"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

31 Oct 2011


The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) today voted to admit Palestine as a full member of the Paris-based agency.
UNESCO’s General Conference, the agency’s highest ruling body, took the decision by a vote of 107 in favour to 14 against, with 52 abstentions, according to a news release.

Read full article: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=40253&Cr=Palestin&Cr1=member

Acting under a legal requirement to cut U.S. funds to any U.N. agency that recognizes a Palestinian state, the State Department on Monday announced that the United States has stopped funding UNESCO because of the vote. Department spokesman Victoria Nuland told reporters that the Obama administration would not make a planned $60 million payment to the agency due in November.
...Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said she fully supports a cutoff of aid as mandated under U.S. law.
“Today’s reckless action by UNESCO is anti-Israel and anti-peace,” she said in a statement. “It rewards the Palestinian leadership’s dangerous scheme to bypass negotiations with Israel and seek recognition of a self-declared ‘Palestinian state,’ and takes us further from peace in the Middle East.”
Read full article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/unesco-votes-to-admit-palestine-over-us-objections/2011/10/31/gIQAMleYZM_story.html

A few days ago I wrote about an appeal made by UNICEF "to the Israeli Government to release all Palestinian children currently in Israeli military detention."

Recently Yid with Lid wrote a post about not giving money to UNICEF.
Claudia Rosett adds further reasons as why not to give to the organization including that "earlier this month, UNICEF handed out a regional award for children’s broadcasting in the Middle East and North Africa. The winner? Iran."

On technology

Nancy Colier writes an article titled Is Your Smartphone Stealing Your Life?

The most frequent complaint that I hear in my psychotherapy practice these days is that people feel estranged from their own lives, unable to enter their experience -- as if they are ghosts, floating outside the experience of life itself. Their life is happening and time is passing, but they are not exactly the ones living it, at least not directly. Our cultural disease is one of absence, as if our own presence has gone missing from life.
Read full article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nancy-colier/living-in-the-moment_b_1064626.html

Dara C. Lifschutz, M.D. writes about her Facebook hiatus.
So what have I been doing without Facebook? Meditating. Catching up on lectures. Reading. Hanging out with my nephews and niece, having conversations over bagels and cream cheese, dodging flying objects, and playing hide and seek instead of being transfixed by a computer screen or a Blackberry.

The past two days I have been reading Mesilas Yesharim. I started on Chapter 3 today and read the following.
As our Sages of blessed memory said (Bava Metzia 83b), " ` You laid down darkness and it was night' (Psalms 104:20). This refers to this world which is similar to night." How wondrous is this truthful commentary to him who concentrates upon understanding it. For the darkness of night can cause two types of errors in relation to a man's eye: it may either cover his eye so that he does not see what is before him at all, or it may deceive him so that a pillar appears to him as a man, or a man as a pillar.
Click here to read Chapter 3 and decide just how much technology should rule your life or should you rule over technology.

30 Oct 2011

Our universities

Yesterday I posted about a call from the great Torah Sages to learn Sifrei Mussar.

For those of you who followed the link to Mesilas Yesharim Chapter 1, I implore you to click here to read a letter by Tabitha Korol addressed to the President of Kent State University complaining about Professor Julio Peno's behavior during a speech given by Ishmael Khaldi.

Fostering understanding

On October 23 the New York Post ran an article about the developer of a community center near Ground Zero, wrting that he is due in court on Thursday for a case about violations in a Washington Heights building. "If he doesn’t show up, he risks being sent to jail."
Curious as to what was the outcome, I googled the case but could find no reference to what happened this past Thursday. I did find this article and this disturbing article which includes a list of active lawsuits pending against him and his company.
A WSJ article states that "the developer behind the proposed Islamic community center near the World Trade Center said Tuesday he is exploring commercial uses there, including condominiums, a hotel and an office tower."

The NYT reported that "Mr. El-Gamal said his vision remained: a Muslim-led community center modeled on the Jewish Community Center on the Upper West Side, where his children learned to swim."
The Park51 site offers a vision that "we will foster cooperation and understanding between people of all faiths."
It also has a list of activities scheduled activities and lectures. On November 16 the public is invited to a book release of In the Presence of Absence by Palestinian poet, Mahmoud Darwish, translated by Sinan Antoon.
A book description at Amazon contains the following sentence.
"In this self-eulogy written in the final years of Mahmoud Darwish's life, Palestine becomes a metaphor for the injustice and pain of our contemporary moment."

Adam Shatz wrote the following.
His 1988 poem "Those Who Pass Between Fleeting Words," published in the early days of the first intifada, provoked an outcry among Israelis, including some of the poet's left- wing friends. Although Mr. Darwish insisted that he was addressing Israeli soldiers ("Live wherever you like, but do not live among us"), many Israelis interpreted the poem as a call for them to evacuate the region altogether.

