"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 Mar 2013

Mashiach's Seudah

Kikar Hashabat reports about Israeli comedian, Yakov Cohen, who stated that his greatest achievement in his life was to be "chozer biteshuva" around a decade ago.  Referring to the Sabbath, he says he is not willing to give up the peace of mind that comes with observing that day.

The Eighth Day of Pesach is traditionally associated with our hopes for the coming of Mashiach. For this reason, the Haftorah read on that day contains many prophecies which refer to the Era of the Redemption. Among the best-known of these: “The wolf will dwell with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with a young goat”; and, “He will raise a banner for the nations and gather in the exiles of Israel.”
About two hundred and fifty years ago, as the time for Mashiach drew closer, the Baal Shem Tov instituted a custom which underlines the connection between the Redemption and the Eighth Day of Pesach: on that day he would partake of Mashiach’s Seudah, the festive meal of Mashiach.
Continue reading: http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/151041/jewish/The-Eighth-Day-of-Pesach-The-Feast-of-Mashiach.htm

Advice from a Jewish mother

The Blaze has titled an article ‘Embarrassing’ Mother’s Advice to Ivy League Women: ‘Find a Husband on Campus Before You Graduate.'

Susan Patton has some advice for the young women at her alma mater Princeton University: find a husband while you’re still there.
The letter printed in Friday’s Daily Princetonian to “the young women of Princeton: the daughters I never had” details not only why it’s important to find a man while still in the ivy league school but also how women should consider choosing their mate.
“For most of you, the cornerstone of your future and happiness will be inextricably linked to the man you marry, and you will never again have this concentration of men who are worthy of you,” Patton wrote in the guest op-ed. “Here’s what nobody is telling you: Find a husband on campus before you graduate. Yes, I went there.”
...“Honestly, I just thought this was some good advice from a Jewish mother,” she said.
I agree and I don't understand why the Blaze had to characterize the advice as embarrassing.

30 Mar 2013

Bavaria and Greece

The German state of Bavaria has struck a sour note with the family of celebrated classical composer Felix Mendelssohn by refusing to return a precious Picasso painting lost during the Nazis’ pre-Holocaust persecution of German Jews.
Three of Mendelssohn’s relatives are suing Bavaria over “Madame Soler,” a 1903 portrait from the artist’s popular “Blue Period” that’s worth an estimated $100 million.

Virulent anti-Semitism in greece is the topic of a Times of Israel article.

At the start of Greece’s economic meltdown around 2009, Greek Jews already thought their country was in a bad way politically when the extreme right-wing Popular Orthodox Party (LAOS) came out of virtually nowhere to win seven percent of the national vote. Back in 2001, LAOS leader and MP Georgios Karatzaferis had raised the question of Jewish complicity in the 9/11 attacks in Parliament, stating that “the Jews have no right to provoke, because they have filled the world with crimes.”

But worse was to come. LAOS has now been overshadowed by Chrisi Avgi or “Golden Dawn,” a party that that bolsters its grassroots support by demonizing Jewish ghosts: Its high-flying leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos declares: “There were no ovens. This is a lie. I believe that it is a lie….There were no gas chambers either.”
Read more: http://www.timesofisrael.com/greeks-find-cause-of-all-their-woes-the-jews/

Since the New York Times didn't print Frimet Roth's letter, I am calling attention to it and am directing you to read it here.

29 Mar 2013

Zeman Herutenu

Our Sages, in formulating the text of the Yom Tob prayer, referred to Pesah as “Zeman Herutenu” – “our occasion of freedom.” The central theme of Pesah, then, is freedom.

