"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 2013

Messages of hate

VIN reported on anti-Semitic graffiti in Kiryas Joel. As I googled some more information, I was surprised by the number of articles about anti-Semitic graffiti incidents published in the past week alone.

June 30
State police are asking the public for help after anti-Semitic messages were found all over a playground in Kiryas Joel.

June 28
In the latest anti-Semitic incident in Montreal, the phrase “f--- Israhell” and two swastikas were scrawled on June 14 on the Naot shoe store located on St. Denis Street, Shalom Toronto reported.

Three males face charges after a garage, a door and a car were defaced with hateful graffiti in the Bathurst Street and Hwy. 401 area.
Police allege suspects entered a garage and defaced property inside with anti-Semitic symbols.

June 24
The NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating after anti-Semitic graffiti was found Monday outside a building that houses a community board in the Borough Park section of Brooklyn.

Shocking messages of hate have been found on property across Far Rockaway, Queens – smeared across a school and synagogue.
As CBS 2’s Emily Smith reported, the words “kill Jews” were scrawled on a fence post at Yeshiva Ateres Shimon, at Mott and Caffrey avenues in Far Rockaway. It left Rabbi Moshe Schreiber almost speechless.

Lightning hits reform Jewish summer camp

A lightning strike in a field at an Indianapolis summer camp injured three children Saturday afternoon, leaving one in critical condition, police said.
Emergency crews responded to the Goldman Union Camp Institute, a reform Jewish camp near Zionsville, Ind., around 1:40 p.m. Saturday, where they learned that three children had been hit by a sudden burst of lightning, according to an Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department release.
Read more: http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/06/29/19207982-lightning-strikes-three-children-at-indianapolis-summer-camp-one-critically-injured?lite

A livid lawman and protests

A Louisiana lawman is livid over the federal government’s decision to cut off funds for two programs to help troubled young people, all, he says, because he refused to sign a pledge to bar prayer or any mention of God at their meetings.
Read more: http://radio.foxnews.com/toddstarnes/top-stories/doj-defunds-young-marines-chapter-that-referenced-god.html

The video below shows protests during President Obama's visit in South Africa. Note the doctoring of the President's picture and the words of the sign at 58 seconds into the video.

28 Jun 2013

Hope and faith

I caught the video below at Crown Heights info. May the Mandell family continue with their good works in providing comfort to families who suffer loss.


27 Jun 2013

The stonecutter

I was listening to Rabbi Zecharia Wallerstein's latest lecture on Parshat Pinchas when he mentioned a short story about a stonecutter who yearned to be someone else. For those who don't know the story, here goes.

Once upon a time there was a stonecutter. Every day he went into the mountains to hew stones from the rocks. While working, the stonecutter always sang merrily as he was happy with his life, he had plenty to eat and no worries.
One day he had to drop a load of stones at the villa of a very wealthy man. When he saw the beautiful house, an agonizing yearning came over him for the first time in his life. ‘How I would love to be that rich’, he sighed. ‘Then I wouldn’t have to sweat like this anymore to earn my keep.’ He was absolutely amazed when he heard a voice say, ‘Your wish will be fulfilled, from now on you will get what you long for.’
Continue reading: http://www.meaningful-stories.com/taleweb/p000325/online_stories/the_stonecutter

Speaking about wealthy, click here at the Daily Mail to see a purple 'glow-in-the-dark' £350,000 Lamborghini that was impounded by police in Knightsbridge.

A covenant of peace

I sometimes send birthday cards through 123greetings.com.
The other day I received an email message that a friend was celebrating her birthday the next day. I immediately selected a card from the site with instructions to send the card on her birthday.
This morning I received an email from my friend, thanking me for the card but she wrote that she felt bad that she had forgotten mine. She signed off the email, "Thank you, dear friend, for remembering."
Do I confess that I didn't remember but actually was reminded, or do I leave things be?

Below is a thought on the Parsha by Rabbi Dr. Raymond Apple.

