"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

30 Jun 2014

Religious objections

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that some corporations can hold religious objections that allow them to opt out of the new health law requirement that they cover contraceptives for women.
Read more: http://news.yahoo.com/justices-cant-employers-cover-contraception-141923713--finance.html

20 Jun 2014

Not a single donkey

Moshe complains about the accusations hurled against him and says, "Lo Chamor Echad Meihem Nasasi", I didn't even take a single donkey from them (Korach 16:15). Rashi says this refers to when he came down to Mitzrayim to redeem them on a donkey, and he paid for it from his own money. Rav Shimon Schwab asks, why would Moshe think that he should have taken the money from Bnei Yisroel.

Rav Schwab answers that the gemara in Sanhedrin (98a) says that when the geula comes, if we are zocheh Moshiach will arrive on clouds, if not then Moshiach will come come as a pauper on a donkey. Why? The whole world needs to know that Hashem is bringing the geula and Moshiach has no power by himself. If Bnei Yisroel are Maaminim and Ovdei Hashem then Moshiach can come in grand fashion and we will all place thanks in Hashem and not Moshiach. But if we do not recognize Hashem's hand, then Hashem will need to send a Moshiach who is powerless and destitute to show that it is not his charisma, brains, or money that will release us from the galus.

Moshe was the Goel in Mitzrayim. Bnei Yisroel was not Zocheh and Moshe came riding into town on a donkey lacking any pomp or grandeur. He came with the stick in his hand and the shirt on his back. To show his poverty he should have asked Bnei Yisroel to pay for his donkey. Even then he did not, since he did not want to take anything from any member of Klal Yisroel.

Parshat Korach

by Rabbi Eli Mansour

A famous Mishna in Pirkeh Abot (5:17) distinguishes between two kinds of “Mahloket” (controversy) – one which is “Le’shem Shamayim” (for the sake of Heaven), and one which is not “Le’shem Shamayim.” As an example of the latter kind of argument, one which is not waged for sincere, altruistic purposes, the Mishna points to “Korah Va’adato,” the fight launched by Korah and his cohorts against Moshe and Aharon. This fight was driven by ego and lust for honor, rather than any sort of noble ambition. The Mishna’s example of an argument fought “Le’shem Shamayim” is the arguments between the schools of Hillel and Shammai, who debated many Halachic issues out of a sincere desire to arrive at the true Halacha and fulfill G-d’s will.
Read more: https://www.dailyhalacha.com/WeeklyParasha.asp

19 Jun 2014

A new study, a new book

The WashingtonPost has an article titled Study: Putting religion on your résumé hurts your job chances — unless you’re Jewish.

Turns out, according to a new study, that when you’re Jewish and searching for a job, you’re not just one of the chosen people, you’re one of the more chosen people, at least in the modern American South. The study of religious discrimination in hiring recently published in the journal Social Currents found job applicants whose résumés betrayed a religious affiliation were 26 percent less likely to be contacted by an employer — except for Jewish applicants.
Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2014/06/18/study-putting-religion-on-your-resume-hurts-your-job-chances-unless-youre-jewish/

An 89-year-old Philadelphia man was ordered held without bail Wednesday on a German arrest warrant charging him with aiding and abetting the killing of 216,000 Jewish men, women and children while he was a guard at the Auschwitz death camp.
Read more: http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/06/18/89-year-old-philadelphia-man-held-on-nazi-death-camp-charges-it-is-late-but-not-too-late/

CrownHeightsinfo writes about a new book about the Lubavitcher Rebbe in an article titled ‘Rebbe’ Hits ‘New York Times’ Best-Seller List.

In her detailed analysis of both Telushkin’s ‘Rebbe’ and noted Talmudic scholar Rabbi Adin Even-Israel (Steinsaltz)’s new book “My Rebbe” for the Journal, novelist Dara Horn finishes by declaring: “For all his immense achievements, the Rebbe’s power ultimately came from a simple message that anyone can appreciate. As Mr. Telushkin puts it: ‘Love your fellow, and not just those who agree with you.”
Read more: http://crownheights.info/chabad-news/441865/rebbe-hits-new-york-times-best-seller-list/

Speaking of those who agree with you, the Blaze writes about a high school student who was doing some research on his school computer, only to find that “The firewall was very one sided with what it blocked and what it was unblocking,”

18 Jun 2014

Bringing in Shabbos early

A panel about Jewish refugees from Arab countries was removed from an UNESCO exhibition about the Jewish people’s connection to the Holy Land, because the organization feared the opposition of Arab member states, The Times of Israel has learned.
Read more: UNESCO vetoed display on Jewish refugees from Arab lands | The Times of Israel http://www.timesofisrael.com/unesco-vetoed-display-on-jewish-refugees-from-arab-lands/#ixzz351MbWK3D

"הרב אלישיב בראיון בלעדי: "לפי גורל הגר"א החטופים בחיים

KikarHashabat reports on a call by Rav Shteinman to bring in Shabbos early this week, as a merit for the three kidnapped teens.

