"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

22 Sept 2013

Political pandering

The Toronto Sun has reported the following:

The Canada Revenue Agency has revoked the charitable status of an Islamic group after it says it distributed over $280,000 to an agency allegedly linked to a terrorist organization in Pakistan.
The CRA announced Friday it will strip the Islamic Society of North America Canada’s Development Foundation of its charitable status.
...In July, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau was a guest speaker at a ISNA Canada event.
Read more: http://www.torontosun.com/2013/09/20/islamic-groups-charitable-status-revoked-over-alleged-link-to-terror-organization

In the video below, Ezra Levant explains Justin Trudeau's political pandering. - It's all in the numbers.

You can view President Obama recently addressing ISNA (not Canada) over here.

Michael Coren and Jonathan Halevi discuss Justin Trudeau over here.

For those who missed this item, the Times of Israel reported a few days ago that a "multi-million dollar Messianic Jewish center will open its doors to target members of the religious community" in Flatbush.

Messiah born 8 months ago

A Tennessee judge reversed a ruling Wednesday ordering a mother to change her 8-month-old's name from "Messiah."
Continue reading: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/09/18/tenn-parents-baby-name-messiah/2830999/

For those who read Hebrew, Kikar Hashabat has a story related to the theme of the Sukkot holiday of rejoicing.  The Chozeh of Lublin taught a visitor about the importance of simcha and dance and how that can tear up the worst decrees.

In a video that merges the two themes of this post, Yaniv ben Mashiach sings Vesmachta Bechagecha.

21 Sept 2013

Sukkahs worldwide

Traveling over the holiday and need to find a sukkah in the area? Consult localsukkah for a partial list of sukkahs available worldwide.

The University of Calgary’s Environmental Design School has created a major Jewish ritual object for the observance of the holiday of Sukkot which celebrates the 40 years of wandering in the Sinai wilderness after the Exodus from slavery in Egypt.
Continue reading: http://www.calgaryherald.com/news/calgary/designs+Sukkah+Wall+Jewish+holiday/8939397/story.html

The sole Jewish member of the Iranian parliament will accompany President Hassan Rouhani when he travels to New York next week for the UN general assembly.
Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/sep/19/hassan-rouhani-jewish-un

The New York Times has published an article titled Jews Challenge Rules to Claim Heart of Jerusalem.

Small groups of Jews are increasingly ascending the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City, a sacred site controlled for centuries by Muslims, who see the visits as a provocation that could undermine the fragile peace talks started this summer.

...Experts who have observed the phenomenon also see it as a reaction to Israel’s evacuation of Jews from the Gaza Strip in 2005, a redirection of Messianic energy once devoted to West Bank settlements that many fear could soon succumb to the same fate to make way for a Palestinian state.
Continue reading: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/22/world/middleeast/jews-challenge-rules-to-claim-heart-of-jerusalem.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

The BBC reports on the shooting attack at a mall in Nairobi.

The Economist correspondent in Nairobi, Daniel Howden told the BBC he spoke to one man with a Christian first name but a Muslim-sounding surname who managed to escape the attackers by putting his thumb over his first name on his ID.

However, the man told Mr Howden that an Indian man standing next to him who was asked for the name of the Prophet Muhammad's mother was shot dead when he was unable to answer.
Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-24191606

Try to remember the name Aminah. You never know when it will come in handy.

18 Sept 2013

This is education?

Peter Martino has written an article titled Jew Hatred Officially Backed by Belgium. He writes the following:

Belgian children aged 6 to 12 are being instilled with a hatred for Jews that is so deep, that one day "Never Again" might indeed become "Over Again," and with the same victims as before: the Jews.
To continue reading and to see outrageous cartoon, click here.

Some San Diego State University students studying the Arabic language were dismayed when they were handed a map by their professor at the beginning of the semester which labeled the State of Israel as “Palestine.”
Continue reading: http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/09/17/calif-college-professor-hands-out-middle-east-map-but-something-big-is-missing/

On September 15th we highlighted the fact that the BBC’s ‘Learning Zone’ website – a resource for teachers – claimed that Egypt and Syria “acted pre-emptively” when they launched the surprise attacks which began the Yom Kippur war forty years ago. 
Via the JTA we learn that the erroneous claim has been removed from the website after the JTA approached the BBC’s Head of Communications.
Read more: http://bbcwatch.org/2013/09/18/bbc-removes-claim-of-pre-emptive-yom-kippur-strike/
Hillary Chase writes about a high school textbook.

