"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 Jan 2013

The Ten Commandments in Parshat Yitro

The following is part of an email I received by Rabbi Eli Mansour regarding the 10 Commandments in this week's parsha.

The text of the Aseret Ha’dibberot (Ten Commandments), which appears in Parashat Yitro, contains allusions to all 613 Biblical commands, as well as to the seven Misvot ordained by Hazal. The commentators note that the text of the Aseret Ha’dibberot has 620 letters, and each letter corresponds to the one of the Misvot. Thus, for example, the final letter of the Aseret Ha’dibberot – Chaf, in the word “Le’re’echa” – corresponds to the Hanukah candle lighting, the final Misva ordained by the Sages. The word “Chaf” is spelled “Chaf”-“Peh,” which can be rearranged to spell “Pach” (“jug”), alluding to the “Pach Shemen” (oil jug) of the Hanukah miracle.

The significance of the Aseret Ha’dibberot is also expressed in the verse in which G-d says about Abraham Abinu, “Ekeb Asher Shama Abraham Be’koli” (“On account of the fact that Abraham obeyed Me”). The word “Ekeb” has the numerical value of 172, which is also the number of words in the Aseret Ha’dibberot. This verse thus alludes to Abraham’s observing all the Misvot, which are included within the Aseret Ha’dibberot, even before the Torah was given.

The Ten Commandments are so significant that, as the Gemara tells in Masechet Berachot, the Sages wanted to institute that the text of the Aseret Ha’dibberot should be read each day. They eventually decided not to institute this daily reading out of concern that people might accept the heretical belief that the Torah demands compliance only with these commands, and nothing else.
Continue reading: http://www.dailyhalacha.com/Display.asp?ClipDate=1/31/2013

Introducing the bachurim

An alumnus and a  parent of  a student at Yeshiva Darchei Torah shares insight into the school's Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Bender. He writes about how HaRav Yitzchok Scheiner shlit”a related to him what happened after he spoke at the school.

The Rosh Yeshiva elaborated upon the manner in which Rav Yaakov Bender introduced the various bachurim to him. He explained that it is customary for the Rosh Yeshiva of an institution to give special recognition to the talmidim possessing special name recognition. Introductions often begin with, “This boy’s father is the Chairman of the Board. The next boy is the son of a famous Rosh Yeshiva. Yanky’s mother is an einikel of a Chasidishe Rebbe etc.” In contrast, Rav Scheiner explained, Rav Bender’s approach is unprecedented. Rav Bender’s introductions between the talmidim and Rav Scheiner began with, “This boy just experienced trauma during the recent storm, and he is displaced. Please give him chizuk… The next boy is a yasom, and must be treated with concern… This boy is struggling in his learning, but trying hard to make progress.”
Read more: http://matzav.com/chizuk-from-rav-scheiner-about-rav-bender

30 Jan 2013

In the past

Tim Weiner in the New York Times poses a number of questions that should be asked to Chuck Hagel regarding the future direction of the military. The lone question relating to Israel is as follows:

If Iran develops a nuclear bomb, would it create a strategic parity in the Middle East, as a counterforce to Israel’s arsenal?
Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2013/01/29/questions-for-hagels-confirmation-hearing/controlling-the-military-bureaucracy-and-military-threats

FreeBeacon reports on Chuck Hagel addressing J Street in 2009 in an article titled Hagel’s Lost Speech .

FreeBeacon reports that the Lincoln Journal Star–quoted Hagel making a startling accusation against Israel in a Jan. 12, 2003 article. Israel, Hagel declared, was “keep[ing] Palestinians caged up like animals.”

I suppose what he said in the past is not of interest.

Speaking of the past, those who have used the pill Dianne 35 in the past might be interested in the latest news.

EuroNews has reported that "sales of contraceptive and acne treatment pill Diane 35 are being suspended in France" after "they were linked to blood clots."

Australian elections on Yom Kippur

First of all, I would like to thank the person who posted a comment regarding the last post who directed me to a fascinating and worthwhile lecture about starlings by Rabbi Mordechai Rhine which you can view here.

And now, to switch the topic...

A LABOR backbencher will not take part on the Federal Election day because it falls on the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. ...Victorian Michael Danby said Labor had to make special voting arrangements for the nation's 107,000-strong Jewish community or lose support from voters.

The September 14 election falls on Yom Kippur and critics have lined up to take issue with Julia Gillard's timing.

..."As a matter of personal conscience I will be unable to participate on election day. It is my practice, with my wife Amanda, to observe Yom Kippur," Mr Danby said in a statement.

...But director of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, Peter Wertheim, says the majority of Australia's 107,000 Jews would not be fussed about the date.

"To be absolutely truthful it is not a major issue for us, because every election takes place on the Jewish Sabbath," Mr Wertheim told news.com.au.
Read more: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/national/its-kosher-jewish-leaders-defend-yom-kippur-election-date/story-fncynkc6-1226565208415

29 Jan 2013


In what could be a scene right out of Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds", thousands of starlings treated Israeli bird watchers to an incredible, yet rare, spectacle of synchronized aerial acrobatics.

