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August 30, 2016 / 26 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘honor’

Letter to Our Son in Gaza

Friday, November 16th, 2012

Our 22-year old son has been re-stationed with his Golani brigade to a makeshift base at the outskirts of Gaza. I am very proud that he has the chance to uphold the honor of Hashem and Israel, and I know he is proud too. In my mind, there is no greater, holier, and transcendental mitzvah than fighting in the Israel Defense Forces, in defense of the Nation of Israel, to wipe out the enemies of Hashem.

The soldiers who are willing to put their lives on the line for Am Yisrael are the true heroes of holiness, just like our holy heroes of our past, Avraham in his war to save Lot; Moshe Rabainu in his wars against kings who rose up against us on our way to the Promised Land; Yehoshua Ben Nun in his conquest of the Eretz Yisrael; and others like King David and the Maccabees, all of whom will be fighting alongside our soldiers when the order comes to enter Gaza and annihilate Hamas. When the occasion demanded, these holy heroes all closed their Gemaras and strode off to war, just as the Torah commands, for the honor of Hashem and Israel.

What do you say to your son as he waits on the outskirts of Gaza? This is the SMS message that I sent him:

Dear Precious Son,

Your mother and I, as well as your brothers and sister, are all very proud of you, and proud of all your friends who are with you, and proud of all the IDF soldiers who are prepared to fight and destroy the enemies of Hashem. Just as our hearts are with you, the whole country is with you. You are acting on our behalf. I wish I could be there with you.

I know you probably didn’t have time to pack any books to take with you when orders came to head south, so I am sending you a little something from the Rambam, which I am certain you know, but which is always good to read over again. May these words of Torah protect you and your comrades, and lead the forces of Israel to a swift and decisive victory over our enemies, with the hope that you will have the green light to finish the job until the very last terrorist in Gaza is destroyed. And if you receive orders that don’t seem right to you, orders that endanger you and your fellow soldiers, lest “innocent” civilians be hurt – don’t listen to them, but do whatever you have to do to protect yourself and your friends over every other consideration, for there are no innocent civilians in Gaza, and the laws of the Torah, and the laws of guarding Jewish life, override the “what will the goyim say?” considerations of man.

In the Laws of Milchemah, The Rambam writes:

“A man should not think at the time of war his wife, nor of his children, nor of his possessions, but he must free his heart of everything and set himself to the battle. And more – he should think that the entire existence of Israel depends on him… For everyone who fights with all of his heart, and with the intention to sanctify the Name of Hashem, is promised that he will not be harmed… and he will merit the Life of the World to Come.”

Therefore, my precious son – be not afraid. Put your trust in Hashem, for you are bringing honor to Him and His Nation. We love you and will see you soon at home, when the enemies of Israel have been crushed.

Tzvi Fishman

20,000 Jews in Hebron for Chayei Sarah

Sunday, November 11th, 2012

At least 20,000 Jews from all across Israel, and some coming in from around the world, converged on the biblical city of Hebron this shabbat to honor the memory of the Matriarch Sarah, whose burial in the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron – Maarat HaMachpela – was chronicled in this week’s Torah portion.

Considered the first piece of land purchased by the Patriarch Abraham in the land of Israel, Sarah’s burial place later became the final resting place of her son Isaac and his wife Rivka, and her grandson Jacob and his wife Leah.  Jewish tradition teaches that the Tomb of the Patriarchs is also the burial place of Adam and Chava (Eve), and even Moshe and Tzipporah.  It is also believed to be situated at the entrance to the Garden of Eden.

Despite threats of inclement weather, today’s descendants of Sarah arrived en masse in Hebron and Kiryat Arba, and were hosted by local residents.  They also participated in tours, two political panels, open houses, and the dedication of a community hall.  Videos from the events can be viewed at www.hebronvideo.com.

Malkah Fleisher

Q & A: The Sandak (Part II)

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

Question: I was at a brit where the father and grandfather of the boy argued over who should be sandak. The grandfather had served as sandak once before, but he persisted and, as they say, “might makes right.” I am curious as to your view on this matter.

M. Renkin
(Via E-Mail)

Answer: Last week we examined the source of the word “sandak” as well as the sandak’s role at the brit.

The Midrash (Tehillim pg. 723) contains the term “sandikus,” a Greek word meaning “companion of child” or “advocate.” Rabbi Tzvi Elimelech Spira of Dinov explains that sandak is an acronym of “sanegor na’aseh din kategor – the defense emerges victorious vis-à-vis the prosecutor,” referring to the brit’s function as a protection from Satan.

The Rema (Yoreh De’ah 265:11) writes that the sandak is given the first honor of being called up to the Torah, even before the mohel. The Rema explains that the sandak is compared to a kohen who offers incense in the Beit Hamikdash. All kohanim wished to benefit from the blessing of the incense, which enriched the one who offered it. Therefore, a lottery was established to assure that all had an equal opportunity to perform it. Similarly, it is customary not to give the role of sandak to one individual more than once.

The Shach (Yoreh Deah ad loc. sk 22) clarifies that Rema does not mean that one may not be a sandak more than once. Rather, if a person has served as sandak for a boy, he should not serve as sandak for any of his brothers in the future.