Ben Cohen calls attention to Darwish making a connection between Palestine and the Jews in an article titled The Candour of Mahmoud Darwish.

Is presenting the poetry of Mahmoud Darwish the way to go to foster understanding between people of all faiths? Or, is it a way of indoctrinating a new generation into the terms of "occupation" and encouraging more anti-Israel sentiment? Is the community center really modeled after the Jewish Community Center in Manhattan?

I want to thank Mayor Bloomberg's office and those who have expressed support for the community center to be developed.

29 Oct 2011

Sifrei Mussar

עת צרה היא ליעקב
Kikar Hashabat has an article about the Torah Sages, including Rav Elyahsiv, Rav Steinman, Rav Wosner and Rav Kanievsky, issuing an impassioned plea that, in the wake of recent misfortunes, people should work on their middos and their Yiras Shamayim and should delve into sifrei Mussar. The article ends with a call to school principals, Rashei Yeshivot, homeowners, women and children to set aside time to learn from holy books which lead to a strengthening in Yiras Shamayim and good middos.
Here is a link to the first page of Mesilas Yesharim by Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto. Why not set aside a number of minutes and read what the author has to say? There are those who get lost on the intenet for hours, not knowing where the time went. Why not put it to good use?

28 Oct 2011

Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan

A gutten Chodesh to you. Click here to read some interesting information about the month of Cheshvan.

Just a reminder not to forget to recite the text of "Ata Yatzarta Olamecha Mikedem..." during the Shabbat Rosh Chodesh Musaf prayer.

Kikar Hashabat reports that there will be a special Atzeret On Motzaei Shabbat for Rebbetzin Kanievsky who was niftar during Sukkot.

Refining oneself

This evening I received an email from Merkaz Anash about refining character traits. One thought caught my attention.

A chossid from Beshenkovitch once asked the Mitteler Rebbe for a brocho to be able to do avoda. He added, "I am not exactly sure what avoda entails, but since I have a strong desire not to do it, I understand that it must be something really good..."

(סה"ש ת"ש ע' 106)

Kikar Hashabat has an article about the importance of seizing the moment and that one shouldn't procrastinate. There is a story about Rabbi Chaim Shmuelevitz who went into the yeshiva and overturned benches so that the students would think a "pogrom" had occurred and would realize they had to flee to Shanghai. The Rabbi's plan succeeded and the bachurim took the last train before the tracks were blown up.
Read full article in Hebrew: http://www.kikarhashabat.co.il/מופלא-כך-ניצלו-תלמידי-הישיבה-מ.html


Two former Transportation Security Administration officers based at John F. Kennedy Airport have admitted to stealing $40,000 in cash from a checked bag.
Read full article: http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/Ex-TSA-Agents-Stealing-Cash-JFK-Bag-132744423.html

27 Oct 2011

A sad post

Yossi and Hindel Swerdlov penned an open letter to family and friends on the occasion of the upcoming 2nd Yahrzeit of their young daughter Alta Shula A”H.

This Shabbos, please have a Lichayim and do a Mitzvah in the memory of Alta Shula bas Yosef Yitzchak & Hinda.
Click here to read the letter. In addition, the Sverdlov's included a link to a letter written by the Lubavitcher Rebbe in 1978 titled When Does One Stop Mourning a Death? - Worthwhile reading.

The Muqata has a post about the Schijveschuurder family that is heartrending. I wish I could do something to help. Actually, I met one of the Schijveschuurders when he came to Europe as part of the One Family Fund organization speakers. I won't forget how I told an owner of a store that I was on my way to meet one of the Schijveschuurder sons. I had stopped at her store to converse and she told me that she knew the family. Immediately, she handed me some items from her store and told me to give them to him. At her shiva, a few years later, I related the story to her daughters, hoping they would derive comfort from their mother's act of kindness.

The fur coat

The following is an excerpt from an email by Rabbi Eli Mansour from this week's parsha.

What is the precise difference between Abraham and Noah? What quality did Abraham possess that Noah did not, on account of which Abraham was chosen to father God’s special nation, but not Noah?
The difference between Abraham and Noah is the difference between two people’s reactions to uncomfortably cold temperatures in a room: one person puts on a fur coat to stay warm, and the other raises the thermostat so that everyone in the room would be comfortable.
Noah was a “fur coat Sadik.” He kept himself and his family safe from the sinfulness and corruption that swept the world at the time, but he did not work to help the other people of his generation. Noah spent 120 years building the ark, and yet not one person changed during that period; not one more passenger was added to the ark. Noah did not get involved trying to teach and improve the people, and he did not pray to God to annul the decree. He saved himself and his family, but nobody else.

So, let's get off our chairs and do something to help another now!!!

