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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘course’

Topics For Third Presidential Debate – This One’s On Foreign Policy

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

Bob Schieffer of CBS News is the moderator for the final presidential debate which takes place tonight, October 22, at 9:00 p.m. ET in the Lynn University auditorium in Boca Raton, Florida.  Schieffer chose and announced the topics which will be addressed – subject to late-breaking news.  They are, in random order:

America’s Role in the World

Our Longest War – Afghanistan and Pakistan

Red Lines: Israel and Iran

The Changing Middle East and the New Face of Terrorism I

The Changing Middle East and the New Face of Terrorism II

The Rise of China and Tomorrow’s Word

The issue of what happened in Benghazi, Libya in September 11, 2012 is likely to come up in at least one if not several of the different topic areas.  President Obama will seek to put a definitive end to the questioning about how his administration handled the crisis, and presidential-hopeful Mitt Romney will seek to lay out the inconsistencies in the narratives presented by this administration over the course of the six weeks since the tragedy.

The consequences of the “Arab Spring” is likely to come up during at least one of the topics, as will the question of whether or not terrorism is being routed by President Obama’s policies, or whether it is in the rise, in part because of the president’s policies.

The decision to leave Afghanistan and the continued drone policy favored by President Obama is also likely to be discussed tonight.

Israel is most likely to be discussed in the “Iran Red Line” topic, and each candidate will try to show why he is the candidate whose policies will be most effective in protecting Israel and promoting regional stability.

An economic aspect of foreign policy may come up in the form of a question about the European financial crisis and what role the United States should play in addressing that problem.  In addition, questions about the economic fallout of China’s ever-growing and influential role in the global economy is sure to further highlight the stark differences between the two candidates.

The format will be six 15-minute segments addressing each of the different topics.

Bob Schieffer has been with CBS News for more than 30 years.  He has covered all four major beats in Washington – the White House, the Pentagon, the State Department and Capitol Hill.  Schieffer has covered every presidential race since 1972.

Postcard from Israel: The Haifa Flea Market

Sunday, October 21st, 2012

Definitely not on the standard list of tourist destinations in Israel, and less well-known than its counterpart in Yaffo (Jaffa), the flea market in down-town Haifa is well worth a visit whether you’re buying or just browsing. The market is open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and of course it is best to get there as early as possible – with well-honed haggling skills!

Visit CifWatch.com

Of Apples and Trees and Rabbis

Sunday, October 21st, 2012

I never liked comedienne Sarah Silverman. I never thought she was all that funny. Her humor is mostly vulgar and designed to shock people into laughing. Most comedians will tell you that if the only way you can make people laugh is with vulgar jokes, then you’re not really much of a comedian. But I digress.

What upsets me the most about her is her very open self-identification as a Jew. Normally when successful people tout their Judaism, it makes me proud. But when she does it – it is an embarrassment. In fact I wish she would just change her name… or go away altogether.

Of late there has been a lot of controversy about Ms. Silverman which has been generated by a political YouTube video she made. In it (if I recall correctly) she repeatedly offers to perform an obscene sexual act to elderly Republican donor Sheldon Adelson if he would stop funding Republican candidates and instead fund the Obama campaign. I saw this video a while back and was thoroughly disgusted by it.

Ms. Silverman must have thought it was funny. But in fact it was a major Chilul HaShem. It doesn’t matter that she is not Orthodox. By proudly identifying herself as a Jew in the video she has desecrated God’s name.

Ms. Silverman is an unabashed Obama supporter. There is of course nothing wrong with that. I haven’t made my own mind up yet about whom I will vote for – so in the end I may yet end up as an Obama supporter too. But in her zeal to support the President she has gone way overboard.

Ms. Silverman must feel it is her political duty to smear the President’s opposition in any way she can. “All’s fair in love and politics”, I guess. But when Judaism gets connected to vulgarities of this nature the desecration it causes to God’s name via one of His chosen people far outweighs any benefit her candidate may get from it.

