"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 Apr 2010

Charitable donations

A retired jeweller sorting through items donated to a charity spotted one fabulous find: a 2.6-carat diamond and platinum ring.
Officials from Goodwill Industries say the ring has been appraised at $17,600 (£13,298), making it the most expensive item ever donated to Goodwill Industries Keystone Area, in Pennsylvania.
Read full article: http://news.uk.msn.com/odd-news/articles.aspx?cp-documentid=153226812

I don't know about you, but methinks the owner of the diamond inadvertently donated the valuable stone.

26 Apr 2010

A can of worms

Many articles have been written recently about the halacha regarding eating certain types of fish that are infested with worms. I came across one yesterday.

The Five Towns Jewish Times is reporting that this past Friday, Rav Elyashiv, Rav Vosner, and Rav Karelitz have all signed upon a Kol Koreh declaring the Anisakis worm to be completely forbidden even when it was found in the flesh of fish.
Read full article: http://www.vosizneias.com/53991/2010/04/25/new-york-report-israeli-gedolim-sign-kol-koreh-against-worms-in-fish

A comment posted had me laughing aloud. "Oh boy. Halacha is Halacha. This opens up a whole can of worms."

Other comments included "Any bright ideas on alternatives to fish at the shabbos meal? besides falshe fish"

Another comment began,
"No strawberries
No raspberries
No fish
No elevators...."

This past weekend, I read a book called To Remain a Jew about the life of a Soviet refusenik, Rav Yitzchok Zilber, which was published by Feldheim publishers in English not too long ago.
The book should be recommended reading to all. Those who grew up in affluent America have no idea of the mesirut nefesh these people displayed in their quests to remain observant Jews in a regime designed to wipe out religion. When reading about the bare minimum Rav Zilber and his family had to make due with, one develops a greater appreciation for the abundance G-d had given to us.
Instead of concentrating on what is forbidden to us, let us thank Hashem for all that we can partake of.

25 Apr 2010

Jerusalem, IL or Jerusalem, PS

Yesterday I read about how "Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas urged the Obama administration on Saturday to impose a solution to the Middle East conflict that would give his people an independent state."

It seems that the folks at the Yahoo weather site have already imposed a solution, dividing Jerusalem even before final negotiations have begun.

Though I once posted the following anecdote about King Solomon where he is asked to judge who is the real mother of the baby that two women claimed as their own, I decided it bears repeating.
"He declares that there is only one fair solution: the live son must be split in two, each woman receiving half of the child. Upon hearing this terrible verdict, the boy's true mother cries out, "Please, My Lord, give her the live child—do not kill him!" However, the liar, in her bitter jealousy, exclaims, "It shall be neither mine nor yours—divide it!" Solomon instantly gives the live baby to the real mother, realizing that the true mother's instincts were to protect her child, while the liar revealed that she did not truly love the child."

With most countries prepared to accept a two state solution, Israel and its people stand out in the cry for a unified Jerusalem, the mother who refuses to cut up the baby in two. Isn't that the true indicator to whom the city belongs?

Of your own

by Rabbi Dr Raymond Apple
Sometimes Hebrew verbs are followed by “lecha” or “lachem”, “for yourself” or “for yourselves”. This form, called the ethical dative, gives a verb a reflexive sense, as in “lech-lecha”, “get thee out”.
Two ethical datives come in today’s sidra. One relates to Sukkot: “ul’kachtem lachem”, “take for yourselves the fruit of a goodly tree” (Lev. 23:40). The second refers to the Omer: “us’far’tem lachem”, “count for yourselves seven complete weeks” (Lev. 23:15). On the Sukkot law the rabbis said “lachem” means “mishellachem”, “of your own”: the four plants taken on Sukkot must be your own, not someone else’s. But in which way can counting the Omer require that the days be “our own”? Can days be stolen?
In a sense the answer is yes. It is tempting to wish to live other people’s lives, to say you would rather be the other person and have their advantages and opportunities.
“If I were a rich man,” says the song: but what if you are not a rich man and not likely to be? To anyone who envies someone else’s life, the Torah may be saying, “Live your own life, count your own days, rejoice in being you!” Rabbi Zusya said, “In the world to come they will not ask me, ‘Why were you not Abraham?’ – for I am not Abraham! They will not ask, ‘Why were you not Moses?’ – for I am not Moses! They will ask, ‘Why were you not Zusya?’… and I am not sure I shall know what to answer!”