26 Oct 2011

A college education

President Barack Obama says it has never been more important for Americans to get a college education. But he says it has also never been more expensive to do so.
Speaking at the University of Colorado in Denver, the president announced new executive actions to lower student loan payments.

Read full article: http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/chi-obama-student-loans-20111026,0,4121978.story

Yes. A college education is very important. Where else can students be exposed to a professor such as this one?

I cannot but tell a lie

The story about George Washington and the cherry tree demonstrates the sterling qualities of America's first President.

When George was about six years old, he was made the wealthy master of a hatchet of which, like most little boys, he was extremely fond. He went about chopping everything that came his way.
One day, as he wandered about the garden amusing himself by hacking his mother's pea sticks, he found a beautiful, young English cherry tree, of which his father was most proud. He tried the edge of his hatchet on the trunk of the tree and barked it so that it died.
Some time after this, his father discovered what had happened to his favorite tree. He came into the house in great anger, and demanded to know who the mischievous person was who had cut away the bark. Nobody could tell him anything about it.
Just then George, with his little hatchet, came into the room.
"George,'' said his father, "do you know who has killed my beautiful little cherry tree yonder in the garden? I would not have taken five guineas for it!''
This was a hard question to answer, and for a moment George was staggered by it, but quickly recovering himself he cried:
"I cannot tell a lie, father, you know I cannot tell a lie! I did cut it with my little hatchet.''
The anger died out of his father's face, and taking the boy tenderly in his arms, he said:
"My son, that you should not be afraid to tell the truth is more to me than a thousand trees! Yes - though they were blossomed with silver and had leaves of the purest gold!''


Nowadays, politicians and leaders have adopted a new ethical code. I cannot help but tell a lie. Telling lies, obfuscation, and lack of transparency increase electablility and save people from all kinds of hassle.

A proposed revision to Freedom of Information Act rules would allow federal agencies to lie to citizens and reporters seeking certain records, telling them the records don’t exist.
The Justice Department has proposed the change as part of a large revision of FOIA rules for federal agencies. Specifically, the rule would direct government agencies who are denying a request under an established FOIA exemption to “respond to the request as if the excluded records did not exist,” rather than citing the relevant exemption.

Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2011/10/24/justice-dept-proposes-lying-hiding-existence-of-records-under-new-foia-rule/#ixzz1brkqKawK

25 Oct 2011

The shiva call

There's a beautiful article written in Hebrew on Chadrei Chadarim about Nachman Kletzky, the father of Leiby Kletzky, paying a shiva call to Rav Chaim Kanievsky. When Mr. Kletzky found out about the petirah of Rebbetzin Kanievsky, he made plans to travel to Israel to be menachem aveil. When someone asked what had prompted him to trouble himself to travel so far to console the mourners, he replied that when he was sitting shiva for his son, the Rav and Rebbetzin had sent him an emotional letter consoling him so he felt he had to console the Rav.
Mr. Kletzky related that he had heard stories about faith from people who came to be menachem aveil him a number of months ago.
People decided to strengthen themselves and some took upon themselves the yoke of Torah and mitzvot.
He said that a fifteen-year-old boy had been sentenced to a two year imprisonment. A few days after the murder, the Kletzky family received a letter from the boy who was in prison. In the letter there were four dollar bills. The boy wrote that he received a small daily allowance for food and cigarettes. When he heard about the shocking murder he decided to give up the money and donate it leilui nishmat Leiby. In the merit of Leiby, he decided that he would don tefillin and keep the Sabbath.

May the mourners be comforted betoch shaar aveilei Tzion v'Yerushalayim.

A different direction

A post by David Harris titled The New York Times and Israel led me to an article by Muammar Qadaffi published in the paper on January 21, 2009. I was surprised that he was ready to cede some points to Israel.

The basis for the modern State of Israel is the persecution of the Jewish people, which is undeniable. The Jews have been held captive, massacred, disadvantaged in every possible fashion by the Egyptians, the Romans, the English, the Russians, the Babylonians, the Canaanites and, most recently, the Germans under Hitler. The Jewish people want and deserve their homeland.
...It is a fact that Palestinians inhabited the land and owned farms and homes there until recently, fleeing in fear of violence at the hands of Jews after 1948 — violence that did not occur, but rumors of which led to a mass exodus. It is important to note that the Jews did not forcibly expel Palestinians. They were never “un-welcomed.”

In his post, David Harris writes about a NYT editorial regarding the release of Gilad Shalit.

But this editorial took the cake.
By the second of eight paragraphs, and barely 24 hours after the drama of what had just taken place with Shalit, the editorial was already darkly suggesting this was really a Machiavellian plot to further weaken chances for peace – and the blame, predictably, was laid at Netanyahu’s doorstep.
Of course, the editorial could have gone in other directions.

