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February 7, 2016 / 28 Shevat, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘fruit’

Israel: A Peacetime War or a Wartime Peace

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

http://sultanknish.blogspot.co.il/2012/07/israel-peacetime-war-or-wartime-peace.html

In the library’s history section all the shelves are crowded together. In the Middle East, opposing polemics are wedged up against each other. Alan Dershowitz rubs shoulders with Tony Judt who leans onto George Gilder who balances out Norman Finkelstein who flakes bits of paper on Benjamin Netanyahu. Though located in the history section, most of these books are not history. They are long opinion pieces, arguments for and against the Jewish State.

On the left there are vituperative diatribes and on the right there are earnest defenses. The Holocaust Industry contends with The Case for Israel, The Jewish Lobby with Start Up Nation. Every few months brings new combatants to the shelves. Shlomo Sand is swapped out with Peter Beinart who is swapped out with Noam Chomsky like a baseball team that is forever calling the same players off the bench to make the same plays.

Next year there will be another four books denouncing Israel for its settlements and its trickery in making the terrorists look like they don’t want peace by negotiating with them for twenty years. And next to them another four books asserting that Israel wants peace and has the right to self-defense.

The four-hundred thousand word argument can be summed up as, “Israel is bad and those who live there are bad people” and “No, they aren’t.”

The first argument is easier to make then the second, because all countries and people have their flaws, but the second argument has gotten easier to make once the first argument switched off to, “Israel is the worst country that ever existed (with the possible exception of South Africa) and those who live there are the worst people that ever existed.”

When the torchbearers of the Anti-Israel argument are the likes of Norman Finkelstein and Tony Judt, then anyone who appears less filled with violent hatred suddenly seems moderate by comparison. It allows opponents of Israel like Peter Beinart to rebrand themselves as Liberal Zionists because at least they aren’t claiming that the Prime Minister of Israel ritually eats four babies for breakfast every morning.

Few of the books are concerned with the reality of Israel. They are concerned with it as an ideal. The left tears apart the ideal. The right defends the ideal. There is a growing body of books by Jewish leftists who visit Israel, stop by a supermarket outside their hotel, visit one or two sites, cringe at the guns, take in a nightspot, visit the Western Wall, visit the Separation Wall, and transmit the whole thing into a miniature memoir expressing their disappointment with the experience.

The latest such offering, Harvey Pekar’s Not the Israel My Parents Promised Me, a 70 year-old son of a Communist mother and Orthodox father who visited Israel for the first time and discovered that it didn’t live up to whatever mixed-up ideal his parents promised him. Pekar is already dead, but there is an entire conveyor belt along which the younger set rides to write critical books, graphic novels, blogs and tweets about their disappointing experience in the Jewish State.

Whatever books are on the shelves two years from now, it is likely that very little will have changed. The world as a whole, not just the occasional liberal brat, will continue being disappointed in Israel for not having magically and non-violently resolved the dilemma of people shooting at it no matter what it does. After all there’s already a book titled, How to Make Peace in the Middle East in Six Months or Less on the shelf. Why not just read it and do what it says?

Regardless of who wins the presidential election, two years from now a Secretary of State will be icily dressing down Israel for building houses in provocative places, using drones to kill terrorists and refusing to make peace. As the history section will bulge with eight more pro and con books; another member will have joined the choir invisible of James Baker, Madeleine Albright, Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton. While the Democrats have been worse on Israel, each administration regardless of its affiliation, has accepted the precedents of the previous administration and eventually managed to top its attacks on Israel’s sovereignty.

Will Obama Destroy Socialism?

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

http://sultanknish.blogspot.co.il/2012/07/will-obama-destroy-socialism.html

You can make corncob pipes, eighteen wheel trucks or microprocessors– but you can’t make jobs. Jobs are not a commodity or a service. They cannot be created independently through a job creating program. Rather they are the side-effect of a working economy. Trying to short circuit the economy with job creation programs is like trying to run a fruit orchard by neglecting the trees and instead buying fruit at inflated prices to resell to your customers at a lower price. It’s feasible, but not sustainable.

The government can promote job creation through subsidized education and training, but there is a ceiling on such efforts, since government programs still have to be paid for through taxation. It can encourage companies to do business locally through tax breaks, though this is an admission that the tax rates are an obstacle to job growth. But what it cannot do is create jobs out of whole cloth. Except for government jobs.