Ms. Silverman was taken to task for this by Rabbi Yaakov Rosenblatt, someone I have written about not long ago. I do not know him personally but he seems like a gentle man who has the same goals I do. One of which is to be Mekadesh Shem Shomayim. In an article in the Jewish Press he gently rebuked her and suggested that she would be better served as a human being and a Jew if she would redirect her not insubstantial talents and energies elsewhere – perhaps by getting married and creating her own family. But you could also see the anger that Ms. Silverman generated in him with this video:

Nothing you say or stand for, Sarah, from your sickening sexual proposal to a Republican donor to your equally vulgar tweet to Mitt Romney, has the slightest thing to do with the most basic of tenets which Judaism has taught the world – that the monogamous relationship is the most meaningful one and that a happy marriage is the key to wholesomeness.

I of course could not agree more. But then came her father 75 year old Donald Silverman. He didn’t like his daughter being attacked. Like a mother bear protecting her cubs he went to town on Rabbi Rosenblatt using vulgarities that would make a sailor blush. He really let him have it. In the process of bashing Rabbi Rosenblatt he intimated that his Judaism was alive and well – having raised his other daughter so well that she has become a rabbi. And that her husband is so well thought of that he has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and is mentioned in a Jerusalem Post list as the 49th most influential Jew in the world.

He may have thought that he has countered his daughter Sarah’s negative characterization by Rabbi Rosenblatt by touting his other daughter’s achievements along with the considerable achievements of her husband. And yet his vulgar way of doing it has created yet another Chilul HaShem.

I have no issue with Reform Jews who never experienced Orthodoxy. If a Jew who proudly touts his Judaism does something great – as did Mr. Silverman’s son in law – that is a Kiddush Hashem. But just because that Kiddush HaShem exists doesn’t eliminate the Chilul HaShem made in the way he announced it.

I don’t know what kind of education this fellow had that makes him think that vulgar attacks in defense of his daughter is something God appreciates – if he even believe s in God. But I think I can safely say he did not get an Orthodox Jewish education… or if he did, he rejected it in its entirety.

The truth is that I wouldn’t be surprised if rabbis in his own Reform Movement weren’t all that pleased with his reaction. If I were a Reform rabbi, this is not anything I would brag about. Makes me wonder how his other daughter – the Reform rabbi – feels about it. Of course Sarah loved it, saying “Oh, dad! You’re my hero.”Here is what else Ms. Sliverman said:

“When I was three years old, I learned to swear from my father, but he taught me with every intention to do so. It was like he was teaching a ‘cursing as a second language’ course for one.”

What kind of a father does this?!Bearing this in mind her father’s behavior in defense of his daughter it is a bit easier to understand where his daughter came from.

Memo to Donald: I don’t know if you will ever read this or respond to it. But if you do – I am a product of the sixties. Profanity has no effect on me personally except to belittle – in my eyes – the person using it. You want to swear at me and call me names? Do your worst. I couldn’t care less. I am quite happy – even proud – to stand with Rabbi Rosenblatt on this one. But at age 75 you may want to reconsider what exactly you accomplish in the eyes of God by defending your daughter’s vulgarities with vulgarities of your own.

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah.

Why Obama is Likely to Blow Debate No. 2

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

The short answer is: because he’s got nothing.  There is no record to run on, no argument to make for four more years.  The ideology that drives him is outdated and bankrupt.  He has, in fact, implemented his policies – Republicans have had little means of stopping him – and those policies are the problem.

But there’s a slightly longer answer too.  Obama’s advisors will read the mainstream media assessment of the vice-presidential debate – they actually think a debate that turned women across America off of Biden was a draw, or a Biden win – and conclude that what the president needs to do is find his inner Joe Biden.  Appeal to his base by going on the attack, perhaps interrupting, being visibly annoyed at the trend of Romney’s statements, and vigorously asserting untruths in the interest of racking up effective soundbites.

Petulant attack-doggery isn’t Obama’s style, so I don’t predict that he will simply adopt the Biden posture for this week’s debate.  What I do think is that Obama and his handlers will be looking to enhance the president’s trademark pace and balance in public speaking (which does descend rather often into a sonorous drone) with more Biden-like spice.  This won’t come naturally to Obama, any more than his occasionally put-on “black accent” sounds natural.  It’s not who he is, and he won’t be good at it.

