"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 Sept 2011

Gut Yom Tov

Just a reminder to make an eiruv tavshilin.

Rav Tzvi Meir tells a story that goes something like this. A person meets his friend after Rosh Hashana and asks him "Nu, so how did your Rosh Hashana go?" He replies "It was beautiful. The baal tefila didn't leave a dry eye in the shul. The meals were full of divrei torah and zemiros. The afternoons we learned straight without dozing or schmoozing for a minute. The kids behaved like angels" "Wow! Gevaldig. Sounds like it was perfect" his friend replies. "Well almost perfect. The kid next to me in Shul couldn't stop making noise during Musaf and the father the "Groisse Tzaddik" was so busy shukling away that he didn't do anything besides keep shuckling. I had to shissss the kid half of Mussaf, besides that it was perfect.
To this Rav Tzvi Meir says, "Fool! That was your whole test of Rosh Hashana. Maybe your whole year depended on your reaction to the kid. The rest of Yom Tov was not your Nisayon!" This Rosh Hashana don't decide for yourself what Rosh Hashana is all about. Submit yourself to what the King of all Kings decides is your particular avodah. Hatzlacha Rabba and Gut Yom Tov!

Describing Jerusalem

Googling the words "1100 housing units in Jerusalem," I came up with a number of articles about the decision of the Israeli government to approve new housing units in Gilo. As you can see from the image below, an AP article begins, "Israel's government on Tuesday granted the final go-ahead for the construction of 1100 new housing units in occupied east Jerusalem."
However, if you click on the link to the article, you can see that the word "occupied" has disappeared from the article. It still does appear in the caption underneath the picture on the right of the article.

Some sites which used the article still contain the word "occupied."

Another site prefaces east Jerusalem with the words "illegally occupied."
Israel's government has granted the go-ahead for construction of 1,100 new housing units in illegally occupied east Jerusalem, raising already heightened tensions fuelled by last week's Palestinian move to seek full UN membership.

Foxnews refers to the area as "occupied east Jerusalem."

Finally, Rabbi Lau describes Jerusalem in the hope of "Yerushalayim Habenuyah."

Something other than peace

Shoshana Bryen has written an article about the peace process where she opines, "if 'peace' is the goal of the 'peace talks,' the parties are doomed to fail."
She further summarizes the main issues of both parties.

"For Israel, there are three:

•Recognition of the Third Jewish Commonwealth -- the State of Israel -- as a permanent and legitimate part of the region and the community of nations (also known as "end of conflict, end of claims");
•"Secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force" -- the promise of U.N. Resolution 242 -- and
•The capital of Israel in a united Jerusalem.
For the Palestinians, there are also three:

•International recognition of an independent Palestinian State without recognizing borders for the Third Jewish Commonwealth;
•Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state; and
•The right of refugees of 1948/49 and their descendants to live in places from which they -- or their antecedents -- claim to have originated inside the boundaries of pre-'67 Israel.
Israel's interest in a united Jerusalem is practical as much as anything else. The U.N. had promised Jewish access to Jewish holy places within the city in 1948 but failed to a) deliver access and b) prevent the wholesale destruction of Jewish patrimony on the eastern side after the expulsion of the Jewish community. Israel is unlikely to substitute future promises of access for its current ability to operate an open city for Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike."

She concludes, "to understand the requirements of both parties is to understand that something other than "peace" is at issue. And that would be a starting place for realistic goals and limitations on the Quartet and on the American government."

Another article that caught my eye this morning.
Three Palestinians were pronounced dead on Tuesday morning after Egyptian authorities pumped sewage inside a smuggling tunnel under the Gaza border on Sunday.

27 Sept 2011


In the Shaar HaKavonos of the Arizal it says that when the Chazzan lingers on the word "Ayei" Mikom Kivodo in Kedusha of Musaf you can have in mind one of three wishes that will be granted. Either you can ask for Ruach HaKodesh, great wealth, or children who are tzaddikim.
The Arizal cautions that you can only ask for one and not all three so you must choose carefully. Rav Shimshon Pincus gives advice to those who are stumped by the dilemma. First of all he says do not spend you precious request asking for Ruach HaKodesh. Even if you were granted Ruach HaKodesh, since we are not worthy enough it would not settle on us, much like if someone were to pour a gallon of Cola into a 5 ounce cup. It is pointless.
Children or Money? That is up to you. What did Rav Pincus choose? He used to tell his kids, "Please be good, I gave up a great fortune for you!"

For more inspirational Jewish video, check out: TorahCafe.com!