The synchronized flying known as "murmuration" occurs when upwards of a thousand or more starlings fly en masse in choreographed moves. The event typically occurs at dusk.
Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/342346#ixzz2JP13GRfO

Absolutely awesome.

Before the set time

The following is a Torah thought by Rabbi Dr Raymond Apple.

By the time of this week’s reading the B’nei Yisra’el have well and truly left Egypt and are at Mount Sinai, en route for the Promised Land.

The Midrash relates an aspect of the story about which most people are unaware. It says that 30 years earlier the tribe of Ephraim “forced the hour” and started out before the appointed time, and when the rest of the people finally left, they found the bones of the Ephraimites in heaps along the way (Sh’mot Rabba chapter 20).

In Jewish history there were countless occasions when Jews wanted to take the law into their own hands and get away from a nightmare before the destined time of dawn. This certainly applies to the coming of Messiah, which never seemed to arrive even though we could hardly bear the waiting.

The Meshech Chochmah, commenting on a statement by Rashi, actually speaks about an early coming of Mashi’ach. Parashat Shof’tim (Deut. 19:9) has a verse about three extra “cities of refuge” for those who commit homicide without intent; Rashi says this applies to the days of Mashi’ach. The Meshech Chochmah says Rashi denotes the Mashi’ach coming before the set time.

If Israel lead such committed lives that God sends the Mashi’ach early, it will take time to finish eradicating sin, crime and murder. The Mashi’ach will lend his weight to the effort, and once it is complete the days of perfection predicted by the prophets will finally arrive.

28 Jan 2013

European anti-Semitism

As if replacing the word “hashtag” with their own French word “mot-dièse” wasn’t enough, France could soon begin charging Twitter fines of $1,300 per day if they don’t comply with a new court ruling. The ruling by a civil court in Paris says that Twitter must release the names of users who tweeted anti-Semitic remarks and images using the hashtag mot-dièse #UnBonJuif. That translates to “a good Jew,” and the Union of French Jewish Students wants to prosecute, but Twitter refuses to turn over the names.
Read more: http://www.geekosystem.com/france-could-fine-twitter/

Douglas Murray discusses Britain's Little Anti-Semitism Problem.

How bad must things get before people notice that their country has an anti-Semitism problem?

Three striking stories from recent days go some way to demonstrating that though Britain may not admit it, we have a problem.

Below is a video about anti-Semitism in England aired in 2007.

Dividing Jerusalem?

WND has an article this morning titled Obama secretly pledges to divide Jerusalem.

27 Jan 2013

International Holocaust Day

Israel Matzav posts The Sunday Times of London marks Holocaust Memorial Day with a despicable anti-Semitic cartoon.

On International Holocaust Day, Palestinian Media Watch documents that messages of Antisemitism and hatred of Jews continue to be transmitted by official Palestinian Authority TV.
Continue reading: http://www.palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=157&doc_id=8465

Couldn't take it anymore

A 93-year-old Kansas City man has been charged with second degree murder in the death of his 95-year-old wife.
...* According to the Associated Press, neighbors of the couple said the wife had been in poor health. Some of the couple's seven children visited often.

* When asked for a motive behind the murder, Harry Irwin killed his wife because she was screaming at him and arguing all night. He "couldn't take it anymore" and "did her in."

...The couple celebrated 70 years of marriage a month ago. Grace Irwin turned 95 earlier in January.

Dear husband of mine,

Please don't get any ideas.


26 Jan 2013


An article about quarterback Colin Kaepernick describes his faith in G-d.
Kaepernick's faith is out there for the world to see. It's literally written all over his body. He has "faith" inscribed on his right bicep, and "to God the glory" on his right arm as well.
...Kaepernick knows his tattoos get scrutinized along with everything else.
"Number one is kind of my way of saying, I don't really care what people think about my tattoos," he said. "I got them for me and to show people this is what I believe in. God has brought me this far, he's laid out a phenomenal path for me and I can't do anything but thank him."
Rabbo Moshe Grylack discusses the issue of drafting yeshiva students into the Israeli army and rmearks, "What we have here is no less than an existential threat to the chareidi community in particular and the State of Israel in general. This is predicated on the deeply-held belief, rooted in the Torah, the Gemara, and the assurances of great Torah leaders of all generations, that Torah study literally shields the Jewish People from harm...."
In contrast, a secular professor opines, “Your arguments are nothing but deceit.”

19 Jan 2013

The search for a bone marrow match

A brother and sister's search for a bone marrow match for their mother has led to a jump in the number of Jewish people joining the Anthony Nolan Trust.

Jonni, 34, and Caroline Berger, 31, appealed on Twitter - #spit4mum - after Sharon Berger was told she needed an urgent bone marrow transplant in weeks.

Mrs Berger, 61, of Harrow, north-west London, has myelodysplastic syndrome.

Finding a match is proving difficult because of her best match is likely to be another Ashkenazi Jew.

The charity said 180 Jewish people signed up in the first two weeks of 2013, up from 31 in January 2012.
Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-21089305

18 Jan 2013

Population growth

Sharon Otterman in the New York Times reports that Jewish Population Is Up in the New York Region.

