"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

30 Nov 2011

Needed: a glass pane specialist

Yeranen Yaakov details what the Tzanzer Rebbe ZT"L said 37 years ago about Parshat Vayetze and the end of days.

•When we see Jews having peace and quiet and settling among the nations, that's when we have to worry about problems from the nations. On the other hand, when we see the nations all vowing to destroy the Jews, that's when we should be happy and know that the nations' accounting is full and that our salvation is near."

The Yeshiva World reports Highland Park, NJ: Jewish Businesses & Rutgers Chabad House Have Their Windows Smashed.

A friend of mine told me this evening about her son who works for a European firm. His Gentile colleagues are shocked when they walk with him to the train station after work and hear him subjected to jeers of "dirty Jew."

A relative was walking the streets of Europe on Yom Kippur this year when he was accosted by a man who said, "they should have burned you in the concentration camps."

These are two examples of unreported acts of anti-Semitism.

The Middle East

Evelyn Gordon writes about Iceland's decision to recognize the state of Palestine and the right of return. She writes that "there is no way to be both “pro-Palestinian” and “pro-Israel” as long as the Palestinians insist, as they have throughout 18 years of negotiations, that no solution to the conflict is acceptable if it doesn’t include eradicating the Jewish state via the 'right of return.'”
Read full article: http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2011/11/30/iceland-palestine-right-of-return/#more-775981

Mathew Ackerman writes about Jeffrey Goldberg's column "that details some of the recent expressions of virulent Jew-hatred produced in the last year’s agitations in Arab countries."
He concludes, "In short, expressions of hatred for Jews may not be the Arab revolution hijacked, but the Arab revolution expressed."
Read full article: http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2011/11/30/goldberg-jew-hatred-arab-countrie/#more-775952

Over and over

R' Chiya bar Abba said in the name of R' Yochanan: What is the meaning of that which is written (Mishlei 27:18), "He who guards the fig tree shall eat from its fruit?" Why are the words of Torah likened to a fig tree? Just as a fig tree - every time one handles it, he finds more ripe figs (the fruits of a fig tree ripen at staggered intervals), so too with the words of the Torah, every time a person studies them he finds in them new flavour. (Gemara Eiruvin 54b)

In his preface to Pe-as Shulchan, R' Yisrael Shklover writes of his master and teacher, the Gaon of Vilna, "He reviewed all of Talmud Bavli every month. His toil in the study of the holy Torah defies description. He would review each chapter and masechta (tractate) hundreds, and even thousands of times. Out of immense love for the holy Torah, he once spent a long winter night reviewing over and over a single Mishnah in Seder Taharos."
Read full article: http://www.torah.org/learning/olas-shabbos/5758/vaeschanan.html#

Chadrei Chadarim has an article about a sign that was recently erected next to a gravestone of a man who was niftar many years ago. In his will, Rabbi Eliezer Yoseph Lederberg requested that the words that he learned Mesechtot "Beitza" and "Rosh Hashana" over 4000 times should be engraved on his gravestone to perhaps inspire others to do the same. The sign was put up not long ago so that people should take notice.

A talmid of Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel ztl describes the Rabbi's love for Torah.

One thing in particular that I shall remember about his love for learning was his reaction to the d'var Torah I once said to him. A few years ago during the Lebanon War, in order to encourage the talmidim to continue learning with the same vigour, he requested that we prepare a d'var Torah with our own novel ideas from the books we were studying, eventually to be compiled together in a book. I was so inspired from this ordeal that I felt that I wanted to give him some nachas, just as a child wants to give a parent, and so I decided to tell him my d'var Torah. He listened attentively, as if this were the first time he had ever heard such things, and then at the end he grinned from ear to ear and said 'emes', meaning, 'what you have said is true'. It didn't matter that he knew it already, every word of Torah from anyone, especially a talmid, was precious and exciting to him.

29 Nov 2011

Never forget

I was invited to attend a conference this week and one of the speakers will be Samuel Pisar. I googled the name and found that he is a lawyer, author and holocaust survivor. I came across an article he had written for the Washington Post. He describes how he heard the cries of those who were "herded into the gas chambers. Once the doors were locked, they had only three minutes to live, yet they found enough strength to dig their fingernails into the walls and scratch in the words 'Never Forget.'"

At the end of the video below, New York Daily News photographer David Handschuh echoes the same words, "never forget" regarding the events of 9/11 which he personally witnessed. And, perhaps he will never forget his experience this week at a Chabad shiluchim gathering when a rabbi helped him lay tefillin. Click here for photos.

About slander

The Yeshiva World reports Israel: Bill To Expose Bloggers Posting Slander.

