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August 29, 2014 / 3 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘body’

Digging Up Arafat

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

The Palestinians are digging up the body of Yasser Arafat. They have been claiming that Arafat was poisoned by Israel, and are now on a quest to prove just that.

The concrete and stones of Arafat’s mausoleum in Ramallah are currently being removed, in a process that will take around 2 weeks.

After which French, Russian, and Swiss experts will determine if the exhumed Arafat was poisoned by polonium-210 as Al Jazeera has suggested.

Love And Fear…Of Food

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

Some of us climb a scale each day in terror and dread. Some of us alight a scale, with our hearts thumping and throats tightening. We may know how to jump off and on, or gyrate this way or that to create a different number. And we will stare at that all important number – which could very well dictate our mood for the rest of the day. We believe the final number to be the true judge of our worth – of how well we are doing. And we are sorry that the scale could not be fooled.

I try not to think back to those obsessive weighing-in days. Yes, I am not as slender as I was back then. Yes, I still have days where I feel very large, and need to remind myself that I am much more than a dress size. One day I discovered other ways to monitor size, and my scale lost its power over me. No longer was my self-worth tied to random blinking numbers. I bravely abandoned the scale that was my companion most of my youth and put it away. I learned about a whole world that did not revolve around food plans and rigid choices. I learned that food could be my friend, and I could enjoy it based on my tastes and likes. I learned that my body actually knows when food is necessary, and that I could trust my hunger. I realized that G-d wants us to eat and enjoy, instead of feeling tortured when faced with tasty food.

Eating is a constant, and we ought to notice what it is we consume. What am I choosing to eat at this moment? Do I eat with abandon, or with awareness? Am I even enjoying the food? Am I making my blessings properly, before and after a meal or snack, expressing to G-d how grateful I am for these choices?

I think of a friend, a mentor from my days in New York. She was a truly special woman who not only raised a large family, but had also begun to have grandchildren. Then she succumbed to an awful illness and quickly was gone. The first thought I had then upon hearing the news was “but she never got to be as thin as she wanted.” Yet, G-d took her. Her time was up.

What if we spend our all our waking moments mourning over an extra morsel of cake? What if we regret our food decisions each time we make them? What if we don’t see what we’ve become?

All of us are expert calorie counters. We know all the labels, and can recite the calories fat and carbs of each item. Our generation is truly more educated than any other about food, and the consequences of eating poorly. Even young children have jumped on the food bandwagon, and can rattle off the fat contents and calories. We have the knowledge to make better choices.

It is good to be aware, to be sure we are not eating recreationally, to fill time, but rather that we are reaching for food based on our internal hunger signals. I wonder, though, do we focus equally on our spiritual progress?

The High Holidays are just a few weeks behind us. We have been judged by the one true Judge – and we made promises and resolutions. The real world, the real judgement of our worth, lies entirely in our behaviors and choices. Good intentions are nice, but only valuable if we make them concrete with action. G-d does not care about the number on the scales; He does not care how much we weigh. However, He does care about how we treat our mothers and fathers. He will measure the nuances of our speech around our coworkers and how we act when we are behind the steering wheel.

Am I spending all my waking moments mourning over something I ate that was high in calorie? Am I noticing how I look or who I have become? Do I appreciate the gift of what I do have? Do I truly revel in the present, appreciating life? Do I count my blessings or my calorie consumption?

The Death Of Rebbi

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

When Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi, the redactor of the Mishnah known as “Rebbi,” lay dying, he made his sons promise him that after his death they would set the Shabbat table and light the candles for him every Friday night.

There is a connection between the righteous, the world to come and Friday night. All are invested with kedushah (holiness). Kedushah is synonymous with peace. Shabbat is synonymous with peace. Shabbat Shalom. Peace is a state of harmony between body and soul when they no longer fight each other and no longer pull in different directions.

Perhaps nobody suffered more from internal strife than King David. Abigail’s words of farewell to King David as he lay dying were “May your soul be bound up in the bundle of life.” In the world to come, when the body is separated from the soul, there is eternal peace.

