mahaloket, fighting. Korah and his followers instigated a fight against Moshe and Aharon, which ultimately resulted in their death and even the death of their families, showing us how harmful fighting and dissent can be.
Moshe Rabbenu’s conduct in response to this assault on his authority teaches us how we should respond to Mahaloket, to fights and arguments that arise.

Read full article by Rabbi Eli Mansour: http://www.dailyhalacha.com/WeeklyParasha.asp?ParashaClipID=358

23 Jun 2011

Floods and Johan's ark

River floods North Dakota city Minot after evacuations
Rockland hit with flash flooding; roads closed, buildings swamped
Nigeria: Floods Kill 24 in Kano

An hour outside of Amsterdam in Dordrecht, Netherlands, a ship is under construction. But this ain't your typical sailboat, bub. Johan Huibers is building a full-scale replica of Noah's ark.
...According to an interview with NBC's "The Today Show," Johan dreamt that Holland suffered a great flood. The next morning, he woke up determined to start preparing for that worst-case scenario.

Read full article and watch video: http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_upshot/20110622/od_yblog_upshot/two-by-two-a-real-life-noahs-ark

Not guilty - not guilty?

Media reports have been published this morning with the news that Geert Wilders has been acquitted.

Click here for a disturbing article at WND about Delta Airlines regarding consequences to Jews based on a "plan to add Saudi Arabian Airlines to its SkyTeam Alliance of partnering companies."

22 Jun 2011

Provocation and publicity

Egypt allows supplies into Gaza
European aid sail carrying 30 tons of goods arrives in Strip via Rafah crossing. IDF says sail proves future Gaza flotilla 'nothing but provocation'

Read full article: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4085797,00.html

Seeing as there’s no humanitarian reason for the flotilla (which is even more obvious now that the Egyptian border with Gaza has been opened), its only point is to generate publicity.
Read: NY Times, CNN to Travel Aboard Flotilla at http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2011/06/21/ny-times-cnn-to-travel-aboard-flotilla/

Parshat Korach

Here's a short thought about this week's parsha.

21 Jun 2011

Down and out - down and up

Two articles at Yahoo caught my eye this afternoon. One was about a man who robbed a bank, asking for $1 because he wanted to land up in jail to get health care benefits. The other was an article about a homeless man who came into a big inheritance, proving that a man's mazal can change in the blink of an eye.

Some people who need medical care but can't afford it go to the emergency room. Others just hope they'll get better. James Richard Verone robbed a bank.

A private investigator says he has tracked down a homeless Utah man and delivered some good news: He's inherited a lot of money.

The daily briefing

The daily press briefing of June 20th by the office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General of the United Nations referred to issues including Sudan, Libya, nuclear safety and refugees.
When the spokesperson called for questions, what was the first issue raised by Masood?

"Question: Martin there was a press conference by these activists groups who are going to go to Greece and from there about 10 ships carrying aid supplies, only aid supplies for the Gazans are going to go. And they are scheduled to leave around 26 or 27 of this month. They have said in the briefing that they have appealed to the United Nations to ask the Israeli authorities not to… I mean to be restrained. And similarly they asked the same thing of the United States. But I am just concerned about the United Nations. What is it that the Secretary-General can do to persuade the Israelis not to attack the flotilla, as it has done in the past?"

Masood's question focuses on what Israel should do or not do. However, the spokesperson first addresses the issue of those who are planning to set sail who were asked by the United Nations to desist from such an activity.

"Well, I think you will recall that the statement that we issued referred to both parts of this equation. Firstly, saying that the Secretary-General has written to the littoral States, urging them to persuade those who might want to set sail on such an endeavour to think again because of the reasons that we have stated before, namely that we don’t want to see tensions increased in the region and that there are established routes to provide aid which is obviously vitally important and needed...."

