"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

28 Feb 2010

Copy and paste

It’s Purim morn, I’ve heard the megilla,
Its time to send shaloch manos and prepare for the seudah.
But wait, I haven’t posted today, what should I do?
What to write about, I haven’t a clue.
Should I post about Purim? I’ve already done that.
I’m running out of ideas. Oh, drat.
I know, I’ll copy and paste from the JPost or YnetNews,
Not from the other one, because it has left wing views.
Or should I post a dvar Torah for the holiday?
I’m stressing out – I can’t think. – Oy vey.
Maybe I should lift an idea from Aish or Tomer Devorah,
Perhaps I can write about an article from the Hamodia.
Should I write about shidduchim or about internet addiction?
Please help me. I’m running out of inspiration.
Should I wait by a hospital for someone to die?
It would be so great to post an exclusive that I wouldn’t cry.
What is going on? What happened to my imagination?
Perhaps I should just post a work of fiction.
The time is ticking, I’ve wasted so much time.
Someone’s at the door for tzedakah, I’ll give him a dime.
I’m getting so nervous, I’ll click on a word game to calm down.
One hour later, my face sports a big frown.
Should I write about the boy who donned tefillin on a plane?
If I read the same story on one more blog, I think I might go insane.
What about an article from a secular news site?
Do I have to worry about the copyright?
What about the latest scandal making the rounds?
But, on my blog, lashon hora is out of bounds.
Should I post a video from you tube, I've done that before.
Or will people think it is one great bore?
Copy and paste, copy and paste,
What happened to my mind? What a great waste.
I need an idea, I'm nearing the brink.
I've posted about almost every subject, except for the kitchen sink.
What about posting my thoughts on Rabbi Hoffman's latest topic?
I hope people don't accuse me of being too myopic.
Should I write about the Mashiach and the time of the geulah?
He would come faster if the Yidden did teshuvah.
We could start by spending less time on the computer and clicking on the mouse,
Instead we could learn Torah, or attend to the chores in the house.
What about a post about the erratic weather?
I'm not sure, I'm reaching the end of my tether.
Enough of this nonsense, I’ve wasted the greater part of the day.
I’m going to shut off the computer and deliver shalach manos – I’m on my way.
So excuse the lack of a post on this day full of joy.
Wishing a happy Purim to every man, woman, girl and male child.

Purim Sameach

In honor of Purim, a holiday of simcha, I am reposting two items from last year having to do with shidduchim. May we merit to see many simchas in the coming year.

Attention girls of shidduch age. Do you dread the shadchan’s words, “send me a picture?”

Now, you no longer have to fear. Contact PSSP Inc. We guarantee the highest quality shidduch pictures ever. Photo Shop Shidduch Pictures Inc. makes use of the latest technology to remove unsightly facial hair, acne and warts.
Teeth need whitening and straightening ? Now there’s no reason to spend thousands on dental work. PSSP Inc. will substitute your teeth with straight, gleaming white teeth.
Spare the expense and pain of a nose job. Choose from our list of button, pointy, upturned and WASP noses.
Crop your size. Choose from sizes 0, 2, 4 and 6. Note: 20$ extra for size 0.
Sounds good. What do I have to do?
1. Call PSSP Inc. at 1-800-555-YOFI or email hevel.hayofi@simchas.purim.com.
2. Fill in form, specifying eye, hair color, nose shape….
3. After he sees your picture, tell him you are an old fashioned girl, and it is your minhag to have the first two meetings at your home.
4. When he arrives, ask your parents to bring him into the salon, illuminated by only one candle.
5. Apologize for the dim lighting and explain that there is a blackout on your block.
6. The third meeting can be in broad daylight. At that point, he will be so enthralled with your scintillating wit and middos tovos that the wart on the tip of your nose won’t bother him.
And remember, when you become engaged, before uploading your photos to be posted on OnlySimchas, PSSP Inc. will remove red eyes from your simcha pictures.
Why look like this?

When you can look like this?

Note: Pictures submitted for touch ups on Facebook will not be processed as a Yiddishe meidel has no business having her pictures plastered on that site.

27 Feb 2010

Conversion by fear

When the word of the Jews' defense spread throughout the kingdom, the Megilla tells us (8:17) that many non-Jews converted to Judaism. The present tense verb, "mityahadim" - literally, were converting - is used instead of the seemingly more appropriate past tense "hithayadu" - converted. Why is this so?
Perhaps the Megilla is hinting that their conversions were insincere and therefore unacceptable. That same verse gives the reason for their conversion, "because the fear of the Jews had fallen upon them." Fear is not a legitimate motivation for conversion....
In the Purim miracle the Hand of G-d was hidden. This is why the Name of G-d does not appear in the Megilla. It appeared to the non-Jewish world that the Jews had gained power through this-worldly forces. Therefore, they reasoned, it was wise to be on the Jews' good side. What better way than converting? However, these converts, motivated by fear, would not be accepted. Therefore the Megilla says that they were converting, "mityahadim," but does not say that they actually become converts -"hityahadu".
Read more Divrei Torah about the megilla at:


26 Feb 2010

And Amalek came

Thought I'd pass along a short vort by Rabbi Yechiel Emanuel.