Here's a website which doesn't slander Israel.

The following is an excerpt from the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation from the sefer Shemiras Haloshon.

I offer the following advice to anyone who seeks to guard his tongue from speaking the forbidden: Train yourself to refrain from engaging in any conversation while in a beis midrash (study hall) or beis haknesses (synagogue). The benefits of this practice are many:

(1) One fulfills the great mitzvah of displaying respect for the awesome sanctity of these places.1

(2) His Torah study is untainted by disruption (see Day 61) and his prayers are likewise uninterrupted and not lacking even one Amen or Yehei Shemei Rabba, each a priceless, irreplaceable treasure. Conversely, to disregard these responses is a serious sin.

(3) The average Jewish male spends approximately four hours a day in the beis haknesses for the three daily prayers. (This figure takes into account the fact that most people remain in the synagogue [studying and praying privately] for a while after the prayer has ended.2) He spends another two hours in the beis hamidrash studying Torah — a total of six hours, or one-fourth of each twenty four period. Thus, one who scrupulously avoids idle conversation in halls of Divine service is assured of having spent at least one-fourth of his lifetime on this earth engaged in Torah study and prayer and having avoided all forms of forbidden speech.

(4) Having trained oneself to avoid conversation for these six hours, one will find it relatively easy to refrain from speaking loshon hora the remainder of the day.

Here is an accompanying footnote.
2. The Chofetz Chaim wrote these words in the late 1800’s.

To subscribe for a daily lesson email alessonaday@chofetzchaimusa.org with the word "subscribe" as the subject.

28 Nov 2011

Doing the math

Kikar Hashabat has two articles about the Syrian President. Click here to read in Hebrew what Rabbi Amnon Yitzchak has to say.
The second article discusses the words of Rabbi Nir Ben Artzi. At the end of the article, there were some comments posted.
ניר בן ארצי גימטריה משה רבינו

ניר בן ארצי גימטריה משיח צדקנו (עם חמשת המילים

I added up the letters of the name and came out to 613. Eerie coincidence? You do the math.

Unemployment as reported is at 9 percent. But it's actually more than 16 percent. Some smart statistician came up with a distinction. A slight of hand to make the unemployment number tolerable rather than frightening.
Read full article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/barry-levinson/the-economics-of-abbott-and-costello_b_1115502.html

22 Nov 2011

Now is the time

The following is an excerpt from a devar Torah by Rabbi Dr Raymond Apple.

Chapter 27, verse 2 sees Isaac telling Esau, Lo yadati yom moti – “I know not the day of my death”. Since no-one – with such rare exceptions that they do not count – knows the date they will die, the translators often decided not to render these words literally. One version reads, “I know not how soon I may die”. Another says, “There is no telling when I may die”.

When the day of one’s death is addressed by the rabbinic sages in Pir’kei Avot, they find a remarkable lesson for life. First comes the saying in the name of Rabbi Eliezer, “Repent one day before your death” (Avot 2:10). Then in Avot D’Rabbi Natan we hear that the students of Rabbi Eliezer asked him, “Does anyone know the day he will die, so that he will be able to repent?” The teacher replied, “All the more should one repent today, in case he dies tomorrow; let him repent tomorrow, in case he dies the next day. Thus all his days will be spent in repentance.”

The Talmud (Shabbat 153a) quotes Kohelet 9:8, “Let your garments always be white”, and adds a parable about a king who summoned his servants to a banquet without specifying a time. The wiser servants immediately put on festive garb so as to be ready whenever the time was announced; the others thought there would always be time.

The following is an excerpt from an email I received from the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation.

The serpent, whose deceitful words created a barrier between God and man, was cursed: “And dust shall you eat all the days of your life” (Bereishis 3:14). The Talmud (Berachos 12b) interprets the phrase “all the days of your life” in another verse of the Torah (Devarim 16:3) as referring to the Messianic era. Thus, at the End of Days, all creatures will be cured of their maladies except for the serpent. And just as “the snake bites because it was not charmed” [i.e. cured of its curse] so too “there will be no advantage [i.e. remedy] for the master of the tongue” (from Koheles 10:11). Those who habitually speak loshon hora will, like the serpent, find no cure for themselves at the End of Days (Midrash Aggadas Bereishis 79:2 and Pirkei D’R’ Eliezer ch. 52). Their only hope is to repent now.

A call for concessions

Sultan Knish writes about the end of the peace process and states, "only the United States could make a call for concessions to terrorists sound noble."
I thought of his words when I read the brief to the Security Council by Robert Serry, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process.

"In a positive gesture, 51 alleged militants being held in protective custody by the Palestinian police in the West Bank had been granted amnesty by Israel on 4 November."