Of course, the townhall format this week can be worked to Obama’s advantage, and no doubt will be.   Obama need not be thrown softballs, but he will get questions framed to suit the answers he is likely to have – and he probably won’t be troubled much with questions framed in a confrontational manner.

Romney probably will be.  He will have to think more quickly on his feet, turning hostile questions into jumping-off points for getting his message across, while conveying a sense of goodwill and avoiding red herrings.  If there is a “silly question” for the debaters – say, “If you were an Oscar-winning movie, which one would you be?” – it may well be barbed with false implications about conservatism, Republicans, or even Romney himself.

Romney will have more choices to make in his approach and substance.  There are a lot of things he could say; what will be the most effective?  We can reasonably suppose he will perform again as well as he did in Debate 1.

Obama doesn’t have those choices, because he’s trying to stay in office – to tend cronies and inflict ideological constraints on the people – using arguments that don’t accurately represent what he’s been doing for nearly four years.  He has no intention of changing course, regardless of what the current course is inflicting on the American people.  Yet he can’t argue in the campaign for his current course – at least not to anyone but his base – because it is so ridden with failure and the scent of corruption.  Americans continue to turn against his signature legislation, ObamaCare, and even the New York Times is beginning to doubt the effectiveness of his foreign policy.

So we can expect to hear more about Romney giving a “$5 trillion tax break” to the richest Americans, along with the other canards about Romney-Ryan policy (e.g., tossing Grandma off the cliff) being trotted out over and over by the Obama campaign.  These mendacious soundbites have lost their impact, but what else does Obama have?  Personal attacks on Romney?

If the president makes a decision on retaliating in Libya before Tuesday night, he may be able to speak at the debate from a perspective of putative decisiveness, the commander-in-chief moving forces around.  A new line of tactical operations would blunt Romney’s justifiable criticism of how the White House has handled the whole matter.  I don’t foresee this dynamic winning the debate for Obama – a belated military response has little hope of trumping the public’s nearer-to-home concern about the U.S. economy, the national debt, and constitutional freedoms – but if it comes off, it will probably be gratifying for his Amen corner in the MSM.

Gratifying them is not enough, however.  Whether he plays to his base or the MSM, Obama will not be playing to the constituency that matters: the majority of likely voters.  His appeal to that constituency in 2008 depended on his being an unknown quantity, and that’s what he no longer is.  Obama doesn’t have any more tricks in his bag.  This is it.

Obama’s Debate Slip Tells More About his Real View than Anything Else He’s Said as President

Sunday, October 7th, 2012

Visit Rubin Reports.

The Obama-Romney debate has been analyzed from many angles, especially about who won. Yet in the course of the event, Obama said what might be the most revealing slip he has ever made. This one phrase tells more about Obama and the ideology of his left-wing supporters than every other word they have spoken in the last four years.

It came near the end of the debate when Obama was summarizing his policies. He was clearly on comfortable ground, going through all of his cliches. But then, lulled into carelessness by rote repetition of his basic slogans, Obama got lost for a second–as demonstrated by his trademark stutter when he becomes unglued–and dropped in an amazing admission. Obama said:

All those things are designed to make sure that the American people, their genius, their grit, their determination, is — is channeled and [emphasis added] — and they have an opportunity to succeed. And everybody’s getting a fair shot. And everybody’s getting a fair share — everybody’s doing a fair share, and everybody’s playing by the same rules.

Obama was flattering the American people (genius, grit, determination) and promising that everyone will get a fair share (redistribution of wealth?) and fair shot–terms he has never actually defined. As for everybody playing by the same rules, Obama and his supporters favor different rules for each race, gender, and ethnic group, not to mention crony capitalists.

Yet it is that word “channeled” that gives the game away. Channeled by whom? The government, of course, and the great geniuses whose ideology and book-learning seeks to dominate the economy and culture, forcing people to do things for their “own good.” Who has ever proposed that some power should override the liberty of the American people to channel them, to tell them what to do?