The return

For those of you who missed thie article by David Solway titled The Return of the Prodigal Son-A reluctant Jew finally sees the light, click here for a must read.
Mr. Solway, I thank you for your enlightening, honest and superbly written article. I wish you a happy and healthy new year.

26 Sept 2011

Tav Shin Ayin Bet

My husband came home from shul last night with an acronym forming the letters of the coming Jewish new year that he had seen posted on the walls.
The year should begin with its blessings. תחל שנה עם ברכותיה

Searching the internet, I found other thoughts here, here, here and here.

These are a few I picked out with a loose English translation.

This year should be one of laboring in Torah. תהא שנת עמלינו בתורה
This should be a year of the world in redemption. תהא שנת עולם בגאולה

Your divine Presence should fill us quickly. תשרה שכינתך עלינו במהרה

This should be a year loaded with weddings. תחל שנה עמוסה בחתונות

תהא שנת עין בעין ע"ש הכתוב כי עין בעין יראו בשוב ה' וכו' בב"א

ישעיהו פרק נב ח
כִּי עַיִן בְּעַיִן יִרְאוּ, בְּשׁוּב יְהוָה צִיּוֹן
For eye to eye they will see Hashem’s return of Tzion

Click here for a Torah thought on the above verse.

J.B. - I'm impressed with the video below which you produced. Just wish you would have consulted me first for the editing. - Outstanding. May you be blessed with a year of health and happiness.

20 Sept 2011

Not too intelligent

Oy vey, what a dumb crook.
A thief’s plans to sell a Hasid’s stolen sable-fur hat backfired when he failed to notice that the owner’s name and phone number were marked inside, police said.

Read more:

On turning 60

Jonathan Rosenblum pens his thought on turning 60.
The sixtieth birthday is a big one Jews for it means that one has avoided at least one of the definitions of karet ­­– premature death. And with it one is officially welcomed into the ranks of zikna, old age (Avos 5:25), however unworthy one may feel of admission just yet.
...Above all, I’m grateful that I have no desire at all to go back in time.
...But even the intimations of mortality found in signs of physical decline are not without their benefits. They remind me that projects like finishing Talmud can no longer be put off to the future because the future is not unlimited. Now is the time.

Read more: http://www.cross-currents.com/#ixzz1YTvmc5ek

And musician Sting opines on his turning 60.

"You have to be grateful for whatever situation you find yourself in."

19 Sept 2011

Eis tzarah

Two articles published this week refer to the hebrew word 'tzarah' - (distress, woe, trouble)
Rabbi Adlerstein discusses the coming week's schedule at the UN.

If this does not objectively qualify as an eis tzarah, I would be hard pressed to find one. BE”H, the week might pass uneventfully. But our chiyuv in advance is certainly to be mindful of the threat, and to respond the way Torah Jews always respond. The best segulah for Divine Protection is the one clearly required by halachah: davening up a storm.
Speaking with no authority at all but that of a Jew feeling much heaviness of heart and anxiety, I would like to suggest and hope that all of us will stop at the many mentions of Eretz Yisrael and Yerushalayim in Shemoneh Esreh and in bentsching this week, and take the time to beg HKBH for compassion directed at His people and His holy Land.

Read more: http://www.cross-currents.com/archives/2011/09/18/eis-tzarah-hi-le-yaakov/#ixzz1YQTWvLXx
New York Magazine titles John Heilerman's article 'The Tsuris' (the troubles)
and features a cover of the President with a yarmulca on his head and the captivating words, 'The first Jewish President.' If you can stomach the article, you will find that Obama is 'certainly a president every bit as pro-Israel as the country’s own prime minister.'
Here's an excerpt from a comment posted at the end of the article.
the author is assuming ALL OF THE PROBLEMS will just magically disappear if a Palestinian state is created. Never mind that Hamas does not comply with the PA, nor back a Jewish state, or a PA state run by Fatah. A "state" won't stop hatred and incitement taught in their schooling and written in their textbooks. And what about Jerusalem? So once a state is declared, two nations that both want the capitol, they will just magically get along? Even with a PA state, the Palestinians have still not renounced terrorism- so now it'll just be legal terrorism to go into Jewish homes and slaughter families?

Anther comment:
And no, Obama isn't the first Jewish president; but if he gets a 2nd term and follows your advice; he might be the last President while there was a land owned by the Jewish people.
Read full article at: http://nymag.com/news/politics/israel-2011-9/
And let's take heed of Rabbi Adlerstein's words and pray with extra fervor this week.

