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January 19, 2017 / 21 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘issue’

The Issue is Israel’s Existence

Wednesday, December 28th, 2016

The U.N. resolution on Israeli settlements is perceived throughout the entire Muslim world as a giant victory and a historic achievement for the rights of Palestinians. Indeed, the resolution, which “will not recognize any changes to the 4 June 1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties through negotiations,” renders negotiations pointless because the international community rejects outright any Israeli legitimacy over any land beyond the lines drawn before the Six-Day War. In other words: Israel must withdraw from the Jewish Quarter, from Jerusalem’s new neighborhoods and from all of Judea and Samaria.

The common denominator in the Palestinian reaction — whether Fatah, Hamas or Islamic Jihad — is that this victory has to be leveraged, with vigor. A Palestinian Authority spokesman said actions must be taken to isolate Israel in the international arena, and called on the international community to take the necessary steps to implement the resolution ratified by the United Nations. The PA foreign minister called for actions that would put an end to the “Judaization” of Judea and Samaria. Other mouthpieces noted the need for legal action against Israelis for war crimes.

From the onset of Israel’s creation, the Muslim world without exception has sought to exterminate the Zionist entity. Its initial efforts focused on classical armed conflict: from the War of Independence to the Lebanon War, the enemies’ armies suffered staggering defeats, even if exacting from us a painful price. From the mid-1980s, the Muslim world shifted to a different strategy: intifadas. Here, too, Israel paid a heavy price, but was able to withstand the threat. For years now, calls for another intifada in Judea and Samaria and among Israeli Arabs have fallen on deaf ears. The third wave of terrorism, which is still ongoing, has introduced a new method of resistance: lone-wolf attackers, armed with knives or behind the wheel of a careening vehicle, seeking to terrorize the civilian population. However, a series of measures implemented by Israel’s security forces, alongside quick and effective action by civilians at the scene of attacks, have suppressed the phenomenon significantly.

The current phase is no less dangerous: diplomatic, legal and public relations warfare against Israel — a variety of initiatives aiming to present it as an immoral, apartheid, “illegal” country that must be denounced. Lest we delude ourselves: The goal of the public diplomacy war is the collapse of the Jewish state. International pressure demanding that Israel return to the June 4, 1967, borders is understood as the first stage, not the last. PA President Mahmoud Abbas has consistently declared that he will never recognize the State of Israel as the state of the Jewish people. And that he will never surrender the right of return for Palestinian refugees.

The heated argument between the Israeli Left and Right overlooks the essence of the problem: The issue is not the territories but the very existence of the State of Israel. It is imperative that Israel find effective ways to counter this new type of warfare, which is no less an existential threat than classic wars, intifadas and knives.

Dr. Ephraïm Herrera

Stop Skirting the Issue: Pants vs. Skirts

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

Over the past couple of months, one topic has come up in a number of conversations that I have had with some parents: Clothing. It usually goes something like this: “Hi, rabbi, I have a serious problem in my home and was wondering if you could give me some guidance. You see, my daughter is going off the derech and I am greatly concerned! She is—rachmana litzlan—wearing pants.”

The term “going off the derech” (or as it is known by its abbreviation “OTD”) is a clarion call for many but misunderstood by most. It probably would be a good idea first to define what “The Derech” is before claiming one is going off that derech.

The “derech” generally means (in very broad strokes) living one’s life according to Halacha and maintaining what is called an Orthodox lifestyle. This would include things such as Shabbat, Kashrut, Taharat HaMishpacha, etc. If one were to give up one of these areas of Halacha, such as Shabbat, then we would say he or she had “gone OTD.”

It is at that moment, when the parent is aghast that their daughter is wearing pants that I often ask: Does she keep Shabbat still? The answer is affirmative. Does she still keep kosher? Yes, of course, I am told. And I ask a few more questions like that and the answers remain in the affirmative.

Then, I say something that generally shakes them up: “I assume you want your daughter to go off the derech.”

After a brief pause (did I hear the phone go dead?), I am asked what in the world did I mean by that?! G-d forbid I would want my daughter to go OTD! And here, as they say, comes the knockout punch: I tell them that if they make an issue over the wearing of pants vs. skirts; that if their lives revolve around a “war” about clothing; that if there are threats and punishments discussed, then you can bet your  bottom dollar that this daughter of yours will likely go OTD.

At that point, if the parent is still speaking to me or has not yet outright called me an apikores, I continue to try and make my point in a cogent and direct way.