Wow! What a positive gesture.

"...After the decision by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to admit Palestine as a member, Israel had publicized its intention to invite tenders for the construction of 1,557 new units in East Jerusalem and 673 units in other areas of the West Bank. The Israeli Government froze the transfer of VAT and customs revenues it collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority.
...In addition to acting on its settlement obligations, Israel should unfreeze the transfers immediately."

So, in other words, the Palestinians shouldn't suffer consequences for any of their actions.

In the video below, Glenn Beck and Michelle Bachmann talk about Israel at the 3:37 mark.

21 Nov 2011

Politics of grievance and blame

In a three page article titled The Suicidal Passion, Ruth Wisse discusses the ideology of anti-Semitism. Click here to read an erudite essay about the roots of anti-Semitism.

The following excerpts were taken from an article at Matzav by Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz a while back.

"Why is it that despite all that Israel has done to demonstrate its interest in living peacefully with its neighbors, it is never enough, and the world persists in blaming the tiny country for being the aggressor?

These logic-defying circumstances are meant to remind us that we are in golus. If we want to merit redemption, we have to want it, we have to pray for it, and we have to earn sources of merit...
For the Jewish people throughout the ages, every chapter of our history since the churban has reinforced the teaching of Rabi Shimon Bar Yochai that “halacha hi beyoduah she’Eisav sonei leYaakov.” ... The only way to suppress that hatred and to keep Eisav from destroying us is by strengthening our connection to Torah and mitzvos."

Parents and teachers

Thomas Friedman has an op-ed at the New York Times titled How About Better Parents? in which he discusses that teachers can "make a huge difference in a student’s achievement, and we need to recruit, train and reward more such teachers. But here’s what some new studies are also showing: We need better parents. Parents more focused on their children’s education can also make a huge difference in a student’s achievement."

He writes about a Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA which recently published the following conclusion.

“Fifteen-year-old students whose parents often read books with them during their first year of primary school show markedly higher scores in PISA 2009 than students whose parents read with them infrequently or not at all. The performance advantage among students whose parents read to them in their early school years is evident regardless of the family’s socioeconomic background. Parents’ engagement with their 15-year-olds is strongly associated with better performance in PISA.”

Schleicher explained to me that “just asking your child how was their school day and showing genuine interest in the learning that they are doing can have the same impact as hours of private tutoring.
Read full article: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/20/opinion/sunday/friedman-how-about-better-parents.html?_r=1&src=me&ref=general

Emunah Braverman writes an open letter to teachers on the eve of parent-teacher conferences scheduled to take place this week. She cautions the teachers to focus not only on the weaknesses and flaws but also to see the positive. She concludes with the following advice.

"I certainly don’t want to shirk my parental responsibilities and place everything on the school. And the reverse is also true. If you take the time to appreciate and understand my child, my gratitude will know no bounds and I will excited to work with you in helping her achieve her potential.

But if you are only harsh and critical – well, I won’t respond in kind but I will probably think you should have chosen another profession."

So, let's not blame one side or the other. Let's join in partnership to produce children who thrive and achieve to the best of their abilities.

Incidentally, I came across an article about Mr. Friedman which provides elucidating details about his life including that his sister became religious and "works for a Lubavitch Jewish day school, where her husband also teaches."

A childhood friend described him "as a '20-year overnight sensation. . . . Tom has become really smart,” he says. “I don’t know that he started out really smart. Now he has a gift because he’s worked hard for 20 years.'”

20 Nov 2011


This post doesn't have to do this week's parsha. Rather, it deals with parshat Shoftim.
This morning I read an article about the appointments of Israeli Supreme Court Justices being hindered.

The Committee for Appointment of Judges convened in Jerusalem Sunday afternoon in a stormy showdown between leftist forces led by Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch and centrist-nationalists, as three vacant Supreme Court positions wait to be manned. The meeting ended at around 8:00 p.m. with no agreement having been reached. The next sessions will be held in January and February.
Read full article: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/149930

If being a "rightist" or a "leftist" is the consideration for being appointed a judge these days, I resolved to find what theTorah has to say about the subject.

2.What qualifications should one look for when appointing a judge?
2.What qualifications should one look for when appointing a judge?
16:18 - That he is expert in the law and that he is righteous.

According to the law they instruct you and according to the judgment they say to you, you shall do; you shall not divert from the word they tell you, either right or left (17:11)

Even if this judge tells you that right is left, and that left is right. How much more so, if he tells you that right is right, and left is left!
(Sifri; Rashi)

Wow! Rashi knew about right and left even in the old days.

And here's something that is perplexing to me from a hearing that took place on Friday.

