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April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Asher Yatzar’

The ‘Nine Questions’

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

http://haemtza.blogspot.co.il/2012/08/the-nine-questions.html

I generally do not respond to patronizing comments on my blog. The following comment by Ben Dov (…don’t know if that is his real name or an alias) was flagged for moderation – and I debated deleting it for that reason. However the questions he raises are common ones and deserve answers. Although I have dealt with these questions in the past in one fashion or another, I will deal with them here in a stand alone post. Here is his comment in its entirety:

You are reverting to the role of social critic of haredim.  I think this is a waste of your time, for reasons I have pointed out before. You are proud to invoke Rav SZ Auerbach as someone who did not wear blurring glasses.  Well, it is also true that Rav Shlomo Zalman did not spend hours picking at the flaws of those outside his own community i.e. dati leumi. People are flawed and one could fill a book- maybe an encyclopedia- of haredi flaws.  But you seem proportionately less interested in problems close to you.

Here is a list for starters.  Anyone who disagrees with the list could compose a different one:

1. Why do so many MO Jews not even know the words to bracha of Asher Yatzar?

2. Why was the MO siyum hashas a trickle compared to the Agudah siyum?

3. What is the MO alternative to the Asifa- why has MO Rabbinic leadership done so little about internet issues?

4. How many MO parents want their children to be Rabbis and Jewish educators?

5. Why do many MO Jews have only a hazy commitment to Torah practices and doctrines?

6. Why are many MO youth sent to college and/or co-ed dormitories without adequate guidance and supervision?

7. What is a bigger nachas to an MO parent- that their son finished Shas or attained economic/professional prestige?

8. Who are more often the heroes of MO youth- media celebrities or gedolai Torah (of any stripe).

9. While preparing for parnasa is totally respectable, how many MO Jews believe God and bitachon have anything to do with their success as opposed to university admissions offices and other secular factors?

Rabbi Harry, if you share my concerns, why not write about it?  If you don’t, what are your concerns about MO?  What do MO Rabbanim and principals think are the crucial battles facing their communities?

Are all these issues so uninteresting to you?

Here is my response.

Ben Dov, the problem with people like you is that when flaws are pointed out, instead of trying to deal with them you say the equivalent of, “Oh yeah? Well what about you guys?” “You guys are 10 times worse!”

I don’t “pick” on Charedim because I hate them, God forbid. I “pick” on them because they are the ones making news. A large part of my blog is about commenting on the sociological issues of our time. Like the “Black Hat” phenomenon. That said I do not go around with a microscope looking for issues to blast Charedim with. I simply follow the media reports (both secular and Jewish) that everyone else reads. This was the case with the “Black Hat” post.

When I think there is a problem with something reported in the media, I am going to say something about it. That is equally true when Charedim act badly or make decisions that reflect poorly on Judaism. When that becomes public knowledge via a media report, you better believe I am going to say something about it.

The reason I do that is twofold.  One is to make sure that our own people (meaning Jews of all stripes) realize that this is nothing to be proud of or emulate.  And the other reason is to make public the fact that there is at least one Orthodox Rabbi who sees such behavior as wrong to one degree or another –  sometimes even a Chilul HaShem depending on what the particular issue is.

Now I will turn to your questions.

1) Why do Modern Orthodox (MO) Jews not know the words to Asher Yatzar? How do you know we don’t? Have you tested all of us? How about Charedim? Do all Charedim know the words to Asher Yatzar? That is a ridiculous question. Is that your measure of Judaism? To know the words of Asher Yatzar?

Audiologist in Training Writes

Friday, June 29th, 2012

It’s time for finals and I’ve been studying hard for all of my exams. My favorite class this semester was audiology, and studying more about the field has solidified my decision to pursue audiology as a career.

In the beginning, we focused mostly on the anatomy of the auditory structures. Not just the outer ear – the one people get pierced or make fun of if it sticks out too much – but also the middle and inner ear. The middle ear contains the three tiniest bones in your body. They magnify sounds from the outside and transfer the mechanical signals into the inner ear and the cochlea. The cochlea contains the fluid that stays in contact with thousands of little hair cells, which are connected to nerve ending. This is where the sound wave – mechanical signals – are made into electrical signals and carried to the auditory processing portions of the brain.

Learning about the normal chain of events that happens automatically to make you hear is inspiring to begin with. And that’s before you begin to consider the vestibular system that controls your sense of balance, and which can be extremely debilitating when impaired. Just ask anyone who has ever experienced vertigo!

In our recent unit I learned about the myriad of things that could go wrong and the disorders related to ear function. There are conditions relating every area that should be opened and for when they are closed. For example, otic atresia, a narrow or malformed ear canal; patulous or chronically open eustachian tube, which regulates middle ear pressure; perforation of the tympanic membrane or ear drum – just to name a few. Otosclerosis, the leading cause of hearing loss in adults, occurs when the smallest of the tiny bones, the stapes, is immobilized and can’t pass on the vibration messages as it’s should.

Reciting the blessing of Asher Yatzar after using the restroom is a way of giving thanks for our digestive health and overall bodily functioning. Saying Asher Yatzar becomes automatic for many, but if we do give it a moment’s thought, let’s keep in mind our miraculous ability to hear together with all the heart valve and digestive openings and closings too!

Remembering Irene Klass

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011


   Before leaving on my yearly trip to Israel, I heard the news of the passing of Irene Klass, a”h. Irene Klass was a pillar of strength in emunah, bitachon, and love of mitzvos and the Creator.