Just about anyone in the White House this term would have launched job creation programs. And like most such efforts they would have been a wash. But Barack Hussein Obama’s approach was different in that he did not even pretend to make the effort. His economic programs went by business friendly names, but invariably turned out to be concerned with only one kind of job creation. The creation of public sector jobs.

The spoils system has a long history in American politics, but it was never as spoiled as all this. There is no parallel in American history for the spoils system being used not just to rotate out supporters of the old administration and replace them with your lackeys, but to hijack the economy as your own spoils system to the tune of trillions of dollars.

Obama responded to an economic crisis by working to create two kinds of jobs. Government and union jobs. This was not about anything as simple as rewarding his supporters. The Black community got very little in exchange for supporting him. The Hispanic community similarly ended up with some token appointments, but not much to show for it. This was about shifting jobs from the private sector into the public sector and its feeders. To manufacture the types of jobs that feed money back into the Democratic party and expand the scope of the government bureaucracy.

No previous administration has as thoroughly disdained and tried to crush the private sector. But then none of them were nearly as clueless or irresponsible when it come to basic economics. The Democrats who had spent eight years mocking Reaganomics, practiced a Krugmanonics that treated money like an imaginary number. In Krugmanomics wealth is created through spending, and poverty is created by practicing wise fiscal management. The whole premise of Krugmanomics makes no sense, unless you have already decided that the private sector is a mythical beast with no room in the socialist bestiary.

This wasn’t even Keynesian, it most closely resembled the Bolshevik radicalism that destroyed the Russian economy, right down to the belated realization that only by assigning some limited role to the private sector could the situation be salvaged. Obama’s pre-election turn echoes Lenin’s New Economic Program. But like Lenin, Obama hasn’t embraced the free market. All he has done is tried to retreat to it after the spend and burn economics of his brightest radicals had ignited too much public fury.

Obama has only one idea. The same one idea that the left has beaten into the ground repeatedly. The monopolization of power. This monopolization is disguised behind organizations claiming to represent the people, community activists, unions and public interest lobbies, whose only message is the vital necessity of a government monopoly in every economic area of life.

It’s the old Soviet strategy writ large. Every red error brought back to life and pushed forward with cunning and brute force, but no understanding of why it failed last time around. The slower transition of Wells’ “Open Conspiracy” does not make them any better at running a country, than the radical armed revolts of the Bolsheviks did. Repeating the same mistakes at 1/20th the speed does not lead to a better outcome. Only to more chances to see that they are going the wrong way.

The Sin of the Spies – Perspective

Friday, June 15th, 2012

In my experience as a Synagogue Rabbi, I found that so much of life is about perspective. Helping congregants deepen their commitment to Judaism, deepen their relationships with one another, I learned that often fear paralyzes people from achieving their goals. I also learned that a positive attitude makes for a richer, fuller, more meaningful life.

The above might seem obvious – but it wasn’t obvious to the Ten Spies who returned from the Land with a negative report. They were the leaders of the Jewish Nation: “All distinguished men; heads of the Children of Israel were they” (Num. 13:3). But their lack of faith and their lack of vision brought about consequences that, according to the Talmud, we still suffer from today (See Ta’anit 29a).

What did they do that was so wrong, it warranted forty years of wandering in the desert? What was so egregious, that turned the 9th of Av, the day they returned with their report, into a day of tragedy and mourning for the rest of Jewish History?

In their first report, the Spies relate:

We arrived at the land to which you have sent us, and indeed it flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. But – the people that dwells in the land is powerful, the cities are large, and we also so there the offspring of the giant (Num. 13:27-28).

With the word “but,” they begin their editorial. They are no longer objective. They bring in their negativity and project their fears. They see themselves as “grasshoppers” (v. 33), in the eyes of the inhabitants of the Land.

While the Spies tell the Jewish People, “We cannot ascend” (v. 31), Caleb tells them, “We shall surely ascend and conquer it, for we can surely do it!” (v. 30) For the Spies, it is a land that “devours it inhabitants,” (v. 32) but for Joshua and Caleb, “the Land is very, very good” (Num. 14:8).

Twelve Spies went to scout out the Land. Ten maligned the Land, while two defended it. But they all saw the same land! To see the Land as an insurmountable challenge or, to see it as a goodly Land, is a choice. It’s a matter of perspective.