In the narrative from which this week’s sidra gets its name, Pinchas boldly steps in to defend the honour of God when he sees blatant immorality happening in the camp.
By taking up a spear and physically attacking those who are responsible for the intolerable act, Pinchas technically commits a grave breach of the peace. Yet what does God do? He rewards him! He gives him “a covenant of peace”! It all seems so strange. How can “no-peace” be rewarded with peace?
Obviously it all depends on what we mean by “peace”. It becomes clear when we analyse the rabbinic idea (Ber. 56b) which distinguishes between the bird, the river and the kettle.
When there is a disturbance, the bird flies away. That’s one kind of peace, when you walk away, extricate yourself from conflict, and escape for the sake of a quiet life.
The river flows on, regardless of what is raging about it on both sides. That’s a second kind of peace, when you refuse to get involved, you maintain your equilibrium, you keep your cool, you don’t get worked up.
The kettle boils up, but a new entity emerges from all the activity. That’s also a category of peace, when the contents of the kettle grapple with each other and come out blended.
What then did Pinchas do? He did not run away or remain unaffected. He jumped into the fray, but when things settled down there came a new situation of calm and co-operation, which is another way of saying that there was peace in the camp.

18 Jun 2013

Shema Yisrael

Shema Yisrael – "Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One" – is perhaps the most famous of all Jewish sayings.
The Shema is a declaration of faith, a pledge of allegiance to One God. It is said upon arising in the morning and upon going to sleep at night. It is said when praising God and when beseeching Him. It is the first prayer that a Jewish child is taught to say. It is the last words a Jew says prior to death.
The Talmud says that when Jacob was about to reveal the end of days to his children, he was concerned that one of them might be a non-believer. His sons reassured him immediately and cried out, "Shema Yisrael."
Read full article: http://www.aish.com/jl/m/pb/48954656.html

In the past number of hours, the NYPost, NY DailyNews, the DailyMail, NBC and others have posted the words affirming the oneness of G-d because of a glitch on the tombstone of Ed Koch which is inscribed with the words of the Hebrew prayer. 

How’s Ed Koch tombstone doin’.
In a major blunder, the former mayor’s tombstone at Trinity Church in Washington Heights was mistakenly engraved with the wrong birth date.
The date of birth given is Dec. 12, 1942 instead of 1924.

17 Jun 2013

Heeding the message

An Orthodox Jewish family in Toronto woke up this week to a swastika and the words “watch your children” scrawled on their garage door, the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center said in a news release Friday.
Read more: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/169006#.Ub9wISz8Lcc

To see good

Rabbi Yirmiyohu Kaganoff answers questions about loshon hora over here.

Rav Chayim Pinchas Scheinberg zt”l noted that when people repeat the pasuk, mi ha’ish he’chafeitz chayim oheiv yamim lir’os tov, “Who is the man who wants life, loves his days to see only good,” they often pay little attention to the concluding words, liros tov, “to see good,” even though these words are the key to success in this mitzvah. If you view everyone with a good eye, you will be unable to believe derogatory information about them. As Rav Pam once said, “My mother was incapable of saying or accepting loshon hora; not simply because of her yiras shamayim, but because of her appreciation of what Jews are!” May we all reach the level of seeing the good and really appreciating our fellow Jews!

16 Jun 2013

The Holocaust survivor dad

On Father's Day, a daughter's moving tribute to her dad who survived horrors of the Holocaust with help of German engineer

At 85, my father is full of optimism and humor. You would never guess that at the age of 16, he had been a victim of one of the greatest atrocities of the 20th century.
...On Father’s Day, I am thankful to the brave man who became a temporary father to a teenager in a desperate situation. I am also thankful to have such a strong, resilient father who somehow managed to emerge from that terrible darkness to live his life with generosity and love.
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/lesson-hope-father-article-1.1373288?pgno=1#ixzz2WOzcw8kQ

The hand of G-d

WND has an article about a Vietnam veteran who has written a book titled “The Day God Showed Up.”

On a bloody day in 1968, Army Sgt. Gordon Helsel lay bleeding to death in a Vietcong jungle. But as it would turn out, God had other plans.

After he made it to the medivac helicopter, he remembers talking to God.

“I laid there and I said to God, ‘God, if You will get me out of this, I will do whatever You want me to,’” Helsel said. “
Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2013/06/god-holds-vietnam-vet-to-his-battlefield-promise/#yt1V9WPujYxRgGIy.99

It's a good thing I am not G-d because, instead of concentrating on the man's condition, I would have first explained to him the rules of grammar.

I would have pointed out to Mr. Helsel how the first conditional is formed.

 present simpleWILL + base verb

Thus, Mr. Helsel should have said, "if you get me out of this" and not "if you will get me out of this."

