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January 23, 2017 / 25 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘faith’

The Tamar Yonah Show – Lies & Faith [audio]

Thursday, January 12th, 2017

A day after the terror attack in Jerusalem with 4 dead and more wounded, where are all the facebook posts from people worldwide identifying with Israel? And where are our politicians and leadership when parents are burying their dead children who were army cadets?
Paul Miller, director of www.SalomonCenter.org joins Tamar and gives his take on the situation. And afterwards, Rabbi Lazer Brody from www.LazerBrody.net joins Tamar to talk about ‘keeping the faith’ even when bad things happen to good people.

Tamar Yonah Show 09Jan2017 – PODCAST

Israel News Talk Radio

Soul Talk – Living & Loving Our Faith In The Midst Of Doubt [audio]

Monday, January 9th, 2017

Even as a religiously observant, G-d believing individual, there are times that I struggle with my faith. How can I maintain my commitment to G-d amidst these struggles? What should I do with questions that threaten to undermine my faith? What does it really mean to have faith in G-d?

Join Rabbi David Aaron and Leora Mandel as we delve into the nuances of faith and doubt and strengthen your own understanding of these fundamental principles.

We welcome your questions and comments: soultalk@israelnewstalkradio.com

Soul Talk 08Jan2017 – PODCAST

Israel News Talk Radio

President Rivlin Asking Jewish, Muslim Faith Leaders to Heal Muezzin Rift

Tuesday, November 29th, 2016

President Reuven Rivlin on Tuesday morning hosted a meeting of Jewish and Muslim leaders in Israel, in an effort to resolve the debate surrounding the proposed bill prohibiting muezzin calls from 11 PM to 7 AM.

“In our lives together there are issues which are very close to the hearts of many of the residents of this country,” the president told his guests, noting that “Jerusalem has always brought together the various voices, the Jewish prayers with the Muezzin’s call to prayer along with the Church bells.”

“I am the son of a man who translated the Quran and observed the Jewish commandments, and I recognize the need to tread a fine line,” President Rivlin said. As such, he endeavored “to sit and speak with you in order to see if there is a way to tread this line even when there are conflicts. I thought that perhaps such a meeting could have an impact on the whole public, and that it would be a shame that a law should be born which touches on the issue of freedom of faith of a specific group among us. Perhaps the voices heard today can be used to pave the way.”

Rabbi Aryeh Stern, the Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, told the meeting: “I see the need for a joint call for dialogue, which should be issued by the highest Jewish and Muslim religious leadership in the country – and which in turn will possibly pull the rug from under the need for such a bill to be passed. I think it should be a joint call, which on the one hand will stop the legislation itself and on the hand will deal with the places where the volume of the muezzin is an issue.”

President of the Islamic Sharia Court Sheikh Abdel al-Hakim Samara stressed that “through an agreement and discussion we can reach solutions wherever the loudspeakers are a problem. Once the law goes through without us attempting to resolve the issue through dialogue, it causes us to feel that our freedoms are vulnerable. Solutions can be achieved even without the threat of the law looming over our heads. We all agree there is a need to lower the volume in problematic areas and we will act to ensure this, regardless of the law.”

Rabbi Yosef Yashar, Chief Rabbi of Acre, shared his experience of coexistence in his mixed city, saying, “I want to tell you the story of Acre – a city where Arabs and Jews live together as a fact. For years now we have been doing fieldwork in terms of dialogue. This way has proven itself. It is s not without problems, but we are talking.”

“Can I say that it is easy? It is not easy,” he continued. “Can I say that there is no hatred? There is hatred. But we’re talking. We are in contact. I do not make them Zionists or Jews and nor does the opposite happen. The dialogue has proven itself. We, too, have experienced acts of provocation in increasing the volume in defiance, but we have talked, we realized the problems and solved them. The problem can be overcome with dialogue and I invite everyone to come and see how it happens on the ground. Dialogue is stronger than legislation. We still have a lot of problems that revolve around coexistence but they will not be resolved with legislation.”

Sheikh Mohammed Ciooan, Head of the Imam’s organization which represents around 400 Imams, told the participants, “Human dignity should guide us. We’ll watch over each other. We are connected to each other, we have no other choice and I hope we can reach an agreement through talks, without such laws. We have already made a public request to lower the volume in all the communities involved. It will be difficult for us to accept and deal with such a law. We have one destiny and one future. We will continue to act to correct this, through our communities, we will bring engineers that will check everything and we will issue a call to all worshipers to work for consideration and decrease the volume anywhere that constitutes a problem.”

David Israel

How Deep Is Our Faith?

