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May 31, 2016 / 23 Iyar, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘connection’

Happy t’shuva!

Sunday, August 19th, 2012

The month of Elul is known for being the time of the year most favorable for t’shuva – generally known as penitence or repentance. But t’shuva is much more than feeling bad over the transgressions which we have committed. Rabbi Kook teaches that t’shuva is the force that makes the world go around. Here’s how he begins his penetrating and inspiring book on t’shuva, “Orot HaT’shuva.”

“For some time now, I have been struggling with an inner battle. A powerful force is impelling me to speak on the subject of t’shuva. All of my thoughts are concentrated on this. The greatest part of the Torah and life is devoted to the matter of t’shuva. All of the hopes of the individual and the community are founded upon it. T’shuva is a Divine commandment which is both the easiest, since the thought of t’shuva is considered t’shuva in itself (Kiddushin 49B), and on the other hand, it is the most difficult commandment, since its essence has not yet been fully revealed in the world and in life.”

I had the good fortune of translating selections from Rabbi Kook’s book and co-writing a commentary on the book with Rabbi David Samson, a longtime student of Rabbi Kook’s son, HaRav Tzvi Yehuda Kook. Rabbi Samson is a veteran teacher at the Mercaz HaRav High School Yeshiva, and founder and director of five high schools for “youth at risk” in Israel. The commentary, which we called, The Art of T’shuvamay be one of the most important self-help books you can find, opening pathways to a new and more vibrant connection to God and to Torah, pathways which are sure to fill your life with greater light and happiness.

As Rabbi Kook writes:

“With each passing day, powered by the lofty light of t’shuva, the penitent’s feeling becomes more secure, clearer, more enlightened with the radiance of sharpened intellect, and more clarified according to the foundations of Torah. His demeanor becomes brighter, his anger subsides, the light of grace shines on him. He becomes filled with strength; his eyes are filled with a holy fire; his heart is completely immersed in springs of pleasure; holiness and purity envelop him. A boundless loves fills all of his spirit; his soul thirsts for God, and this very thirst satiates all of his being. The holy spirit rings before him like a bell, and he is informed that all of his willful transgressions, the known and the unknown, have been erased; that he has been reborn as a new being; that all of the world and all of Creation are reborn with him; that all of existence calls out in song, and that the joy of God infuses all. Great is t’shuva for it brings healing to the world, and even one individual who repents is forgiven, and the whole world is forgiven with him.”

For those of you who can’t afford the ten odd bucks it costs to order the book at Amazon, in the honor of Rabbi Kook’s yahrtzeit which falls on the 3rd of Elul, we will be serializing throughout the month, here at The Jewish Press, a condensed version of the commentary, chapter by chapter, on this blog. Once again, if you don’t find the book worthwhile, print out the pages, send them to me, and I’ll eat them.

For avid lovers of Hashem who can’t get enough t’shuva, you will find a mini-library on t’shuva on our www.jewishsexuality.com website including the writings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, and the Baal HaTanya’s famous “Letter of T’shuva,” condensed and explained. You’ll also find Rebbe Nachman’s “Secret of Elul” and an online translation of the famous “Tikun HaKlali” confession. Sexual transgressions, knows as Pigam HaBrit, are among the most serious sins, and the website has dozens of articles, written by our holiest Sages, on ways to rectify past errors and rise up to a healthier, holier path. For people who are prone to Internet temptations, the site offers a free download pamphlet on Shmirat HaBrit that Rabbi Shlomo Aviner highly recommends to every teenager, parent, teacher and rabbi.

Happy t’shuva!

Tzvi Fishman

Southern Poverty Law Center Joining Pro-Hamas, Hezbollah, Groups in Blasting ‘Haters’ – Mostly Jews

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

The Southern Poverty Law Center was once an icon for Jewish values of racial tolerance and equality.  It played a key role in the American civil rights movement.

The Center’s views have now been stretched so far that, in the name of tolerance and equality, the SPLC is partnering with, on the one hand, a Muslim group whose followers revere and support Hamas and Hezbollah, and a far-left think tank whose writers were spewing accusations of dual loyalty and other anti-Semitic canards just a few months ago.

On Wednesday evening, August 15,  SPLC joined with the Muslim Public Affairs Council and the Center for American Progress to present a teleconference call they publicized as addressing “The Real World Impact of Hate Rhetoric in America.” It was clear, however, from the participants and the language in the announcement that the hate-meter is all and only about measuring alleged anti-Muslim rhetoric, and will not take a baby step near anything so mundane as anti-Semitism.

Wajahat Ali, “an attorney and expert on the $40 million dollar Islamophobia industry in the US,” is a co-author of  “Fear, Inc.: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America,”   Ali represented CAP on the conference call.  He explained that the Network is comprised of a small group of funders who support the experts who create the information, which is then transmitted to grass roots organizations, fed to the mainstream media, and then is inserted into the talking points of leading conservative politicians.