20 Jun 2011

Under G-d

The last post was about NBC omitting the words "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance. A Yahoo article about the subject has generated over 9000 comments, so far.
A comment by Jeff stated the following:
NBC, I don't mean to offend you in any way, but, if you have a problem with saying God, or anything that has to do with God, then, reach in your pockets and give me all your money... I promise to do a lot of good with it... but, all your money says "In God We Trust" on it.. so give me your money, I'll donate it to some charity in the name of God.
Two others who posted comments referred to quotes by famous Americans.

"It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible."
George Washington

"Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God's side, for God is always right."
Abraham Lincoln

"Can the liberties of a nation be secure
when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?"
Thomas Jefferson

Another quote was offered from Psalms.

"Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord." - Psalm 33:12

On another topic, I just read an article at bhol.co.il about the doctor who operated on Rav Elyashev. Click here to read the article in Hebrew. The doctor had operated on the Rav previously and he stated that since that time, Jews from all over the world have approached him with great admiration. The doctor visited the kotel and what did he wish for? He hoped that G-d would prolong the Rav's life and strengthen him.
Rav Elyashev thanked the doctor warmly for his efforts.
May the Rav see a refuah sheleimah speedily.

Matzav has an article titled Thank You, Dr. Clair in which readers are invited to express their appreciation to the doctor. I will echo the thoughts of one who posted the following comment.

"Thank you so much for taking the time and utilizing your expertise to aid another man. You may or may not be familiar with the idea that as Jews, we look up to and revere our sages and elders. They are the foundations of Jewish communities across the world. We thank you for helping one of our most revered and respected sages. May you always see success and fruition in the wonderful work that you do."

17 Jun 2011

Perek 27

A couple of months ago I received an email about a young boy with a brain tumor. People were asked if they wanted to say Tehillim for the boy and I signed on for one perek. I received an email that I should say Chapter 27 - which is a famous perek that is recited in the days leading up to Yom Kippur. So, even though it is not the month of Elul, I have been reciting the perek in the merit of a speedy recovery for Yosef Simcha ben Zaka Basya.
Two sentences before the end of the chapter is the following verse.
Tehillim 27:12 Deliver me not over unto the will of mine adversaries; for false witnesses are risen up against me, and such as breathe out violence.

In Hebrew, the word "violence" is translated as "Chamas - the same word used for a movement which sends rockets across its borders into Israel.
King David knew that those who are our adversaries, who breathe violence, are also capable of bearing false witness. How many massacres has Israel been accused of? How many times have settlers been accused of starting the violence which really began from the other side?
I thought of the above verse when I read an INN article last night.

A medical intern from Majdal Shams has been identified by police as one of the people who threw rocks at IDF soldiers on the “Naksa Day“ disturbances in the Golan Heights. The suspect works at Ziv Medical Center in Tzfat (Safed).
Apparently the suspect was questioned by police and he admitted he had been at the riots "to lend medical assistance to casualties."
..."He was released, but police later acquired video footage that clearly shows the suspect hurling rocks at soldiers. He was rearrested and the investigation was reopened."

Bearing false witness and using violence are partnered once again.
Among the words in the Hippocratic Oath is the promise "and never do harm to anyone."
Dr. Mengele, and a medical intern bear false witness to these words.
And what is one supposed to do? King David offers the prescription in the closing verse of this chapter.

Kaveh el hashem,chazek vayametz libecha v'kaveh el hashem.
Wait for G-d, strengthen and encourage your heart,and wait for G-d.

16 Jun 2011

The eyes have it.

Click here to read Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis' eye-opening article.
And here's a video to open your eyes for doing kiruv work - inviting an unafiiliated Jew to spend Shabbos with you.

Allowed - not allowed

SunNews reports the following:
"American academic and former militant radical Bill Ayers won't be allowed to enter Canada, according to an association of university faculty who had asked him to speak at an upcoming conference. "

As the media reports that Ayman al-Zawahri has emerged as the new leader of al Qaida, a CNN bio about him reveals how he was allowed into America in the 1990s.

"Ali Mohammed, a fellow Egyptian and Islamic Jihad member living in the United States, testified al-Zawahiri actually visited the United States twice on fund-raising trips in the early 1990s, including to a mosque in Santa Clara, California."