Friday, October 28th, 2016

Editor’s Note: Rebbetzin Jungreis, a”h, is no longer with us in a physical sense, but her message is eternal and The Jewish Press will continue to present the columns that for more than half a century have inspired countless readers around the world.

 * * * * *

A young lady once came to see me with a devastating problem. When, among other things, I recommended that she turn to Hashem and follow the formula of teshuvah, tefillah, and tzedakah, she smiled indulgently and said, “Rebbetzin, I need real help, real solutions.”

For a moment, I was astonished. She was an observant woman – how could she have made such a statement? “Can there be any more real solution than the help of G-d?” I challenged.

To what extent do we really believe that Hashem can intercede and resolve our problems? How deep is our faith?

We are beset by so many difficulties, trials, and tribulations, be they personal or national. Our problems are huge, but we are short on faith.

So many of us are struggling financially and have difficulty just putting bread on the table.

So many of us are combating debilitating illness. The Malach HaMaves, the Angel of Death, does not discriminate. He makes his visits unannounced and the young and the elderly are equally vulnerable.

Our families are suffering from internal strife. Children are estranged from their parents and parents from their children, husbands from their wives and wives from their husbands and siblings from one another. Who is not familiar with such tragic stories?

As if that is not enough, we have to struggle with the shidduch crisis in our community– singles who just can’t marry. Sadly, I met some of these singles twenty and thirty years ago and today they are still single, still looking.

Who is not aware of all this? Who does not know the pain? Yet inexplicably, we don’t seem to get it.

When things are going well, when Hashem relates to us through His attribute of mercy and His blessings abound, we must be ever on guard not to take His gifts for granted, not to delude ourselves into believing that it is “Our might, our strength, our cunning, that is responsible for our success.”

On the other hand, when G-d speaks to us through His attribute of Justice, when we experience His disciplinary rod, we must remember the passage “And you shall know with your heart that, even as a father admonishes his children, so G-d, your Father, admonishes you.”

We are like children at the dinner table who “act out” and are reprimanded by their parents and ordered to their rooms. So too does our Father order us to our rooms.

There are two reactions children have under such circumstances.

There are those who will go to their rooms sulking, angrily muttering to themselves, “I don’t care. I hate you all! I’ll run away.” They slam the door, kick the furniture, and become destructive. To be sure, they may cry, but their tears are tears of indignation rather than contrition for they are convinced they have been treated unfairly.

When they do eventually emerge from isolation and are asked if they’re sorry, they’ll grudgingly say, “Okay, I’m sorry.” But their voices, their manner, make it quite clear that they are not sorry at all, and their words are mere lip service, meant to mollify the parent.

On the other hand, when a child, after being sent to his room, emerges and sincerely begs forgiveness, he will be embraced with love, seated at the table, and served his favorite dishes.

This illustration demonstrates our contemporary dilemma. How do we react when our Heavenly Father sends us away from the table? Do we respond like petulant children or do we return to our Father’s table with contrite, loving hearts? When difficult days befall us, do we feel self-righteous indignation and anger? Do we feel we have been treated unjustly, or do we return to our Heavenly Father in humility, prayer, and love?

Overwhelming problems can be analogous to boiling water. When you place a carrot into boiling water, it disintegrates into mush. When you do the same with an egg, it becomes hard and tough. But when you place coffee or tea into boiling water, it is transformed into a delicious drink.

This, then, is the option we all have: we can collapse and disintegrate like the carrot; we can become hard and tough like the egg, or we can take our boiling water and convert it into something positive – a delicious drink.

That is the option that stands before us. When confronted by overwhelming problems, when the water is boiling, we can fall apart like the carrot and become depressed – but that will not benefit anyone. Worse, it will consume and destroy us.

We can become tough like hard-boiled eggs; cynical, bitter, and angry like those petulant children. Once again, a self-destructive response that will only alienate us from others and from our true selves.

Or we can become like coffee or tea and convert our boiling hot water into something that can be tasty and nourishing for us as well as for others. We can look upon our problems as challenges, as opportunities for growth, and convert our negatives into positives, our liabilities into assets, and our shortcomings into strengths.

Yes, if we know how to listen, we can realize our full potential as Jews and return to our Heavenly Father and our Torah way of life. Our history demonstrates that there is no difficulty, no obstacle, we cannot overcome when we become one with our G-d. We need only allow the light of Hashem to lead us.

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Parshas Reeh: Give With Faith

Friday, September 2nd, 2016

The mitzvah of giving charity is one of the hallmarks of Judaism. The number of charitable organizations members of our community have formed and the donors who support them are a testament to our dedication to helping our brethren. But even greater than how much we give is how we give it. A Jew must do his utmost to ensure that the recipient does not feel shamed or embarrassed for his neediness. As we say in Shabbos davening, “Who is like Your people Israel, one nation in the land?”

