"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

23 Feb 2011

The pizza habit

Avot 2:21
"Lo Alecha HaMelacha Ligmor, Velo' Atah ben Chorin Le'Hibatel Mimenah'"
"It is neither incumbent upon you to finish the task, nor are you free to desist from it."

The following are excerpts from two Yahoo articles about women who made a difference because they didn't say, "it's not my responsibility."

Every day for the past three years, 82-year-old Jean Wilson of Memphis has ordered a large, thin-crust pepperoni pizza and two diet cokes from a local Domino's Pizza. Some are now saying that Wilson's Domino's habit may have saved her life.
Read how delivery driver Susan Guy took it upon herself to check on the octogenarian after she became concerned that Ms. Wilson hadn't placed her order for three days.

She has no legal training, and doesn't speak the Spanish that dominates government in Quito but indigenous villager Maria Aguinda helped bring a landmark judgment against US oil giant Chevron for polluting the rain forest she calls home.

Grab a mitzvah

The Torah is called a “tree of life for those who grasp it” (Mishlei 3:18). The way to grab onto a tree is to take hold of one its branches; in so doing, one has attached himself to the entire tree of which this branch is a part. So it is, explains Sefer Chareidim (ch. 61), with Torah. The way to attach oneself to the 613 mitzvos is by fulfilling one particular mitzvah with exacting precision and total dedication. Dedication and attachment to a single commandment will cause one’s soul to become united with Hashem and His Torah and will lead to the proper fulfillment of other mitzvos as well. Thus do we find, “Rav Nachman said: I will be rewarded [in the World to Come] for having [zealously] fulfilled [the mitzvah] to eat three meals on Shabbos. Rav Sheishes said: I will be rewarded for having [zealously] fulfilled the mitzvah of tefillin” (Shabbos 118b). The Talmud goes on to cite similar statements of other Sages and offers illustrations of how meticulously each sage fulfilled the mitzvah of which he spoke. Sefer Chareidim also cites Talmud Yerushalmi which states that fulfillment of a given mitzvah with total dedication and precision is a catalyst for earning the great reward of the World to Come.
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Ani Maamin

How Close Are We To Moshiach ?!
Geula Messages

22 Feb 2011

A tie?

Just finished reading an American Thinker article titled Obama and Israel at the Security Council: A Tie? by Richard Baehr.
So what should we make of the U.S veto of a Security Council resolution on Friday, after which our Ambassador to the U.N. effectively endorsed the very resolution she had vetoed in a sneering attack on Israeli settlements, later compounded by Secretary of State Clinton calling the settlements illegitimate?
...Perhaps we can get clarity on legitimacy from Mahmoud Abbas, currently serving the 74th month of his 48 month term as President of the Palestinian Authority to which he was elected in January 2005.
...maybe our President would have better luck running for President of the Palestinian Authority when Abbas's term is up, or rather when someone notices that Abbas' term is up. I do not believe that production of a birth certificate is required to run for PA President, either.
Read full article: http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/02/obama_and_israel_at_the_securi.html

Speaking of the birth certificate, I came across an article which left me with a question. At the end of the article, Hawaii's official certifications of nomination for the past three Democratic presidential candidates were displayed. Why did the most recent certification not contain the wording "are legally qualified to serve under the provisions of the United States Constitution?"

Taking the initiative

21 Feb 2011

The gratitude list

Just came across a list composed by a six year old boy about 100 things for which he is grateful.
Number one is Hashem.
Click here and scroll to the end of the article to see the list.
And now, let me express my gratitude to the readers of this blog.

Et ratzon

The parshah of Vayakhel begins with the words: "And Moses gathered together all the Community of Israel." (Exodus 35:1).
Va-ani, t'filoti l'cha Hashem et ratzon
As for me, may my prayer to You, Hashem, be at an opportune time
The expression opportune time (et ratzon) is taken to mean the time of public worship (Berachot 8a).