 

   Many years ago my husband and myself would write articles for The Jewish Press. She became my mentor and we grew to know each other so well that when her younger daughter was going to get married, she insisted that my late husband, Rabbi Yaakov Dovid Lieff, a”h,and myself attend the wedding.

 

   Irene Klass was very determined to observe Torah laws. She was very involved in chesed and gave charity to many organizations. One such organization, B’nos Chayil Bikur Cholim honored Irene Klass as a pillar of strength and chesed. She and her family were honored by many other organizations as well.

 

   She was always thanking Hashem and would try to say many prayers aloud so her friends would say “Amen.” One of the last times that I visited her she had just used the ladies room and said the Asher Yatzar out loud so that I was able to reply “Amen.”

 

   She then said to me, “I enjoy when you come to visit, you say ‘amen’ with such understanding and feeling!”

 

   Irene Klass often brought her daughters, Naomi and Hindy to the Chanukah parties at Coney Island Hospital. They helped Bikur Cholim Bnos Chayil to entertain, give gifts and refreshments to the patients. Before Pesach, The Jewish Press used to advertise that by request the Jewish patients of Coney Island Hospital would be able to obtain kosher for Pesach meals.

 

   The paper also called for members of the community to come and volunteer their services by visiting the patients and informing them of their privileges at Coney Island Hospital. The Jewish Press was very instrumental in furthering community participation in many chesed events.

 

   May Irene Klass be a melitza yosher for her family, friends, and the entire Jewish community. Amen.

Appreciate Life By Saying ‘Thank You’

Wednesday, February 20th, 2008

          One of the subjects  I was taught as a young child in the excellent day school I attended in Toronto (at the time called Associated Hebrew Day Schools) was Tefillah. Since we spoke only Hebrew during our Limudei Kodesh and secular Hebrew studies, such as Hebrew literature, creative writing and Jewish history, we understood quite well what the words we were davening actually meant.


 

         I thus became aware at an early age that a great majority of our prayers involved thanking Hashem, and praising Him for the multitude of kindnesses and benefits that we experienced on a daily basis.

 

         It seemed that we were thanking Him constantly, all the time, nonstop. Every action, like eating or even hearing thunder – came connected to a “Baruch Ata Hashem.” And if, without thought, we popped a raisin in our mouth without saying a brachah or ran out of the bathroom forgetting to say “Asher Yatzar” in our eagerness to get to recess, we felt so mortified, guilty and blemished – and afraid of Divine retribution.

 

         Now human nature is such that nobody likes to feel guilty or scared or ashamed about something they did or did not do, and as I got older I began to wonder why G-d needed so much praise and thanks in the first place. After all, I thought to myself, He isn’t human – why does he seemingly need to have His “ego stroked”- so to speak – why the constant “pats on the back” and verbal affirmation about how great and kind He is – especially from non-entities like us.

 

        Hashem is the Master of the Universe and the Creator of everything. We however are mortal, finite, limited creatures whose lives come and go like a blink of an eye in time. Why this requirement to bless and thank Him every minute?

 

         Wouldn’t it be enough to say one brachah in the morning to the effect of “Thank you for everything” and be covered for the rest of the day? Why a brachah every time we eat a fruit or vegetable or sandwich? (I’ve actually heard of busy young mothers who wash in the morning and constantly nibble so they end up benching once – after they eat their last evening snack.)

 

         Why the seemingly endless buffet of required praise and tributes and expresses of appreciation and not just one daily, all-encompassing Baruch Hashem?

 

         I came to realize that Hashem truly does not need our adulation. But we need to express it. It is to our great benefit that demonstrating hakarat ha’tov becomes second nature to us. Because awareness and gratitude to someone or something that enriches our lives is the calcium that build and fortifies and maintains our relationships, whether in the personal, professional, social, communal – even international realms.

 

         Most people are willing to go the extra mile and do something that benefits someone, be it a woman making meals for her family, or an employee staying past quitting time to do work that needs to be completed. But it is crucial that there is an acknowledgment from the recipient of the effort. Often, a simple “thank you” is enough for it does what really matters – recognizes and validates.

 

      Hakarat ha’tov makes the “giver” feel valuable and gives him/her self-esteem. These are the nutrients that nourish a relationship through the best of times and the worst of times. A lack of hakarat ha’tov causes acidic resentment, anger, hurt and bitterness that gradually eats away at the relationship and rots it.

 

         By having us constantly thank Hashem, we get into the habit of thanking the people in our lives -family members, friends and even strangers – and that is the key ingredient for shalom bayis – at home, in the workplace, and everywhere else.

 

         But there is yet another component to hakarat ha’tov – one that is internal, rather than external.  By thanking Hashemfor such habitual everyday occurrences like going to the bathroom, eating, walking, seeing – we learn to appreciate all the good in our lives – and in doing so we realize that our chelek - our “lot” in life is actually pretty good.

 

         So many people are excessively wrapped up in what they are lacking – or even worse, they are so consumed by what others have, they cannot enjoy what they do have. Pirkei Avot states, “Who is rich? – the one who is happy with his lot.”

 

         If you reverse that thought, one who is not satisfied with his lot – is poor. Being poor is likened in the Torah as being dead. So the inevitable conclusion – those who are unhappy with their lot can be viewed as being dead.

 

         By constantly thanking and blessing Hashem with our tefillot, we constantly remind ourselves of all that we do have – which leads to being “satisfied”  - and feeling very much alive. 

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/appreciate-life-by-saying-thank-you/2008/02/20/

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