"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 2012

Israel and the Palestinians

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has detailed the terrorist activities and affiliations of Palestinians the New York Times claimed were simply “cameramen” in a report that accused Israel of targeting journalists in the Gaza Strip.

The IDF titled its rejoinder “How Hamas and Islamic Jihad Use Journalism as a Cover for Terrorism.” The title is a jab at the Times, which had headlined its story “Using War as Cover to Target Journalists.”
Continue reading: http://freebeacon.com/idf-to-nyt-we-targeted-terrorists-not-journalists/

Jewish groups reacted with dismay over the decision of the United Nations General Assembly to vote in favor of upgrading the status of the Palestinian Authority to observer state today. Many concluded that the impact of the outcome on efforts to achieve peace with the Arabs will be profoundly negative. Below are some of the reactions:
AIPAC: “The United Nations General Assembly recklessly set back the chances for peace between Israelis and Palestinians today when it granted non-member observer state status to the Palestine Liberation Organization.
Continue reading: http://www.algemeiner.com/2012/11/29/american-jewish-leaders-and-groups-blast-united-nations-palestinian-authority-vote/

29 Nov 2012

The voice of prayer

Rebbetzin Jungreis writes about the power of prayer in her latest column.

What is our secret weapon? I’ve written about it frequently but it bears repeating – for we simply don’t get it. It is all found in one easy word: “Torah.” The voice of Jacob, of Israel, is the voice of Torah and the voice of prayer. Yes, the power of our people is in our voice and in our supplications. It is found in our Torah studies, in our observance of mitzvos and in our commitment to Hashem. Sadly, we have forfeited these precious gems. We no longer know how to sing to our G-d and have allowed Yishmael to seize our weapons. Yishmael prays five times a day. How many times do we pray?
Read full article: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/rebbetzins-viewpointrebbetzin-jungreis/the-secret-to-defeating-our-enemies/2012/11/28/

Holocaust restitution

A global Jewish group urged central and east European countries on Wednesday to return or provide compensation for property seized during the Holocaust and accused Poland, Latvia and Romania in particular of foot-dragging.
After a conference in Prague, the World Jewish Restitution Organisation (WJRO) said tens of thousands of Nazi Holocaust victims and their heirs had not been able to resolve claims on stolen property despite two decades of trying since the fall of post-war communist regimes in central and eastern Europe.

More than 67 years after the Holocaust, Jirina Novakova refuses to give up her battle to regain property confiscated from her family.
Her hopes got a boost two years ago when 43 countries vowed at a Prague conference to back global guidelines for the restitution of property confiscated from Jews during World War II to their rightful owners or heirs. The nations pledged to try harder to return real estate stolen by the Nazis, open archives that might help those dispossessed and to process claims for restitution faster. She thought that show of international determination would pressure her country, the Czech Republic, and help her finally win a court battle to get back a button factory seized from her family by the Nazis.

On another topic, somehow I ended up clicking on a link to a CSMonitor quiz on religion titled Are you smarter than an atheist?
I am happy to report that I scored higher than the average atheist.

Finally, "Powerball officials say tickets sold in Arizona and Missouri matched all six numbers to win the record the record $579.9 million jackpot. Now the hunt for the winners begins."
So, it looks that those people who were hit by Hurricane Sandy will have to think of another way to recoup what they lost.

28 Nov 2012

Overcoming struggles

At the conclusion of the struggle between Yaakov (Jacob) and a strange man - which the Medrash clarifies was Satan himself, functioning as the Guardian Angel of Yaakov's brother Esav (Esau) - the Angel of Evil begs Yaakov to allow him to depart. "Then [the angel] said, 'Let me go, for dawn has broken.'" (Beraishis/ Genesis 32:27). The Talmud (Tractate Chulin 91b) explains that Yaakov initially asked him if he was a thief or a gambler, since he feared the break of dawn. The stranger replied, "I am an angel, and from the moment of my creation I have never had the opportunity to sing Shira (song of Divine praise) until now!" Why did this angel, just defeated and disgraced, and never before allowed to sing Shira, have to sing right now?
Continue reading: http://www.torah.org/learning/kolhakollel/5763/vayishlach.html

Zig Ziglar died today at age 86. A World War II veteran, Zig Ziglar became the top sales person in several organizations before striking out on his own as a motivational speaker and trainer. http://www.forbes.com/sites/kevinkruse/2012/11/28/zig-ziglar-10-quotes-that-can-change-your-life/

Hitting the jackpot

So you just won the $500 million Powerball jackpot, the second highest in lottery history. Now what?
Perhaps it's time for a tropical vacation or a new car. There are bills to pay, loans to settle, debts to square.
Past winners of mega-lottery drawings and financial planners have some more sound advice: Stick to a budget, invest wisely, learn to say no and be prepared to lose friends while riding an emotional roller-coaster of joy, anxiety, guilt and distrust.
Continue reading: http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/big-winners-share-lessons-risks-powerball-win-17824625?page=2

Yesterday I posted about a video/book titled The Secret which claims that one can attain his/her desires through positive thoughts. Someone wrote a comment referring to Rabbi Manis Friedman's thoughts on The Secret.

Anyway, if you don't win the Powerball jachpot this evening, I just listened to Rabbi Lazer Brody who asked his audience whether they would be willing to sell their eyesight for a million dollars. No one applied in the affirmative. So, I guess that makes us all millionaires, whether we win the jackpot or not.

The other side

Bereishit 14:13 "And the fugitive came and he told Abram the Hebrew..."

the Hebrew: Heb. הָעִבְרִי. [So called] because he came from the other side (מֵעֵבֶר) of the [Euphrates] river (Gen. Rabbah 42:8).
“All the world was on one side, and he was on the other side.”

Below are a few questions asked to State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland at the November 27th briefing.

 Your oldest ally, France, says today that it’s going to vote in favor of the Palestinian resolution as prepared, not any alternative. So I’m wondering if you can comment on that.

...But when you see something like that happening...does it not give anyone pause? Because this is going to be – whatever the final vote is, it’s going to be a lopsided outcome. The Palestinians are going to win. You don’t dispute that, right?

...Okay. But it doesn’t give you pause – in this case or in the case of the Cuba embargo vote, whichever year is the same, it doesn’t give you pause that – to think that maybe you are not actually taking a principled stand and that others are taking a principled stand when everyone – virtually everyone else in the world disagrees with you on the fundamental aspect of your policy? That doesn’t give anyone in this building pause? You just – or this Administration pause? You just charge right ahead regardless of what the rest of the world is saying?
Read full transcript: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2012/11/201105.htm

All I can say is that it was a good thing that Noah, Abraham and others just charged right ahead, regardless of what the rest of the world was saying.

