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August 29, 2014 / 3 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Dov Shurin’

Therefore Give Honor To Your Nation

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

You know, it’s amazing. Here we stand before the Heavenly Judge, asking for a year of health for our families and for the nation plus everything else good. That’s what judgment day is for all of us.

The unique text of the liturgy for the High Holy Days begins with the daily Ata Kadosh – You are holy…and “holy ones [that’s us] praise you daily.”

Then, after asking Hashem to put His fear into all His creations, we ask Him to honor us – every one of us, His entire nation – from those who are deserving to pray by the Eastern wall of the synagogue to those who come to services with their neatly folded white yarmulkes that had been in the drawer since last Yom Kippur to those who are eating a hamburger on the Haifa beach.

“Give honor to your entire nation.” The word for nation, “am,” implies every single Jew.

Then we ask for tehillah for those who fear Him. Tehillah is the “power to pray,” which is therefore on an even higher level than tefillah, the simple prayer text. In other words, a Jew’s level of kavanah is more important than a mere outward expression of words. Every Jew, we declare, is deserving of God’s honor. I didn’t make up these words. This is in the liturgy prepared for us by our sages.

Why did this thought come to me this year? I think Hashem in a sense rewarded my decision to put a cover on my latest music album (titled “Charming Nation”) that was a conglomeration of Jewish faces standing at the foot of Mount Sinai for the receiving of the Ten Commandments.

Included were the faces of great tzaddikim past and present, and also Herzl, Einstein, Bob Dylan, Sandy Koufax and even leftist former minister Yosi Sarid, who once called me a rasha on radio and television and demanded that I be put on trial for something I’d said on Arutz Sheva radio.

I knew a cover picture that controversial would cost me the chance for the album to achieve any significant sales, so I never bothered distributing it to the stores.

But I didn’t care. Because I know the soul of every Jew was at the mountain.

It was from my renowned rosh hayeshiva Rabbi Shlomo Freifeld, zt”l, that I heard for the first time that the word in Hebrew for an “assembly of people” is tzibor, and its letters allude to our entire nation: The letter tzaddik stands for our righteous; the bet stands for the average people (in Hebrew, benonim) and the vav and resh hint at “and the rishayim,” the wicked.

Rav Freifeld once said to me privately, “I feel like a cog in the machine. Every little Jew is a cog in the machine!”

I understood it immediately: If one little cog is missing, the whole machine is out of commission.

Maybe that’s why we ask Hashem to shower kavod on every little cog – every little Jew.

Take the Jew eating that hamburger on Haifa beach on Yom Kippur. Guess what? He was an Israeli soldier on a one-day leave from risking his life daily guarding the northern border.

Our prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, was God’s cog in our machine as he stood at the United Nations warning of the danger to the world if Iran were to become a nuclear power.

I had wished him a happy new year with an ad in the Jerusalem Post asking him to watch my clip on YouTube titled, “We will Never Again be Uprooted” – and sure enough, at the onset of his speech, he declared, “The Jewish people have come home. We will never be uprooted again.” So little Dov Shurin was the cog that inspired that line in Netanyahu’s important speech.

We start the Kol Nidrei prayer by declaring, “In the tribunal of heaven and the tribunal of earth, by the permission of God, blessed be He, and by the permission of this holy congregation, we hold it lawful to pray with the transgressors.”

With the transgressors – because we are all part of that great machine known as Am Yisrael. And it is God who gives us our opening to pray to Him like sons to a father.

Today’s Israeli: A Charming New Breed

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

In Israel today there is a new generation whose members may not be outwardly observant but who are intrinsically religious and have the utmost respect for the Torah and its scholars.

This phenomenon is especially true among Sephardim, but so many of the young generation are from “mixed” families, where one spouse is Sephardi and one is Ashkenazi. I have three daughters who eat kitnius on Passover as they have Sephardi husbands.

My sons-in-law are, thank God, observant, but they have many friends who are new breeds, choosing to observe according to their own convenience while respecting Torah and believing in the power of the blessings of tzaddikim.

I got a call about a month ago from someone who asked me if I had ever heard of one of Israel’s most popular non-observant singers.