Read full article: http://blogs.jpost.com/content/new-york-times-and-israel

Broderick Johnson, a Washington lawyer and the husband of NPR’s Michele Norris, is joining President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign as a senior adviser and member of the senior staff to help provide “an ear to the ground,” Obama for America officials said Monday.
...Because of her husband’s new job, Norris, the co-host of NPR’s “All Things Considered,” said Monday she is temporarily stepping away from all her duties and all campaign-related coverage.
Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1011/66701.html#ixzz1bmmJyJUC

After reading about Michelle Norris, I was curious if her husband's relationship with the President had affected her previous reporting. I came across an interview she did with David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker magazine, after the President released his birth certificate. Ms. Norris could have interviewed Orly Taitz or Donald Trump for his take about the issue but she chose to interview someone who castigated anyone who brought up the issue as being racially motivated.
The New York Times could have opted for a different direction in its editorial. Ms. Norris could have opted for a very different type of interview. But they didn't.

United Nations

In an October 20th press conference by special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian Territories, Richard Falk said that "when he first assumed his mandate, he had tried to broaden it — wanting to comment, for example, on the firing of rockets from Gaza — but that was not acceptable to the Human Rights Council, which was concerned that, if changed, the mandate might be terminated."
Read whole transcript: http://www.un.org/News/briefings/docs/2011/111020_Palestine.doc.htm

The following are the opening remarks made by Ambassador Rice at the U.N. Debate on the Middle East.

Thank you, Madame President, and thank you, Under Secretary-General Pascoe, for your briefing.
I’ll begin with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Read more: http://iipdigital.usembassy.gov/st/english/texttrans/2011/10/20111024125112su0.3723522.html?CP.rss=true#ixzz1bkJPlC47

October 24 - The UN celebrates United Nations Day.

“Global problems demand global solutions,” Mr. Ban said in a message for United Nations Day, marking the anniversary of the day the Organization was founded 66 years ago. “They compel all nations to unite in action on an agenda for the world’s people. That is the very mission of the United Nations.”

Yep. They are united in the pursuit of one agenda. Any guesses?

24 Oct 2011

Talmud Torah

v'talmud Torah k'neged kulam

Kikar Hashabat has an article about Prime Minister Netanyahu's visit to Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. Apparently, the Rav was so immersed in his Torah studies that he didn't take notice of his illustrious guest.

A CHAZAQ article about Rav Yosef by Yaniv Meirov offers elucidating details of the rabbi's life.

Rav David Yosef, Rav Ovadia's eighth child recollects.
"For as far back as I can remember, from when I was a little boy, my father was always learning Torah. I woke up early in the morning, he was learning. I went to sleep at night, he was learning. I woke up in the middle of the night, he was learning. That is my father. Nothing else interests him. His life is centered around Torah."
...Rabbi Krispel relates that on a number of occasions, he would approach Rav Ovadia during his studies to relay a message, yet Rav Ovadia wouldn't realize because of his deep concentration. "There have even been occasions where I had to wait well over an hour to catch his attention."
...Rabbi Krispel adds that despite Rav Ovadia's advanced age, his learning schedule is very intense. Even a serious fall two years ago, which injured his back, didn't lessen his learning, it only lessened the intensity of his learning. Rav Chaim Pinchas Sheinberg, the elderly Rosh Yeshiva of Torah Ore in Jerusalem, paid a visit to Rav Ovadia after his fall. A man who was present at this historic meeting recorded it on video. Rav Ovadia is seen crying and asking Rav Sheinberg to pray for his Refuah Shleima (full recovery). "I can't learn properly with this pain!" he said with tears flowing from his eyes. "It's hurting me. I can't learn."
"Don't cry," Rav Sheinberg repeated over and over to him as he too began to break down in tears. "Hashem will help. Just stop crying."
"That's Rav Ovadia," says Rabbi Krispel. "What bothered him most wasn't his back pain, rather the fact that he couldn't learn properly".
Read full article: https://www.chazaq.org/?section=articles&categoryId=24&articleId=290

18 Oct 2011

At what price

Sherri Mandell speaks about the prisoner exchange in an article titled A mother’s pain. Her son, Koby, and Yosef Ish Ran "were murdered by terrorists 10 years ago when they were 13 and 14 years old. They had been hiking in the wadi near our home when they were set upon by a Palestinian mob and stoned to death."

Cheapening our loved ones’ deaths only enhances the pain. If Israel is willing to free our loved ones’ murderers, then the rest of the world can look on and assume that the terrorists are really freedom fighters or militants. If Palestinians were murdering Jews in cold blood without justification, surely the Israeli government wouldn’t release them.
No sane government would.
...And as a result of prisoner exchanges, the Israeli justice system can only be seen as a joke, a mockery, even a travesty of justice.
It provides no deterrent and no retribution. It’s as if our government says to the killers: Come hurt us again. We’ll be happy to release you one day. We’ll let you go when you demand it.
I want Gilad Schalit home.
We need to protect our own soldiers. But not with a wholesale prisoner exchange. I wish that I could rejoice with the Schalit family. But I can’t.
The price is too high.

