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April 16, 2014 / 16 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘electricity’

Israel’s Four Elements: Four Holy Cities: Living In The Heart Of The World

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

While studying the anatomy of the heart in Machon Biotechnology in Israel, I had some thoughts: The four holiest cities in Israel – Jerusalem (fire/aish),Tzfat (wind/ruach), Chevron (earth/adamah), and Tverya (water/mayim) – seem to correspond to the four chambers of the heart.

Tverya and Tzfat would be the right side of the heart – the “blue” blood – de-oxygenated. Tverya has the Kinneret (water/blue), which is like the right atrium and drains the de-oxygenated blood from the body. Why is Tzfat all blue, and why does it relate to the element of wind/ruach? It is like the right ventricle, which pumps the “blue” blood to the lungs (ruach).

Chevron (earth/adamah) is red/brown like oxygenated blood. Our forefathers, buried there, give us the “blood” – as they have made the Jewish people. Chevron’s “blood” flows to Jerusalem, which is fire-red. It is an intense place, and so is the left ventricle with thicker, walled muscles – as it pumps blood to the rest of the body.

I am blessed to live in the Old City, which is the SA node (electricity of the heart) – the electricity of the world. It is the source of energy and everything else. Hashem’s Shechinah and light flows from here. The heart “runs” on its own. It creates its own electricity, and is not dependent on the body for its electricity source. Israel is not dependent on the world and runs on miracles. As a madrichah in the Heritage House in the Old City, I have seen so many miracles happen to the tourists who stay in our hostel. They transform, come to clarity about things in their lives, find meaning, and gain more understanding about themselves. Every day is a surprise, and feels so alive here because G-d makes it more clear here that you are in His Hands.

If there is a straight line on the heart monitor, the person is not alive. The terrain of hills in Jerusalem shows what it is like to live here. In other places the land is flat and one may feel comfortable or maybe half asleep, but in Israel one feels so alive – through the ups and downs. I bless you to merit living here, in the heart of the world.

Here is what my experience has been like living in the heart of the world. I came on a vacation to Israel for a month before starting my ultrasound program at UMBC in August. While here, I was having a really awesome time and asked to defer my program for a year. Having received permission, I canceled my return ticket and decided to stay. I had no plans of where to stay or what to do. Thank G-d, everything worked out as a result of miracles. I never dreamed of living in the Old City and enrolled in an Israeli program learning ultrasound at Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital. I definitely felt then and now that things are up in the air, as I am unsure what’s next. But everything works out because the Almighty loves us!

G-d sent a lesson my way while going to the Kotel one day.  I heard some cheering coming from the Kotel, saw a camp there, and thought, “How disrespectful, cheering at the Kotel.” I observed that each camper had a counselor with him/her.   Many children were in wheelchairs, and cheering was their way of praying.  With shining eyes, they looked like they were in seventh heaven!  The counselors were also shining, and this is exactly what G-d wanted.  It was a truly beautiful sight to witness.

I was deeply touched by the message G-d sent me coming to the Kotel. Sometimes some things may not seem so beautiful from afar, but the beauty is realized when seen up close.

Does Borrowing Pay?

Thursday, March 11th, 2010
“Pesach is just around the corner,” was Mrs. Adler’s motto. She began planning right after Tu B’Shevat, started cleaning after Purim, and limited food to the kitchen from Rosh Chodesh Nisan.
The star of Pesach cleaning was her trusted Hoover canister vacuum cleaner. Mrs. Adler ran it over the carpets and wooden floors, poked it into all the cabinets and every nook and cranny, and left not a speck on the couch and beds. It was the most expensive model, but its powerful suction and versatility made it worth the cost, for Pesach.
One morning, while Mrs. Adler was vacuuming, the doorbell rang. “C’mon in, Sally” she called to her closest neighbor, Sally Baum, who lived down the hall.
“How’s Pesach coming along?” asked Mrs. Baum.
            ”So far, I’ve managed to keep on schedule,” replied Mrs. Adler. “I hate the last minute rush.”
“Any new tips?” asked Mrs. Baum.
“Sure,” said Mrs. Adler. “Here’s one from ‘Better Homes and Gardens’ about removing oil stains from stovetops. Here’s another one I found online about washing sweaters without pilling.”
“I just wish I had a better vacuum,” lamented Mrs. Baum. “Mine works on the carpet, but not on fabrics and hard surfaces.”

“Mine is great,” glowed Mrs. Adler. “I’m using it now, but you can borrow it tonight.”

