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Is there anything we can learn from Laban? The very thought of it seems absurd! Yet, for many in our community, there are lessons – important lessons – that we can learn from him.
Rav Aviner answers the Admor of Satmar, who dwells in the Exile, and claimed the murder of the boys was punishment for the teens learning in the "Settlements" and blames the parents for sending them to learn there.
My rendition of John Lennon's "Imagine."
An American orthodox rabbi in Monsey recently wrote a response on Facebook to a post about the importance of living in the Land of Israel. His response was as follows: "You're in exile, too. Last I checked, there is still a mosque on the temple mount, with Arabs shooting rockets [at you].” This is my response to him and to every orthodox Jew who shares that mistaken view.
When I walk in to the grocery store it is second nature for me to just check to make sure that that bag of chips or that cookie has an OU or other kosher symbol on it. To many Jews, it is just something that they do, and it usually is like that for me. But when this question was asked, I thought deeper. I began to think about how this label gives me a sense of community; and as I made that connection, I thought of our rich heritage, and once that relationship was made I thought about our homeland – Israel.
When Moshe led the war against Amalek, he didn’t just pray on the mountain – he sent Yehoshua to lead the soldiers of the Molech Israelite Army to fight down below on the battlefield. Yehoshua didn’t merely blow shofars in conquering the Land, he cut off the heads of the enemy. And who was a greater scholar than Rabbi Akiva? To defend the Land of Israel from the Romans, he closed his Gemorah, rushed to the battlefield, and accompanied Bar Kochba into battle!!
It is no secret that American Jewry is being decimated by assimilation. The longer the Jewish community remains in America the more the assimilation will grow. So I ask – what’s the point in working to strengthen something that is destined to dwindle out and end? The exile is a curse which is not supposed to continue forever.
After my recent article about the difficult trials divorcing couples face within the court system (Family Issues 1-13-2012), especially when there are children involved, I received a heartfelt e-mail from a grandfather in tremendous pain over the demise of his son’s marriage and the subsequent custody battle over his beloved grandchild.
For me, Israel is personal. I was born as Israel’s War of Independence raged, just weeks after the state’s miraculous birth. As I lay in the hospital room with my mother, the windows shattered with the relentless attacks of those who sought, once again, to destroy us – this time not on their bloodstained soil but on our own sacred land. Once again, by God’s hand, we prevailed. The few against the many. The weak against the so-called strong.
As the Seder night ebbs away – long after the Four Questions have been asked and answered, after the festive meal has been eaten and the post-feast drowsiness descends, after the evening’s mitzvot have been observed and the fourth cup of wine emptied – we raise our voices in a curious, delightful, seemingly whimsical song at the end of the Haggadah.
In the good old days, Forest Hills, New York - where I grew up between 1939 and 1951 - was a shtetl for assimilated American Jews. Like my parents, all our neighbors were American-born offspring of Eastern European immigrants. A generation removed from their identity conflicts, we children knew that Forest Hills, liberated from Judaism, was our promised land.
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