I heard Mrs. Mandell and her husband speak at an Israeli hotel a number of years ago. She said that dental records were needed to identify the two boys. I was astounded at how vicious the murderers were. I couldn't believe that so much damage was inflicted on the two teenagers that they ciyldn't be identified except by dental records.
These people are not freedom fighters. They are people brought up on a culture of hate which makes it acceptable to beat two teenagers to death beyond recognition and to rejoice when a three-month-old baby is murdered.

On another note, I just removed my Free Gilad image from the blog. Maybe I should replace it with one for Jonathan Pollard.

17 Oct 2011


Yid With Lid has a post titled DNCC Chair, Rep. Israel Adds Occupy Wall Street to the List of Anti-Israel/Anti-Semitic Causes He Supports. He points to a 2012 Democrats petition and a goal of obtaining 100,000 signatures of people standing with occupy Wall Street.

Patricia McCarthy begins an article titled We Have to Start Over with the following question.
"What accounts for the appalling acceptability of overt anti-Semitism these days?"
She further states, "The UN today is nothing but a club of tyrants committed to erasing Israel from the map."
Read full article: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2011/10/we_have_to_start_over.html

Speaking of the UN, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon describes the announcement by Israel and Hamas to exchange prisoners as "very welcome." Since when is it very welcome to release murderers who are responsible for hundreds of deaths of innocent civilians?

The silence

From the 13th century expulsion of Englands Jews to the 19th century Russian pogroms to the Nazi Holocaust, sour economic conditions have historically formed the backdrop of rising anti-Semitism.
Last week, we reported on a lone protestor at the Wall Street sit-in who insisted that America's economic woes could all be traced back to "the Jews."
Since then that message has been picked up by others at "Occupy Wall St." demontrations around the country.

Read full article: http://www.israeltoday.co.il/News/tabid/178/nid/22978/language/en-US/Default.aspx

Joel Pollak discusses the unconscionable silence of the anti-defamation league on antisemitism at occupy Wall Street.

The Anti-Defamation League is one of the most powerful and authoritative voices against bigotry of all kinds–not just in the United States, but throughout the world.
Yet the ADL’s message has been compromised by left-wing political bias, most recently in its failure to denounce the evident antisemitism of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement.

H/T memeorandum

16 Oct 2011


A letter was released by Israel’s chief rabbis, Rabbi Moshe Shlomo Amar Shlita and Rabbi Yona Metzger Shlita, stating it is absolutely forbidden for one to light candles in a sukka due to the hazards associated with burning candles in a sukka environment.
Read full article: http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/article.php?p=105750
Ladaat.net has reported that two sukkahs and an apartment in Bnei Brak went up in flames on Friday evening due to Shabbos candles that were lit in a sukka.

The NYPost reports that "Con Ed says it will evict Ground Zero mosque unless developer pays $1.7 million in back rent."

The Sheraton Centre hotel will not host a Muslim religious conference that was to feature speakers who have expressed anti-gay and anti-Semitic views.
Read full article: http://www.thestar.com/news/article/1069557--muslim-conference-booted-from-hotel?bn=1

One of the people named on the IERA website who will be speaking at the IERA Canada launch tour is Shaykh Hussain Yee.

Click on the link and get incensed as you listen to the sheik speaking about Judaism.

Here is an article from last year about one of the other featured speakers, Hamza Tzortzis.

The seven guests

I caught an article by Rabbi Dr. Raymond Apple titled Seven sukkah guests in which he discusses what can be learned from each of the Ushpizin, the seven guests that we symbolically invite into our Sukkahs. Here is an excerpt.

The first day’s guest is Abraham, the pioneer of faith who saw God in the panorama of nature and the elements. What Abraham has to say must be that a colourful festival of nature and harvest-time can spark a religious awakening, a sense of the presence of God and of wonder at the beauty of His creation – a creation which remains majestic despite all man’s furious attempts to injure, uproot and destroy it…

Isaac is the guest on the second day. He is no pioneer, no blazer of new trails. Even when he looks for water, he goes back and digs again the old wells which his father’s servants had dug. His message for Sukkot is surely that the old paths must not be rejected simply because they are old, old traditions such as the sukkah must not be despised simply because of their antiquity, and before a new age sweeps old habits and ways aside, it must make sure it has something better to put in their place…

For Jacob, the guest on the third day, life has been a struggle. The sukkah too is at the mercy of the elements. Jacob never gave in to fear (im yihyeh Elokim immadi, he says, setting off on his journey: “Let God be with me, and I will be safe!”); so too, he reminds us, the Israelites survived in the unfriendly wilderness because God was with them. Even in an age with menaces more fierce than any he knew, the only real security is faith in God, who does not abandon His world or His creatures…

Read full article: http://www.oztorah.com/2009/09/seven-sukkah-guests/

May we celebrate Sukkot joyfully.