This week, while walking through Shuk Machaneh Yehudah, Jerusalem’s open air market, I noticed some unusually large fresh figs. They were bright green, and as big as apples. At first I didn’t know what they were. After doing a double take, I purchased the fruit, which turned out to be sweet and delicious – the best figs I have ever eaten. I was reminded of how the Spies, “…cut from there a vine with one cluster of grapes, and they carried it on a pole, by two, and of the pomegranates and of the figs” (13:23). A famous interpretation has it that the grapes were so large they had to be carried “on a pole, by two.” They carried this mutant fruit back, “with the intent to spread slander, ‘Just as the fruit is unusual, so are its people unusual” (Rashi, ad loc.). But the Spies had a choice. Instead of seeing these large fruits as “unusual,” they could have seen them as a product of Hashem’s blessing – a gift from God; a symbol of sustenance and abundance. As Rashi emphasizes, it was all a matter of intent. The Spies chose to see the negative.

Let’s not confuse a positive outlook with naïveté, or being a Pollyanna. One can look through rose-colored glasses and still recognize the problems. But one who posses a deep faith, who truly believes that “whatever the Merciful One does is for the good” (Berachot 60b), will see the good in the vicissitudes of life. The challenges of life are obstacles to overcome and lessons to be learned. The Sin of the Spies was so egregious, because rather than possessing the faith and strength to recognize the Divine blessings of the Land, with all of its challenges, they chose to color their report with their fears and negativity.

The message of the Biblical account of the Spies has tremendous relevance today, here in the modern State of Israel. With a nuclear threat from Iran, enemy states on its borders, the ever-constant fear of terrorism, and pressure from the International Community, Israel is not without its challenges. But it’s also the ‘Start Up Nation,’ with a healthy, growing economy when most of the world’s economies are failing. It is at the forefront of many technologies and industries, research and development. It is a country that is hated by the world, yet continues to shower the world with acts of kindness.

Fearing Holiness as Pesach Approaches

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

The big 7-8 day Holiday is approaching. The one that seems to get people more uptight than happy (as they should be –Rambam, Laws of the Holidays, 6:17), to the extent that when you are actually brave enough to utter the word “PESACH,” it often feels like you’ve put people on edge.

These less than “30 days before the Holiday” offer us an opportunity to evaluate the above phenomenon, which seems to be more and more commonplace in our times.

It amazes me that Pesach comes just a month after Purim. More than anything, what makes Purim unique is that it is a day in which the edict that “one should become inebriated on Purim till one doesn’t distinguish between the curse of Haman to the blessing of Mordechai” proclaims it a day in which…everything goes, in which one has very loose – to non-existent – borders regarding what is permitted and what is forbidden. In a word, it’s a day in which the word “fear” seems to be put into a drawer for 24 hours, as we permit ourselves to do things otherwise unthinkable – in terms of what we wear, what we say, which jokes we crack, and of course, how much alcohol we allow ourselves to consume.

And then, right after the hangover passes, the costumes are put away for next year, and the last cookie from the “Mishloach Manot” is eaten, we get…fearful and nervous; just 30 days to clean the house, buy the (new and expensive) groceries, and cook for Pesach!

From too much courage to neurotic fear, and all this in two months!

Leaving aside how much one needs to clean for Pesach and how crazy one must get (based on the Torah’s dictates, without the “extra’s” of cleaning the windows as well…), I’d like to comment on just one point – the “fear” of it.

I believe that something has crept into the Religious Jewish community over the last few years that shouldn’t be there – our fear of holiness. Let’s introduce it with the following episode, usually read right after Purim in the weekly Torah reading (except in a leap-year). The Jewish people have just been forgiven for the elevated sin of the Golden Calf, and Moshe is coming down Mount Sinai…with one small change to his face:

29. And it came to pass when Moses descended from Mount Sinai, and the two tablets of the testimony were in Moses’ hand when he descended from the mountain and Moses did not know that the skin of his face had become radiant while He had spoken with him 30. that Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses and behold! the skin of his face had become radiant, and they were afraid to come near him.31. But Moses called to them, and Aaron and all the princes of the community returned to him, and Moses would speak to them…..

