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September 20, 2014 / 25 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘answer’

The Olympics Obsession With Body Glorification and Might-Makes-Right

Monday, August 6th, 2012

The Olympics focus on physical prowess places brawl over brain, and body over spirit, in the hierarchy of importance. This paradigm needs to be shifted. Fitness comes from feeding both soul and body and strength is not only about defeating others but cooperating with others.

My revered mentor the Lubavitcher Rebbe (1902-1994) often admonished that it is incumbent to maintain optimal health because a healthy body is a healthy spirit. Studies demonstrate that exercise helps reduce anxiety, promotes better sleep, combats disease, improves mood, and even chemically alleviates depression by releasing endorphins and neurotransmitters.

Bodily health alone is not enough. One needs a healthy body in conjunction with a healthy mind. Obsessing over body image can lead to anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, malnourishment, depression and compulsive overeating. Neglecting the body by entirely focusing on the mind is also not the answer. We need a balance of fit mind and fit body.

My grandfather Reuven Helman was born in Israel-Palestine in 1927. He was an Olympian recognized as a weightlifting champion, distinguished athlete in Track and Field, the Decathlon and for his career as an athletic instructor. His ability to handily hoist 330 pounds wasn’t enough to keep him healthy. He needed a sense of purpose, peace of mind.

That moment of synergizing his physical health with his spirit came in the early 1950′s when the Rebbe handed him a sefer Torah, a handwritten scroll of the five books of Moses, on the Holiday of Simchat Torah - telling him to “dance with the Torah like a true champion.” The message was that you need purpose, spirit, and soul to be a champion not just a good physique.

Pirkei Avos, a book on Jewish ethics, teaches that the hallmark of true strength is self-discipline. Not conquering others, but conquering ones self. Working cooperatively with others is what civilization is based on, not exerting brute force over others.

Several Olympians this year have made racially hateful remarks toward their fellow competitors. The Greek triple jumper Voula Papachristou Tweeted: “With so many Africans in Greece at least the West Nile mosquitoes will eat homemade food;” and Swiss soccer defender Michel Morganella Tweeted after Switzerland lost, 2-1, to South Korea: “I’m going to beat up every Korean. Go on — burn yourselves!”

There is nothing wrong with competition and testing the limits of the body, when it is coupled with mutual respect and ethical sportsmanship. The Olympics is about uniting nations not dividing them. It is not all about which country is ahead on the leader board. By combining a healthy body with a healthy spirit we can help achieve the goal of unity, respect and cooperation.

Crossword Puzzle – Walking Advice

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

Across

1. Face points?

6. World-weary

11. They’re found in this paper

14. Big deal rav

15. Division signs

16. Y

17. Where not to walk

19. U.S. med. group

20. Doohickey

21. Padan ___

22. Australian anteater

26. Another place not to walk

29. Con

31. Inventor of the stock ticker

32. Kind of rock music

33. Ancient

36. Reason for 17-Across

42. Blood line

43. His head is in Hebron, according to some

45. Apprentice

49. Whitewater riders

52. Preferred walking locale

55. Some tags

56. Equal

57. Downy duck

59. Backstabber

60. Person giving the advice about walking

66. Driver’s lic. and others

67. Ice cream flavor

68. Set up

69. ___ International (professional org.)

70. Sports figures

71. Produce places

 

Down

1. Special effects movie letters

2. ___ Solo of “Star Wars”

3. Israel’s protection

4. ___’wester

5. Motto

6. Scribbles (down)

7. WWII ender

8. “Roxana” author

9. Stately tree

10. Conk out

11. Academy and Tony

12. Go-getter

13. Sailors

18. Pesky insects

21. “Wheel of Fortune” buy

22. Bother

23. Wrinkly, “unattractive” fruit

24. “Yes, ___”

25. Shul altar

27. Parade honoree

28. Romantic interlude

30. “Avengers” superhero

34. Baseball’s Mel

35. A long way off

37. Place to play

38. Bar ___

39. Answer to “Shall we?”

40. ___ Shalom

41. Pottery

44. Battleship letters

45. Flowering plant that sounds like a peninsula near Spain

46. Reno state

47. African fly

48. “Ich bin ___ Berliner”

50. “Beg pardon …”

51. Distant

53. Hajji’s destination

54. Southernmost city of Israel

58. Burrows

60. Good times

61. Gerald Wallace, e.g.

62. Certain investment, for short

63. Mediterranean isl.

64. Thinking sound

65. “Amen!”

 

The Crossword puzzle appears on this page the first week of every month.

(Answers, next week)

Yoni can be reached at yoniglatt@gmail.com.

 

Music During The Nine Days (Part I)

Friday, July 20th, 2012

Question: Is it prohibited to listen to music in the privacy of one’s home (or car) during the Nine Days?