In the evening, Mrs. Baum sent her son to pick up the vacuum. “Don’t forget to say, ‘Thank you,’ ” she reminded him.
Armed with the vacuum, Mrs. Baum went around the edges of the rooms and poked with the crevice tool behind the cabinets. She started to clean the couch.
“Hi, Sally,” she heard her husband’s voice.
Mrs. Baum looked up. “Welcome home,” she replied. “You know that Mrs. Adler always says, ‘Pesach is just around the corner.’ Well, now it really is.”
“Where’s that fancy new vacuum from?” inquired her husband. “You know that we have more urgent expenditures for Pesach.”
“Don’t worry,” laughed Mrs. Baum. “I didn’t spend a penny; Mrs. Adler was kind enough to lend us hers for the evening. Come have supper.”
After supper, Mrs. Baum continued vacuuming. Without warning, the vacuum suddenly sparked and the electricity blew. “What happened?” called out Mr. Baum. “I’m not sure,” answered his wife. “It seems that the vacuum blew the fuse.”
Mr. Baum unplugged the machine and replaced the fuse. “That was strange,” he said. “We never have problems with the electricity.”
“Back to work,” said Mrs. Baum as she plugged the vacuum in. She pressed the button but nothing happened. She pressed again, with no response. She tried a different outlet; still nothing.
“The motor died,” groaned Mrs. Baum. “How am I going to face Mrs. Adler? She relies on this machine for everything!”
“We’ll have to buy her a new one,” said her husband. “We can’t afford this now, but we have no choice.” Mrs. Baum walked down the hall to the Adlers with the broken vacuum and $500.
Mrs. Adler greeted her, “Finished already Sally? You’re fast.”
“I’m really sorry, but the vacuum broke,” said Mrs. Baum.
“Please tell me you’re kidding.” said Mrs. Adler. “I’ll never manage without it.”
“Really, it’s broken,” said Mrs. Baum. “I was using it and it just went. But I brought you money to buy a new one.”
Mr. Adler walked over. “Is there a chance that you overtaxed the machine? Sucked up something that clogged the airflow?”
“No,” said Mrs. Baum. “I was using it normally. But what’s the difference? When you borrow something you’re responsible no matter what.”
“That’s usually true,” said Mr. Adler. “However, I remember learning that if the item breaks or dies through normal usage the borrower is exempt. I’ll ask Rabbi Dayan at the Daf tonight.”
After the Daf, Mr. Baum walked home with Rabbi Dayan and asked about the vacuum. “You are correct,” replied Rabbi Dayan. “When you borrow something you are responsible even for freak accidents, but if it dies or breaks on account of the work for which it was borrowed – you are exempt. This is called ‘meisah machmas melachah‘” (C.M. 340:1).
            “Why should this be?” asked Mr. Baum.
“The Gemara (B.M. 96b) explains that the owner lent the item with the understanding that it be used; therefore, he accepted the consequences of this usage,” answered Rabbi Dayan. “However, there are two caveats. First, the borrower is exempt only if he used the item for the purpose for which it was lent, but if he used it in even a slightly different manner he is responsible. He does not need to buy a brand new machine, though, but only to pay for the actual loss (344:2).”
“The second caveat,” continued Rabbi Dayan, “is that the borrower must prove with witnesses or take a solemn oath in beis din that the item broke during the course of work to be exempt, unless the lender completely trusts him” (344:1).

“Thus, if you trust Mrs. Baum that the vacuum died during routine use, she is exempt,” concluded Rabbi Dayan. “If she wants to pay something as a neighborly gesture, that’s fine, but it’s important to know the halacha.”

 

Rabbi Meir Orlian is a member of the Business Halacha Institute faculty, which is headed by HaRav Chaim Kohn, shlita, a dayan in Brooklyn, N.Y. The Institute provides a wide range of services related to money and property issues, including weekly classes for businessmen in various cities.

For questions regarding halachic monetary issues or to bring BHI to your synagogue please call 877-845-8455 or e-mail ask@businesshalacha.

Why Can’t I Get Married? (Part Four)

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

Some weeks ago I published a letter from a secular Jewish woman in her mid-thirties. To all appearances, she had everything going for her – a successful career, good health, dynamic personality, many boyfriends and relationships. She wrote, however, that it all had no meaning. More than anything, she yearned to build a home and start a family, but marriage kept eluding her.

“Why can’t I get married?” she cried out, and her cry resonated in many hearts. I have received a plethora of letters and e-mail – all struggling with this same question – secular and observant Jews wrote and even non-Jews echoed her dilemma. It seems that singles all over the world are confronted with this very same challenge.