15 Oct 2011

Baruch dayan HaEmet

INN reports the sad news of Rebbetzin Kanievsky's passing this Shabbbos. Baruch Dayan HaEmet.

Tens of thousands flocked to her modest home to hear words of encouragement and blessing. My sister-in-law visited a couple of years ago and the Rebbetzin blessed her that her daughter should find a shidduch bekarov, bekarov, bekarov. A number of months later, my niece was engaged.
The Rebbetzin was a mother all those who came to visit, praying on their behalf and taking a genuine interest in their lives. May the family find comfort betoch shaar avelei tziton viyerushalayim.
My grandfather was niftar during Chol Hamoed Sukkot quite a few years ago. As the minhag is not to say hespedim on Chol Hamoed, the family decided to gather together in a shul 30 days later to honor him and speak about his life. However, it was not to be. My grandfather's sister passed away on that day and so, we gathered together for a funeral and to remember the closeness of a brother and sister, a brother who helped take care of his sister after she became a widow. They lived their lives in modesty and didn't seek honor and words of praise even after their deaths. As I think of my grandfather tonight, on the occasion of his yarzheit, I will tell my children how he conducted his life in an an honorable fashion and served Hashem in a way that made a kiddush Hashem to all who met him.

12 Oct 2011

A joyous Sukkot

During the holiday of Sukkot, we leave the comfort of our homes to sit in Sukkahs.
Find A Sukkah Near You Wherever You May Be
And here's an article about someone who doesn't seem in his comfort zone.

Wishing you a happy holiday.

Random articles

Tonight begins the start of two days of Yom Tov, in the diaspora, followed by the Sabbath. Just a reminder to make an Eiruv Tavshilin for those living outside of Israel.

INN reports that "Senior Hamas leader Khalil al-Hayya says the Shalit-for-terrorists deal proves kidnapping works, and he promises more abductions."

Ynet News reports that "IDF soldiers arrested six wanted Palestinian terror suspects in the West Bank on Tuesday night."
What's the point?

In a major setback for President Obama, the Senate on Tuesday blocked consideration of his $447 billion jobs bill...
Read full article: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/12/us/politics/obamas-jobs-bill-senate-vote.html?pagewanted=all

Daniel Sayani has written an excellent article titled Anti-Semitism in the Occupy Wall Street Movement.

11 Oct 2011

The prisoner

I caught the deeply moving video below on ladaat.net. May we heed the singer's words.

G-d has the key to liberate the prisoners of Israel. We can tip the balance towards mercy by living in peace and unity. Open the gates of mercy. Please Hashem, send us the redeemer speedily.

As we approach Sukkot, the holiday of joy, may the Shalit family experience unbridled joy in the coming days.

While Japan's Tourism Agency is offering 10,000 free round-trip tickets to Japan, let us pray that Yaakov Yosef ben Reizel will be offered a ticket out of the country soon. We have the key.

And the score is

A positive score goes to the FBI and the DEA for disrupting a terror plot.
A negative score goes to Attorney General Holder as a congressional subpoena is imminent.
A negative score goes to Tony Bennett after his interview with Piers Morgan. - outrageous.

Who to trust

Popping vitamins may do more harm than good, according to a new study that adds to a growing body of evidence suggesting some supplements may have health risks.

There's an interesting article at Yahoo about the placebo effect and how people fool themselves into believing that certain things such as walk signal buttons work, when they actually don't.

We hate to break it to you, but big companies aren't just going to let a chilly employee crank the heat up whenever he or she pleases. But if they simply locked the thermostat or put the controls out of reach, the employees would constantly complain.
The solution: A thermostat that doesn't actually do anything but placate the chilly masses.
"In many offices the controls on the wall don't do anything," says McRaney. "Some bosses and landlords feel like they can't trust people not to fiddle with the temperature all day and thus cost them money, so they install dummy thermostats which give people the illusion of control. They work really well, as most people fool themselves into believing they feel the change."

Read full article: http://finance.yahoo.com/family-home/article/113610/things-you-think-work-but-actually-dont-mainst

Elevator "close doors" buttons don't actually work? Vitamins are not good for you? What should a person believe in? Hashem and the words of the Torah.

10 Oct 2011

Lulavim available

Israeli technological prowess went head to head against the Arab Spring, and won.
As a result, there is no shortage of date palm fronds (lulavim), one of the so-called four species observant Jews require in a ritual celebrating the holiday of Succot, or Tabernacles, that begins at sundown on Wednesday.