25 Feb 2010

Parshas Zachor

by Rabbi Avrohom Gordimer
The Mishnah Berurah (O.C. 685:1:1) explains in the name of rabbinic authorities that Parshas Zachor is read on the Shabbos prior to Purim because of the exhortation to eliminate Amalek, from which Haman stemmed, and to relate the mitzvah of obliterating the memory of Amalek to its execution on Purim during the days of Mordechai and Esther. Is there a deeper understanding behind this rationale for the relationhsip between Parshas Zachor and Purim?
Rashi (on Devarim 25:17) comments that Amalek represents "mikreh" - coincidence. That is, Amalek personifies denial of Hashem's existence and interaction with the universe, positing that all which occurs is due to coincidence and happenstance, rather than due to God's will and planning.
...a major theme of Purim is the recognition that God controls all - even though we cannot perceive His hand in the course of events as they unfold. That which seems to be natural coincidence is really Hashem's hashgacha - providence - and Purim demonstrates how this hashgacha works in a world without open miracles, which are reserved only for periods in which the Beis Ha-Mikdash stands and God's glory is dramatically manifest.
Read full article: http://www.ou.org/torah/gordimer/5763/zachor63.htm

A man was killed in Central Park when a snow-sodden tree limb fell on him just before 3:30 p.m. Thursday, the authorities said.
Read more: http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/02/25/person-killed-by-falling-tree-in-central-park/?hp

Did a man die in Central Park this afternoon due to happenstance, or is a higher element involved?

The crown of a good name

Pirkei Avot 4:17
Rabbi Shimon said: There are three crowns—the crown of Torah, the crown of priesthood, and the crown of kingship; but the crown of a good name surpasses them all.

The above verse in the Ethics of the Fathers came to mind when I read the following in the New York Post.
Bernie Madoff's daughter-in-law wants to divorce herself and her kids from their sullied last name.
Stephanie Madoff, who is married to the Ponzi schemer's son Mark, filed papers yesterday in Manhattan Supreme Court seeking to change her and her young kids' last name to the far less controversial "Morgan," to avoid the "embarrassment, harassment and endangerment associated with the name," she said.
Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/manhattan/kin_we_quit_being_madoffs_mV0MoyueHpeRaPPSGOlILP#ixzz0gYcVZLm9

If I had to change my last name, I would be in a terrible quandary. I've narrowed it down to two names - Goldberg or Rockefeller. I can't decide. Which one would you choose?

24 Feb 2010

Be grateful

In an article entitled 5 Things That Will Make You Happier, Clara Moskowitz writes that "recent research suggests people actually can take charge of their own happiness and boost it through certain practices."

Number one on the list of things which will make you happier is:
Be grateful – Some study participants were asked to write letters of gratitude to people who had helped them in some way. The study found that these people reported a lasting increase in happiness – over weeks and even months – after implementing the habit. What's even more surprising: Sending the letter is not necessary. Even when people wrote letters but never delivered them to the addressee, they still reported feeling better afterwards.
Read full article: http://www.livescience.com/health/how-to-be-happy-100222.html

The following is a letter by Beth Rittler to the Reader's Digest in which she writes about gratitude.

Years ago, I sent letters or made telephone calls to people I wanted to thank for being part of my life and adding to it. There was only one person I couldn't locate: a popular, handsome boy named Ed. I was a shy, gangly kid with low self-esteem, but when Ed paid attention to me, I felt like a princess. We were barely friends, but I never forgot him. When I heard that he was living in Michigan, I wrote to Ed and thanked him for being so kind to me. The night he received the letter; he called me - and practically every night after that. A year later, he returned to Pennsylvania, and we were reunited after almost 25 years. We've been married six and a half years - all because of a letter of gratitude.

The Purim story - in one minute

I received the following email this morning - author unknown.

It was in the days of Achashveirosh, that is, Achashveirosh who was the ADMINISTRATOR of 127 SITES, from http://www.hodu.com/ to http://www.kush.com/. In the 3rd year of his
administration, Achashveirosh made a feast for AOL. Those on his BUDDY LIST he wined and dined with every PERIPHERAL. His wife, Vashti, made a feast as well,@ which time her hubby commanded her to come show off to all his drunk CLIENTS.
She refused and he DELETED her for it.

Soon after, Achashveirosh regretted DELETING his wife, and conducted worldwide SPAM, BROWSED worldwide MESSAGE BOARDS, and GOOGLED in search of the prettiest maiden for him to marry. At long last, Esther was found and crowned. Naturally, they posted their picture on http://www.onlysimchas.com/.