This morning I received an email regarding the recitation of Tehillim on Purim, together with klal Yisrael. What better week to sign up than the week of Parshat Vayakhel, when Moses gathered the community of Israel together? And what better way to pray than to pray within a community? May your prayers be answered for the good.




20 Feb 2011

Resolution 1405

Civilians killed in eastern Kunar province, anti-government protestors killed in Benghazi and Palestinians killed in Jenin. Which merits a U.N. resolution to investigate the facts?

Joint operations by Afghan forces and NATO-led foreign troops have killed 64 civilians in eastern Kunar province, including many women and children, over the past four days, the provincial governor said.
"They were killed by ground and air strikes in Ghazi Abad district," Fazlullah Wahidi, governor of Kunar province, told Reuters on Sunday.

Libyan security forces opened fire on mourners at a funeral for anti-government protesters in the eastern city of Benghazi again, a day after commandos and foreign mercenaries loyal to longtime leader Moammar Gaddafi attacked demonstrators with knives, assault rifles and other heavy weaponry.
A doctor at one city hospital said he counted 200 dead in his morgue alone since unrest began six days ago.


The UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1405 on April 19, 2002, which welcomed "the initiative of the Secretary-General to develop accurate information regarding recent events in the Jenin refugee camp through a fact-finding team."

A United Nations investigation has rejected claims that hundreds of Palestinian civilians were killed in Israel's attack on the Palestinian refugee camp in Jenin.
In a report released on Thursday the UN said the overall number of Palestinians killed was 52 - around half of whom may have been civilians - while Israel lost 23 soldiers there.

13 Feb 2011

A reason to celebrate

Bereishit - Genesis - Chapter 40
כ. וַיְהִי בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁלִישִׁי יוֹם הֻלֶּדֶת אֶת פַּרְעֹה וַיַּעַשׂ מִשְׁתֶּה לְכָל עֲבָדָיו וַיִּשָּׂא אֶת רֹאשׁ שַׂר הַמַּשְׁקִים וְאֶת רֹאשׁ שַׂר הָאֹפִים בְּתוֹךְ עֲבָדָיו:
20. Now it came about on the third day, Pharaoh's birthday, that Pharaoh made a feast for all his servants, and he counted the chief cupbearer and chief baker among his servants.

The Israeli website Bechadrei Chareidim published a post about Hagaon Rav Chaim Kanievsky's visit to a hospital and a question that was asked of the Torah scholar. Forgive me if something gets lost in the translation. Click here to read the article in Hebrew.

Rav Chaim Kanievsky was visiting Tel Hashomer Hospital when a person who had accompanied him approached the Rav and asked him for a blessing.
"It's my birthday," explained the man who made the request.
The Rav said that we find in the Torah that only Pharaoh celebrated his birthday.
Someone took the opportunity to ask the Rav, "Why celebrate a birthday at all? A man celebrating his birthday is one step closer to his death, so why should he celebrate?
Rav Kanievsky replied that when is says in the Talmud that "it would have been better for man had he not been born", Tosfot explained that these words referred to wicked people. But if we are referring to righteous people, it is good for them and good for the world. That is definitely a reason to celebrate.

Just visiting

A Daily Mail article about two schools in England that were caught on hidden camera is quite disturbing.
The school said that a speaker who made comments about Jews was ‘visiting’ and his views did not represent school policy...
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1356361/Hidden-camera-shows-beatings-religious-segregation-inside-Muslim-faith-schools.html#ixzz1DmmtTPMM

Are you reassured that the speaker was just 'visiting'?

