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April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘approval’

US: Israeli Settlements Not Constructive for Peace

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

According to FOCUS Information Agency, the United States said Wednesday that Israel’s settlement activity was not “constructive” for Middle East peace after a committee approved a plan for at least 500 new homes in Judea and Samaria, and legalized the outpost of Shvut Rachel, which had been unauthorized. Officials said the committee gave legal status to around 195 existing homes and gave the go-ahead for some 500 new ones.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner said he was not familiar with the latest approval of settlements but reiterated that the United States opposes such moves. “We don’t believe it’s in any way constructive to getting both sides back to the negotiating table,” Toner told reporters.

EU Reportedly Agrees to Iran Oil Embargo

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

In a move certain to intensify pressure on Iran to halt its nuclear program, European Union ambassadors have agreed on a plan to institute an embargo on Iranian oil exports. “The principal agreement on the ban for the Iranian oil imports was reached,” a senior EU diplomat in Brussels was quoted as saying. The decision must now get formal approval from the EU’s foreign ministers.

According to sources, the embargo would be implemented gradually, with all imports to terminate completely by July 1, 2012.

Title: Power Bentching

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

Title: Power Bentching


Author: Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss


 


 


   Expressing gratitude to Hashem for all the bounty He provides us is a Biblical mitzvah that is incumbent upon men and women when they finish a meal. We call this “bentching,” most commonly known as “Grace after Meals.” Unfortunately, for many of us it has turned into the “Race after Meals.”

 

   Why have we become so insensitive in our gratitude to Hashem? Perhaps, the reason is because this mitzvah is done so frequently. Perhaps it is because we know the bentching by heart or perhaps it is because bentchers aren’t always nearby. Still, to say the least, this precious mitzvah is being neglected.

 

   A new sefer has been released which has the ability to reawaken within everyone and lead us to the proper fulfillment of showing gratitude to Hashem though our bentching. Power Bentching, written by Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss, rav of Agudas Yisroel of Staten Island, is a guide for how to do this mitzvah properly and enjoyably.

 

   Power Bentching reveals the blessings and benefits bestowed upon those who bentch slowly, and reading audibly these precious words found within the bentching. Rav Weiss also uncovers many meanings of the sacred words and opens for us the possibility to tap into the power of blessings that bentching releases. Indeed, each word is explained, many with myriads of explanations from sources in Tanach, Talmud, midrashim, as well as commentaries by sages of Ashkenazi, Sephardi and Chassidic traditions.

 

   Tales from our rich past, halachic disputes, down to earth examples and fascinating parables, surprising gematriyos and hidden roshei teivos (commentary based on numerical or letter representations) abound. Also, there are many nuances of meanings as well as subtle variations in the grammar that are explained in a clear and concise manner.

 

   There is something for everyone – scholars, yeshiva students and Bais Yaakov girls, rebbeim and mechanchos, fathers, mothers, and even young readers will all gain new insights. Whether by learning a few pages daily or making this sefer part of your Shabbos and yom tov table, Power Bentching is bound to be a family favorite.

 

   Power Bentching can be the source material of mini-lessons or part of subject matter taught in yeshivas, Bais Yaakovs, day schools and summer camps. It can be learned privately or in a group setting. It is no surprise that Power Bentching has won the approval and praise of Torah Umesorah.

 

   Rabbi Weiss’s writing style is very pleasant and inviting. Sources are given for all the commentaries. Translations of words and phrases in Hebrew have been rendered into English with great precision. Each page is designed in such a way that you can concentrate on the word being discussed and at the same time not lose track of its place within the bentching. This is accomplished in part through multi-color print and the graphic talent of Sonnshine Design.

 

   Rabbi Weiss also deals with deep and difficult topics in an exciting way. What is the history behind each blessing? How can a human “bless” (so to speak) Hashem? What are some deeper meanings of the four-letter Name of Hashem? How does that Name of Hashem differ from the Name Elokim? What are some of the reasons the martyrs of Beitar are mentioned each time we bentch? How does bentching impact important matters such as emunah, bitachon, or parnasah?