The broom dance

This week Rabbi S. lectured about the days leading up to the high holidays. In the course of his speech, he spoke about marriage and how he and his wife had talked to a Rav prior to their wedding to receive advice. The Rav asked Rabbi S. if he had purchased a ring. When the rabbi answered in the affirmative, the rav asked him to bring it with him the next time they were to meet. At the following session, the Rav asked Rabbi S. to describe the ring. The rabbi told him tht it was a round ring made of gold. The Rav told the rabbi that he missed the most important part in describing the ring. Inside the ring was empty space. The Rav told the rabbi that marriage was about carving an empty space in one's heart to allow room for a spouse with all her preconceived ideas and to accept her as she was.
Speaking about marriage, there's an article by David Wilder at INN titled Mezinka, which means 'the youngest child' in Yiddish. It is customary to perform a broom dance when a couple marries off their youngest child.

Ahh, the ‘broom dance.’ This is a very special event. Such a dance is performed when a couple marries off their last, and usually, youngest child. I’ve been to many many weddings, but I don’t recall ever witnessing such a performance. And before I knew it, David was holding a decorated broom, with Leah at his side, with a colorful dustpan. The orchestra started playing and they started sweeping. The idea being, that they are ‘sweeping’ their youngest child out of the house.

As I watched the video below of the parents of the groom performing the broom dance, I couldn't help but smile and be happy for the couple's opportunity to marry off their last child and to celebrate the wedding in the company of all the grandchildren their children had produced. May all of us merit marrying off our Mezinkas at the right time.

18 Sept 2011

A loch im kopf

The United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine was a resolution adopted on 29 November 1947 by the General Assembly of the United Nations.
The resolution noted Britain's planned termination of the British Mandate for Palestine and recommended the partition of Palestine into two states, one Jewish and one Arab... The resolution included a highly detailed description of the recommended boundaries for each proposed state.


An editorial in the Observer titled A Palestinian state is a moral right begins with the following words.

For the Zionist movement seeking an independent state of Israel, desire became reality in November 1947, when the General Assembly of the United Nations passed Resolution 181 supporting the establishment of a Jewish state in a partitioned Palestine.

November 1947 was also a time when an Arab state in Palestine could have become reality. But, the Arabs rejected it and went to war. The Observer is of the opinion that the rejection which led to thousands of people being killed and years of conflict should be rewarded.
...As British ministers deliberate how they will vote in the Security Council, they are confronted with the choice between what is morally right – supporting a Palestinian state – and hypocrisy justified in the name of pragmatism.
Read full article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/sep/18/observer-editorial-palestine-statehood

Robert Morrison begins his article about Palestinian statehood with the following joke.
Two men in Tsarist Russia were being led out to a firing squad: one, a humble tailor, the other a wild anarchist. As the Tsarist officer in charge of the firing squad tried to put a blindfold on the condemned anarchist, the young militant recoiled. He would face death unblinkingly, he said bravely. Alarmed, his fellow Jew interceded: "Please, don't make trouble!"
He opines, "a Palestinian state will be a new base for terrorists. That's all the PLO ever was or ever will be. We need a new Terroristan like we need a loch im kopf (Yiddish for a hole in the head.)"
Read full article: http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/09/please_mr_netanyahu_dont_make_trouble.html
So there you have it. Morally right or a loch im kopf?

The truth

by Rabbi Dr Raymond Apple
The Kotzker Rebbe had a shrewd interpretation of the opening phrase of the sidra, “You (attem) are standing this day, all of you, before the Lord your God” (Deut. 29:9). The Rebbe pointed out that the letters of attem, you, are the same as those of emet, truth. Truth, he said, is what gives human beings the capacity for standing and stability. Even the shape of the letters indicates this; the aleph stands on two legs, the mem has a firm horizontal base and the tav has two legs. The word as a whole, and each of its letters, has staying power.
By way of contrast, the opposite, sheker (falsehood), ein lo raglayim – “has no legs to stand on”, as the rabbis remarked. The shin of sheker, in Torah script, swivels on a narrow base, and the kuf and resh each have only one leg.
Sheker is bound to topple over, whilst emet stands firm. A comforting thought at a very difficult moment in world history when people and nations tell lies without compunction and the injudicious media peddle half-truths without conscience. It is hard to live at such a time, and hard to keep constantly vigilant to expose the falsehoods and argue for the truth, but in the end nothing can withstand the power of truth, and sheker is bound to collapse.