“Yes, I’ve heard his name,” I said.

“Well,” he said, “I’m his producer and I want to work with you.”

I wasn’t sure if this guy was on the level but I said, “If this is true, I’ve been waiting for this call for a hundred years.”

I told him I had great songs but didn’t push them. “How did you get to me?” I asked.

He said he’d been in Hebron with his buddies and they were getting a tour from the well-known Baruch Marzel, and he asked Marzel why Dov Shurin hadn’t made it big.

“After all,” he told Marzel, “we saw the amazing clips on YouTube of Shurin’s famous songs ‘Zachreni Na’ and ‘V’lo Yinatshu.’ ”

Marzel told him, “People consider Shurin crazy.”

“He’s crazy?” my caller responded. “So are we. Give me his number!”

So now this fellow was on the phone with me and said, “I want to produce a hit for you.”

He told me he’s also a songwriter and had written the big hit song, “Ish Emunah Ein Lo Lifached” (“A man of faith is afraid of nothing”), recorded by the popular Eyal Golan.

I asked him if he was observant.

“Not really,” he answered. “I do love the Torah and just got a berachah from a tzaddik.”

Then he told me he was really busy at the moment with summer concerts but that he would invite me to a barbecue soon and we’d meet each other.

Last week he called to invite me to that barbecue, at his penthouse.

So there I was with about fifty other guests at a penthouse in Tel Aviv. At the head of the table sat the rav of the community; Knesset Member Dr. Michael Ben-Ari; Baruch Marzel; and a man who works full-time to get Jewish girls away from Arab spouses.

Most of the others were non-observant Jews, but with a profound respect for Judaism.

The rabbi suddenly said, “Let’s start with Maariv.” Kippot and siddurim were distributed and we prayed.

Every speaker spoke Torah. From the grill came kabobs, hamburgers, chicken and steak.

The background music was the singing of Avraham Fried, then a song by Chaim Yisrael called “Torah HaKedosha,” which was composed by my new friend, the non-observant producer. Then my own “Zachreni Na,” from my “Biblical Revenge” album, resounded across the penthouse and everyone was up and dancing.

Knesset Member Ben-Ari, seeming to know the importance of this night for me, said he wanted to pay honor to Dov Shurin by explaining who Shimshon HaGibor was. And he told the story of Samson’s birth and death, in a deep and beautiful way, explaining the salvation he brought to us from the hands of the Plishtim, topped off by the final words of Samson to Hashem – my song – “Zachreini na – remember me and strengthen me just this last time, so I can avenge the suffering of our nation at the hands of the Plishtim.”

What I want to emphasize, as we count our days to Rosh Hashanah, is that in our holy Eretz Yisrael there is a new breed of non-observant (may they soon all become observant) Jews who are charming our Maker.

They are charming Him in the most loving way, by respecting Torah and its scholars and the holiness of our land and our people, and declaring, “A man of faith has nothing to fear” as we witness our enemies slaughtering each other while we barbecue the best meats, al ha’aish, on the grill, at a penthouse in Tel Aviv.

Renewing The Face Of The Earth

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

I sleep every Tisha B’Av night on a narrow cushion in front of the Me’aras HaMachpelah in Hebron. I do this because the following chiddush came to me many years ago: When the spies went to Israel, the pasuk says “vayavo ad Chevron” – “and he came until Hebron.” He instead of they. Rashi says only Calev ben Yefuneh went to Hebron, to pray to Avraham Avinu that he not fall for the plan of the spies.

The spies gave their horrible report on Tisha B’Av night, and this night became a night of crying through the ages. So I said, “Hebron and Me’aras HaMachpelah is where I’m going sleep to remember the power of the prayer of Calev.”

And as I traveled to Hebron, how could I not stop at the tomb of Rachel Imeinu? It’s right on the way.

The Tenth of Av is my birthday, and this year as I walked from my car to Rachel’s Tomb I found myself singing, “Unhappy birthday to you, unhappy birthday to you, Dov Shurin!” – since on my birthday we are all crying for Mashiach.