Tradition teaches that our holidays are not purely commemorative. We do not observe the holidays simply to commemorate events that took place long ago. Rather, the forces that were in play and brought about those events resurface each year on each holiday. This means that on Pesah we do not simply commemorate our attainment of freedom from the Egyptians, but rather have the unique potential to achieve freedom ourselves. On Pesah, the spiritual forces that enable us to achieve freedom are available to us, empowering us to reach this goal.
Continue reading: http://www.dailyhalacha.com/WeeklyParasha.asp

You're in the army now

This week I read an article titled Israel: Bits, Bytes and Bombs by Thomas Friedman wrote, "Which is why Palestinians need to drop all their preconditions and enter negotiations and Israel needs to halt settlements and test and test again whether President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad of the Palestinian Authority can deliver. Thanks to their cooperation with the Israeli security services, no Israeli was killed in the West Bank by terrorism in 2012."

I was struck by the journalist's attribution that no Israeli was killed in the West Bank in 2012 due to PA cooperation. What about the attacks thwarted solely by the Israeli army or the rock attacks that led to on an infant being critically injured?

This morning YNET writes, "The IDF released a video Thursday featuring two Tanzim members as they open fire at cars traveling in the West Bank. The shooting took place in February.

Once the cameras spotted the shooters, an IDF unit arrived at the scene and apprehended the terrorists." Watch video here.

Speaking about the army, the Washington Post reports, "A U.S. Army veteran, who boasted on Facebook of his military adventures with Syrian rebels, was charged Thursday with firing rocket propelled grenades as part of an attack led by an al-Qaida group against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Eric Harroun, 30, of Phoenix, was charged in U.S. District Court in Alexandria with conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction — specifically, a rocket propelled grenade launcher — outside the U.S."

...On the Facebook page, Harroun also stated that “the only good Zionist is a dead Zionist” and that he intended to travel to the Palestinian territory because of Israeli atrocities there, according to the affidavit. The affidavit states that Harroun served in the Army from 2000 to 2003, when he received a medical discharge after he was injured in a car accident.
Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/us-army-veteran-charged-with-fighting-with-al-qaida-in-syria-using-weapon-of-mass-destruction/2013/03/28/33354c02-97d7-11e2-b5b4-b63027b499de_print.html

28 Mar 2013

Jewish artifacts and Jewish comments

Jewish Artifacts To Go For Millions In Steinhardt Judaica Auction.
Steinhardt bought Biblical antiquities and ceremonial objects and books from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. He acquired the second volume of a 15th-century illuminated manuscript of Jewish laws, the Mishneh Torah. (The first volume had already been taken by the Vatican.) And he kept buying tzedakah boxes.
The Mishneh Torah is going on the block with an estimate of $4.5 million to $6 million,...

Huffington Post has The Lord Ahmed Interview: Peer 'Completely And Unreservedly' Apologises To Jewish Community.
The peer says he has "the greatest respect" for the Jewish community and could not "believe [the video] when I saw it".
I am relieved to hear him confess that his comments were "completely wrong. Unacceptable."
So why make them? At first, the former Labour councillor and property developer is defensive. "Probably because of the terrible experience of the accident…" His voice trails off. "I cannot honestly say why.." He starts to stutter. Then a pause. Then, a refreshingly honest admission: "It must have been a twisted mind that said those things."

The Literal Genesis Trial

Two articles at the Guardian caught my eye this morning.

The Guardian reports, "Berlin museum's latest show uses controversial live exhibit to teach visitors about Jewishness."

As well as musings on the definition of kosher food and the Wailing Wall, there are references to David Beckham and Prince Charles, alongside Marilyn Monroe, who converted in the 1950s, and Charlie Chaplin, whose Jewish roots were said to lie in Hungary.

Beckham's credentials? The tattoo on his arm of a Hebrew verse from the Song of Solomon as well as his assertions that he is half Jewish. As for Prince Charles, he was circumcised by the then royal circumcisor, Rabbi Jacob Snowman, according to a tradition brought by George I from his homeland.,
Read more: http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2013/mar/27/jewish-museum-jews-berlin-exhibition

A California creationist is offering a $10,000 challenge to anyone who can prove in front of a judge that science contradicts the literal interpretation of the book of Genesis.