24 Apr 2010

Destroying America

I don't get it. A man confessed to "how he and his al Qaeda-trained cohorts planned to carry out devastating, simultaneous suicide bombings on Manhattan subway trains" but he blames the Zionist Jews for destroying America?

An al Qaeda-controlled city cabby who became a subway bomb plotter went on a tirade of hate yesterday, blaming "Zionist Jews" for "destroying this country from within" during his guilty plea in Brooklyn federal court.
"I believe that real enemies of this country are the ones who destroy from within," railed Zarein Ahmedzay, sporting a short black beard and wrinkled blue prison scrubs over a long-sleeve shirt. "And I believe these are the special group, the Zionist Jews, I believe, who want a permanent shadow government within . . . the United States."
..."Verily, Allah has purchased of the believers their lives and their wealth for the price of paradise, to fight in the way of Allah, to kill and get killed. It is the promise binding him on the truth the Torah, gospel and the Koran," he said.

Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/brooklyn/qaeda_rant_haqTYT8ejRYS2N6LhCQwhP#ixzz0m39oJMX9

23 Apr 2010

All that glisters

"All that glisters is not gold,
Often have you heard that told.
Many a man his life hath sold,
But my outside to behold.
Gilded tombs do worms enfold."

William Shakespeare

As it is the famous playwright's birthday today, I thought a quote from one of his plays would be appropriate.
Below is a story of a man who literally threw away the equivalent of gold.

A mail driver has described how he threw away a £100,000 winning scratchcard because he misunderstood the rules of the game.
Cemal Celikkanat, 38, said he thought the three £100,000 symbols on Camelot's £100,000 Blue game had to be in a line to win.
Read full story:

Someday... I'll eat properly

This morning, I read a moving article in the New York Times titled, A Mother’s Loss, a Daughter’s Story. The article details a mother's efforts in making a documentary about her daughter who died from bulimia at the age of 19.
The impetus for the idea of the film was an entry in her daughter's journal that she came across after her daughter's death.

Someday ...

I’ll eat breakfast.

I’ll keep a job for more than 3 weeks.

I’ll have a boyfriend for more than 10 days.

I’ll love someone.

I’ll travel wherever I want.

I’ll make my family proud.

I’ll make a movie that changes lives.

Instead of the daughter, it will be the mother who makes a film, and she hopes to change people's lives by sounding the alarm on eating disorders.
Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/22/fashion/22Melissa.html?src=me&ref=general

The subject of an email I received this morning by Rabbi Chanan Morrison is about eating before davening.

Rabbi Eliezer ben Yaakov cautioned that one should not eat before reciting the morning prayers:
"Regarding one who eats and drinks and [only then] prays, the verse states: "You have cast Me after your body" (I Kings 14:9)."
This homily seems clear enough. When eating before prayer, "You have cast Me after your body" - you place the physical before the spiritual. By your actions, you demonstrate that the body and its needs comes first.

In an article entitled Eating your way to self-esteem, Rebbetzin Leah Kohn concludes that "Our challenge as Jews is to maintain an awareness of the Divine spark in every aspect of our physical existence, including what we eat. The ensuing self-esteem is calorie-free and leads to the revelation that G-d alone creates and sustains life."

22 Apr 2010

Let us pray

About two dozen members of Congress joined religious leaders Wednesday for a news conference on Capitol Hill to defend the National Day of Prayer.
The event was sponsored by the Congressional Prayer Caucus in response to a federal court ruling last week that declared the prayer day unconstitutional because it appears the government is endorsing religion and promoting prayer.
Rep. Gary Miller (R-Calif.) criticized the judge’s ruling, saying it “undermines the values of religious freedom that America was founded upon and misinterprets the Constitution.”