Reading these verses, I would have thought it wonderful – the people behold Moshe looking holier than ever, and thus maintain their distance, knowing that they are not on the level. After all, we don’t just barge into a shul, open the ark and greet the Torah Scrolls with a “Hello Mate…,” nor do we ascend the Temple Mount without proper preparations! And so, the Jewish people recognize Moshe’s new, elevated radiance/holiness and keep their distance from his holiness.

But then we get to Rashi’s read, which offers a radically different interpretation:

and they were afraid to come near him: Come and see how great the power of sin is! Because when they had not yet stretched out their hands to sin [with the golden calf], what does He say? “And the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a consuming fire atop the mountain, before the eyes of the children of Israel” (Exod. 24:17), and they were neither frightened nor quaking. But since they had made the calf, even from Moses’ rays of splendor they recoiled and quaked. (from Sifrei Nasso 11, Pesikta d’Rav Kahana, p. 45)

What forces Rashi to see the above in negative terms rather then the positive? Why not just applause the people for their reverence of holiness?

Seems to me that Rashi wants to give us a message: We dare not stay away from holiness. Quite the contrary – we should embrace it and try to get a “piece of it.”

Our Torah is full of commands to “be holy” (Vayikra 11:43-44, 19:2, 20:7), or “to be for me holy” (20:26)! Moreover, when the Torah commands that we shall go to “the place” in order to sacrifice and more, it adds the edict that “you shall inquire after His dwelling and come there” (Devarim 12:5). The Ramban explains (ad-loc) that “the reason for ‘you shall inquire after his dwelling’ is that you shall come from afar, and ask: ‘where is the house of God,’ and say to each other: ‘Let us ascend and go to the mountain of God to the house of the God of Jacob.'” In other words, according to this interpretation, we should not only be holy but should actually pursue it, seek it out, and make “an issue” of asking people how we can arrive at holiness.

Israeli Rabbinate Warns against Tu B’Shvat Figs

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

The Kashrut Dept. of the Israeli Chief Rabbinate published a warning on the eve of Tu B’Shvat, cautioning against eating some of the holiday’s traditional fruits. Figs are at the top of the list, because of concern regarding insects and worms which “hide inside the fruit’s flesh and are difficult to detect.”

Carobs are also listed as “highly infected” because of the way they are grown and stored. The Chief Rabbinate recommends washing the fruit well, checking it for holes, and even banging it against the tabletop, to make sure its insides don’t crumble easily – both being telltale signs of the presence of worms.

The holiday of Tu B’Shvat starts tonight, the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shevat, marking the New Year for Trees. It is celebrated by consuming the fruits which are indigenous to Eretz Israel according to the Torah.

A kabalistic custom calls for holding a Tu B’Shvat seder, in which participants eat ten local fruits and drink four cups of wine, the latter custom reminiscent of the Passover seder.

 

 

Reaping The Fruits Of His Labor

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Reb Pinchos, born in Romania, moved shortly after birth with his parents to Vienna. As a teenager, he learned in another city and took his Gemara with him. Pinchos remembered how his rebbe always liked to teach from his Gemara. He remembered Kristallnacht vividly, as he and his parents left Vienna fearing for their lives. Upon returning to their house, the family found all the books and furniture smashed, but miraculously, of all the sefarim that had been destroyed, the Gemara that he took with him to yeshiva was untouched. In addition, the sefer Torah they had hidden on top of a bookcase in their home had fallen behind the bookcase – but was untouched.

Shortly after, Reb Pinchos and his parents left Vienna for England. Little did he know what the future had in store for him. Hundreds of people had escaped from Europe to England and the British were afraid that Nazi spies might have been among the escapees. His parents, being in their 70s, were allowed to remain in England, but Reb Pinchos and 2,000 other Jews were told that they were going to be deported from England. With a heavy heart he bade farewell to his parents, knowing that this would be the last time he would see them.

He and his fellow Jews were taken to a large ship, the infamous Dunera, which had a transport capacity of 800 – but was now packed with 2,000 people. They had no idea where they were going, and most only had their personal belongings in a small bag. The ship’s British soldiers went through all those belongings and stole anything of value – while personal papers were thrown into the sea. Conditions on board were terrible, with little food available, and the deportees were allowed on deck for fresh air for only an hour a day.