Once I was in the tomb I took a Tehillim and beg David HaMelech to direct me to a verse that would consol me on my “unhappy” birthday. With my eyes closed, I asked that my finger open to a special page. I opened the book, my eyes still closed, and I asked, “Which page, right side or the left?” I imagined I was told the left. Then I ran my finger down the page until I sensed I should stop.

I opened my eyes and I was on the verse in Psalm 104 that reads “You send forth your spirit and they are created, renewing the face of the earth.” What a birthday present from above! It’s all about one’s birthday, about renewal. The verse before this is about death, and this verse is birth. I thought about the Torah giant we just lost, Rav Elyashiv, zt”l, and how Hashem certainly is renewing the earth with new tzaddikim; in fact, we’re told that Tisha B’Av is when Mashiach will be born.

Then I went to Hebron and stayed until Minchah time. At first it was difficult for me to deal with the Nachem prayer we say only on Tisha B’Av in the middle of the Vel’Yirushalayim Ircha blessing in the Shemoneh Esrei. The verses read: “Console the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem …. the city is destroyed, disgraced and empty.”

That’s not the case today, with close to two hundred thousand Jews living here, and we even have our light railroad. It just seemed to me the Nachem tefillah should be updated.

I did notice the Nachem prayer distinguishes between Zion and Jerusalem. So I decided to consult the amazing sefer of the Malbim, HaCarmel, which discusses relevant words and concepts. I turned to where he writes about Zion and Jerusalem. He notes that Metzudas Tzion was the city of David, which was occupied by children of kings, important personalities and Torah scholars, and the rest of Jerusalem is where the simple multitudes lived.

So Zion was what we refer to today as East Jerusalem. In my previous column I wrote about a police officer who was stabbed to death years ago by an Arab who came up from Silwan, which is Zion, which was the city of David and is called exactly that by those Jews who have settled there. So unfortunately the words of the Nachem prayer are in fact relevant today regarding East Jerusalem and its status in the eyes of the international community.

On Tisha B’Av Mitt Romney became the latest presidential candidate to promise to move the American embassy to Jerusalem, may it really happen this time. The Israeli government needs to make it clear that Jerusalem, and especially Zion, the city of David, is not for sale, period. Until then, the Nachem prayer remains true to its text.

May our Charming Nation see the consolation of Zion, the final Godly building of Yerushalayim, and the renewal of the face of the earth with the coming of Mashiach quickly in our day, amen.

Dov Shurin is a popular radio personality and the composer and producer of several albums of original composition. He lives with his family in Israel and can be contacted at dovshurin@yahoo.com. His column appears in The Jewish Press every other week.

Letters To The Editor

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

Inaccurate Characterization

In his July 6 “Charming Nation” column, Dov Shurin wrote that the only death caused by Saddam Hussein’s Scud attacks on Israel during the 1991 Gulf War was that of a man who suffered a heart attack – a man Shurin characterized as an opponent of Shabbat road closures.

The truth is that man was not someone who opposed any Shabbat laws. He was a fine, Orthodox, God-fearing Holocaust survivor who had seen most of his family killed in Europe. His heart gave out when the Scuds started falling and air raid alarms were sounded.

He happened to have been a friend of mine and it was very disturbing to read Shurin’s claim that he had been against Sabbath observance.

Amy Wall
New York, NY

The Times Already Lost It

Re “Is the Gray Lady Losing It?” editorial. June 29):

The question really should be “When did the gray lady lose it?” While certain sections of The New York Times continue to be credible, the news, editorial and op-ed pages lost any credibility years ago. The motto of the Times should be changed to “All the news we choose to print” from “All the news that’s fit to print.”

Those looking for accuracy and balance should turn to a paper like the Wall Street Journal.

Nelson Marans
Silver Spring, MD

The Roberts Decision

Reams of analysis and debate will doubtless be generated in response to the incoherent and inexplicable legal finding by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts validating Obamacare (“Not the Supreme Court’s Finest Moment,” editorial, July 6).

The 2,700-page bill was passed through bribery, intimidation and funding falsehoods, though no one in Congress actually read it. Former speaker Pelosi’s (in)famous diktat “we have to pass the bill to find out what’s in it” speaks to the hubris of the Democrats in Congress.