I would have then pointed out to the Vietnam veteran the differences between "lie" and "lay."

But lie and lay seem to give people more difficulty than do all the other irregular verbs combined. Here's why: The past tense form of lie is lay, so it's indistinguishable from lay in the present tense except in usage.

     The principal parts (most-common verb forms) of lie are:

lie (present,) lay (past) and lain (past participle).

     The principal parts of lay are: 
lay (present), laid (past) and laid (past participle).
Mr. Helsel should have said, "I lay there" as opposed to "I laid there."

I caught the video below at The Blaze.

Something extremely rare happened to pro golfer Carl Pettersson during the U.S. Open on Friday.
...While on the 5th fairway, an errant tee shot came in hot out of nowhere and smashed right into his golf ball mid-backswing.

What are the odds?

Lost item notice

My first reaction upon seeing the item below was to burst out in laughter. Upon reflection, I realize I should have burst out in tears.

14 Jun 2013

Parshat Chukat

THE mitzvah that we do not grasp is the parah adumah - the Torah calls it a chok, ie a mitzvah that we do not understand. The question is, though, WHY did HaShem set it up that this particular mitzvah should be the quintessential chok?
 - See more at: http://www.shortvort.com/chukas-parasha/10728-i-know-its-a-chok-but-why-short#sthash.vyh8gREC.dpuf

The owl and the Sabbath

There's a fascinating article at Chadrei Charedim about an owl that perched itself on the Ten commandments which is above an Aron Kodesh in a shul in Bayit Vegan this past Wednesday, the day of the petirah of Rav Yehoshua Neuwirth ZT"L, the author of Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata. Efforts to remove the owl were to no avail.
An interesting gematria was found.

ינשוף(owl) = 446 מות (death) = 446

י'- ישעיהו, ישעיה
נ' - נויבירט
ש' - שבת (שמירת שבת כהלכתה

The first two letters of the Hebrew word "owl" correspond to Rav Neuwirth's name. The letter "shin" is the first letter of the word "Shabbat." The last two letters, the "vav" and the "peh," equal 86, the age at which the Rav was niftar.
Furthermore, the owl was perched on the side of the commandments which contained the one regarding keeping the Sabbath.
Click here to see a photo of the owl and to read the article in Hebrew.

Below is a poem taken from Wiki about a wise old owl.

A wise old owl lived in an oak
The more he saw the less he spoke
The less he spoke the more he heard.
Why can't we all be like that wise old bird?

13 Jun 2013

The Parah Adumah

by Rabbi Dr Raymond Apple

There is an eternal mystery about the parah adumah, the red heifer.
The paradox is that the mixture involving the ashes of the heifer purifies the impure but renders impure the pure. It is called a statute – chukkah – a category of law which is not susceptible to human analysis but is obeyed as a text of obedience to God. It sounds a bit like blind faith: I do it because God commanded me, regardless of whether I find meaning in its observance.
Generations of Jews have sought a rationale but with little record of success. The only possible way of handling the problem seems to be to have faith that God knows what He is doing even if we don’t. Where this leads us is either to reject the statutes or to embrace them.
Being prepared to do the latter, what do I say to myself? “I would like to know what is going on, but I am prepared to concede that some things are too big for me. If I understood every smallest thing that God does I would end up being greater than God, because it would mean that everything God says and commands had to be submitted for my approval. Since I’m not greater than God I must by definition be smaller. And being smaller than God means that I am bound to be mystified at some things. Why should I understand everything?”

5 Jun 2013

A friend's support

Shelley Emling writes about 7 Ways To Impress People In 60 Seconds Or Less .

Her advice includes treating your spouse well, looking people in the eye and asking about a person's child.

3. Give compliments freely to those who deserve itI have a friend who always -- without fail -- says something nice to me as soon as she sees me. It's always something simple like "I love those earrings" but it always makes me feel good and it always makes me want to be around her. People may not always remember what you say, but they will remember how it feels to be around you.