15 Jun 2011

People of integrity

What did Moses tell the twelve spies to do? “Check out the land – and find out if there are any trees” (Num. 13:20). Trees? How do trees connect with the strength of a land?
Rashi recognises the problem and, quoting earlier sources as usual (BB 15a), says that trees are symbolic of human beings. Moses’ question was not really about the vegetation but a deeper issue: in Rashi’s words, “Whether there is amongst the inhabitants an honourable man who will protect them by his merit like a tree protects people by its shade”.
What gives a country its quality is not its trees and flowers – not that these are not important assets – but its citizens. If a country has high-minded people, thinkers, visionaries, men and women of faith and conscience who guard the ethos and ethics of the nation, the people are safe.
Tragically it must be said that our present generation is sadly lacking in “trees”. We have plenty of mediocrities, some of them even impressive administrators, shrewd negotiators and political manipulators, some of them great masters of oratory and rhetoric, but all too few people of integrity, faith and wisdom, able to inspire great dreams and enable great deeds. The sages say that when there is a tzaddik in the city, “he is its glory, he is its splendour, he is its crown” (Rashi on Gen. 28:10).
by Rabbi Dr. Raymond Apple at http://www.oztorah.com/2011/06/are-there-any-trees-shlach-lcha/

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz was asked today why Anthony Weiner should resign but Bill Clinton didn't have to. Click here for her answer.
I prefer the answer given by someone who posted a comment.

Of course it's expediency. And equating Weiner's situation with Clinton's is absurd, but not unexpected, given who asked the question. The resignation of a member of the House of Representatives vs. the resignation of the President? I just wish politicians and reporters would just acknowledge that much of what they do is guided by sheer political expediency, and not something more profound.

In an article about legalizing same-sex marriage in New York, the following sentence caught my attention.
Each side is funded by more than $1 million from national and state advocates that's being used in media blitzes and in promised campaign cash for lawmakers who side with them.

My question - Are there any "trees" among our political leaders?

Blaming the hand that feeds them

The following is an excerpt from an email I received last night.

The Arabs aren't happy!
They're not happy in Gaza. They're not happy in Egypt. They're not happy in
Libya. They're not happy in Morocco. They're not happy in Iran. They're not
happy in Iraq. They're not happy in Yemen. They're not happy in Afghanistan.
They're not happy in Pakistan. They're not happy in Syria. They're not happy
in Lebanon.
So where are they happy?
They're happy in England. They're happy in France. They're happy in Italy.
They're happy in Germany. They're happy in Sweden. They're happy in the USA.
They're happy in Norway. They're happy in every country that is not Muslim.
And who do they blame? Not Islam. Not their leadership. Not themselves.

14 Jun 2011


Rav Chaim Brisker, the Rosh Yeshiva of Volozhin, once sent someone abroad to raise funds for the Yeshiva. A few months later when the fundraiser returned and they counted up all the donations and calculated all the expenses, it turned out that the expenses were as much as the amount spent by the fundraiser on his trip, leaving the Yeshiva with no money from this campaign.
Rav Chaim Brisker lightheartedly said that the lesson learned from this experience can be found in the pasuk. “Shelach Licha Anashim ViYasuru”. Literally, send people and they will “spy”. However, the word, ViYasuru, can also be interpreted to mean and they left over. From here, said Rav Chaim, we see that the Torah tells us to send Meshulachim who will have some money left over when they return and not spend it all on the way. (Pninim - Reb Yosef Berger)


Only the best

I just finished reading an LA Times article titled Sarah Palin's letter from God.
Click here for those of you who missed it. You might want to have some tissues next to you. It is absolutely inspiring. What a brave woman full of faith that G-d gives us only the best.

Pressuring Israel

American Thinker has an article by Thomas Lifson titled Reports: Obama pressuring Netanyahu on negotiations based on '67 borders.

The following is one of the comments posted in the article.
As I've mentioned here before, Israel going back to 1967 borders is fine as long as they are POST-Six-Day War borders. Granted, in the State Department speech, Barry assumed everyone understood that his reference to 1967 borders meant Pre-Six-Day War borders, but he wasn't specific. Take advantage, Bibi! You know what is said about "assume."