This mammoth legislation is the harbinger of an anticipated flood of new regulations to be administered by thousands of new bureaucrats enforcing the new rules still being written.

As for Chief Justice Roberts, his decision to deliver such a convoluted decision will set back the Supreme Court’s reputation for years.

Fay Dicker
Lakewood, NJ

Handful Of Fanatics

Re “Haredi Men Arrested in Yad Vashem Vandalism” (news story, June 29):

Neturei Karta is a small (albeit vocal) group that is in no way representative of the haredi community as a whole.

On the one hand, from a haredi perspective the Holocaust is seen as just another chapter in the history of persecution, albeit more efficiently executed and more recent. That is why haredim generally do not observe such commemorations as the Warsaw Ghetto anniversary, subsuming it instead in the general mourning on Tisha B’Av. This does not, however, mean haredim in any way approve of such offensive vandalism as was perpetrated by this handful of fanatics.

On the other hand, there is certainly a feeling in the haredi community that a wholly exaggerated cult of the Holocaust has become a sort of substitute religion for those estranged from Torah Judaism. Haredim object to this negative definition of one’s Jewishness by reference to the hatred of others rather than pride in one’s heritage.

Only someone completely prejudiced against haredim could consider these nutcases as being in any way representative of the greater haredi community – but unfortunately such an attitude is all too common.

Martin D. Stern
Salford, England

Making Our Own Choices

As the brouhaha over the Internet continues, I would like to make a few comments to those who vehemently oppose the Internet in Jewish homes.

New York City is home to many Jewish institutions but also, lehavdil, to a number of obscene and lewd establishments. Should Jews be prohibited from living in New York because they might be tempted to frequent such places?

We can use our two legs to take us to perform mitzvos, but we can also use our two legs to take us to commit aveiros. Shall we cut off our legs because they might take us to sinful places?

Unfortunately, we don’t live in a vacuum – but we do have the ability to know the difference between right and wrong and the strength, imparted to us by our parents and teachers, to follow a moral and ethical way of life and to make the correct choices for ourselves.

Pesach-Yonah Malevitz
Los Angeles, CA A

Shabbos In Midwood

Psalms, Scuds And Shamir

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

Let me tell you how special it is to live in Eretz Yisrael. The other day I decided it was time for me to say the entire Book of Psalms – Tehillim. I’m the father of ten children and fifteen grandchildren (b’li ayin hara), so the power of Tehillim is where I turn, for my family’s needs.

But I decided that before I could start reading the Tehillim I needed to cancel my extra Bezek telephone line, which I no longer needed.

So I called Bezek. I got some recordings, but finally a women came on the line and asked me why I wanted to cancel the line. “Please,” I said, “I need to read the whole book of Tehillim, it’s a six-hour job, so just cancel my line.”

Then I asked her what her name was and she replied, “Tehila.”

“Tehila?” I gasped. “And I just told you that I’m going to say the whole Book of Tehillim!”

“And I was named after the book,” she said.

“So was my oldest daughter,” I told her.

“My wife was having our first child,” I explained, “and we had a mean-looking doctor, from the old school, and he said to her, ‘If the baby doesn’t turn around in a half hour, we’re going to have to cut you open with a caesarian section.’

“My wife started crying, ‘Why me, why me?’ and I said, sternly, ‘It’s not up to the doctor, it’s up to Hashem.’

“Then I opened the Tehillim and insisted that she repeat each verse after me, and she did.

“Ten minutes later the doctor came to check her again and said, ‘She’s ready for a normal birth.’ And that’s why we named her after the book – Tehila.”

“Wow!” the operator said. “What a beautiful story!”

“Now tell me your story,” I asked.

She told me her mother was nine months pregnant during the 1991 Gulf War. Her parents lived in the center of the country, where some 39 Scuds from Iraq were exploding. Their large building was rattled by a direct hit, and an entire wall of the tenement came crashing down, but as with all the Scuds, no one was directly injured.

“But from the shock, my mother immediately started having contractions. She was rushed to the hospital and I was born, and I was named after the Book of Tehillim.”

“What a story!” I said. “But do you know why you were named after the book?”

“I guess my parents read Tehillim then also,” she responded.