If there shall be a destitute person among you… you shall not harden your heart or close your hand against your destitute brother… You shall surely give him, and let your heart not feel bad when you give him, for it is because of this matter that Hashem, your G-d, will bless you in all your deeds and in your every undertaking” (Devarim 15:7-8).

The Sages constantly stressed the tremendous importance and merit involved in giving charity:

  1. We are obligated to be careful in regards to the mitzvah of charity, more so than any other obligatory mitzvah… The throne of Israel is not prepared, and the law of truth does not stand except with charity… Israel will not be redeemed except with charity… (Rambam, Matnos Aniyim 10:1).
  1. The mitzvah of charity is tantamount to all other mitzvos (Bava Basra 9a).
  1. One is obligated to give charity with joy and a good heart (Sefer HaChinuch, mitzvah 479).
  1. One who gives charity with a doleful face loses his merit (Rambam, Matnos Aniyim 4).
  1. We do not recite a blessing when giving charity because we are obligated to give joyfully and most people lack that level of joy and enthusiasm when giving (Meor V’shmesh, Parshas Pinchas).

Why is this mitzvah so valuable that it is equal to all other mitzvos? Also, why are there so many nuances and additives involved in giving charity? Isn’t it hard enough to give up one’s hard-earned money? Why should one be obliged to give joyfully?

Nesivos Sholom explains that charity is not merely about giving away money. The ability to give away one’s own resources in order to help another must be rooted in faith in G-d. If one truly believes that he will get whatever he is destined to receive from G-d (as long as he does his part) it will be far easier for him to give.

This idea is expressed in the Mishna: “Rabi Elazar of Bartosa said: Give Him from His own, for you and what is yours are His” (Avos 3:18). Whenever a person gives charity he is essentially giving back to G-d what is His. G-d ensures that money and resources are granted to whomever He deems should have them. Our role in giving charity is the opportunity to overcome our nature and receive merit and reward for taking part in G-d’s Work, as it were. But in the end, our actions and efforts notwithstanding, every penny only ends up where, and with whom, G-d wants. This attitude and mindset is an integral part of giving charity.

A person who gives charity dolefully or begrudgingly demonstrates that his faith is somewhat wanting and he has not fully fulfilled the mitzvah of giving charity. On the other hand, a person who is able to feel joy when giving demonstrates that his faith in G-d is strong. Such a person has essentially achieved the underlying goal of all mitzvos, i.e. to fulfill the Word of G-d by subjugating ourselves to His Will and demonstrating our faith in Him. Therefore, when fulfilled properly, the mitzvah of giving charity is equivalent to all other mitzvos.

Every Jew is innately kindhearted and benevolent. It is part of our genetic makeup, dating back to our patriarch Avrohom. But there are certain Jews who dedicate their lives to being charitable and helping others. The truest level of chessed is accomplished by one who seeks to help others altruistically, for the sole purpose of being a giver.

The great chassidic master, Reb Mendel of Rimanov, was once learning with his students when he was interrupted by an impoverished individual begging for charity. The man appeared bedraggled and disheveled, his clothing was torn, and his face looked gaunt. Reb Mendel immediately turned to his gabbai and instructed him to go into his private room and take a gold coin from his coat to give to the poor man. When the poor man received the sparkling and expensive coin, his face lit up. He thanked the Rebbe profusely and left in a state of great joy.

Reb Mendel immediately resumed his studies. But about five minutes later he stopped again. After a moment of silence, the Rebbe again called over his gabbai. He asked him to please hurry and find the poor man who had just left his home and ask him to return immediately. The gabbai rushed out and soon found the poor man wandering through the market place, apparently trying to decide the best way to spend the generous donation he had just received. When the poor man heard that the Rebbe wanted him to return he looked crestfallen. He was certain that the Rebbe realized that he had given him too much and wanted to exchange it for a silver coin.

The poor man begrudgingly made his way back to the Rebbe, his eyes downcast. But as soon as he walked in, the Rebbe apologized for bothering him to return and handed him a second gold coin. The poor man was beside himself with joy and confusion. “Holy Rebbe, if the Rebbe had intended to give me such a magnanimous donation in the first place why didn’t the Rebbe just do so?”

Reb Mendel explained, “When I originally gave you the gold coin it was given wholeheartedly. However, after you left I realized that I had really given it to you out of compassion. I felt pained by your appearance and was struck by pangs of compassion. That would mean that I had given the coin to you in order to assuage my conscience.