27 Nov 2012

Twitter action

France's main Jewish students union (UEJF) has started legal action against Twitter to force the site to reveal details on people who posted a slew of anti-Semitic hate messages, its lawyer said Tuesday.
A hearing is set for January 8 at a Paris court, attorney Stephane Lilti said, adding that the group was also seeking the implementation of French laws on illicit content.
Continue reading: http://www99.bangkokpost.com/tech/computer/323450/french-jewish-body-takes-twitter-to-court

The BBC’s Jon Donnison, together with the head of the BBC Jerusalem Bureau and head of the Foreign Press Association, Paul Danahar, has been summoned by the Government Press Office in Israel to a hearing this coming Wednesday (November 28th) on the subject of Donnison’s Tweet of a picture of a child casualty from Syria as though it were from Gaza – as first publicised by BBC Watch on November 19th 2012.
Read more: http://bbcwatch.org/2012/11/27/bbcs-jon-donnison-summoned-to-government-press-office-hearing/

On another topic, EJP is reporting the following:

Poland's top court Tuesday ruled that the ritual slaughter of animals, a key tenet of the Jewish and Muslim faiths, was illegal, but the government insisted that new EU rules would still allow the practice.
Continue reading: http://www.ejpress.org/article/63623

Receiving your request

A friend and I went to a screening of "the Secret" which was aired at a local center. When I came home, I discussed the movie with another friend. She was very distraught and berated me, "This doesn't sound like Jewish Hashkofa. We don't always get what we want and we have to know that Hashem does everything for the best, whether we understand why our requests are fulfilled or not."

This morning I received an email from Rhonda Byrne from the Secret Daily Teachings. The reader is asked to imagine sending an email with a request to the Server of the Universe.

If you begin to worry and stress that you haven't got what you wanted, then you have just sent another email to the Universe to stop your order. And then you wonder why you haven't received what you asked for.

Once you Ask, know that the Server of the Universe is an automatic infallible system that never fails, and expect to receive your request!

Once I read the above words, I realized that my friend's words were so right. It is dangerous to think that anything we ask for will be greeted with a positive response. Sometimes our requests are not in our best interests. Imagine if I had really wanted a job at the World Trade Center during September 2001. Had I been turned down for the job, I could have been disappointed and upset that G-d had not fulfilled my request for something I really wanted. But, on September 11, I would have realized how being turned down for the job was the best thing that could have happened to me.


A woman named Yael

Shoftim 4.
21. And Yael, the wife of Heber, took the tent-pin, and placed the hammer in her hand, and came to him stealthily, and thrust the pin into his temple, and it pierced through into the ground; and he was in a deep sleep and weary; and he died.
22. And behold, Barak pursued Sisera, and Yael came out to meet him, and she said to him, "Come and I will show you the man whom you seek," and he came to her, and behold, Sisera lay dead, and the pin was in his temple.

A knife-wielding intruder broke into a woman’s home early Monday morning in a community in the Eshkol border region and was fought off by a tenacious mother protecting her four children. Later in the day, the mother, Yael — who was only identified by her first name and who was lightly injured in the attack — had her version of the story related to Ynet by her father.
Read more: http://www.timesofisrael.com/stabbed-in-the-face-and-shoulder-woman-fought-off-her-gazan-attacker/

If the attacker would have read the book of Judges - Shoftim, perhaps he wouldn't have started up with a woman named Yael.

26 Nov 2012

Twitter times two

Amnesty International U.K. official reprimanded after tweeting anti-Semitic joke

A senior official with the human rights organization Amnesty International has been reprimanded for making an anti-Semitic joke about several British lawmakers.
Read more: http://freebeacon.com/an-anti-semite-walks-into-a-bar/

A twitter feed associated with Hamas’ military wing, Izzedin al-Qassam, posted this photo of a chocolate frosted cake to celebrate what it’s calling a victory over Israel in the week of fighting that ended last Wednesday. Hamas called the operation in which it launched 1,506 rockets at Israeli civilians “Shale Stones,” and on the chocolate cake that phrase appears in Arabic, as does an M-75 long-range missile. The green used as the decorator gel is a color closely associated with Hamas and other Islamist movements.
Continue reading: http://www.theblaze.com/stories/food-fight-hamas-tweets-out-missile-cake-while-one-israeli-reveals-how-he-used-a-pastrami-sandwich-to-take-cover/

A Dutch news show has stirred controversy by airing a fake satirical video of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu bragging to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about civilian deaths in Gaza.
“We are trying to maximize the number of civilian casualties. We prefer that,” Netanyahu is seen telling Clinton in the video, which the broadcaster Vara aired on Nov. 21, as part of the satirical corner of the prime-time news show De Wereld Draait Door. Approximately 1.5 million viewers watch the show every evening.
Read more: http://www.jta.org/news/article/2012/11/26/3112791/dutch-tv-airs-fake-netanyahu-speech-about-targeting-gaza-kids

The obvious enemy

by D. Fine

The scene is set as the two heads of completely opposed nations (Yaakov and Esav) meet each other for the first time since Yaakov got his bracha from Yitzchak. Before this meeting, Yaakov davens to HaShem to 'please save me from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esav (32;12).' Why repeat things (why repeat things!) by saying 'the hand of my brother' AND 'the hand of Esav?'

An answer is that these two concepts ('my brother' and 'esav') represent the 2 tactics employed against us as individual Jews and as the Jewish people as a whole. One is the enemy who overtly and obviously comes against us by force to annihilate us (that is called 'esav' -the obvious enemy) anti-semitism. The other is much more dangerous, and that is 'achi' - my brother.
Continue reading: http://www.shortvort.com/component/content/article/114-rotator/11586-enemy-tactics

Anti-Israel demonstrators gathered on Friday in the heart of Vienna, protesting Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense and chanting slogans calling for the murder of Jews and bashing the Jewish state. Read more: http://www.jpost.com/International/Article.aspx?id=293435

Two children

CNN has a moving video and article about two children from both sides of the MidEast conflict who are being treated in the same Israeli hospital.

Four-year-old Yosef lies in a hospital bed with curiosity gleaming in his eyes as he listens to a family friend tell him the age-old story of Jonah and the whale.
The young boy is surprisingly bright-eyed after the traumatic ordeal he's endured as a result of the latest outbreak of warfare between Gaza and Israel.

25 Nov 2012

Eight days

Jews the world over will celebrate the holiday of Chanukah this month to commemorate the eight days that the flask of oil burned.