One day while at sea everyone was told, without explanation, to go below deck. Suddenly, the whole ship shook as if something had hit it. Little did they know that a torpedo had hit the ship, but miraculously didn’t explode. Not long after the war, the captain of the U-boat that had fired the torpedo wrote that he had noticed papers in the water and sent divers in to retrieve them. It turned out that about 200 German prisoners of war were on the Dunera, and when the German submarine’s commander found papers belonging to these prisoners, he commanded all the U-boats in the area not to fire at the ship. He accompanied the boat into safe waters.

After about 7-8 weeks, the ship arrived in Australia. The headline in the paper there read, “Enemy Aliens Arrive In Australia.” Reb Pinchos and the other Jews were taken to Tatura in New South Wales, where they were interned and kept behind barbed wires.

With World War II in progress, all able-bodied men had gone off to war and people were needed to pick fruit. Reb Pinchos and others were taken to the orchards to pick the fruit. As the first Shabbos was approaching, Reb Pinchos was concerned about having to work on Shabbos, but as he was officially a prisoner of war he questioned as to what to do. He decided to speak to the farmer, explaining to him the prohibition of working on Shabbos and offering to work on Sunday instead. To his surprise the farmer said that he would honor the request to not work on Shabbos, and he added that he did not want Reb Pinchos to work on Sunday either, since that was his “Shabbos.”

While working there, Reb Pinchos discovered that there was a shul in the area belonging to the Feiglin family. After his first visit to the shul, one of the Feiglin sons picked him up every Friday in order to spend Shabbos with the Feiglins. Reb Pinchos was returned to the farm on Sunday. When Reb Pinchos completed his job of picking the fruit at this farm, the farmer told him that he found a job for him picking fruit at a neighboring farm. And the farmer mentioned to Reb Pinchos’s new boss that Reb Pinchos did not work on Shabbos, a condition she accepted.

Eventually Reb Pinchos joined the Australian army. He married and raised a heimishe Jewish family – instilled with the values of Torah and Yiddishkeit.

Crossword Puzzle – Hometown Hero

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

 

Across

1. Rag

7. Attila was one

10. Having a bad game

13. Sounds

14. Beep

15. By way of

16. Connect to satellite, perhaps

17. Sicknesses

18. Naval rank (abbr.)

19. The Hero

21. Rodent

22. Org. that causes problems for some aliens

23. Right above nil

24. Lazy

25. Solomon and Lanzbom; Simon and Garfunkel, e.g.

27. When the Hero came home

30. Roadside rest

31. “Guess ___ Coming to Dinner?”

32. Sure

33. Two South of the border

34. iPhone operating letters

35. Minyan amount

36. Bovine physician

39. Letters before Arizona or New York

40. Soft hit

41. Retirement letters

42. The Hometown

46. The Hero’s dad

47. Fruit drink berry

48. Actor Wallach

49. Mass murderer Pot

50. Guys

51. Where the Hero was before he came home

56. Dude

57. ___touille

58. Kings II prophet

59. Let wine sit

60. Dangerous bomb

61. Hummingbird drink

62. First part of Page and Plant’s band

63. Not neither

64. Works one story into another

 

Down

1. Cozy

2. Native American tribe of Western America

3. “Brewster’s ___”

4. Those from Korea, e.g.

5. Works at a bar

6. Poses a question

7. It’s said a lot during Tishrei

8. Jamaican fruit

9. Shiluach Hakan locale

10. Don’t ___ it

11. A shows last episode

12. Observed 10 Tevet

14. Instruments for Joel and John

20. Non-kosher Hostess cakes

24. Little devil

25. I ___ it!

26. 33-Across halved

27. Picked

28. Lion King baddie

29. Em to Dorothy

31. Bit of hair

35. Popular bulbous flower

36. Those who play small stringed instruments

37. Age

38. Half of a popular cracker

39. Israeli gun

40. Cursor of Israel (alternate Spelling)

42. Human or ape, e.g.

43. 2002 animated hit

44. Got some rays

45. Trojan hero

46. Learner

49. Mushroom top

51.  No friend of Israel

52. Treaty org. of note

53. Home for Avraham, often

54. Kind of Asian food

55. Cat toy

 

(Answers, next week)

Yoni can be reached at yglatt@youngisrael.org

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/kidz/gamez/crossword/crossword-puzzle-hometown-hero/2011/11/02/

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