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July 26, 2016 / 20 Tammuz, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘evil’

What Is God Teaching Me With The Laws Of Kosher?

Monday, July 9th, 2012

Zev Kraut of Pittsburgh, a ninth grade student at the Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh, has been named a Winner of the 2012 OU Kosher Essay Contest for grades 7-12.

What Is God Teaching Me With The Laws Of Kosher?

Since the moment God gave the Torah to the Jewish people, keeping kosher has been an essential part of the Jewish home. Accordingly, the home is an essential part of a Torah lifestyle. What goes on in the home directly affects what goes on in the rest of one’s life. The question is, why kosher? Surely, how one’s parents act, or what one sees on television, are infinitely more effective as an influence on one’s life than keeping kosher. So what is it about kosher that makes a spiritual connection with God? What is God trying to teach me with the laws of kosher?

The Ramban teaches that many of the animals that are not deemed kosher are predators. The reason the Ramban gives for one not being able to eat certain animals is so that one will not absorb the qualities of those animals. For example, a pig rolls around in the mud, which is a filthy characteristic. The Torah gives many commandments telling Jews what should not come out of their mouths. For instance: insults, mockery, slander, and curses. Additionally, keeping kosher is God’s way of telling Jews that there are also certain things that one should not absorb into them as well. Furthermore one should avoid evil influences, evil speech, and certain animals that do not meet the criteria of the character traits of a Torah observant Jew. God gave the Jewish people the Torah, and singled them out as a pure nation. Accordingly, the Jews must eat certain animals that are pure.

From where do we know that certain animals are pure and certain animals are not pure? In the Torah portion known as Noach, when Noach was commanded to put certain animals on his ark, God commanded Noach to put “pure” animals, otherwise known as kosher animals on the ark. God also commanded Noach to put “animals that are not pure” on the ark. The Talmud (Pesachim 3a) points out an oddity in the wording of this story. The Torah used an extra eight letters to voice that the animals were not pure, when instead the Torah could have written “contaminated.” According to the Talmud, the lesson the Torah is teaching, is that one must always speak with pure speech. God designed the Torah to show the Jews how to be holy and pure. The Torah is a book filled with lessons on proper conduct and how to maintain a higher spiritual level than any of the other nations of the world. As the Torah says, “…and to make you high above all nations that He has made, in praise, and in name, and in glory; and that you may be a holy people unto the Lord your God, as He has spoken.” (Devarim 26:19) There is no doubt that kosher fits into that category. When one has a pure mouth what comes out of one’s mouth reflects that. Essentially, every time one eats a bag of potato chips with an OU on it, it is a direct reminder from God to watch your mouth.

God created everything on earth with a purpose. When God created the earth He designated humans as the rulers over the land. Tehillim 115:16, states, “The heavens are the heavens of God, and the land was given to the sons of man.” For most animals we do not know their purpose on earth. Even the great King David once criticized God for creating spiders which David deemed had no purpose. In the end, the spider saved his life while he was running from King Shaul. Anyway, God designated certain animals to be given as sacrifices in the Holy Temple. For instance, cows, sheep and rams. Which means their purpose is, for whatever reason, to be slaughtered.

No need to worry for the animal though, the kosher way to slaughter an animal is the most humane. Anyone who studies the complex laws of kashrus, on how to slaughter an animal will soon realize much of it is done in order to ensure that the animal feels no pain. For instance, in order for the slaughter to be deemed kosher, the knife used for the slaughter must be smooth, free of any nicks. There is no need to be vegetarian. God created meat for us to eat. On Shabbos by eating OU Glatt Kosher meat, we are fulfilling the words of the prophet of Yeshaya who said (Yeshaya 58:13),”…call Shabbos a delight.” According to some halachic authorities, Jews have an obligation to eat meat on Shabbos and Yom Tov. According to Rabi Yehudah Ben Beseirah, in Tractate Pesachim 109a, during a time period in which the Holy Temple is standing, one is required to eat meat in order to fulfill the commandment to rejoice in a festival.