On November 19, the deputy campaign manager of the Obama campaign posted that, "yesterday, four Republicans in the New Hampshire State House allowed a hearing requested by Orly Taitz..."
I thought that the hearing was based on an individual filing a complaint challenging the eligibility of a candidate. I didn't realize that the four Republicans had to allow the hearing before it could be addressed by the New Hampshire Ballot Commission.

Actions speak louder than words

Last week a lecturer gave a riveting speech to the women in the neighborhood. I was unable to attend but a friend told me that the message was that our children are a reflection of ourselves. The messages the children receive in the home, and the actions and sights they are exposed to will form the basis for their development.

I was reminded of the message when I read an article in the Hamodia about how the actions of Rav Nosson Zvi Finkel zt"l, influenced a talmid for years to come.

A talmid in the Mir Yeshiva had asked the Rav if he could learn with him. When the bochur arrived at the Rosh Yeshiva's home, he saw that the Rav was spent from a long day. In utter exhaustion the Rav walked over to the boy. When the bochur asked the rav what he wanted to learn the rav told him, "You're the boss, what do you think?" The student suggested leanrning "mussar, perhaps something about laziness."

At that point, the Rosh Yeshiva did something which would remain indelibly engraved in the boy's memory.

"Without a second thought, and as tired and as weak as he was, he jumped out of the chair, hurried to the bookshelf, and pulled out a mussar sefer. It was as if a suddent burst of energy filled his body. I watched in utter shock as a man who was completely exhausted just moments before came back to life right before my eyes."

The talmid concluded that he didn't remember what they learned that evening but he would never forget the lesson, not of words, but of actions. His memories of that night with the Rosh Yeshiva would galvanize him to action for years to come whenever he was too tired or not in the mood to do something.

19 Nov 2011

Stop complaining

I was in the middle of reciting a litany of complaints about my job to a woman in the neighborhood when she stopped me by saying, "stop complaining. I wish I had a job." She confided that she had been occupied babysitting for her young grandson the past couple of years, but now that he was in kindergarten, her services were no longer needed. She told me that there were days she had to push herself out of bed because she had no schedule to follow.
I learned a lesson from her and resolved not to complain about my job. It worked. For a while.

President in the news

Maddie Hanna reports on New Hampshire state election officials rejecting a petition to keep the President's name off the New Hampshire ballot.
Speaking of the President, the Daily Caller has a clip in which he appears on a televised Black History Minutes segment from 1991, the year that he graduated from Harvard Law School.
Sorry, I thought the President had said the word coterie in the clip, but an alert reader explained to me that it was cadre. Mea culpa.

18 Nov 2011

Lessons from Avraham

Rabbi Yissocher Frand discusses the "it's coming to me" attitude in relation to this week's parsha.
Such is the attitude of a person who does not go through life with an "It's coming to me" (es kumpt mir) philosophy. The opposite of the Yiddish expression "es kumpt mir" is "es kumpt mir gornisht" which means I deserve nothing. I take nothing for granted. Every little gift is a bonanza! This was exactly the attitude of Avraham. That is why he died a very happy and satisfied man and that is why the Torah praised him with this behavior.
When the Chofetz Chaim finished writing the Mishna Berurah, he said, "Ribbono shel Olam you have been so good to me. How can I finally pay You back?" If you or I wrote the Mishna Berurah, our attitude would most likely be "G-d, I wrote the Mishna Berurah. I put the Orach Chaim on the map for You. Now it is my turn. When is it going to be payback time?"

Read full devar Torah at http://www.torah.org/learning/ravfrand/5772/chayeisarah.html# by scrolling down to second article titled "Avraham Died A Happy Man -- For Good Reason."

In the video below, the rabbi discusses living every day to its fullest.

Two religions

Click here to read about a Toronto synagogue which was sprayed with anti-Semitic graffiti.

The other day I posted about a Park51 book signing event. It seems that the developer of Park51 is not having it easy as Con Ed wants to evict Ground Zero mosque developer over $1.7M back rent.

17 Nov 2011

Question Time

A CNN poll has shown, "Americans have typically been optimists about the future, but when it comes to how things are going in the country, a new national survey suggests that may no longer be the case."

In the video below, a number of people were asked on the November 3 edition of Question Time what makes them happy. Listen to commentator Peter Hitchens' response about G-d.
And here's a quote from an email I received the other day.
"Honk if you like G-d; text and drive if you want to meet him!"

Infinite possibilities

Foro those who missed an article by Moshe Kempinski titled "Judaism: Reb Shlomo and Infinite Possibilities" click here to read about important lessons to be learned from Reb Aryeh Levin and Shlomo Carlebach.