The Jewish population in the New York area grew by 9 percent over the last decade, reversing a longstanding trend of decline, the study found. But the growth did not affect all Jewish neighborhoods equally. Two-thirds of the rise was propelled by two deeply Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods in Brooklyn with high birthrates — Williamsburg and Borough Park. Some of the city’s more affluent areas, like Brownstone Brooklyn and the Upper East Side, saw declines in their Jewish population, according to the study.
Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/18/nyregion/reversing-past-trend-new-yorks-jewish-population-rises.html?_r=0

And it seems like Israel will increase its population by one as an Italian politician has announced her plans to make aliya.

The vice president of the Committee on Foreign Affairs in the Italian Chamber of Deputies, Fiamma Nirenstein, on Thursday announced her decision to make aliya.

Nirenstein said she doesn’t plan to run again in the Italian elections and in addition to making aliya, will return to her career as a professional journalist.

“I am going back to journalism and to Israel,” said Nirenstein, adding that these were “the two best things” in her life Asked by the Italian newspaper Il Giornale about her plans, Nirenstein said: “I want to come back to Israel and also to apply for citizenship.”

17 Jan 2013

Jokes and tweets

A very nice blogger emailed me a link to a Jewish Press story about the Iranian media  misinterpreting a joke made by Jewish Home chairman Naftali Bennett when he stated, "'Sarah and I were mostly in terrorism course together,'” meaning she used to terrorize him while he was working for her husband.

Now the Iranian Press TV, God bless their hearts, have picked up this story and delivered it with a straight face: “I was in terrorism class with Sara Netanyahu: Israeli party leader.'”
Read more: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/iranian-press-tv-bennett-and-sarah-netanyahu-were-army-buddies/2013/01/17/

Breitbart reports about Chuck Hagel.

Former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) infamously said: "I'm not an Israeli senator. I'm a United States senator." But Hagel, who is President Barack Obama's nominee for Secretary of Defense in his second term, does take Israel very seriously--so seriously that he was chosen to address the first national conference of J Street, the far-left, George Soros-funded organization that lobbies Congress and the administration to get tougher on Israel.
Read more: http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Peace/2013/01/16/Hagel-The-Senator-from-J-Street

After FreeBeacon and the Jewish Press reported about NYT columnist Nicholas Kristoff retweeting a MJ Rosenberg tweet which called AIPAC and the NRA the two most pig like lobbies, I thought the journalist would delete the retweet from his twitter account. As of now, it hasn't been deleted.
I found a retweet from J Street on Mr. Kristoff's blog, "J Street concludes "Smear a Bagel, Not Chuck Hagel" campaign by delivering bagels & a donation to local food bank."

Since he likes rhymes, how about this one?

To: the NYT editor
Re: retweet of Nicholas Kristoff

We are thoroughly _________ off.


New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof is facing criticism after retweeting a controversial message that referred to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and the National Rifle Association as “the 2 most pig like lobbies” in America.
Longtime Israel critic M.J. Rosenberg, who was dumped by the liberal Media Matters for America for his use of borderline anti-Semitic language, authored the controversial tweet Wednesday afternoon. It called to mind recently unearthed statements by Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi that referred to Jews as “pigs.”
“OBAMA told the 2 most pig like lobbies, AIPAC ; NRA, to drop dead in same month. Next: Chamber of Commerce,” Rosenberg wrote.
The missive was then retweeted by Kristof and a slew of others.
Read more: http://freebeacon.com/nick-kristofs-piggishness/

16 Jan 2013

Questions at the State Department Briefing

Click here to read Morsi Claims ‘Descendents of Apes and Pigs’ Remark Is Out of Context — As New Vid of Him Slamming Obama Surfaces and to see video.

Spokesperson Victoria Nuland was asked a number of questions regarding Israel yesterday. Below is an excerpt from the State Department Briefing.

QUESTION: Egypt? I’m wondering if you have any thoughts about these comments that President Morsi made before he was President that were strident, shall we say, and vitriolic against Israel and Jews and even the U.S. President Obama. One, what do you think of them, and two, are these the words – as a leader who says something like this, can you really, honestly expect him to uphold the peace agreement with people that he describes as the descendents of pigs and apes?

MS. NULAND: Well, we obviously strongly condemn the remarks attributed to then Muslim Brotherhood leader Morsi in 2010. The language that we’ve seen is deeply offensive; we completely reject these statements as we do any language that espouses religious hatred.

This kind of rhetoric has been used in this region for far too long; it’s counter to the goals of peace. And we want to see President Morsi make absolutely clear to his own people, to the international community, that he respects people of all faiths, and that this type of rhetoric is not acceptable or productive in a democratic Egypt from its President. So we are obviously raising our concerns with the Egyptian Government.

What I would say is that since he has been President, President Morsi has reaffirmed again and again Egypt’s commitment to the peace treaty, to working with, in both word and deed, he’s been willing to work with us and Israel on shared objectives, including the ceasefire in Gaza. He’s been committed to our bilateral relationship, so that is the basis on which we are continuing to work together going forward.