Zev Kraut

I Love All Jews

Sunday, July 8th, 2012

That’s right. I love Jews. All of them. I love good Jews and I love bad Jews. I love fat Jews and I love skinny Jews. I love reform Jews and deformed Jews, progressive Jews and regressive Jews. I love assimilated Jews and Jews who have married gentiles. I love homosexual Jews and lesbian Jews. I love leftist Jews and Peace Now Jews. I love Jews who call me nasty names and Jews who say I’m a lousy writer. I even love Diaspora Jews. Some people say I’m too hard on them, but that’s because I love them so much. If you see a blind man about to fall off a cliff, you yell out to warn him, right? What is this similar to? If a person who never heard about heart transplants wandered into the operating room of a hospital and saw a team of doctors removing the heart of a patient, he’d think they were monsters trying to kill him – but the very opposite is the case. The surgeons are trying to save him. It’s the same thing with me. Precisely out of the passionate love I feel for my brothers and sisters in exile, I am trying to open their eyes. I lived in exile in gentile lands too, and I know what it’s like. Living in Israel, you can’t even begin to measure the difference. Jewish life in a foreign, gentile land cannot be compared to true Jewish life in the Land of the Jews. It’s the difference between night and day.

Since the Three Weeks have started when we mourn the destruction of Jerusalem and the Beit HaMikdash, this is a good time to stir up the embers of the love we feel for our fellow Jews. Rabbi Kook taught that since the Beit HaMikdash was destroyed because of senseless hatred, it will be rebuilt by gratuitous love. So to help get us started, here are a few things Rabbi Kook wrote about love, from the chapter on Ahavah, in his book “Midot HaRiyah.”

“The heart must be filled with love for all: for all of Creation, for all mankind, and, in ascending order, for the Jewish People, in which all other loves are included, since it is the mission of Israel to bring all the world to perfection. All of these loves are to be expressed in practical action, by pursuing the welfare of those whom we are bidden to love, and to seek their betterment and advancement.”

“The highest love of all is the love of G-d. When it fills the heart, this spells man’s greatest happiness. Consequently, one cannot help but love the Torah and its commandments, which are so intimately linked to the goodness of G-d.”

“Love must embrace every single individual, regardless of differences in views on religion, or differences of race or country. A person must discipline himself in the love of all people, especially the love of the noblest among them, the intellectuals, the poets, the artists, the communal leaders. It is necessary to recognize that light of the good in the best of the people, for it is through them that the light of God is diffused in the world, whether they recognize the significance of their mission or not.

“Hatred may be directed only toward the evil and filth in the world. We must realize that the kernel of life, in its inherent light and holiness, never leaves the divine image in which mankind was created, and with which each person and nation is endowed.”

“Though our love for people must be all-inclusive, embracing the wicked as well, this in no way blunts our hatred for evil itself – on the contrary, it strengthens it. For it is not because of the dimension of evil clinging to a person that we include him in our love, but because of the good in him, which our love tells us is to be found in everyone. Since we separate the dimension of the good in him, in order to love him for it, our hatred for the evil becomes unwavering and absolute.”

“It is proper to hate a corrupt person only for his defects, but insofar as he is endowed with a divine image, it is proper to love him. We must also realize that the precious dimension of his worth is a more authentic expression of his nature than the lower characteristics that developed in him through circumstances.”

Tzvi Fishman

Former PM Shamir Remembered For Saying Little, Standing Strong

Wednesday, July 4th, 2012

WASHINGTON – When Yitzhak Shamir was Israel’s prime minister, he liked to point American visitors to a gift he received upon his retirement after many years serving in the Mossad, Israel’s intelligence service.

It was a depiction of the famed three monkeys: See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.

“He didn’t say anything,” recalled Dov Zakheim, then a deputy undersecretary of defense in the Reagan administration. “He just smiled broadly.”

Shamir, who died Saturday at 96, had the reputation of a man who said the most when he said nothing at all, his American interlocutors recalled. He used that reticence to resist pressure from the George H.W. Bush administration to enter into talks with the Palestinians and other Arab nations.

“He was the most underrated politician of our time,” Zakheim said. “He sat on the fence on issues until the fence hurt.”

Shamir’s willfulness was borne of the conviction that his Likud Party’s skepticism of a permanent peace with the Arabs represented the majority view in Israel, and that the world had to reconcile itself to this outlook, said Steve Rosen, who dealt with Shamir as the foreign policy chief for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

“He would argue that the world will never prefer us – the Likud – over Labor, but when the world sees that we are the Israeli majority, they will have to deal with us,” Rosen said. “We will not succeed in being more popular than the others, but we are right.” There was inevitably a personal element to his clashes with the elder President George Bush, said Zakheim.