12 Feb 2011

Kazeh yitnu

Parshas Ki Sisa: Rav Elyashiv - Hashem's "Coins of Fire"
The Medrash tells us that in order to explain the mitzva of the Shekalim, Hashem took out a coin of fire from underneath his Kisei HaKavod and showed it to Moshe. Rav Elyashiv asks two questions. First, had Moshe Rabbeinu never seen a coin in his life? Second, what exactly is Hashem doing hiding coins under his Kisei HaKavod?
He answers with a Tosfos in Chulin (42a) that Moshe couldn't understand how money, the most earthly of all creations, can save someone's neshama (Kofer Nefesh). So Hashem showed him a coin. Which coin? The gemara in Bava Basra (11a) says that during a hunger year Munbaz HaMelech emptied out his treasure chest to feed the poor people. His family became very mad that he was squandering the royal wealth. To this he replied that he is not losing the money, he saving the money up in Shamayim in a place where it will last forever while they squander money down on earth where it will eventually disappear.
Rav Elyashiv says these are the coins that Hashem took out to show Moshe. The coins that are given for tzedoka with Mesiras Nefesh are precious and are saved by Hashem under the Kisei HaKavod. Moshe understood that coins are made of destructive fire. They cause jealousy, cheating, stealing, and murder. Hashem showed him that coins can be made out of productive fire. Coins given for tzedoka can light the world and warm the world with their "Holy fire". On these coins Hashem said "Kazeh Yitnu". If the people give in this fashion then even coins can be Kofer Nefesh and money can redeem your soul.

11 Feb 2011

Thoughts on the Parsha

Two thoughts on the parsha from shortvort.com.

1.How does the me'il atone for lashon hara?

2.tzavah - which speaks about honesty in business - being free from financial improprieties.

Speaking about business, here is an article about a recent business venture.

10 Feb 2011

Long enough

The last post was about Jonathan Pollard. IsraelNationalNews is reporting about a "Media Campaign in US for Pollard's Release."

A gezunt ahf dein kop

A Matzav article describes an emergency operation that was performed on Jonathan Pollard a few weeks ago. His wife stated that he was very ill.

Perahps we could stop playing politics and quid pro quo and allow Mr. Pollard to be released on compassionate grounds. In the meantime, let's daven for Yehonatan ben Malka for a refuah sheleima and a speedy release.

A relative told me that if she had a million dollars to contribute to charity, she would donate to Chai Lifeline, an organization which helps families with sick children. She told me that the charity's work is amazing and how much it helps families who need extra hands while their children are in the hospital. I received an email about sending Chail Lifeline Purim cards. Click here if you would like further information.

9 Feb 2011

Moralement discutable

For a country that takes vacations hyper seriously, its top ministers seem to have a serious problem figuring how to vacation ethically, not to mention understanding that junkets sponsored by Arab dictators or their cronies may be, well, moralement discutable.
...French Prime Minister François Fillon, who acknowledged Tuesday that the Egyptian government had offered his family free lodging, a plane flight and a boat cruise on the Nile during a New Year’s vacation in Egypt,...


In a case dated August 2009, "The Supreme Court ruled Monday that elected judges must step aside from cases when large campaign contributions from interested parties create the appearance of bias."

Shoftim Ch. 16, v. 19: "V'lo sikach shochad ki hashochad y'a'veir" - And you shall not accept a bribe because a bribe will blind - The gemara Sanhedrin 21b states: Rabbi Yehudoh said, "Why does the Torah not tell us the underlying reason for mitzvos? The answer is because in the two places where the Torah did give a reason, King Shlomo the greatest person of his generation, fell through. The Torah states that a king shall not take too many wives lest his heart turn away from proper service of Hashem (Dvorim 17:17). King Shlomo reasoned that he was capable of taking many wives and still staying on the straight and narrow. Nevertheless, his wives turned his heart away from Hashem.
The Divrei Sho'ul and Imrei Emes ask, "According to this gemara why does our verse give us the reason for not accepting bribes?" They both answer that here there is no fear that a person might reason that he is above being affected by bribery since the Torah testifies that by taking a bribe the judge's sound judgment will be blinded. Once blinded, the judge will not be aware that he is blinded, so how could he rationalize taking bribe?
This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Permission is granted to redistribute electronically or on paper, provided that this notice is included intact.

Anyone want to offer a free vacation to moi? I will make sure to plug you in a positive fashion on my blog. On second thought, I don't want to be unduly influenced so scratch that idea.