Dr Joseph Mastropaolo, who says he has set up the contest, the Literal Genesis Trial, in the hope of improving the quality of arguments between creationists and evolutionists, has pledged to put $10,000 of his own money into an escrow account before the debate. His competitor would be expected to do the same. The winner would take the $20,000 balance.
Continue reading: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/mar/25/creationist-trial-bible-genesis-evolution

27 Mar 2013

Anti-Semitism and anti-Israel

During a roundtable discussion on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” the issue of anti-Semitism was broached as regards the capability of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s to effectively push for gun control.
Read more: http://www.algemeiner.com/2013/03/25/msnbc-host-anti-semitism-may-derail-nyc-mayors-push-for-gun-control-video/

Why is this day different from all other days?

Because a pro-Palestinian group picked the first day of Passover to unveil a button-pushing new ad campaign that compares Israel to racist South Africa.
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/israel-slammed-new-ad-campaign-article-1.1299402

A couple of days ago the CSMonitor wrote about President Obama's annual Pesach Seder.

The seder tradition began in 2008 when candidate Obama unexpectedly joined a seder arranged by three young Jewish aides in the basement of a Sheraton hotel in Harrisburg, Pa., during some of the darkest days of his campaign.
...After the pledge that ends the traditional seder, “next year in Jerusalem,” candidate Obama raised his glass and declared, “Next year in the White House,”

One wonders what was uttered at the seder this year. Perhaps, "Next year in divided Jerusalem"?

24 Mar 2013

A Message from the Kalever Rebbe – Pesach 5773

Jewish Weapons – The Key to Our Protection

The pictures are broadcast to us from our Holy land, 6,000 miles away. Political protocol is strictly followed as the most powerful man in the world pays his first state visit to Israel. The leaders of both countries conduct urgent meetings on how to deal with threats that loom most ominously from Israel’s hostile “neighbors,” most notably Iran which purports to challenge Israel’s very existence. Even closer to the homeland is the very country which had enslaved our ancestors some 3,300 years ago. Despite formal peace treaties between Israel and Egypt, the relative calm which has prevailed over the past few decades appears to be in jeopardy as the entire region becomes increasingly destabilized. It is hardly coincidental that on the eve of our holiday of historical national redemption, we find ourselves, once again, preoccupied with serious matters pertaining to ensuring our continued freedom from the enemies arrayed against us. What common sense lessons can we learn from the story of Pesach from three and half millennia ago, to help us deal with the challenges we face today?

Truth be told, there is very little that transpired in the Pesach narrative that can be understood with common sense. In fact, every step of the way, the instructions God gave to Moshe and the Children of Israel all but defied common sense.

Consider Hashem’s very choice of Moshe Rabbenu as His spokesman to go to Pharaoh to secure the freedom of the Jewish people. Instead of choosing the most skilled and proficient politician and negotiator, Hashem chose a political refugee, convicted of murder, who suffered from a speech impediment to boot. Nevertheless, under Hashem’s protection Moshe entered the palace and instead of immediately summoning the executioner, Pharaoh engaged him in debate and continued to engage Moshe for nine plagues that followed.

When the Bnei Yisrael were commanded to tie a sheep, the deity of the Egyptians, to their bedposts in preparation for its slaughter, it would have been wise to avoid contact with the Egyptians until the Korban Pesach ceremony was completed. Instead, Hashem instructed the Jews to approach the Egyptians to borrow gold, silver and beautiful clothing. And again, under Hashem’s protection not a single Jew was harmed by a Mitzri.

And finally, as the clock struck midnight of the fifteenth Nissan and the Egyptian firstborns were smitten by Makas Bechoros, even though the Egyptians frantically urged the Jews to leave their country, the Jews resisted the temptation to flee in the darkness and cover of night. They steadfastly awaited the command from Hashem to begin their march to freedom, which did not come until morning. The Bnei Yisrael walked out of Mitzrayim, “B’Etzem HaYom Hazeh,” in the full light of day and in full sight of their erstwhile taskmasters. And yet again, defying common sense, not a single sword was lifted against them to prevent them from leaving. They left with their walking sticks in hand and sacks of possessions slung over their shoulders, trusting fully in Hashem’s divine protection.