The problem is that in a free enterprise (with reasonable regulation) country under the Constitution, Americans decide for themselves what to do. Nobody channels them, a phrase which sounds like a rancher driving his cattle to market. “Channeled” is a nice way to say manipulated, pushed, forced, and ordered.

We are not speaking here of laws against, say, murder or robbery or littering. These are clear and explicit, accepted by a consensus. This is something far more hidden, in which the implications of laws–for example, how Obamacare is intended to produce nationalized medicine–lead to something that the public opposes or certainly doesn’t want. And it is far wider and more systematic than under any previous government, too.

Thus, Americans will be told what they can do in pursuit of good health, what they can eat, how they can do business, what they are supposed to think and know about, what their religious institutions can do, and so on. Can one imagine any of the great American presidents talking about how he was going to “channel” the people with an increasingly large government that soaked up all the capital; determined the investment; set the rules to direct the health system, energy production, the auto industry, and just about everything else? Clearly, Obama wasn’t channeling George Washington or Abraham Lincoln.

In that moment he revealed himself totally. And, as far as I’m aware, nobody even noticed it.

PS: Another typical Obama moment came after the debate when he ridiculed Romney for saying that there were no laws that rewarded companies with tax breaks for exporting American jobs. Any real intellectual or serious leader would simply have cited the specific laws to which he was referring, but Obama merely kept saying how silly–or dishonest–Romney had been without giving any evidence. And any other president would have been pressed to provide evidence. A small incident but quite revealing of how fantasy-based administration policy has become.

Visit Rubin Reports.

Unholy Behavior

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

The enmity I have observed between groups here in the holy land has been a source of great disappointment to me. Not that I didn’t know it exists. But I have encountered numerous instances of it I and did not realize the extent of it.

Some examples:

A young 17 year old Charedi girl I know who takes public transportation to her seminary in Jerusalem told me that she constantly gets unfriendly stares from secular Jews all the time. But there was one situation she described that really disgusted me. Over the summer she was a lifeguard instructor for other Charedi girls in her community. The organization she worked for rented a pool from a woman in a Dati Leumi (DL) neighborhood near her home.

One fine day that woman came out of her house and told her she was no longer going to continue renting her pool to them. Why? Because she was embarrassed by having so many Charedi girls hanging around her pool!

Just this morning I spoke to a young American woman who made Aliyah over 20 years ago and mentioned that very few of her fellow high school graduates made Aliyah. She mentioned a few names of those who did, and in the same breath she said that two of them became Charedi so they didn’t really count.

And then there is the Charedi fellow who I hear constantly putting down the DL community. Why? Because of the very thing I just described. And because he constantly hears them denigrating his lifestyle of learning Torah L’Shma full time. The anger I heard in his voice against DLs was palpable. And frightening!

These observations were made here in Ramat Bet Shemesh A. But this is not a local issue.

One need only recall the incident last year at that DL elementary school that borders Ramat Bet Shemesh B (RBS B). The taunting by Charedi extremists of 8 year old Na’ama Margolis is enough to make any normal person angry… and (right or wrong) hateful of all Charedim by extension.

It is hard to separate the extremists from the decent – even hard core Charedim like those in Ramat Bet Shemesh B when the protests and disavowals by the rest of the community and their leadership are as tepid as they have thus far been. Which – as I have mentioned in the past – tells me that they are secretly not all that unhappy with those extremists. They do after all share their goals if not their methods.

So of course there is DL enmity towards Charedim which understandably extends to even the moderate ones. Meanwhile the secular Jews see media reports of this kind of extremist garbage which serves only to increase their enmity towards Charedim.

It thus becomes a vicious cycle. Charedim, even the moderate ones do not appreciate their values being attacked. On the other hand DLs and secular Jews do not appreciate what they see as Charedi values increasingly being forced upon them.

There are two stories in the media that illustrate this unfortunate attitude quite clearly.