YnetNews reports about a different type of celebration of the eight days of the Gazan Israeli confrontation which led to a ceasefire last week.

Less than a week after the declaration of a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, Operation Pillar of Defense has already left its mark on the people of Gaza, in a rather unexpected way.

Some parents from the Strip have decided to name their newborn babies after operation-affiliated icons – from assassinated Hamas commanders to long-range missiles fired at Israel.

Muhammad al-Shafi'i Abu Nassat named his son, who was born Friday, after the Fajr missile. Naming his baby Fajr, Abu Nassat told Gaza media, was his way of expressing his gratitude to Iran, which was responsible for supplying Gaza with rockets that, according to Abu Nassat "struck the enemy for eight days."

British Foreign Secretary William Hague on Sunday urged the United States to take a more active role in seeking a lasting settlement between Israelis and Palestinians, warning of a "final chance" for a two-state solution.

Masculine and feminine

Hurricane Sandy’s $50 billion damage demonstrated the vulnerability of America’s largest cities to the effects of global warming. Christiana Figueres, the top United Nations diplomat for international climate negotiations, said Sandy serves as “yet another wake-up call” for the U.S. to cut carbon pollution.

The other week I was listening to Rabbi Wallerstein speak about Hurricane Sandy and he mentioned that he was looking for some verse in the Torah which ties in the elements of nature in the storm such as trees, wind, etc. Someone in his shul came up with the verse from Chapters of the Fathers 3:17, "One whose wisdom is greater than his deeds, what is he comparable to?  To a tree with many branches and few roots; comes a storm and uproots it, and turns it on its face..."

While he was discussing the elements of nature, my thoughts immediately turned to the Rashi in this week's parsha 32:9.

And he said, "If Esau comes to one camp and strikes it down, the remaining camp will escape."
ט. וַיֹּאמֶר אִם יָבוֹא עֵשָׂו אֶל הַמַּחֲנֶה הָאַחַת וְהִכָּהוּ וְהָיָה הַמַּחֲנֶה הַנִּשְׁאָר לִפְלֵיטָה:

one camp and strikes it down: Heb. וְהִכָּהוּ הַמַחִנֶה הָאַחַת. [The word] מַחִנֶה is used both in the masculine and feminine genders. [Other examples are:] (Ps. 27:3):“If a camp encamps (תַּחִנֶה) against me.” This is feminine. (Below, 33: 8)“this (הַזֶה) camp.” That is masculine. Likewise, there are other things (nouns) that are used both in the masculine and feminine genders, e.g. (above 19:23):“The sun (הַשֶׁמֶשׁ) came out (יָצָא) upon the earth” ; (Ps. 19:7):“From the end of the heavens is its source (מוֹצָאוֹ) .” These are masculine. (II Kings 3:22):“the sun shone (זָרְחָה) on the water.” This is feminine. And likewise, רוּחַ, wind (Job 1:19):“when, behold, a great (גְדוֹלָה) wind came (בָּאָה) .” This is feminine;“and struck (וַיִגַע) the four corners of the house.” This is masculine. [Another instance is] (I Kings 19:11):“and a great (גְדוֹלָה) and strong (וְחָזָק) wind, splitting (מְפָרֵק) mountains.” This is both masculine and feminine. Likewise, אֵשׁ, fire, as (Num. 16:35):“And fire went forth (יָצְאָה) from before the Lord,” feminine gender; (Ps. 104:4):"burning (לֹהֵט) fire, masculine gender.
  המחנה האחת והכהו: מחנה משמש לשון זכר ולשון נקבה. (תהלים כז ג) אם תחנה עלי מחנה, הרי לשון נקבה, (לג ח) המחנה הזה, לשון זכר. וכן יש שאר דברים משמשים לשון זכר ולשון נקבה, (לעיל יט כג) השמש יצא על הארץ, (תהלים יט ז) מקצה השמים מוצאו, הרי לשון זכר. (מ"ב ג כב) השמש זרחה על המים, הרי לשון נקבה. וכן רוח (איוב א יט) והנה רוח גדולה באה, הרי לשון נקבה, (שם) ויגע בארבע פנות הבית, הרי לשון זכר, (מ"א יט יא) ורוח גדולה וחזק מפרק הרים, הרי לשון זכר ולשון נקבה. וכן אש (במדבר טז לה) ואש יצאה מאת ה', לשון נקבה. (תהלים קד ד) אש לוהט, לשון זכר: http://www.chabad.org/parshah/torahreading.asp?aid=15554&p=1&showrashi=true

I am, by no means, supplying a reason for Hurricane Sandy but I find it interesting that it happened in an age when we try to obscure differences between males and females. This past month  "Six women were arrested at the Western Wall on Thursday for wearing prayer shawls during services in a manner that has been disallowed by the site’s management and police." This past month a man wrote an article about how he broke gender norms and baked challah at a class where the instructor defined the act as a traditional woman's mitzvah. This past month people may have voted for allowing a man to say to another man "Harei attah mekudash li."

Hurricane Sandy destroyed our machaneh - our secure encampment through wind and fire, through words that don't have a secure gender identity.

19 Nov 2012

Shmirah and Mitzvot

Crown Heights Info has an article titled Students Perform Mitzvos for The Holy Land.

Rav Kanievsky addressed the residents of Bnei Brak about the words of yesteryear from the Chazon Ish that the city will not be struck by bombs. Rav Kanievsky wrote in a letter that it is not a kiddush Hashem if the words of a tzaddik  are only fulfilled during his lifetime and not upon the tzaddik's petirah. Thus, Rav Kanievsky reassured the residents that the words still apply to this day.

Shirat Devorah posts about The Shmira Project - For Soldiers and Residents in Danger.

Chadrei Charedim reports about an initiative to pray for every soldier. Click here for information in Hebrew.

BBCWatch discusses BBC’s Jon Donnison Tweets malicious fauxtography.

For the Twitter uninitiated, Donnison is retweeting to his 7,971 followers a Tweet by one Hazem Balousha – a Palestinian ‘journalist and social activist’ – including a picture titled “Pain in Gaza”, to which Donnison adds his own commentary – “Heartbreaking”.

Except – as has already been pointed out to Donnison – it does not come from Gaza.
Read more: https://twitter.com/JonDonnison

Jon Donnison has tweeted the following clarification.

A photo I retweeted from another journo yesterday showing children injured was NOT in Gaza as I said but apparently from Syria. Apologies.

Did he find this photo heartbreaking enough to retweet when the child was identified as one from Syria?