4. Do what you say you're going to doI have another friend who, if she says she's going to meet you at 7 p.m., she's going to meet you at 7 p.m. and not a minute after. I have other friends who are habitually late or who make promises they can never deliver on. I'd rather have a friend tell me "no" than to tell me "maybe" and then renege on me later on. Be reliable and people will respect you for it.
Read full article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/shelley-emling/how-to-impress-people_b_3380181.html

When my mother was in the hospital, I very much appreciated those who asked me how she was doing. 
This morning I heard a speaker talk about the words  נְשָׁמָה which means soul and the word נָשַׁמָּה  which means desolate. The first word has a kamatz under the letter shin while the second word has a patach under the letter shin. The kamatz has an extra line of  support as opposed to the patach.
The difference between desolation and a soul which is alive comes from the support of people involved in an individual's life.


Chabad Crown Heights info reports on two incidents in which young Jewish girls had glass bottles thrown at them while walking in the Brooklyn neighborhood. Click here to read the article.

The site also reports about  Rabbi Yaakov Monsonego, the principal of the Ohr Hatorah school in Toulouse France, who also lost his 6-year-old daughter Miriam in a terror attack last year, is visiting New York, along with his wife, in an attmept to raise money for extra security at his school.

The speaker in the video below discusses Parshat Korach and Machloket. Towards the end, he discusses a time when Rabbis Eliezer and Akiva were called upon to pray for rain and how Rabbi Akiva's prayers were answered because he was a vatran, someone willing to forgive personal insults.

4 Jun 2013

A Jewish mother

Caren Chessler writes about her experience having IVF treatment and the implications of using a donor egg in terms of Jewish law.

And of course our baby would be Jewish, given that I am. Under Jewish law, a baby’s religious identity is determined by his mother. Or so I thought. Since the 1990s, the consensus among Jewish authorities has been that the bearing mother, not the woman who provided the gametes, is the child’s mother. But recently the pendulum has begun to swing the other way. Some rabbis in Israel now say if the donor is not Jewish, then the child is not Jewish. Opinions coming out of Israel carry a lot of weight. “If the egg is from a non-Jew, then the DNA is from the other person,” said Rabbi Shaul Rosen, who founded A TIME, a support network for infertile Jewish couples. “In order for that child to be Jewish, it would have to go through a conversion ceremony like any other non-Jew.”
Read more of the fascinating opinions at http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/06/03/what-makes-a-jewish-mother/?hpw

Mah Nishtanah

Mah Nishtanah, the 4 Questions of the Passover Seder, are typically asked by the youngest child present.

Free Beacon reports that Secretary of State John Kerry spoke the words at the AJC’s Global Forum in Washington D.C.

Perhaps he could have asked his brother how to pronounce the words. It is interesting to note  how Cameron  Kerry's ancestors converted from Judaism, only to have their grandson convert to Judaism.

In 1983, Cameron Kerry converted to Judaism before marrying Kathy Weinman.
During his brother's 2004 presidential campaign, it emerged that their grandfather, Fritz Kohn, was a Jewish immigrant from what is today the Czech Republic who had changed his name to Frederick Kerry and converted to Roman Catholicism.
Their paternal grandmother had also converted from Judaism to Catholicism. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cameron_Kerry

3 Jun 2013

The need to concede

First, a reminder, the Yahrtzeit of Rebbe Yonatan Ben Uziel - 26 Sivan - June 4.

Moshe Rabbeinu tells Korach that if he is right, Hashem will create a new phenomenon and the earth will open its mouth and all the sinners will be swallowed.  If not, then we know that Hashem did not send Moshe. Where did Moshe get this idea from?
Rav Shimshon Pincus explains that the Torah tells us (Korach 17:5), "V'Lo Sihiyeh K'Korach ViChaAdaso", we should not engage in Machlokes like Korach.  The gemara (Sanhedrin 110a) says that if you enter a Machlokes, you are oveir a Lav.  This issur, says Rav Shimshon, applies to both the side that is right and the side that is wrong.

Therefore he says, if the side that is right can win the machlokes unequivocally and unanimously, then he should do so.  However if the side that is wrong refuses to yield and the argument continues, then even if you are right you must be Mivater and drop the machlokes.  Not doing so would constitute an issur.  Unfortunately in every machlokes the latter is always the case and the side that is wrong does not yield. 

This explains what Moshe Rabbeinu told Korach.  If Hashem creates an unprecedented Miracle and the argument will become null and void through the absolute demise of the other side, then it will be clear that I am right and you are wrong.  But if you are still around in any shape or form and continue to argue, then I will need to concede and end the machlokes even though I am right.  And so it was.  The earth opened up and the machlokes disappeared!
We should not expect any such miracles in our own lives.  We should make our point and move on, even if we are 100% right and the other side is 100% wrong, which is never the case.