One story was written by my cousin, Elana Maryles Sztokman. She describes a beautiful park near her home that Charedim seem to take over during the holidays of Pesach and Sukkos. Although it bothers her that so many Charedim come to that park and monopolize it for themselves she also appreciates living in a country whose freedoms allow anyone to avail themselves of the best the state of Israel has to offer to the public.

What she does rightly object to, however, is that they do not only bring their bodies to the park, they bring their values and try and impose them on others. And they get away with it. That is wrong and of course it exacerbates the already existing enmity between the Charedim on the one hand and DLs and secular Jews on the other.

And then there is the following incident. Because Meah Shearim streets are so narrow residents have lately insisted on having separate sides of the the street for men and women during the busy holiday season.

This does not sit well with the secular public. Those sidewalks are public property and no one has a right to segregate different sides of the streets for gender separation purposes. So a group of secular Jews decided to challenge them – calling the police and bringing the media – and walking into that neighborhood on the ‘wrong’ sides of the street. The next thing you know rocks were flying and people were hurt.

Learn Hebrew with Israel’s Best Teachers – In Real-Time, In Your Home

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

eTeacherHebrew.com offers a unique online environment where classes take place via internet video conferencing, in real time. The service not only brings Hebrew tuition right to your home, but also connects you personally with Israel’s finest Hebrew-teaching professionals.

Family is central to Israeli and Jewish culture, and the source of the genuine warmth that gives the nation its character. eTeacherHebrew.com is a family business, like many of Israel’s greatest and proudest organizations. Company founders Boaz and Yariv are the grandsons of Aharon Rosen, a respected teacher, author and theorist in the field of Hebrew tuition for non-native speakers in the nation’s early days.

Rosen’s grandsons have combined state-of-the-art technology with their grandfather’s dream of teaching Hebrew to anyone who wishes to learn it, at any age, anywhere in the world. The Internet has provided the ideal medium to realize such a vision, bringing the best teachers in Israel to the homes of students throughout the world.

eTeacherHebrew.com is a friendly and intimate niche in the often impersonal online environment. Teachers and students – though separated by oceans and time differences – form strong bonds, in many cases traveling overseas and actually visiting each others homes in person.

Shira Cohen-Regev has been teaching with eTeacherHebrew.com for seven years. She has frequently visited and hosted her students from all over the world. This Passover, she hosted a ‘virtual Seder’ with her class.

“We read from the Haggadah, and I explained what everything meant. We sang the songs and talked about the food, the calories,” she laughs. “I felt so privileged to share Passover with them, to be their first connection with a real Israeli Seder.

“For Independence Day I asked my students what they wished for the nation. Love and peace, money, and new immigrants were their answers,” she says.

Students at eTeacherHebrew.com have expressed their satisfaction with the program, and have been pleasantly surprised by the ease and effectiveness of the online learning method. Sanne Terlouw of the Netherlands says, ” I had never expected that I would benefit so much from an internet school, but it really works.” Coyle Pam of South Carolina, USA particularly enjoyed the student contact. ”

“This is the best course I have had. I signed up for a telephone course before, but it was one-on-one for the whole hour and it was too much pressure. With other students in the class, there are breaks between talking, and the other students are heard, so I learn from them.”

 

According to Tami Weil, Didactic Consultant to the writers and teachers of the eTeacherHebrew.com program, the online learning environment provides a unique opportunity for learning language at all levels – from beginners to advanced – while allowing for an enjoyable, social experience.

“At Hebrewonline.com, our program is comprehensive, including homework, yet flexible enough to include interesting surprises, such as special exercises relating to current events and holidays, colloquialisms, slang speech and more. The pace of the lessons is quite challenging, yet there is the constant online support of staff and fellow students to ensure all participants gain the most they can at every stage of the course.”

eTeacherHebrew.com’s history is a heartwarming tale of one family’s success – of immigrant beginnings to international achievement, across the generations. It is also your opportunity to learn Hebrew from the comfort of your own home, yet truly connect with the land of Israel and its people.

eTeacherHebrew.com has recently launched a new and exciting program for people with an interest in Biblical Hebrew. With eTeacherBiblical.com, you can learn Hebrew as it was spoken in biblical times. eTeacherBiblical.com brings the most experienced teachers and scholars of Biblical Hebrew direct to you, so you can increase your understanding and appreciation of biblical texts in their original language.

eTeacherHebrew.com and eTeacherBiblical.com are the most effective, enjoyable and convenient way to learn Hebrew – without leaving home.