Rabbi Dani Staum

Unshakable Faith

Thursday, August 25th, 2016

The year was 1909 and my grandmother, Perel Tunis, ob”m, was expecting a baby at the age of 35. The doctors told Grandma that carrying a child at such an “old age” would put her life in danger but Grandma believed that G-d should be the one to decide her fate. With unshakable faith, she told the doctors that if G-d wanted her to live, she would and if not, G-d forbid, she wouldn’t, but she felt strongly that she would indeed give birth and it would be to a son, who would be in her words, “the best one of them all!”

Grandma’s belief was, thank G-d, fulfilled. She gave birth to my father, ob”m, Avraham Moonish (Manny) the baby, an only son, because her other little boy, Henoch, passed away, unfortunately, at a very young age.

Daddy had the most amazing sense of humor. He used to joke that his four older sisters were so busy fighting amongst themselves that they had no time to give him any grief!

When he was 11, his oldest sister took him aside and informed him that as the only son, he would be responsible for supporting Grandpa and Grandma in their old age.

He most certainly fulfilled his parental obligations but this did not keep him from being a fun-loving kid!

He loved to take bread and butter sandwiches out to the fire escape so he could read to his heart’s content.

A teenage athlete of some note, Daddy was excellent at track and handball. However as Sabbath-observant Jews, Grandpa Tzvi forbid Daddy from participating in a track meet scheduled to take place on Shabbos.

­It is not surprising therefore, that Daddy was an amazing dancer.

When my parents married off their last child, my younger sister Civi, we honored them by performing a dance especially for them. After we finished dancing, Daddy, already in his 70’s, proceeded to dance in front of Civi and Jeff! The photographer captured the shock and delight of the onlookers who clapped their hands in time to Daddy’s agile steps!

Daddy loved to write poetry as well. One of his pieces was published in The New York Herald Tribune newspaper.

But most importantly to us, Daddy, an accountant, was as honest as they come.

He and my mother were on the same page, when it came to believing that Hashem sees everything one does every moment of the day. One must be honest and straight in business dealings and in any interchange involving another person, no matter what his color or creed.

Daddy was disturbed to have found many errors in the (accounting) books of the company where he was working. He felt a sense of pride in knowing that he saved the company a good sum of money when he straightened things out.

But most importantly, Daddy’s insured that a minyan was available especially if there was a mourner who was required to say kaddish.

His resolve in this respect would come into play the very last time that I saw him.

It was a hot Friday afternoon. Daddy and Mommie had done their monthly shopping in Brooklyn and afterwards came over to see their pride and joy: their grandkids. Daddy had just resumed driving after having undergone cataract surgery. He had also undergone cancer surgery within the past year. He looked very tired so I entreated my parents to stay with us for Shabbos.

Daddy told me that he couldn’t because if he wasn’t in shul, there would be no minyan as many families went to their seaside homes for Shabbos.

I still wanted to do something for him. He loved chocolate so I ran to the fridge and got him a bar to take home.

Penina Metal

Faith Over Reason

Friday, July 15th, 2016

Amongst the hundreds of commandments that God bestows upon the people of Israel, are many that on the surface are difficult to understand. These are classically called “Hok,” or “Hukim” in the plural. King Solomon himself, that most wisest of men, is quoted as stating that the law of the Red Heifer, featured in this week’s Torah reading, was beyond his comprehension.

The Temple rite of the Red Heifer consisted of a rare cow, completely covered in red hair, that was ritually slaughtered and subsequently burned. The resulting ashes were then mixed in water and that water was sprinkled over individuals, purifying those who had been ritually impure because of contact with the dead. What was perhaps most ironic about the rite was that the Kohen doing the sprinkling and having been ritually pure beforehand, became impure by the end of the rite, even though he was the source and cause of purification in others. It’s as if by purifying the other, he absorbs some of the impurity himself.

Nonetheless, the Sfat Emet in 5632 (1872) explains the path to understanding these perhaps incomprehensible commandments. He states that of course every commandment has a reason, but that we can’t understand the reason until after we accept the commandment without an explanation. Then, according to the level of faith, of acceptance of the commandment and the willingness to perform it without understanding, so too will be the level of understanding we achieve.

He further explains that the reasons behind these commandments are actually spiritual matters as opposed to merely intellectual exercises and only the spirit has the capacity to understand, or more accurately to “sense,” the reason behind the commandments.

May we develop the capacity to believe so that eventually we may understand.

Shabbat Shalom,

Dedicated to the Jewish Community of Uruguay on the celebration of its 100th anniversary.


Rabbi Ben-Tzion Spitz

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/faith-over-reason/2016/07/15/

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