The lesson and message for us today is abundantly clear. The most powerful weapon we Jews possess in our arsenal to defend ourselves against those who threaten us, is our unwavering faith in our Father in Heaven and an unswerving commitment to live our lives in accordance with His will as He taught us through His holy Torah. This is what has preserved us throughout the course of our turbulent history.

And, on the night of the Seder, many Jews have a custom of reenacting the exodus in dramatic fashion, walking around their Seder table with a stick in hand and their Matzos slung over their shoulders in a little sack to show that we too follow in the path our forefathers blazed for us. A path of renewed commitment to Hashem that will lead us to the final and ultimate redemption.

Wishing you and your families a Kosher and joyous Pesach filled with Hashem’s myriad blessings.

Repentance and giving thanks

Kikar Hashabat writes about an interview in which Baoz Mauda, winner of the fifth season of Israeli TV program 'Star is Born' and Israel's representative to the Eurovision 2008, speaks about starting to observe mitzvot.

"I went to the real boss, the  Creator and He gave me instructions."

The singer prays and learns three hours of gemara every day.
Read full article in Hebrew: http://www.kikarhashabat.co.il/בועז-מעודה-עם-כיפה-ה-הוא-הבוס.html

Speaking about the Creator, Rabbi Dr. Eliyahu Safran has a fantastic article about  Hakarat Hatov and the Dayeinu prayer.

Dayeinu is the primary Pesach lesson of hakarat hatov. It teaches us to focus on what we have – and to be grateful – because God owes us nothing, but has given us so much. Therefore, when God favors us with His mercy and goodness, we need to immediately express our gratitude to Him. On Pesach our gratitude takes the form of Dayeinu. Once the heart of the Haggadah's text revealing all of the miracles and wonders of Yetziat Mitzrayim have been retold, it is natural for the mokir tov to express hakarat hatov.
We recount each of the fifteen acts of Divine kindnesses, each of which would have been enough to warrant our hakarat hatovtot by itself! Dayeinu. Each of these kindnesses would have been enough. But fifteen! Emet expects and even demands that chesed will beget chesed, even though God derived joy by bringing us out of Egypt . . . by giving us their wealth, dividing the sea, leading us through dry land, providing for our needs in the wilderness, feeding us with manna, giving us the Shabbat, bringing us before Mount Sinai . . . We therefore follow our verbal expression of hakarat hatov, Dayeinu!
Ultimately, dayeinu,every taker must become a giver, a giver with pure heart and cheerful spirit. That is hakarat hatov. And our ultimate hakarat hatov response to God is manifested through our fulfillment of His mitzvot.

23 Mar 2013

The hidden Jews

The Daily Mail writes about a book titled 'You Don't Get Us'  which details stories of 15 children who were able to survive the Holocaust because they were hidden by righteous people.   
Click here to read some of the stories. 

15 Mar 2013

When the Nasi sins

"Asher Nasi Yechta", when the Nasi sins (4:22). Rasho brings down the gemara (Horiyos 10b) that says Asher is from "Ashrei", "Ashrei HaDor SheHaNasi Yechta", fortunate is the generation whose Nasi sins. What is so goods about having a Nasi who sins? Is it not a public scandal when he is forced to march in front of the cameras to bring his Korban in the Bais HaMikdash?

The Chida is Midayek in the word Yechta. Chait is an error, a misjudgment. Even the Nasi can make a mistake and his tshuva is a Kiddush Hashem. Unfortunate is the generation whose Nasi is arrogant, that is a Pesha, criminal behavior that will lead to many other aveiros and surely harm the entire nation. When the Nasi is only a Chotei and does tshuva, the generation is very fortunate.

The Iturei Torah brings from Rav Menchem Dovid of Amshinov that a person who is perfect and doesn't know what it means to lose the battle against temptation will not be sympathetic to those who are not perfect. A good leader is one who understands the struggles of the average man. When the Nasi himself tasted chait the generation is fortunate as he has experienced their plight as well and can help lead them towards the golden path.