U.S. Justice Department says it intends to appeal judge's ruling that National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional - NBC Newsu-s

Appreciation to shadchanim

In a book entitled Shidduchim Shalom Bayis and Beyond, Dr. Meir Wikler focuses upon the appreciation we should show a shadchan for suggesting a match for our son/daughter.

The first consideration must always be hakaras hatov. Regardless of the reasons for suggesting any shidduch, both parties must not overlook their obligations of gratitude to whoever took the time and made the effort to suggest the shidduch.

A story was related about a Chassidic Rebbe who was looking for a shidduch for his daughter. After one shadchan suggested a young man, the "Rebbe indicated that he was not interested, and handed the shadchan some money." When the shadchan asked what the money was for, the Rebbe answered that it was shadchanus gelt. The shadchan protested but the Rebbe said that we "believe that it is predetermined just how many proposals we must listen to until we hear the right one. Your suggestion brought us closer. For that you are entitled to shadchanus gelt."

21 Apr 2010

Giving to charity

MSN has a slideshow of The top 10 most generous Brits, celebrities and businessmen who have donated to good causes. Number two on the list is Albert Gubay.

According to his biographers, a broke Albert Gubay made a promise to God that he would share half his wealth with the Almighty if he became a millionaire.
As the man behind Kwik Save, Gubay went on to amass a fortune. Objective achieved, he has gone on to donate £470 million to charity. And he's not finished yet. "I want to carry on supporting good causes, but my whole focus in the next few years is to work as hard as I can to meet my target of a £1 billion charity," he says.

To see a slide show of top 10, click on the the link below.

According to an entry in Wikipedia, Mr. Gubay was born to a Jewish father and an Irish-born Roman Catholic mother. I learned from the video below that Mr. Gubay donated millions to the Roman Catholic church, fulfilling a pledge he had made earlier. Perhaps, he would like to contribute to the houses of worship of his father's faith, as well.

Born different

A friend sent me a link to this inspiring video of a young boy with a prosthetic leg.

20 Apr 2010

Heaven looked nice

A boy of three claims he saw his great grandmother in heaven while he was clinically dead after falling into a pond.
....The boy said that while unconscious he saw his great grandmother Emmi, who had turned him back from a gate and urged him to go back to his parents.
Paul said: 'There was a lot of light and I was floating. I came to a gate and I saw Grandma Emmi on the other side.
'She said to me, "What are you doing here Paul? You must go back to mummy and daddy. I will wait for you here."
'I knew I was in heaven. But grandma said I had to come home. She said that I should go back very quickly.
'Heaven looked nice. But I am glad I am back with mummy and daddy now.'
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1267061/Clinically-dead-boy-saw-grandmother-Heaven.html?ITO=1490#ixzz0ldHlg6ru

19 Apr 2010

High marks

High marks for two individuals I read about today, one for his honesty and one for his perseverance.

Brian Davis couldn’t deny what he saw and knew he was honor-bound to tell the world.
Davis ticked a loose reed during his backswing Sunday on the first playoff hole, calling a two-stroke penalty on himself that gave Jim Furyk a victory at the Verizon Heritage.
...Davis immediately asked for PGA Tour tournament director Slugger White and shared what he saw on the shot. White consulted with officials who checked TV replays and confirmed Davis’ worst fear: His violation cost him a chance at his first PGA Tour victory.
What Davis lost on the course will be regained in his reputation for his honorable act, White said.

Read more: http://nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/36632037/ns/sports-golf/

Eddie Gazzillo, who teaches and coaches varsity football at a Brooklyn high school, is featured in a national Weight Watchers commercial talking about his five-year battle to lose weight.
Gazzillo, 37, once tipped the scales at 230 pounds and was embarrassed to run in front of his students.
He's now a svelte 156.
...Being healthier has also made him a better dad, Gazzillo said.
"When I was heavier, I thought I was doing everything I could do to be a good father," Gazzillo said.
"But now that I am thinner, I have so much more energy and I realize I can be so much more to them. It's a new outlook on life for all of us."