Answer: This issue has intrigued me for some time. HaGaon HaRav Moshe Feinstein, zt”l (Igrot Moshe, Yoreh Deah, II:137), rules that it is indeed prohibited.

He explains that after the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash, our sages enacted a number of ordinances to manifest a degree of sadness and mourning. One such decree was the prohibition to listen to music throughout the year. The Rema (Orach Chayim 560:3) contends that this prohibition applies only to people who formerly awoke in the morning and retired at night to the accompaniment of music, i.e., kings. In addition, the Rema notes that those in attendance at a beit mishteh were also included in the ban. The Mishnah Berurah (Orach Chayim 560:12) explains that this prohibition is due to the presence of wine at a beit mishteh.

All this suggests that a person who did not listen to music on a daily basis and did not attend a beit mishteh would be permitted to listen to music year-round. Rav Moshe, however, disagrees with this inference. He contends that even the Rema would prohibit Jews from attending public musical events during the year since one derives excessive simcha from such events.

If public music is thus forbidden year-round, what additional music were the rabbis prohibiting when they enacted the laws against music during the Nine Days? Perforce, they were prohibiting listening to music even in the privacy of one’s own home (or car).

(To Be Continued)

Rabbi Cohen, a Jerusalem Prize recipient, has written several works on Jewish law. His latest, “Jewish Prayer The Right Way: Resolving Halachic Dilemmas (Urim Publications), is available at Amazon.com and Judaica stores.

Pollard supporters call Clinton’s remarks a ‘slap in the face’

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

Supporters of Jonathan Pollard called Hillary Clinton’s remarks rejecting his possible clemency “a resounding slap in the face” to Israel’s leaders and its people.

“With respect to Mr. Pollard, he was convicted of spying in 1987, he was sentenced to life in prison, he is serving that sentence, and I do not have any expectations that that is going to change,” Clinton, the U.S. secretary of state, said Monday night during a news conference in Jerusalem in answer to a reporter’s question about Pollard, a civilian U.S. Navy intelligence analyst who was convicted of spying for Israel.

The Committee to Bring Jonathan Pollard Home and Justice for Jonathan Pollard said in a statement issued Tuesday that Clinton’s remarks “stunned her Israeli hosts and marred the warm reception she received from the Israeli public.” The statement noted Pollard’s “unprecedented 27 years in prison.”

Pollard supporters expressed anger in the statement that Clinton offered no explanation “as to why the U.S. wants to keep the aging and very ill Pollard in prison forever” and called for an official response to numerous formal requests for clemency for Pollard from Clinton’s boss, President Obama.

Clinton, while campaigning for the U.S. Senate in 2000, said that she had concerns about “due process issues regarding Jonathan Pollard’s sentence.”

Pollard has been at the Butner Federal Correctional Complex in North Carolina since his arrest in 1986. A succession of presidents has refused to grant clemency to Pollard since he was sentenced to life in 1987.

The calls to release Pollard, who is said to be in ill health, have intensified in recent months, with pleas from lawmakers and former top officials of both parties.

Stolen Waters are Sweet

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

The great debate over the internet has been focused on the Shmutz (pornography) it contains and the pitfalls of dragging people into an abyss of internet addictions that have destroyed families. I don’t think this is an arguable fact. It is a danger that affects everyone. Religious , secular; Jews and non Jews alike.

There are religious Jews right here in Chicago I know personally that were ensnared into online chat-rooms that in one case – if not for intervening circumstances – may have led a married male adult into an affair with a minor teenage girl!

I am not going to go into what the root psychological causes are for such things. Suffice it to say that the internet is not a cause but a facilitator to such terrible ends. I would go so far as to say that there are probably more people who have these problems than we may think – considering that addictions of this type are so easy to hide because of the ability to quickly both access and delete an internet site.

In that sense I agree (and always have) with those on the right who say that these dangers are real and we need to protect not only our children – but ourselves from becoming exposed and addicted to these sites. I would add that if one does have such an addiction that they seek professional help before it ruins their marriage …and their lives. Because – as I said the addiction is there for psychological reasons.

But this post is about another less talked about but serious issue about the internet. It is about opening up a world heretofore closed to many religious Jews. It is the world of information and knowledge that is not sourced in the narrow culture that one is raised in. One will find perspectives on life that are radically different from what they are used to and are quickly accessed. And sometimes this new information can play havoc in one’s life.

This phenomenon was ably described in an article in Tablet Magazine. It was written by a young woman who has left her Chasidic community. It’s hard to tell from her article whether she remained observant – although there are hints that she may no longer be. But clearly she lost a lot because of her odyssey on the internet. Her husband eventually left her.