The authors of United States History: Preparing for the Advanced Placement Examination have taken it upon themselves to change the Constitution of the United States. The high school textbook contains a summary of each Amendment that alters the initial intent in which they were created.
Continue reading: http://www.yaf.org/ChangedConstitution.aspx

Joshua Kaplowitz writes about his teaching experience in an article titled  How I Joined Teach for America—and Got Sued for $20 Million.

For those who missed the article by Ali Salim titled Hatred of Jews, below are the beginning lines.

We Muslims make the mistake of thinking Europeans really care about is, especially the Palestinians. We are wrong. Europeans simply hate the Jews more than they hate and fear us. The bitter truth is that Europeans usually intervene in a crisis only if it gives them an opportunity for Jew-bashing.
Continue reading: http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/3897/hatred-of-jews

Finally, a quick reminder to those who live outside of Israel to prepare an eruv tavshilin before the start of Yom Tov.

17 Sept 2013

V'samachta B'chagecha

KikarHashabat has a video of President Shimon Peres meeting Rav Ovadia Yosef. The President said that the nation of Israel needed the Rav. Click here to watch.

KikarHashabat has published thoughts on Sukkot by Rabbi Nir Artzi. One particular message hit home.

I must admit when I walked home in the pouring rain this evening, chilled to the bone, I wasn't thrilled about eating in the Sukkah tomorrow evening. However, my attitude changed when I read about how Hashem wants us to be happy on the holiday of  Sukkot. Jews build sukkot, leave their permanent homes and reside in temporary abodes. G-d doesn't have a house since there is no third Temple. By leaving our houses, we are happy that we have become partners with Hashem.

Rabbi Jason Miller enthuses about a book written by Dori Weinstein titled Shaking in the Shack.

Dori's recent book is perfect for the Jewish holiday of Sukkot that begins tomorrow night. Shaking in the Shack  takes place during the Sukkot festival and focuses on the Jewish value of helping those less fortunate.

All your deeds are recorded

Contemplate three things, and you will not come to the hands of transgression: Know what is above from you: a seeing eye, a listening ear, and all your deeds being inscribed in a book.
Pirkei Avot 2:1

Contemplate three things, and you will not come to the hands of transgression: Know what is above from you: a seeing eye - e.g. a surveillance camera, a listening ear, and all your deeds being inscribed in a book and even if you delete or scrub what you posted on facebook, twitter, your news site or your blog, it will be preserved for eternity through screenshots.

A 17-year-old has been arrested in connection to the recent cold-blooded murder of a 71-year-old man in Miami-Dade County, Fla.
...The truly chilling murder was captured on surveillance video on Aug. 21 outside of a supermarket in Opa-Locka, Fla.
Read more: http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/09/16/teen-accused-of-callously-shooting-71-year-old-man-in-the-head-from-his-bicycle-and-the-horrific-murder-was-caught-on-tape/

NBC and CBS, two of the largest news organizations in the country, were both forced to retract initial reports about the name of the Navy Yard shooter who went on a killing rampage in Washington, D.C., on Monday.
...The news networks have been highly criticized on social media by those who believe it’s always better to be right rather than first when reporting on a breaking news story.
Read more: http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/09/16/in-frantic-race-to-be-first-nbc-cbs-make-big-mistake-in-navy-yard-shooting-reporting/

16 Sept 2013

Pitom insurance

Below are a few items that caught my eye this evening.

Esrog Headquarters is offering free pitom insurance.

As you all know if the pitom is broken off, it renders the esrog unfit for use. We are offering free insurance on your esrog.
Read more: http://www.esrogheadquarters.com/Pitom_Insurance.htm

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), after tentative steps to reach out to the pro-Israel community including a trip to Israel, has now infuriated Christian and Jewish leaders alike.
Continue reading: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2013/09/16/rand-paul-angers-jewish-and-christian-republicans/

The New York Times has an article titled Shalom Yoran, Jewish Resistance Fighter, Dies at 88.

“If there is a lesson to be gleaned, it is that no person should succumb to brutality without putting up a resistance,” he wrote in his book. “Individually it can save one’s life; en masse it can change the course of history.”

There's an interesting article about the GMAT at PBS.org.