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/queens/2010/04/19/2010-04-19_untitled__fat19m.html#ixzz0lZX4goFy

Remembering the fallen

The first parsha we read this week is Acharei Mot, which begins after the deaths of the two sons of Aaron. In a devar Torah entitled Power of Silence, Rabbi Joel Grossman explains:

When Aharon heard the news that his two sons died, the Torah states his reaction as, “Vayidom Aharon,” “Aharon was silent.” Zelig Pliskin (in Growth Through Torah) asks why Aharon was praised so much for not complaining against Hashem after what happened to his sons, if we find in the Gemara (Brachot 60b) that Rabbi Akiva says, “All that Hashem does is for the best,” and in another Gemara (Taanit 21a), Nachum Ish Gam Zu used to say, “This, too, is for the best.” The Mishna in Brachot says that, “We are obligated to bless Hashem for the bad just as we are obligated to bless Him for the good.” All these cases in the Gemara show that saying something is better then not saying anything. If this is true, then why was Aharon praised for his silence?
Zelig Pliskin answers that when a person says, “All that Hashem does is for the best” about something, which originally bothered him, it illustrates how he uses his intelligence to overcome his originally negative reaction. An even higher level for a person, though, is to internalize the situation, knowing that all of Hashem’s actions are for the best, and therefore have no need to say anything. Aharon remained silent since he understood this concept, that all that Hashem does is for the best. The more you learn to accept the will of Hashem, the greater joy you will experience in your life.


As Yom Hazikaron is upon us, when we remember Israel's fallen soldiers, I am in awe of Miriam Peretz, mother of fallen soldiers Uriel and Eliraz Peretz.

I know that I will never have answers. After Uriel was killed, I realized one thing: A person cannot go about enjoying the good things in life, and then complain to God when things go bad. A person has to believe that God is running this world in all respects. As painful as some things may be, my faith in God only grows stronger. Because I know that whatever God does is for the good, and I accept it with love.

In 1998, her Miriam's son, Uriel was killed in an explosion in Lebanon. Her son's commander brought her a piece of a boulder upon which he was standing.
“The stone is burned. It smells of disaster, fire and blood. I have held it in front of me. Whenever I missed Uriel or I feared he was slipping away from me, I would take out the stone and put it on my heart,” she says, and holds it up to her chest.
...Eight years later, when he was in Lebanon, Eliraz asked for permission to go back to the spot where Uriel was killed. He brought home a piece of that same boulder. But this stone is white. It still has some sign of the fire, but it does not engulf the stone.
Eliraz asked her to place the burned stone in a box and to remember Uriel instead through the new stone.
...Since then, she has kept the burned stone in a small ivory box, and the white one outside of it.
“When they build the Third Temple, everyone will donate something. Some will give money, others will work. I want to put these two stones in the foundation of that Temple,” says Miriam.

18 Apr 2010

A Skype connection

Dear Iceland,

We said send cash not ash.

With passengers stranded across the continents, it was only a matter of time for the following story to develop.

Wedding guests had to watch a bride and groom take their vows over an internet connection after the happy couple were left stranded by the closure of Britain's airspace.
..It looked like their plans were in ruins until the couple decided to use Skype to let the ceremony go ahead as their guests gathered in Ealing, west London.
The couple asked staff at the Millennium Airport Hotel in Dubai if they could use a laptop in their room, but staff instead became the couple's wedding planners.
"They have decorated the lobby of the hotel. They made us a three tier wedding cake, set up a laptop with Skype and a projector," said Mr Murtagh.