Even though one can see here how online experiences contributed to her journey, I reject the notion that learning about and even accepting the perspectives of other people is necessarily a bad thing. It can be but it depends on the particular perspective one accepts. I happen to believe that some of what she experienced was a good thing. The following is a telling excerpt about her journey:

I was not raised to think. I knew what I needed to know: about tznius and that modesty is, or should be, my most important preoccupation. I knew that striving to have seven or 10 or a dozen children and being a good and pious homemaker is the pinnacle of achievement for a woman, the thing I was brought into this world to accomplish. Secular education was frowned upon. More than frowned upon: Being educated, oifgeklert, was a shame, a blight on the family. There was the very bare minimum of secular education, of course: reading and writing and elementary math. But even that was an afterthought. Fear of God, being a good girl, and growing up a pious Hasidic woman was the meat and potatoes of our education.

On the Internet, I cared about so many topics, yet knew that I still knew so little. The world, the physical boundaries, the world of ideas, the world of dangerous questions and of even more dangerous answers seemed big, wide, and endless. It was a world of things I never imagined and never even dared to try and imagine.

I got to know some people on the Internet. A rabbi from Brooklyn, father of six children, emailed me that he read my questions about the prohibition on birth control and that he would be glad to show me the rabbinic sources on the matter and that a lot of what I was taught in my Hasidic girl’s school might be not be true. A woman, Modern Orthodox, responded to my description of the Hasidic ritual of shaving the head by asking, “Why in the world do you do it?”

Because you have to, I said.

That she learned that the dogma of Chasidus does not define observant Judaism for everyone is a good thing. Knowledge in this case is power. But did her online experience take her too far? Could that have been prevented if it did?

It is never a good idea to live two lives which she did at first. An overt one in her isolated real world – and a covert one in her virtual world online. At the same time – had she been more open from the start I’m not sure her online education would have been tolerated in her community. Even if it meant only changing her Hashkafos and not essential religious beliefs and practices.

Knowledge is good. It is a powerful tool for improving one’s life. But in some cases, as with this woman it also had a terrible consequence.

This is not to say that all knowledge will improve one’s life. Many skeptics have been created by being exposed to contradictions between science and Torah that seem to be irresolvable. Or to Biblical criticism based on modern scholarship.

One well known blogger (who no longer blogs) very famously and very publicly became a skeptic in precisely that way. And he expressed sorrow at it – although to the best of my knowledge he remains a skeptic to this day. This is not a good result.

Does that make a ban worthwhile? One could argue that it does – since saving the soul of even one Jew is worth the price. The problem is that the internet is not the cause. Just as is the case with porn addiction, the internet is a facilitator.

Bright young minds will have questions. The most logical place to see answers is from your parents or teachers. But when questions are explicitly or implicitly forbidden, these very same young people will seek answers elsewhere. The easiest place to find them is the internet. Ban, no matter how strong they are, no matter how enforced they are will not prevent a young person from somehow finding access. And that’s when the slippery slope begins. Furthermore the taboo against the internet will prevent any countervailing arguments.

Young people will have questions and the internet is too ubiquitous to withstand any ban, no matter how severe. Once one is convinced they found the truth in the words of heresy, no one will be able to disabuse them of that notion.

A far better approach in my view is to meet the challenge head on. Orthodox students should never be discouraged from asking questions. And more importantly teachers have to be prepared to answer them. And admit when they don’t have a good answer.

Mayim G’nuvim Yimtaku. Stolen waters are sweet. The more something is banned, the sweeter the forbidden fruit becomes and will surely be sought out by increasing numbers of people. It is of no use to simply say to a student “Don’t go there.” Or accuse a questioner of heresy by dint of merely asking a question. People with unanswered questions will find a way to answer them. And often those answers are what leads them astray.

Nowhere is the ban stronger than in the Chasidic world where this writer is from. Did she leave observance entirely? I don’t know. Could it have been prevented if she had been denied internet access? Again, I don’t know. But one thing is certain. The internet is here to stay and becoming as integral a part of our lives as the telephone is. More so, in fact.

I may be spitting in the wind here. I’m sure that very few Chasidim will be reading this post. And even less pay attention to it. Certainly not their leaders. But even though I am a Daas Hedyot, that doesn’t mean my points aren’t valid. Or that my warnings aren’t true. Or that my advice shouldn’t be taken seriously. MiKol Melamdei Hischalti. So I will offer it anyway knowing full well that no one in that world will take heed.