“He had his difficulties with the United States in part because he came from such a different place than George H.W. Bush,” he said. “One was a product of old-time Jewish Lithuania whose father was shot in the face by the neighbor when he was looking for protection from the Nazis, the other was an aristocrat. Since most relations at that level are personal, that always complicated matters.”

His detractors, while praising Shamir’s patriotism, also fretted that his steadfastness cost Israel during his terms as prime minister.

Douglas Bloomfield, in 1988 the director of AIPAC’s legislative arm, recalled in his weekly column how Shamir, then the prime minister, was blindsided by President Ronald Reagan’s decision in his administration’s closing days to recognize the reviled Palestine Liberation Organization.

“The premier’s chief of staff immediately phoned his contacts on Capitol Hill urging them to ‘start a firestorm of opposition’ to block the move,” Bloomfield wrote. “It was too late. Too many members of Congress shared the Reagan administration’s frustration with what they considered Shamir’s intransigence and did not seriously object when Reagan decided to recognize the PLO on his way out the door as a favor to his successor.”

During his tenure, Shamir clashed with much of American Jewry when he flirted with changing the Law of Return to define Jews according to strictly halachic terms to satisfy potential Orthodox coalition partners, and also because of his insistence on settlement expansion.

Rabbi Eric Yoffie, the immediate past president of the Union for Reform Judaism, said Shamir – unlike other contemporaries like Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres and Ariel Sharon – had little experience with or understanding of American Jews.

“Shamir was a whole different story, these weren’t issues he cared about at all,” recalled Yoffie, who at the time Shamir was prime minister headed ARZA, the Reform movement’s Zionist wing. “He had no experience with them, he had far less contact with American Jewry, it wasn’t part of his background, he didn’t spend a lot of time here giving speeches.”

Yitzhak Shamir

Shamir was a politician dedicated to advancing his principal goal, which was maintaining Israeli control of the lands won in the 1967 Six-Day War, Yoffie said; when reaching out to the Orthodox advanced that goal, he did so, and when backing away from changing the Law of Return made more sense in order to preserve the alliance with U.S. Jews, he did that too.

“When he realized there would be this profound breach, he backed away,” Yoffie said. “When you’re a hardheaded realist and Greater Israel is your goal, you need allies.”

Ron Kampeas

The Mouse Made Me Do It!

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

I was informed that a giant billboard has been put up on the Brooklyn side of the Belt Parkway leading toward Manhattan warning people to guard their eyes as they enter the Sodom and Gomorrah of the Big Apple. Apparently it’s the initiative of pious Ultra Orthodox Jews in their continuing battle against the very real dangers of immodesty which surround us everywhere, now more than ever because of the Internet.

In his book, Nefesh HaChaim, Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin explains that each and every Jew is a miniature Mishkan (Tabernacle), connecting us to all of the highest spiritual worlds of the universe (Nefesh HaChaim, Gate One, Ch. 4, Addendum).

Because of this Divine connection, a Jew has to live with the moment-by-moment recognition that all of his thoughts, words, and doings have profound cosmic influence, for good, and for evil. As the Nefesh HaChaim makes clear:

“A man of Israel must understand, know, and establish in his mind and heart that every detail of his deeds, speech, and thoughts, at every second and time, all rise up according to their root source to influence the most exalted worlds. When a wise person recognizes this truth, his heart will greatly tremble in the face of his wrongdoings, realizing the awesome and devastating damage that even a small transgression can cause, even more than the destruction wrought by Nebuchadnezzar and Titus.

“For their deeds had no damaging effect on the upper worlds, for they have no portion or root source in those worlds that would enable them to cause damage there. Rather, it was our sins that polluted the celestial Temple, so to speak, and that gave Nebuchadnezzar and Titus the power to destroy the Sanctuary below…. Therefore, when a man entertains an impure, licentious thought in his heart, God forbid, he in effect brings a prostitute into the most exalted, celestial Holy of Holies, giving strength to the forces of impurity and evil in this transcendently holy place, to a much greater extent than the impurity caused by Nebuchadnezzar and Titus when they brought a prostitute into the Holy of Holies in the Temple sanctuary on earth.”