18 Nov 2012

Two approaches

The Klausenberger Rebbe zt"l says Yaakov's ladder symbolizes the two approaches to self improvement. One way is to decide what you want to improve and map out a plan where you improve step by step until you reach your decided goal. This slow but steady journey has a good chance of success. If you work hard you will ultimately get there. That is what the pasuk says "V'Hinei Sulam Mutzav Artza V'Roishoi Magiah Hashamayma"; if the ladder is planted firmly on the ground, by climbing it one rung at a time you get you all the way as far as the heavens.

The second way is to go straight to the top and immediately begin to act according to your loftiest ideals, like the perfect tzaddik. This method usually ends rather quickly in miserable failure. To this the pasuk says "V'Hinei Malachei Elokim"; if you want to be like a malach right away, then "Olim V'Yordim Boi" you will rise very quickly but you will go right back down just as quick.

Honest reporting

Honest Reporting discusses the death of a Palestinian four-year-old boy and refers to a Sunday Telegraph report.

But there were signs on Saturday that not all the Palestinian casualties have been the result of Israeli air strikes. The highly publicised death of four-year-old Mohammed Sadallah appeared to have been the result of a misfiring home-made rocket, not a bomb dropped by Israel.
Continue reading: http://honestreporting.com/gaza-child-killed-by-hamas/

At 4:43 AM MaanNews reported about a strike at a building of journalists.
Khader al-Zahhar, a cameraman with al-Quds TV, had a leg amputated due to injuries sustained in the attack.

At 5:54 AM Asmaa Alghoul blogged, "More than three journalists were injured with different levels of injuries. Al Quds channel said that they amputated the leg of journalist Khader Al Zahar, but my friends at the Al-Shifa hospital said that they might be able to save it and it hasn't happened yet ..."

Why would a journalist blog about an amputation that didn't occur an hour after it was reported that the amputation did take place?

Every living thing

Kikar Hashabat reports on Shmuel Scharf, the husband of Mira Scharf who was killed in Kiryat Malachi this week during a rocket attack. He said that it was a miracle that he was alive and he thanked Hashem for keeping him alive.

Chadrei Charedim reports that Harav Kanievsky, who often visits a Rav in a hospital after Shabbos, also paid a shiva call to Shmuel Scharf who was at the same hospital.

Rabbi Nir Ben Artzi said in his weekly parsha shiur that when an individual recites Poteach et yadecha umasbia lechol chai ratzon”, “You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing," we should be thinking of all our brethren and not only of ourselves.
Speaking of that verse, Rabbi Eliezer Kessler shares his thoughts in relation to tefillin.

When Jewish men put on tefillin in the morning, why is the tefillin strap wrapped around the left arm exactly seven times? Almost every observance we perform in Jewish life is full of deep symbolism. Wearing tefillin is no exception. Almost every aspect of tefillin has a metaphoric or kabalistic aspect connected to it. The reason we wrap our tefillin seven times around our arm is because each winding corresponds to the seven words of the following pasuk: “Poteach et yadecha umasbia lechol chai ratzon”, “You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing.” As we wrap our arm, we ask God to open His, so to speak, and provide sustenance for all He has created.

17 Nov 2012

Taking sides

On November 15, Anderson Cooper hosted a report by CNN correspondent Sara Sidner. During the wind up to her report Cooper played a few video snippets of "victims" being dragged off the streets of the Palestinian held areas.
But one of those "victims" wasn't a victim at all but was instead a man merely acting injured all for the benefit of western cameras.
Read more: http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Journalism/2012/11/16/CNN-Uses-Faked-Palestinian-Casualty-Video-in-Coverage

Free Beacon reports, "Two Muslim advocacy groups closely allied with the Obama administration are aggressively attacking Israel and defending the terror group Hamas as it continues to fire rockets at Israeli civilians."
Continue reading:  http://freebeacon.com/obama-allies-accuse-israel-of-slaughter/

What is AP style for the city of Jerusalem? Friday morning, The Associated Press blasted this tweet for a story on Gaza-Israel conflict: “Air raid sirens wail in Jerusalem, signaling a possible rocket attack aimed at Israel's capital: http://apne.ws/U3UaeK -KH.” Just over a half hour later, the AP issued a “correction” tweet: “Air raid sirens in Jerusalem signal a possible rocket attack aimed at Israel's self-declared capital: http://apne.ws/ZXOoMR -KH (correction).” http://www.politico.com/blogs/media/2012/11/the-aps-jerusalem-correction-149801.html

16 Nov 2012

Diametrically opposed

Avrohom's death seemed to have sparked a chain reaction. On that same day Nimrod died, murdered at the hands of Eisav. Eisav, with that violent action, commenced his evil career. Coincidence? Of course not. But what is the connection between these history shaping events? Maybe the connection between all these events is the purpose of creation and the reason for evil in the world. At our core we are all good. Hashem would like to reward us so he challenges us to remain good in the face of evil. Therefore the evil we face must be diametrically opposed to the goodness we contain.

Avrohom's mission was to teach the world that there is only one Hashem who tends to every minute detail. Countering this, Hashem brought him a nemesis in the form of Nimrod whose whole lifelong goal was to extinguish Hashem's name from the face of the earth. His two famous appearances in the Torah were both wars. One against Hashem himself and the other against Avrohom when the four King's, among them Nimrod waged war on the five kings with Avrohom being the real target. Once Avrohom died, Nimrod had no reason to exist and he was immediately removed from the scene. By who? The next great evil, Eisav. He was an exact twin of Yaakov and the polar opposite.

Yaakov represented the Koach HaTorah and Eisav went out his way to commit the most horrendous aveiros of the Torah. Unlike the evolving nature of good that builds on the previous generation's work, as we first discover Yaakov cooking lentils in mourning for his grandfather Avrohom, the passing of the torch among the bad comes out of acts of violence with Eisav murdering his predecessor Nimrod. Not surprisingly Eisav's head was chopped off as Yaakov was being laid to rest.

The following is an excerpt from a State Department briefing of November 15th.

MR. TONER: We’re obviously in close consultation with Israel, as you well know. The President spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu yesterday. Let me finish. Let me be very clear that Israel has a right to self-defense. As of yesterday, I believe the Israeli Government noted that since the beginning of 2012, more than 768 rockets have been fired into Israel from Gaza, and over 12,000 in the past 12 years, and I believe over a hundred today alone. They have a right to self-defense.


MR. TONER: The onus – let me be very clear – the onus here is on Hamas. And as Jay Carney just said from the White House, it claims to have the best interests of the Palestinian people at heart, but through its actions it’s showing a far different agenda.