Didn't do so well on the GMAT? You may be a more ethical and entrepreneurial business leader for it. Higher results on the Graduate Management Admission Test -- the entrance exam required for most graduate business schools -- are associated with less of a tendency for ethical behavior in business school and business professions. That's the conclusion of a recent study published in the Journal of Business Ethics.
Continue reading: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/businessdesk/2013/09/three-traits-to-ace-the-gmat-a.html

The sukkah challenge

Rabbi Dr Raymond Apple writes about a sukkah competition which he was involved in a number of years ago.

Once upon a time I was a youth work professional in Britain. I visited and tried to help Jewish youth clubs up and down the United Kingdom. Among my tasks was to initiate Jewish programming. One year I thought of an inter-club sukkah building competition.
One entry came from a club that had its own premises but though it erected a fine sukkah its entry did not and could not win because the sukkah was indoors, inside the club building, under the club roof and not under the sky as the halachah requires.
I was told quite disarmingly that this was in order to save the sukkah from getting wet if it rained or being blown about in strong wind. Ingenious – but unacceptable as a sukkah. This led me to offer a homily that life is like a sukkah, and human beings have to learn to stand up for themselves and face the buffeting of rain, wind and misfortune.
The reality of life is that you can’t be like Jonah and hide away from challenge.

7 Things To Look For When Buying A Lulav

15 Sept 2013

A rant - a mitzvah

Glenn Beck rants about Christiane Amanpour, describing her as anti-Israeli and anti-Western.
Click here to listen.

KikarHashabat describes yeshiva bochurim who are building sukkahs for secular people for free. One man approached a group of yeshiva students and told them that he would like to build a sukkah for the first time in his life. He saw some of his observant neighbors building sukkahs and decided he would like to do the same.

The yeshiva students are not charging for their services because, if they were to do so, people would think they are doing it for the money rather than for the mitzvah.

3 Sept 2013

Tav Shin Ayin Dalet

Two letters of the Shema are written extra large in a Torah scroll: the ayin, the last letter of the word Shema (“hear”) and the dalet, the last letter of the word echad (“one”). Taken together, these two letters spell aid, meaning “witness.” By reciting the Shema, we bear witness to the Creator’s oneness.

The Hebrew letters signifying the year now beginning, 5774, are Heh Tav Shin Ayin Dalet, which are the initial letters of the phrase: H’ayo T’ihyeh Sh’nat A’liyat D’AAT, “It shall surely be a year of the ascent of DA’AT”. Da’at means knowledge and understanding of G-d.

Comments at Ladaat.info include the following proposals for the rashei tevot of this year.

תהא שנת עידנא דחדוותא

ת הא ש נת ע וזר ד לים

ת הא ש נת עד מתי

תהא ש נת עד י עד

ת הא
ש נת
ע קבתא
ד משיחא

 תהא שנת עולם דתי

I would like to propose ת הא ש נת עד , a year that we act as an aid, a witness to Hashem's oneness.

Two questions

The Arab League on Sunday urged international action against the Syrian government to deter what it called the “ugly crime” of using chemical weapons. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/02/world/middleeast/saudi-arabia-syria-military-action.html?_r=0

Are the Arab countries calling for action willing to go into action?

The NYPost asks Why are major media outlets ignoring bestselling writer Mark R. Levin?

Levin’s new book “The Liberty Amendments: Restoring the American Republic,” last week hit No. 1 on all three New York Times bestseller lists for which it qualified — hardcover nonfiction, e-book nonfiction and the combination of the two. Yet the paper, like the others mentioned and their counterparts on the magazine rack, continues to ignore Levin, whose book signing at Book Revue in Huntington, Long Island led to huge lines on Aug. 17.
...The likes of the Times may prefer to ignore Levin as a fringe figure, but that isn’t likely if he’s at the top of the bestseller list. His liberal equivalent, Michael Moore, enjoys saturation coverage in every paper and magazine every time he has a new product to promote.
...Levin reader-listeners feel left out of the national debate, and mostly the national media has responded by . . . trying to pretend he doesn’t exist.
Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/vox_popular_zOYlSTdQ7TrnLupviVuhwL

2 Sept 2013

Getting involved

The WashingtonPost reports on the Pope's involvement on the issue of the shechita ban in Poland.