I ask them: If your daughter says that she wants to be able to wear pants or she will not keep kosher any more, what is your answer to that. What if she says it is pants or Shabbat? What do you say to that challenge? Depending on the family, the answer is not so forthcoming. GENERALLY, the answer is that they would prefer their daughter wear pants. Why, I ask. Why do you prefer they wear pants rather than leave Shabbat and Kashrut in the dust? As I hear them trying to seek an answer from deep inside themselves, I begin to hear the light go on.

In the minds of these parents, who make a war out of pants vs skirts, they are “fighting” a noble cause. After all, tzniut and the way a person dresses is a critical factor in a Bat Yisrael. True…but, when one makes that the DEFINING factor of a Bat Yisrael and makes a push that it is my way or the highway, then, as I said above, you have just set your daughter up to do exactly what you fear: to go off the derech. I have seen it many times, where a girl has thrown away her religiosity because her parents would not bend on the clothing issue.

The parent lost both the battle and the war. They have lost their daughter—not only in terms of religion but also in terms of their relationship.

Yes, Poskim have said and continue to say that a woman should indeed wear a skirt, l’chatchila (best case scenario). However, if a woman chooses to NOT wear a skirt, but instead to wear pants, the truth is that it is NOT in any way, shape or form an issue over having a child leave her religious lifestyle and going OTD. Is it worth battling about Kosher, Shabbat and things of that nature? Of course.

But, I can almost guarantee you that the more you push on the pants issue, the farther away you will push your daughter; possibly to the point of her not wanting to be שומרת תורה ומצוות ,and that would be on your head, as parents.

If the child is in a school and the rules of the school include skirts/no pants, then as having accepted this policy when signing up for the school, that is indeed your position and must be enforced. Barring that situation, I urge you to listen to your daughters. No, one need not “give in” at the first request. But…if it goes beyond requests and into the stage of “I am going to do this,” please believe me, it is not worth THAT fight.

Stop skirting the issue. Begin to listen and begin to understand. You have all to gain…and, G-d forbid, a daughter to lose.

Rav Zev Shandalov

July Issue of ISIS’ Dabiq Magazine Celebrates Orlando, Nice, Normandy, Würzburg, Ansbach

Monday, August 1st, 2016

Issue 15, the Summer of 1437 (that’s 5776 or 2016 to the rest of us) issue of Dabiq, the online magazine of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has hit the virtual newsstands, and it is, as always, chock full of hate, promises of murder and mayhem, and, of course, inspirational, blood thirsty stories about the spirit of Islam.

The new issue, with a modern, slick design, very much like your prestigious coffee table magazine, offers the familiar arguments against the authenticity of Judaism and Christianity, repeats the argument of the Crusading Europeans and their Jewish beachhead looking to dominate the Middle East, rehashes the Quran verses that belittle Jews — it’s all very familiar fare. What’s new is the forward section, which is up-to-the-minute and especially vile. So here it is (redacted). For the full version, you’re invited to click here.

“After the attacks in Orlando (USA), Dhaka (Bangladesh), Magnanville, Nice, and Normandy (France), and Würzburg and Ansbach (Germany) led to the martyrdom of twelve soldiers of the Caliphate and the deaths and injuries of more than six hundred Crusaders, one would expect the cross-worshipers and democratic pagans of the West to pause and contemplate the reasons behind the animosity and enmity held by Muslims for Westerners and even take heed and consider repentance by abandoning their infidelity and accepting Islam.

“But the fever and delusion caused by sin, superstition, and secularism have numbed what is left of their minds and senses. Their hedonic addictions and heathenish doctrines have enslaved them to false gods including their clergy, their legislatures, and their lusts. As for worshiping the Creator alone and following His Final Messenger, then that is beyond their consideration.

“… And despite their wretched condition of ignorance and arrogance, we take this occasion of multiple massacres inflicted upon their citizens and interests to call them once again to the religion of pure monotheism, truth, mercy, justice, and the sword.

“Between the release of this issue of Dabiq and the next slaughter to be executed against them by the hidden soldiers of the Caliphate – who are ordered to attack without delay – the Crusaders can read into why Muslims hate and fight them, why pagan Christians should break their crosses, why liberalist secularists should return to the fitrah (natural human disposition), and why skeptical atheists should recognize their Creator and submit to Him. In essence, we explain why they must abandon their infidelity and accept Islam, the religion of sincerity and submission to the Lord of the heavens and the earth.”

