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December 18, 2014 / 26 Kislev, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘fire’

Lag B’Omer Fires in UN Compound

Sunday, April 28th, 2013

Nine cars caught fire in the UN compound in Jerusalem, according to a report in Times of Israel.

In the Armon HaNatziv neighborhood, firefighting crews battled the fire inside the UN compound that burned up between four to nine cars.

The fire department believes the fires were started by sparks from bonfires in a nearby field.

Firefighters have been battling Lag B’Omer fires all over the country since yesterday.

Asking For Advice

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

“These are the chronicles of Yaakov: Yosef was seventeen years old, and he watched his brothers.” – Bereishis 37:2

At the age of seventeen, Yosef was wise in the ways of the Torah and in the ways of the world. He was called a “ben zikunim” because even at such a young age he showed the brilliance of an elder scholar. He had already absorbed all the Torah Yaakov had learned in the many years he had spent in the yeshiva of Shem.

For that reason Yaakov chose him to be the leader of the family. The Sforno explains that the coat Yaakov made for Yosef was to be a sign that he was in charge. The brothers were to listen to him in matters of the household. They were to follow his direction in of business. His was to be the final word. Clearly, Yosef was brilliant.

Yet the Sforno points out that despite his brilliance, Yosef did something quite foolish. Whenever he found his brothers doing something wrong, he would immediately report it to his father. Because he was young, he didn’t focus on what his brother’s reaction to him would be, and this caused them to resent him. This, explains Sforno, is why we don’t seek advice from those who are young.

This Sforno is difficult to understand. If Yosef was so brilliant, how is it possible he overlooked something as elementary as thinking about what his conduct would lead to? Didn’t he recognize his actions would cause his brothers to hate him?

The answer to this can be best understood with an observation about maturity.

Understanding the Child

In the past hundred years, psychologists have come to understand that children aren’t simply grown-ups with short bodies. A child’s way of thinking, his frame of mind, and his entire emotional operating system are unlike those of an adult’s.

One of the manifestations of an adult’s viewpoint is the ability to see consequences. What will this lead to? How will I feel about this five years from now? How about ten years from now? The more immature the person, the more he lives in the immediate present. To a kid, there is nothing more valuable than that shiny red fire truck with the working siren and whistle.

Ask a five year old, “Would you rather have a thousand dollars or the fire truck?” It’s not even a contest! Many a well-intending grandparent has met with disappointment at his grandchild’s reaction when the child found out that this year’s Chanukah present was an investment in a mutual fund. The child doesn’t care, because he isn’t thinking about the future. He lives completely, totally, now. Tomorrow is too late, next week will never come, and the summer might as well be a million years away.

As a person matures, he is able to see more into the future. He can see himself in other settings and in different roles. He begins to understand that the very same person who sits here now will one day be responsible for making ends meet. That sense of seeing the future as if it were here now and recognizing emotionally that it really is going to happen is a function of maturity.

Maturity isn’t dependent on intelligence or education. A child prodigy might have a very high IQ and be capable of performing brilliant mental feats yet still behave like a kid. Maturation is a process, which occurs over time. Like a fine wine that ferments, the human mind acquires a certain ripening with age – a widening of scope. With maturity often comes wisdom.

One of measures of wisdom is how far into the future a person can see – not in a clairvoyant, supernatural manner, but as a consequence of insight. If you do this, it will lead to that, which will lead to this, which will lead to that…

The Brisker Rav, Rav Yosef Ber Soloveitchik, was once lamenting the loss of his father, Rav Chaim “The world doesn’t know what it has lost. My father could see fifty years into the future, and me, I can barely see ten years forward.”

This seems to be the answer to the question on the Sforno. At seventeen Yosef was brilliant. But it was the brilliance of youth. The wisdom that comes with age wasn’t yet there. As a result, he did things that lacked foresight. He acted in a manner that was unwise because he wasn’t focused on “what this will lead to.” On an intellectual level he might have been gifted, but he lacked the vision to see the consequences of his ways.