Mordechai, Esther's uncle, got hold of the FAX that Bigson and Seresh, two malicious HACKERS, sent that were AIMing a VIRUS at Achashveirosh's HARD DRIVE. Esther immediately alerted Achashveirosh, and the episode was SAVED and ARCHIVED. At this time, Haman the anti-Semite, was given a raise and everyone had to MODEM (bow down) to him.
Only Mordechai refused to do so, because Haman wore an ICON around his neck; this angered Haman and made him want to RAM all the Jews' heads in! Haman convinced Achashveirosh to BACK him UP by offering him some CACHE and by telling him, "C D Jews are disloyal citizens" yada yada; so Achashveirosh gave Haman his PASSWORD and told him to use his administrative privileges as he saw fit. Haman was so excited ("YAHOO!") that he LOGGED IN right away and e-mailed everyone he knew, telling them kDOS uk'din (it was legal) to DELETE every last Jew on the INTERFACE of this earth. He even set aside a specific DATA kill them.

Mordechai the JUNO-d what was going on, so he put on his torn BOOTs, rags, and ashes, and designated day of fasting and of prayer (of course, telling them to make sure to say each WORDPERFECT - ly. He also told the Jews to NETWORK for the next three days and concentrate on arousing Hashem's (the Almightys) pity. Last, he sent an INSTANT MESSENGER to tell Esther to beg Achashveirosh to reconsider his decision.

So Esther went to Achashveirosh and gave him and Haman an IM INVITATION.
At the party, Achashveirosh offered up to her half of his administration, but Esther simply invited him to another party the following day to chap arein (shop around) for another few BYTES. That night, Haman built a gallows on which to hang Mordechai, because he was so annoyed that the latter didn't MODEM to him.
Simultaneously, Achashveirosh realized he just SCAN't sleep, so he asked his servants to DOWNLOAD all his ARCHIVES and see if anyone that deserved a reward didn't get it.
They noticed Mordechai's HOME PAGE, and Achashveirosh resolved to take action that very night.

Well, Haman was at the door then to get permission to hang Mordechai, and Achashveirosh asked him what to do to honor someone special.
Haman, thinking it was surely himself being referred to, said that the person in question should be led through the streets on Achashveirosh's TROJAN HORSE, wearing Achashveirosh's best garments. Achashveirosh, without even bLINKING, said, ".COM on, hurry up and do ALT that for Mordechai!" Needless to say, Haman FROZE. Haman had no choice but to go ahead with it, and while he was leading Mordechai through the streets, his daughter thought that it was Mordechai leading her father and she dumped the RECYCLE BIN out the WINDOWS on Haman's head.
When he got home and repeated all this to his wife, she told him "Since that acCURSORed Mordechai is a Jew, UNIXed it. Your downfall has just begun."

Haman didn't even have time to elaborate because he was summoned to Esther's party, stinKEY as he was from the whole ordeal. And Esther had him in the PALM of her hands: she told Achashveirosh that Haman was planning to kill her and her whole nation. Achashveirosh got so mad that he ordered Haman and his ten sons to be DELETED on the tree that Haman prepared for Mordechai.

The Jews were SAVED, and Achashveirosh even allowed the Jews to DELETE those out to get them on the date that Haman set aside. So the Jews lived happily ever after; what the Jews XPected to be a tragedy turned into a day of great joy.
So every year we try to UPGRADE all MISSING RAM and send the LATEST VERSION OF CLIPART and THEMED PROGRAMS to family and friends alike.

23 Feb 2010

Venahafoch hu

A copy of the first comic to feature caped hero Superman has been sold on the internet for $1m (£646,000).
The 1938 edition of Action Comics No 1 - which originally sold for 10c - was sold by a private seller to a private buyer, neither of whom was named....
..."The opportunity to buy an un-restored, high-grade Action One comes along once every two decades. It's certainly a milestone," said Mr Fishler.
He added: "It is still a little stunning to see a comic book and $1m in the same sentence."

Upon hearing about a comic book selling for $1 million, my first reaction was one of venafoch hu - a world turned upside down. The phrase, venafoch hu, can be found in the Purim Megillah when G-d performed miracles for His people and everything was turned upside down.

The following is a devar Torah by Rav Yona Metzger, Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel, given last year.