QUESTION: Are you counting the number of rockets and air raids that Israel has conducted on Gaza into (inaudible)?

MR. TONER: Again, we need to see Hamas stop its rocket attacks and then we can see a de-escalation of the violence.

QUESTION: Do the Palestinians in Gaza have the same right to self-defense?

MR. TONER: This is violence instigated by Hamas. We have – as we’ve said very clearly in our statement yesterday, that we extend our sympathies to the victims, innocent Israeli and Palestinian civilians that have been affected by this violence. But let’s be very clear where the onus likes.
Read all: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2012/11/200598.htm

15 Nov 2012

Nosei be'ol chaveiro

Chadrei Charedim reported about a speech given in the wake of the situation in Israel.

Rosh Yeshiva of Ponovezh, Rav Povarsky,  addressed the yeshiva students today about the power of Torah to protect and save  and how we are losing the protection because of people's dismissive attitudes towards the Torah and its Sages.

The Rav referred to an interpretation of Chazal to the verse in kings 1:1 about King David and how "they covered him with clothes, but he couldn’t keep warm." Rabbi Yosi ben Hanina said that he who shows contempt for his clothes doen't enjoy them. Since "David arose and cut the coat," therefore he could not be kept warm with clothes.

The Rav stated that this also extends to any holy thing. When a person is dismissive of something holy, it will not stand in his merit. For example, a person who shows disrespect to prayer should not be surprised if  prayer will not help in time of trouble.

Rav Povarksy said that the state of contempt with respect to Torah and its sages was unheard of in recent generations, and thus it is no wonder that the lack of honor serves to weaken the power of the protection of Torah. We should do all within our means to strengthen it.

We must also share in the burden of the hundreds of thousands of our brethren in Southern Israel and it is our duty to strengthen ourselves in learning Torah and in relations with our fellow men.

Below is an incredible video of remarkable individuals who are sharing in the burden and heeding the Rav's call of strengthening our relations with our fellow men.

Finallly, check out this post titled Jerusalem predictions.

The hidden lights

Rashi says on the words in Bereishis, Vayar Elokim Es HaOr Ki Tov, that Hashem saw that the special light created at the time of the Bria, which enables people to see from end of the world to the other, was not suitable for Reshaim, so he hid it L'Asid Lavo. This light is said to be hidden in the Torah. It is what gives the great tzaddikim of each generation, who dwell in the depths of the Torah, their unique ability to know and comprehend things beyond what can they have seen or heard.
The Medrash tells us that Adam HaRishon enjoyed this light for 36 hours before it was taken away. The Rokeach says that we light a total of 36 candles during Chanukah (1+2+3...8=36), to celebrate the light hidden in the Torah, which shines during Chanukah. 36 is also the number of Masechtos in Talmud Bavli. 36 is also the number of tzaddikim that Hashem promises will exist in every generation.

The Bnei Yissaschar says that this is hinted in the word Kislev. The first two letter of Kislev are Kuf Samech as in Kisuy or covered. The last two are Lamed Vuv or 36, for the 36 hours of light that are hidden in the Torah and lit on Chanukah.

Yesterday I posted a verse from Sefer Nechemia Chapter 9 which refers to "Amud Annan," the name the IDF chose for the current Gaza operation.
12. And with a pillar of cloud You led them by day, and with a pillar of fire at night to illuminate for them the way in which they should go.

Unfortunately, the same chapter in Nechemia ends on a sad note, after Bnei Yisrael turned their backs on G-d time after time. 

As we read about the casualties in Kiryat Malachi this morning, we find ourselves in great distress. May Hashem have mercy, light the way and may we merit peace.

36. Behold, today we are slaves, and the land that You gave our forefathers to eat its fruit and its goodness-behold we are slaves upon it. לו. הִנֵּה אֲנַחְנוּ הַיּוֹם עֲבָדִים וְהָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר נָתַתָּה לַאֲבֹתֵינוּ לֶאֱכֹל אֶת פִּרְיָהּ וְאֶת טוּבָהּ הִנֵּה אֲנַחְנוּ עֲבָדִים עָלֶיהָ:
37. And it lavishes its produce upon the kings whom You have appointed over us because of our sins, and they rule over our bodies and over our cattle as they wish, and we are in great distress.
לז. וּתְבוּאָתָהּ מַרְבָּה לַמְּלָכִים אֲשֶׁר נָתַתָּה עָלֵינוּ בְּחַטֹּאותֵינוּ וְעַל גְּוִיֹּתֵנוּ מֹשְׁלִים וּבִבְהֶמְתֵּנוּ כִּרְצוֹנָם וּבְצָרָה גְדוֹלָה אֲנָחְנוּ:
The Blaze discusses the  biblical name behind Israel's military strike over here.

TheBlaze asked Haifa University bible scholar Dr. Jonathan Ben-Dov why he thinks the IDF chose this biblically significant reference as the name of the operation to strike Hamas. He said:
They chose it because it’s something for defense. The pillar of cloud stood to absorb the arrows of the Egyptians. That’s I think what they had in mind. It was in front of them and then behind them and then back in the front of them. The pillar of cloud is there to defend.

14 Nov 2012

Pillar of Cloud

The IDF has launched a major Gaza operation named “Amud Annan (Pillar/Column of Defense)” with the goal of taking “out a large piece of the (Hamas) command structure without toppling the regime,” a knowledgeable source in Jerusalem told The Algemeiner.

Yeranen Yaakov discusses the derivation of the name of the latest IDF operation in Gaza,  "Amud He'anan" which translates to "Pillar of cloud." (Pillar of defense)
He references the verse in Exodus 14: 19.

I discovered a few more references here including the one below.
Nechemia 9:19

But You,with Your abundant mercies, did not forsake them in the desert; the pillar of cloud did not turn away from them by day to lead them on the way, neither did the pillar of fire at night to illuminate for them the way in which they should go.

יט. וְאַתָּה בְּרַחֲמֶיךָ הָרַבִּים לֹא עֲזַבְתָּם בַּמִּדְבָּר אֶת עַמּוּד הֶעָנָן לֹא סָר מֵעֲלֵיהֶם בְּיוֹמָם לְהַנְחֹתָם בְּהַדֶּרֶךְ וְאֶת עַמּוּד הָאֵשׁ בְּלַיְלָה לְהָאִיר לָהֶם וְאֶת הַדֶּרֶךְ אֲשֶׁר יֵלְכוּ בָהּ:

May Hashem illuminate for us the way to go and protect us. I'm off to say some Pirkei Tehillim.