In past columns I mentioned that there were many contributing factors to this escalating problem. To discuss all of them and do justice to them, I would probably have to write a book. Nevertheless, the problem is vexing, and while our discussion may be limited, I do believe that it has to be put on the table, for it is already out-of- hand. I isolated a few factors in last week’s column and demonstrated how many of the values and mores of our contemporary society lobbyagainst marriage.

Specifically, I focused on relationships and asked why a secular young man in today’s world should undertake the responsibility of marriage when he can simply enter into a relationship that can be terminated at the drop of a hat without entanglements or monetary consequences. So, in a sense, girls who facilitate these relationships underwrite their own difficulties in finding their marriage partners.

That being the case, the question still remains: How do we resolve the dilemma of religiously observant singles who are committed to a Torah way of life? Why can’t they find their bashertes – soul mates? The question becomes even more troublesome when you consider that, from early childhood, these singles have been nurtured with a vision – to go under the chuppah and establish a bayit ne’eman b’Yisrael – a genuine Jewish home. These girls are not sidetracked by careers, by dreams of travel or by entering trial marriages through relationships. And significantly, they reside in their parental homes much longer than their secular single counterparts. They benefit from parental intervention and guidance.

In the Orthodox world, mothers and fathers actively network to make shidduchim for their children. They have access to numerous shadchanim and chesed committees that have been specifically designed for that purpose. So the question still remains: what went wrong? Why are there so many single women in the Torah world who have difficulty “taking that short path down the aisle?”

In this column, I will touch briefly on a few factors, but the reader should by no means consider them definitive. Obviously, there are many reasons that come into play, and I invite you to share your thoughts on the subject. You can e-mail me at rebbetzinhineni.org or write to me at Hineni, 232 West End Avenue, New York, NY 10023.

Electricity/Chemistry

There is a saying in Yiddish, “The way the non-Jewish world goes, so goes the Jewish world.”

Whether we like it or not, to one extent or another, we are influenced by our environment. Even as it is impossible to enter a perfume factory without absorbing some of the aroma, so it is difficult not to be impacted by our culture. Ours is a world that places tremendous emphasis on external appearances. When it comes to marriage, looks and material possessions are all-important. Many of our single men have formed unrealistic images of “that gorgeous, ‘size- zero’ girl,” but these very same young men never bother looking in the mirror and asking, “Would I want to marry someone who looks like me?” Nor do they ask, “What do I have to offer this girl?”

And it is not only young men who can be problematic – their mothers can be equally unreasonable, holding out for what they consider to be “that perfect girl” (beautiful and the daughter of a substantial family that can offer generous support), and thus they dismiss many good prospects.

In all honesty, however, I must add that while this problem is more prevalent in the case of men, in my experiences as a shadchan, I have found that girls can also be very difficult, and after a while, they too can lose all sense of reality. We live in an “entitlement” society and seldom consider that, instead of making demands, we have a mandate to give. Thus, precious years can go by looking for that “perfect” girl or guy who is no more than a figment of the imagination.

We Are Good Friends

Many singles live in communities that offer special activities – Shabbatonim and other gatherings. After a while, these programs too can prove to be counterproductive, deluding singles into believing that they are doing their best to pursue a match, whereas in reality, they are just going from event to event. Under such circumstances, dating for tachlis – marriage, becomes more complicated. Often, I have tried to make shidduchim between two people residing in the same neighborhood, only to be told, “Oh, we know one another – We go to the same Shabbos seudos – dinners, etc. She/he is very nice…we are good friends,” they tell me, and with that, the possibility of a shidduch is closed.

Time and again, I heard my father, HaRav HaGaon Avraham Halevi Jungreis, zt”l, urging parents to heed the teachings of our sages and marry off their children at a young age, for, as the years pass, my father would warn, there is a tendency to pick up more and more “shtick” and become entrenched in one’s ways.

A man in his early 40s who had been dating endlessly came to consult me regarding a shidduch. Since I knew many of the girls he had dated and they were all lovely young women, I wondered aloud what he had found objectionable in them.

“Tell me what you are seeking in a wife, so that I might better help you,” I said.

He readily confessed that he had dated more women than he could count, but he just never felt any “electricity” for any of them.

“Let me tell you about electricity,” I said. ” New York is one of the most sophisticated and technologically advanced cities in the world, but even in New York, there have been electrical failures. Electricity today is no guarantee that there won’t be a power failure tomorrow.”

“Rebbetzin, what are you trying to tell me?” he asked.

“Simple – Instead of electricity, you would do well to look for goodness, kindness, timeless values and common goals. Such power is lasting and guaranteed never to fail!”

“But,” he protested, “doesn’t there have to be chemistry?”