The Gemara in Tractate Chullin 139b asks "Where is Esther found in the Torah?". In other words, where is the miracle of Esther hinted to in the Torah? The answer given is that it is hinted in the pasuk "and I will surely hide my face on that day". [The Hebrew words in the phrase haster astir, "I will surely hide", are from the same root as the name Esther – Ed.]
The question is asked, why were the Sages bothered about Esther so much and her source in the Torah – we have never heard about such interest in other great leaders through whom miracles occurred, like "Where is Yehoshua found in the Torah?", "Where is Eliyahu found in the Torah?". Chazal weren't even interested in asking "Where is Chanukah found in the Torah?", so what causes such interest to search for the source in the Torah specifically of the Purim miracle and Esther?
Rather, a miracle that occurs in Eretz Yisrael is not novel, since the power of Eretz Yisrael is different from any other place in the world. The specialness and holiness of the Holy Land causes miracles. And for sure when we are talking about a miracle that occurred when the Beit HaMikdash was standing. Therefore, Chazal didn’t ask about Chanukah's miracles which took place in Eretz Yisrael and were connected to the Beit HaMikdash.
This is not the case with Purim, which took place in Chutz LaAretz, in the time period between the First and Second Temple, at the height of the exile, at a time that Hashem was behaving with us with hester panim, concealing himself from us.
Therefore, Chazal wanted to know "Where is Esther found in the Torah?". That means where is it hinted that even in a time of hester panim, while we are in galut, exile, Hashem performs for us with much mercy and kindness open miracles like the example [from the Megilla] of "everything was overturned: the Jews dominated their enemies"? [venahafoch hu]. Therefore, Chazal replied with the pasuk of "and I will surely hide my face on that day" – even at a time of hester panim Hashem saved us through Esther, bringing redemption to Am Yisrael.
Therefore the name of the Megilla is "Megillat Esther" even though her main name according to Chazal was Hadassah, it is not called "Megillat Hadassah", but "Megillat Esther". This teaches us about the rarity of miracles that occur in a time of hester panim.
Therefore the Rambam ruled (Hilchot Megilla 4:18): All the writings of the Prophets (Neviim) and Scriptures (Ketuvim) will be annulled in the future times of Moshiach, except Megillat Esther which will exist like the 5 books of the Torah. The Rambam's source is from the Yalkut Shimoni: All the festivals will be annulled, but the days of Purim will never be annulled.
And why? Because the memory of the days of Purim remain for eternity more than other miracles, for none of the other miracles occurred at a time of hester panim, but with the revealed behaviour of Hashem, and there will also be many more of these types of revealed miracles at the time of Moshiach which (according to the words of Chazal in Berachot 12b) will make the miracles in Egypt seem like nothing in comparison to the miracles of the time of Moshiach. This is not so with the miracle of Esther, which is intended to show Hashem's providence specifically at a time of hester panim – this memory will remain forever, never to be annulled.


Proud to be a Jew

22 Feb 2010

The Pavlovian response

This evening I came across a condemnation by President Sarkozy of the killing of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh but haven't heard similar words about the NATO airstrike in Afghanistan which killed 27 civilians or the killing of Mohammad Haqqani.
Why the double standard?

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has reiterated his condemnation of the assassination of a Hamas official in Dubai and insisted "nothing positive" comes of such killings.
Sarkozy was hosting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Paris on Monday. He said France cannot accept such "executions."

One day after Afghan President Hamid Karzai made an impassioned plea for American-led forces to do more to avoid killing civilians in their fight against the Taliban, a NATO air strike killed as many as 27 civilians in southern Afghanistan, Afghan and U.S. officials said Monday.

A missile believed to have been fired Thursday from an American drone killed the younger brother of a top militant commander in the North Waziristan tribal area...
...The brother, Mohammad Haqqani, was killed along with three others when their white station wagon was hit by a missile in Dande Darpakhel, a village in North Waziristan, bordering Afghanistan.

The twelve stones

A description of the priestly garments is mentioned in this week's parsha. THe Choshen Mishpat was a breastplate worn by the Kohen Gadol.

"The Ramba"n gives us an insight into the workings of the Choshen and the Urim V'Tumim: The word Urim means 'lights'. Whenever the Kohen Gadol needed to receive an answer, the letters (of the names of the Tribes, inscribed on the twelve stones of the Breastplate) would illuminate. That was the 'Urim' part. But the letters would be scrambled. It was not as simple as reading out: G-O T-O W-A-R. One needed to break the code -- what were the lights of the letters of the Breastplate saying? The Ramba"n explains that there were secondary holy names called the 'Tumim'. These 'Tumim' gave the Kohen Gadol the ability to interpret the 'Urim'. The ability to use the 'Tumim' to interpret the lights of the 'Urim' was a form of Ruach HaKodesh [Divine Inspiration]."

21 Feb 2010

Put the sefer back

The rabbi was intent on conveying one message in his weekly shiur. If you use a sefer from the shul library, put it back in its place before you leave the synagogue. He said that not putting it back in its place was a lack of respect for the sefer itself, as well as for the congregants who might be searching for the sefer. To reinforce his point, the rabbi related an anecdote about the Steipler Rav who was walking home from shul acccompanied by another man. Midway to his house, the Steipler told the man that he had to return to the shul. The man accompanied him back and witnessed the Stiepler returning to his shtender, picking up a sefer and returning it to the bookshelf.

A second incident the rabbi attributed to the Steipler was when a pregnant woman approached the Steipler for a blessing, hoping for a normal delivery since all her other children had been born by cesarean births. The Steipler counseled her to return home and check if any of the sefarim had been turned upside down in the bookshelves. She and her husband found three sefarim that had been turned upside down and they carefully placed the sefarim in the shelves right side up. A short while later, the woman gave birth through a normal delivery.

