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January 18, 2017 / 20 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘EMUNAH’

The Mourning Dove Lesson Of Emunah

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

After weathering many decades of freezing winters in Detroit, Leah and her second husband Benyamin retired from their jobs in education and decided to move to sunny, warm Florida. When they moved, they didn’t miss the cold at all, and happily adjusted to their new surroundings, tending to their lovely, flower-filled garden, enjoying their neighbors, community activities, and the wild flocks of birds that rested in their yard during migration seasons.

They proceeded to lead a quiet, private retired life, delighted with visiting children, grandchildren, and eventually great-grandchildren. Soon after one of those family visits, Benyamin, at a routine doctor visit, was startled to be diagnosed with an aggressive cancer. Sure, he had some aches and pains, easily attributed to “aging” – he was, after all, nearly ninety – but the recommended blood tests and exams definitely confirmed cancer. So with his typical “get up and go” positive perspective on life, he was willing to do whatever was the recommended treatment for his medical situation.

The next six months flew by quickly, with some annoyances, some challenges, and eventually some serious decisions of whether or not to continue with chemotherapy and radiation. As time went on, the cancer progressed and he weakened.

Leah and Benyamin were both so used to being independent that Leah did not consider asking anyone for help. She herself assisted Benyamin every day, from morning until evening, and frequently during the night. Weekly calls with her children were still upbeat, though realistic and frank.

“It’s not easy!” “He is getting weaker.” “He’s not feeling too great.”

When Benyamin was niftar at home, in his own bed, Leah called the local chevra kadisha to come aid her. Then she called her children who lived in far-away points of America, Europe and Israel to let them know the news that her husband for nearly forty years had passed away.

Soon after the shiva, when Leah was alone in her home, she heard a knock-knock-knock sound on the living room window. She was startled; after all, she was now living alone, in her eighties, with no one around to help her if trouble was knocking. She wondered who could be there knocking on her window!

Cautiously, she peeked from the hallway towards the living room porch, and there on the window sill was a mourning dove, peeking back at her, “Coo, coo, cooing” softly.

Relieved, she returned to her bedroom. Then she heard that same “tap, tap, tap” knocking sound on the bedroom window… she glanced that way and saw the same mourning dove again, “Coo, coo, cooing” softly.

Bemused, throughout the day, whichever room she entered, the mourning dove appeared, “knocked” again, peered gently at Leah and “Coo, coo, cooed!”

“I’ve never in my life had a mourning dove knock on my window,” she told her daughter Batya over the phone. “I’ve hardly ever seen them in our yard, they aren’t even native to Florida. This has never happened before! What do you think this is all about?”

Batya thought her mother’s story sounded like something she’d read in a Chicken Soup for the Soul book! “Morning doves make a soothing ‘Coo, coo, coo’ sound in the morning, so it probably came to sooth you,” Batya offered. But when her husband, Baruch overheard what she said to her mother, he interjected, “The name mourning dove is spelled with a “u” for mourning, not morning.”

“What? I never knew that. You must be kidding!”

“No, it’s true,” he responded and went to get one of their Torah books about different wildlife.

“Hey Imma, Baruch said that your visitor is known as a ‘mourning’ dove not a ‘morning’ dove. And it says here that the ‘Coo, coo, coo’ sound is almost always sung by the male bird to its life-long mate.”

Fascinated and amazed, Batya read more, “Chazal tell us of the many wonderful qualities which the dove possesses, qualities which are also associated with the Jewish people – and hence the use of the dove as a metaphor for the Jewish people, and a symbol for peace, for shalom.

“Wow, Imma, I can’t believe this! And then it says, ‘In Noach’s ark, when Noach released a dove after the flood to see if there was dry land anywhere, the dove returned with an olive leaf in its beak. This was a special moment, infused with the joy of new life. The dove became a symbol for new beginnings, great expectations and redemption.

“In Shir Hashirim, which describes the special loving relationship between G‑d and His Nation, the dove is an adjective often used to describe the kallah, the Jewish people.

“Imma, I guess Hashem sent you a dove to say hello, so you know that you are never alone and saying goodbye means also starting a new beginning.”