QUESTION: As you know, Israel is refusing – threatened to refuse to submit its Universal Periodic Review of Human Rights to the Human Rights Council. I’m wondering how strongly you think that this is a bad idea. What have you been telling the Israelis about it? And do you think that they should participate, even though the council – you have problems with the council, and they have serious problems with the council?

MS. NULAND: Matt’s referring to the fact that in the Human Rights Council, all states are reviewed every four years. The U.S. submits to these kinds of reviews as well. We think it’s important for all UN member-states to appear for their own Universal Periodic Review. Frankly, this is an opportunity for that member-state once every four years to report on its own views of the human rights situation inside of its country and to receive nonbinding, expert advice and recommendations on how to improve those conditions. We do it; we find it useful to us.

That said, we’ve also consistently registered our opposition to the council’s consistent anti-Israel bias. It doesn’t serve the interests of the council to single out any one country in an unbalanced manner. But nonetheless, we think it’s in Israel’s interest. Obviously, they’ll decide their own interest. But we think that Israel, like all countries, serves itself by coming and appearing.

QUESTION: You’re not suggesting that the Human Rights Council has been biased against Israel, are you?

MS. NULAND: Yeah. We do. We are. (Laughter.) We are, as we have consistently said. We have always been clear that we consider that the disproportionate and biased opposition to Israel within the Human Rights Council further politicizes that body and doesn’t serve the interests of the Human Rights Council. We’ve said that all along. As you know, almost every year we have to take issue with something that comes up in the Human Rights Council with regard to Israel.

QUESTION: So why – if you feel that way, what is the value of doing that, or asking Israel to appear before the council and submit a report?

MS. NULAND: I think I just went through this; that they’re going to do a report on every country once every four years. That country serves itself better by appearing and making its own case than being silent and letting this go forward without them. That’s our view.

Acknowledging G-d

Devarim 1:

טז וָאֲצַוֶּה, אֶת-שֹׁפְטֵיכֶם, בָּעֵת הַהִוא, לֵאמֹר: שָׁמֹעַ בֵּין-אֲחֵיכֶם וּשְׁפַטְתֶּם צֶדֶק, בֵּין-אִישׁ וּבֵין-אָחִיו וּבֵין גֵּרוֹ. יז לֹא-תַכִּירוּ פָנִים בַּמִּשְׁפָּט, כַּקָּטֹן כַּגָּדֹל תִּשְׁמָעוּן--לֹא תָגוּרוּ מִפְּנֵי-אִישׁ, כִּי הַמִּשְׁפָּט לֵאלֹהִים הוּא; וְהַדָּבָר אֲשֶׁר יִקְשֶׁה מִכֶּם, תַּקְרִבוּן אֵלַי וּשְׁמַעְתִּיו.

16 And I charged your judges at that time, saying: 'Hear the causes between your brethren, and judge righteously between a man and his brother, and the stranger that is with him.

17 Ye shall not respect persons in judgment; ye shall hear the small and the great alike; ye shall not be afraid of the face of any man; for the judgment is God's; and the cause that is too hard for you ye shall bring unto me, and I will hear it.'

Mike Cason reports on the swearing in of Judge Roy Moore on January 11th.

In a ceremony heavy on references to God and scripture, Roy Moore took the oath of office today as chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court.

...An overflow crowd attended the investiture ceremony at the state judicial building to see Moore return to the office roughly nine years after he was removed for his refusal to follow a federal judge’s order to remove a Ten Commandments monument that Moore had placed in the state judicial building. Moore has said that order was wrong.

He did not mention the controversy during today’s speech. He did quote George Washington from an inaugural address on the subject of acknowledging God. "It was right then to acknowledge God. And it will continue to be so," Moore said. He also said the foundation of the judicial system was laid in Deuteronomy 1:16-17. "We've got to remember that most of what we do in court comes from some scripture or is backed by scripture," Moore said.
Read more: http://blog.al.com/montgomery/2013/01/ten_commandment_judge_returns.html

15 Jan 2013

Lies and giving back

Mishlei Perek 19.
ה. עֵד שְׁקָרִים לֹא יִנָּקֶה וְיָפִיחַ כְּזָבִים לֹא יִמָּלֵט

5 A false witness shall not be unpunished; and he that breatheth forth lies shall not escape.
With Lance Armstrong in the news, the N.Y. Post is running a poll to determine the greatest liar in history.  The poll is already starting out as a lie because the paper isn't giving the readers a chance to write in their own choice, but rather, readers get to choose from 10 candidates in the paper's list. Go here to vote and let's knock a fellow brother out of first place. Incidentally, my candidate for greatest liar did not make the Post's list.
To a different topic, for those of you who have benefited from Aish articles, why not show hakarat hatov and give back?

Apes and pigs coverage

Forbes ran an article a few days ago in which it questioned the mainstream media's lack of coverage of disturbing remarks made by Egyptian President Morsi about Jews.

The article described how Wolf Blitzer of CNN didn'task President Morsi about his commments in an interview he conducted with him recently.