The Forward concludes: “We call you to reflect on these questions as the bloodthirsty knights of the Caliphate continue to wage their war of just terror against you. And have no doubt that the war will only end with the black flag of Tawhid (Islamic monotheism) fluttering over Constantinople and Rome, and that is not difficult for Allah…”

Issue 15 also offers a feature article titled “Break the Cross,” about how Islam is the only perfect word of God, which Jews and Christians just didn’t get right (or, in the case of the Jews, falsified — especially that story of the lad Ishmael who was kicked to the desert by Abraham, needless to say that couldn’t have happened…).

Another feature article (p.30) is an opinion piece titled, “Why We Hate You & Why We Fight You.” As you’ll recall, the official Bush White House answer to that question was because they envy our democracy. Turns out ISIS has a different take on why they hate us.

“1. We hate you, first and foremost, because you are disbelievers; you reject the oneness of Allah – whether you realize it or not – by making partners for Him in worship, you blaspheme against Him, claiming that He has a son, you fabricate lies against His prophets and messengers, and you indulge in all manner of devilish practices. It is for this reason that we were commanded to openly declare our hatred for you and our enmity towards you. ”

OK, that hatred is entirely about Christianity, with God’s son and all that business, we Jews never went for that sort of thing. In fact, we are not allowed to set foot inside a church for precisely those same reasons. But we don’t kill anybody, we just stay home and have some tea and biscuits.

“2. We hate you because your secular, liberal societies permit the very things that Allah has prohibited while banning many of the things He has permitted, a matter that doesn’t concern you because you separate between religion and state, thereby granting supreme authority to your whims and desires via the legislators you vote into power. In doing so, you desire to rob Allah of His right to be obeyed and you wish to usurp that right for yourselves.”

That one is especially problematic for faithful Jews in a democratic society, because we actually share the Muslims’ belief that the state apparatus, including the Jewish king (prime minister), must be part of a national religious endeavor. But we have developed a clever rabbinic device called, “The law of the land is the law,” which is our version of “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” The difference is that in the Christian version, Caesar is permanent, while our story has a happy ending with Jewish king who observes God’s law and redeems the nation (and the world). And, of course, instead of killing anyone who disagrees, we have tea and possibly crumpets.

“3. In the case of the atheist fringe, we hate you and wage war against you because you disbelieve in the existence of your Lord and Creator. You witness the extraordinarily complex makeup of created beings, and the astonishing and inexplicably precise physical laws that govern the entire universe, but insist that they all came about through randomness and that one should be faulted, mocked, and ostracized for recognizing that the astonishing signs we witness day after day are the creation of the Wise, All-Knowing Creator and not the result of accidental occurrence.”

OK, but to hate and kill over these disagreements? Isn’t it a little extreme? Also, those atheist types often write the code that enables ISIS to slash those infidel throats on live TV, while ISIS scientists are yet to produce the first, well, anything.

Numbers 4, 5, and 6 I hate-you’s are about the fact that the West has been mocking and killing hundreds of thousands of Arabs in the Middle East, and for that how can we fault them. All we can do is try harder to take those repugnant ISIS folks out in large groups and on a daily basis. If only because the article concludes with this money line:

“The fact is, even if you were to stop bombing us, imprisoning us, torturing us, vilifying us, and usurping our lands, we would continue to hate you because our primary reason for hating you will not cease to exist until you embrace Islam.”

And so, as any clear thinking human being would conclude, the only cure for ISIS is to eliminate them physically from the face of the earth. Nothing short of that will do.

Joyous reading.


Israeli Police Issue New Guideline: ‘Beware of Attacks with Poisoned Syringes’

Monday, May 9th, 2016

The Judea and Samaria Police District is concerned about a new kind of Arab terrorism, using poison-filled syringes against Israeli security personnel, Walla reported Monday. Police base their concern on an attempted attack a week and a half ago, in which an Arab female, 15, tried to stab soldiers with a syringe that was filled with detergents.

A police intelligence report disseminated last Thursday notes that two syringes had been discovered in the possession of two 15-year-old Arab females, one of whom was wielding hers when they arrived at the check post near Beit Horon, on route 443 (an alternative to Highway 1, connecting Tel Aviv and Jerusalem). In view of the new development, the police called on every last officer to remain alert to the possibility of the use of syringes in attacks and conduct body searches with that possibility in mind.

The female who had wielded the syringe was shot and wounded, and her friend was arrested without injury to Israeli security forces. Both females, residents of Ramallah, also had in their possession knives and a letter with citations from the Koran. In their interrogation, both confessed to a desire to kill Jews. Police believe the substance in their syringes was a combination of bathroom cleaner and dish liquid.