Let's try to be considerate of others. By not putting a sefer back where it belongs, one is showing lack of respect, as well as causing bitul Torah to the person who, instead of spending his precious moments learning Torah, must waste time by searching all over the shul for the sefer.

Needless to say, we all carried our Chumashim and Siddurin to the bookshelves and placed them back where they belonged.

THe Steipler

Revival of the dead

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

One chair, you're a shlepper

This past Thursday evening, the parking lot was quite busy as shoppers were buying their Shabbos needs. Cars were trying to negotiate around shopping carts left in the middle of the lot by inconsiderate buyers who couldn't be bothered to return the shopping cart to its original location in front of the store.
This afternoon, I was reading "Listen to your Messages" by Rabbi Yissocher Frand and came across the following paragraph about being considerate to others.

"Sometimes when I come to my shiur room, there are not enough chairs for all the bachurim and they have to go to other classes to bring more chairs, I always tell them what Rav Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz would say in a similar situation if a bachur came back with one single chair, 'You bring one chair, you're a shlepper. You bring two chairs, you're a baal chessed.'"

19 Feb 2010

The fragility of life

Reports of two tragedies in the news this morning highlight the fragility of life and remind us to use our precious time in a productive manner.

CNN has reported that an eight-year-old girl was killed in a freak accident when the car she was riding in collided with a deer.

A 400-year-old minaret collapsed Friday in Meknes, Morocco, killing 11 people and injuring 50, the Interior Ministry reported, according to the official news agency Maghreb Arabe Presse.

16 Feb 2010

Let the clickers beware

I recently came across a CNN video with important information about clicking on ads and the consequences suffered by a number of individuals.

This morning I was in the process of reserving an airline ticket. At the final step, I received a message that my transaction was complete and that I could click for a $25 refund on my next airline ticket purchase. Sounded good, but as I read the fine print, I realized I would be committing to pay $12 a month for extra perks I zould probably never us. So, exercise a note of caution before clicking on deals too good to be true.

Worthy donations

The Bais HaLevi explains that Parshas Truma comes right after Mishpatim for a very important reason. The Mishkan was built from donations of the Bnei Yisroel. If a mitzva is done with a stolen item it is pasul because it is a Mitzva Haba B'Aveira, a mitzva performed through an aveira. Mitzvos like that are not wanted by Hashem.
The halachos of monetary matters are complex. Rav Yisroel Salanter once warned a Talmid who stopped pursuing a career in the Rabbinate because he did not want to take responsibility for answering halachic questions, that money matters are far more complex than answering questions about treif chickens.
Before one is ready to donate money to build a Makom of Hashra'as HaShechina he needs to make sure that he knows all the halachos pertaining to business and the money is clean and earned with 100% honesty. If you don't know Mishpatim, your Truma may not be worth anything.

15 Feb 2010

Wedding etiquette

I recently attended a mixed seating wedding, which opened my eyes to the divorced women and men who seemed particularly vulnerable, without having spouses to whom to turn when conversation was exhausted with table partners. I made a conscious effort to speak to the divorced woman at the table and had seated myself next to her during the reception after the chuppah. There was also a man from my area who is currently undergoing divorce proceedings. He looked dejected and I went over to inquire about his children and to invite him for a Shabbos meal.
In a recent article in the Jewish Post, Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis wrote about her experience in bumping into a woman in Borough Park.

"Rebbetzin, I owe you a debt of gratitude," the lady now volunteered. "Some years ago, you published a letter from an almanah (widow), who wrote of her painful loneliness, and the apathy of so many people who just don't stop to consider the feelings of a widow, living by herself, and the many challenges her situation presents. For an almanah, even attending a simcha can be complicated. How will she get there? How will she come home, etc.?
"Among the many suggestions you made, Rebbetzin, was that when sending invitations to widows, a card should be included saying, 'We will be delighted to supply transportation to and from the chasunah. Please indicate if you need a lift.'

In the same article, the Rebbetzin admonished those people who don't respond to wedding invitations.
Read full article:

May we be zocheh to merit many future happy occasions. Incidentally, after reading the article, I emailed a response to an invitation I had received over two weeks ago.

Equations and solutions

The question posed in the Hamodia Magazine this past week was to figure out the product of the equation
(x-a) x (x-b) x (x-c) x .... (x-z) = ?
(The ellipsis indicates that the equation goes on like this using all the letters of the alphabet)

Sometimes, we face a problem that seems insurmountable and we are ready to throw in the towel. We pray to G-d and turn to our rabbis for guidance to help us deal with what comes our way. Occasionally, our salvation comes in the blink of an eye. And a solution can be as easy as the one to the math problem above.

14 Feb 2010

Oprah1 and Oprah2

Today I came across two stories involving the Oprah Winfrey show. Both are eye openers.
In a Huffington Post article, Fr. Mehmet Oz describes the dangers of diabetes and relates what happened to Laureen, who courageously appeared on the Oprah show last week.