Jewish groups

Benamin Mueller writes at the New York Times Jewish Groups United by Prayers for 3 Missing Youths

On the windswept shore of Atlantic Beach, on Long Island, merriment was postponed as a bride and groom said a prayer on Sunday for three teenagers kidnapped late last week in the West Bank.

That night, a congregation in the Riverdale section of the Bronx delayed the start of its 40th annual dinner to pray for the boys. On Monday, a synagogue in Flatbush, Brooklyn, did the same at the start of its 92nd anniversary celebration.
Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/18/nyregion/new-yorks-jewish-groups-united-by-prayers-for-abducted-youths-in-west-bank.html?_r=0

Huffington Post has an article about Jewish voices who stand with Presbyterians who support divestment from certain companies doing business in Israel. At the end of the article are videos of Jewish men and women who support divestment. The first features a man who is a graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. He has a blog which was updated on June 17th with a post about Jewish support of divestment.  A June 13th post is about the same topic. A June 1st post is about destroyed tree groves. A post about uniting in prayer for the three youths is sadly absent.

A post which does reflect concern for the three teens can be found at Chabad.org under the title Mitzvot for the Israeli Students.

Mollie Hemingway has written an article titled Friends Don’t Let Friends Read Dana Milbank.

17 Jun 2014

New U.N.'s Human Rghts Chief

Reuters writes about the U.N. General Assembly's approval of  Jordan's U.N. ambassador, Prince Zeid Ra'ad Zeid al-Hussein, as its human rights chief.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon nominated Prince Zeid earlier this month to replace Navi Pillay, a South African jurist who in 2012 was given an abbreviated second term of only two years due to pressure the United States, which disliked her criticism of Israel, U.N. diplomats said at the time.

Reading a 2010 interview of the ambassador at Tablet, I wonder if Israel will fare any better in terms of being criticised.

Ladaatinfo reports on the visit of the Admor of Tzanz to the kotel prior to his grandson's wedding. After Mincha and recitation of Tehilim, Rabbi Rabinovich approached the Admor and made mention of the three kidnapped boys. The Admor said that he thinks about them the whole time and prayed for them at the tziyon of his father this morning. He concluded by hoping that in the merit of the prayers of the nation of Israel, that the boys will be freed quickly.

Prayers and acceptances

Contrast: J-Street-missing teenagers Kerry-kidnapping, despicable terrorist act

Ladaat.info reports on an incident that occurred this past Sunday in Antwerp, Belgium, when a group of Arabs threw stones at a bus transporting students from the "Talmud Torah" school. The police arrived to investigate the incident and took security tapes from the area. Thankfully, the children were uninjured.

HaGaon HaRav Amar’s Tefilla for the Kidnapped Teens

KikarHashabat relates that a grandfather of one of the kidnapped teens visited Rabbi Kanievsky and asked in which way we can strengthen ourselves. The Rav advised that men should learn the halachos of sheviit- shemitah, while women should accept Shabbos upon themselves earlier than the required time.

In the video below, the rabbi offers an explanation of shemitah which he expanded upon during a lecture on Parshat Behar from a couple of months ago.

16 Jun 2014


Eric H. Yoffie opines, No, Eric Cantor Did Not Lose Because He’s Jewish.

On Monday, only CBS This Morning reported Friday's stunning revelation that the IRS somehow lost two years worth of emails from Lois Lerner, the official at the center of the agency scandal in which conservative groups were unfairly targeted.

Continue reading: http://www.mrc.org/biasalerts/only-cbs-covers-irs-losing-two-years-lois-lerner-emails

Expressing gratitude

This past week Rabbi Wallerstein spoke about a book he wrote for ArtScroll which will hopefully be out in Elul which serves as a lesson a day for hakarat hatov, gratitude. May he be successful in reaching a wide audience in imparting values which are sadly lacking nowadays.