14 Mar 2013

Tale of Irena Sendler

There are a number of projects and programs which honor Chasiday Umos Haolam. One of the most recent and most unique projects which recognizes a Righteous Gentile has been turned into a performance, a website, a display and even a book.

The project is titled "Life in a Jar" and honors a Polish woman who not only saved over 2500 children during the Holocaust but took the time and effort to document these children's names and whereabouts so that they could be reunited with their families or, at the very least, with their community, after the war.

In 1939 Irena Sendler, a Polish social worker, joined the Zagota -- a Polish underground group devoted to helping Jews escape from the Nazis. In her role as a social worker she was allowed to enter the Warsaw ghetto where she quickly realized that the fate of the residents was death. Sendler identified orphans whom she could smuggle out of the ghetto and also persuaded parents to allow her to remove their children to safety.

Sendler, together with other Zagota members, transferred the children through clandestine means to the Polish part of Warsaw, sometimes through the Old Courthouse which was located on the edge of the ghetto and other times through sewer pipes under the streets, in ambulances, under seats in trams or even in toolboxes and other bags.

Once she had removed a child from the ghetto Sendler set about locating a hiding place for the child. She documented each child's name, family name and the place where the child was being taken on sheets of tissue paper which she put into jars and buried in her yard.

Sendler was captured by the Nazis in 1943 and interrogated under torture but she never revealed anything about the children's whereabouts. Zagota members bribed guards to release her and Sendler was forced into hiding until the end of the war.

The story of Irena Sendler was discovered, researched and archived by a group of Kansas high school students who have created a variety of programs through the Lowell Milken Center and funding of Jewish Philanthropist Lowell Milken to publicize the story.

Budding trees

The Halacha says that if someone sees Ilanot Korchim, trees that have began to bud, so he must make a Beracha; “Baruch Ata Hashem Elokenu Melech HaOlam Shelo Chisar BeOloamo Kelum, Uvara Vo Briyot Tovot V'Ilanot Tovot L'Hanot Bahem B'nei Adam.” This is the Beracha we call Birkat HaIlanot.

Preferably, the Beracha should be made in the month of Nisan. Although the Beracha can really be made so long as you can see the trees budding, but according to the Kabala, there is a lot of mysticism behind the Beracha Birkat Hailanot. 
Read more: http://www.dailyhalacha.com/m/halacha.aspx?id=247

You can click here to see HaRav Ovadia Yosef fulfilling the mitzvah at the earliest opportunity, this past Tuesday on Rosh Chodesh Nissan.

13 Mar 2013

A letter to his parents

INN describes the heart-wrenching letter that Lt. Col. Noam Ron requested to be read to his parents, in case he was killed in action.

In the letter, which he wrote on July 24, 2006, Noam Ron made reference to the tragic death of his younger brother, Eyal, years earlier. "I am going to meet Eyal, whom I miss very much," he wrote. "For you, this will be a second blow, and I really feel sorry for you. Try to do everything in order to bring back the smile and the joy to your lives. Keep looking at the full half of the glass and know that there is nothing Eyal and I want more than for you to be happy."
Continue reading: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/166195

Security agencies have banned an Egyptian film about the Arab nation's once-thriving Jewish community just a day before it was due to open in cinemas, according to the documentary's producer.

The Jews of Egypt examines the lives of the country's estimated 65,000 Jews prior to their departure in the late 1950s due to Egypt's conflict with Israel. Producer Haytham el-Khamissy said no reason had been given for the ban, which recalls the worst excesses of the famously censorial regime of former dictator Hosni Mubarak.
Read more: http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2013/mar/13/egypt-blocks-film-jewish-community

Divisive rhetoric

The SA Jewish Board of Deputies has complained to the SA Human Rights Commission about Western Cape ANC leader Marius Fransman's "divisive rhetoric" on radio.

But Fransman, who is deputy minister of international relations and cooperation, said the board was being selective in its outrage.