Here's Barry Rubin's take on the President pressuring Israel.

Maybe people are beginning to see the light as evidenced by the title in an article Obama fundraiser underwhelms.

13 Jun 2011

Two questions

Two questions posed in the media today.

Beyond that, the question persists in 2011: Why have the media — even some non-liberal ones — not followed up on the information that the man who heads our premiere spy/counterspy agency was a good friend of a Communist Party member?
Read full article: http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/vernon/110613

If the “Kach” or “Kahane Chai” parties are considered by the state of Israel to be “far right,” “terrorist,” “a danger to the state,” and are barred from the Knesset, then why is Ibrahim Sarsur of the”Ra’am-Ta’al” party allowed to keep his seat?
Read full article: http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/why-does-israel-allow-a-seditious-man-to-serve-in-the-knesset/

The absence of revolt

Leo Rennert at American Thinker discusses a NYT article by Helene Cooper about "the absence of any serious revolt by Palestinians against Israel on the same order as revolutions convulsing other parts of the Arab world."
He points to Ms. Cooper's consulting Robert Malley "to buttress her anti-Israel thesis."
The following is an excerpt from an article writen during the 2008 election campaign about Robert Malley.

One of Barack Obama’s Middle East policy advisers disclosed yesterday that he had held meetings with the militant Palestinian group Hamas – prompting the likely Democratic nominee to sever all links with him. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/us_elections/article3897414.ece

After reading Obama: Robert Malley Connection to Iran Syria and Hamas by Maggie Thornton, I learned that the International Crisis Group, where Mr. Malley works, is funded by billionaire, George Soros.
She also mentions an article that was written one day after the 2008 election.

Presidential-elect Barack Obama has promised to improve U.S. relations with Egypt and Syria. Aides said Obama had sent senior foreign policy adviser Robert Malley to Egypt and Syria over the last few weeks...

12 Jun 2011

NYT Techiyat HaMetim

"Techiyat HaMetim" - (f.); Revival or resurrection of the dead; one of the fundamental beliefs of the Jewish Religion, and the last of the RAMBAM's list of thirteen such beliefs (one source of this list is the set of "Ani Maamin"s at the end of "Shacharit," the Morning Prayer).
The Talmud asks, "What is the Biblical source for "Techiyat HaMetim?"

Read full article: http://www.ou.org/about/judaism/techiyat.htm

I have found a New York Times source for belief in the resurrection of the dead.
A 1994 NYT report about Jewish fighters attacking the village of Deir Yassin lists that 200 Arabs were killed.
However, a NYT article published over the weekend states that 120 Arabs were killed. A miraculous resurrection for 80 people!!!

April 9, 1948 -- Radical underground Jewish fighters massacre more than 200 Arab men, women and children in the village of Deir Yassin,...

Jerusalem Outings Go Beyond the Biblical
After the April 1948 massacre by Jewish paramilitary forces of 120 Arab civilians in the nearby village of Deir Yassin...

Eggcorns and malapropisms

This post is off topic from the Mashiachiscoming blog theme but I learned a new word yesterday and thought I would share it with you.
As I read an article last night in the IHT, my attention was caught by the headline, "Russians Home In on Abortion."
Was "home in" a misprint? I thought to myself. Shouldn't the word be "hone"?
I googled the expression, "home in on" and came across the following article.
The exact expression to home in on began to appear during World War Two. American researcher Ben Zimmer has discovered the earliest known example in the Chicago Daily Tribune in 1944: “The Oahu radio was coming in strong. They had left the station on all night so we could ‘home in’ on its frequency.” After the war, people began to use it in the current figurative sense of focusing one’s attention on a single matter.
That’s now the only situation in which most people encounter it. It’s hardly obvious to somebody who hasn’t come across it before or who doesn’t know the background. Why home? This lack of context makes it easy for speakers to change the word into something that seems to be more appropriate or make more sense. Hone in on is a classic example of the type of word shift that has become known in recent years among linguists as an eggcorn: a change in word form due to error or misunderstanding.
...It came to public attention and gained some notoriety when George Bush used it in the presidential campaign of 1980 — he spoke of “honing in on the issues”.