This past Friday a neighbor's boy rang my bell. He handed me a flower with a handwritten note. It was his way of thanking me for passing on the World Cup football stickers that I had been receiving in the supermarket I frequent, after purchasing certain items. I later complimented his mother for raising a child with such good middot. If anyone has a girl between the ages of 9 and twelve, I would be on the lookout for this boy in ten years from now. He will make a great husband!!!

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, the Rosh Yeshiva of Mekor Chaim, the school attended by the three 16 year-olds who have been abducted, spoke of the pain endured by the families, friends and teachers of the boys.

The rabbi expressed gratitude to the Israel Defense Forces,...

Click here to listen to An Evening Of Gratitude For The Refuah Of R. Haimoff.. With R. Oelbaum And R. Aderet

Finally, let's be grateful to  King's College London for developing a procedure which "encourages teeth to repair themselves with nature's own defence mechanism. There is no need for drilling, injections or filling." Let's hope painful techniques will be a thing of the past soon.

3 Jun 2014

Celebrating Shavuot

As Jews usher in the holiday of Shavuot to celebrate the giving of the Torah, it is worhwhile to revisit a 2013 Aish article about Rabbi Ovadia Yosef: Torah’s Commander-in-Chief.

A driver who regularly volunteers as part of an organization to bring patients to New York City hospitals free of charge was fined and his vehicle impounded Monday when a city agent thought he was illegally operating a driving service. The whole incident was later deemed a misunderstanding, but the damage was done.
Continue reading: http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/06/03/man-volunteering-to-drive-two-cancer-patients-to-the-hospital-gets-massive-shock-from-taxi-commission-slapped-in-the-face/

FreeBeacon reports Temple University on Defense Following Anti-Semitic Row.

Be a mountain

By now, I am sure many of you read the article about the 9-year-old boy who walked off the baseball field when an umpire asked him to remove his tzitzit. One comment posted caught my eye. It was about the chain reaction that began as a result of this incident.

the story did not end there!
I heard -2nd hand but maybe it can be confirmed by Shliach- that the Shliach in Kentucky told this story to his congregation and it caused an excitement in the shul..so the Shliach seized the opportunity and offered to purchase Tzitzis for anyone that would commit to put on Tzitzis at least once a week. 5 PEOPLE COMITED TO MITZVAS TZISIS,...

Can you imagine, after meah ve'esrim, when one will be ulitmately judged, an individual will be surprised to find more good deeds added to the scales. "But I didn't know Mr. John Doe Goldberg. Why am I being credited for the fact that he put on tzitzit?"

You may not have known him but your actions had a profound effect on him.

The article also contained a thought for Shavuot.

The Midrash tells us that G-d chose Mt. Sinai, and not a more impressive mountain, to teach us the value of humility. The question, of course, is this: If humility is paramount, why did G-d give us the Torah on a mountain at all? Why not a plain, or even a valley? The mere term "Mt. Sinai" is an oxymoron. It’s a mountain, towering and majestic. And it’s Sinai, meager compared to her sister mountains, humble. If humility is paramount, why did G-d give us the Torah on a mountain at all?

When G-d gave us the Torah and inaugurated us into Jew-hood, He said, "You are going to need to be real strong to be a Jew." Be a mountain. Have a backbone. Be a charismatic light unto the nations, and don’t give a hoot if people laugh at you.

But be a humble mountain. Humble in your recognition that your strength comes from G-d. Your life’s value is not about your image, it’s about your higher calling. Don’t measure yourself against the standards set by your neighbors; measure yourself against your soul’s potential.

Abigail R. Esman has written an article titled The French Jihadist Killings in Belgium: This is Just the Beginning.

The Washington Post writes about the Bergdhal prisoner exchange, "Lawmakers were not notified of the Guantanamo detainees’ transfer until after it occurred."

Free Beacon links to a video of White House Spokesperson Jay Carney answering a question at a June 21, 2013 press briefing about a detainee transfer in which he states, "As we have long said, however, we would not make any decisions about transfer of any detainees without consulting with Congress and without doing so in accordance with U.S. law."

In the most American of crimes, a South Carolina woman was arrested Saturday afternoon for stealing a Bible from Walmart.

Mizmor Le'David

What's up with New York University?

For the third time this spring, NYU has been in the national spotlight for anti-Semitism.

In March, NYU Professor Lisa Duggan organized a conference at NYU whose sole purpose was to promote a boycott of Israel intended to hasten the demise of the Jewish state. The “academic” conference, sponsored by four NYU departments, featured a workshop by the president of the NYU Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), Shafeka Hashash, on how to organize students for anti-Israel activism.
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/nyu-jewish-problem-article-1.1811838

2 Jun 2014

Police protection

Joods Actueel has a number of articles in Dutch related to the shooting at the Jewish Museum. Firstly, there is an interview with Mayor of Antwerp, Bart de Wever, who talks about whether the army should be protecting Jewish targets.