On a community radio station two weeks ago, Fransman condemned the DA-controlled Cape Town council for giving building contracts to "Jewish businessmen" as opposed to Muslims.
Read more: http://www.timeslive.co.za/thetimes/2013/03/13/jewish-board-takes-fransman-to-rights-body

The Blaze reports about an interview on CNN of Laura Bush.

CNN anchor Erin Burnett during an interview with former first lady Laura Bush that aired Monday posed a bit of a head-scratcher: Should we “accept” anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism “when we want to make change” in the Middle East? Continue reading: http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/03/12/cnn-anchors-stunning-question-to-laura-bush-to-affect-change-do-we-just-need-to-accept-some-anti-semitism-anti-americanism/

12 Mar 2013

His adored city

The Guardian discusses the Vienna Philharmonic and the Jewish musicians who perished during the war. Among the musicians was violinist Viktor Robitsek who was fired because he was Jewish.

Armin Tyroler was one of the Philharmonic's most celebrated musicians. A teacher, professor of music, and a campaigner for better conditions for his less fortunate colleagues, Tyroler was honoured by the city of Vienna in 1933. In his acceptance speech he argued that musicians could only be artists if they were freed from hardship. He called Vienna his "adored city" and said he wanted it to be a "city of songs, a city of happiness". 
... On October 28, 1944, he and his wife were deported to Auschwitz. He was gassed two days later.
Read more: http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2013/mar/11/vienna-philharmonic-nazi-secrets

Perhaps this gives us pause to reflect on our adored cities.

11 Mar 2013

Rosh Chodesh Nissan

One might think that the obligation to recount the Exodus is from the beginning of the month (of Nissan). Therefore the Torah says, "On that day..."

Rosh Chodesh Nissan ― the first day of Nissan ― is one of the most significant days in Jewish history. It was then, in Egypt, that God gave the first mitzvah to the Jewish people ― the mitzvah of declaring the new moon and sanctifying the new month. For 2,448 years, God did so Himself, but now He entrusted the honor and responsibility to the Jewish people.

Why is this mitzvah so significant? Because it shows that we have the ability (and responsibility) to sanctify our lives and the passage of time. With this power to change and determine physical reality, we thereby become partners in the ongoing process of creation.

The First Day of Nisan is Rosh HaShanah for the following five matters:

1. Kings of Israel - They count their reigns from the First of Nisan, such that even if a King began his reign at the end of Adar, once Nisan began, it would be considered as the Second Year of his reign

2. Pilgrim Festivals - The Festival which occurs in Nisan, namely Pesach, is considered the First of the Three Pilgrim Festivals: Pesach, Shavuot, Sukkot. The application is that if a person donated a sacrifice, he has violated the prohibition of "Do not Delay" only if the time interval has passed defined by the three Festivals in the above order, such that if the donation was made, say, after Pesach, "Do not Delay" has not been violated until Shavuot, Sukkot, Pesach, Shavuot, and again, Sukkot, have passed.
Continue reading:  http://www.ou.org/chagim/roshchodesh/nisan/roshch.htm

Malmo, the Eurovision contest and Shavuot

What will the woman selected to represent Israel in the Eurovision contest be thinking about when she wakes up on the morning of May 15th in Malmo?

a) This is a good day to pariticpate in a "kippah walk" to fight the anti-Semitisim extant in this city.

b) I hope I can garner enough votes today in the semi-finals so that I can participate in the finals on Shabbos, May 17th.

c) Today is Shavout when the Jewish people celebrate that Hashem chose our nation to give us the Torah on Mount Sinai. But, I want to be "kechol hagoyim."

10 Mar 2013

Pesach and the absence of chametz

"I just want everybody to know that if you are going through something, pick up the phone and call your siblings, your family and tell them you love them. You never know what can happen. Tomorrow is not promised to anybody."

Ashia Cayson upon learning of her sister's death in a car crash in Ohio Sunday morning.

Click here for Pesach – An Overview – By Rabbi Yair Hoffman.