17 Sept 2011

Going without

Rabbi Zechariah Wallerstein, Shlita has initiated a great Project entitled DAY TO DISCONNECT. On October 2, 2011, as we observe Tzom Gedaliah, Rabbi Wallerstein hopes to come to the Kosel with 1 million registered hours of disconnection from cell phones and laptops for that day. The minimum disconnect time per person in order to register is 1 hour(you can do the entire 24 hour period as well!). By signing up on www.daytodisconnect.com you are choosing to make a commitment to disconnect from technology in a unified effort to synchronize a meaningful hour or hours with yourself, your friends, your family and/or with Hashem.
Read full article: http://www.localjewishnews.com/2011/09/05/day-to-disconnect/

Beth Arnold has penned an article titled Letter From Paris: 28 Days (Without the Internet) in which she describes how she plans to spend four weeks away from the internet.

In the meantime, I envision "28 days (without the internet)" as the emotional, physical, and spiritual journey of our time; the journey that millions of people feel in their hearts they need to take, but haven't yet been shown the way; the journey from the Internet back to the inner self.
Read full article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/beth-arnold/letter-from-paris-28-days_b_961783.html

16 Sept 2011


A ban on saying prayers in the street, a practice by French Muslims unable to find space in mosques, has come into effect in the capital, Paris.http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-14945467

And speaking of prayer, a new website was launched to help people come together to pray/reciteTehilim for an individual who is ill and to do acts of chesed on his/her behalf.

Click here to read about Tziporah's nest and here to sign up.

The second time

Family law attorney, Lisa Helfend Meyer, has penned an article titled Second Marriage For Better or Worse in which she quotes the folllowing statistic.
"While about 41 percent of first marriages end in divorce, the picture is even gloomier for second acts where 60 percent of those marriages fail."
She ends the article by stating, "And whether it's the first, second or third time around, marriage is not like marriage in the movies unless it's the divorce in The War of the Roses."
Read full article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lisa-helfend-meyer/second-marriage-for-bette_b_963383.html

Recently, I've heard of two cases of divorce the second time around. In one instance, the marriage was barely out of the starting blocks before it collapsed. So, let's be more realistic in our expectations and perhaps we should not be so quick to throw in the towel the first time.

15 Sept 2011

In G-d we trust

The following devar Torah is by Rabbi Dr Raymond Apple.

When the first fruits are brought to the sanctuary, “the kohen shall take the basket from your hand and place it before the altar of the Lord your God” (Deut. 26:4). The first-fruit basket symbolises prosperity: the altar symbolises faith. Bringing the fruit to the altar symbolises two things – the farmer‘s acknowledgment that his harvest comes from God, and his undertaking to use his prosperity for purposes that God would approve. From this subject the Torah reading this Shabbat moves on to the tochechah, the list of punishments that come to the Israelite community if they are sinful.
It seems logical to connect the ritual of the first fruits with the threat of punishment. The connection must surely be that if the Israelite farmer refused to acknowledge God and decided to be greedy and not use his prosperity to strengthen society, both he and his whole community would be in danger of collapse.

The Blaze has an article titled Court Rules Teacher Must Remove ‘In God We Trust’ Classroom Banners.
So, any atheists out there who wish to get rid of their currency which carries the above motto, please send it to a blogger who does trust in G-d.

The banquet

Pajamas Media has an article titled Jewish Civil Rights Group Warns Columbia About Entertaining Ahmadinejad… Again! by Roger Simon.
Jewish civil rights group Shurat HaDin — Israel Law Center — has sent a warning letter to Columbia University President Lee Bollinger advising him that Columbia’s plan to host a banquet for visiting Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad runs afoul of U.S. anti-terror laws and will subject the university and its officials to both criminal prosecution and civil liability to victims of Iranian-sponsored terrorism in Israel or elsewhere.
Click here to sign petition.

Rabbi Aryeh Spero asks Would Obama Retaliate against a Nuclear Attack?

In every generation

שבכל דור ודור עומדים עלינו לכלותינו והקב"ה מצילנו מידם
A Chareidi site has an article about a young man from the U.S who wanted to study in Israel but wasn't sure whether to go in light of the threats of an intifada and the deteriorating relationship with Turkey. The young man's rabbi presented the question to Rav Kanievsky who quoted the words from the Hagadah "B’chol Dor vador Omdim Aleinu Lichaloseinu, VHKBH Mazileinu Miyadam." In each and every generation they rise up against us to destroy us. And The Holy One, blessed be He, rescues us from their hands.
The Rav told the rabbi that his student can come and study in Israel.