Read full article: http://www.jpost.com/JewishWorld/JewishFeatures/Article.aspx?id=241201

Israel Matzav wrote about the ability to obtain lulavim.
...But the United States only needs 200,000 lulavim each year. Here in Israel, we need 700,000...

The Jewish virtual library estimates that as of 2010 there were 5,703,700 Jews living in Israel and 5,275,000 Jews living in America.

One can see that the percentage of Jews who are planning to use a lulav is much higher in Israel than in America. It's time to make aliyah.

The power to change

JanSuzanne Krasner writes about a three day training program by "Students for Justice in Palestine" (SJP) which is to be held on Columbia University's campus from Octover 14-16.
She writes that the National Conference on Jewish Affairs is "asking for individuals to contact the Office of the President Lee Bollinger in NYC by calling (212) 854-9970, by sending a fax to (212) 854-9973, or by sending an e-mail to officeofthepresident@columbia.edu. You can also call the university's chapter of Hillel at (202) 449-6500 and voice your anger that they are not protecting Columbia's Jewish and non-Muslim students. If people make their disapproval known, they will have the power to change the situation."
Read full article: http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/10/stealth_jihad_invades_columbia_university_again.html

Let me know if the article got you riled up enough to do something by posting a comment on my blog. Somehow, I expect that, by the end of the day, comments for this post will have remained at 0.

Yesterday, I read that Mahmoud Zahhar, a member of Hamas, "said that Palestinians in Gaza under siege and constant attacks are living much better than the refugees in Lebanon."
Where is the concern for the Palestinians in Lebanon? Are there any flotillas being organized to provide aid? Is there any action being taken on campus to highlight their plight?

3 Oct 2011

Off the map

Sharona Schwartz has an elucidating article at the Blaze titled In Words and on Paper, Palestinian Officials Are Wiping Israel Off the Map.

One of the comments posted begins with the words, "what this country needs is Allen West and Marco Rubio on the ticket." Click here to listen to Mr. Rubio discussing the Palestinian state a number of weeks ago.

Here's a post about the latest Nobel Prize winners.
And here's the latest press release about Ralph Steinman, who, unfortunately passed away quite recently.

Between man and his fellow man

For those of you who missed this post on Yid with Lid, click here to read about an Arab massacre on a group of Jews in Tiberias 73 years ago and how the British acted by appeasing the terrorists. Note, this was before any division of Palestine.
For those of you who understand Hebrew, Chadrei Chadarim has an amazing interview with the father-in-law of Asher Plamer, the 25-year-old man who was killed with his 1-year-old son, Yonatan, when their car overturned near Hebron, after being struck by stones. Click here to read the article in Hebrew and to listen to the interview.
For those who don't understand Hebrew, in my limited time, I will try to relate some of the salient points.
Every half hour on the Sabbath my daughter turned to G-d and asked, 'Why take both? Why did not you leave me one? Why both husband and son?"
... I thank G-d that my daughter has been spared. Had she been there, she would have had no chance.
Every evening I merit to go to an evening kollel at the Cave of Machpelah. Every night I say there: our problem is between man and his fellow man.
... The wife, husband, the boss is not so forgiving. I can say the most important thing is between man and his fellow man. If we improve this thing, I'm sure that whatever happened would not have happened....There is also the matter of racism. I consider it a great thing to break down the barriers between Ashkenazim and Sephardim. My wife is Ashkenazi. My in-laws are Ashkenazi. Each one completes the other. Everybody should see the good in one another. Each community has good in it and it is necessary that one should complete the other.
The year is תשע"ב "Ayin Bet" is the numerical equivalent of the word חסד (chesed-kindness,mercy). It is also the numerical equivalent to one of the names of G-d. This year should be one of mercy for the nation of Israel. According to what is happening, this will not be simple but G-d is with us.

2 Oct 2011

Disconnect to connect

The following is an email I received from the Jewish woman's project for Ahavas Yisrael. The first suggestion on the list is to disconnect from our cell phones, particularly apt as Rabbi Wallerstein has designated today as a day to disconnect.

The Aseres Ymei Tshuva is a special time for closeness with Hashem and truly focusing on connecting to our Creator. We all know the good feeling we have when we experience a powerful davening or have moments when we feel a deep connection with Hashem through a life's challenge, an impactful hashgacha moment or just plain emuna pshuta. We are most open to this experience when our eyes are open and we are looking for the connection. When we are distracted and too busy to see Hashem in our lives, we are more challenged in seeing how He plays a part in the framework of our lives's and often end up frustrated and confused. When we can stop ourselves before davening and remember that we are about to have a conversation with Hashem and need to block out distraction, our focus and kavana is taken to a new level and we reap true closeness and satisfaction from the relationship. The same is true with our relationships with others. When we focus on the fact that in order to establish connection and respect with others, we need to pay attention. To be able to pick up on cues and notice facial expressions such as pain, fear, or relief, we must work on eye contact which gives others the feeling that you have time for them. This is a message which conveys true caring. This week, as we focus on teshuva, let's try to disconnect from the distractions in our lives which will allow us to have better connections with Hashem and those around us.