"Lo Sei'aseh Chametz Ki Chol Si'or... Lo Saktiru Mimenu Isheh Lashem" (Vayikra 2:11). The two places that the Torah forbids Chometz is on the Mizbei'ach all year round, and in every person's home on Pesach. Why is this?

The Netziv in Hemek Davar says that leavening bread is using human intervention to add on to the natural state of the creation. The closer we are to Hashem the less appropriate it is for us to alter the natural order and manipulate the Briah. Therefore in the Bais HaMikdash, the dwelling place for the Shechina on earth, it is inappropriate to ever have Chametz on the Mizbei'ach to be offered up to Hashem.

Similarly, Pesach is the Yom Tov that imbues Emunah into our souls. Yetzias Mitzrayim is the banner we wave as the proof of Hashem's control over the world and His love for us, and we frequently mention Zeicher Litzias Mitzrayim. During this Yom Tov where we bask in the arms of our great Protector and Father in Shamayim, we refrain from eating any Chametz and leave the Briah as He made it, without our intervention.

Separation of church and state

A federal lawsuit seeking to have a Ten Commandments monument removed from the grounds of Connellsville Area Junior High School can continue.
In a court ruling issued on Thursday, U.S. District Judge Terrence McVerry refused to dismiss the lawsuit filed by the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation, which contended the monument violated the U.S. Constitution's division of church and state provision.
Read more: http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/3617165-74/district-monument-lawsuit#ixzz2N7T56BbA

Apparently separation of church and state is an issue, not separation of mosque and state.

Parents in a Texas school district are reporting officials told their children to sign “waivers” for their participation in a class where they wore Islamic burqas following a WND report on the activity.

Last week, WND reported that a school in Lumberton, Texas, had underage students wear burqas as part of a lesson on Islam in a ninth-grade high school geography class. A photo of the students in burqas was included in the report.
Now parents report the students were required to come to the principal’s office and sign “incident reports” without the option to refuse. They stated wearing the burqas was voluntary and not mandatory.
Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2013/03/parent-school-demanded-waivers-after-wnd-report/#yRDmE7WloGaDIGVJ.99

9 Mar 2013

The Orthodox

Rabbi Alex Chapper highlights website enterprises that allow Torah to bloom through the internet including www.childrensrabbi.com, gTorah.com,  http://thinkingdafyomi.com/.

Two article about Orthodox Jews caught my eye this evening.

An incendiary row involving the UK's largest community of ultra-orthodox Jews has been sparked by a government drive to devolve planning laws. Haredi Jews are facing off against other residents of Stamford Hill in London in a battle for control of planning rights that has boiled over into accusations of antisemitism and "social cleansing".
Read more: http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/mar/08/hackney-planning-row-orthdox-jewish

Nationwide, only 21 percent of non-Orthodox Jews between the ages of 18 and 29 are married. But an astounding 71 percent of Orthodox Jews are married at that age.
...For the people who shop at Pomegranate, the collective covenant with God is the primary reality and obedience to the laws is the primary obligation. They go shopping like the rest of us, but their shopping is minutely governed by an external moral order.
...The modern Orthodox are rooted in that deeper sense of collective purpose. They are like the grocery store Pomegranate, superficially a comfortable part of mainstream American culture, but built upon a moral code that is deeply countercultural.
H/T Yeranen Yaakov

8 Mar 2013

Parshat Hachodesh

At the 7 minute mark of the video below, a journalist questions the State Department Spokesperson regarding Samira Ibrahim, who was supposed to receive a Woman of Courage award.

This week, in addition to the regular Parsha, we read the section known as HaChodesh. The additional sections of Shekalim, Zachor, Parah, and Chodesh are read prior to Pesach for both commemorative and practical reasons.

This additional section from Shemos, Parshas Bo, Chapter 12, is read on the Shabbos before the month of Nissan, or on the Shabbos of Rosh Chodesh Nissan. This section is an account of the very first Mitzvah given to the Jewish people as a nation. It includes the concept of Rosh Chodesh - the New Moon, as well as the basic laws of Pesach and the Pascal Lamb. http://www.torah.org/learning/parsha/hsummary/hachodesh.html

I received an email this morning containing an interesting thought on Parshat Pekudei by Rabbi Frand.