Laughing your way out of college

...in the Talmud Taanis 27A Chazal relate that a Talmudic sage once "met" Eliyahu HaNavi in the market place and asked him, "Who is there here that is destined for Olam Habah, the World to Come?" Eliyahu pointed out two brothers. The sage approached and queried them concerning their business. They replied, "We are badchanim, jesters. Our function is to make sad people happy." This was their business. While some might laugh off such a position in life, these two men were going to "laugh" all the way to Olam Habah.

I was reminded of the above Gemara when I read an article this morning about Formula Capital's James Altucher's ideas for alternatives to college. His last suggestion? Make people laugh.

The 8 Alternatives to College:

-- Start a business.
-- Work for a charity.
-- Travel the world.
-- Create art.
-- Master a sport.
-- Master a game.
-- Write a book.
-- Make people laugh.

To read full article and watch video, click on the link below.

8 Feb 2011

Revenge served cold

Ethics of the Fathers Chapter 2.
1. Rabbi [Judah HaNassi]* would say:...
Contemplate three things, and you will not come to the hands of transgression: Know what is above from you: a seeing eye, a listening ear, and all your deeds being inscribed in a book.

If a woman had realized that her neighbor had a surveillance camera, she wouldn't have taken his shovel and wouldn't have had to face the consequences of his revenge.

Vayikra Chapter 19.
18. You shall neither take revenge from nor bear a grudge against the members of your people; you shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.

If a man would have read Leviticus 19:18, perhaps he might not have taken revenge.

The shirt off his back

Last night I caught a documentary about the miracle flight which landed on the Hudson river over two years ago with all the people on board pulled to safety. Pilot Chesley Sullenberger's professionalism is to be lauded for the incredible outcome. Watching two divers risk their lives to save a woman floating in the water by jumping out of a helicopter at a higher height than recommended brought home the message of the goodness in people and how saving a life is paramount. One man took off the shirt on his back and offered it to a person whose clothes had become wet when he jumped into the water.
Perhaps the most important words of the documentary were spoken by survivor, Rob Kolodjay, who related his thoughts as the plane descended.
"If this was the end, was I the person I wanted to be all my life?"
Thankfully, we have the chance to ask ourselves the question without such a harrowing experience prompting us to think about how we have lived our lives. If our answer is in the negative, as long as there is life, there is time to change ourselves for the better.
And speaking about the goodness in people, click here for a memorable picture of a young girl offering an Egyptian soldier a flower. A picture is worth 1000 words.

7 Feb 2011

A statistical miracle

by Rabbi Ephraim Epstein

The Tefilla advances with a verse from Psalms 104:24 Mah Rabu Maasecha Hashem Kulam Bechachmah Asita Malah Haaretz Kinyanecha – How great/many are Your deeds Hashem, All of them You have made with wisdom –the earth is full of Your creations.
...Each of G-d’s creations come to enhance the world we live in
The Gaon of Vilna explains that the word Kinyanecha – also means Your enhancers. This implies that each of G-d’s creations come to enhance the world we live in. There are no insects that are not needed, there are no human organs that are for naught…. because ALL of G-d’s magnificent creations come to build, improve and advance His world.


A U.S. cattle farmer is seeing triple after his mixed-breed cow, itself a triplet, gave birth to three calves.
...They call it a "statistical miracle."


Tear gas

Two protests - one in Tunisia and one in Israel where demonstrators died because of tear gas used to stop the protests. In Tunisia, the young man doesn't merit a name, but, the Palestinian protestor gets article after article written about her including various versions of her story.

A young man died after being struck by a tear gas grenade during a protest in a Tunisian provincial town, an Interior Ministry source said on Sunday.

French Prime Minister Francois Fillon confirmed this week that the government had authorized a shipment of tear gas grenades to Tunis on Jan. 12, two days before Tunisian President Zine el Abidine ben Ali was toppled from power.

