Across Israel, Meir Panim responds to the growing needs of the country’s 1.75 million impoverished residents through various food and social service programs.
Jews globally are commemorating the Three Weeks of Mourning period that began with last Sunday’s 17th Day of Tammuz fast and culminates with the Fast of Tisha B’Av. This period of time marks the breaching of Jerusalem’s walls through the destructions of our Holy Temples, and our subsequent exile from the Land of Israel.
During the two millennia of our galut,Jews from every corner of the planet were – at various times and places – tortured, brutalized, isolated into ghettos, accused of horrendous crimes, ostracized, prevented from earning a living, forced to convert, marginalized in every conceivable way, and more recently decimated by the millions.
We attribute our bitter, dark exile and the destruction of the Second Temple to lashon hara and sinat chinam (negative speech and baseless hatred) – often due to groundless jealously.
The following are two poems I wrote about the destructive impact of gossip and slander. I hope they will serve as a deterrent when one is tempted to say something they shouldn’t.
The Gossip’s Lament
You were a good friend, yet I caused you much pain,
For I gossiped about you – though there was little to gain.
Merely moments in the limelight, the center of attention,
It didn’t matter that what I said was a bit of my invention.
I snickered and mocked you behind your unsuspecting back,
I dissected your character, pointed out the qualities you lack.
I listed your failings, and belittled the things you do,
Not giving much thought if what I said was even true.
I revealed your secrets that I had sworn to secrecy,
I shattered forever your cherished privacy.
I did not pause to consider what I was doing to a friend,
I had damaged your reputation – one you might never be able to mend.
You had been there for me for so many years,
You delighted in my joys, and shared in my tears.
You soothed my worries, assuaged feelings that were hurt,
And I cravenly repaid you by dragging your name in the dirt.
Now I have lost you – and others have turned away,
I glance at a phone that is silent all day.
I destroyed a priceless gift for a false moment of “glory,”
And I know it can’t be fixed by saying, “I’m so sorry.”
The spoken word is a powerful thing,
Whether uttered by a pauper or a powerful king.
For each word has a meaning and nuance that is unique,
And your words are a part of you that take wing when you speak.
Whether whispered very softly, or hurled in a shout,
A word is unstoppable – once it’s let out.
When you part with a word, you can’t get it back,
It flies to its intended – it’s full meaning intact.
A word can be a healing thing,
A word can make a sore heart sing.
A word can bring relief and hope to those in tears,
Or build bridges between strangers, dispelling all fears.
But a word can be a pain-inflicting thing,
It can cut, it can wound, it can deeply sting.
And for both speaker and listener, bring regret and shame,
A bond that once was – will never be the same.
A word, once spoken, can be a life-enhancing tool,
But also a destructive weapon in the mouth of a fool.
So weigh your words carefully, release them with thought,
For words that are let go – can never be caught.
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Everyone is always looking for cute yet simple and inexpensive ideas to enhance their table at special occasions. Here are some attractive ways to create that festive look. Whether you use china or plastic, your guests will surely be delighted with your charming setup.
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JetBlue flew an empty aircraft from Boston to JFK to assist us. The care and concern of the flight attendants was amazing. They were astounded by our group, so much so that at the end of the flight, the captain related for all to hear that he was truly impressed by the care that the HASC counselors provided for the special-needs campers – all of whom have physical, mental, or emotional disabilities. We did our best to demonstrate a true kiddush Hashem.
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According to Maimonides, the great medieval Jewish scholar, “Gifts for the poor [matanot l’evyonim] deserve more attention than the seudah and mishloach manot because there is no greater, richer happiness than bringing joy to the hearts of needy people, orphans, widows and proselytes.”
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Never sacrifice the people who matter for anything of lesser importance…
Hannah believed that one must learn about the evils of the past so that they aren’t repeated.
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.
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How confusing it was growing up with conflicting messages. On the one hand, we were told, even admonished, to eat everything on our generously piled up plates (it was a sin to waste food), yet we were made to feel like we were a lower form of human being if we were overweight.
While in New York recently, I was invited to see a performance of “Waiting for Godot” – a multi-layered play on the human condition that I was introduced to in high school. What was fascinating and unique about this particular production was that this renowned play was being performed in Yiddish – with English and Russian subtitles beamed onto a screen for non-Yiddish speakers. (Staged by the New Yiddish Rep, at the Castillo Theatre, and directed by Moshe Yassur, it stars Shane Baker, David Mandelbaum, Rafael Goldwaser, Avi Hoffman and Nicholas Jenkins.)
Now and then my Bubby would open up about what she went through in the camps, of what she witnessed… From time to time she would talk about her baby sisters – twins – and how she would sew them identical dresses and braid their hair the same way challenging everyone to guess who was who.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/painful-words-a-painful-reality/2008/07/23/
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