I want to introduce you to a brave woman at the hospital where I work. Her name is Laureen. At 34 years old, she was an active nurse -- vibrant, full of life and a volunteer EMT. But now, 10 years later, she spends three days a week tethered to a dialysis machine to rid her blood of impurities that her failed kidneys can no longer process. She has lost parts of both her legs.
But the good news for some diabetics is that the symptoms are irreversible, according to the doctor.
Click here to read the full article. Maybe it will scare you into watching your sugar intake before it is too late.

On an entirely different topic, in an article entitled Witnessing Uplifting Behavior May Spur Good Deeds, the following was reported.

In an experiment, researchers recruited volunteers who watched a "neutral" video clip of scenes from a nature documentary or a clip from "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in which musicians thanked their mentors. The participants then wrote essays about what they watched, were paid for their time and asked to indicate whether they'd want to take part in another study.
Those who saw the Oprah Winfrey clip were more likely to volunteer to take part in another study.


13 Feb 2010

Have faith

It's Motzaei Shabbos and I am in an emunah mood. Firstly, I am in the middle of reading The Garden of Emunah by Rabbi Shalom Arush.
Additionally, I came across an article in the Mishpacha Magazine in which Bassi Gruen interviewed Rebbetzin Tybel Fishman, a woman who opened a Bais Yakov school in Shanghai during the war years. She was the sole survivor of her immediate family and lost her husband at an early age. But when asked for a final thought at the end of the interview, these are the words the Rebbetzin came up with.
"You need to have emunah," she says with quiet conviction that is nothing short of awesome. "You can't worry and wonder 'what if?' Do what you have to do and leave the rest to Hashem. It's all in His Hands."

After Shabbos, an aunt from the States who is currently visiting Israel called me to tell me that she had just returned from a trip to the Kotel. I was very touched when she told me that she had davened for my family, as well. What also got to me was the way in which she described the way she had prayed to Hashem. The specifics in which she addressed Hashem revealed to me a woman of emunah, well versed in having personal conversations with G-d. May she be granted that her desires should be fulfilled for the good.
I add the words "for the good" because we are limited in our understanding as to what is good.
This evening, I read about the death of a participant in the luge event at the Olympics. Being chosen to represent his country at the Olympics was the greatest dream he could hope to achieve. But, ultimately, it wasn't for his good.
When Princess Diana married Prince Charles, she was the envy of many a young girl whose dream was to become a princess. But contents of letters written by the Princess reveal that attaining a young woman's desire was not for the best.
"I know there are a million people worse off than me & that I should do all that I can for them, but at the end of the day I have to live with myself & emotionally at the moment I am upside down & confused (so boring for those around me) & putting on this act is desperate...,

12 Feb 2010

Costly spelling error

From time to time, I post about spelling errors, but the one I just read about in the following article cost a person to lose his job.

The general manager of the Chilean mint has been dismissed after thousands of coins were issued with the name of the country spelt wrongly.
The 50-peso coins - worth about 10 cents (6p) - were issued in 2008, but no-one noticed the mistake until late last year.
Instead of C-H-I-L-E, the coins had C-H-I-I-E stamped on them.

The suffering of children

About a month ago I bumped into a friend's husband on the street. His father had recently been hospitalized and I inquired about his health. We began to talk and he related to me that his sister had lost a child about a decade ago. She was inconsolable. Speaking to rabbis, psychiatrists, and friends couldn't help alleviate her pain. Then she read a book where she found answers that helped her deal with her situation. She read about souls being gilgulim that were sent down to the world to rectify a mistake made in a past life.
I recalled the incident when reading a devar Torah on this week's parsha on Revach.net.

People wonder, says the Ben ish Chai, how a child so innocent and pure can be stricken with severe handicaps R"L. What did these little children ever do wrong to deserve such a difficult future? Have they ever sinned? However he says, intelligent people understand that these children are gilgulim from previous lifetimes who have come correct their past errors. They pleaded with Hashem to curtail their power to sin once again. They are the ones who requested the impairment so that they cannot make the same mistakes again in this lifetime. Then at the end of their stay on earth they finally release their excess baggage and are free to go to the place in Shamayim they rightfully deserve.
This is hinted in the Pasuk, "V'Chi Yakeh Ish Es Ein Avdo O Es Ein Amaso V'Shichasa Lachofshi Yishalchenu", If a man strikes the eye of his slave, or the eye of his female slave, and destroys it, he shall set him free (Mishpatim 21:26). The man here, says the Ben ish Chai, is Hashem. If He strikes someone's eye and sends him to the world blind, guaranteeing he will never sin with his eyes, then when it is all over he will finally be set free.
Similarly, says the Ben iSh Chai, the next pasuk says, "V'Im Shain Avdo O Shain Amaso Yapil". Shain here can mean Shanim or years. If Hashem cuts down a young child in his youth, having his many years fall by the wayside, you must know that "Lachofshi Yishalchenu", Hashem sent him away for his own good.