The fire that destroyed the Temple started in our hearts and our minds. Every time a person watches pornography on the Internet, he is adding flames to the conflagration that is still burning in the Heavenly Mikdash, thus preventing the Temple’s rebuilding. When he gazes at erotic images, he causes the exile of the Shechinah (Divine Presence) from within his own miniature Mishkan, thus adding to the prolongation of the Shechinah’s exile from the world. You may think that your erotic interludes are your own private affair, but the very opposite is true. Every time a Jew watches something immodest on the Internet, his fantasies and lustful thoughts pollute not only himself, but his family, his neighborhood, all of the Jewish People, and all of Creation! You have to ask yourself – is this something you want to do? In addition, don’t think yourself such a hero, that you can look at whatever you please without falling. If you feel this way, you’ve already fallen. Samson and King Shlomo were also convinced they could control their yetzer, and look what happened to them.

Remember, you’re being filmed! One must live with the awareness that God is always with us, wherever we are, outside on the street, and in every room of our homes. Just as a person wouldn’t watch pornography while someone else was watching, all the more so when he is aware that the King of kings is observing all of his deeds. Imagine that a camera was recording your every move on the computer – would you still click on immodest sites? Would you still go astray after your eyes if you knew that a video of your doings was going to be posted on Youtube for the world to see? You may not be caught in This World, but up in the big Movie Theater in the sky, when you come before the Heavenly Tribunal, your Youtube history is going to be presented on the Big Screen for all of the Celestial Judges to see.

It should be noted that the Torah prohibition, “Thou shall not follow after your heart and your eyes which cause you to stray after them,” which appeared in the Torah portion last Shabbat, applies to looking at immodest images of all types, whether it be girls in bikinis, lingerie ads, models on the runway, as well as porn. The damage it causes to the Jewish soul is the same for looking at any of them. If you find yourself tempted, remind yourself that it’s more harmful than eating pork!

Tzvi Fishman

So What To Do? A Year After the Fogel Family Massacre

Monday, June 18th, 2012

Just over a year ago two Arab men broke into a settlement called Itamar and slaughtered the Fogel family. Among those slaughtered there was an eleven month old girl. As is the custom in Israel, a group of volunteers from “ZAKA” was called to the place of the incident. An explanation for those unfamiliar with ZAKA: It is an organization that has committed itself “to rescue when it is possible to rescue and to pay the last homage when it is impossible to rescue,” as its motto proudly declares. Almost all ZAKA members are observant Jews, which makes sense: the need to rescue is quite rational, while the need to collect all body parts of those killed is not. When I was a boy I used to spend hours at a huge wasteland plot in Kharkov with my friends, and we often stumbled upon the unburied remains of World War II combatants and victims. I would venture a guess that they have not been identified and buried up till now, for the Soviet power abolished both God and respect for the dead. But I digress. Among the ZAKA volunteers at the scene in Itamar was a friend of mine, Professor Firer, Head of Department of Chemical Technology. Michael Firer is a battle-hardened soldier and no novice in ZAKA, a man with a lot of nerve. But what he saw in Itamar plunged him into a deep depression – the bestiality of what happened in Itamar was more than a human mind can take. The assassins were arrested and today their lawyer claims in Israeli court that they are victims of Israeli occupation.

My employer, which somewhat bombastically calls itself the Ariel University Center, is situated mere kilometers off the site of the tragedy. Quite a few people knew the Fogel family – they were charming people who devoted all their spare time to their children, as becomes a true Jewish family. I also knew the Fogels – my daughter went to school with one of the girls who survived by miracle. The next day, children in Gaza got candy “in honor of the great victory of the Palestine Liberation Movement.” For my part, I was scrutinizing the reactions of the Jewish students – there was not even one incident of an outburst of hatred towards their Arab classmates, who made up quite a noticeable part of my students’ body. Had such an incident happened, the college management would have suppressed it without mercy.

The Tolstovian title of the article may seem a mockery in the context of the story I have told, though I am not intending “to pummel Leo Tolstoy’s dead body,” as Merab Mamardashvilly used to say, but nevertheless, this title was not a random choice. Had Tolstoy heard about this insanity, he would have advised to forgive the murderers, as a good Christian should, and let them go. Being neither a Tolstovian nor even a Christian, I do not find it possible to agree with this solution. As I see it, absence of hate is the highest virtue that can be demanded of a human being in these circumstances. It seems incredible, but it is true: there is little hate towards Arabs in Israel, and if xenophobia bursts out into the surface, it is harshly condemned. Arabs walk about in Ariel and on the campus feeling perfectly safe, while my visit to a neighboring Arab village would be without any doubt my end, and in the best case, I would be neatly wrapped in plastic bags and thrown over Ariel’s fence. Lack of symmetry is clearly evident.