A quick peek at Fear, Inc.’s five supreme evil villains reveals four of the five are Jews, and the fifth works closely with Jews and Jewish organizations.  Those five are Frank Gaffney at the Center for Security Policy; David Yerushalmi (Orthodox Jew) at the Society of Americans for National Existence; Daniel Pipes at the Middle East Forum; Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch and Stop Islamization of America; and Steven Emerson of the Investigative Project on Terrorism.

During the teleconference Wajahat included David Horowitz (yes, another Jew) of the Horowitz Freedom Center in his list of the Network experts.  Horowitz was not surprised that the SPLC was joining with MPAC and CAP to criticize people like him.

“The SPLC is the most prominent and active leftwing smear site in America,” Horowitz told The Jewish Press.   He explained that, “like much of the left it has joined the Muslim Brotherhood and its front groups in attacking patriotic Americans who oppose the Islamist oppression of women, gays and other religions and promote jihad against the United States.”

The Center for American Progress has been embroiled in a hate speech controversy of its own, one that was not discussed during the Hate Rhetoric teleconference.

Last spring CAP was hit with repeated charges of anti-Semitism over the use by some of its leadership of such terms as “Israel-Firsters” to describe politicians and others who allegedly put Israel’s interests above those of the United States. Several of the organization’s members left as a result of the controversy.

The third group anchoring the teleconference on “Hate Rhetoric” is one whose leader – and the one co-anchoring the call –  blamed Israel for the terrorist attack on New York City on September 11, 2011.  It is a group allegedly born from the seed of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Muslim Public Affairs Council president Salam al-Marayati is an expert on hate rhetoric, having long engaged in directing his own version towards Jews and the Jewish State.  But he is tone deaf to certain kinds of hate speech – minimizing and even lauding the terrorist acts of Hezbollah which he claims constitute legitimate resistance.

So why is a nice group like the Southern Poverty Law Center joining forces to talk about Hate Rhetoric with two extreme purveyers of, well, Hate Rhetoric?

Steve Emerson is one of the “architects” of the Islamophobic Network, according to CAP.  Emerson told The Jewish Press, “that now the SPLC has scurrilously jumped on the ‘Islamophobia industry’ like MPAC and CAP in promoting a totally fabricated conspiracy that alleges a group of ten individuals (yours truly included) colluded for a decade to hypnotize 300 million Americans to be suspicious of Muslims.”

In fact, according to Emerson, “the reality is MPAC, SPLC, CAP and also the ADL and ACLU are the true conspiratorialists in promoting the myth of Islamophobia, a term created by radical Islamic groups, together with their handlers like CAP, the SPLC  and the ADL, to silence any criticism of radical Islam.”

A group of national religious leaders joined together in a letter they made public, called on the SPLC leadership to withdraw from the teleconference: “To treat MPAC as a legitimate organization, much less a valued partner of the Southern Poverty Law Center, is an extraordinary rejection of Jewish Americans and of moderate Muslim Americans. ” 

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

My Interview with Marvin Hamlisch

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

As the lights dimmed on Broadway for 60 seconds last night in memory of Oscar-winning composer Marvin Hamlisch, who died on Monday, I took a moment to reflect on the moment in 1976 when I interviewed Hamlisch – only 31 years old, but already famous – for The Jewish Press. At the time I was an 18-year-old Brooklyn College student unused to celebrity; Hamlisch, just 13 years my senior, had by then tucked away Oscars for his scores for The Sting and The Way We Were, not to mention a Golden Globe and a Tony for composing the songs in the Broadway musical A Chorus Line.

Our interview, though, was less about music than about the Jewishness which was, he said, the cornerstone of his life. To my surprise, he spoke a good deal about his Jewish identity. And other things, too: his religious faith; his feelings about marriage (he was still single at the time); his juggling of a very busy schedule to be home for Passover; and his deep feelings about Jewish music.

“I can empathize with the sadness in Jewish music…the listlessness that is familiar to every European Jew,” he told me. “I’m a little more sentimental than Americans because I’ve grown up on the melancholy of European music.”

While not a shomer Shabbos, Hamlisch had an unflagging belief in G-d. “When I win my awards, my first response is thank G-d…I know that He is responsible for leading me down the path of success.” He added, “There is a higher being who controls the world and I try to express my beliefs by going to shul on Shabbos whenever possible.”

His open religious sensibility was matched by a proud Jewishness. “I have never hid it from anyone,” he said. “In fact, I’ve candidly announced it on nation-wide television. People…never discouraged me from proclaiming my Jewish identity to them.”

Committed to Zionism as well, Hamlisch once raised $120,000 for Israeli bonds in a single evening.

When he described his inspiration to compose, I sensed a connection – if perhaps an indirect one – to the dynamics of ancient Jewish tradition.