The New York Times rarely touches this stuff. In fact, a harshly critical mega-report about the newspaper’s Middle East coverage was recently released by the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA). The Times can’t be too happy about it. “The failure of the New York Times to cover the hate indoctrination leads the pack, in a way,” CAMERA’s head Andrea Levin told me yesterday. “The fact that they deem it to be so unimportant helps to lay down that news decision for others as well. And, to us, it’s one of the greatest derelictions in current news coverage of the conflict.”
Read more: http://www.forbes.com/sites/richardbehar/2013/01/11/news-flash-jews-are-apes-and-pigs-so-why-is-egypts-morsi-the-elephant-in-americas-newsrooms/

Well, it seems that someone at the New York Times read the article because the following was published at the newspaper three days after the above article was posted.

Nearly three years ago, a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood delivered a speech urging Egyptians to “nurse our children and our grandchildren on hatred” for Jews and Zionists. In a television interview around that time, the same leader described Zionists as “these bloodsuckers who attack the Palestinians, these warmongers, the descendants of apes and pigs.” That leader, Mohamed Morsi, is now president of Egypt — and his comments may be coming back to haunt him.
Continue reading: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/15/world/middleeast/egypts-leader-morsi-made-anti-jewish-slurs.html?_r=0

14 Jan 2013


The Justice Department dropped its charges against Internet activist Aaron Swartz on Monday, citing his death.
Swartz, who was facing computer hacking charges, hanged himself in his Brooklyn apartment on Friday. He was 26.
The filing is standard when the defendant in a case has died.
Read more: http://thehill.com/blogs/hillicon-valley/technology/276965-justice-department-drops-charges-against-internet-activist-swartz#ixzz2HzCLwsue

Anti-Semitism could destroy the history of French Jewry, the leader of France's Jewish communities said.
“Not long ago, the notion that resurgent anti-Semitism could endanger the presence of Jews in France would have been considered absurd,” Dr. Richard Prasquier, president of the Jewish CRIF umbrella group, said Sunday in Paris at the organization's annual national conference.

There is hope

Kikar Hashabat reports on singer Benny Friedman who arrived in Israel for a number of concerts. On the second day of his stay he received a phone call from Menachem Toker who told him that he was on live radio "kol chai" and that a listener to his program was a patient with cancer who really loves the song "There is hope" and listens to it continuously and derives chizuk from the words.

Mr. Toker asked if, on such short notice, Mr. Friedman would be willing to go to Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv and surprise her and sing her the song "There is hope".

The singer gladly accepted the request and set off with public relations representative, Tomer Cohen. He performed the hit song as well as others.

Soon some yeshiva students came join Mr. Friedman and not one eye among the audience remained dry.

The singer said after the visit, "We came to encourage and provide support, and we were the ones who ended up being encouraged.

Click here to read the article in Hebrew and to see Mr. Friedman performing at the hospital.

The Radio-Canada ombudsman

The Radio-Canada ombudsman has upheld two complaints of anti-Israel bias in its reporting from a Jewish advocacy group.
Pierre Tourangeau ruled that a Nov.16 Radio-Canada.ca report attributing the escalation of the recent Israel-Gaza conflict to the killing of Hamas’ military chief did not conform to the broadcaster’s standards.
HonestReporting Canada (HRC) felt the report was an unfair portrayal of Israel as the aggressor and ignored the fact the Netanyahu government was warning of a military action in response to the more than 120 rockets fired into Israel against its civilian population by Hamas from Gaza.
Continue reading: http://www.cjnews.com/canada/ombudsman-upholds-reporting-complaints

13 Jan 2013


Below is an excerpt from a statement that Aaron Swartz's family posted.

Aaron’s insatiable curiosity, creativity, and brilliance; his reflexive empathy and capacity for selfless, boundless love; his refusal to accept injustice as inevitable—these gifts made the world, and our lives, far brighter. We’re grateful for our time with him, to those who loved him and stood with him, and to all of those who continue his work for a better world.
... Aaron’s death is not simply a personal tragedy. It is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach. Decisions made by officials in the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney’s office and at MIT contributed to his death. The US Attorney’s office pursued an exceptionally harsh array of charges, carrying potentially over 30 years in prison, to punish an alleged crime that had no victims.

Read full statement: http://rememberaaronsw.tumblr.com/post/40372208044/official-statement-from-the-family-and-partner-of-aaron

Kikar Hashabat reports on Palestinian youth who threw stones at people who came to pray at Kever Rachel for a refuah sheleimah for Rav Ovadia Yosef. One policeman was injured and taken to hospital.

INN reports, "Police are investigating the spray-painting of swastikas, Sunday evening, on a Jerusalem house."

For the second time in a week, Jews in Colorado were confronted with the ugly and frightening sight of swastikas drawn on a building in the state. Defaced this time was the synagogue in the town of Morrison, southwest of Denver. It was the latest in a spate of swastika defacements and threatening graffiti around the state.
Read more: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/164140

A kind, caring person

As I read the Globe and Mail's reporting about the deaths of a Jewish couple in their Florida winter home, I couldn't help but marvel at the acts of kindness the couple performed including the incident below, retold by Ms. Gladman, an acquaintance.