“Of course you have to feel attracted to the person,” I agreed, but such attraction should not be confused with the superficial fluff that our 21st century culture has come to adulate. And then I told him a story about a bachelor his own age who traveled to Israel to consult a sage.

“If everyone has a basherte – a soul mate, why can’t I find mine?” he asked.

The sage studied him for a few minutes and said, “Maybe you did find her, but instead of seeing her heart, you just saw her face and worried that she wasn’t pretty enough.”

(To be continued)

Helping Yourself First – Is That Politically Correct?

Wednesday, January 12th, 2005

While randomly perusing some Jewish community newspapers this past week, I was struck by the press releases of several Jewish organizations crowing with excited pride about the significant monetary donations they made for victims of the Tsunami. Not only had they contributed impressive amounts of money – they were also calling on anyone reading the release to send in their own donations.

We Jews are known for our chesed and charitable bent, and no doubt many, after reading these articles, grabbed a pen and went straight to their checkbooks. I went straight to my Tehillim, trying not to let my dismay overwhelm me.

Why be upset over the giving of charity to people who have a need for it?

The Talmud discusses the topic of which poor come first. It ruled: Aniyei Ircha Kodmim: the poor of your city come first. As the popular adage says, “charity begins at home.” Unfortunately, there are many people in our own communities who are hungry. There are children and old people, vulnerable to illness, who are not receiving adequate nutrition, heat, light and other basic necessities – in our neighborhoods and in Israel.

We are taught that if a man is lost in the desert, and has just enough water to keep himself alive, he must drink the water himself. First and foremost – he must preserve his own life. We are exhorted to do what we can to save another person’s life – and “not to stand idly by” – but one is not allowed to compromise his own life in doing so.

It is commendable to help others – but we’re obligated to feed our own family first. While organizations both here and in Israel are falling over themselves to send aid of all sorts – money, rescue materials and expertise, to the victims of the Tsunami, the needs of members of our community are being overlooked.

Case in point: The Magen David Adom, Israel’s equivalent of the Red Cross, has had to close ambulance stations in Northern Israel because of a lack of funding. In emergencies, minutes, even seconds can make the difference between life and death. Yet for the people of these northern communities, there are no life-saving response teams available in the immediate area. Shouldn’t our chesed dollars go to them first? There are hundreds of soup kitchens for the indigent in Israel that must raise their own funds as they do not receive government aid. There are many people whose electricity is being cut off and who cannot afford rent. Doesn’t the Israeli government have to worry about its poor Jews first?

It’s not as if the victims of the Tsunami are counting solely on our contributions and can’t survive without us. Millions of dollars in aid are pouring in from all corners of the globe. Even the oil-rich billion dollar Arab League nations managed to scrape together some petty cash to send over to their stricken co-religionists in Indonesia and Malaysia (of course, they are sending less than anyone else). As usual, the maligned but generous U.S. government is foremost in offering its resources to the relief effort, and consequently, as higher-income taxpayers, the Jewish community has already contributed generously.

As usual as well, tiny Israel, barely visible on the map, has sent experts in dealing with calamities, as well as money and supplies to the stricken areas. (One Moslem government sent them right home). Right now, thousands of Israelis cannot afford rent, electricity, heating, and food. Even hard working, two income families are struggling to keep their families, fed, clothed and warm.

I understand that on “paper” it is good PR for Jewish organizations and the State of Israel to act generously and unselfishly in helping people outside the community. But seriously, it’s only on paper. Israel has always leapt to the aid of countries like Turkey and Iran when they were hit by earthquakes, but that never stopped UN member nations from condemning Israel for “atrocities” like building a wall so that parents can pick up their kids after school, instead of picking up pieces of their kids from school. Israel’s goodwill gestures to stricken nations hasn’t changed the minds of those who participated in a recent British opinion poll that painted Israel as one of the worst countries on this planet.

How to explain the Jewish people’s pathological need for approval and validation? I once heard that abused children often prefer being with an emotionally abusive parent than with the non-abusive one – the reason is that they desperately want the love and acceptance of the distant parent. And so they try harder, trying to be perfect in every way just to get that elusive pat on the back.

We Jews want so badly to be accepted and embraced by the “good old boys”. And so we bend over backwards and run at every chance to do tikun olam (improve the world). Sadly, most of us haven’t figured out – after thousands of years of Jewish history – that we’re “running on a treadmill” in terms of getting global acceptance. No matter how hard we try, we just don’t get anywhere.

It behooves us to remember the instructions of every conscientious flight attendant: in times of trouble – put your oxygen mask on first, before you help someone else.

Yes, let us help. But at the same time, let’s get our priorities straight.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/helping-yourself-first-is-that-politically-correct/2005/01/12/

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