Questions at the briefing

Thank you, Mr. Mark Toner, for reminding people that Israel has the right to self-defense. Below is an excerpt from a State Department briefing of November 13th.

QUESTION: I wanted to ask about – I don’t recall there’s been yet a United States reaction to the shelling that happened between Israel and Syria over the weekend because of our long weekend. I just wonder how the United States is viewing this and whether you were concerned by what happened in the Golan Heights.

MR. TONER: Well, right. No, we very much condemn Syrian shelling across the ceasefire line in the Golan Heights and we stand closely with our friend and ally, Israel, and are continuing to consult closely on the path forward.

QUESTION: But you don’t condemn the Israelis firing back then?

MR. TONER: They have a right to self-defense.

Below is another interesting exchange about how diplomacy works.

QUESTION: Despite the President’s direct expression of displeasure to Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority President, it seems that they are going ahead to the General Assembly. So – which will engender reaction, I guess, or then enforcement of the law as on the books. Could you share with us how, mechanically, how this happens? I mean, they go to the UN, they get accepted, then you shut off, let’s say, the PLO office like immediately?

MR. TONER: I’m not going to get into next steps. We’re still at the stage where we’re actively trying to convince them that this is a bad idea, that this is not going to get them the results ultimately that they seek. So we’ve been clear in the past about what some of the consequences that this would generate or engender. I think we put out a taken question about it a couple weeks ago. But in terms of next steps, our focus remains on convincing the Palestinian Authority that the only way to achieve the goals it seeks is through the negotiation table.

QUESTION: Can I ask how much more active can you be than having the President of the United States with an hour-long phone call to the President of the Palestinian Authority?

MR. TONER: Well, I think that shows how active and how serious --

QUESTION: And he still came out --

MR. TONER: -- and how seriously we take it.

QUESTION: -- in less than 24 hours and said basically I’m not going to listen to you, I’m going to go ahead and do it. What more active trying – what more active are you doing --

MR. TONER: Well, look, I mean --

QUESTION: -- to get them to change their mind when it’s clear when an hour-long phone call with the leader of the free world doesn’t do it?

MR. TONER: I think that we’re going to continue to press our case. David Hale is actually going to Europe this week. He’ll be in Bern and he’ll meet with President Abbas there.

QUESTION: And so you think that the Special Envoy for the Middle East – for Middle East Peace efforts has more weight than the President, than the recently reelected President of the United States?

MR. TONER: This is not a question of who has more weight. This is a question of us continuing to pursue --

QUESTION: Well, I’m just – do you --

MR. TONER: -- what we believe is the best course of action.

QUESTION: Is it your hope that David Hale’s meeting with President Abbas is going to produce a result that was different than an hour-long phone conversation from the President?

MR. TONER: You know how diplomacy works, right? This is – there’s --

QUESTION: Yeah, I do. And it’s usually when you get to the presidential --

MR. TONER: It’s incremental and it’s --

QUESTION: Yeah, but usually it goes the other way around. You start with the special envoy and get to the President.

MR. TONER: Well, again, our engagement speaks for itself.

13 Nov 2012

Making sense

This makes a lot of sense.

President Obama is holding on to Eric Holder as the nation’s top law-enforcement official, The Post has learned.
The newly re-elected president asked his controversial attorney general to stay for the second term, and Holder has agreed despite enduring a firestorm of criticism from Republican lawmakers.

This doesn't make a lot of sense.

Below are two screenshots of  what I got when  I typed in the words, "Jerusalem" and "West Bank" in the google toolbar.

When I typed in Jerusalem  I received a screen which included a map of the city and the words of explanation that "Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, though not internationally recognized as such..."

When I typed In West Bank I received a screen which included a photo of two Israeli soldiers, with their rifles raised, standing next to an elderly man, linking to an article titled The West Bank Isn't Occupied?  

After trying other locations, I saw that the screens only showed maps of the areas. Why does the West Bank screen link to a picture relating to the "occupation?" Why not show a photo of a "a luxury house under construction in the village of Mazraa al-Sharqiya near the West Bank city of Ramallah" pictured in this article?

Maximum restraint

A video posted to YouTube on Sunday claims to show a Palestinian militant group launching 107mm rockets into Israeli territory late Sunday as violence along Israel’s border ramps up after months of relative calm.
Continue reading: http://freebeacon.com/rockets-raining-down-on-israel/

The Secretary-General reiterates his call for an immediate cessation of indiscriminate rocket attacks by Palestinian militants targeting Israel and strongly condemns these actions. He calls on Israel to exercise maximum restraint.

What does maximum restraint mean?

12 Nov 2012

Jerusalem, Israel

Former Chief Inspector Andrew Udall, 48, retired from the force last Wednesday following a 30-year career.
He is moving to Palestine, where he served last year on secondment to the European Union.

H/T Jewish Chronicle

The WorcesterNews also discusses Police chief's new challenge in Palestine.

Perhaps Mahmoud Abbas doesn't have to submit a request for upgraded status  at the U.N. because it seems that the country of Palestine exists already.

Meanwhile, Jerusalem, Israel doesn't seem to exist. I typed in Jerusalem, Israel at the BBC weather site, and received this message. "Sorry, no results found for: 'jerusalem, israel'
Please try again."

7 Nov 2012

Three things

Shimon HaTzadik was from the remnant of the Men of the Great Assembly and he used to say: “On three things the world stands on Torah, Service (Avodah), and Acts of Kindness (Gemilas Chassadim).” (Chapters of the Fathers)

BaltimoreJewishLife reports how Rabbi Moshe Hauer, Rabbi Shmuel Silber, Rabbi Binyamin Marwick and other volunteers boarded a bus during the early morning hours to assist the besieged community of Seagate.

...despite the fact that Rabbi Silber was aboard the bus at 4:45 AM today, the Daf Yomi shiur at Suburban Orthodox did not skip a beat and was "piped in" from the bus to the shul's Beis Medrash. Aside from the people who joined the group heading to Seagate, NY, to help those who are still without power or in need of assistance, the attendance was nearly 100%. The audio transmission was virtually flawless as speakers set up on the bima in the Beis Medrash were connected to a mobile phone and those in attendance enjoyed the Rav's shiur given from the bus.

6 Nov 2012

Getting the vote out

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach weighs in on the election.