“A composer is a mirror of the society,” Hamlisch said, “because he tries to get a feeling of the times and relate [to] it musically….I prefer…to write when I’m with the masses and a part of them,” he said – for instance, on New York buses or subways during rush hours. “This is the only way to compose, for it enables me to relate to what’s in everyone else’s mind.” In response, I suggested that music emanating from a connection “with the masses” dated back to Moshe: after all, the words “az yashir Moshe u’bnai yisroel” imply that Moshe could sing only when he was one with his people. Hamlisch didn’t disagree.

At one point, I asked him what he wanted from a wife. He laughed. “If I were ever to get married under the wildest conditions, with a Towering Inferno,” he said, referring to a film popular at the time, “I would marry a girl in my mother’s image.” His mother, Lilly, had in fact come by during the interview, to – what else? – cook some food for her son. She heard his answer and chuckled.

Later, Hamlisch sat down at the piano and played some original variations on “Hava Nagilah,” which he described as “a little rock, a little Jewish.” It was a playful performance I don’t think he ever repeated publicly; that he tossed off these impromptu variations just for me, a teenaged interviewer, a fellow Jew, is something I’ll never forget.

Hamlisch was a virtuoso performer and a prize-winning composer. But at his death he left behind another gift: a proud Jew, he was a source of pride to all Jews, just as he was the pride of the music, theater and movie worlds for nearly five decades. I’m very glad I met him.

Amy Neustein

Yesh Din v’Yesh Dayan

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

The first time I recall hearing about Niso Shacham was at Kfar Maimom when, with as much vulgarity as you can imagine, he gave orders to his policemen to use excessive violence against the unarmed civilians protesting against the evil order to expel all the Jews from Gush Katif.

Seven years later, almost to the day, Niso Shacham has been given leave from the police due to the investigation against him.

Perhaps it should have been obvious to those above him that someone who could speak so disgustingly, so sexually violent, that he may also be personally acting out against others in the same manner as he was speaking and telling his subordinates to act. Who else knew about him should also be investigated.

According to the reports, Shacham had possibly been harassing and assaulting policewomen under his command, including “illicit relations” – it not clear to me if that means consensual or not, but since they were under his command, that’s already a problem.

Furthermore, another of his subordinates was allegedly involved in covering up the complaints.

Since Gush Katif, we’ve been hearing ‘Yesh Din v’Yesh Dayan’, as one official after another, connected to the Expulsion has been taken down for some illegal or immoral act or another.

Here at the Muqata we pointed something out a long time ago.

It’s no accident that these people are all getting caught doing dirty deeds or not acting in a manner befitting their position.

The fact that they had no moral problem kicking out thousands of Jews from their homes already told us they had no morals. What we’re just seeing now is them getting caught in other areas which doesn’t happen to involve Settlers.

Yesh Din v’Yesh Dayan – there is Judgement and there is a Judge, but it’s their own fault.

Jameel@Muqata

Self Defense

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

Jewish Settlers practicing the self-defense martial arts sport Krav Maga at the Jewish outpost of Ramat Migron.

A summer camp for young women was held this week in Ramat Migron, for the next generation of women in Judea and Samaria.

The three day camp included self-defense classes, painting buildings and lectures.

One of the twenty camp participants was quoted in Maariv as saying “We saw how the connection to the land of Israel connects us all.” Another camper stated that “one who comes here is looking to sacrifice for the land of Israel.”

Jewish Press Staff

Fleisher on ShalomTV: ‘Let’s Not Live in Fear, Let’s Live in Reality.’

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

Yishai Fleisher, managing editor of JewishPress.com, appeared on L’Chaim, a show that has been running on ShalomTV for years. The segment appears on their new live channel, as well as on-demand.

Fleisher spoke with Rabbi Mark Golub about the fear preventing a strong, united Jewish future. He described the challenges the Jewish people face today and split them into three categories – delegitimization, division, and most importantly, fear. “Fear is everywhere,” he said. “[People] go silent when I talk about fear because they realize how much fear they live with…we need to be proud.” Fleisher wants to eliminate the fear, and in doing so, bring Jews home. He touched on many subjects during the interview ranging from the reasons behind the fear in the U.S. and the problems in the Middle East that induce it.

First, many American Jews fear that their own relationship with America will suffer if they move to Israel, or even develop a stronger connection with it than their own country. He revealed his desire to connect the American Jew with the Israeli Jew. Citing the Atlantic Ocean as one of the deepest physical boundaries between the two cultures, he said that he wants to make that border feel smaller. American Jews push their connection to Israel aside, due to a fear that choosing Israel makes them appear disloyal to the country they have lived in for years. “We’re culturally American, we watch Seinfeld, but the Jew always feels that at the end of the day, this is not his home,” he said. Fleisher’s determination is the reason he continues to appear on television and speak at college campuses and other communities throughout America. ”We have to put Israel first,” he said. “…We have to get together to build the Jewish state.”