The Rema also talks about the honorary role of the kvaterin and kvater, the female and male messengers who bring the baby to the synagogue for the brit.

* * * * *

I am very fortunate to have recently received the newly published sefer, Shut HaShulchani, a collection of very relevant halachic responsa in English authored by my esteemed chaver, Rabbi Ari Enkin of Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel. (The sefer is available directly from the author. Contact Rabbi Enkin at rabbiari@hotmail.com or call 011-972-52-579-1773.)

Rabbi Enkin discusses the matter of the sandak in great detail. He writes as follows (pg. 154-156):

“The sandak is the individual honored with holding the baby during the brit milah ceremony and it is the highest honor that can be bestowed upon at a brit. Although sandak is often translated as godfather, it likely comes from the Greek word suntekos, which means companion. The sandak is seated during the brit ceremony and holds the baby on his lap while the mohel performs the circumcision It is taught that when the sandak holds the baby on his lap, thereby including his knees and thighs in the performance of the mitzvah, he embodies the verse (Biur Hagra, Yoreh De’ah 265:44) ‘All my bones shall say, Who is like You, G-d?’ ”

Rabbi Enkin discusses the custom not to honor the same individual as sandak more than once within the same family. He agrees with the sources that compare the sandak to the kohen offering incense in the Beit Hamikdash and explains: “A kohen was only given the opportunity to perform this mitzvah once in his lifetime. This is because whoever offered the incense would become wealthy. Therefore, in order to offer as many kohanim as possible the opportunity of becoming wealthy, it was decided to appoint a different kohen to perform the incense offering every day.”

Likewise, the sandak, who represents the kohen offering the incense, will become wealthy. In addition, Rabbi Enkin continues, it is “a segulah for a long and good life. Therefore, we offer the opportunity of serving as sandak to as many different people as possible.”

Rabbi Enkin explains that once a certain individual is invited to serve as sandak, the baby’s parents should not renege and give the honor to another person. However, if the original offer was made before the child was born, and once the child is born the parents decide to honor a different person instead, it is permitted to do so.

There are a number of authorities who disagree with the restriction against appointing the same sandak twice. Rabbi Enkin discusses their reasoning as follows:

Rabbi Yaakov Klass

State Department Creationism

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

Is this discriminatory?

Women in Science Hall of Fame 2013 Program
Deadline for Applications:  October 10, 2012

Description:
The American Consulate General in Jerusalem is seeking outstanding female Palestinian scientists to honor in the 2013 Women in Science Hall of Fame program.

The U.S. Department of State created the annual Arab Women in Science Hall of Fame program in 2010 to honor accomplished scientists in disparate disciplines ranging from marine science to nuclear physics. For the last two years, U.S. Embassies and Consulates in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have identified and honored outstanding Arab women involved in medicine, science, engineering, technology, math, and other fields. These role models have served to inspire girls across the region to study science and pursue scientific careers.

The selected honoree will have her biography and photo posted along with other MENA region scientists on the web sites of U.S. Embassies and Consulates in the MENA region, including the web page of the American Consulate General in Jerusalem.  She will also be featured in a 2013 calendar and have opportunities to promote the program in the media, mentor other Palestinian women and girls, and participate in a trip to the United States to network with other MENA scientists and learn about the contribution of American women  to scientific innovation,
education, leadership, and public policy formation.

Eligibility Requirements:
This program is open to Palestinian women working in any scientific, medical, technological, engineering, or mathematical disciplines.

Candidates must:
 Be fluent in English, but not hold U.S. citizenship or be a U.S. legal permanent resident.
 Be willing to participate in exchange programs and welcome opportunities to mentor
women and girls.
 Be a citizen and resident of West Bank, Gaza, or Jerusalem at the time of application and while participating in the program.

Why? Because it is only for women? Of course not. Because of English language fluency? Actually, why must English fluency be a requirement? Is it because one cannot be an American citizen or legal permanent resident?

I don’t think so, although can you be an illegal resident of the US?

Because it disallows the “Palestinian diaspora”?  Naw.

But what really puzzles me is how can one be a “Palestinian citizen“? A citizen usually is understood to be a member of a state. Is the United States State Department creating, again, a Palestinian state, when there is none existing?

Visit My Right Word.

Yisrael Medad

New York Jewish Doctor Co-Recipient of Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

Robert J. Lefkowitz, a Jewish physician and path-breaking biochemist from New York, has won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry jointly with Brian K. Kobilka, a researcher at California’s Stanford University.

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2012 went to the scientists for “groundbreaking discoveries that reveal the inner workings of an important family … of receptors: G-protein–coupled receptors,” an Oct. 10 posting on the website of the Nobel Prize stated. Understanding how these receptors function helped further explain how cells could sense their environment, according to the text.

Lefkowitz – who works at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute of Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina — and Kobilka worked together to isolate and analyze a gene which led them to discover that “the receptor was similar to one in the eye that captures light. They realized that there is a whole family of receptors that look alike and function in the same manner,” the Nobel Prize website said.