The director of the Joods Actueel protests against the tenor of an article about the reasons for the shooting which concludes with a paragraph that basically faults the intransigence of the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu which leads to a breeding ground for even more hatred.

Finally, there are photos of Jewish youngsters handing out baked goods to the policeman guarding the Jewish institutions since the attack. The police protection is scheduled to continue till after the holiday of Shavuot, even though the alleged attacker has been caught.

I can imagine a scene out of Rookie Blue at the roll call ot the Antwerp police these days.

The commander gives an assignment to two police officers, "Van der Heyden and De Wilde, today is your turn to guard the Gerer shtiebel."
However, another two police officers protest, "But, we want to guard the Gerer shtiebel. They serve the best danish."
And, as the commander reports that operations will wrap up today, the police officers protest in unison.
"Not until after Shavuot. We heard that the Belzer shul serves a cheese cake that you could just die for. It's mamash gevaldig!!!"

In the meantime, an article will be published in the GVA about a disturbing new phenomenon of overweight police officers serving in the Antwerp area. (I'm joking)

1 Jun 2014

The eternal Commandments

Rabbi Benjamin Blech has written an excellent article regarding the timelessness of the Ten Commandments. 

If God would have wanted to tweet the 10 Commandments on Twitter, He would’ve been restricted to 140 characters. As it is, He used 620 letters to write the entire Decalogue on the two tablets He gave to Moses on Mount Sinai. That’s because this magnificent summary of ethical behavior contains the key to all 613 mitzvot meant for the Jewish people as well as the 7 universal laws for mankind – 620 in all.
Continue reading: http://www.aish.com/jw/s/The-10-Commandments-Today.html?s=show

Click here to listen to Michael Bloomberg deliver a commencement speech at Harvard University in which he opined, "Conservative faculty members are at risk of becoming an endangered species."

Educational entities

Suspect arrested over Jewish museum shooting

The Jewish Press has published an article by Richard L. Cravatts titled Stealth Anti-Semitism in Middle School.

Z Street representative Lori Lowenthal Marcus spoke out in March 2013 about the harassment the pro-Israel group received from the Obama IRS:
They told us terrorism happens in Israel. Therefore, they had to look into our organization because they thought we might be funding terrorism. We’re a purely educational entity. We didn’t fund anybody. We barely funded ourselves.”
Continue reading:  http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2014/05/pro-israel-group-wins-ruling-against-irs-was-harassed-because-its-views-contradicted-the-administrations/

Jewish teen starts Montessori program for homeless children

Remembering Har Sinai

We find in the Torah that many mitzvos are Zecher L’Yetzias Mitzrayim.  We don’t find mitzvos that are Zecher L”Maamad Har Sinai.  Rav Aharon Kotler asks, since the whole point of leaving Mitzrayim was to receive the Torah, aren’t we focusing on the wrong thing?  Mitzrayim is only a means to the end of receiving the Torah.  Shouldn’t we be concerned with remembering Har Sinai?

He answers that memories are needed for something that happened in the past and isn’t here right now.  We can’t move the past forward, so we take ourselves back in time.  This applies to Yetzias Mitzrayim where remembering is appropriate.  However says Rav Aharon, Ma’amad Har Sinai is something that can happen every moment of every day.  When a person learns the way he should, that moment itself is no less than when we stood by Har Sinai.  He proves this from the gemaros where we find Tanaim learning Torah and consumed in fire, such as Rebbi Eliezer and Rebbi Yehoshua at the Bris Milah of Elisha ben Avuya (Yerushalmi Chagiga 2:1) and Yonason ben Uziel where birds flying overhead were burned by the fire (Succah 28a).

We see from hear that limud hatorah BiKedusha UB’Tahara can actually bring the same Kedusha of Ma’amad Har Sinai right here and right now.  Even people with short memories can constantly enjoy hearing the words of Hashem anytime anywhere! (Kol MeiHeichal - Shavuos 5766)

Members of Reform and Conservative synagogues have signed on to recent full-page advertisements in Jewish newspapers around the country, blasting their denomination’s leaders for supporting the (eventually failed) bid of the self-labeled “pro-Israel, pro-peace” lobby J Street to join the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
...“Voting to include J Street in the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations was not advocating for diversity. It was falling for duplicity,” said the Conservative ad,...