Former leaders

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair discusses one of the world's religions in the wake of the stabbing attack in Woolwich.

There is not a problem with Islam. For those of us who have studied it, there is no doubt about its true and peaceful nature. There is not a problem with Muslims in general. Most in Britain will be horrified at Lee Rigby’s murder.

But there is a problem within Islam – from the adherents of an ideology that is a strain within Islam. And we have to put it on the table and be honest about it.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2334560/The-ideology-Lee-Rigbys-murder-profound-dangerous-Why-dont-admit--Tony-Blair-launches-brave-assault-Muslim-extremism-Woolwich-attack.html#ixzz2V6LBwTni

The Blaze reports on a speech former President Clinton is to make this month.

Senior Israeli media figures are voicing outrage at a revelation this weekend that former U.S. President Bill Clinton received $500,000 for a gala speech later this month in honor of Israeli President Shimon Peres’s 90th birthday.
...The Jewish National Fund paid the half-million dollar fee to secure the former president’s participation a year in advance, according to Yedioth Ahronoth.
...Amir Mizroch who edits Israel Hayom’s English language edition tweeted, “Aren’t they supposed to plant trees with donor cash?”
“I guess money does grow on trees,” he quipped.

Below is a short video related to this week's parsha, a man who wanted to replace Moses as leader of the nation of Israel.

2 Jun 2013

Rushing to mincha

Kikar Hashabat has an article about a Hasidic couple blessed with many children who won a two million shekel lotto this past Saturday evening. The buyer of the winning ticket said that he normally fills out the lotto card manually, but, because he was in a rush to get to mincha, he bought an automated ticket.
The couple would like to use the money to help buy apartments for their children when they marry.

Mincha, anyone?

Tzidkat Rashbi reminds us of the following yahrzheit.

Yahrtzeit of Rebbe Yonatan Ben Uziel

26, Sivan

Tuesday June 4

 Tradition has it that Rabbi Yonatan Ben Uziel gave a blessing to all those who are unmarried that if they visited his resting place they would merit to meet their soul mates and marry within the period of one year.

Click here to fill out a kvittel.


The national spelling bee spelled it wrong.
 Or so say mavens of Yiddish about the winning word, knaidel, in the widely televised Scripps National Spelling Bee on Thursday night. Knaidel is the matzo ball or dumpling that Jewish cooks put in chicken soup.
But somebody may have farblondjet, or gone astray, the Yiddish experts say.
The preferred spelling has historically been kneydl, according to transliterated Yiddish orthography decided upon by linguists at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, the organization based in Manhattan recognized by many Yiddish speakers as the authority on all things Yiddish.

1 Jun 2013

Not so good - thank G-d

Anthony Gottlieb has written an NYT article about Jewish humor.

The association between Jews and joking has become so powerful that Jewish humor is now all too easy to detect even where it doesn’t really exist. This phenomenon should perhaps be named the Mrs. Morgenbesser Effect. Once, when asked how she was faring, the mother of Sidney Morgenbesser, a New York philosopher, is reported to have replied, “Not so good — thank God.” At first, this sounds like glumness mocking itself. But once you know that religious Jews of a certain vintage are apt to thank God more or less as a matter of punctuation, it is not so clear any sort of humor was intended.

I have been reading an excellent book titled In Forest Fields by Rabbi Shalom Arush. The following is an excerpt from pg. 178.

The Holy Baal Shem TOv elaborated on King David's expression (Psalms 16:8), "I have set Hashem before me Always." How can one know that he has truly set Hashem before him? How can he know that he truly lives with emuna that there is "no one but Him?" The word in Hebrew shiviti - "I have set", can also be translated in conjunction with the root word shivyon, or equality, namely, that all is equal before him.
... When a person prays, the 'yes' and 'no' must stand equal before him to avoid despair and to continue to pray for the things he yearns for. He must seek the level of self composure until the 'yes' and 'no' is truly equal before him in all matters.  He must contemplate that only Hashem knows what is best for him and therefore subjugate all his desires to Hashem. He should strive to be able to say to himself, "Everything is equal to me, whether I receive that which I ask for - in spiritual as well as material requests - or not.