 

   Power Bentching has rabbinical haskomos (approbations) from leading gedolei Yisroel. They have blessed the author that his sefer find its way into the hearts of all Jews to bring them closer to our Father in Heaven. They have expressed the idea that bentching is a mitzvah that needs to be elevated and kept in an honored manner by all. Indeed, the author of one of these haskomos states that he read the entire sefer and that his own bentching has been elevated.

Slurpees Make Aliyah to Israel

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

            Hashmonaim is a community in central Israel blessed with wonderful neighbors, and lovely houses and greenery. However, it has few commercial enterprises. It is a typical bedroom community, and most of those with jobs drive out each morning and return home each evening. Some commuters even get on a plane Sunday evening and do not return until the following Thursday or Friday. Yet, those who remain behind each day enjoy some of the most wonderful experiences available. The community is warm and friendly, with a strong social support system. Many families share meals on Shabbat and rotate between the many invitations available each week. The children practically live in each other’s homes and enjoy the community almost as much as the adults do.

 

            Recently, those of us who live here realized that not only does our community have everything, but we now also have Freezees. Besides a wonderful bakery and a well-stocked grocery, we have a delicious pizza shop that installed a Freezee machine. In America, Freezee, an ice-cold, thirst-quenching drink, is known as a 7-Eleven Slurpee – a frozen, slushy carbonated drink that comes in 153 flavors.

 

            It is not surprising that our relatively small community has installed a Freezee machine, because the person who brought Freezees to Israel happens to be a resident and a member of our local governing council. Our neighbor, Joe Offenbacher, assisted by his energetic wife, Aviva, imported the machines, syrup, cups, unique spoon straws and dome cup covers from the US, and they have already managed to distribute several machines around the country.

 

            Joe, Aviva and their family came on aliya in 2004. Joe is a Yeshiva University graduate with a Masters degree in Industrial and Organizational Psychology. He also has 20 years of business experience in the US and he needed his psychology degree to deal effectively with the local red-tape!

 

            It was not easy to start a food business food in Israel. A US factory supplies the Mehadrin-Kosher syrup. Importing flavors into Israel is a major undertaking. Each flavor needs to be registered and approved by both the Ministry of Health and the Rabbanut. The manufacturer produces each lot specifically for Israel and it is not easy to decide which flavors to import. The most popular flavors are cola, cherry and raspberry. Yet, some only want lemon-lime and will travel long distances for that flavor.

 

            The syrup is purchased from a plant in the US under the supervision of the Star-K. Joe reports that Rabbi Tzvi Rosen of the Star-K has been wonderful in answering his questions and those of the Israeli rabbis, assuring that the product will be able to pass the most stringent Kashrut standards. In Israel, each flavor needs to get the approval of the Rabbanut of Israel’s import division. Then, it needs Ministry of Health approval. Once the basic approval is given, additional Mehadrin kashrut approval is requested for each flavor so that Freezee machines can be placed in additional locations. Rav Leff of Matityahu, a respected local English speaking Rav, helped Joe get certification in Modiin under the supervision of Rav Lau. It was not easy and took many visits to Rav Leff’s office. Since Joe’s office is in Hashmonaim, he also applied for the Mehadrin certificate of the Judea and Samaria Regional Council. 

 

      Talks are now being help to acquire Badatz certification. Acquiring this next level of Hashgacha will require a huge expense because the Badatz does not trust anyone but its own supervisors to visit the plants and check everything personally. This may ultimately prove to be too expensive.  

 

            Freezee sponsors an American Flag Football team. The players wear the Freezee logo, and right before every game, they chant the rallying cry, “One, two, three – FREEZEE!”  Frezee also has a Facebook page, “Freezee Israel.”

 

             The most successful machine is in a pizza parlor in Efrat. The owner had the machine for about a week when he called and asked if he could buy the machine because it was doing so well, it didn’t pay for him to rent it. In Ramat Beit Shemesh, a wine shop, Win Vino, dispenses Freezees. Whenever a machine is put into one business, calls come from neighboring businesses that also want one. 