Learn a lesson from this woman’s story. Open up your minds. Allow questions to be asked. Be prepared to answer them honestly and to admit not having answer when you don’t. Teach your students to use the internet responsibly and don’t make into a forbidden fruit with bans and extreme sanctions. Do not expel people form you community who do not adopt ever Chumra you demand of them. Be tolerant of all Hashkafos. You never know. This may actually do more to preserve your way of life than all of your

Unanswered Prayers

Monday, July 9th, 2012

Did I ever mention that I am a country-music fan? Okay, that’s actually less than I am, but I’ll leave it at that. And yeah, Garth Brooks. And if you ask “who?” – I’ll cry. I respect him for retiring when he did – at the top of his career. I don’t want to get into his life, although there is respect there too. What I will say is that I do love his songs. He’s got one song called, “Unanswered Prayers.” The chorus goes like this:

Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers

Remember when you’re talkin’ to the man upstairs

That just because he doesn’t answer doesn’t mean he don’t care

Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers

I think we Jews have a different, though similar take on this. What we say is that all prayers are answered – every single one. Just sometimes, the answer is “no.” I don’t know which version I prefer. What started this…an email I have received a few times. I can hear the pain, the prayer, the desire just to know. There are a lot of prayers that went unanswered during and after the Holocaust. I’ll tell you a story that I know to be true. I’m going to change a few details because the people are still alive. I won’t identify the place where they came from. But here’s the story.

A young man and a young woman were in love; engaged to be married. The Nazis came to their village and took them and their families. The woman survived and returned, but didn’t find her fiancé. She had lost so much; she had hoped to find him there. She left the village – there was nothing there for her, and made her way with others to Palestine. She would live in a land where no one would attack her because she was Jewish. She married and had children and one day decided to go on the March of the Living – back to Poland where she’d been born.

The young man survived and returned to the village, but he didn’t find his beloved. He had lost so much, parents and siblings and more; he had prayed to find her there. He left the village – there was nothing there for him, and made his way with others to the United States. He wanted to live far from Europe and only an ocean away would do. He married and had children and one day decided to go on the March of the Living – back to Poland where he was born.

They were there together, this man and woman, no longer young. They turned around and saw each other.

“What did you do?” I asked him as my eyes filled with tears. I had noticed him acting sadder than usual – something to be expected after visiting Poland and still more than I’d expected.

“What could I do?” he answered me. “I have a life here; she has a life there. I have a wife and daughters; she has a husband and children.”

There were no words I could offer him – two lives…two people…branched away from each other; too late. Unanswered prayers.

Read the next post and you’ll understand why I wrote this…

All that You Do

Friday, June 29th, 2012

The following was the winning entry in the Jewish Heritage Contest sponsored by Torah Atlanta

 

Dear Hashem,

I am writing to you because I am very confused. I am going through a hard time in my life right now. Over the last few years, there have been many times that I’ve felt my world was crashing down. I’ve felt a lot of pain and distress lately. Therefore, I am asking You why have You done this? What did I do to deserve some of the things that occur in my life? I was a good child. I never told lies and loved to help others. I don’t understand why things happen the way they do? No matter how much I cry, weep, beg, and plead, You still don’t answer me. I’ve been told everything happens for a good reason, and it’s all part of a greater plan, yet I still can’t seem to understand. Why me?

Every time I hear the news, it’s nothing but sadness, mostly about the Jews. There are wars and anti-Semitism galore. Bombs, murder, and much more add to the list of tragedies that happen daily. Yes, they happen to everyone; however, due to the humongous amount of anti-Semitism today, a lot of the tragedies happen to the Jews. I ask myself what we are doing wrong and yes, everyone has their flaws, but why are we punished so severely? Some people compare our relationship with You to one of a parent and child. However, this doesn’t make sense to me because parents comfort their children and help them when they are down. Do you do that for me? Well…actually You do.

Therefore, as I think of my problems and feel sorry for myself, I decide to think of something else. I think of all that You give to us each and every day. You comfort us when we have feelings of dismay. You give us blessings without our imploring. You help us, and sometimes You do answer us with yes – it’s just hard to realize it when I’m caught up in my big hot mess. So, as I start to see the light, my situation doesn’t seem so bad. I don’t feel as mad, angry, and upset, but instead, I feel gratitude towards the One who knows best.

I’m sorry Hashem for being angry at You. I really appreciate the things that You do. You give me blessings upon blessings, and I’m forever grateful; I’ve now decided I’ll continue to stay faithful. I know I do not understand Your reasoning for things, but I am starting to learn to have patience because I know, after all, it could be worse.

Although I may not be a very religious Jew, I definitely still believe in You. I believe in Your miracles, Your power to save us, Your reasoning that is always for the best. I trust that You love us and are protecting us. You give us the opportunity to talk to you at any time each day and welcome us with warm open arms. You never turn us away. Thus, sometimes life is hard, I have figured that out, but somehow it becomes much easier when I turn to You. Thank you Hashem for all that You do.

Love,
Sarah

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/teens-twenties/all-that-you-do/2012/06/29/

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