For those who read Hebrew, click here for an article about a prediction for Turkey.
The Yeshiva World writes about Rav Steinman calling upon Am Yisrael to recite Tehilim in light of current events.

14 Sept 2011

More questions than answers

There's an article at birtherreport.com about a new website called attackwatch.com. The article quotes an email which urges people to sign up to the new site to fight false rumors with the truth.
The home page links to information about Israel and Middle East Falsehoods.
The link to the page states that "President Obama’s opponents have falsely suggested that the President has not been a strong ally to Israel." The site points to statements from political leaders in Israel to dispute that the President in not a strong ally. And who are the Israeli leaders? Shimon Peres and Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Why were there no quotes from Prime Minister Netanyahu or Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman?

The home page also refers to the Obama birth certificate. The site states that the certificate was deemed authentic by nonpartisan organizations such as Factcheck.org and refers the reader to an article posted by FactCheck. In that article, FactCheck explains the time stamp of June 6 2007.
"The certificate is stamped June 2007, because that’s when Hawaii officials produced it for the campaign, which requested that document and 'all the records we could get our hands on' according to spokesperson Shauna Daly."
But, White House Communications Director, Dan Pfeiffer, posted on WhiteHouse.gov/blog/ that the President requested his birth certificate in 2008 and immediately posted it on the internet. So, why would there be a stamp from 2007?

10 Sept 2011

Fire under control

In pictures eerily reminiscent of a decade ago, smoke was seen bellowing from the Credit Suisse building. Thankfully, the fire is under control.

THE NEW YORK fire department is dealing with a fire on the upper floors of a skyscraper in Manhattan this evening. It is understood that the fire was caused by an exploded electrical transformer in the upper floors of the Credit Suisse building, at 1 Madison Avenue in central Manhattan, about one mile uptown from the site of the World Trade Centre. Foul play is not suspected.

9 Sept 2011


In many congregations, the following phrase from the liturgy is one of the repeated themes for both Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur: "Repentance, Prayer and Charity change the evil of the decree" ("T'shuva, Tephilah, and Tzedakah maverin et Roeh HaGezerah"). This means ostensibly that if a difficult decree has been declared upon a person he may change it through one of these three avenues: repentance, prayer, or charity.
Read full article: http://www.jewishmag.com/95mag/tdakatshuva/tdakatshuva.htm

Speaking of prayer, Avi Shafran has an article about the subject with a story that will put us to shame. Click here to read and perhaps we will devote more attention to our davening after absorbing the message.

8 Sept 2011

Miracles of miracles

I caught the video below on Matzav.

The move

"The collapse of a massive crane brought in to repair earthquake damage at the Washington National Cathedral has forced a Sept. 11 commemoration with President Barack Obama to change venues, organizers said Thursday.
Sunday's "Concert for Hope" will be held at the Kennedy Center."

And for the pièce de résistance...

"A Sunday morning interfaith vigil, set for the times when airplanes struck the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and crashed in Pennsylvania, will move from the cathedral to the Washington Hebrew Congregation."
Read full article: http://www.globaltvbc.com/world/crane+collapse+forces+sept+11+commemoration+to+move+from+national+cathedral+to+kennedy+center/6442477647/story.html

Too bad it's not being held at the Ohev Sholom.

Our day in court

Yeranen Yaakov posted an email that he received on his blog. It was a summons to court, written in Hebrew, to all members of the Jewish nation for a case that will take place on Rosh Hashana where we will be judged for sins such as bitul Torah, sins committed in financial matters and personal relationships, etc. It gave me a shock to realize that we are indeed going to have a court case very soon.
I remember many years ago that a man in the neighborhood was involved in a case involving his nursing home. The man could barely function, being too nervous to eat or sleep properly. And, how many of us are nervous when we are involved in a minor court case such as a traffic violation? So, why are we going about our everyday business without a care about the major case we will be summoned to in a few weeks?
The parsha this week begins with the words "If you go out to war against your enemies." Our biggest enemy is the yetzer hara which threatens to destroy us internally. Let's try to overcome our personal struggles, pray with greater fervor and prepare a good defense for the court case that is soon upon us.

Home for the holy days?

As Yoel Zev Goldstein gives his first interview as a free man in Israel, asking people to pray for the release of his friend who is still imprisoned in Japan, let us hope that the prayers will yield postive results and may Mr. Richardson be successful in his latest endeavor.