In linguistics, an eggcorn is an idiosyncratic substitution of a word or phrase for a word or words that sound similar or identical in the speaker's dialect. The new phrase introduces a meaning that is different from the original, but plausible in the same context, such as "old-timers' disease" for "Alzheimer's disease". This is as opposed to a malapropism, where the substitution creates a nonsensical phrase.

A malapropism is the grotesque or inappropriate misuse of a word. An example is Yogi Berra's statement: "Texas has a lot of electrical votes." The malapropism is of the word "electrical" being used instead of the correct word "electoral."

It reminds me of when my son, who was three at the time, spoke about the conservative versus the polka dots Jews.

11 Jun 2011

A blind eye

Navi Pillay gives a free pass to some of the world's worst abusers while the media gives a free pass to the President.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has turned a blind eye to most of the world’s worst abusers, UN Watch has found.
Read full article: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/144859

LA Times Won’t Release Obama-Khalidi Tape But Posts 24,000 Sarah Palin Emails
Read full article: http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2011/06/la-times-posts-24000-palin-emails-but-wont-release-obama-khalidi-tape/
It is also interesting to scroll down the article and read some of the comments about the mainstream media.

10 Jun 2011

Lifting a finger

A couple of days ago, I linked to an article about Carolyn Fine, an observant Jew, who was in a quandary because she was chosen to be valedictorian but her speech was to be delivered on Shavuot.
The Cool Jew has a video relating her story.
A man posted a video on YouTube about how he thought it was ridiculous that Ms. Fine wouldn't use any electrical apparatus for two days. He asked, "Couldn't G-d give her dispensation for half an hour? Do you think G-d really cares?"

The Gemara states:
"Eyn adam nokef etzbao lemata-ad she'machrizim aleya milemala" ("and one doesn't knock a finger below unless it is announced beforehand above" - Talmud Chullin 7b).

Yes. G-d cares whether a person puts on tefillin, prays, doesn't turn on a light on Shabbos, etc.

Here's a wonderful story about a man who seized the opportunity to get another Jew to don tefillin for the first time since his bar mitzvah.

9 Jun 2011

Passing judgment

An interesting phrase: “The people were like murmurers, which was evil in the ears of the Lord” (Num. 11:1). It doesn’t say they actually were murmurers but they were like murmurers.
We seem to have here a parallel to a verse we read a few weeks back about a possible plague in a house. The Torah says, K’nega nir’ah li babayit – “Something like a plague appears to me (to be) in the house” (Lev. 14:35). When we see something that looks unacceptable, we should not be in too much of a hurry to pass judgment. We can say, “It appears to be a plague”, not, “There is definitely a plague”.
Let me illustrate this with a memory of a member of my first congregation. He told me that at a company directors’ meeting he was rather certain that the chairman was not telling the truth. But instead of saying, “Mr Chairman, you are a liar!” he said, “Mr Chairman, you appear to have permitted yourself to be misinformed”. The Torah does not say, “The people were murmurers”, but “The people were like murmurers”.


The Torah thought by Rabbi Dr. Raymond Apple about not being quick to pass judgment really hit home when I read about a confession of a 96-year-old woman to a 1946 murder.
"Atie Ridder-Visser wrote a letter to the mayor of Leiden on Jan. 1 acknowledging she killed Felix Gulje after World War II in the mistaken belief he was a Nazi collaborator.
....During the war, Gulje had been rumored to have worked with the Nazis and had been targeted in the underground press.
In reality, Gulje had sheltered several Jews and allowed a banned Catholic association to hold secret meetings in his home."