Further, there is a duality among American Jews. They not only fear the Arab nation, but feel conflicted about how the Israelis treat them due to the negative media coverage. Fleisher pointed out that most American Jews are liberal. They’re liberal because they believe in the “intrinsic value of every human being.” He doesn’t sugarcoat it. There is a clear understanding that some liberties need to be abrogated in order for Jews to protect themselves. But what many American Jews don’t understand is that there is a mitzvah in place that sanctions such self-defense. It’s written in the Talmud that when someone intends to harm you, you have a responsibility to fight back. Jews want to live as a righteous community, but in order to do so they must survive first. It’s immoral for Israel to allow rockets to be amassed by people who will use them, Fleisher explained. “We are only 60 some odd years after the Holocaust,” he said. “It’s not a joke. Let’s not live in fear, let’s live in reality.”

Fleisher was born to Russian parents in Haifa, where he lived until age 8. His family moved to America for economic reasons. Although he went to Jewish schools, he craved more of a connection to Israel and couldn’t stay away for long. He skipped his senior year and at 17, went back to Israel to study in Yeshiva and serve in the army as a paratrooper. After an injury, Fleisher returned to America to study at Yeshiva University and obtain a post-graduate degree at Cardozo Law School. There, he met his wife Malkah. The two moved to Israel to get married and establish their home. In the interview, Fleisher didn’t deny that there’s an atmosphere of tension in Israel and that they have to be vigilant, but living in Israel and raising a family there is something he never questions.

Fleisher emphasized that at the end of the day Israel is the homeland of the Jews. Residents can be critical of the nation’s politics and of the current state of warfare, but they should do it without fear and argue about it in their own nation. There are many enticing countries out there, Fleisher said, but Israel needs to be number one.

Watch the interview with Yishai below:

Alex Abel

UPDATE: Terror Attack Kills 7 Israeli Tourists In Bulgaria

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

As news of the passing of Torah sage and leader of Lithuanian Jewry Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv cast a pale of sorrow over Israel, breaking news of a suicide bombing attack against Israeli tourists in Bulgaria sent shock waves across the country.

Seven Israelis were reported killed and 30 injured when an explosion blew up an Israeli tourist bus and caught two adjacent buses on fire at the Burgas airport on Wednesday, also the 18th anniversary of the Iran-sponsored attack on the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Reports state that among the injured are at least 2 pregnant women and an 11 year old child.  Six of the deceased were pronounced dead at the scene, and one died in hospital. At least two of the 27 injured are reported to be in serious condition.

The explosion occurred while the bus was still in the terminal, after the group arrived in country at 4:45pm.. Burgas, located on the Black Sea Coast, is a popular tourist spot for Israelis.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement in which he charged Iran with conducting the attack and warned the regime that Israel would respond forcefully.

“All the signs lead to Iran. Only in the past few months we have seen Iranian attempts to attack Israelis in Thailand, India, Georgia, Kenya, Cyprus and other places,” Prime Minister Netanyahu said.

“This is an Iranian terror campaign that is spreading throughout the world,” Netanyahu said. “Israel will react powerfully against Iranian terror,”

Despite fierce political mudslinging in the wake of the angry withdrawal of the Kadima party from the coalition because of rancor over Haredi service in the IDF, politicians across the spectrum united to condemn the murders.  Opposition leader Shelly Yechimovich said “there is no doubt that instability in the region is spawned by Iran aiming expressly for Israelis and Jews throughout the world,” expressed her condolences to the families of the terror victims, and expressed her confidence in Israeli security forces.

ZAKA and Magen David Adom rescue services have already begun making their way to Bulgaria and will attempt to evacuate some of the wounded for treatment in Israel.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman called for an immediate meeting at the Foreign Ministry’s situation room.  The Israeli embassy in Bulgaria is investigating the explosion.  Initial reports indicated that a suicide bomber boarded the bus and detonated himself.  Follow-up reports suggested that a bomb may have been planted in the luggage compartment of the bus and detonated by remote control.

In January, Israel requested additional security for citizens traveling in the country after a suspicious package was found on a bus carrying Israeli tourists from Turkey to Bulgaria.

Israel has also expressed concern that Hizbullah would target Israelis overseas in connection with the assassination of Hizbullah commander Imag Mughniyeh, which Hizbullah suspects was conducted by the Mossad.

In the meantime, Hizbullah has denied any connection to the attack.  No organization has claimed responsibility.

Channel 1 quoted Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nikolay Mladenov as calling the explosion a terrorist attack.

Jewish Press Staff

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/terror-attack-on-tour-bus-kills-7-israeli-tourists-in-bulgaria/2012/07/18/

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