 

            Today, there are ten machines in Israel, in Efrat, Netanya, Jerusalem, Hashmonaim and Modiin. Another four machines are on order and that number may be upped to ten as more and more requests are received. Wherever there are concentrations of former Americans, a Freezee machine has been installed. Now Joe’s job is to teach the Israelis how good his product is. Joe is in the process of acquiring secured loans backed by the machines in order to expand.

 

     “It would be great,” he mentioned, “If we could find someone to donate a machine to install in an army base.”

The ‘Older and Improved’ Me

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

If you look at an ad or a commercial, more often than not the hype will be about the “new and improved” version of a product. The emphasis is on the fact that it’s “newer” and thus better than the “earlier” version.

Maybe that works for products, but as far as I’m concerned, if I had to promote myself, “older and improved” would be the selling point.

You read right – older and improved. With a birthday coming up three days before Purim, I will be a year older, and in my eyes that is a good thing. Many of my generation view an approaching birthday with the same enthusiasm as they do an upcoming root canal. Birthdays – and the increase in their years of life is a reality they reluctantly view as an annual occurrence they have no choice but to get through – like Tisha B’av. Just as in the case of the fast day, the morning after a birthday brings a ripple of relief that they don’t have to deal with this unwelcome herald of aging for another year.

I beg to differ. I am delighted that with the arrival of my birthday I get a year older. Older is good – because with age comes the wisdom of experience; the smarts that come from having “been there and done that” – or not.

In other words, I relish getting older because I feel I get less stupid. I gain more clarity, more sechel and the price is cheap – a few wrinkles, a slower metabolism, walking rather than running to catch the bus – a real bargain when you weigh the pros and cons.

I would not trade places with my younger, naïve, gullible self for any price – not even for the beauty, energy and vitality that is the domain of the young. I’m so much more comfortable in my “old” (more mature) skin, than I ever was in my “old” (read young) skin because introspection bestows life-enhancing insight. I know who I am and with that no longer elusive knowledge, there is sweet self-acceptance and approval.

When I was young, I let others tell me who I was. I let the opinions of significant – and insignificant others, whose journey intersected with mine, influence my opinion of myself. I allowed both friend and foe – sometimes they were the same entity, to define who I was. I listened to them. I believed them. My younger self did not know that the only opinion I should have heeded and taken to heart was my own. But I didn’t have the confidence that is the byproduct of experience.

I was too trusting of others and not trusting enough of myself. Those days are long gone and will never hold sway over me again.

While there were some positive voices, there were many that were unrelentingly negative. At some point I would have welcomed “parve” opinions – at least they did not hamstring my spirit and make me question my worthiness – but those too were rare. It took a very long time before I realized that many of those who were so critical were themselves so saturated with self-directed negativity that it seeped from their pores. With time I understood that they projected their own overwhelming feelings of inadequacy onto me – not because they were malicious or wanted to hurt me, but because that is all they knew to give. Someone who, for example, has only tasted pepper, does not comprehend sugar and thus cannot offer it.

With age comes an enhanced ability to reflect, analyze and assess. This introspection can lead to understanding and eye-opening answers to the long ingrained “whys” that gnaw at your soul. With many questions resolved, the “emotional potholes” that tripped you can be repaired and you can move forward on the journey you were detoured from.

With the passing of time, those in your younger years who in your naïve eyes were giants, actually shrink, get smaller, and shrivel; and eventually a light bulb goes off in your head and you realize that they were flawed and human, like yourself.

This amazing awareness leads to forgiveness, the emotional catheter that allows life-threatening resentment, bitterness and regret to drain out of you. It also inoculates you from further hurt; it is a shield that deflects any unwarranted, unjustified negativity, blocking crippling self-doubt from infecting you.

I have learned to avoid those who are have been or are or will be “toxic” to my well being. I may understand why they are the way they are, so there is no anger. But I will not let them undermine the “new” and improved me. I’m too old for that.