7 Jun 2011


"The Torah says that the celebration of the great miracles of Pesach is seven days and the happiness of Succos lasts eight days. Yet for the precious Chag of Shavuos when Hashem gave us the greatest gift of all, the gift that preceded the universe and is the basis of the world, we only have a Yom Tov of one day. Why is this?
Rav Yonah Metzger answers with the Mishna in Pirkei Avos. The Mishna (2:5) says, "V'Al Toimar K'SheEfneh Eshneh Shema Lo Tipaneh", I will learn when I have time, because maybe you will never have time. Torah learning is the lifeblood of a person. It is not a task that must be taken care of at some point in time. Every moment is a new obligation. One who pushes off his immediate obligation will inevitably continue to push it off forever.
Shavuos is the great day of Kabalas HaTorah. If there would be seven days Yom Tov we'd take it easy on the first day knowing we have a whole Yom Tov ahead of us. With Torah there is no time ahead of us, we must embrace it here and now. Hashem gave us one day, if we accept the Torah on that day, it is with us for the rest of the year. If we miss our chance, Shema Lo Tipaneh, we may not get another opportunity."

Here's a story about a young woman faced with the dilemma of delivering her valedictorian address on Shavuot.
Here's a video about a young girl who raised thousands of dollars for a soup kitchen.
And, if you have the time, there's an interesting article at Commentary Magazine by Daniel Gordis.

חג שמח

Interesting comments

Some interesting comments I came across this morning.

In a Pajamas Media article, Roger Simon discusses how he feels branded by the wrongdoings of some people who belong to his faith.

He ends his article by stating, "Agnostic though I may be, I want to follow in the best tradition of my people...I will redouble my efforts in the support of Israel. I will continue to be proud of my heritage."

One comment posted was the following.
"None of the men Roger mentioned seem to know a whole lot about Judaism.
Shavuot begins sundown June 7, 2011 – through June 9
Lesrn and be proud of our heritage."

Another comment posted:
I remember once talking with a friend, explaining how we (the Jews) get to be proud of Jonas Salk and Albert Einstein, but have to be ashamed of Bernie Madoff and Eliot Spitzer. “Proud, ashamed, proud, ashamed,” I said. “It all gets a little exhausting sometimes.”
My friend, who is Irish-American, responded “I sortof know what you mean, Mike. We get to be proud of the Kennedys……and ashamed of the Kennedys.”

Finally, in searching for a video to post about Shavuot, I came across a comment in Hebrew about a young boy asking his rabbi why people had two eyes when they only had one nose and one mouth. The rabbi responded that the left eye was for a person to use to see himself - to see his imperfections and try to improve himself. The right eye was to be used to see people with a good eye - to focus on their good points.

May we be able to see the good in other people and achieve the unity that the Bnei Yisrael achieved at Har Sinai when they were as one as they promised to follow the words of the Torah.
Let's be proud of our heritage and fulfill our ancestors' promise.

6 Jun 2011

June 6th

Click here to read what one person thinks about sculptures on Omaha Beach which were installed to mark the 67th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy.

3 Jun 2011

Congratulations students

Wishing you a chodesh tov.

Incredible article titled Pa. girl aces 'cymotrichous' to win Spelling Bee about a 14-year-old girl who finally won the Scripps National Spelling Bee after endless rounds between five students who couldn't be stumped.
Congratulations to Sukanya Roy on her tremendous feat.
Click here to read article.
Click here to watch.

And here's a story about a valedictorian of a "high school where a judge has banned formal prayers at graduation ceremonies" who "is fighting for an opportunity to lead the crowd in prayer."
Congratulations Angela Hildenbrand on being selected to represent the class as valedictorian.

2 Jun 2011

This one's for you

This one is for the bloggers.

David Pell has an article at the Huffington Post titled I Don't Care If You Read This Article. Of couurse, I had to click on it with such a title. It's about people measuring their self-worth by the internet traffic they generate. How many bloggers identify with this?

And this one's for women to relate to their husbands - a Torah thought on this week's parsha by Rabbi Eli Mansour about the Sotah which is discussed in this week's Parsha of Naso.