Reaching kedusha

On Yom Kippur we read a section from Acharei Mot, warning us to ensure that our intimate relationships follow the laws of the Torah, not the ways of ancient nations that lacked a strict code of morality. The warning commences, “I am the Lord your God” (Lev. 18:2). This is more than merely a general introduction to the laws that now follow. Rashi quotes Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi, who says in the Sifra that God foresaw that in time to come Israel would become lax in its adherence to these laws, so He told them that as both “The Lord” (HaShem) and “God” (Elokim), He would watch and respond to their conduct. As HaShem, exercising His attribute of mercy, He would reward them for obedience; as Elokim, exercising the attribute of justice, He would punish them for any transgression.
Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi is said to have been referring to the period of Ezra, when, according to the prophet Malachi (2:13), men “acted treacherously” against their wives (Sifra). Ezra therefore needed to re-establish the integrity of Jewish marriage (Ezra 10). Our own age seems to echo the problem. It is an era of so-called “political correctness”, when anyone who stands up for conventional morality can be and often is subject to criticism and condemnation and accused of holding medieval attitudes. Of course Torah morality is even older than the medieval era, and there is no evidence that going away from Torah principles of morality has made the world a better, safer or happier place to live in.

17 Apr 2010

Turning to faith to lose weight

An article about faith based diets caught my eye the other day. Anyone know of a Jewish counterpart to the program featured below?

The Light Weigh is a Catholic -based weight-loss regimen that teaches people to turn to God, instead of food, for their emotional needs. The program features Bible study, prayer, and a 12-week video series that is shown to small groups in churches or neighborhood homes.
"A lot of people have challenges with emotional eating ... eating replaces some void in their life," says Jubilee, a licensed dietician with Living Proof Nutrition/Fitness in New York City.
"Religion has benefits because it can fill the void," she says. "And the positive benefit comes mainly because it's a lifestyle change." And that, she says, is the key to losing weight and keeping it off.


16 Apr 2010

Pope's birthday-Bishop's trial

As the Pope celebrates his birthday, a Bishop whose excommunication was lifted by the Pope, will not be celebrating today.

A German court convicted ultraconservative British Bishop Richard Williamson on Friday of denying the Holocaust in a television interview.
...The interview was conducted near Regensburg and was granted shortly before Williamson's excommunication was lifted by Pope Benedict XVI, along with that of three other bishops from the anti-modernization movement of the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.
The American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors said in a statement it welcomed the ruling as "a symbol of modern German determination to prohibit the dissemination of Holocaust denial on its soil."
The U.S.-based group's vice president, Elan Steinberg, called Williamson's remarks vile and craven and called upon his order and the Vatican to cut all ties with him.

Read full article: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/36592328

12 Apr 2010

Fasting on Rosh Chodesh

The first סעיף in סימן תיח states that is it prohibited to fast on Rosh Chodesh.

I was very dismayed to read that a group of non Orthodox "rabbis" are urging people to fast for the people of Gaza this coming Thursday, Rosh Chodesh Iyar. Additionally, the following fast in May is slated for the second day of Shavuot.
It is unfathomable to me as to how these people are asking their Jewish brethren to fast on days that are designated as non fasting days in the authoritative code of Jewish law, the Shulchan Aruch.
I sincerely hope that more people will opt to follow halacha.

Weekend in Belgium

For those who know anyone who would be interested in a Seed weekend in Belgium, please forward them the following information.

11 Apr 2010

Selective reporting

Ben Smith writes in Politico.com that "a new, annual survey of American Jewish public opinion by the American Jewish Committee finds that Jews, by and large, continue to approve of Obama — 57 percent say they approve of the job he's doing — and also back his handling of Israel."

If one clicks on the survey, one will see that a slightly larger majority approve Netanyahu's handling of U.S. Israel relations.

Confusing to me was why a majority of 48% surveyed support the creation of a Palestinian state when the answer to question 10 was as follows.

10. Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? “The goal of the Arabs is not the return of occupied territories but rather the destruction of Israel.”
Not Sure

Foul play

On January 1, 2010, the Yeshiva World reported the following.
A 9-year-old girl found her mother R”L dead in their upper West Side apartment on Thursday morning. According to a report in the NY Daily News, she apparently died when she fell in the bathtub and struck her head.
...Although the Daily News reported that an autopsy will be taking place later Friday, YWN has learned that after tireless work by the Misaskim organization, an autopsy will B”H not take place.

One of the comments posted asked, "Is this necessarily a good thing? Perhaps a respectfully performed limited autopsy under rabbinic guidance would reveal foul play or an underlying illness that predisposes her daughter to the same fate and can now not be screened for or even prevented.