U.S. Senators Urge Morsi to Halt Gaza Arms Smuggling

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

A bipartisan slate of U.S. senators urged Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi to crack down on arms smuggling into the Gaza Strip.

“In order for the cease-fire to hold, it is imperative that your government bolster its efforts to halt all weapons smuggling taking place via both overland and underground routes,” said the letter, which was initiated by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), and signed by another 16 senators.

In the letter, sent Tuesday, the senators said they were “encouraged” by the “constructive role” Morsi played in brokering a cease-fire to the most recent Hamas-Israel conflict in the Gaza Strip.

“This is all the more important in light of the potential easing of restrictions on the movement of people and goods through Gaza border crossings as a condition of the cease-fire you helped to broker,” they said. “Preventing Hamas from re-arming is just one step in helping to prevent violence from erupting again.”

Postcard from Israel: Mount Carmel

Sunday, December 2nd, 2012

December 2nd will mark two years since the Mount Carmel forest fire disaster in which 44 people died, including members of the Israeli Prison Service, a bus driver, members of the Israeli Police Force and fire-fighters.

Two years on, the 35,000 dunams of forest and natural woodland consumed by the fire still bears the scars, but signs of new life are also abundant. Beit Oren and other communities severely damaged by the fire are being rebuilt and a monument to those who lost their lives – designed by Natanel Ben Yitzhak – has been constructed near the site of the disaster.

 

Visit CifWatch.com.

My Soul Is On Fire (Part I)

Friday, November 30th, 2012

Allan is a very troubled nineteen-year-old who has been coming to see me since August. Actually, I’m never sure if Allan will make it to the next appointment. Since we first met, I have been amazed at the amount of emotional turmoil and pain he is in. Every appointment seems to bring another “cry” for help. His anguish is noted by his constant crying and threats of harm to himself and others. In fact, he doesn’t seem to filter his words and randomly ensures that I know about his aggressive thoughts. Just last week he told me that nobody ever believes him when he is in pain and so he feels the need to show them – he says that he doused his hand in a flammable liquid and set it on fire just to show others how much pain he is in. (I don’t actually believe he did this, as there was no sign of his hand being burned).

Allan’s life is full of inconsistent events. He seems to have a support system in his parents but I have only met his father, who is very concerned about Allan. On the other hand, his father often feeds into Allan’s overly dramatic behaviours and, at times, seems to compete with him in regards to histrionic scenes.

Recently Allan said to me, “I’m in such agony; my soul is on fire.” What a telling statement – he feels overwhelmed, lonely, humiliated and like a failure. Now you know why I say I don’t know if he will make it to the next appointment. As it is beyond the scope of this article to discuss his situation further, I would like to focus on childhood and teen feelings of distress.

Telling kids that their teen years are the best years of their lives is not necessarily true. In fact, I often say that I would not like to be a teenager today. There is so much stimuli bombarding them at every moment, they so many decisions to make, and they deal with so much stress and expectations – with limited resources at their disposal.

A local Toronto radio station has as its motto, “Beautiful music for a crazy world.” I’m almost surprised with their honesty. It really is a crazy world we live in and it tends to make some people crazy, or at least feel as if they are. We are all bombarded with changes – some good, some not so good and others just difficult to understand. We struggle to the best we can.

For kids, often the level of stress or distress they deal with is dependent on their familiarity with the situation. When our environment is chaotic or fear inducing, we may have a hard time separating ourselves emotionally from what is going on around us. In fact, internally we become part of the chaos. We all adjust better to more familiar situations. That is, we learn to cope best with situations as they become more familiar to us.

Dealing with personal or family challenges is difficult in the best of times. For children and teens it’s even harder. Life for many young people is a painful tug of war filled with mixed messages and conflicting demands from parents, teachers, coaches, employers, friends and themselves. Growing up—negotiating a path between independence and reliance on others—is a tough business. It creates stress, and it can cause serious depression for young people ill-equipped to cope, communicate and solve problems.

Some experiences are more severe or long lasting, while some kids may react to setbacks in different ways. Children and teens may indicate to their parents or others that they are distressed or unable to cope directly, or more often, through various hints. Most common for a teen is to show his or her distress through changes in mood or behaviour, at home, at school or with friends.