Bill Richardson is traveling to Cuba in an attempt to free Alan Gross.
Gross' American lawyer, Peter Kahn, said it was the family's hope that Gross would be released in time to celebrate Rosh Hashanah with his family.

Read full article: http://www.jta.org/news/article/2011/09/07/3089287/richardson-to-cuba-to-seek-gross-freedom

7 Sept 2011

Cathedral mishap

In an article about the Washington National Cathedral's 9/11 program, Richard Weinberg, the Cathedral’s director of communications, said "the Washington National Cathedral serves as the 'spiritual home for the nation.'”

Meanwhile, it has been reported that "a crane used to help repair the main tower of the earthquake-struck Washington National Cathedral, toppled over Wednesday, inflicting fresh damage at the site of the US capital's best-known house of worship.
....The crane was at the cathedral to repair the roof, which had been damaged in last month's earthquake.
...It was not immediately known if the observances would have to find a new venue as a result of the mishap."

Giving thanks

In keeping with this week's acts of kindness theme of giving thanks, I would like to direct you to a fabulous article by Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz titled Hakaras HaTov—Gratitude at the 5 Towns Jewish Times.
Here is one excerpt which shows the beauty of the Hebrew language.

Rav Hutner points out that the Hebrew word for “thanksgiving” (hoda’ah) is identical to the Hebrew word for “admitting.” This is so because the ability of a person to offer thanks is commensurate with his willingness to admit and acknowledge that he is incomplete and requires the help of others. For a person to say “thank you” he must acknowledge that he needs somebody else. This is why it is so difficult sometimes to thank people; it is difficult for us to acknowledge and admit that we are not complete. The more we are indebted to someone, the more difficult it is to thank that person, because thanking him properly exposes the depth of our own vulnerability.

6 Sept 2011

Erasing and spying

Our friends at the invaluable Palestinian Media Watch (PMW-Palwatch.org) have been diligently following the latest in the Palestinian policy of historical revisionism: erasing Jewish connection to the Temple Mount -- ginning up energy for the big day at the U.N.
Read full article by Janet Tassel at American Thinker.

The comments posted at the end of the article are quite interesting. Here's one.
"Religious Jews have scratched their heads and asked since 1967: "Can somebody
explain why the Temple Mount is in the custody of Muslims?" "
The Temple was clearly far more appealing in the abstract. It seems to me that too many Jews were afraid of what having a real Temple would mean for them personally and for Israel as a nation. Like maybe that God is real and He means what He says.

I had wanted to post regarding the NYT article discussing Shamai Leibowitz, the convicted spy sentenced to 20 months, but I will refer you to Israel Matzav's post instead.
A NYT article from 2002 provides insight into Mr. Leibowitz who defended Marwan Barghouti. The Palestinian leader "said he supports attacks on Israeli soldiers and settlers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip." So, was it okay to murder members of the Fogel family including a three month old baby girl?

One of Mr. Barghouti's lawyers, Shamai Leibowitz, an Israeli, compared him to Moses. Speaking of Moses, he said, ''According to some lawyers, he should be called a terrorist, but according to Exodus, he is a freedom fighter.'' Mr. Leibowitz argued that Moses killed an Egyptian not because he hated Egyptians but because the man was beating a fellow Jew.
Mr. Barghouti smiled, but Yaakov Shemesh, who lost his brother and pregnant sister-in-law in a bombing in Jerusalem earlier this year, shouted at the lawyer, ''How dare you call yourself a Jew?''
Zvi Garfinkel, the chief judge of the three-judge panel, cut Mr. Leibowitz off, saying, ''You can read me this story on Passover, not here.''
Read full article: http://www.nytimes.com/2002/10/04/world/palestinian-urges-defiance-plan-to-grab-arafat-reported.html

My advice to Jonathan Pollard is to compare other terrorist leaders to Moses. Perhaps, then, your sentence will be commuted to time served.

Thank you Toda Rabba

Week 2 of the Five Towns Acts of Kindness initiative focuses on giving thanks. As I read an article that Yoel Zev Goldstein, the young man who was acquitted in Japan, is on his way to Israel, I am sure that many are thankful about his release. Another article in Hebrew about a man who brandished a knife demanding to see a rebbe thankfully ends better than the fatal stabbing incident which occurred recently.
The following are A-OK suggestions for week 2.

