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October 25, 2016 / 23 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘honor’

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

Palestinians Protest Spanish Soccer Team Honoring Former Hostage Shalit

Saturday, September 29th, 2012

Palestinian groups are calling on Arab sports and soccer unions to protest a Spanish soccer club’s invitation to former Israeli captive Gilad Shalit.

The Catalan soccer team has invited Shalit as a guest of honor to its Oct. 7 Super Clasico match against Real Madrid. Shalit, who was held hostage for several years by Palestinian terrorists with the Hamas government’s approval, is to be presented with a medal during the event.

In response, the Palestinian press has called on Arab sports and soccer groups to protest while Hamas announced a media boycott of Barcelona soccer teams, which are popular with the Palestinians.

No TV station in Gaza will broadcast Barcelona matches and no newspapers in Gaza will write about the clubs, Hamas official Attallah Abu Al Subah said on Thursday. Palestinian TV broadcasts of Spanish soccer games generally receive high ratings.

A Palestinian prisoners organization in Gaza released a statement that said, “Gilad Shalit’s invite is a new cover-up of Zionist crimes under the pretense of sports. How can a dignified sports club, which calls for culture and humanity, invite a murderer and criminal like Shalit to honor and thank him?”


I Lashed a Guy

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

Here’s a Lelov chassid in Bet Shemesh, outside Jerusalem, getting 39 lashes on the eve of Yom Kippur. It’s part of the process of atoning for sins which used to be in wide practice even by non-chassidic Jews and is now not nearly as popular.

We spent Yom Kippur in the holy, kabbalistically saturated city of Tzfat, where I davened with a dear, old friend at a chassidish shul, overlooking mountains and valleys and a tiny bit of the Kinneret.

Right after Mincha, on the eve of the holiday, this nice gentleman approached me asking if it won’t be too much trouble to lash him in honor of the coming Day of Awe.

It took some persuasion, I’ll tell you. I’m not the aggressive type, I don’t recall the last time I was engaged in any incident of violent confrontation. Like every decent human being, I channel all my aggression to watching really awful action movies where other people do all the hurting for me. So it took some persuasion. But I finally consented because, hey, you have to try everything at least once.

So the guy handed me his leather belt, leaned over a bench and waited. He told me not to go too easy on him, not to fake it, hit like a man.

So I smacked him one across the back and he quickly changed his initial instructions and asked for a little less hard.

I finally found my groove and started hitting quite expertly, one on the left shoulder, one on the right shoulder, one across the back, 39 altogether. In the end the guy was happy, and I found something new I could do if the writing thing doesn’t work out.

This is Yori Yanover with another report on Jewish life today…

Yori Yanover

Edon, ‘America’s Got Talent’ Semifinalist, Getting Free Kipahs

Monday, September 10th, 2012

A New Jersey store reportedly is sending free yarmulkes to Edon Pinchot, the kipah-wearing former contestant on “America’s Got Talent.”

Cool Kippahs in Teaneck, N.J., is sending Edon several free yarmulkes in honor of the fact that the teenager wore them during all of his performances on the NBC reality show,  the TMZ website reported. Edon, a singer and pianist, was eliminated last month in the semifinals.

Edon, a student at the Ida Crown Jewish Academy in Chicago, is Sabbath observant and keeps kosher. His kipah made him a focal point for viewers.


Respect For Our Fellow Human Beings

Monday, September 3rd, 2012

How often we, even the greatest among us, tend to forget the respect and honor due every single human being. Every one who walks the face of the earth was created in the image of G-d and carries within him the Divine Spark. Therefore, when we insult any human being we are really insulting the Almighty Himself which is the worst of all sins.

Unfortunately, because we are all fallible, even great men, learned and wise may sometimes slip, so we must always be on our guard. The Talmud illustrates this for us in the following story.

The Ugly Man

Rabi Elazar the son of Rabi Shimon was a great man and scholar. He learned day and night and the fame of his Torah teachings spread throughout the land.

One day, after spending a period of time with his rebbe in the town of Migdal Eder, he took his leave and set off for home. He was in a wonderfully happy mood. His heart was singing and he was joyful as he contemplated weeks spent in Torah and study. How much knowledge he had acquired. How much Torah he had studied.

As he rode on his mule along the banks of the lazy river he was filled with pride in his achievements and he pitied the average person who could not learn the wonderful secrets of G-d’s Torah. In fact, his heart was filled with too much pride.

As he continued riding he came alongside a traveler who was walking in the same direction. As Rabi Elazar rode past wrapped in his thoughts, the stranger called out a greeting.

“Peace be unto you, Rabi.”

Insults Him

Rabi Elazar looked down from his mule and perceived that the stranger was truly the ugliest man he had ever seen. Without thinking he answered disdainfully:

“How ugly are you! Are all the people of your town as ugly as you?”