Happy birthday to me.

When It’s Time to Stop Being Nice!

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

     Is there ever a time to say, “Enough! No more Mr. Nice guy for me!”

    Think about this one before responding with a knee-jerk reaction − it’s not an easy question: Which quality would you like to impart to your child − how to be a nice person, or how to be a successful one?

   In response, you’ll probably wonder if the two are necessarily mutually exclusive. Are they ever?

    We define a nice person as someone who cares about others and is sensitive to their feelings. We’ve all met these sorts of individuals. These are the people who are selfless, seeing beyond their own wishes and putting the needs of others before their own. These are the people we love to be around.

     On the other hand, we identify successful people as those who assert themselves to ensure that their personal goals are being met, irrespective of the needs, wishes or opinions of others. We’ve all met these types of individuals who guiltlessly step on anyone who gets in the way of their climb up their proverbial career or social ladders. These are the types whom we try to avoid − at all costs, but who, nevertheless, seem to be getting what they want out of life.

   So, can the two co-exist?

   Ideally, we’d all like to teach our children how to be accommodating to the perspectives of others. We’d like to teach them how to share their toys, their time on the swing and their snacks. We like to view ourselves, too, as considerate people who willingly give up our seat to the elderly or handicapped, who generously toss a few coins to the outstretched arms of a homeless indigent and who support the neighbourhood PTA. We value talking politely and criticizing sparingly. Until that is, we have a run-in with someone who so blithely takes advantage of our good heartedness.

   Ever had a situation where you are being neglectful to yourself (or your family) by tending to the whims of fussy Uncle Ben, critical cousin Sally and selfish neighbor Rhonda? Are you being considerate − or a wimp − by being a ‘”yes man” to your boss’s opinions or by kowtowing to your tyrannical co-worker’s quirks?

   There are times when decidedly un-nice behaviour is the best response. Our traditions give the wise advice: “With a sly person, be sly.” To achieve the greater goal, the correct response may be to deal deceitfully − or arrogantly, or selfishly, or sternly − with a person who only understands that negative language. With people who can’t see beyond the little circle of their ego, ask yourself, is being nice the correct approach or will a more stern method ultimately achieve the greater good?

    How do you draw the line?

    Maybe the answer lies in evaluating our motives.

    Ask yourself, “Why be nice?” Do you believe this is the right way to approach life? Or do you just want to be thought of as a nice person? Do you genuinely believe that your child should share the coveted park’s swing with others, or is it your fear that he will be labelled as the ill-mannered bully? Why are you giving a rubber stamp approval to your friend or co-worker? Is it because you agree with what s/he is doing, or are you reluctant to appear disagreeable? Why are you generously offering your time and energy to others − do you want to be considered kind, or do you genuinely believe in the cause?

    Perhaps the key is developing an inner strength.

    Let’s impart to our children − and demonstrate to ourselves − the backbone to stand strong, whether that means having the courage to act with kindness and sensitivity (which should always be our default) or to act with deceitful slyness or gruff sternness to those that only understand that language − to achieve the best outcome.

    Some of the most self-centered people look strong on the outside, but are weak within, completely incapable of overcoming their personal biases and whims. And some of the nicest, kindest people may seem weak on the outside but have the steely determination within − to do the right thing. Whether that means saying an accommodating, sweet “Yes” (in most cases) or an unkind, stiff “No.” Not because they are affected by how others will view them, but by how their Creator does.

   What do YOU think? When is it time to stop being nice?

    Watch Chana Weisberg’s two-minute videocast on www.chabad.org/intouchfor your dose of weekly inspiration. Chana Weisberg is the author of several books, including Divine Whispers − Stories that Speak to the Heart and Soul and Tending the Garden: The Unique Gifts of the Jewish Woman. She is an international inspirational lecturer on a wide array of topics and an editor at chabad.org. She can be reached at chanaw@gmail.com.

When It’s Time to Stop Being Nice!

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

     Is there ever a time to say, “Enough! No more Mr. Nice guy for me!”