OK, I am an occupier living “over the green line,” but even Israeli police (!) are afraid to enter the Arab villages within the 1967 borders, so what can be said about ordinary Israelis? Everyone, including those who deny it, knows it. Not long ago a naïve Israeli bought a house in an Arab village, assuming, not without grounds, that the law in a democratic country would protect him from his neighbors’ possible assaults. Well, it did not. He could not safely and peaceably live in the Arab village and he did not get his money back.

An even more surprising fact is the absence of hate towards Russia. Russia has stuffed the most abhorrent Arab regimes with modern weapons that have killed thousands of Israelis. There has not been an anti-Israeli UN resolution that Russia has not signed with enthusiasm. Russia remains Arab countries’ best friend under both socialism and capitalism, or whatever the brand of “-ism” that has grown there should be called. This is a political world, constant, as in physics. It would be logical to expect anti-Russian moods in Israel, but there are none. And I believe that the reasons for this are very deep. Judaism has always been a tribal, even a family religion. Israel is actually Jacob’s enlarged family. Judaism has never recruited proselytes nor has it claimed to be a universal religion. Jews always looked with some compassion and disbelief at their neighbors who did not know the true God and were able to be consumed by something outside true faith. Hatred, on the other hand, when put at the corner stone, forms a stable and pernicious symbiosis with the world rule idea. This idea is like cancer: the tumors of National Socialism and world revolution can be resected, but then the metastasis of Islamic globalism spreads. Even though we have never sought either Christian infants’ blood or world dominion, this is what we have always been suspected of.

Prof. Edward Bormashenko

J.E. Dyer: Ronald Reagan, 1982 – “A Test of Wills and Ideas, a Trial of Spiritual Resolve”

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

Thirty years ago, on 8 June 1982, President Ronald Reagan addressed the British House of Commons, giving a speech that has since become one of his most famous.  In it, he proclaimed that “the march of freedom and democracy … will leave Marxism-Leninism on the ash heap of history, as it has left other tyrannies which stifle the freedom and muzzle the self-expression of the people.”

On this anniversary of that seminal speech, it’s worth taking a few minutes to review its quintessential Reaganisms.  Chief among them is his optimism – not a ditsy, foolish optimism, but a considered optimism about the biggest of things: the course of history and man’s future.

Equally important is his vision, which is part and parcel of the optimism.  Out of all of the Cold War’s premier analysts, Reagan was virtually the only one who foresaw the imminent end of Soviet communism, and who could utter this line in 1982:  “It may not be easy to see; but I believe we live now at a turning point.”  We were living at a turning point, and it was the one Reagan described in his next lines:

We are witnessing today a great revolutionary crisis, a crisis where the demands of the economic order are conflicting directly with those of the political order. But the crisis is happening not in the free, non-Marxist West but in the home of Marxism- Leninism, the Soviet Union.

“Democracy,” he said, “is proving itself to be a not at all fragile flower.”

A third and very important Reaganism is his willingness to identify evil and speak about it without demur.  The House of Commons speech mirrors in tone Reagan’s 4 March 1983 speech to the National Association of Evangelicals, in which he spoke this remarkable sentence:

[L]et us be aware that while [the Soviets] preach the supremacy of the state, declare its omnipotence over individual man, and predict its eventual domination of all peoples on the Earth, they are the focus of evil in the modern world.

Ideological statism is not a mere cultural alternative; it is absolutely evil.  Reagan had no doubt of what was right and wrong in this regard:  “It would be cultural condescension, or worse,” he said, “to say that any people prefer dictatorship to democracy.”

But Reagan’s refusal to gloss over evil never produced discouraging rhetoric.  It was always accompanied by a hard-nosed optimism about what was good in the Western culture of freedom and restraints on the state.  The contrast he invariably made, as in this speech, was between the power and effectiveness of human freedom, on the one hand, and the sclerotic, overstretched unsustainability of despotism on the other.  He knew, long before we began speaking of it today, that all attempts to put the people under harness and dictate to them the features of their lives end in oppression, poverty, and despair.