Alluding to Mr. Pichosky’s habit of getting his wife flowers every week, Ms. Gladman recalled one occasion when the female cashier said wistfully, “How lovely. Nobody’s ever bought me flowers.”
Mr. Pichosky got a second bouquet and offered it to the cashier.
“I mean, who does that? Who does that? Someone who has a heart and is a kind, caring person,” Ms. Gladman said.

7 Jan 2013

Jews under duress

The leader of Vienna's Jewish community says the number of anti-Semitic incidents in Austria reported to his office have doubled over the past year and adds that Jews are under duress elsewhere in the EU as well.
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/01/07/austrian-jewish-leader-warns-increasing-anti-semitism-in-his-country-and/#ixzz2HHNPiLry

Arabs severely beat a 69-year-old taxi driver Monday, stole his cab and left him bleeding at the side of the road. The Tatzpit news agency reported that the attack took place near Neveh Tzuf, in the Binyamin region north of Jerusalem.
Continue reading: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/163930

Frogs into the ovens

Many sources bring down the following lesson (kal vechomer) that we can learn from the frogs : Just as the frogs went willingly into the ovens to fulfil HaShem’s command to spread all over Egypt, so should we willingly do the will of Hashem.
But, how can we learn out such a lesson when the frogs were specifically commanded to jump in the hot ovens and we are not specifically called upon to take such drastic measures?!
Continue reading: http://shortvort.com/component/content/article/114-rotator/11635-what-can-we-learn-from-frogs

On a different subject. To the lecturer that I listened to this evening on a recorded video, please remember to bring the sefer next time so that you can quote what you read properly.

6 Jan 2013

In your face term

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Sunday expressed dismay at reports President Obama would tap former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) for Secretary of Defense, calling it an “in your face” selection.
Read more: http://thehill.com/blogs/defcon-hill/policy-and-strategy/275795-sen-graham-hagel-pick-an-in-your-face-nomination-from-obama#ixzz2HDrWR97t


Al Arabiyah reports that police in Saudi Arabia arrested "a man found carrying papers that show he is looking for a Jewish woman to marry, according to a report by the daily al-Hayat newspaper." Apparently the spokesman for the police said that the man might be suffering from a “mental disorder.”

5 Jan 2013

Baruch Hashem

The other week I received the following email about thanking Hashem. A few days later I came across a post written in 2011 titled Baruch Hashem I discovered a fantastic source of Torah learning.
It reminded me to thank Hashem for all that has been bestowed upon us, including finding a fantastic source of Torah learning.  

I dreamt that I went to Heaven and an angel was showing me around. We walked side-by-side inside a large workroom filled with angels. My angel guide stopped in front of the first section and said, "This is the Receiving Section". Here, all petitions to God said in prayer are received.
I looked around in this area, and it was terribly busy with so many angels sorting out petitions written on voluminous paper sheets and scraps from people all over the world.
Then we moved on down a long corridor until we reached the second section.
The angel then said to me, "This is the Packaging and Delivery Section. Here, the graces and blessings the people asked for are processed and delivered to the living persons who asked for them." I noticed again how busy it was there. There were many angels working hard at that station, since so many blessings had been requested and were being packaged for delivery to Earth.
Finally at the farthest end of the long corridor we stopped at the door of a very small station. To my great surprise, only one angel was seated there, idly doing nothing. "This is the Acknowledgment Section, my angel friend quietly admitted to me. He seemed embarrassed." How is it that there is no work going on here? ‘I asked.
”So sad," the angel sighed. "After people receive the blessings that they asked for, very few send back acknowledgments"
"How does one acknowledge God's blessings“? I asked…

"Simple," the angel answered. Just say, "Thank you, Lord.”

4 Jan 2013

Sefer Hageulah

The Ramban says that Sefer Shemos is called Sefer HaGalus and also Sefer HaGeula since it is the story of both the Bnei Yisroel's descent into Gauls Mitzrayim and their ultimate redemption. Not only is it the story of Galus and Geulas Mitzrayim but also encompasses the future Galus and Geulah.

Rav Elyashiv in Divrei Aggadah explains that Shemos is not simply the first significant word of this Sefer it is the actual reason for the Geula. The Medrash Yalkut Shimoni says that the name of each Shevet represents the future Galus. Two examples are Levi "V'Nilvu Goyim Rabim El Hashem" and Yosef "V'Haya BaYom HaHu Yosif Hashem Sheinis".

This says Rav Elyashiv explains the significance of the fact that they did not change their names in Mitzrayim. They kept these names and guarded them carefully because they did not give up on the Geula. Their names gave them hope and showed their faith. Because of this faith which was expressed by the keeping of their original names they were eventually redeemed. That is why the Sefer of Galus and Geula is called Sefer "Shemos". Similarly the future Geula will come if we have faith and live our life waiting for that day.

Continue reading divrei torah on this week's parsha over here.

3 Jan 2013

Kindness and evil

Jeff Jacoby discusses People are truly good at heart? Sadly, no.