11 Feb 2010

Lottery fever

Lottery fever has gripped the European Union as the Euro Millions prize draw is expected to be around 129,000,000 euro. The European lottery takes place once a week, on Friday evening.
The jackpot has reached a sufficiently high amount to make me take notice. But, I wondered if there are halachic implications for a Jew in purchasing a ticket where the winning numbers are picked after the Sabbath commences.
I emailed a rabbi who wrote back promptly.

If the company that owns the lottery is not owned by Jews, (or it is not public knowledge that it is by Jews,) I have seen those who write that it is permissible to buy the lotto during the week even if the drawing is on Shabbat. The sources given were:
שו"ת מנחת יצחק חלק ג סימן א, שו"ת חשב האפוד חלק א סימן מב.

Since my track record in winning prizes through purchasing raffles or lottery tickets is not the best, I think I will stick with a sure thing. I will contribute the 2 euro I would have spent on a ticket to a tzedaka pushke.
Have a good Shabbos and, for those of you who participate in the lottery, wishing that Hashem fulfills your desires for the good.

P.S. Anyone having an opinion about whether to buy a ticket is welcome to comment. I would love to hear your views on the matter.

9 Feb 2010

The Toyota defense

We've had the post traumatic stress disorder defense, the Twinkie defense, the PMS defense, etc. Here's a new one for the law books - the Toyota defense.

A Queens World War II veteran said he and his wife became the latest victims of Toyota accelerator woes when his 2009 Camry's gas pedal jammed - sending the car careening into a synagogue.
...Police confirmed the crash but would not comment on what may have prompted it.
But Silver had no doubt what caused the accident. "It's quite obvious - I blame Toyota," he said.
The incident came as Toyota announced Monday night that it is recalling about 170,000Prius hybrid cars in Japan for braking problems and will soon disclose its global plans for a fix.
Read more:

Seriously, I wonder who will ultimately be responsible for damages to the synagogue. Will it be the driver's insurance company or Toyota? Stay tuned.

Letting G-d in

Ever since I was a child, I've always had a fear of someone under my bed at night. So I went to a psychiatrist and told him I've got problems.
Every time I go to bed I think there's somebody under it. I'm scared. I think I'm going crazy..'
'Just put yourself in my hands for one year,' said the psychiatrist. 'Come talk to me three times a week and we should be able to get rid of those fears..'
'How much do you charge?'
'Eighty dollars per visit,' replied the doctor.
'I'll sleep on it,' I said.
Six months later the psychiatrist met me on the street.
'Why didn't you come to see me about those fears you were having?' he asked.
'Well, Eighty bucks a visit three times a week for a year is an awful lot of money! A Jewish bartender cured me for $10. I was so happy to have saved all that money that I went and bought me a new pickup!'
'Is that so!' With a bit of an attitude he said, 'and how, may I ask, did a bartender cure you?'
'He told me to cut the legs off the bed! - Ain't nobody under there now!!!

Everyone has problems. Some seem insurmountable, others are solved easily. What is important is not to become mired in our problems to the extent that we fall into depression. As Rabbi Blech explains, "Depression is when you don't let G-d into your life."
This past week I have seen two shidduchim come about "in the blink of an eye." Baruch Hashem, may we continue to see many more semachot and may we realize that we can turn to G-d when our problems seem too overwhelming to bear.

8 Feb 2010

Tehillim this Purim

I received the following email and thought I'd pass it on to those interested.

As Adar enters us, may the simcha be increased worldwide. Mishenichnas Adar MARBIM Besimcha!!!!!!!!!!






The Rabbi and the soup kitchen

Yesterday as calls abounded to increase tefilot for former Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, (Rav Mordechai Tzemach ben Mazal) who is in critical condition, I came across a video of the Rabbi from a number of years ago. In the video, the Rabbi distributed food at the Chasdei Yosef Soup Kitchen. Watching the video, I was stuck by the Rabbi's humility - a trait which established Moshe Rabbeinu as the first leader of the people of Israel.

7 Feb 2010

Left and write

In a recent New York Times column entitled When Spell-Check Can’t Help by Philip Corbet, the author brings examples of egregious spelling errors in news articles.
Andrew Clark, a geneticist who works on the Y chromosome at Cornell University, said the Y’s fast turnover of DNA could effect the activity of genes throughout the genome, because just such an effect has been detected in laboratory fruit flies.
A perennial problem: make it “affect.”
As a verb, use “effect” only to mean “accomplish, bring about.” “Affect” is the verb that means “influence.” (The second use of “effect” here, as a noun, is correct.)

I would like to add a contribution to his list.
The following is an excerpt from a JPost article entitled I'd also eliminate Chazan's column.
2. I'm sure this decision was made with a heavy heart. JPost carries many articles by writers from left and write (Chazan isn't the "only one" or "one of two" as some commentators observed.