16 Nov 2011

Two centers

A July Huffington Post article detailed a telephone exchange with Sharif el-Gamal, the developer of the Park51 cultural center and prayer space.

"Park51 is an Islamic community center modeled after the (Jewish Community Center) or YMCA," Gamal said. "It is open to all people but it is not an interfaith project."

"Hold on, Sharif," Goldsmith interjected. "You're wrong to say that. It is an interfaith project."

"That's what I said," the developer insisted. "It's an Islamic community center open to all people, serving all New York and based on pluralism and diversity."

So, in the spirit of interfaith dialogue, an event is scheduled for this evening, a review of the book, "In the Presence of Absence” including a Q&A with Adam Schatz, among others.

An excerpt from a review of the book states, "it is full of descriptions of Gaza and Deir Yassin and Sabra and Shatila."

Adam Shatz wrote a piece in the Guardian where he discusses the Mearsheimer and Walt paper on the Israel Lobby.
Alan Dershowitz, Israel's unofficial ambassador to Cambridge, Massachusetts, predictably denounced the paper as anti-Semitic, but then he would probably find the rumblings of a pogrom in a negative review of his favorite deli.

I checked out the website of the JCC, curious if such events were being presented at the center which Park51 is using as a role model.

The JCC events schedule included a November 10 premiere of Dolphin Boy about an Arab and his Jewish Israeli girlfriend, a Saturday afternoon screening of David & Kamal on November 12 and a screening of a movie, 77 Steps which is a love story between an Arab girl and her Jewish boyfriend, which is co-presented by the New Israel Fund.

Which center is doing more for Jewish identity? Isn't it wonderful that the Sabbath is a day for viewing peace and friendship films? Somehow, I don't think that this was what G-d had in mind in the issuance of the fourth Commandment of remembering the Sabbath day to keep it holy.

10 Nov 2011

Commanding respect

"Nazi-occupied Paris was a terrible place to be in the waning days of World War II, with Jews, Resistance fighters and ordinary citizens all hoping to escape. Disappearances became so common they often weren't followed up.
And one man used the lawlessness for his own terrible purposes, killing perhaps as many as 150 people."
Read full article: http://news.yahoo.com/doctor-turned-serial-killer-ww2-paris-122102122.html

I was shocked to read how Dr. Marcel Petiot, a person in a position to command respect, used his credentials to lure unsuspecting Jews to their deaths.

And speaking about respect, below is a video which explains just how we should respect our Torah scholars.

9 Nov 2011

Turkey Quake deja vu

A Turkish news agency says an earthquake with a preliminary 5.7 magnitude has caused some buildings to collapse in the eastern part of the country.
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2011/11/09/earthquake-hits-eastern-turkey-collapses-buildings/#ixzz1dFFVm4Wy

טורקיה טורקיה - גם עליך תעבור כוס התרעלה

הרב עובדיה יוסף: הקב"ה מצפצף על טורקיה

A growth industry

In an article titled Anti-Semitism, a growth industry in bad times, Alan Caruba writes the following.

"In bad times, anti-Semitism seems to crawl out of the sewers like a repugnant odor. It is not subject to a rational response. It is pure emotion and a very nasty one at that. Lately we got a whiff of it at some of the Occupy protests."
Read full article: http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/caruba/111109

Rick Richman offers a synopsis of the case being argued in the Supreme Court as to whether Americans born in Jerusalem have the right to have “Israel” on their passports as their place of birth.
He concludes, "Ironically, this whole case could have been avoided if either President Bush or President Obama had simply done what President Clinton did with respect to Taiwan: faithfully execute the law, while making clear it did not change U.S. foreign policy as articulated by the Executive Branch. Better yet, the case could have been avoided if the President had simply chosen to recognize that the city that has been the capital of Israel for 61 years is the capital of Israel. Whatever past policy has been, and whoever has the authority to decide it, it’s time."

Read full article: http://pjmedia.com/blog/the-president-congress-and-menachem-zivotofsky%e2%80%99s-passport/2/

Click here to read about indoctrination in a Spanish classroom.

Practice gratitude

Chadrei Chadarim recently published a letter that Rebbetzin Kanievsky penned a few weeks before her petira in which she thanked the head of an organization for his efforts in helping needy families.

Kikar Hashabat writes about Hagon Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel ZATZAL making a last telephone call to Minister Eli Yishai thanking him for helping ease the Yeshiva's financial burden.

In an article titled 10 Ways to Have a Happier Life, Part Two, Dr. Andrew Weill suggests different way to achieve happiness. Number 10 on the list is to practice gratitude.

So, let's take the opportunity to say thank you to someone we've been meaning to thank but haven't gotten around to it. Do it now before it's too late.