For countless people, especially on the left, it's axiomatic that Adam Lanza's bloodbath was caused by America's gun culture. Many angrily demonize guns and the advocates of gun rights; they are convinced that only an ignoramus or a moral monster could oppose tighter gun control. In an interview on CNN, Piers Morgan lashed out at the executive director of Gun Owners of America, calling him "an unbelievably stupid man" and seething: "You don't give a damn, do you, about the gun murder rate in America?" When the National Rifle Association's Wayne LaPierre argued for more armed security rather than fewer arms, he too was drenched with scorn.

"Look, a gun is a tool," LaPierre said. "The problem is the criminal." But that can only be true if crime is rooted in the bad character, depraved values, or evil choices of those who use guns to murder. And that can only be true if men and women, by and large, are not innately good and kind – if decent behavior, like monstrous behavior, is a matter of free choice, not a hardwired instinct.

It is fundamental to the Judeo-Christian outlook that human beings are not naturally good. "The intention of man's heart," God says in Genesis, "is evil from his youth." To use the Christian formulation, man is "fallen." All of us are tugged by conflicting moral impulses, and whether we do the right thing or the wrong thing is up to each of us.
Read in full: http://www.jeffjacoby.com/12724/people-are-truly-good-at-heart-sadly-no

Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz discusses the force of kindness and brings examples of sterling character traits exhibited by great individuals who lived Torah lives.

A common thread of middas hachessed is evident in theShemos parshiyos of shibud, geulah, Matan Torah, cheitand teshuvah. The concept of olam chessed yiboneh, the force of kindness and compassion rebuilding the world, is a common theme throughout Sefer Shemos. Just as the world was brought about and created with the Divinemiddah of chessed, it is that middah which enables us to conquer the impediments that hinder our growth and existence.

Speaking of evil, below Edgar Feuchtwanger gives an interview about his childhood recollections of living next to the German leader whose name doesn't bear mentioning.   


by Rabbi Dr Raymond Apple

The translation of the title of the sidra is “Names”. The subject matter is the names of the Children of Israel who migrated to Egypt with Jacob and – despite themselves – inaugurated Jewish history. Using this as a springboard, this D’var Torah focuses on the word “Name”.
Every one of us is often asked, “What’s your name?” Sometimes the question is “Who are you?” Actually the two questions are not the same. “What’s your name?” denotes “By what name is your family known? What first name or names did your parents give you?” That’s a factual question: it says very little about who you are.
The rabbis note in the Midrash (Kohelet Rabba 7) that everyone has three names – one his parents give him, one is what people call him and the third he acquires himself. The first name is the technical mark of identity connoted by “What’s your name?” The second denotes one’s reputation – “He (or she) is such a sound thinker, such a generous person, such a good soul…” The third name sums you up qualitatively: “What’s your essential nature?”
Ahad HaAm wrote an essay about Moshe Rabbenu in which he asked, “Who was Moses?” It sounds like a foolish question since everyone can look Moses up in the Bible and biographical dictionaries. There’s no secret about who Moses was in that sense, but that’s not what Ahad HaAm was interested in. His question meant, “What was the essence of Moses?”
The answer is suggested by the third name spoken of in the Midrash: the name you acquire for yourself, which depends on the gifts God gives you, how you use your gifts, what you do with your life – and what your life does with you.

2 Jan 2013

An attack and an error

A gang of Arabs brutally attacked an American yeshiva student visiting with his family in Venice, Italy, in what local community leaders said was a rare instance of anti-Semitism.
The student was knocked unconscious on Tuesday when he strolled late at night in the center of the city. A band of 15 Arab youth pounced on him, dragged him into a dark corner and pummeled him, using sharp weapons.
Read more: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/163803#.UOQ-wLbuadc

Israel’s chief rabbis on Wednesday called on the European Union to establish a committee to investigate anti-Semitism in Europe.
They issued the call the day after an attack on a Jewish tourist in Venice.

The British publisher of a textbook that featured a map that labelled Israel as “Occupied Palestine” has apologized for the error. A message posted to the Garnet company’s website read in part, “This was a serious editorial error and was subsequently corrected. The book in question has not been in print for several years.”

In a further twist, The Commentator revealed that the company is owned by the Tahseen Khayat Group of Lebanon.
Read more: http://www.algemeiner.com/2013/01/02/publisher-of-british-textbook-that-erased-israel-from-map-we-are-taking-this-matter-extremely-seriously/

Devotion to the cause

The NYPost writes about a young girl's devotion to her faith.

She doesn’t spin on Shabbos.

Ping-pong prodigy Estee Ackerman, an 11-year-old from Long Island, was disqualified from her final event at the 2012 US National Table Tennis Championships in Las Vegas last Dec. 21 when her match fell on the Jewish holy day of rest and she chose not to play.

“I advanced in my round robin and then we looked at my schedule and saw the next match would be during Friday night, which is our Sabbath, so of course I’m disappointed,” Estee told The Post.

“I practiced and trained for six months for this,” the sixth-grader from West Hempstead said. “Ping pong is important to me, but my religion of Judaism is also very important to me.”
Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/devotion_wins_out_POutVvQtroB2paMGIT3z9K

Below are two comments.

From a goy.....you did the right thing....in G-d's eyes, He is happy with your sacrifice. You will be blessed.