    Think about this one before responding with a knee-jerk reaction − it’s not an easy question: Which quality would you like to impart to your child − how to be a nice person, or how to be a successful one?


   In response, you’ll probably wonder if the two are necessarily mutually exclusive. Are they ever?


    We define a nice person as someone who cares about others and is sensitive to their feelings. We’ve all met these sorts of individuals. These are the people who are selfless, seeing beyond their own wishes and putting the needs of others before their own. These are the people we love to be around.


     On the other hand, we identify successful people as those who assert themselves to ensure that their personal goals are being met, irrespective of the needs, wishes or opinions of others. We’ve all met these types of individuals who guiltlessly step on anyone who gets in the way of their climb up their proverbial career or social ladders. These are the types whom we try to avoid − at all costs, but who, nevertheless, seem to be getting what they want out of life.


   So, can the two co-exist?


   Ideally, we’d all like to teach our children how to be accommodating to the perspectives of others. We’d like to teach them how to share their toys, their time on the swing and their snacks. We like to view ourselves, too, as considerate people who willingly give up our seat to the elderly or handicapped, who generously toss a few coins to the outstretched arms of a homeless indigent and who support the neighbourhood PTA. We value talking politely and criticizing sparingly. Until that is, we have a run-in with someone who so blithely takes advantage of our good heartedness.


   Ever had a situation where you are being neglectful to yourself (or your family) by tending to the whims of fussy Uncle Ben, critical cousin Sally and selfish neighbor Rhonda? Are you being considerate − or a wimp − by being a ‘”yes man” to your boss’s opinions or by kowtowing to your tyrannical co-worker’s quirks?


   There are times when decidedly un-nice behaviour is the best response. Our traditions give the wise advice: “With a sly person, be sly.” To achieve the greater goal, the correct response may be to deal deceitfully − or arrogantly, or selfishly, or sternly − with a person who only understands that negative language. With people who can’t see beyond the little circle of their ego, ask yourself, is being nice the correct approach or will a more stern method ultimately achieve the greater good?


    How do you draw the line?


    Maybe the answer lies in evaluating our motives.


    Ask yourself, “Why be nice?” Do you believe this is the right way to approach life? Or do you just want to be thought of as a nice person? Do you genuinely believe that your child should share the coveted park’s swing with others, or is it your fear that he will be labelled as the ill-mannered bully? Why are you giving a rubber stamp approval to your friend or co-worker? Is it because you agree with what s/he is doing, or are you reluctant to appear disagreeable? Why are you generously offering your time and energy to others − do you want to be considered kind, or do you genuinely believe in the cause?


    Perhaps the key is developing an inner strength.


    Let’s impart to our children − and demonstrate to ourselves − the backbone to stand strong, whether that means having the courage to act with kindness and sensitivity (which should always be our default) or to act with deceitful slyness or gruff sternness to those that only understand that language − to achieve the best outcome.


    Some of the most self-centered people look strong on the outside, but are weak within, completely incapable of overcoming their personal biases and whims. And some of the nicest, kindest people may seem weak on the outside but have the steely determination within − to do the right thing. Whether that means saying an accommodating, sweet “Yes” (in most cases) or an unkind, stiff “No.” Not because they are affected by how others will view them, but by how their Creator does.


   What do YOU think? When is it time to stop being nice?


    Watch Chana Weisberg’s two-minute videocast on www.chabad.org/intouchfor your dose of weekly inspiration. Chana Weisberg is the author of several books, including Divine Whispers − Stories that Speak to the Heart and Soul and Tending the Garden: The Unique Gifts of the Jewish Woman. She is an international inspirational lecturer on a wide array of topics and an editor at chabad.org. She can be reached at chanaw@gmail.com.

Going Back To The Old Ways

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008

 According to the Talmud (Ta’anit 30b-31a), on the 15th of Av unmarried girls would dress in plain white clothing, so that  those from wealthy families could not be distinguished from  the poorer ones. Once suitably attired, they would go out to sing and dance in the vineyards surrounding Jerusalem.


