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August 27, 2016 / 23 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘child’

No Child Should Be A Castaway

Thursday, August 4th, 2016

Many years ago, my maternal zaidie, HaRav HaGaon HaTzaddik Tzvi Hirsh HaKohn, zt”l, who was an eminent rosh yeshiva in Hungary as well as the chief rabbi of Budapest, pointed out the difficulty in comprehending the passage in the Torah (Genesis 25) that states Yitzchak loved Eisav because of the venison (game) Eisav brought him.

Can anyone imagine that Yitzchak – a tzaddik, the epitome of sanctity and spirituality who was prepared to be sacrificed and who offered his life to G-d, who was bound on the altar and saw angels hovering over him shedding tears, whose soul reached the heavens above – would love Eisav because he brought him venison? Is it venison Yitzchak yearns for? Can such a scenario be conceivable?

“So how do we understand this?” my zeidie asked.

He then proceeded to explain that the word in the Torah that is used for venison is tzayid, which also means “weapon.” The very fact that the holy patriarch was able to love his wayward, wicked son is the weapon with which he was able to defend all Jews who strayed from the path.

“If I, a man of flesh and blood, am able to love my son unconditionally, surely You, Almighty G-d, whose compassion and love are infinite, have to love us, Your children, unconditionally”…and that was the most powerful defense the Jewish people had.

To illustrate this passage, my grandfather related the story of the Rebbe of Tzernovitz. He too had a rebellious son. The members of his congregation were so outraged by the boy’s behavior, and so fearful he might have a terrible influence on the other young people in the community, that they appointed a committee to take the matter up with the Rebbe himself. They were certain that once he was made aware of the problem, he would banish his son.

It was a few days before Yom Kippur when they came to the Rebbe’s house. They found him immersed in penitential prayers.

“Almighty G-d,” the Rebbe’s voice came piercing through the door. “I know full well that we, Your people, are not deserving of Your favor. I admit that we have transgressed Your commandments, but nevertheless, I beseech You to forgive and bless us with a year of good and plenty. And should You argue that I have no basis on which to make such a request because Your Jewish people are not deserving of Your bounty, then I will tell You that others may not, but I, the Rabbi of Tzernovitz do, for I am a father, and my son has also rebelled against me. And yet, I tell you my G-d, that if someone were to suggest that I disown him, that I cast him away from my sight, I would throw that person out, for no matter what, my son is still my son.”

The members of the committee, hearing the prayer of their Rebbe, trembled with shame. Without uttering a word, they left.

Now, unbeknownst to the Rebbe and to the committee, the errant son also heard his father’s prayer. Unable to contain himself, he broke down and wept inconsolably. In the midst of his tears, the boy made a silent vow that he would justify his father’s unbounded love.

Indeed, this has always been the Jewish attitude toward our rebellious children, Every parent must consider that casting a child out may cause him to further fail. At least while he is at home, he still sees a Shabbos, a Yom Tov; he still hears the voices of his parents, even if it appears that he doesn’t listen, doesn’t hear.

Moreover, while he is at home the parents can engage someone who has experience with such children and can work with them. Most important, the child will know in his heart that his parents love him unconditionally – and that, in and of itself, is strengthening.

Our patriarchs, our matriarchs, and our sages knew that in the neshamah of every Jewish child is a pintele Yid, and even if it appears to be smoldering, that pintele Yid can be reignited and overnight become a powerful flame. We dare not lose sight of that.

Nevertheless, there are many parents who voice their concern about keeping such a child at home. They fear he could destroy the shidduch opportunities of siblings. They fear he might influence other children in the family to go off the derech.

Oh, I am well aware of the arguments people put forth – “It’s easier to follow the bad than the good”; “It’s easier to fall through the cracks than to stand up straight and walk on the path of Torah”; “It wouldn’t work, my son/daughter is too far gone – he/she just won’t listen”; ”If they try, they will just end up in a nasty fight”; “Rebbetzin, you don’t begin to understand what goes on in our house – my son comes home at crazy hours and don’t know where he was or what he is up to, he drinks, he smokes….”; “You can’t imagine how he/she dresses. It’s an embarrassment!”