Your Kiddush HaShem moment of the day.

And here's an article about devotion to a nefarious cause.

Police are seeking the public's help regarding a bias incident at the Roosevelt Field Mall on Long Island.

Nassau County police say a swastika and the words "Death to the Jews" were scrawled in large red letters on a door in a service corridor of the East Garden City mall.
Continue reading: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/swastika_found_scrawled_in_li_mall_VHFFmt7lhJCfPg3kf5rsKI

Acts of kindness

This morning I received an email titled a daily dose of kindness.
Shmuel Greenbaum writes:

Partners in Kindness and A Tradition of Kindness are dedicated in memory of my late wife, Shoshana (Hayman) Greenbaum z"l. Shoshana was murdered by a suicide bomber. She was one of over 100 victims that were killed or injured at 2:00 P.M. on August 9, 2001 at the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem. Shoshana had the rare ability to serve as a role model for kindness and Godliness to thousands of people.

An anecdote of kindness accompanied the email.

A friend knows that I love kindness stories so he always tells me a story when we speak. My friend’s father overheard this story when he went to visit a mourner during shiva (the 7 day period of mourning):

* One of the visitors who came to pay respects told the man who was mourning the loss of his father:

"We don’t know each other, but I just wanted to tell you why I came:

Many years ago a woman had just left a cemetery in Long Island and was sitting outside the cemetery, waiting at a bus stop for the first of several buses she would have to take on a trip that would last several hours in order to get back to her home in East New York, Brooklyn.

A man driving by noticed her and asked her if he could give her a lift. She told him she was going to East New York.

The man said "what a coincidence, I live in East New York too!"

He drove her home and told her. "Since we have the same yahrtzeit (anniversary of the death of a loved one) at the same cemetery and we both live in East New York, I would be happy to take you to the cemetery every year."

That woman was my mother and the man was your father.

The man sitting shiva told his guest. "My father told me that story many times about how he always drove a woman to the cemetery once a year. But there is something you should know about my father – he did not live in East New York and he did not have yahrtzeit on that day….

Mi keamcha Yisrael.

This morning I read about a man who is severely ill and needed the assistance of the MDA to get to his doctor in Jerusalem. After the medical check-up, the man asked if he could pray at the Kotel, perhaps for the final time. After receiving permission, the ambulance crew set about fuflfilling the man's wish. An emotional visit for both the bedridden patient as well as an ambulance staff member was captured on film over here.

Mi keamcha Yisrael.

1 Jan 2013

A man of truth

When I told my husband this morning about the passing of  the Sadigura Rebbe, zt'l , he related to me an anecdote I hadn't heard before. Around the time of our marriage, my husband's grandfather needed an operation and he told him to go to the Rebbe for a blessing. My husband had an audience with the Tzadik and received a blessing. After he told the Rebbe that he would shortly be getting married, the Rebbe handed him a coin, told him to take it under the chuppah and to ask a brocha from the Mesader Kiddushin. He followed through with the Rebbe's instructions. When he asked the Mesader Kiddushin for a blessing, the rabbi replied, "But, I am a Litvak, I am a Litvak. Nevertheless, he proceeded to bless him.  

Chadrei Charedim writes about what Baruch Marzel had to say on the passing of the Sadigura Rebbe zt'l. He called him a
.אוהב ישראל ללא גבולות

He related a time when Prime Minister Netanyahu came to visit him and the Rebbe wouldn't let him leave until he extracted a promise to build a military base in the Abu Sneneh neighborhood in Hebron, a promise that wasn't fulfilled but one that allowed the Israeli leader to leave the Rebbe's presence.

אצלו לא היה חשוב מה יאמרו, אלא מה הקב"ה יאמר
He was not ashamed of  his detractors. He wasn't concerned with what they had to say but, with what G-d would say.

ואני מתפלל שהקב"ה ימלא את חסרוננו בדור בו חסרים אנשי אמת שילחמו על מה שהם מאמינים
Mr. Marzel prays that Hashem will fill the absence in this generation which is lacking in people of truth who fight for what they believe in.

INN news

Below are a few items from IsraelNationalNews.

Rabbi Avrohom Ya'akov Friedman, the Sadigura Rebbe, passed away, Tuesday morning, at the age of 84.
...After his father passed away in 1979, he succeeded him, and in 1989 was chosen as a member of the presidium of Agudat Yisrael's Torah Sages Council.

The Rebbe was a proponent of the Jewish communities in Gush Katif and vehemently opposed ceding parts of the Land of Israel to the Arabs. He was considered the most nationalist member of the Agudat Yisrael presidium.

Chairman Moshe Feiglin of the Manhigut Yehudit (Jewish Leadership) faction of the Likud was detained, Tuesday morning, after he prostrated himself during a visit to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City.

Dieter Graumann, chairman of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, urged the Green party to withdraw a candidate from a list for state election after he used expletive language to describe Jews and Muslims who practice the religious rite of circumcision.

According to The European Jewish Press (EJP), Ulf Dunkel has come under fire over two anti-circumcision poems he published which include expletives and refer to those who practice the religious ritual as "blind fanatics."
Read more: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/163749