The man turned a deep red from shame, but he turned to Rabi Elazar and answered:

“I do not know about that but I suggest that you go with your complaint to the One who made me. Yes, I suggest that you go to the Almighty and say: ‘How ugly is the utensil that You have made’”

Rabi Elazar Shaken

Upon hearing these words the great Rabi Elazar immediately realized that he had committed a grievous sin. He was a G-d fearing man and he knew that at all costs he must beg forgiveness, for all the prayers and repentance in the world and the day of Yom Kippur itself would not wipe away a sin done to a fellow human being until the latter forgave him.

Jumping down from his mule, Rabi Elazar prostrated himself on the ground before the man and cried:

“You have humbled me. I beg of you to forgive me for my foolish words.”

Man Is Unmoved

The traveler, however, far from an understanding person, was in no mood to be mollified. He was still too angry and insulted.

“No,” he answered. “I will not forgive you! I will not forgive you till you go back to my Maker and tell him these words: ‘How ugly is the utensil that You have Made.’”

It was here that Rabi Elazar showed the greatness that lay within him. Instead of getting on the mule and riding off, he continued walking on foot after the man and humbling himself. All the way he pleaded with the man to forgive him.

The man, however, had a hard heart and refused. Down the long road, all the way to the city, passersby we astonished to see the ugly man followed by the great and famous rav pleading for forgiveness.

They Reach The City

Soon they could see the first buildings of the city ahead. The entire population had turned out eagerly to welcome with joy their famous rebbe, returning to teach and guide them.

Imagine their shocked surprise and consternation to see him walking wearily after a simple stranger!

“Welcome Rabi Mori,” they cried out.

The stranger looked at them and asked:

“Who is the one whom you call ‘rabi’?”

“Why, the man who walks behind you,” the people replied. “He is the great Rabi Elazar the son of Rabi Shimon.”

Rabbi Sholom Klass

Remembering Shabbos

Friday, August 17th, 2012

How the Sages of the Talmud used to honor Shabbos! Each day of the week was only an introduction to the coming Shabbos and everything was done with an eye towards Shabbos.

The great sage Shammai would buy a particular choice animal during the week and his family would say, “Come, let us slaughter the animal so that we may have the good meat for our meal today.”

But Shammai would answer, “No, I will not slaughter this today. I will rather wait till Friday and slaughter it for Shabbos. In this way we can honor the Shabbos day properly.”

The next day, if he found an even choicer animal, he would again reject the request of his family to slaughter the animal.

“No,” he would say, “This is even a choicer animal than the first. Therefore, let us save this one for Shabbos and now slaughter the first one.”

In this way Shammai shopped and ate in honor of Shabbos.

Hillel Different

The other great sage, Hillel, was different. When he saw that the members of his household were doing as Shammai did, he said:

“It appears to me that it is not correct to save all the good food for Shabbos and make the rest of the week’s food drab and tasteless. Let us rather eat the choice food when we get it and have trust in the Almighty that He will give us out food daily in mercy.

“Let us eat now and trust that G-d will send us choice good for Shabbos, too.”

The great Hillel did not content himself with only being good personally but he also desired to teach and guide others along the proper path. He would do so, however, not with anger and admonition, but through kindness and soft words.

Thus, one day, as he was walking alone the road he met several people who were carrying wheat with them to sell in the marketplace in Jerusalem.

“Peace, my brothers,” said Hillel. “Tell me, what is the price of a measure?”

“Two dinarim,” he was told.

A Higher Price

Walking further Hillel came across another group of farmers bringing their wheat to market. Once again, he hailed them and asked how much a measure of wheat was.

“Three dinarim,” they replied.

Hillel was greatly disturbed. He saw that these men wanted to raise the price of wheat and that the poor people would be the ones most hurt.

“That is odd,” he said. “I met some farmers before who told me that the price of a measure was only two dinarim. Why are yours higher?”

The Men Grow Angry

When the men heard Hillel’s words they reacted angrily and said: “You foolish Babylonian, don’t you realize the those people live near the city and it takes only a few hours to reach Yerushalayim? We, however, live far from the city and we have carried the wheat on our shoulders all night. We are entitled to ask more money because of the burden.”

Hillel listened calmly to the angry and insulting words and replied: “Why do you grow so angry, my brothers? I did not insult you. I simply wanted to know the price of wheat.”

Hillel’s simple words calmed the men and made them realize that their own guilty conscience had made them lash out at him in an attempt to rationalize.

They realized that they were really at fault for raising the price and they were ashamed. Hillel noticed this and he began walking with them. He taught them how important it is to do good and justice and to have pity on the poor.

They Repent

The men heard the words and took them to heart.

“Blessed are you, Hillel,” they said, “for you have returned us to the path of goodness. From now on we will never close our hearts to the plight of our fellowman. We will not raise the price of wheat, but we will have trust in the Almighty from Whom comes all bread and sustenance.”

Greater Than All Else

The Honor of Torah takes precedence over all else and even the simple person who comes with Torah in his hands is one to whom we defer.

Rabbi Sholom Klass

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/kidz/midrash-stories/remembering-shabbos/2012/08/17/

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