Of course, now that I focused on spelling mistakes, I am bound to make one in one of my following posts so I apologize in advance.

Not paying attention in class

Last week it was reported that three students from Yeshiva Tiferes Yisroel in Brooklyn helped save a woman and her child when her house caught on fire. Below is a video detailing what took place.

Super Bowl to Super Jew

“The Torah is a playbook for how someone can live their life.”
Alan Veingrad, former Packers football player, speaking at University of Southern California
Read about his journey from Super Bowl to Super Jew.

6 Feb 2010

Locations for shidduch dates

Stuck for an idea of what to do on a shidduch date? I received a link to a website where you can input a city and the site will provide you with ideal locations for your dates.
Wishing you much success and may we be zocheh to hear of many simchos.


5 Feb 2010

Constructive criticism

Rashi tells us that Yisro had 7 names. One was ‘Yeser' - because he "added" a parsha to the Torah, by giving Moshe advice to take help when judging Klal Yisroel. Rashi says that the parsha he added was "ViAtah Sechezeh' - and you shall seek out from the people judges who are wealthy, G-d fearing, etc.
The Gerer Rebbe asks, isn't it odd that Rashi quotes a pasuk from the middle of the story? These are not the first words of the dialogue between Yisro and Moshe. Rashi should have quoted the earlier words of Yisro (pasuk 17) - "Lo Tov HaDavar Asher Atah Oseh" - ‘It is not correct what you are doing by judging alone." Why did Rashi quote verse 21?
The Rebbe answers, it's easy to be critical about what someone else is doing. "You are doing it wrong!" I can do it better!" If one wants to give constructive criticism, he should offer a better way. By just saying, "what you're doing is wrong!" is not sufficient. Show the other person a better way how to do it. This is why Rashi does not quote the opening words of Yisro, "Lo Tov HaDavar Asher Atah Oseh"; since that would just be a standard criticism. Rashi wants to stress that Yisro criticized and offered wholesome advice. That is why he was called "Yeser'. He added the parsha in the Torah of "ViAtah Sechezeh', which are the words of his advice to Moshe.

3 Feb 2010

Two examples of Jewish pride

This morning I read that Avner Netanyahu, son of Prime Minister Netanyahu, has won the Jerusalem Bible Quiz.
Prime Minister Netanyahu said in an interview nearly a year ago that he often read the Bible together with his son.
Mazal Tov to the entire family.

A second story relating to Jewish pride were the actions of Rabbi Shmully Hecht in confronting Richard Goldstone about his report on the Gaza war.

YYN has published an article entitled Goldstone Tied to Anti-Israeli Organizations.
For those who insist the Goldstone Report on Operation Cast Lead is an objective report card of Israel’s actions, it has been learned the honorable judge, Richard Goldstone, has ties with a number of organizations known for their anti-Israeli publications.
Yisrael HaYom reports it has been learned that six months before the UN tapped him to head the investigation into the Israeli offensive; he signed a document decrying the Israeli atrocities in Gaza.

To read full article, click on the link below.

A rabbi’s protest sign at Yale University stunned Judge Richard Goldstone, who was visibly affected by the poster comparing his report on the war in Gaza with the Dreyfus Affair and the anti-Semitic Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The Goldstone report, authorized by the United Nations, accuses Israel of committing war crimes in the operation against Gaza terrorists last year.
Rabbi Shmully Hecht, advisor to Eliezer, the Jewish society at Yale University, confronted Goldstone last week when he delivered an address on campus. After Rabbi Hecht and supporters held up the sign in the back of the conference room and Judge Goldstone appeared to be flustered, a Yale official interrupted the speech and said, “You have made your point. Take it down now.”

Read full story: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/135776

2 Feb 2010

Seeing the good

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

If we were to search for the first spark of loshon hora as it begins to develop in a person’s mind, we would find it in the part of the brain that makes judgments. Every day, many times a day, each of us observes other people’s actions, and we can choose to judge those actions positively or negatively. For many people, the first response is to judge negatively. The Chofetz Chaim tells us that when loshon hora results from negative judgment, it is a violation of the commandment to judge people favorably (Vayikra 19:15). Even if the person is a beinoni (an average individual, someone who is neither righteous nor wicked) and certainly if he is known as a G-d-fearing individual, we are obligated by the Torah to judge his actions and words in a positive way.

Rabbi Simcha Zissel Ziv (known as The Alter of Kelm):
Always remember the favors people did for you.
Remember their good qualities and not their faults.
One who follows this path will be loved by all.


I recently attended a wedding. The comments made were that the music was too loud, the food wasn't good, the wedding was extravagant, it was fantastic, a beautiful affair. People's judgments ranged the gamut. The guests attended the same wedding. Why did some find it wonderful while others had nothing but complaints? Maybe it wasn't what the hosts did, but how we view the event. I will strive to see the good in people and in situations. I am sure I will be happier by doing so.