I know all that, yet I will tell you the power of love is the only thing that can reach them. Yes, the power of unconditional love and kindness goes a long, long way – and I speak from real experience rather than from some abstract theory.

It is with this approach that I established Hineni and have reached out to our people. This teaching that my holy parents engraved upon my heart has guided me throughout my life.

I have dealt with many teenagers who have been cast out of their homes and schools, and once again I must emphasize that the most potent way to reach them is with berachos and love. I am not saying this is easy. It is a terrible nisayon for all concerned.

I understand it is easy to be overcome by rage, but we have to bear in mind the consequences and ask ourselves what will be accomplished if we yell and scream and call the teenager derogatory names. On the other hand, if I hold my temper, respond calmly, and show him I am sad rather than mad, I have a shot at reaching him. Not in vain did our sages teach us: “Who is wise? – He who foresees the future.”

Obviously, our sages were not referring to prophecy, but to foreseeing the consequences of our actions.

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

It’s About Time: Government Trust Fund for Every Israeli Child

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

For the first time in the history of the state, starting January 1, 2017, every Israeli child below the age of 18 will receive a trust fund in which the National Insurance Administration (Israel’s Social Security) will be making monthly deposits. Parents will be able to select an alternative financial institution for their child and be allowed to invest in the fund from the government child allowance.

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon said that the new trust fund for every child will go a long way to “narrow the social gaps in Israel, and promote equal opportunities for middle class and the weaker sectors, as well as raise awareness about saving.”

As it was laid out on Tuesday, the plan will allow an 18-year-old Israeli who has been enrolled all his life to embark on his adulthood with about $5,000. The trust fund plan is based on National Insurance making $14 monthly deposits in the funds. The hope is that with interest and added investments the fund would yield an even higher amount, enough to carry the young person through college, help start a small business or make any other worthwhile investment.

If the young Israeli opts to delay withdrawing the funds until he or she turns 21, National Insurance will add a 500 shekel bonus ($180) to the account at that point and the government would pay all the fees on the fund.

The obvious problem is that $5,000, which will be pulled out of the war on poverty budgets, is not a lot of money, and the future may be paved with Israeli young adult driving cheap cars or going on that incredible trip to India or the Amazon forest, rather than using the money for its intended purpose.

It would have been much more meaningful had government invested those $5,000 in the fund up front, which at 2% would yield more than $7,000, an end amount that could be boosted by the parents and the child over the years. With only $14 monthly deposits by the parents, the fund would be doubled by the end of the 18-year term.

But to do that, with about 200,000 babies born annually, Israel would have to divert about $1 billion from its budget to those funds. Not an impossible figure for a country with a $300 billion annual GDP. The upside would be a population that’s more serious about saving and investing, and young people who have a stake in the stability of the system. Those would include young Israeli Arab, by the way.

David Israel

Child Injured in Stone Throwing

Sunday, June 19th, 2016

A child was lightly injured on Saturday night after their car was hit by stones near the entrance to Sha’ar Binyamin, north of Jerusalem.

There was some confusion when emergency responders couldn’t find the vehicle near Sha’ar Binyamin.

It turns out, the father drove them directly to the emergency room at Hadassah-Mount Scopus after the attack. The boy was injured from the fragments of glass.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Fateful Court Decision: Will a Child Stay in Israel or Return to her Father Abroad?

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

Many Israelis living abroad keep the flame of yearning to return burning, while others are perfectly happy with their lives abroad. Visiting the old country can stir up those yearnings for some, and leave others as cool and detached as before. When two such persons are married to one another, a home visit can end up in tragedy.