Lefkowitz, 61, and Kobilka, 57, will share a $1.2 million grant from the Nobel Prize Committee.

On Oct. 9. The Nobel Prize Committee in Stockholm announced that Serge Haroche, a French-Jewish physicist, had won the Nobel Prize in Physics jointly with David Wineland from the United States. The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2011 went to Dan Shechtman of Israel’s Technion.

In 2008, Lefkowitz received the US National Medal of Science. The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles reported at the time that he was one of three American-Jewish recipients that year of the nation’s highest honor in science and technology.

In an interview with Emily Harris which appeared this summer on the website of Duke University, Lefkowitz is quoted as saying: “I was clearly destined to be a physician, I dreamed about it from the third grade on. Wouldn’t trade that part of my experience in for anything. I LOVED medical school.” He also said: “I do regret that my dad died thinking I would be a practicing cardiologist, never dreaming what the future held for me.”

Lefkowitz’s father, who died at the age of 63, “never got to see any of this play out,” Lefkowitz said.

JTA

The Upsherin

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

Have you ever been to an upsherin, a hair-cutting ceremony?

I had never been to one until I was invited by my gentleman friend, Sy, to attend one in honor of his great-grandson, Gabriel, given by his grandparents, Steve and Robin Kerzer. Even Sy, an Orthodox Jew, had not heard of it. Both of us knew it was the custom not to cut a boy’s hair until he was three years old, but we had no idea what was involved. It was common to hear “Oy, he looks just like a little girl” until the parents of the poor child must have been ready to plotz. To make such a party was definitely new to us, not to mention its expense. Invitations had been sent to numerous people. Out-of-town guests, including Sy’s two physician sons from Rhode Island, came in for the simcha. And what a simcha it was.

We drove with Sy’s sister and brother-in-law to the Young Israel of Emerald Isles for the Sunday event. We arrived on time to a cacophony of voices. There must have been more than 200 people in attendance, most of them gathered around the buffet table – ready to snatch a hearty nosh. A table close to the entrance was piled high with colorfully wrapped gifts for Gabby, the day’s guest of honor. I added to the stack with gifts for him and his two-year-old brother. I spotted the latter sleeping peacefully in his stroller, oblivious to his surroundings. Good for him, I thought, as I observed the other children running wildly in the hall – as little children will do.

After mazel tovs and other greetings were expressed, we settled at a table as far away from the noise as possible. There, we were joined by some family members and had the pleasure of receiving a kiss from Gabby, who indeed looked like a little girl with his long red curls. Only he was wearing tzitzis.

Included in the delicious food offerings was an enormous chocolate-covered birthday and hair-cutting cake. It was decorated with a huge pair of scissors made out of white icing.

I began to wonder where the barber was when the rabbi rose to speak. Through the noise, I learned that everyone would receive a lock of Gabby’s hair. How could that be, I thought – so many people, so little hair. But when Yossi, Gabby’s father, spoke, it all became clear.

“Everyone who wants a lock of Gabby’s hair [should] come and help with the cutting,” he announced. It appeared that the guests were the barbers.

Sy and I were honored to take the podium first, where Gabby was sitting calmly on his mother Farah’s lap. With a small pair of scissors, we both clipped off a lock of the ginger curls. That was our fond souvenir.

In his younger days, Sy had bright red wavy hair. His four sons, several grandchildren and, so far, his one great-grandchild inherited it. It was like a reincarnation of what he looked like at that age. It made for a strange sensation. And when he held the strands of red locks between his now snow-white hair he laughed and said, “The old and the new.”

As we prepared to head home, the happy parents’ parting words were: “Same time next year.”

It would be Zachary’s turn.

Myrna Gordon Skurnick

Davening with Baby

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

Some 21 years ago I had the honor of being the stay-at-home father, while Nancy was the one with the grownup job that required leaving the house every morning and going to a remote work area that involved other people. With nothing to do but my weekly columns and phone interviews, I was the obvious parenting choice.

So I developed many different activities a father can do with a small child. I learned that a small child can be used as a dumbbell, both for leg and arm lifts. In fact, the older the child becomes, the better shape the father should get into, until she is too heavy for leg lifts (and starts attending school regularly).

I also acquired many skills which never again served me in life, most notably the skill of holding the baby in one arm, opening the fridge, grabbing a bottle, twisting it off with your teeth, holding the bottle between your chin and your neck while filling it up with milk.

I’ve seen some mothers perform these tricks giving the impression they possessed four and five arms. I could do three, max.

Here’s a guy at the Kotel, davening with his little baby on Sukkot. You can tell it’s Sukkot from the guy with the lulav in the back. You can tell the proud father is a Lubavitcher from his siddur (prayer book).

On Sukkot we are mesmerized by the fragrance of the etrog and the haddassim. But I’ll bet you this father is too preoccupied taking in the fresh baby smell… I know I would be.

The picture was taken during the priestly blessing, which is another thing fathers get to do with their children.

Our daughter is in America these days, and so I give her the priestly blessing over Skype. You do what you can.

Chag Same’ach.

Yori Yanover

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/photos/davening-with-baby/2012/10/04/

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