1. Let’s remember to say thank you more often. For at least one thank you of the day be specific in your gratitude for the acts that people do for you daily or occasionally with a detailed explanation of why what they did for you was so meaningful. For example, thank you for packing the groceries for me - it was so helpful since my back was hurting me today. Or Thank you for the water- I was so thirsty and my mouth was dry- I really appreciate it. Feel what it would be like to not have this done for you and express it.
2. Let’s speak to people who serve us with a soft tone, respect and gratitude. Paying for a service does not absolve us from good manners or from appreciation. Disappointment in the quality of service should be expressed only in a calm, pleasant, and respectful manner.
3. Go to the fire department, police, Hatzolah, post office, Town Hall, crossing guard, and even the meter maid, and thank them for their service to our community.
4. Make it a point to acknowledge gratitude and focus on the good that someone did for us even if we generally find that person difficult to get along with.
5. Call or write, to express appreciation you have towards your parents, Rabbis and teachers for anything they have done for you in your lifetime.
6. Express gratitude to anyone else that may have had an impact in your life. Call someone who gave you encouragement in the past and express to them how effective their words were to this day. Kind words last forever, use your words to encourage others and to uplift them as you were.
7. When we appreciate who we are, it is easier to appreciate others. List three things you are grateful for and thank Hashem for your unique gifts. Also, at a family meal have each member express one thing they are grateful for that day.

Just to give examples on two points. A cousin of mine got married when she was twenty-one. The day of her wedding, her mother received twenty-one roses from her in gratitude for all the years she had raised her. How many brides would think of thanking their mother on the day the wedding?
When there is a Jewish Holiday and I notice a police presence on the street helping to ensure security, I often walk over to a policeman and thank him for protecting the community.

5 Sept 2011

Waging war

As this week's parsha begins with the words, "If you go out to war against your enemies," Ynet reports ominous predictions from a senior IDF officer who warns of a 'radical Islamic winter' which may lead to regional war and could prompt the use of WMDs.

And another type of war is being waged against cell phones. Click here to sign up to an initiative to disconnect from your cell phone for at least one hour on Tzom Gedaliah, October 2, 2011.

May we emerge victorious.

Holy Shabbos

רפאני ה' כי נבהלו עצמי, ונפשי נבהלה מאוד. ועתה ה' עד מתי, שובה ה' חלצה נפשי
הושיעני למען חסדך
שבת היא מלזעוק, שבת קודש היא מלזעוק, ורפואה שלימה קרובה לבוא
heal me, Hashem, for my bones are frightened. And my soul is frightened; and now, Hashem, how long? Return, Hashem, deliver my soul; save me for your mercy's sake. (Psalms 6)
Shabbos is forbidden from screaming (crying). A complete cure is close to arrive.

I haven't seen any corroboration to a WND article about the schedule for speakers at the United Nations General Assembly meeting on September 23.

An internal United Nations document containing the upcoming General Assembly's speakers list bestows an unwarranted honor upon Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, while also slighting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
...A rare G.A. address by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been scheduled on the same Friday as Abbas, but as the last speaker at 9:00 p.m. that evening, a time slot that would not only violate Jewish Sabbath laws, but also assure a minimum amount of publicity, since the U.N. is all but abandoned during that hour.

Read more: http://www.wnd.com/?pageId=341593#ixzz1X4S0uMWu

Let's hope that the address will be rescheduled so that no violation of the Jewsih Sabbath should take place by a prime minister representing the Jewish state.

4 Sept 2011

Saying thank you

Last week I posted about the Acts of Kindness initiative which focuses on one item per week leading up to Yom Kippur. Last week, the theme was about smiling. This week the theme focuses on saying thank you. Below is a selection of articles and comments dealing with that suggestion.

After a must read by Slovie Jungreis-Wolff titled Abba, where are you?, someone posted this comment.

As someone who lost my father over a year ago, I found this article very, very powerful and meaningful. Thank you.

In Honor of Teachers by Charles M. Blow

So to all of the Mrs. Thomases out there, all the teachers struggling to reach lost children like I was once, I just want to say thank you. You deserve our admiration, not our contempt.

Thank You, America by Nicholas Kristof
Belgassim Ali, a petroleum engineer, told me: “I would thank America for the stance to protect my people.” Without America, he added, “we would not be celebrating. We would be in the cemetery.”

Israel singled out

In the September 2nd daily press briefing by the office of the spokesperson for the Secretary-General of the U.N. the following was discussed.

On the Horn of Africa, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) says that it is very concerned about the increasingly poor health of Somalis recently arriving in Ethiopia. Nearly one fifth of all children at the Kobe camp are suffering from severe acute malnutrition, while high rates are also being reported at other sites.