 Joining them were  single men who would mingle with said maidens and pick a wife. This  very possibly was the earliest version of “speed dating” – but it worked.  The young men and women would eventually pair off and happily build a bayit ne’eman b’yisrael, and thus contribute to Jewish continuity.


 There is a valuable lesson to be learned from this, one that obviously was condoned by the gedolim of that era as an acceptable way for singles to “meet.” You endorsed what needed to be done to ensure the future of the nation.


 Why then, the question begs to be asked, is the mingling of eligible men and women – once done with the blessing and approval of  the  gedolim of  ancient Eretz Yisrael – now considered “treif” by the frum establishment?


 Don’t we as a community take upon ourselves the minhagim of our ancestors? Why not this one? Why don’t we celebrate Tu B’Av as we do, for example, Tu B’Shevat?


  Why is having singles of both genders meeting each other on their own so frowned upon? This near total isolation of the genders is a relatively recent phenomenon, since most of the middle-aged people reading this article likely met at coed events  sponsored by their shuls and schools. There were dances, bowling and skating parties, kumzitses, and post-Shabbat get-togethers that gave young people the opportunity to get to know each other and eventually pair off with a compatible future spouse – unimpaired by preconceived biases that prevented them from  having that initial date. Today, getting approval for a first date can take weeks, even months, – dragged on and delayed by intensive checking and interrogation of “references.”


 During Tu B’Av, the boys had no idea which girls were rich, who came from big yichus, or who (gasp!) had a mother who used plastic silverware on Shabbat and served the cheaper brand of frozen gefilta fish. Without a lengthy shidduch dosier and detailed background check to influence their choice, the young men and women of yore were provided with an equal-opportunity environment to meet, get to know each other and pair off.


 I know of many marriages that resulted from two individuals meeting on their own who never would have ever accepted a shidduch based on the “facts on the ground.” Bachelors met and married single mothers with several children; taller women chose shorter men; frum-from-birth married ba’al teshuvah – you get the idea!


 Sadly the children of baby boomers who met  at “mixed” events have been denied this golden opportunity to meet and find their soul mates, to the point that there are thousands of  men and women getting older with each passing year who are still single – and increasingly frustrated and depressed.


 I recently bumped into a friend who has been married since she was 19. Though she knows many unmarried people, she had no idea of  the sheer number of older never-married singles. I was taken aback at a recent Shabbaton I attended where everyone, as an icebreaker, got up and introduced and described themselves. Out of a crowd of about 60, only a handful (perhaps five) mentioned having children. Most were in their upper 40s and 50s, and the pained sadness in their eyes belied the smile on their faces as they described their hobbies, jobs, activities and pets.


 For them, Yom Tovs are not “good days.” Most older singles dread holidays because they have no idea where they will spend them. Some have no parents or siblings, or if they do have brothers and sisters, often they are not geographically or emotionally close. Others feel uncomfortable being the only single at a table full of couples – even if they are family.


 Some, already experiencing health issues like arthritis or hearing loss, increasingly worry about who will take care of them if they become feeble in their old age. They know that they will have to “buy” care from strangers.


 The community and religious leaders cannot  let the current crop of  singles – still in their upper 20s and 30s – become the future, older never marrieds. It truly is a travesty in terms of the decimation of the Jewish people when a sizeable portion of the frum community never marries and never bears children – who, in turn, launch future generations.


 Why not reinstitute coed programming? If necessary, people could meet under the watchful eye of “chaperones” – shadchans if you will – and other married couples who could serve as facilitators. I’m not saying we should have dancing in the streets, but what is wrong if  shuls, religious colleges, etc. offer activities where young men and women can meet and mingle? Obviously the “shidduch parshah” is not working for everybody. Just like in medicine, if something doesn’t work you try something else – even  if some in the medical community consider the approach a bit “unorthodox.”


 You must do what you can to save the afflicted. In terms of the viability of the  community, everyone must take their head out of the sand. As a people, we are literally talking pikuach nefesh.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/going-back-to-the-old-ways/2008/09/10/

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