“No, it’s more than that,” I told her. “All over Israel there was a popular poster on billboards reading, ‘Say Tehillim [to protect us] against the Tillim [meaning Scuds or missiles].”

And so now, after my conversation with the phone company operator named Tehila, I was ready to read Tehillim. But let me add that this was the morning after our seventh prime minister, Yitzhak Shamir, a tiny but mighty man, died at the ripe old age of 96.

So it’s apropos to tell you it was the Gulf War – with the gas masks and the 39 Scuds and the amazing miracles and the dictate of President Bush and his secretary of state, James Baker, that Israel not react but rather sit back and do nothing while the Scuds came crashing down – that caused our prime minister to really come of age, to change, so to speak.

Let me explain: Shamir was a great lover of Israel but he refused to be a “hostage” to “religious coercion.” So when he won the election in 1988 and had a clear majority of 63, counting the religious parties, he signed an agreement with head of the Agudas Yisrael party, Rav Menachem Porush, zt”l, giving into all of the party’s religious demands.

Then, suddenly, he approached the Labor Party and said, “Let’s form a national unity government, and to heck with these small haredi bench warmers. Who needs them to blackmail us, with their power to bring down the government with one vote?”

Labor accepted the offer. And Rav Porush, seeing how he’d been used and tricked, screamed, “What about the agreement we just signed? You must honor it and have Agudah in the government too!”

My Pleasant Dreams – 851 Of Them

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

Prior to the Knesset vote on the Regulation Law, which was defeated on June 6, I visited the protest tent where people were on a hunger strike and I realized we are again going through what we went through in the days before the destruction of Gush Katif.

The destruction of five buildings in the Ulpana neighborhood of Beit El, as ordered by the High Court, could set a precedent for more destruction. (The Regulation Law would have set a time limit for Arab claims and would have substituted compensation for destruction.)

A day before the vote I thought, What can I do to help? I suddenly began daydreaming and saw a letter from Dov Shurin to Prime Minister Netanyahu on the front page of the Jerusalem Post urging him to allow Likud Knesset members and ministers to vote their hearts so that the law might pass.

“Yeah, right,” I said to myself.” You aren’t going to pay big money for that.”

But I’m sure many of my readers can look back at important events and accomplishments in their lives and remember it all started with a dream.

So I came up with the following idea: I write for The Jewish Press, which would be a great place for the Jerusalem Post to advertise for subscribers to its International Edition.

I started making a series of calls, and a barter deal was worked out between these two important Jewish papers. I was given nearly a quarter of a page for a letter to the prime minister:

An Open Letter To Our Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu From New York radio personality And composer of the song “Zachreni Na,” Dov Shurin:

Dear Binyamin,

Zachreni Na! Remember me, your friend Dov. Know that my love for you is unshakable. That is why I beg you to allow fellow Likud Knesset Members and Ministers to have a free vote according to each one’s conscience on the important Regulation Law.

As in the Song of Shimshon, “Ach hapa’am hazeh HaElokim!” – just this ONE time, our leader!

I assure you, my dear friend, that the victory will be OURS – yours, mine, and all of the nation’s.

Do this, and you will reap the reward of leading our nation for many years to come.

With love, Dov Shurin I went to sleep that night and had another dream: I met our president, Shimon Peres. I showed him my letter to Netanyahu and said, “It’s not really going the help…”

“No, no,” he interrupted, “It will help!”

Great dream, right?

Now it was morning and I went out to buy the Jerusalem Post. The headline story was about the new law having “no chance” of passing, and underneath it, on page one, was my letter.

Well, the president told me my letter would help, but how?

I went to the protest tent across from the Knesset. The hunger strikers I’d met earlier were still inside; protesters were outside; and everyone was talking about how the prime minister had said any minister who voted for the bill would be fired. Things looked bleak.

I fell into a daydream:

Netanyahu is sitting by his desk and all the morning papers lie in front of him. He glances at the headlines and makes and receives calls. The clock on the wall is ticking hypnotically; he’s tired from a long night. His wife calls to urge him to take a nap.