Parshas Pekudei is the last of 5 Parshiyos in the second half of Sefer Shmos that contains the details of how the Mishkan was built. If we feel a sense of accomplishment at having learned these 5 parshas, we can imagine the joy the people experienced at the momentous occasion in Parshas Pekudei, when the Mishkan was finally assembled for the first time. We read in the parsha that "Moshe saw all the work, and behold! - They had done it as Hashem had commanded; so had they done; and Moshe blessed them. [Shmos 39:43]"

Rashi quotes Chazal that the blessing Moshe gave them was "May the Divine Presence of G-d rest in the work of your hands". Now that all is said and done, the blessing was that the L-rd should rest His Presence on the people and on the building.

Rav Simcha Schepps, who was a Rosh Yeshiva in Torah VoDaas, shared an interesting insight. Rav Schepps says that a more logical place to have given the Jewish people this Bracha [blessing] would have been at the outset of the building of the Mishkan.

Continue reading: http://www.torah.org/learning/ravfrand/5773/vayakhel.html

7 Mar 2013

The letter

The New York Times has an article about Nachman Glauber's letter to his parents on the occasion of his marriage.

The young groom took some moments on his wedding day to write a letter thanking his parents for never sparing time or money if he needed, say, a tutor or an eye doctor, and for sending him to yeshiva “to learn your values, religious and worldly, until I reached to this current lucky moment.”

If you can't view the letter at the NYT, you can click here.

Jonathan posted a comment at the end of the article, "I think I am going to write my mother a letter today."

How many of us read the article without coming up with Jonathan's idea?
How many of us got married without coming up with Nachman Glauber's idea?

This morning I posted about a woman who is to receive an award at the State Deparment tomorrow. Michelle Malkin discusses this at the 7' 39  mark in the video below.

1 Mar 2013

Best for the people

Rabbi Eli Mansour describes the traits of a great leader, as evidenced by Moshe Rabbeinu who descended from Mount Sinai, only to observe Bnei Yisrael busy with the golden calf.

In short, the people made and worshipped the golden calf thinking that Moshe Rabbenu had died. And yet, the Torah tells that on the day they committed this sin, “Va’yakumu Le’sahek” – “They arose to make merry.” The worship was accompanied by frivolous merriment and festivity. There was song, dance, and all manner of exuberant celebration. Moshe had every reason to feel terribly offended by the people’s jubilation. After all he had done for them, leading them out of Egypt and through the sea, caring for them like a faithful shepherd and bringing them the Torah, here they were celebrating what they thought was his death. No mourning, no grief, no eulogies – only celebration and festivity!

But this did not bother Moshe or affect his commitment to the people one iota. He understood that this is not personal. Moshe did not say to himself, “What an ungrateful people!” Rather, he thought, “It’s not their fault. They’re frail, they were only recently freed from generations of harsh slavery. This is not about me.” And therefore he did not give up on them or reject them. He pleaded courageously and passionately on their behalf, effectively saving them from annihilation.

This is a true model of greatness. Moshe here shows us the ability to separate his personal feelings from the people’s needs. His mind was focused not on his ego, on the respect and consideration owed to him, but rather on what was best for the people.

Read full devar Torah: http://www.dailyhalacha.com/WeeklyParasha.asp

What a novel idea that a leader should think of his people first and put aside his ego.

Reuters describes the problems encountering John Kerry in light of his visit to Turkey and the offensive comments made by the Turkish leader.

A row over Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's description of Zionism as a crime against humanity risked overshadowing U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's visit to Turkey on Friday, his first to a Muslim nation since taking office.
..."This was particularly offensive, frankly, to call Zionism a crime against humanity ... It does have a corrosive effect (on relations)," a senior U.S. official told reporters as Kerry flew to Ankara.
"I am sure the secretary will be very clear about how dismayed we were to hear it," the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.
Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/03/01/us-usa-turkey-idUSBRE9200EB20130301