“Just like a dove once she meets her mate never leaves him for another… just as a dove whose fledglings are taken from her nest still doesn’t abandon her nest…, so are the Jewish people faithful to G‑d.” (Midrash Rabbah, Song of Songs 1)

Chava Dumas

The Deeper Dimension Of Passover

Monday, April 14th, 2014

Passover holds many fundamental elements of faith and belief. This is reflected in the mention of the Exodus in the Shema prayer. Yalkut Shimoni (Hosheya Remez 519) comments: “In the merit of emunah [faith] were our ancestors redeemed from Egypt.”

By definition, emunah is required at the point that intellectual grasp stops. How much is the human mind able to grasp of the Divine? One of the principal intellectual proofs for the existence of an Entity beyond the parameters of the universe as we know it is the axiom that “no entity can make itself” (bring itself into a state of existence), the conclusion being that Someone beyond the realm of the universe brought the universe into existence.

This, however, only “proves” His existence but offers no clue as to what He is really about (essential knowledge vs. existential knowledge). All we are doing is extrapolating from the universe, positing that God transcends it but not knowing the nature of His transcendence.

True, we acknowledge that the ability to create ex nihilo can only come from God who has no beginning and no preceding cause. Only He, therefore, can bring about the creation of entities that also have no preceding cause and “potential form” from which they might develop gradually; rather, they radically emerge out of “nothing,” save for the Power bringing them into existence.

Nonetheless, the creative ability is only one of Hashem’s powers. The only access we have to the Creator’s essential transcendence is due to His kindness in activating a process of revelation. The main stage of such Divine revelation took place at Sinai at the giving of the Torah, and subsequently through the prophets of later generations.

This is why we read that “God descended upon the mountain” (Shemos 19:20), indicating that these are reaches unattainable through man’s ascent but only through Divine descent and revelation.

Where does emunah come in? As much as there is a process of revelation, it is still limited to the limited parameters of human intellect and emotions. To go beyond those parameters, one has to rely on emunah, faith and belief in divine axioms that transcend human intellect. Some examples: God’s Unity, His Perfection, and His Incorporating of Opposites (such as infinity and finity).

These matters of belief are spelled out as mitzvot of the Torah, and Jews have explicit emunah and belief in them. However, is it true that a Jew will believe merely because he is commanded to in the mitzvot? Is it fair to blame those who don’t believe, despite having been so commanded?

The answer is that Jews are endowed to naturally believe in these truths. In addition, they have inherited this faith from their ancestors Avraham (known as the rosh, the head, of believers), Yitzchak and Yaakov.

Those who profess not to have this faith suffer from temporary obstacles blocking their access (faith can often be obscured by layers of intellectual trappings). When such Jews are confronted by situations threatening their intrinsic connection to God, this faith will come to the fore in order to overcome such obstacles.

The Exodus was a prelude to the Sinaic Revelation. However, it was for the merit of the intrinsic faith Jews possessed all along during their slavery in Egypt. For God knows the pitfalls of intellect, even when confronted by open, undeniable miracles changing the course of nature. To this day you will find explanations of “natural phenomena” that are thought to have activated the splitting of the Red Sea. Hashem desired that Revelation be coupled with strong, unshakable emunah, which Jews possessed all along, and in that merit they were redeemed.

Once emunah is firmly entrenched, all natural phenomena are viewed differently. Divine providence and intervention, sometimes openly miraculous and many times not, are then perceived and felt in all natural events. All these phases are reactivated every Pesach and our emunah is strengthened anew. May we thereby also soon merit the Geulah Sheleimah through Mashiach.

Rabbi Yeheskel Lebovic

Drip Drip Drippin’ on Heaven’s Door

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

Some songs stick with you for life.

Songs that bring back a flood of memory, emotion and tears from that one time you heard them in a particularly memorable context.

For me, one such song is Ana Bekoach, arranged and sung by Ovadia Hamama.

As Rav Yehuda Amital z”l used to say, “You must sing a nigun again and again, for only then will it drip, drip, drip into your soul.”


We were about to begin another sort of drip, drip, drip with our 12-year-old son, Gilad.