The teen years are emotional, fascinating, tumultuous, exciting, fearsome, lonely and social at the same time and filled with angst over the ultimate question, “Who am I.” What I’m about to say is difficult for adults to hear as well as comprehend. Nevertheless, here it is: I believe that much of an adolescent’s rebellion is, in fact, part of the developmental transition from childhood to adulthood. Almost by definition, adolescence is a time of chaos and struggle for one’s self identity: He or she is no longer the dependent child. Teens go from relying on us (and most of us enjoying that role) to learning to make life changing decisions, becoming independent and a self-fulfilled adult. As they push us away and ask to be allowed to make their own decisions, and mistakes, they are using the only tool they believe they have to become self-actualized.

Mountains Hanging On Hairs

Friday, November 30th, 2012

You arrive home after shul on Friday night. All the dishes washed before Shabbat are locked in the dishwasher. You have no other eating utensils and you want to retrieve them for the Friday night meal. In order to take them out you have to unlock the door by turning the lever lock to the left. The action of the lever to unlock the door automatically turns off the panel indicator lights that advise you the dishwashing cycle is complete. So you cannot open the door without turning off the lights. What do you do?

Clearly, the act of retrieving the dishes from the dishwasher is, in itself, a permissible act on Shabbat. The problem is that it inevitably causes the melachah of switching off the indicator lights. This melachah is the inevitable and unintended result of retrieving the dishes, though it is of no use to its performer. An inevitable melachah that is of no use to its performer and that arises out of a permitted act is known in halachic terminology as psik reishe de lo neecha leh. We shall refer to it as the “inevitable, unwanted melachah.”

If one performed an inevitable, unwanted melachah, one is patur, which means exempt from any biblical liability. The question is whether one is allowed under rabbinical law to deliberately perform an inevitable, unwanted melachah such as, for example, turning the indicator lights off in order to retrieve the dishes.

The answer to this question depends on the classification of the inevitable, unwanted melachah and the existence or absence of any mitigating circumstances. If the inevitable, unwanted melachah is biblically prohibited, then according to the majority of halachic opinions one may not deliberately perform the permitted act that causes it. There is a minority opinion – that of the Aruch – that permits it, but the halacha does not adopt this minority opinion.

Accordingly, one may not, for example, wash one’s hands over a public lawn because even though washing one’s hands is permitted on Shabbat, it causes the inevitable, unwanted result of watering the grass. And watering the grass on Shabbat is classified under the biblical melachah of plowing and sowing.

Similarly, one may not open a door to the street on a windy day when the inevitable, unwanted result of the permitted act will be that lighted candles placed next to the door blow out.

What if the inevitable, unwanted melachah is not biblically prohibited but only rabbinically prohibited? Still, according to the majority of opinions, one may not deliberately perform the permitted act that causes the rabbinical melachah, except in a limited number of mitigating circumstances. Physical pain or discomfort or the performance of a mitzvah are examples of mitigating circumstances that might permit one to deliberately perform the permitted act that causes the inevitable, unwanted rabbinical melachah.

For example, trapping a bird inside one’s home is rabbinically prohibited. Yet if a wild bird flew into one’s house in winter, one would be allowed to close the windows to avoid the cold. This act is permitted even though it causes the inevitable, unwanted rabbinical melachah of trapping.

If the red berries on the hadas, the myrtle branch, are more numerous than the myrtle leaves, the hadas is invalid for arba minim. Yet if a friend of the hadas owner picks off the berries on Yom Tov for food, the owner of the hadas would be permitted to use it for the mitzvah of arba minim. Picking the berries in this way is permitted even though it causes the inevitable, unwanted melachah of fixing something for use – makeh bepatish – because it enables the performance of a mitzvah.