“Everything will be all right,” she says. “The leftists paid legal fees to help an Arab prove his ‘ownership’ of the land. The High Court ordered the destruction, but you will build ten houses for each one destroyed, 50 more houses.”

Netanyahu finishes on the phone and takes the Jerusalem Post with him to the couch for a quick nap.

My inside sources tell me he was snoring with my letter resting on his nose.

At any rate, it was just before the Knesset vote and journalists wanted a statement from the prime minister. Suddenly, out of nowhere, he told them he’d decided to build 851 new houses in the settlements. Some 300 in Bet El, 100 in Kiryat Arba, some in Maale Adumim, Adam, and other places.

Of Comas, Mild And Serious

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak recently suggested that Israelis are in a “coma” and unless “unilateral disengagement” is implemented now from Judea and Samaria, it will be too late for a peace agreement once they awaken.

The Palestinian Authority rejected Barak’s suggestion unless it would include all the territories conquered in the Six-Day War, which means all of East Jerusalem – even Gilo, Ramot, and of course the Kotel.

But Barak knows that, right? He’s saying that a reprise of the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, which has brought a rain of Kassam missiles down on Israel, is not only proper, it’s absolutely the correct thing to do.

And he calls us comatose? You know, I really wish former prime minister Ariel Sharon a refuah sheleimah. When we in Israel think of a coma we think of Sharon, six years in a deep comatose state. I’d love to hear his reaction on seeing, with his own eyes, what his unilateral withdrawal from Gaza led to.

He should see how nearly 10,000 Jews still suffer from being expelled from their homes. He should read about how many divorces have occurred and how many children have fallen away from their faith and into drugs and alcohol, all due to the horrific trauma that followed the expulsion.

He should know that the Hamas terror organization rules Gaza and that his unilateral withdrawal caused the Sinai to become a terrorist haven that Jews can no longer safely visit.

And yet our defense minister, the person we entrust our safety to, doesn’t see anything. He says we are in a coma, but of course if anyone is in a coma it is he.

I Googled the word “coma,” and here’s just a little of what I got:

Coma – a state of unconsciousness, lasting more than six hours, in which a person cannot be awakened, fails to respond normally to painful stimuli, light, sound, lacks a normal sleep-wake cycle and does not initiate voluntary actions. A person in a state of coma is described as comatose. Although, according to the Glasgow Coma Scale, a person with confusion is considered to be in the mildest coma.

I like the Glasgow Coma Scale. According to it, we are all in a coma. Yes, the nation as a whole is confused about how to achieve a true and lasting peace with no true partner.

I think my readers will agree that if a mild coma is a state of confusion, then Israelis indeed are in a mild coma. But there are levels of a coma, and Barak’s coma is far more serious than ours.

When Barak was prime minister he begged Arafat to take half the country. He was ready to give Arafat even the Muslim quarter of Yerushalayim, which would certainly have led to Arafat’s police or soldiers eventually shooting down at Jews from the top of the Old City walls.

We have to thank God for Arafat’s own “coma”; instead of grabbing the offer, and continuing the Palestinian war against Israel from that point of territory gained, he started the Second Intifada, which saved the nation from the coma of Barak.

The Palestinians got nothing but war and more suffering, and many Jews were killed in terrorist attacks, but our land was still safely in our hands.

Then came the “mild coma” of Arik Sharon – the confusion and shortsightedness that led to the surrender of Gaza, the expulsion of nearly 10,000 Jews and the destruction of the communities they built there.

Sharon’s “mild coma” was followed by two strokes and the complete comatose state that has continued for six years now.

I think this is the place to tell you that my uncle, Rav Aaron Soloveichik, zt”l, said, as related to me by his son Rav Yoseph, that the punishment for giving away parts of Eretz Yisrael is a stroke. This is alluded to in the famous verse “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, may I forget my right arm, may my tongue cleave to my palate if I don’t remember thee.”

Sadly enough, Sharon suffered his two strokes and became comatose.

And now Barak tells his nation that we are in a coma. Thank you. We do need healing before a more serious coma occurs. We need to understand that there is no peace partner, that the land was given to us by Hashem, and that it will remain ours forever.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/potpourri/of-comas-mild-and-serious/2012/06/06/

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