An Israeli couple got married in 2009 and a year later moved abroad, where the husband works in teaching and the wife is a military attaché. In 2012 they had a baby girl, and at the end of last year the happy family came on a two-week vacation to Israel. On their last day in the home country, at Ben-Gurion airport, the wife informed her husband that she decided to stay, with their 3-year-old child. They had one of those horrible airport fights, at the end of which the husband boarded the plane and the mother and child stayed back, Psak Din reported this week.

The mother then turned to family court in Tel-Aviv requesting full custody, and the court granted her temporary custody. Later on she filed suit against her husband for dissolution of marriage and alimony. At the same time, the father submitted to family court in Hadera a claim for the return of his daughter to the place of her permanent residence, based on the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, the return of abducted children.

After several court hearings and attempts to find a common ground between the two feuding parents, Hadera Family Court Judge Tal Peperani rejected the father’s claim in a cumbersome manner: he agreed that an abduction had taken place, but cited Article 13 of the Convention, according to which if the parent was not actually exercising the custody rights at the time of removal or retention, or had consented to or subsequently acquiesced in the removal or retention, then the court is not bound to order the return of the child.

Judge Peperani decided that the father had acquiesced to his daughter’s kidnapping based on emails and SMSs the parents exchanged during their compromise negotiations. In one such SMS, the father wrote: “I’m also learning to let go. I also want to sleep quietly knowing she is in good hands with you.”

Needless to say, the father was irate at the ruling and appealed to District Court in Haifa, arguing that he had not acquiesced to the kidnapping, but rather continued to act immediately and consistently to change the situation. He argued, among other things, that his communication with his wife was part of the negotiations process and should not have been made available to the court. He also claimed that the family court judge did not permit him to question his wife regarding the context of those SMS messages, or to present other, conflicting SMSs.

Presiding Judge Sari Jayyoussi rejected the father’s claim against the family court’s gaining access to his SMS messages, but agreed that in order to decide that father had, essentially, accepted the kidnapping of his daughter, the judge should have afforded the father the opportunity to be heard. Judge Jayyoussi then returned the case to family court, to give the father ample opportunity to reject the claim that he had acquiesced to losing custody of his daughter. He also instructed the family court judge to review the full body of interchanged messages between the parents before making his ruling.

JNi.Media

ISIS Executes 7-Year-Old Boy for “Blasphemy”

Saturday, May 7th, 2016

Arab news source report that an ISIS Sharia court in the northern Syrian city of Al-Raqqa executed a 7-year-old child for “blasphemy” on Thursday.

Mu’az Hassan was playing ball in the street on Monday, when an ISIS terrorist walking by heard him say a curse word.

ISIS police arrested the 7-year-old, and the boy was taken to an ISIS Sharia court on Thursday.

The Islamic court pronounced judgement and the boy was then shot in the head in front of his parents who collapsed in shock, and several hundred onlookers.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Hebron Boy Allegedly Killed in Arab Riots

Sunday, August 10th, 2014

An 11-year-old Arab boy has allegedly been killed in violent Arab rioting Sunday morning in Al Fawwar, on the outskirts of Hebron.

Gaza-based Hamas agitators and their sympathizers in Judea and Samaria have been urging Palestinian Arabs and those with Israeli citizenship to increase participation in violent incidents as much as possible in order to expand a budding third intifada.

On Sunday morning, the IDF soldiers were trying to contain the violence around Hebron, which included Arabs in the mob hurling bricks and other items at the Israeli soldiers.

Palestinian Authority sources claimed the child was killed by Israeli gunfire. An IDF spokesperson told TheJewishPress.com the IDF is “checking the report.”

Hana Levi Julian

‘You Murder the Children’: Rav Soloveitchik on Abortion

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

When one thinks of Modern Orthodoxy, Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik zt”l soon comes to mind for his leadership thereof. In our time, however, Modern Orthodoxy has become a vague term with problematic tendencies. As Rabbi Steven Pruzansky–who has numerous shiurim on Yeshiva University’s Torah website–recently wrote, “Too often, one finds in the Modern Orthodox world grievances of one sort or another against this or that aspect of Torah, as if Jews get to sit in judgment of God and His Torah.”