One would assume that this would be a major concern for those attending the briefing. However, when the spokesperson asked if anyone had any questions, the first question, as well as the preponderance of questions, related to the Gaza flotilla report.

My first question is that, actually we were told by the Spokesperson’s Office that the Secretary-General was going to have a statement on the flotilla report, and we haven’t heard about the flotilla report. Has the report been submitted to the Secretary-General officially?
Read full briefing and get an idea of how acute malnutrition doesn't disturb the questioners. http://www.un.org/News/briefings/docs/2011/db110902.doc.htm

WND has an article about an attorney who is not assured that an ariline won't discriminate.

The New York Port Authority has been asked to investigate what state and federal anti-discrimination laws might be violated by imposing anti-Jewish Islamic restrictions on passengers boarding flights to Jeddah from the publicly owned JFK Airport.
The request has been brought by a Washington attorney who first raised questions about Delta Air Lines and its new agreement to include Saudi Arabian Airlines in its Sky Team Alliance of airlines.

Read more: http://www.wnd.com/?pageId=339585#ixzz1WyczfDcD

The following is part of a screen from the Delta Airlines website page.

National Israel (IL) /Destination Saudi Arabia (SA)

Saudi Arabia (SA)

Admission and Transit Restrictions:
- The government of Saudi Arabia refuses admission and transit
to nationals of Israel.

3 Sept 2011


by Rabbi Dr Raymond Apple
This week and next, the parashah begins Ki – “When”. There is a Ki in the Book of Sh’mot – Ki Tissa. This week’s Ki is Ki Tetzei – “When you go out”. Next week it is Ki Tavo – “When you come in”. Ki Tissa is “When you count” (literally, “When you lift up”).
The three “Keys” may or may not have any intrinsic link, but homiletically we may posit one. In life you have to know when to go out – when to leave your comfort zone, when to venture forward, when to move ahead. It is tempting to say, “I am bored, I am restless, I can’t sit still”, and to get up and move – anywhere, no matter where, so long as you are in action.
The next key is a warning: know where you are headed – not just anywhere, but a destination or at least a general direction. You might not reach the place you planned to get to, but being on the right road and making a degree of progress is important. External events may get in the way and something quite unexpected might frustrate your plans, but even taking these things into consideration a person must have what I have called “a general direction”. You might ask, quite legitimately, how to decide upon a general direction in life, and that is where the third key comes into play. If you “lift up” a set of values so that you know what you believe in and aspire towards, you have a ready-made yardstick and standard. From the Jewish point of view that yardstick and standard is enshrined in the Torah.

2 Sept 2011

Three articles

Congratulations to Barry Rubin on being named the Middle East editor for Pajamas Media.
Below is a selection from his newest article titled Reflections on the First Day of School in Israel.
In general, this is the point that the mass media in the West keeps from its readers. In 2011 the situation is not a matter of “right-wing” Israelis wanting to hold onto the West Bank forever (and it was a “right-wing” government that pulled out of the Gaza Strip and removed all of the Jewish settlements there).
It is a knowledge that more concessions will not be met by real peace based on such things as: the withdrawals from southern Lebanon and the Gaza Strip; the experience of the 1990s’ peace process with both the Palestinian Authority and Syria; and now the undoing of the Egypt-Israel peace agreement.

Read full article: http://pajamasmedia.com/barryrubin/2011/09/01/reflections-on-the-first-day-of-school-in-israel/

Below is the beginning of an article by Rabbi Berel Wein.
In spite of all policies, agreements, hopes and wishful thinking, it should be obvious that the Israeli-Arab dispute is nowhere near solution or accommodation. It really is not about borders, land swaps, or even begrudging acceptance of the two-state solution to the dispute. It is something far deeper, religious in nature and hardened over centuries of behavior and custom.
It basically is that the Jew, the dhimmi, the infidel, has no right to rule over territory that was once under Moslem sovereignty and certainly no right to rule over Moslem people themselves.

Read full article: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Articles/Article.aspx/10565

Finally, an article by Giulio Meotti.

France has banned the "Shoah".
” No more “Holocaust” or “Shoah”, but the more bureaucratic, anonymous “anéantissement”, a French word that merely means annihilation.
The new French rules for the scholastic year of 2011 require the textbooks to avoid the use of any Jewish connotation for the genocide of the Jews.

Read full article: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Articles/Article.aspx/10566

When someone from the mainstream media publishes these articles or hires the authors to be Middle East editors, I think that will be a sign that Mashiach is coming.
For your listening pleasure, click on the video below to hear the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra uninterrupted.