In introducing this section, the Torah writes, “Ish Ish Ki Tisteh Ishto…” – “If a man’s wife strays…” The question immediately arises as to why the Torah here repeats the word “Ish” (“man”), as though it was saying, “A man, a man whose wife strays…” What is the purpose of this repetition?
One of the scholars of Musar suggested that the Torah here subtly addresses the question of why a married woman would enter into an extramarital relationship. What might cause a woman to betray her husband? The answer, the Torah teaches us, is often “Ish Ish” – that the marriage was only about the husband. A marriage is supposed to be “Ish Isha” – a husband and wife.

Read full article: http://www.dailyhalacha.com/WeeklyParasha.asp

Anti-semitism in the news

The Obama administration said Wednesday it will boycott a world conference against racism being held at U.N. headquarters in September.
Read full article: http://www.startribune.com/nation/122969498.html

Pop the champagne! It's party time at the City University of New York (CUNY) for Israel-loathing professors. For years, they've gazed enviously at California, where academic anti-Semites can demonize and harass Jewish students to their hearts' content, all at taxpayers' expense.
Read full article: http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/06/bashing_israel_on_campus_from_california_to_new_york.html

And to another topic - I received an email written by Rabbi Eli Mansour about the reason parents should recite a special prayer for children on Erev Rosh Chodesh Sivan.
The Shela Ha’kadosh (Rabbi Yeshaya Horowitz, 1565-1630) writes that there is a special prayer that parents should recite on Ereb Rosh Hodesh Sivan (the day before Rosh Hodesh Sivan) on behalf of their children. In general, Ereb Rosh Hodesh is a day of prayer and repentance, and many people have the custom to fast and recite Tehillim on this day. Ereb Rosh Hodesh Sivan, however, is especially designated as a day to pray that one’s children should grow to become righteous Sadikim and Torah scholars. Since Sivan is the month in which we accepted the Torah, the day before the onset of this month is a particularly auspicious time to pray for one’s children’s growth in Torah.

Click here to recite the prayer.
Click here to read Rabbi Mansour's daily halacha.

1 Jun 2011

The sun slowly sets

Franz Kafka said: "one sees the sun slowly set, yet one is surprised when it suddenly becomes dark."
Mister President, members of the Court, do not let the lights go out in the Netherlands.
Acquit me: Put an end to this Kafkaesque situation.

Click here to read the text of Geert Wilder's closing remarks at his trial. The verdict is to be delivered on June 23rd. Alternatively, you can listen to him speaking in Dutch with English subtitles over here.

And a reminder to use your power of speech tomorrow to recite the prayer of the Shla"H Hakadosh which is said annually on Erev Rosh Chodesh Sivan for our children.
Click here to send a kvitel, as well as to see the prayer in Hebrew or English.

Remembering Har Sinai

We find in the Torah that many mitzvos are Zecher L’Yetzias Mitzrayim. We don’t find mitzvos that are Zecher L”Maamad Har Sinai. Rav Aharon Kotler asks, since the whole point of leaving Mitzrayim was to receive the Torah, aren’t we focusing on the wrong thing? Mitzrayim is only a means to the end of receiving the Torah. Shouldn’t we be concerned with remembering Har Sinai?
He answers that memories are needed for something that happened in the past and isn’t here right now. We can’t move the past forward, so we take ourselves back in time. This applies to Yetzias Mitzrayim where remembering is appropriate. However says Rav Aharon, Ma’amad Har Sinai is something that can happen every moment of every day. When a person learns the way he should, that moment itself is no less than when we stood by Har Sinai. He proves this from the gemaros where we find Tanaim learning Torah and consumed in fire, such as Rebbi Eliezer and Rebbi Yehoshua at the Bris Milah of Elisha ben Avuya (Yerushalmi Chagiga 2:1) and Yonason ben Uziel where birds flying overhead were burned by the fire (Succah 28a).
We see from hear that limud hatorah BiKedusha UB’Tahara can actually bring the same Kedusha of Ma’amad Har Sinai right here and right now. Even people with short memories can constantly enjoy hearing the words of Hashem anytime anywhere! (Kol MeiHeichal - Shavuos 5766)