As an observant Jew, I offer a prayer to God every morning that my daily bread comes through his beneficence and not a human hand so that I might retain my dignity. This is the clearest reason to support Mitt Romney’s vision for the country over that of Barack Obama. The president is a well-intentioned man who wants the best for the American people, but his insistence on big government—encouraging dependence on entitlements rather than the opposite—is slowly robbing Americans of initiative, entrepreneurship, and the dignity that comes from self-sufficiency.
Continue reading: http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/115484/why-im-voting-for-romney

FoxNews reports Funny business in Philly: GOP officials booted, Black Panthers return -- and Obama at polling site?

A Pennsylvania judge is issuing an order to reinstate Republican election officials across Philadelphia who allegedly were ejected or refused entry by on-site Democratic voting chief judges, GOP officials tell Fox News.
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/11/06/judge-issuing-order-to-reinstate-booted-philadelphia-election-officials/#ixzz2BSqj5nn8

Breitbart reports that an Obama campaigner punched a voter in the face.

Voters are not allowed to wear T-shirts endorsing candidates at polling places. I heard a newscaster report that there was confusion when an individual wore a T-shirt with MIT on it, referring to the school. People thought it was about Mitt Romney.
A few days ago, someone with a “Vote the Bible” T-shirt was told to leave unless she turned her shirt inside-out.

Never too late

No sooner had I finished listening to Rabbi Shafier expound upon Sarah Imeinu's individual mission in her life, which began in her nineties with the birth of Isaac, when I came upon an article about a 91-year-old woman who had something special occur to her at that age.
It just goes to show - It's never too late.

If Lena Eaton has ever thought about going to Las Vegas, she ought to leave now. The 91-year-old great grandmother from Indianapolis is riding a lucky streak that nearly defies statistical probability.

She won two lotteries within three months -- a 5.7 trillion-to-1 shot, reports the Indianapolis Star.

..."Winning a lottery prize of any kind is a special experience. For someone to do it twice in just under three months – after they’ve turned 90 years old – that’s pretty amazing."

Eaton, who has six children, 16 grandchildren, and more than 20 great grandchildren, according to the paper, is renovating her home and spreading the love around to her loved ones. “It’s been a pleasure being able to help them,” she said.

5 Nov 2012

Voting, chaos and destruction after Sandy

Click here for post-Sandy poll site changes for NYC.

New Jersey's decision to allow voters displaced by superstorm Sandy to cast ballots by email has prompted a flood of warnings over security, secrecy and a potential for legal entanglements.

...Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno said the move was designed "to help alleviate pressure on polling places."

But some experts say email voting, which is being allowed by some states for military and overseas voters, has not been tested on a large scale and opens up a host of technical and legal obstacles. http://www99.bangkokpost.com/tech/computer/319748/new-jersey-email-vote-rule-raises-storm-of-protest

One of the places hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy, was Staten Island. With 19 deaths and hundreds of homes destroyed, many people are dislocated and in need of basic human necessities.

Chabad has obtained a centrally located storefront to house the ‘Chabad Hurricane Relief Center.’ The center will serve as a warm spot for anyone to come inside and relax, get a hot drink or snack, recharge devices or receive emotional support.

The numbers

"And it was when the camels finished drinking, Eliezer took a golden nose ring, its weight a Beka, and 2 bracelets on her arms weighing 10 golden Shekel. Rashi tells us, the Beka weight was an allusion to the Shekalim of Klal Yisroel - the half shekel donated by Klal Yisroel for the Beis HaMikdash. The 2 bracelets were an allusion to the 2 Luchos - and the weight of 10 shekel, alluded to the Aseres HaDibros which were written on them.

Why was it necessary at this time for Eliezer to hint to Rivka concerning these future events? The Maharal answers that Eliezer was telling Rivka that the world stands on 3 things - Torah, Avodah and Gemilus Chasadim. I see that you are very accomplished in acts of Gemilas Chesed. However, to be one of the foundations of Klal Yisroel you must also excel in Torah and Avodah. Torah, which was represented by the 2 bracelets weighing 10 shekel - alluding to the Luchos. Avodah, which was represented by the Beka - used to purchase the Korbonos for the Beis HaMikdash.

Speaking about numbers, here are three people who supply the wrong result to the question, "how much is 100 times 100?"

4 Nov 2012

Reaching the heavens

Rabbi Shlomo M. Brody asks:

Not long ago, much of the world watched as Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner—working for a project called Red Bull Stratos, sponsored by the eponymous energy drink company—jumped to earth from a 24-mile-high helium balloon in a record-setting free fall that broke the sound barrier. The feat set YouTube records and scored an advertising coup for Red Bull. Yet there remains a critical question about this performance by what one magazine called the "God of the Skies": did it violate Jewish theological or halakhic norms?

He concludes with the following paragraph:

Because of weather delays, the Red Bull Stratos launch was delayed until just a few days before the Shabbat when the world's Jews read about the Tower of Babel. That Torah reading, one hopes, reminded us that humanity's loftiness consists not in ascents to the Heavens but in dedicating our lives toward Heavenly actions on Earth.

Interesting thought, particularly this week when a dangling crane on a hi-rise building in New York made the news as Hurricane Sandy struck.

Vote by fax

After I read the article below, my first thought was RIPE FOR VOTING FRAUD.

My next thought was to members of my family who are still without electricity. How are they supposed to vote electronically?

Let's just announce the winner already.

New Jersey will allow residents displaced by Superstorm Sandy to vote by email or fax. Officials announced Saturday that registered voters can vote electronically. A resident must submit a mail-in ballot application by fax or email to the local county clerk.

Election musings

Rabbi Moshe Grylak writes in Mishpacha Magazine, "it doesn’t matter who sits in the White House,..... we the people will get good or bad government commensurate with our deeds, and our deeds will be judged by the Ruler of all creation."

In an article titled Some Thoughts on Early Voting, Rabbi Elchonon Oberstein explains why he voted the way he did.

But, what pushed me over the edge was what happened at the Democratic Convention when the majority of the delegates booed when the resolution that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel was pushed through on a voice vote that obviously went the other way.
Read more: http://baltimorejewishlife.com/news/news-detail.php?SECTION_ID=1&ARTICLE_ID=33403

The Right Scoop has a revelation about someone who allegedly voted four times already. Is ther any wonder as to the outcome of the election?

3 Nov 2012

Thoughts on the hurricane

Professor Moshe Sokolow writes about "whether Judaism has anything instructive to say about hurricanes."

Rain, even in overabundance, is a blessing. Gloria, Katrina, Irene, and Sandy are reminders that the volume of rain, the force of the winds, and the height of the storm surge are out of our control. On the other hand, we get to choose where to build and where to live; we can assign priorities for the investment of our individual and collective resources; and we can exercise prudence in preparing for the proverbial “worst case scenario.”
Read full article: http://www.jewishideasdaily.com/5273/features/the-jewish-view-of-hurricanes/

After the destruction in Haiti, Rabbi Emanuel Feldman penned his thoughts.