The following are two interviews with Jawaher Abu Rahmah's mother.
“I was standing beside Jawaher on the hill that is near the place where the demonstration took place, when we were injured by a cloud of tear gas. Jawaher began to fell unwell from inhaling the gas and started to move back from the place: soon after that she vomited and collapsed. We took her to the nearest road, and from there she was evacuated by ambulance to the hospital, where she remained until her death.

After this, we went — me and my daughter [Jawaher] — close to the wall to watch the demonstration, and my daughter said, “I have to go back to the house,” and she left me. When she left me, that’s when it happened. She got tear gassed, and after that Jawaher went to the ambulance to go to Ramallah.

Finally, a report in Haaretz about how Ms. Abu-Rahma was with two teenagers when she was tear gassed.
"I met with Jawaher at the entrance to the home of Abu Hamis [an uncle]," Aslam said... She suggested we go watch the procession, which was far from us, and we moved closer to the kids who were throwing stones at the army.

6 Feb 2011

Original borders

I came across an interesting article titled “Mandate for Palestine”
The Legal Aspects of Jewish Rights
by Eli E. Hertz.
Right at the beginning of the article, one can see a map of the original borders envisioned for Palestine, the Jewish homeland. The second map shows how the country of Palestine was reduced by 77% when the British illegally ceded most of the country to Jordan.

The “Mandate for Palestine,” an historical League of Nations document, laid down the Jewish legal right to settle anywhere in western Palestine, a 10,000-square-miles3 area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.
The legally binding document was conferred on April 24, 1920 at the San Remo Conference, and its terms outlined in the Treaty of Sèvres on August 10, 1920. The Mandate’s terms were finalized and unanimously approved on July 24, 1922, by the Council of the League of Nations, which was comprised at that time of 51 countries,4 and became operational on September 29, 1923.


Below, Lamis Deek, an attorney and co-chairperson of the Al-Awda Palestine Right to Return Coalition, speaks about Palestine. She is not disturbed by what England did to Palestine in the 1920s. She refers only to when Israel appeared on the scene.

3 Feb 2011

Seeking His face

"The act of prayer itself is a source of strength."
Just finished listening to President Obama's speech at the National Prayer Breakfast. One word? Incredible. Click on the link below to access article. The video is a few paragraphs below to the left of the article.


Democracy at any cost

For those of haven't caught the Fox News interview with Robert Spencer, Zuhdi Jasser and Former CIA Counterterrorism Analyst, Michael Scheur, the following is a question posed to Mr. Scheur at minute 9:42 of the tape.

Is an Obama backing of a Mubarak government a sign to the people of Egypt... that we are still firmly implanted on the side of Israel?
Oh sure, it is. Israel is such an enormous detriment to the United States - our relationship with the Israelis - that it's going to become clear to Americans that this is just gonna cost us blood and lives the longer we pursue this relationship with the Israelis.

And you wonder why Jonathan Pollard hasn't been released?
May Yehonatan ben Malka be released speedily, along with Gilad ben Aviva.

2 Feb 2011

Take for me

I came across a nice devar Torah on Parshat Teruma.

In the opening verses of Parshat Terumah the Jewish people are asked to donate willfully to the Mishkan.
Q. If the Jewish people are asked to GIVE a donation, why does the verse (25,2) say 'TAKE for me a donation' rather than 'GIVE me a donation'?
...A2. The Chafetz Chaim says that a person's net worth is defined by what one gives away, rather than what one retains. Consequently when one gives, one is taking for himself, since he gains through taking. This does not just apply to giving charity, but also extends to giving time for a friend, good deeds etc. Whereas money and merchandise can disappear (lost/stolen/credit crunch), Torah and mitzvot remain with you for Olam Habah, the world to come.
In a similar vein the Midrash Tanchuma in Terumah explains the verse 'Ki lekach tov natati lachem' 'I have given you a good portion', as Torah is the greatest portion that can be given because it is always retained.