Three months after the inital tragedy, the New York Post has reported that "after taking the rare step of exhuming her body for an autopsy, authorities have concluded Shele Danishefsky Covlin, 47, was strangled -- and want to talk to her estranged husband about her murder, The Post has learned.
...Police at the time said Shele's death appeared to be accidental, and that a cut on the back of her head was "consistent with a fall."
She was buried almost immediately, and an autopsy was not performed because she and her family are Orthodox Jews.
But because of circumstances surrounding her death, the DA's Office made the unusual request for a court order allowing Shele's body to be exhumed.
Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/manhattan/digging_up_secret_slay_Hnx86uB1mMi6BPdjLqTaIN#ixzz0kjlETVbD

10 Apr 2010

A time to marry

Last week a lecturer related a true story about a great Torah sage who was officiating at a Jewish wedding. As the groom recited the words "Harei At Mekudeshet Li" (Behold, you are consecrated to me), he slipped the ring on the bride's finger. To his consternation, the ring fell off and rolled down the aisle. The guests groaned and searched for the ring. Finally, someone found it and returned it to the groom. A second attempt to place the ring on the bride's finger yielded the same result. This time, the guests began talking about the inauspicious sign of the wedding ring falling off and began to bet how long the marriage would last. Again, someone found the ring and returned it to the groom.
The great rabbi assured the guests that all was meant to be. "I don't understand what you are all getting upset about," he began. "The ring fell twice because it wasn't the couple's time to get married. Now is the time that was decreed for them to be married."
With those words, the groom, once again, placed the ring on the bride's finger. Lo and behold, it did not slip off.
The above anecdote can perhaps provide some comfort for those singles waiting for their basherts to arrive. Their destined ones will arrive just at the right moment. We must place our faith in G-d and pray to him for the right match.
May those awaiting their basherts find their future spouses at the right time.

9 Apr 2010

Forbidden foods

Searching Google for references to forbidden foods in Parshat Shemini, I came across two interesting articles. The first was a devar torah by Rabbi Frand. The second article was written by Rabbi Yehonoson Dovid Hool.

While the first reference to Kashrus [Kosher dietary] laws is contained in Parshas Mishpatim [Shmos 22:30], the Torah actually enumerates and identifies the Kosher species of animals, fish and birds here in Parshas Sh'mini.
...The Talmud [Yoma 82b] says that a certain pregnant woman smelled the aroma of forbidden food and developed an uncontrollable urge to eat that food on Yom Kippur. They brought her before Rebbi and he whispered in her ear (as if to speak to the embryo) "It is Yom Kippur today". The woman's urge for food then subsided. The Talmud states that this baby turned out to be Rabbi Yochanan.
The Talmud then relates an identical story except that the whispering did not help and the mother had to eat on Yom Kippur (to save her life). The Gemara mentions that this baby turned out to be a wicked person. The Gemara identifies this wicked person as "Shabsai, the one who would hoard fruits" (he cornered the market on a basic commodity, and then charged poor people exorbitant prices for the food).
Read full article: http://www.torah.org/learning/ravfrand/5760/shemini.html

In Parshas Shemini we find the laws of Ma'acholos Assuros - the instructions about which animals are kosher and which are forbidden to be eaten. The Ramban gives a reason behind the prohibition to consume certain kinds of animals. He explains that every species has its innate characteristics and traits that are shared by all its members. The nature of a predatory animal is to be cruel and aggressive, whereas sheep, for example, are passive and gentle.
The Ramban informs us that these animals pass on these characteristics to those who consume their meat....

Two special Sundays

Yom HaShoah, or Holocaust Memorial Day, is marked on the Hebrew date of Nissan 27th. On this day, we remember the lives of the 6 million Jews murdered during the Holocaust, and the experiences of those who survived it's horrors.
Read Lea Lane's moving story about Cecile, a holocaust survivor, entitled Holocaust Remembrance Day 2010: Honoring Nathan, Who Was Only Two.