Click here for more details and to sign up

Rocket Ship of T’shuva

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

We have learned that t’shuva is the force which makes the world go round. Just as gravity keeps us here on earth, t’shuva keeps us longing for the heavens. For the individual, the source of this force lies in his or her willpower. The will is the battery of t’shuva. For a person to be healthy, happy, and in harmony with the universe, his will must be freed from the bondage of sin and directed toward goodness and God.

We are not accustomed to thinking in terms of the will. In school we learn about many different subjects, we learn about different professions, we learn how to get along in the world. But we don’t learn very much about being good. Rabbi Kook, however, teaches that education should focus not on professional training alone, but on finding ways to direct all of man’s endeavors, both material and spiritual, toward the world’s general aspiration for goodness. He writes:

Pure honesty demands that all of the labor of science should be directed toward the fundamental ideal of enhancing man’s will with the ultimate goodness fitting to it, to refine the will, to strengthen it, to sanctify it, to purify it, to habituate it through educational channels to always strive for what is lofty and noble (Orot HaT’shuva, 15:2).

When, however, mankind strays from the proper course, and instead of striving to elevate the will, leaves it wallowing in its baseness, wanting only to satisfy the will’s lower passions, then humanity plunges into darkness, degeneracy, and idolatry.

Out of its depths, (mankind) will cry out to the God of truth and return to the holy goal of making the foundation of every activity the uplifting of the will…. This is the entire basis of t’shuva, the elevation of the will, transforming it to good, to rise up from darkness to light, from a valley of tribulation to a gateway of hope (Ibid).

Previously, we saw that t’shuva can come about gradually, or in a sudden powerful flash. Gradual t’shuva resembles any developmental, step-by-step process whereby one thing leads to another in a natural fashion like the growth of a tree, which progresses from the seed to the fruit in a slow, predictable process.

Sudden t’shuva is different. It seems to come about all at once with superhuman energy and willpower. Where does this great thrust of life energy come from? If we had spiritual glasses to analyze the process, what catalysts and forces would we see?

The longing for goodness that makes up a person’s willpower has a resiliency like that of a spring. Sin causes the will for goodness to be contracted, like a spring which is being stepped on. The further a person is caught up in sin, the tighter the spring is compressed. When a person frees himself from the shackles of sin, he is freeing his willpower to return to cleaving to God. Since his willpower was in such a constricted state, when it is released, it explodes with a super momentum and force, far greater than the force of gradual t’shuva. The sudden baal t’shuva has a magnificent outburst of will which propels him into a frenzy of spiritual endeavor. From the depth of his darkness, he discovers an incredible light, an incredible good_ ness. All at once, BOOM, he is turned on by God. His prayer, his Torah study, his good deeds are all filled with a fiery intensity and fervor for universal good.

It is this revitalized energy which makes the newly religious seem “born again.” This occurs because his willpower has been rescued and recharged. This accounts for the teaching that a tzaddik cannot reach the level of a baal t’shuva (Berachot 34B), for a tzaddik is motivated by the normal, step-by-step will to do good, and not by the explosive, shot-out-of-a-cannon passion of the baal t’shuva.

Because of its great power, Rabbi Kook warns that t’shuva, if misused, can become a lethal weapon. Like a surgical knife, t’shuva can be the key to new healthy life, or to self-destruction.

blockquote>When one contracts the will, when one represses the life-force through an inner course of abstaining from life’s pleasures out of the desire to avoid all transgression, a contraction of the will for goodness also occurs. The power of the moral side of life is also lessened. A man engaged in purifying his life suffers a weakness like that of a sick person who was cured by electric shock therapy, which wiped out the disease, but also weakened his healthy life-force (Orot HaT’shuva, 9:10).

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/felafel-on-rye/rocket-ship-of-tshuva/2012/09/20/

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