A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.
A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of being a guest at a Shabbaton hosted by Machane Chodosh in Forest Hills, N.Y. The shul, made up of refugees of Nazi Germany as well as Holocaust survivors, has been in existence for over 60 years, and its spiritual leader, Rabbi Manfred Gans, has led the congregation for many of those years. The shul’s continued vitality is a testimony to Jewish continuity.
The Scholar in Residence at the Shabbaton was Rabbi Rafael Grossman of the West Side Institutional Synagogue in Manhattan, a past president of the Beth Din of America and Jewish Press columnist.
Rabbi Grossman discussed two seemingly disparate, but actually connected themes: Jewish continuity, and the human emotion of love.
In speaking of Jewish continuity, the rabbi pointed out the tendency of many Jews to be somewhat uncomfortable, even apologetic, at the notion of Jewish intelligence or chosenness. But we are smart and dedicated to world betterment, and one need only look at our contributions to bettering the lot of mankind to prove this statement. Despite the fact that we comprise less than one percent of the global population – Jews have won over half the Noble Prizes in medicine. If history shows that Jews have been in the forefront of medical, scientific and technological progress – then yes – we are smart, and dedicated to the betterment of all mankind. Why not embrace that label with pride rather than embarrassment? Jews must value their Jewishness.
One of the reasons that there is so much assimilation and intermarriage in our midst is that many Jews are ignorant of the special role and gifts of the Jewish people. Worse than the apathy toward their Jewishness is the self-hatred that takes root in many Jewish individuals, who in their intense ignorance and dislike of who they are, go out of their way to side with the Hamans of the world who wish to destroy us.
Ironically, the descendants of Ishmael don’t seem to have this problem with loving themselves, even though considering their huge numbers – they have barely made any noticeable contributions to improve the human condition. They are inordinately proud of their one consistent “gift” to the world – global terrorism – and revel in their religious piety, which expresses itself in acts of suicide and homicide.
There are many minorities who celebrate and advertise their “uniqueness” (but really shouldn’t) such as gay groups. So why do we Jews – who have much to be proud about – have a problem with acknowledging that based on statistics - we are indeed special?
Rabbi Grossman, in another lecture later on Shabbat, presented what can only be described as an example of true love. The rabbi recounted his experience at his first funeral shortly after assuming his first pulpit. The niftar was a teenage girl who was born severely handicapped – physically and mentally. She needed around the clock care which was provided by her mother, a professional who put her career and social life on hold in order to care for her .
At the funeral, Rabbi Grossman was taken aback by the mother’s intense grief and distress over the loss of her child, as she literally clung to the coffin, wailing. At an appropriate time, Rabbi Grossman asked the mother about her anguished reaction. Understandably, she was upset to lose her child, but was there not some measure of relief, some solace that she could now live a normal life – working, going to simchas, visiting friends, after years of backbreaking care for a person who may have been unaware of her? The mother looked at him with wonder – “Don’t you understand? I loved her!”
That is what real love is – giving, with no expectation or need to get back. Putting someone else first.
For Jews, two of the many dimensions of love that I gleaned from Rabbi Grossman’s lectures can be found under one name – ahavat Yisrael. Loving who you are – as an individual and as part of a great people. Once you have self respect, you can go one step further – “Ve’ahavta l’reyacha kamocha” – loving your neighbor as yourself – and go the extra mile for your friend, your family, your people – unconditionally.
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Regardless of age, parents play an important role in their children’s lives.
We peel away one layer after the next, our eyes tear up and it becomes harder and harder to see as we get closer to our innermost insecurities and fears.
Some Mountain Jews believe they are descendents of the Ten Lost Tribes and were exiled to Azerbaijan and Dagestan by Sancheriv.
Yom Tov is about spending time with your family. And while for some families the big once-in-a-lifetime experience is great, for others something low key is the way to go.
A fascinating glimpse into the rich complexity of medieval Jewish life and its contemporary relevance had intriguingly emerged.
Dear Dr. Yael:
My heart is breaking; my husband’s friend has gotten divorced. While this type of situation is always sad, here I do believe it could have been avoided.
The plan’s goal is to provide supportive housing to 200 individuals with disabilities by the year 2020.
Despite being one of the fastest-growing Jewish communities in the U.S. – the estimated Jewish population is 70-80,000 – Las Vegas has long been overlooked by much of the Torah world.
She was followed by the shadows of the Six Million, by the ever so subtle awareness of their vanished presence.
Pesach is so liberating (if you excuse the expression). It’s the only time I can eat anywhere in the house, guilt free! Matzah in bed!
Now all the pain, fear and struggle were over and they were home. Yuli was safe and free, a hero returned to his land and people.
While it would seem from his question that he is being chuzpadik and dismissive, I wonder if its possible, if just maybe, he is a struggling, confused neshama who actually wants to come back to the fold.
I agree with the letter writer that a shadchan should respectfully and graciously accept a negative response to a shidduch offer.
Alternative assessments are an extremely important part of understanding what students know beyond the scope of tests and quizzes.
A young lady in her early 20’s, “Sarah” was redt to “Shlomie” a boy from her home town who learned in an out-of-town yeshiva. The families know each other well, which in today’s shidduch scene is a big plus – since it was therefore unlikely the kids would “fall in” due to misinformation and misinterpretations.
They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and that is precisely what almost always happens in situations where a reference knew someone had serious but hidden emotional issues, but did not reveal the information to the person making inquiries.
Time never stood still for anyone – why would I be the exception? In my hubris, I thought that somehow I would live forever – and I suspect we all have secretly felt that way, even though we know it’s a fantasy.
One can argue that forgetting something on a regular basis is a sign of advancing age and it’s time to for a neurological evaluation, but based on the number of young people who need to replace a lost smart phone (too bad it’s not smart enough to warn its owner that that they have become separated – or is there an app for that too?), I safely can say that losing “stuff” cuts across the generations.
For quite a few days in late December, Toronto was transformed into a breathtaking – literally and figuratively – frigid winter wonderland, where every twig, leaf, car door, and outdoor wire and cable was totally encased in ice. When the sun shone the landscape was blindingly brilliant as if billions of diamonds had been glued to everything the eye could see.
Outside is a winter-white wonderland replete with dazzling trees, wires, and sidewalks seemingly wrapped in glittery silver foil. It’s quite lovely to look at, which is about all I can do since I’m stuck indoors. Icicle-laden tree branches are bent and hunch-backed by the frozen heaviness of their popsicle-like burden, and the voices squawking from the battery-operated transistor radio I am listening to are warning people not to go out since walkways and roads are extremely slippery, and there is real danger from falling trees.
The necessity of speaking up when you “have a hunch” applies even more when it comes to shidduchim. One little girl did just that – she said something – and I was fortunate enough to be in town for the very joyful, lively wedding that resulted from her speaking up.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/a-lesson-in-love/2004/04/07/
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