Read two other answers to the question. http://www.shortvort.com/component/content/article/114-rotator/11664-giving-and-taking

May we value the words of the Torah and recognize it as "the greatest portion."

The haftorah ends with G‑d's word to King Solomon: "This house which you are building, if you walk in My statutes, and execute My ordinances, and keep all My commandments to walk in them; then will I establish My word with you, which I spoke to David your father. And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will not forsake My people, Israel."

It's snow joke

Chicago is bracing for what could be the largest snowfall on record with the National Weather Service calling for between 16 inches and 28 inches of snow in Chicago by Wednesday afternoon.

Last week, I received an old joke about what famous personalities might have said about shoveling snow. Some of the personalities were a bit outdated but I did laugh at a few of the comments they might have made.
For instance:

Rashi - "Snow, this is a form of solid precipitation that clings to one's beard if you remain outside too long in the winter season. (Old French: neige). Shoveling is a Rabbinic precept, based on the verse in Isaiah 1:18 - "If your sins be like scarlet, they will turn as white as snow"

The Late Lubavitcher Rebbe (from an epistle to a disciple) - "Shoveling snow is a distraction from our efforts to bring Moshiach, may He come soon, when in any case there will be no snow to shovel. So leave it and let it melt. If the Messiah does not come by Shavuos, the snow will have miraculously disappeared anyway."

Read full joke: http://www.getamused.com/jokes/jewishguidetoshovelingsnow.html

I decided to add some personalities of our times and to think of what they would say if asked about shoveling snow.

Rabbi P.K. - I am deeply grateful to the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation for inviting me to speak here. And remember, if you help your elderly neighbor shovel the snow from his driveway, you can write about it in your chessed notebook. And now I would like to end with an amazing story.

Rabbi Z.W. - Get off Facebook and you will have time to go outside and help people shovel their yards.


Israel Matzav - What could go wrong?

Rabbi Boteach - Our character is becoming courrupt as we watch inane television shows. We must reconnect with the family. What better family activity (other than sharing a Shabbos meal) than to shovel snow together with the whole family?

The New York Times explains how you can turn all that snow into money.
Whether Plowing or Serving Hot Chocolate, Some Find a Payday in the Snow

Anyone care to add?

Finally, it is no laughing matter. People are being extremely inconvenienced by the massive snowfall. Let's try to help out, where we can. Light up an elderly neighbor's face by offering to shovel her property. It's a mitzvah.

1 Feb 2011

The death toll

As many as 300 people may have died in anti-government unrest in Egypt according to unofficial reports, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said Tuesday.

With such a high death toll, are organizations making strong statements against the use of tear gas and live ammunition such as the following made after the death of one person?

...Physicians for Human Rights – Israel (PHR-I): “The killing of Jawaher Abu-Rahmeh is yet another harsh injustice of the Israeli occupation web… The use of Gas against civilians must be ceased, clear and simple. The death of Jawaher Abu-Rahmeh must be the last one.”
...International Solidarity Movement calls on companies to stop providing equipment that “Israel misuses to kill and maim unarmed protesters.”

And speaking of the International Solidarity Movement, would you please get your story straight?
On 27th January, 20-year old Oday Maher Hamza Qadous was killed by settlers whilst farming between the villages of Burin and Iraq Burin, just south of Nablus. According to family sources, the Palestinian youth was alone...

Yet, a few days prior, you reported that the victim was with his cousin who was an eyewitness.

Oday Maher Hamza Qadous, 19 years old, has been killed by settlers while farming his land in Iraq Burin. Army forces have taken over the village of Iraq Burin.
19 year old Oday Maher Hamza Qadous was shot to death this afternoon while farming his land in Iraq Burin near Nablus. Qadous was farming with his cousin...


Torah reading days

I came across a devar Torah attributed to the Chasam Sofer which reminds us on which days of the year the Torah is read.
Click here to read the devar Torah. Just one error - the site inadvertently left out Purim which should be written before Pesach since the Torah is also read on that day.