DATE: Sunday, April 25, 2010 -- 1 PM

LOCATION: Israel Consulate, 2nd Ave between 42nd and 43rd St, NYC

8 Apr 2010

Saving your possessions

In a devar torah on Parshat Vayigash entitled Small Vessels, Jonathan Neril discusses Jacob re-crossing a stream to retrieve some small vessels he left behind.
The truly righteous recognize the value of their God-given possessions, and are very careful with them, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant they are. While not overly attached to material things, they do not dispose of objects prematurely or use them inappropriately. Indeed, the Talmudic sage Rabbi Yochanan, on his deathbed, told his students to remove the vessels from his room lest they become contaminated by his corpse, and thereby unusable (Berakhot 28b).
Read full article: http://www.myjewishlearning.com/texts/Bible/Weekly_Torah_Portion/vayishlah_cn.shtml

An article I read this morning provided interesting information about how to save money.
Here's a way you might save $20 this year: Change the font in the documents you print.
Because different fonts require different amounts of ink to print, you could be buying new printer cartridges less often if you wrote in, say, Century Gothic rather than Arial. Schools and businesses could save thousands of dollars with font changes.

Read more: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100406/ap_on_hi_te/us_tec_money_saving_fonts

Heartfelt gratitude

Recently, I had the occasion to attend a lecture entitled 10 steps to happiness. The first step the speaker talked about was to express gratitude. The lecture came to mind as I read two stories in the news today about rescue attempts. We must be grateful to those who put their lives in danger to help save another human being.

The grateful mother of the 2-year-old girl plucked from the East River by a French tourist would be willing to pay for the humble savior's plane ticket back to New York.
"I want to give him my heartfelt gratitude," Kathleen Sheridan told the Daily News yesterday. "The next time he comes back to the U.S., I would give him my frequent-flier miles so he can have a ticket for free. He saved my daughter's life."
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2010/04/08/2010-04-08_i_want_to_thank_hero_says_mom.html#ixzz0kVwuIHjC

Rescue crews began working their way through a West Virginia coal mine early Thursday in search of four miners missing since a blast killed 25 colleagues.
Gov. Joe Manchin say crews entered the Upper Big Branch mine about 30 miles south of Charleston at 4:55 a.m. EDT and hoped to reach the area where they might find the missing miners sometime before noon.
"They are advancing," Manchin told an early morning news briefing. "They'll move as rapidly as they possibly can."
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/2010/04/08/2010-04-08_rescue_crews_descend_into_west_virginia_coal_mine_searching_for_victims.html#ixzz0kVxAe8ip

7 Apr 2010

Memorable moments

I was sitting with the extended family at the last meal of the Pesach holiday at a private room in a hotel. My niece entered the room and suggested that we do what she had witnessed another family doing a few minutes previously. They had taken turns recounting their most memorable Pesach moments of the past eight days. As I recalled the experiences of the prior week, I thought about the interesting lectures I had attended, the nightly entertainment and the convivial atmosphere. But the most poignant moment that I experienced during Pesach occurred during the lighting of the candles at the seventh day ushering in the last two days of Yom Tov. As soon as I had lit the candles, I noticed three generations of a family standing next to me. After the mother had lit her candles, she turned to her mother and daughter and said, "Thank G-d we are all here healthy."
I was struck by her sincere appreciation of something we take for granted. How many of us thanked G-d for being able to celebrate Pesach with the extended family?
I learned a valuable lesson from a brief encounter with a stranger. I, too, thank G-d for being able to celebrate a memorable Pesach in the company of my family. May we all celebrate a happy and healthy Pesach next year in Jerusalem.

6 Apr 2010

Parshat Shemini

It was tragic. It was sudden. Aaron’s two sons brought strange fire to the altar. They were summarily struck dead. “Vayyiddom Aharon” – “And Aaron was silent” (Lev. 10:3). No weeping, no wailing, no shouting out in anger or despair. Amazing self-possession and acceptance of a Divine decree. Few others would be capable of holding their peace at such a moment. Yet even that, according to Rabbi Shlomo HaKohen of Radomsk (d. 1868), is not the highest spiritual level. For that we have to go to King David. What was his response to suffering? “L’ma’an y’zammer’cha kavod v’lo yiddom” – “My soul will sing praise to You and not be silent” (Psalm 30:13). To be silent is amazing; to sing praise is even higher than silence. Aaron says to God, “Your will be done”. David says, “God, You know what You are doing”. Aaron says, “I accept Your will in love”. David says, “Even when I suffer, I praise Your name”.