The soul, having left the body, settles in its eternal resting place under God’s heavenly throne. This, however does not happen immediately. According to the Talmud, for the first twelve months after death, the soul wanders restlessly between heaven and earth trying to reunite with the body. The lifelong partnership with the body, however volatile it may have been, is not easily terminated. It is only when the soul has reached the eternal level of holiness that it finally comes to rest in the presence of God.

Hence the Kaddish is recited during the first eleven months of restlessness to assist the soul in its quest for peace. On Friday night we rest in peace from the physical toil of the week and have a taste of the world to come. Indeed, Shabbat is referred to as a mirror of the world to come.

Few people have managed to live in eternal peace during their own lifetime. One such person was Rebbi, who lived in the second century. As he lay dying, he lifted his ten fingers toward heaven and said, “You know that I toiled with my ten fingers in the study of Torah. May it be your wish that there be peace in my place of eternal rest.” The Torah is a tree of life to those who cling to it. Its roads are harmonious and its ways are peaceful. No wonder, then, that Rebbi, who toiled his whole life in the streets of the Torah, found peace during his own lifetime. Indeed, he was known as our holy Rebbi, Rabbeinu Hakadosh.

It seems that Rebbi was so content in this world that he did not want to leave. “Why are you crying?” asked Rabbi Chiyah, the disciple of Rebbi. “You know it is a good omen to die with a smile.”

“I am crying on account of the Torah I will no longer be able to study and the commandments I will no longer be able to perform,” answered Rebbi.

Rebbi’s disciples did not want him to leave either. Neither, of course, did his “maidservant” (Amtei deRebbi). So they decreed the day a public fast and gathered around Rebbi’s home in the mountain village of Tzipori and prayed for his recovery.

“Anybody,” they warned “that breaks the news of Rebbi’s death will himself be put to death.” And as long as they prayed, Rebbi did not die. But he suffered terribly. And his “maidservant” could see him suffer no more. So she ascended to the roof carrying an earthenware jug. She turned her eyes heavenward and cried out, “the angels seek to take Rebbi and the people seek to keep Rebbi. May it be Your wish that those above overcome those below.”

But the disciples would not stop praying and would not release Rebbi from his suffering. So Rebbi’s “maidservant” held the earthenware jug aloft and cast it down into the street below where the disciples stood praying. The crash of the earthenware on the street below silenced their prayers for an instant and Rebbi’s soul departed. “Bo b’shalom” – come in peace – the angels greeted him.

The soul of Rebbi was equally at peace both in this world and the next. His soul did not suffer the distress of the wandering souls. And so we are told that each Friday night when Boi B’shalom was recited, he would return home, sit at the Friday night table and say Kiddush for his family. One Friday night, however, a neighbor saw him. Fearing that those who saw him would elevate him in their minds above his peers, he departed and was never seen again.

Cow Beauty Pageant

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

I figured we’ve all had plenty of flooded landscape images to look at these past few days, so, for a much needed change, how about a beautiful bovine?

Meet Miriam, the winning cow, on display at the conclusion of a Cow Beauty Pageant, conducted back in early summer, 2001, in Moshav Be’er Tuvia, in southern Israel.

Miriam, weighs 650 kilograms, (1,430 lbs.). In 2010 she produced 13,400 liters (3350 gallons) of milk. But she won the prestigious title thanks to her perfect and noble body structure, her obvious beauty, and her light gait.

The pageant featured 20 four-legged beauties, selected by professional judges from the Israel Cattle Growers Association, the Tara dairy and Be’er Tuvia’s cowmen.

News Prior to Halloween: PLO Chief Arafat to Rise From the Dead

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

News just in time for Halloween: deceased PLO terror chief Yasser Arafat will rise from the dead next month, being exhumed by criminal investigators from France to determine how he died, according to a report by the Associated Press.