The ways of G-d are hidden and mysterious; they have never been crystal clear to man. Only a finite and mortal god can be fully known and understood by finite and mortal man. But who will worship a mortal god? By the same token, only an infinite and immortal mind can fathom the infinite and immortal G-d. But who among us has an infinite and immortal mind?

Given these obvious facts, it is difficult for a mortal mind to fathom the ease and eagerness with which other mortal minds presume to reveal divine secrets. For whenever some major catastrophe strikes, there are always those who leap forward with reasons and explanations. Whether it be a bridge collapse, a massive air disaster or a plague, inevitably a religious leader stands up and tells the world precisely why this happened.
Read more: http://www.cross-currents.com/archives/2010/02/02/haiti-and-the-mind-of-g-d/

I couldn't help but notice that the Hebrew words for materialism (גשמיות) and rain (גשם) are derived from the same three letter root.
On the one hand, G-d can rain down material goods on us, only to have them rained away in a split second.

2 Nov 2012

Breaking our nature

Rabbi Eli Mansour discusses the test of Avraham Avinu to offer his son as a sacrifice. The question arises as to why this command was a test for Abraham Abinu, but not for Yishak. According to tradition, Yishak was 37 years old at the time of Akedat Yishak. He was not a young boy forced into this by his father. Wasn’t this a test for him, as well? Why is Akedat Yishak presented as a test for Abraham, but not for Yishak?

One explanation is that this was a test specifically for Abraham because he had arrived at the belief in G-d on his own through logical reasoning. In a world that believed in idols, Abraham, in his profound wisdom and intelligence, recognized through logic that there must be a single Creator. Abraham’s great test was fulfilling G-d’s command that seemed wholly illogical. G-d had earlier promised to produce a great nation from Yishak, and now he tells him to kill him. This obviously defied all logic, and thus naturally challenged Abraham’s entire approach, of arriving at belief through logic. His obedience to the divine command demonstrated that he was committed to G-d not only when logic dictated following His laws, but even when His laws seem illogical.

But there is also another reason why this test was unique to Abraham. The Vilna Gaon taught that a person’s task in this world is to overcome his innate negative tendencies. We are to identify our areas of personal weakness and work toward improving ourselves in those very areas. Thus, for example, a person who is naturally a glutton and enjoys overindulging in food should focus the bulk of his attention on moderating his food intake. A person who is by nature short-tempered has the responsibility of fighting against this tendency and being patient and tolerant of other people. We are not here to just accept our nature, to resign ourselves to the character flaws with which we are created. Rather, our main job during our lifetime is to break our nature, to perfect the flawed areas of our personalities.
Continue reading: http://www.dailyhalacha.com/WeeklyParasha.asp

The aftermath

Below is an excerpt from an article published on December 19, 2011.

Last Thursday, the White House honored Brooklyn activist, Linda Sarsour, and nine others with the Champion for Change Award for their advocacy work in their communities.
...The Champion of Change Award, which is part of President Obama’s Winning the Future initiative, is one of number of awards that Sarsour has received which includes the Brooklyn Do-Gooder Award from the Brooklyn Community Foundation.

Today IPT reported that Ms. Sansour tweeted, "Nothing is creepier than Zionism. Challenge racism."

Click here to read full article.

Seems to be a depressing news day. I just finished watching a video on CoolJew about a rabbi's house which was destroyed in Long Beach. May he and all the others who were hit hard by the storm get help in a speedy manner.

18 people busted for looting at Key Food in Coney Island

A St. Albans, Queens man has been charged with menacing and criminal possession of a weapon after he attempted to cut a line at a gas station and pointed a pistol at another motorist who complained.
Read more: http://www.myfoxny.com/story/19980450/arrests-made-in-post-storm-incidents#ixzz2B1R4zyiu

1 Nov 2012

The rainbow

Con Ed said today it’ll take until the weekend of Nov. 10 to restore power to a “vast majority” of its customers.

What about electronic voting in those areas on November 6?????

Double Rainbow Over Manhattan After Sunday Storm (PHOTOS)

A question posed about a rainbow brought about an interesting discussion at judaism.stackexchange. Below is an excerpt.

There is a popular idea that seeing a rainbow is a bad sign, as if the world is deserving of a deluge (c"v) and the only reason Hashem does not do so is because of His promise. Is there any source for this? And if so, how does that square with the fact that rainbows are a natural occurrence caused by the refraction of light (as noted by Ramban in Parshas Noach 9:12)?

•The Midrash (Bereshit Rabba 35:2) tells us that there were two generations that did not see a rainbow. Rashi (Ketuvot 77B) explains that when the generation has leaders who are perfectly righteous, the generation does not need a rainbow so that G-d can remind himself not to destroy the world.

R' Pinchas Eliyahu Horowitz of Vilna z"l (19th cent.) writes: There is no reason why parties who wish to make a sign between themselves cannot choose an existing natural object to be that sign. Something is a "sign" because people decide to treat it as such. There are three reasons why a rainbow is a fitting sign that G-d will not bring another flood:
  1. Since the rainbow appears near the end of the rain, it reminds us that G-d will soon stop the rain because of His kindness, even if we are not deserving.
  2. The rainbow represents G-d's glory, as it is written (Yechezkel 1:28), "Like the appearance of a bow that would be in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the appearance of brilliance all around. That was the appearance of the glory of Hashem." A king does not show his glory when he is angry.
  3. The rainbow represents a warrior's (G-d's) bow turned away from the enemy (man), showing that the battle is over. (Sefer Haberit, Part I, Essay 10, Ch. 12)


Those living in areas affected by Hurricane Sandy, please check whether the eruv in your neighborhood will be operational on Shabbat.

Yesterday I spent some time with a friend of mine who is on a high spiritual level. There is no internet in her home and I happened to bring up an article I had read on the internet by a rabbi who had written about the hurricane. I told her that I didn't agree with something that he wrote and she asked me why I bothered to read his articles. She told me that just as Guardian readers get a skewed view on Israel after they read article upon article containing anti-Israel bias, so too, will I be affected by reading articles which contain distorted views.

Later that evening I was quite upset to read another article by the same individual in which he wrote about the hurricane and where personal responsibility was dismissed in terms of why bad things happen.

So, for those who read the article, click here to listen to Rabbi Eliezer Lerner's lecture which is titled Yisurim Shel Ahava: A Glimpse into the Meaning of Suffering in order to get an additional view.