Is the inevitable, unwanted melachah of turning off the dishwasher indicator lights a biblical melachah or a rabbinical melachah? The biblical melachah of extinguishing fire was performed in the Sanctuary to produce glowing embers needed to smelt metal. Extinguishing fire for any other purpose not used in the Sanctuary is called a melachah she’eina tzericha legufa. Although biblically exempt from liability once performed, a melachah she’eina tzericha legufa is rabbinically prohibited and should not be deliberately performed. The majority of modern poskim agree that turning off an electric light involves the act of extinguishing fire and is therefore prohibited under the category of melachah she’eina tericah legufa. It is further accepted that the rabbis are less lenient with the melachah of extinguishing fire than with other rabbinical melachot.

Jewish Destiny Or Iron Dome?

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

After the Pillar of Defense cease-fire, many now understand what we understood after the Zo Artzeinu demonstrations: The Israeli crisis is not on the continuum between Right and Left. It is on the continuum between Israelis and their Jewish identity.

We knew exactly where the Oslo Accords would lead. The huge amount of people who answered Zo Artzeinu’s calls and blocked traffic throughout the entire country understood the reality. Ultimately, we succeeded – against all odds – in electing the Right to rule. But Zo Artzeinu refused to “cash in” politically on the tremendous public credit that it had accrued. We understood that the Right also had no solution and that it was also incapable of getting off the Oslo track.

Many are angry with Prime Minister Netanyahu for signing the cease-fire. But Netanyahu’s predicament is a precise reflection of post-Oslo Israeli society. If Netanyahu had ordered a ground invasion of Gaza, soldiers would have been killed. After a short period of time he would have pulled the troops out of Gaza without significant achievements. After all, he had no intention of remaining. The retreat after many more fatalities would have ignited much more virulent criticism.

To remain in Gaza, we must first renounce the very essence of the idea of partitioning the land of Israel. We have to internalize that this is exclusively our land. We must, on a national scale, return to the land of Israel and to our Jewish identity. We must beg for the forgiveness of the Jews expelled from Gush Katif and rebuild their towns and villages with the forces that destroyed them – and bring them back to their rightful place with an honor guard.

We must vote with our feet, declaring to all that this is our land and proving to our enemies that this is not their land. Most important is that we must expel the Muslim waqf from the Temple Mount and restore exclusive Israeli sovereignty over the Mount – Judaism’s holiest site. We must encourage Jews to ascend the Temple Mount after the proper halachic preparations and to actualize their sovereignty over the beating heart of the Jewish nation.

If we do not take all these measures, there really is no reason to endanger our soldiers just so they can go into Gaza and retreat again. Every round of this type of fighting only proves the enemy’s claim that we are colonialist conquerors and not liberators of our own land. Security and pragmatic claims don’t convince the world anymore. The Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial no longer does the work for us. It can’t be a replacement for the true justice of our cause. Just a short time after a hypothetical ground invasion of Gaza, international public opinion would come down squarely on the side that talks about justice – the very justice that we, with the cursed Oslo handshake, deposited into the hands of Yasir Arafat.

Is Israeli society ready for this type of return, the return to being ourselves?

Netanyahu expresses the dichotomy in Israeli society between the “Israeli” who wants to escape to “normalcy” by disengaging from the land of Israel and the “Jew” who wants to connect to his identity and national destiny – expressed by loyalty to the land of Israel.

Many will now try to escape this complex reality by voting for the rightist parties. If they are too successful, the result will be that the next government coalition will not be formed by Netanyahu and his allies, but instead by Shelly Yachimovich, Yair Lapid and Aryeh Deri. The political situation in Israel is also part of the same dichotomy. It expresses the same dead-end mentality – Oslo – that brought about the defeat.

The Israelis want the best of both worlds: security and normalcy. But it has become quite clear that it is specifically the mental servitude to Oslo, the flight from destiny to the enslavement to normalcy and pragmatism that has so severely compromised Israel’s security.

It turns out that it is actually the “delusional extremists,” the “propellers” (as Yitzhak Rabin derisively called those who opposed Oslo) who are the most realistic of all. It turns out that the choice that the Israelis are being forced to make is not between living under a bareheaded secularism or a kippah of observance. Their choice is between their Jewish destiny and living under an Iron Dome.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/moshe-feiglin/jewish-destiny-or-iron-dome/2012/11/29/

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