In September 2007, just before Sukkot, a CT scan had revealed a golf-ball-size growth pressing on his small intestine. This had completely blocked the passages, causing him to lose about 15 lbs in 12 days and to vomit anything he tried to eat. It actually reached the stage where he was vomiting green bile.

We were worried. To see your little boy suffering and thinning away day by day, to sense the doctors hesitating to commit to any diagnosis and to conjure up horrific scenarios that all begin with c and end in r.

Our tension rose on Shabbat Chol Hamoed, as the team at Hadassah Har HaTzofim removed the growth, cutting away part of Gilad’s intestine in the process and reattaching the two ends (apparently, the Creator gave us some slack on our intestines – we can live just fine with a few centimeters missing).

We had a week or so to wait for the pathology results as Gilad recovered from the operation. The surgeon and other doctors had expressed optimism and we were happy to defer to their expertise. They were wrong.

The Wednesday after Sukkot, October 10, we were summoned to the Pediatric Hema-Oncology Department at Hadassah Ein Karem, where the Head of Department, Dr. Mickey Weintraub, informed us of the pathology results: Stage 3 abdominal Burkitt’s Lymphoma.

Burkitt’s, although a very aggressive form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, is very curable. However, because it is very aggressive and spreads quickly, the chemo also had to be aggressive and intensive.

We had no time to lose.

First thing next day we were back there for another operation, this time to implant a Hickman Line into Gilad’s chest (a device making it easier to take blood and administer chemotherapy without constantly pricking and poking needles into him), with the first round of chemo to start on Sunday.

It had all happened very quickly, with no time to process the maelstrom of emotions swirling around in my mind. Shock, denial, disbelief, sadness, panic, worry, helplessness, depression, despair, hope, faith, determination, prayer…

Thoughts and nightmares, drip drip drippin’ on Heaven’s door.

I don’t think I ever doubted Gilad would be okay… but of course you can never be sure. Every single miniscule drop of every single chemical, with the exact dosage, has to find its way to exactly the right even-more-miniscule cell at precisely the right time. And all the drips and drops have to work together to kill off any possibility of cancerous cell replication.

However sensitive, skilled and experienced the doctors and nurses may have been, that wasn’t entirely in their hands.

But all that was still ahead of us.

Back to that Thursday night.

After the shock and the running around for bureaucracy’s sake and the operation and the family-and-friends-telling and the phone calls and the emails, I felt a burning need to get away from it all. To slow down. Solitude. Silence.

At onement.

So once we were home – and my wife and kids were all talking in the lounge – I grabbed one of my other kid’s MP3s (a small red one now well out of vogue), opened the back door and, after closing it, went outside to the yard.

Daniel Verbov

EMUNAH’S L.A. Dinner

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

(L-R) Ayala Naor; Naomi Mark; Rivki and Sammy Mark; and Dr. Richie and Ellen Katz.

The Los Angeles Chapter of EMUNAH’s recent gala dinner at the Sephardic Temple in Los Angles featured Eishet Chayil Award recipient Naomi Vanek’s generous donation to refurbish a classroom at the Torah V’Emunah High School in Jerusalem. Keter Shem Tov Award beneficiaries Dr. Richie and Ellen Katz’s donation was earmarked to refurbish and update dental equipment at Achuzat Sarah Children’s Home in Bnei Brak. For their part, Rivki and Sammy Mark bequeathed a garden at the EMUNAH Appleman College of Art and Technology in Jerusalem. On the light side a very humorous video about the awardees, starring the Katzes and Marks, was viewed by the dinner guests.

EMUNAH National President Fran Hirmes updated the attendees on the organization’s activities in Israel. Through the efforts of the dinner chairpersons – Marlene and Gerard Einhorn; Bernice Gelman; Magda and Dr. Harold Katz; Ayala Naor; Eva and Michael Neuman; and Robbie and Sam Swartz – the dinner was very successful. It drew the largest crowd ever for an EMUNAH Los Angles event.

Jeanne Litvin

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/community/west-coast-happenings/emunahs-l-a-dinner/2012/02/15/

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