4 Apr 2010

Kadesh Urchatz

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis asked the following question at a lecture that I attended the other day.
The first two events at a Passover seder are kadesh and urchatz (to make kiddush on wine and then wash your hands-without a blessing). A simple observation reveals an obvious inconsistency. Out of all fifteen, only urchatz has a Vav (which means "and") preceding it. Why this Vav, and what is its connection to kadish?
She explained that she conducts Hineni lectures at night in which she speaks about the parsha. After the lecture, many in the audience ask personal questions to her, keeping her up till all hours of the night. Some people had asked her to schedule a meeting with her before the Torah lecture. But, she told them that when a person comes to purify themself, first they must be sanctified and only then can they become cleansed. Thus, she insists that they first hear a devar torah before asking her soul searching questions.

Some other answers to the above question are found at the following link.

The phrase 'kadesh and urchatz' is a hint to the Third Holy (kodesh) Temple. When Moshiach will come, the Holy Temple will descend from heaven spontaneously, and many people will not have washed and cleansed themselves. We will then immediately afterwards wash (urchatz) ourselves in purity.
...When eating wet fruits or vegetables, one should first wash their hands ritually. Though this is a stringency and not commonly done, on Pesach night, when we are all kadesh-holy and living on a higher plane, after Kiddush, we immediately wash our hands.
Alternately, halachicaly, there is a question of how many times one should pour the water on one's hands. Some say two on the right, then two on the left, totaling four, and some say three on the right, then three on the left, totaling six. The additional Vav of urchatz is the gematria of six, teaching us that tonight (at least), we wash six times.

...When looking at others to inspire them and bring them closer to G-d and Torah, what should you look for? The answer: you must look at their soul, a part of G-d that is pure, pristine and kadesh-holy. After seeing one's great qualities, only then can you urchatz, help them to wash off their soiled garments and chose a better loftier path for themselves.


HERE’S an etiquette experiment for you: E-mail an invitation for a party, one month out, to 45 friends. Request an R.S.V.P. Provide a follow-up e-mail message, two weeks later, politely reminding them to get back to you.
How many will?
My experiment arose from plans for an evening of food, drink and literature, with readings by myself and two other writers, at a restaurant. Not exactly a drop-in-if-you’re-around kind of thing, so I asked friends to R.S.V.P. My initial message brought in a dozen responses, and the follow-up a few more, but days before the event I had a paltry 23. Not 23 who planned to come, but 23 who had bothered to respond. Half my invitees had blown me off. Why? I wasn’t peddling life insurance, after all.

Read full article:

The following is an excerpt from a column by Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis.

..one lady recalled a column I had written regarding invitations to semachos. At that time, I published a letter from someone who complained about lack of derech eretz - respect and common courtesy - with which some people treat wedding invitations.
The letter writer stated that, after she and her husband spent many weeks deliberating whom they would invite to their daughter's wedding, they sent out their invitations. But many people did not bother to respond, or if they did send back the card, it was with just a cold "no."
Daily, she would search her mail, but still some failed to acknowledge the invitation. As the date of the wedding approached, she called them, but even that turned out to be frustrating. More often than not, she encountered answering machines. Finally, when she did make contact, she would be given a glib response: "Oh yeah, I meant to send back the response card."
The same letter writer complained that some responded in the affirmative, and she made costly reservations for them, but they never showed. Still others came only for the chuppah and never thought of informing the host that they weren't staying for the seudah. They gave no thought to the expense incurred by the host or the unpleasant sight of half-empty tables.
"Since that article," the woman confided, "I always make a point of responding promptly, indicating my intentions, and add a personal message expressing my good wishes and appreciation."