The political particulars of this next passage may have changed over time, but the underlying sense of it resonates today:

If history teaches anything, it teaches self-delusion in the face of unpleasant facts is folly. We see around us today the marks of our terrible dilemma–predictions of doomsday, antinuclear demonstrations, an arms race in which the West must, for its own protection, be an unwilling participant. At the same time we see totalitarian forces in the world who seek subversion and conflict around the globe to further their barbarous assault on the human spirit. What, then, is our course? Must civilization perish in a hail of fiery atoms? Must freedom wither in a quiet, deadening accommodation with totalitarian evil?

To both of those questions, Reagan’s answer was no.

Reagan’s address to the House of Commons

8 June 1982

We’re approaching the end of a bloody century plagued by a terrible political invention — totalitarianism. Optimism comes less easily today, not because democracy is less vigorous, but because democracy’s enemies have refined their instruments of repression. Yet optimism is in order because day by day democracy is proving itself to be a not at all fragile flower. From Stettin on the Baltic to Varna on the Black Sea, the regimes planted by totalitarianism have had more than thirty years to establish their legitimacy. But none — not one regime — has yet been able to risk free elections. Regimes planted by bayonets do not take root.

J. E. Dyer

The Earthquake (Part III)

Monday, June 11th, 2012

As Zemira threw herself (and her infant), into the path of the king’s carriage, the crowd shrieked. Hastily, the driver reined the horses up sharply, and the hoofs of the lead horse stopped barely inches from where she lay.

The king, seeing the drama unfolding before his very eyes, leaped from the carriage and, in a moment, was at Zemira’s side.

“What is wrong, my daughter? Why did you throw yourself and your child before my horses?’

Zemira raised her tear stained face and looked into the eyes of the king: “Your Majesty, your servants have taken my husband, the gentlest man who ever lived, and brought him to the dungeons. They have accused him of the most terrible of crimes and say that they will sever his head. You must help me to save him.”

When the king learned who her husband was, he looked at her sadly and said: “My dear young maiden, I wish that I could help you, but if your husband is the criminal you speak of there is nothing to do, for he is indeed guilty of all the crimes with which he has been charged.”

“To begin with, his name is not, as you think, Avinadav the son of Uzziel from Hebron, but rather Raamyah, the son of Yaktan. He left his father’s home and joined a band of robbers who plundered and stole….”

But Zemira would not allow the king to finish his words and she interrupted him saying, “Be that as it may, I beg you to allow me to see my husband in his dungeon and comfort him in his last days on this earth before his execution.”

“Your request is granted,” replied the king.

Zemira Sees Her Husband

The day after the festival of Sukkos, Zemira was brought to the dungeons, the last resting place of the condemned man before execution.

She was taken to her husband’s cell. When she saw his gaunt and sad face, she burst into tears.

“Do not weep, Zemira,” he cried. “Forget me for I have shamed you and tricked you and brought disgrace unto you and your father’s house forever.”

“I will not forget you ever, for you are the husband of my youth,” declared Zemira.

The Husband’s Story

When the husband saw that nothing that he could say would shake his wife, he turned to her and said: “Let me tell you the story of my sad life so that it may be a lesson to you so that you may raise our dear child to be a lover of Torah and the way of G-d.

“My father was an officer in the army and he was rarely home. Consequently, he turned me over to my mother to raise me and guide me in life.

“My mother loved me deeply and taught me to walk in the ways of the L-rd. Thus, the first 15 years of my life were spent in joy and tranquility.

“Alas, when I was 15 years old my beloved mother passed away and my father eventually married a second woman who was as evil as my mother was good. She hated me and made my life one of torture and suffering.

“Because of this I wandered about and found friends who also came from unhappy homes and I began to run with them. My stepmother told my father that I was becoming friendly with these boys and he forbade me to see them. I was very frightened of my father and I, of course, obeyed, but this was not enough for my stepmother. She continued to tell my father lies about me until one day she demanded that either she or I leave the house.

“My father was under her influence and so he drove me from my house. Where could I go if not to the friends that I had made?”

The Influence

“My friends were delighted. One day they said, ‘We have heard that there are bands of men who roam the countryside secretly and who fall upon wealthy merchants and take their money and property. Why shouldn’t we do the same?’

“At first I refused to even listen to them and when they saw this they left me and went to join the bandits themselves. I was left alone in the city until the pangs of hunger seized me and I decided that there was nothing left for me but to go join my friends in their fields.

Rabbi Sholom Klass

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