1. Disconnect to Connect – let’s shut our cell phones for an hour and spend uninterrupted quality time with family members or friends.
2. Let’s shut our cell phone when walking in public streets and entering stores to heighten our awareness of those around us. We can now greet each other whole heartedly. We can also give our full attention and respect to cashiers and others.
3. Let’s look up from our book/newspaper/computer/blackberry/cell phone to acknowledge HUMANITY BEFORE TECHNOLOGY! Smile and greet.
4. Be the FIRST to say hello and genuinely ask that person about their well being. Patiently with sincere interest wait for their reply.
5. Introduce yourself to someone you do not know in shul, at meetings and at social gatherings. Make introductions among friends by asking “do you know each other”.
6. When you are in a conversation with someone in a public area- shul, social gatherings or Central Avenue and another acquaintance walks by- look up, acknowledge them and invite them to join your conversation and say: for example, we were just talking about….
7. Smile, greet and start a friendly conversation with a person from a different background. You will be pleasantly surprised by how much you have in common.

"The" thief

In May of 2010, it was reported that, "six Torah scrolls were stolen Friday night from a synagogue in Antwerp, Belgium."
On June 17th 2010, it was reported that the Torah scrolls were on their way back, with reports of a partial ranson being paid.
Today, Chadrei Chadarim reports that one of the scrolls was sent for repairs after it had been stolen. It was returned to the synagogue recently and the shul members were planning to read from the sefer Torah during the High Holidays. In preparation, the Torah was sent to be proofread and one letter in the Torah was found to be missing.
The site reports that the letter missing in the Torah was the letter "heh" from the word "the thief".
האות החסרה בחומש שמות פרק כב' פסוק ו': "אם לא ימצא הגנב".. האות ה' במילה הגנב, לא נכתבה מעולם
A comment posted pointed out that
פסוק ו : אם יימצא הגנב ישלם שניים
The verse that was quoted in the article is actually verse 7.
Regardless, it makes for a fascinating story. I'll try to get an update of which verse it was.
UPDATE: It seems that the verse was verse 7 - "אם לא ימצא הגנב" If the thief is not found - which turned out to be the case in this story.

Tzom Gedaliah

Tzom Gedaliah (Fast of Gedaliah) is an annual fast day instituted by the Jewish Sages to commemorate the assassination of Gedaliah Ben Achikam, the Governor of Israel during the days of Nebuchadnetzar King of Babylonia. As a result of Gedaliah's death the final vestiges of Judean autonomy after the Babylonian conquest were destroyed, many thousands of Jews were slain, and the remaining Jews were driven into final exile.
The fast is observed on the day immediately following Rosh Hashanah, the third of Tishrei. In the Prophetic Writings this fast is called 'The Fast of the Seventh' in allusion to Tishrei, the seventh month.

Read full article: http://www.ou.org/chagim/tzomgedaliah/Default.htm

1 Oct 2011

Times two

Dear New York Times editors,
I have a confession to make. I have been blogging for a couple of years and I have to admit that the financial renmuneration hasn't been good, to say the least. I would, therefore, like to apply for a postiton as a columnist at your paper. With columnists such as Thomas Friedman, Roger Cohen and Nicholas Kristof in your employ, it really behooves you to employ a Devorah, lest you be accused of being an unequal opportunity employer. If you hire me, I know the drill down pat. I would write a weekly column lamenting the deteriorating Middle East peace process, blame Israel and Netanyahu, and throw in a suitable quote from Haaretz. Of couse, I would also throw in an equivalence regarding the extremists on both sides - those who paint and those who shoot. An example would be one Thomas Friedman used in his latest editorial where he wrote about the "many unstable characters roaming around — like extremist Israeli settlers given to occasionally daubing “Muhammad is a Pig” on Muslim buildings in the West Bank and extremist Palestinians from groups like Islamic Jihad given to shooting Israeli civilians or lobbing mortars from Gaza onto Israeli towns."
On second thought, I would prefer to quote from INN and not draw equivalence between both sides of extremists. If you allow me to do so, and wish to contact me, just leave a comment on my blog.
Thank you for your kind attention.

Speaking of the New York Times, an article titled Obama Turns to Biden to Reassure Jewish Voters, and Get Them to Contribute, Too describes an incident in which a rabbi asked Vice President Joe Biden why Jonathan Pollard was still in prison.
“President Obama was considering clemency, but I told him, ‘Over my dead body are we going to let him out before his time,’ ” Mr. Biden said. “If it were up to me, he would stay in jail for life.”
What is it about Mr. Pollard that stirs up such strong feelings?