French officials announced on Tuesday that they have reached an agreement with the Palestinian authority in which a Swiss investigative team would arrive in Ramallah and unearth the body.  They will then test his body to determine if polonium-210 – a deadly radioactive isotope found on Arafat’s clothes – was used to poison him.

Arafat died on the 25th of October from a massive brain bleed, but exhibited flu-like symptoms days before his death.

Theories as to his cause of death include AIDS, stomach cancer, cirrhosis, and poisoning.

French officials have refused to publicize information on Arafat’s final illness, citing privacy laws.

Israeli Team Discovers Stem Cell “Bodyguards”

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

A research team headed by Professor Tsvee Lapidot of Israel’s Weizmann Institute’s immunology Department has discovered that the body’s precious stem cells – special bodies which can morph into many different types in order to provide vital services to the body in cases of need – have a little help in the immune system.

According to the paper, reported on by Israel21c, stem cells have backup from a sub-group of activated immune cells whose sole purpose is to defend them.

While the presence of mesenchymal cells – cells which provide support to stem cells in order to keep them healthy and strong – was already known, Dr. Lapidot’s team discovered that a subgroup of cells exists which prevent the differentiation of stem cells, secreting prostaglandins which preserve the youthfulness of the stem cells and prevent them from turning into anything else – also helping them survive chemotherapy or respond to infections.

Lapidot’s study further showed that introducing prostaglandin treatments can improve the quality and increase the number of the stem cells, an important discovery which may impact the strength and amount of cures to patients with leukemia.

It’s My Opinion: A Place To Mourn

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

Eighteen-year-old University of Florida student Christian Aguilar went missing on September 20. His frantic parents, Carlos and Claudia Aguilar, came to the college campus in Gainesville to search for their son. They held daily press conferences and begged for help. They handed out flyers. They organized vigils. Hundreds of law enforcement professionals, as well as volunteers from every background, were prompted to join in the effort.

The prognosis seemed grim. Another boy, Pedro Bravo, who had known Aguilar from high school in Miami, disclosed some very disturbing information. Bravo confessed to having had a fight with Aguilar. He said he beat his friend unconscious and dumped him out of his car.

Hopes for finding Aguilar dimmed as the weeks went by. The area Bravo had shown authorities yielded no sign of the missing young man. Police found blood in Bravo’s car and backpack. They found a receipt for the purchase of a shovel and duct tape. As time passed, the parents who originally had hoped to find their son now sadly realized that he probably had died.

It was quite possible that Aguilar’s body would never be found. There would be no burial, no accounting, no chance of any type of closure. The thought was excruciating.

Last week Christian Aguilar’s body was found in a private hunting club more than an hour away from the vicinity of the search. Identification was confirmed by dental records. Carlos called the find a “miracle.” He said the discovery would “give honor” to his son. Carlos and Claudia Aguilar could now bury their child and hopefully find some comfort and solace in this horrific tragedy.

There is something very poignant about the societal norm of burial and the marking of a gravesite. A human being who lived on this earth deserves to be interred with a certain dignity. Those who remain behind benefit from having a place to mourn and mark the final resting place of a departed loved one.

One of the most heartrending aspects of the Shoah is the fact that the mass graves and ashes of the crematoria have disallowed this basic human need. The Nazis tossed out the slaughtered victims as garbage. It was their final dehumanizing action.

Jewish tradition deals with the importance of burial in the Tanach. The cave of Machpeilah, purchased to bury our matriarch Sarah and the grave purchased to bury our matriarch Rachel are important parts of our history. The final act of chesed Hashem performed in the Torah was the burial of Moses. The lessons, of course, are for all time.

The Aguilar family will be able to bury their son and know where he lies. They will be able to visit his grave, grieve and process the tragedy. The survivors of the six million were deprived of this opportunity. This is a reason why the Jewish world is dedicated to building Holocaust museums and shrines.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/community/south-florida/its-my-opinion-a-place-to-mourn/2012/10/24/

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