Thank you to someone who wrote me a constructive email yesterday.

8 Nov 2011

New politicians

It appears that Berlusconi will resign after 2012 Budget is approved. BREAKING

Rabbi Boteach writes about his experiences organizing a wedding during a power outage caused by a snowstorm.
"We were preparing for a wedding with a house filled with relatives from around the world who, freezing with no heat, light, or phones, thought America was a third-world country."

He would like to see a new breed of politican.

"This is probably what America most needs, courageous, principled, visionary, and determined citizens unseating the do-nothing class of politicians who watch America crumble by the day yet continue to waste our hard-earned money on efforts that yield few results."

A hearing ear

Reflect on three things and you will never come to sin: Know what is above you --a seeing eye, a hearing ear, and all your deeds recorded in a book.
Pirkei Avot 2:1

Many of you have read about the reported exchange between Presidents Obama and Sarkozy which took place in Cannes this past week.
Microphones accidently left on after G20 meeting pick up private conversation between US, French presidents. Sarkozy admits he 'can't stand' Israeli premier. Obama: You're fed up with him? I have to deal with him every day!
Read full article: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4145266,00.html

Curious to see which of the MSM is reporting the incident, I came across a few paragraphs in the NYT about the report which was published on a French Web site.
The White House did not comment on the exchange, which the Web site said was not widely reported in France because the journalists who overheard it agreed not to publish the remarks.

The White House does have a transcript of the scripted speeches of the two Presidents.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, it is wonderful to be back in France. And I want to thank my excellent friend and colleague, Nicolas Sarkozy, for his hospitality. He and I obviously have worked together on a wide range of issues since I've been President, and I always welcome his frank and honest assessment of the situations here.
It's also nice to be back visiting in France -- the last time I was in the south of France -- or the first time, rather, was as a college student, and I've never forgotten the extraordinary hospitality of the French people and the extraordinary views that are available here.
Read full transcript and watch video: http://www.whitehouse.gov/photos-and-video/video/2011/11/03/president-obama-and-president-sarkozy-france-speak-bilateral-meeti
Incidentally, WND questions Obama went to France while in college?

a story about the President and the famous Sitation Room photo.

7 Nov 2011

Causing to cry

Looking for some insights into Rachel Imeinu on her yarzheit, I came across a thought posted last year at Inspire Yourself.

When we speak about Rachel Imeinu, we say, “Kol B’ramah nishma…Rachel mivaka al baneha ki eineinu…” a voice is heard on high…Rachel is crying about her children…
The word mivaka seems to be grammatically incorrect. The definition of mivaka is to cause someone else to cry. The question is, why do we use this term for cry? If Rachel is crying for us on high, (as we know that Hashem says that her tears are going to bring the geula, not the tears of any of the avos) why is the term "causing to cry" used?! It should probably say, Rachel boche, Rachel "is crying" because she is constantly crying for us to come out of galus!!!!!
The answer is, that Rachel Imeinu is crying because we Jews are not crying! She is trying to get us to cry out of the pain of galus because we seem to forget where we are. Hashem puts us through so much pain and suffering in galus and our job is to cry out to Him and BEG Him to take us out! But instead, we try to ignore the pain we are in and try to run away from the pain using all sorts of escapes and distractions. We forget that we are in galus by making ourselves comfortable here. We try to enjoy life to the fullest instead of remembering that we are supposed to be davening to come out!! What we have to do now is cry out to Hashem and beg and plead for Him to take us out!!!
Rachel is trying to get us to cry, to feel uncomfortable in galus! If we don’t feel like we are in galus and we don’t cry out to Hashem, then why should He take us out altogether?! If we are fine where we are, then why should anything change?! The only way to get out is by asking for it! And if Hashem sees we really want to come out, He will take us out!!!!

Read full post: http://inspirationalinformation.blogspot.com/2010/10/today-rachel-imeinus-yartzheit.html

Many cried out to Hashem today upon reading of the young people who were tragically niftar in car accidents.
May we merit "veshavu banim ligvulam" by striving to be better and by not distracting ourselves with meaningless time wasters. How about reciting some Pirkei Tehillim or reading this devar Torah and resolving to do chesed in the style of Avraham?

UNESCO and Jewish history

In an op-ed titled Mr. Netanyahu, Let's Boycott UNESCO, Giulio Meotti advocates for suspension of any cooperation with UNESCO.

