Meir Panim’s Tiberias Free Restaurant not only provides warm meals, but the opportunity to socialize as well.
The newborn is far from shy about letting its feelings be known as it is thrust, against its will, into a frigid and foreign world. With flailing hands and pitiful wails, its displeasure is made amply clear. Which raises the question: Since the soul does not choose to spend time on this planet, is it fair that it is held accountable for the way it goes about living its life here on earth?
Some perspective is in order. A well-to-do man had difficulty marrying his two daughters off, for one was unsightly and the other a non-stop prattler. A smart matchmaker came up with a solution: he knew of two brothers, one blind and the other deaf, and suggested the former as suitable for the unappealing girl, the latter for her unrefined sibling.
The shidduchim were actualized and the couples got on well together for a fair amount of time. That is, until a miracle worker came to town one day and claimed to be a healing specialist who, for a substantial fee, could cure the brothers of their impairments.
But when the blind man’s eyesight was restored and his deaf brother regained his hearing, their woes began to mount and they refused to pay the physician for his services.
The case went before an arbitrator who ruled the brothers had a legitimate contention: whereas they had previously been happy with their lot, their new awareness of their wives’ shortcomings proved injurious to the health of their marriages and they thus should be freed of their obligation to pay the doctor – who was ordered to reverse the cure and restore the brothers to their former handicapped states.
The brothers vehemently decried the finding; there was no way they would subject themselves to further physical manipulation in such manner.
At that, it was decreed the brothers had shown themselves to be satisfied with the doctor’s service and had to pay him in full.
So it is with every soul claiming on his Yom HaDin that he did not ask to be born. In fact, the God that gives life is the One that can take it away. Yet most of us would rather live than die, in which case we are obligated to give our Maker a din v’cheshbon – an accounting of all our deeds on earth. (Mishlei Avos)
* * * * *
By the good grace of God, we are generously granted an annual day of reprieve. On Yom Kippur we abstain from all things mundane and beg, plead, and cry to our Maker over our misdeeds. Yet we still worry that our words of contrition are not penetrating the Heavens, and we wonder where we went wrong.
The following true story offers a clue as to where we may be coming up short.
The Torah giant Rabbi Aharon Shmuel Assad, the son of the Mahari Assad (one of the most prominent rabbis in Hungary – the name Assad was adapted from Aszod, the city where he was born), was the rav of the shul in Szerdahely for close to forty years. Every Yom Kippur he would lead the Ne’ilah service, as befits one who shepherds his flock with love and devotion and harbors a fiery love in his heart for his Creator. Who better to plead for his congregation when the heavenly gates are about to close?
It was therefore puzzling to hear Reb Aharon Shmuel asking the ba’al tefillah, R. Chaim Leib, to exchange duties with him – the latter to daven Ne’ilah and the rav to take over the Kol Nidre service.
The rav, who had been under the weather, gave the impression he felt he’d be too weak to properly carry out his sacred duty following hours of fasting. But that wasn’t on Reb Aharon’s mind at all.
It was actually R. Menashe Ber who motivated his decision. R. Menashe Ber had married off his daughter to an educated man studying foreign languages in his quest for a doctorate – the sort of languages the local Jews adjudged to be “treif.”
When news of the match had first circulated, R. Menashe Ber had been inundated with unasked for advice from harsh critics who demanded that he break off his daughter’s engagement. When the father, a melamed by trade, did not comply, parents of the children he taught systematically pulled their kids from his cheder, leaving the hapless family man bereft of a livelihood.
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The Obama Administration plan is very simple, assuming that everything goes smoothly–which of course it will not.
You don’t see my kind of loss in America as much as you do here, in Israel.
Gideon Levy ignores the fact that Germany, Switzerland, the U.K. and the U.S. were by far the biggest traders with the apartheid regime, choosing instead to focus on Israel.
The more severe scenario of a nuclear Iran is that the Iranians will not even need to go to war.
For states, as for individuals, fear and reality go together naturally.
I first met Mandela in Geneva in 1990 as part of a delegation of American Jewish leaders.
How much wealth exists in the American Orthodox community?
They didn’t have to ask twice – I was there.
Despite the interim agreement between Iran and several world powers, which provides for a softening of sanctions in return for a curtailment of elements of the Iranian nuclear development program, many members of Congress have resisted calls from the White House to defer legislation that would impose increased sanctions on Iran should a satisfactory final agreement not be reached or the Iranians fail to adhere to the temporary deal.
The Jewish Press raised some eyebrows with its endorsement of Bill de Blasio in the New York City mayoral election. After all, the editorial positions we’ve taken over the years are not particularly compatible with Mr. de Blasio’s liberal track record.
Filling two vacuums at once – one of Orthodox women taking a more public role and a second of Modern Orthodox Jews demonstrating the merits of religious Jewish practice – Allison Josephs has transformed her sweet and engaging webisodes and blog into a larger force. Jew in the City is now a franchise.
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The summer season we pined for on those dreary, shivery winter days is all but coming to a close. What better way for reality to sink in than the call of the shofar that wrests us from our repose on the first of Elul, reminding us that we have serious work ahead. Luckily we get thirty days to pull ourselves together, so that we have a leg to stand on when we petition Hashem on the Yom HaDin to grant us mechila for our shortcomings of the past year.
On this coming Shabbos Parshas Matos-Masai we bentch Rosh Chodesh Menachem Av. Rosh Chodesh (on Yom Sheini – Monday, July 8) marks the start of the mournful “nine days” during which we restrict many activities normally taken for granted, such as eating meat and drinking wine (Shabbos is an exception), the purchasing and wearing of new clothes, doing laundry (the washing of children’s clothing may be permitted; consult your halachic authority), listening to music, swimming and participating in joyful pursuits.
On this Shabbos, Parshas Shelach, we bentch Rosh Chodesh Tammuz which falls on the following Shabbos Kodesh and Yom Rishon (June 8 and 9 on the English calendar).
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Seems like we crossed the sea just yesterday, yet here we are literally counting down to the big day ahead – it is less than six weeks away. On this Shabbos, Parshas Shemini, we bentch Rosh Chodesh Iyar, which falls on Yom Revi’i and Yom Chamishi (Wednesday and Thursday). It was during this month that […]
On this Shabbos, Shabbos Parshas Ha’Chodesh, we bentch the new month of Nissan — referred to in the Torah as Chodesh Ha’Aviv, the month of spring. Rosh Chodesh falls on Yom Shlishi (Tuesday), heralding the start of a new lunar year and commemorating the inception of the mitzvah of Rosh Chodesh.
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