No issue might better crystallize the dissonance between Rav Soloveitchik’s Modern Orthodoxy and today’s than abortion. Let us consider the great man’s views.

During a shiur on Parashat Bo in 1975, Rav Soloveitchik stated that “to me it is something vulgar, this clamor of the liberals that abortion be permitted,” adding:

“I consider the society of today as insane…I read from the press that in Eretz Yisrael they permit abortions now! Sapir [probably Pinchas Sapir] comes to the US and asks that 60,000 boys and girls should leave the US and settle in Eretz Yisrael. When a child is born, it’s also immigration to Eretz Yisrael, and yet you murder the children.”

Rav Soloveitchik then predicted:

“And if you kill the fetus, a time will come when even infants will be killed…The mother will get frightened after the baby will be born…and the doctor will say her life depends upon the murder of the baby. And you have a word, mental hygiene, whatever you want you can subsume under mental hygiene…And there is now a tendency for rabbis in the US to march along with society, otherwise they’ll be looked upon as reactionaries.”

Similar remarks appear in Reflections of the Rav:

“If the dominant principle governing the logos [“thinking capacity”] is that abortion is morally permissible because only a mother has a right to decide whether she wishes to be a mother, then infants may similarly have their lives terminated after birth. What if the child interferes with the promising brilliant career of the mother?”

These words might be jarring for those who view Rav Soloveitchik as the mild-mannered author of philosophically oriented books like The Lonely Man of Faith. Equally if not more jarring might be Rav Soloveitchik’s statements on sexual morality, which I discussed a few months ago.

Specific to abortion, one might counter that Rav Soloveitchik permitted an unborn child with Tay-Sachs disease to be aborted through the sixth month, but this proves just the opposite, namely: 1) What does this narrow, tragic case indicate about Rav Soloveitchik’s general view of abortion? 2) What does it indicate about Rav Soloveitchik’s view of abortion after the sixth month even in the case of Tay-Sachs? And vis-à-vis those who claim a woman’s absolute right to “terminate a pregnancy” at any point, I doubt such an attempt to (mis)represent Rav Soloveitchik as a “moderate” on abortion would be received agreeably. In this regard, one of Rav Soloveitchik’s sons-in-law, Rav Aharon Lichtenstein, shlita, has observed in the context of abortion:

“Even if we were to accept that indeed it is the woman’s own body, we totally reject the conception that she then can do with it as she pleases. This is a completely anti-halakhic perception [emphasis added]. It rests on a secular assumption that, as it were, ‘My Nile is my own; I made it for myself’ (Yechezkel 29:3), as if we are the source of our own existence and therefore the masters of our own being. This is assuredly not the case.”

Rav Lichtenstein summarizes the worldview of that anti-halakhic perception as follows:

“The essence of modern secular culture is the notion of human sovereignty; individual man is master over himself, and collective man is master over his collective… From a religious point of view, of course, eilu va-eilu divrei avoda zara—both approaches are idolatrous. Here one establishes individual man as an idol, and the one idolizes, in humanistic terms, humanity as a whole. The basis of any religious perception of human existence is the sense that man is not a master: neither a master over the world around him, nor a master over himself.”

Yes, Rav Soloveitchik earned a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Berlin (as likewise Rav Lichtenstein earned a Ph.D. in English literature from Harvard). Yes, Rav Soloveitchik enjoyed classical music (especially Bach). And first and foremost, Rav Soloveitchik was a Torah Jew for whom Halachah was not some intellectual game or cultural style, rather an all-encompassing conviction with profound social implications. Thus his denunciations of abortion, which derived from the same worldview as these remarks in 1953:

Menachem Ben-Mordechai

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/a-banner-raised-high/you-murder-the-children-rav-soloveitchik-on-abortion/2013/09/23/

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