Jerusalem will not risk any isolation, since it’s already a pariah in the UN and the word “Jew” has become, once again, an accepted insult in the global square.
UNESCO’s next steps are under Israel’s nose: very soon the Temple Mount, the Dead Sea Scrolls, Joseph’s Tomb, Rachel’s Tomb, the Shalom al Israel synagogue and the Cave of the Patriarchs will be designated as “mosques” by the UN’s agency.
...Last year, the UNESCO report on science forcibly converted to Islam the Jewish physician Maimonides, calling him “Moussa ben Maimoun”.

Read full article: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Articles/Article.aspx/10792

Speaking of Rachel's Tomb, this evening and tomorrow, thousands of people are expected to make their way there on the occasion of Rachel Imeinu's Yarzheit. Click here to send a prayer to Kever Rachel.
Below is a video of an interview with Allen West. Why isn't he in the running for President?

6 Nov 2011

A time of grief

Many years ago, my friends and I went to be menachem aveil a teacher of ours who lost his teenaged daughter in a bus bombing in Jerusalem. We were apprehensive,not knowing what words to utter. But, we came away amazed at the rabbi's ability to give us chizuk during his time of grief. I thought of this incident when I read the Torah thought by Rabbi Dr. Raymond Apple.
Unfortunately, there have been too many tragedies recently. Just today, I read about a three-year old girl who died in a fire and a three year-old boy who was niftar. Also, a young boy in Monsey was hit by a van.
Please pray for Moshe Yisroel Ahron ben Hentcha Baila and for Chaya Efrat bat Hadas.

Some views suggest that hearing of Isaac’s near death gave Sarah a shock which proved fatal. She had not known of God’s call to Abraham and only heard of the whole course of events after they were over and after Abraham and Isaac came home.
The impact of her death is described in next week’s sidra, Chayyei Sarah, in Chapter 23 of B’reshit which tells of the death of Sarah and how Abraham mourned for her. He came lis’pod l’Sarah v’liv’kotah – “to eulogise Sarah and to weep for her”. The narrative follows a peculiar order, first the eulogy and then the weeping. It cannot possibly be that Abraham did not realise the extent of the tragedy at first and only started weeping once he had put the occasion into words.
The truth may really be quite the opposite. Abraham was genuinely torn to pieces by the death but he knew that Sarah belonged to the family, to the community, to history, and not just to him personally. He felt he had to comfort the others first and to sum her up for them before he could give way to his own individual grief.

Don't despair

The following is Torah thought from Revach about not despairing.

As told by Rav Refoel Salzer of Gateshead - Approximately 17 years ago, I took a class of 12-year old boys for Chumash-Rashi. One particular boy in the class (we’ll call him “Reuven”) gave me cause for concern. I knew him to be a serious, hard working boy with excellent ability, and I expected him to be at least among the top of the class. It alarmed me therefore to note that he was scoring around the 40% mark, week after week. His Gemoro Rebbe confirmed that in his class, Reuven was “bombing away” at the head of the class.

I took Reuven aside and queried this situation – and I was even more astounded by his explanation. “Rebbe,” he said in all honesty and sincerity “ this has been going on for years! I have just never been able to ‘get my teeth’ into Chumash Rashi. There’s just something about it that does not let us get on!” He then went on to assure me that it had nothing to do with the Rebbe – it had been the same with all his past Rebbeim. When I tried telling him how fundamental Chumash Rashi was to his Yiras Shomayim and the success of all his learning, he replied that he was fully aware of all this, - but he simply could not get to grips with this crucial Limmud.

This left me absolutely dumbfounded – I could not understand why such a solid, ‘tachshit’ of a boy should have such difficulty. He was clearly talking from the heart, and I found myself helpless in a inexplicable situation.

That night I attended a Chasuna which was graced by Harav Matisyohu Salomon Shlita. He had just returned from a visit to the then Soviet Union, and he related a ‘vort’ he was told there by an ‘elterre Yid’ who had heard it from the Chofetz Chaim!

In Parshas Vayera, when Hagar took the ailing Yishmael through the desert where she ran out of water, Chazal tell us that the well of water she discovered later, was actually there all the time. Hagar however was prevented from being able to see the water until after her encounter with the Malach.

Why, asks the Chafetz Chaim did Hashem hide the water from her in the first place? If nature would have been allowed to run as normal, there would have been no crisis to begin with. Furthermore, if we examine the pesukim, we see (פרק כ"א פסוק י"ז) that Hashem had decided that Yishmael should be allowed to liveכי שמע א...ם את קול הנער באשר הוא שם. It is only in פסוק י"ט that Hagar is able to ‘discover’ the well of water. In between these two pesukim is an entire possuk

קומי שאי את הנער והחזיקי את ידך בו כי לגוי גדול אשימנוIt appears that Hagar needed to go through this process of lifting and grasping her son before she was to be released from her torment. What is the meaning behind all of this?