The World Jewish Congress says the Vatican is getting involved in a divisive issue in Poland over its ban on the religious slaughter of animals, which has incensed Jews.
The group said Monday that Pope Francis instructed the Vatican office in charge of relations with Jews to host a meeting next week to discuss the ban, which Jews consider a violation of their religious freedom.
Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/on-faith/jewish-group-pope-meets-jews-voices-concern-over-polands-ban-on-religious-animal-slaughter/2013/09/02/c0701792-13f0-11e3-b220-2c950c7f3263_story.html

The New York Times reports on Israel not getting involved in an article titled On Obama’s Plan, a Message Emerges in Israel: Stay Quiet.

“The only thing that is clear is that Israel will take the heat either way,” a senior Israeli government official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of Mr. Netanyahu’s directive. “If we remain on the sidelines, it will be seen as defiant criticism of President Obama. And if we don’t, it will be seen as interference. There is nothing we can do to come out clean.”

On the one of the month

Rabbi Larry Ziffer discusses Rosh Hashanah and Achdut Yisrael/Jewish unity.

The rabbis point to the fact that we are told to celebrate Rosh Hashanah "B'echad lachodesh hashevi'i/On the first day of the seventh month (Tishrei)."  But the Hebrew word echad means "one," and the word usually used for "first" is "rishon."  Why doesn't the verse tell us to celebrate "BaRishon lachodesh," on the "first of  the month" rather  than on the "one of the month?" The hidden meaning is that on this day of "one" we should become "one," unified as a people.
Read more: http://baltimorejewishlife.com/torah/parsha-detail.php?SECTION_ID=45&ARTICLE_ID=41582

Avraham Cohen gives practical tips for doing teshuvah.

• The Talmud tells us that anyone who swallows their pride will be forgiven for all their sins. Rashi, zt”l explains that if you let someone be right even if they’re wrong, then G-d will forgive you even if you’re wrong [Rosh Hashanah 17]!

• A person should say Shiras Hayam (the Song at the Red Sea, in every morning davening) with happiness, and it should seem in their mind as if that very day they passed through the sea; and anyone who says this Song with simcha will be forgiven for all their sins [Mishnah Berurah on O.C. 51:7, S.K. 17, quoting the Zohar]. From here we see that appreciating Hashem’s kindness for us every day will help us forge a deep relationship with Him.
Read more: http://baltimorejewishlife.com/torah/parsha-detail.php?SECTION_ID=45&ARTICLE_ID=41581

1 Sept 2013

Britain's new Chief Rabbi

The weak and the vulnerable in Britain must not be forgotten, the new Chief Rabbi warned today after taking up his post in a ceremony attended by more than 1,000 guests - including the Prince of Wales.

Ephraim Mirvis spoke of his pride in the record of the British Jewish community in charity as he was inducted as 11th Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the UK and the Commonwealth.

Reuters reports on Britain's new Chief Rabbi.

He signalled the orthodox United Synagogue would retain its traditionalist stance on single-sex marriage, which is at odds with rabbis in the Liberal and Reform synagogues at the forefront of the campaign for same-sex marriage.

"We have a clear Biblical definition of marriage, which is the union of one man and one woman, and through that we value traditional family life," Mirvis said in a BBC interview ahead of Sunday's ceremony.

As for the possibility of women rabbis, he responded: "In our tradition, men have occupied that role, and that is the format for Orthodox congregations".

The Guardian discusses the new chief rabbi, in addition to quoting Reform's "chef rabbi."
"Chef" but not "chief?" Is she a rabbi who is known for her culinary skills?

Although many regard Mirvis as an unknown quantity, there is optimism that he will be a more unifying leader. He was the first rabbi from the United Synagogue to welcome an imam to his synagogue when Finchley held a gathering with members of the local mosque.

Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, chef rabbi for the Reform movement, has said: "Luckily, he's a fabulous chap who is multi-skilled, so we'll see where he goes."

Jewish philanthropy

When Jews feels connected to their community, money will flow – to Jewish causes and elsewhere.

That, in short, is the main finding of a broad new nationwide study of American Jewish philanthropy. Coordinated by Jumpstart, a Los Angeles-based think tank and incubator for innovative Jewish nonprofits, the study, titled “Connected to Give,” asked nearly 3,000 Jews across the United States about their giving habits.

...“The more engaged you are in the Jewish community,” Landres said, “the more likely you are to give, not only to Jewish causes but to non-Jewish causes as well -- and more generously, at that.”
Read more: http://www.jewishjournal.com/los_angeles/article/study_reveals_the_who_what_and_where_of_jewish_giving