The words of Harav Salomon almost knocked me off my seat. The Chafetz Chaim explains that the reason why Hagar lost the ability to locate the natural supply of water – was a result of her having despaired and having “written off” Yishmael’s chances of survival. In fact, we are being taught here that when a person is Misyaesh and does not believe in his own ability, his attitude becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and Hashem removes the ability that he actually had!

Even after the Divine ‘psak’ that Yishmael should live, Hagar was still deprived of the water supply. The only way to change the situation was for her to change her attitude! She had to lift the child, hold him tight and have faith in him that he will indeed grow into a great nation. Once this was done, Hashem reversed the situation to its original natural state, and Hagar could partake of the resource that was waiting for her all along.

Suddenly everything made sense! Reuven’s success was being withheld from him because of his misguided perception of his ability. If only he would lift himself up and take a firm grip of himself, he would be allowed to grow as he so badly desired.

The following day, I decided to share this vort with the entire class I did not even make eye-contact with Reuven when I said this over but I fervently hoped that he would take the message on board.

To this day I cannot be certain whether this made a difference, but I do know that from that week onward, Reuven (who is now a Magid Shiur) began to achieve increasingly better grades at Chumash Rashi.

5 Nov 2011

Occupying personal agendas

Ira Stoll writes about an Occupy Boston contingent who occupied the Israeli Consulate.
Still, the whole event illustrates the way the Occupy movement has become a forum for people to air whatever pre-existing grievance or agenda they have, even if it has nothing to do with Wall Street. And how readily a protest against bankers can elide into one against the Jewish state.
Read full article and watch video at: http://www.futureofcapitalism.com/2011/11/occupy-boston-occupies-israeli-consulate

President Obama's attorney sent a letter to Congressional investigators on Friday, saying the White House would not cooperate with a subpoena requesting documents related to its doling out a $535 million loan guarantee to now bankrupt solar panel manufacturer Solyndra.
Read here about how the administration who promised transparency is not cooperating with a Congessional investigation.
H/T Memeorandum

4 Nov 2011

The first video

Interesting article about ACORN at FOX news.
Here's an article about a man being charged for making threats against Eric Cantor's family.
H/T Memeorandum

Yasher Koach to Rabbi Krohn for his inspiring video below. May it be the first of many.
Good Shabbos.

1 Nov 2011

Rabble without a cause

Michael Savage calls the protestors in Zuccotti Park, "rabble without a cause."
Incidentally, he also spoke about eating at a restaurant this past weekend when the owner came over to him and told him that there was a 103-year-old woman celebrating her birthday at the restaurant. Mr. Savage got up to meet her and asked her why she thought she lived so long. She looked at him in the eyes and said, "be nice to everybody." He then asked her if she believes in G-d. She responded, "of course, G-d rules over all."

Larrey Anderson has an article titled Generation Null at American Thinker.

Move over, Generations Y and X -- make room, at least in Zuccotti Park, for Generation Null. This is the generation whose ignorance passes for knowledge; these are the protesters whose selfishness is thinly disguised as sincerity. This is the generation where the self supplants the spirit. Of all the crises America faces, the Occupy Wall Street movement proves that our greatest plight is spiritual. We are daily witnesses to the rants of young people who have no concept of the human soul.
Read full article: http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/11/generation_null.html

Richard Goldstone writes in the New York Times, "the charge that Israel is an apartheid state is a false and malicious one that precludes, rather than promotes, peace and harmony."
Unfortunately, after reading a couple of responses to his op-ed and the comments that followed, I believe that Mr. Goldstone is preaching to the converted and won't sway opinion one way or the other.

The wife kidnapper

Earl and Bubba are quietly sitting in a boat fishing, chewing tobacco and drinking beer when suddenly Bubba says, "Think I'm gonna divorce the wife - she ain't spoke to me in over 2 months."
Earl spits overboard, takes a long, slow sip of beer and says, "Better think it over.............women like that are hard to find."

A friend told me yesterday, "I used to ask you if you heard about the latest engagement. Now I'm asking you if you heard about the latest divorce."
Another friend told me, "in every divorce there are three stories; his story, her story and the truth."
The importance of not jumping to conclusions and rushing to judgement really hit home this evening as I read a story at the Yeshiva World about a man who was almost arrested because police thought that he was abducting a woman. Apparently, she and her husband were in a car and her eyes were covered. The police thought that she was being kidnapped and that the driver of the car had blindfolded her. It turned out that the husband was driving his wife home from eye surgery.
So let's remember this story next time we hear someone assign blame. It's his fault. No it's her fault. The truth might be somewhere in between. We may never discover the truth. And, most of the time, it's none of our business.