The Judea and Samaria Police District report mentions a 2015 Facebook post by the Commission on Information and ideological Mobilization – Fatah calling on Arab terrorists to use syringes full of poison instead of knives, because “it’s a more efficient and deadly method than using a knife.”

The Fatah-affiliated group’s post recommends that, “in light of the installation of metal detectors at the entrances to Jerusalem to prevent the use of knives, there is a new and simple method — using syringes with firewater, such as benzene or any other poisonous substance.”

However, until the publication of the story in Walla Monday morning, there has been only that one reported instance of an attempted attack with a poisoned syringe.

Stay tuned.


Of The Book: Inaugural Issue – Winter 2013-14

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

Jewish Press Staff

Self Esteem And Its Impact On Marriage

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

Self esteem is one of the most important factors influencing human behavior. Despite what some people believe, self esteem can be a critical issue in marriage, where unresolved identity issues from childhood can place unwanted stress on a relationship.

Low self esteem can be very painful and difficult to overcome. Our sense of self is something we come into the world with and it follows us through life like a shadow. If we lose it, we are lost. If we have we it, we can face all of our trials and tribulations and maintain our sense of satisfaction and emotional well-being. Most parents understand the role self esteem plays in childhood. When children grow up, we teach them how to take losses in stride and how to win and lose with grace. We teach children that it’s them, and not just their grades, that matter.

Once childhood passes, unresolved self esteem issues can last for a lifetime. For example, in marriages where one person suffers from low self esteem, both parties may feel that their spouse never properly fulfills their emotional needs. And, where both suffer from feelings of low self esteem, there may be perpetual disappointment in the relationship.

Expectations make this issue even more complex. Couples tend to enter marriage with the belief that any hurt they may have experienced in the past will be healed by their spouse. They may also hope that their spouse will somehow make them feel good about themselves and nurture their self image.

A couple once came to talk with me about difficulties they were having in their marriage. The issue burning in their minds was the negative behavior of their teenage son. The father found it difficult to parent his rebellious teenager with confidence, and the wife had given up hope in her children and in her marriage as well. Overall, they were both visibly angry at one another, withdrawn and disappointed in their relationship.

I sensed there was more hiding below the surface. The husband, it turned out, had lost his mother at a young age and was raised by his father, who was too preoccupied with their financial survival to pay much attention to his son’s emotional needs. The wife had also had a very difficult childhood. She grew up with a father who had a temper and would often yell at her without reason. Early on, she had learned how to adapt and “disappear” from the house when he was around.

Years later, these two individuals would continue their childhood patterns and be caught in an endless cycle of emotional turmoil. Here is how the self esteem issues spiraled out of control: whenever he sensed that his wife was not responsive to his emotional needs, he would start yelling at her. His wife, who was mistreated by her father and had learned how to avoid conflict, would physically and emotionally withdraw from him and try to hide. This would intensify his feelings of rejection and make him even angrier.

To break the cycle, I suggested that both work on their self esteem. They could begin by exploring how their childhood traumas were now influencing their present-day behavior. Through becoming aware of these inner issues, they would be better equipped to respond to their deeper emotional wounds and start healing their feelings of rejection and neglect.

Here is a list of childhood family issues that may be interrupting your ability to have a happy marriage as an adult:

* Divorce
* Learning disabilities
* Lack of friendships
* Illness
* Physical or emotional abuse
* A sick parent
* A death in the family

Children who are exposed to conflict at home (which tends to coincide with a negative and hostile relationship between the parents) are more at risk for aggression, internalizing by withdrawing, depressive symptoms, and feelings of low self esteem.

Also, an adult who lost a parent when he or she was a child may feel a sense of loss that can carry on for a lifetime. Losing someone at a young age can diminish self-confidence, create feelings of despair, and leave individuals with feelings of anxiety and uncertainty.

Part of the healing process is to become aware of these inner issues and to begin discussing them with one’s spouse. Talking about them in an honest and open way can help them become aware of each other’s feelings of abandonment. Here are some tips on how to nourish each other’s level of self esteem:

Rabbi Daniel Schonbuch

Can Women say Kaddish?

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

When a parent dies one of the things done during the year long mourning period is to say Kaddish. This is usually done by a son. The idea behind that is to build up Zechuyos (merit) for the Niftar (the deceased).

The reason we do that is based on the idea that most people do not live a sin free life and before one merits his final place in Olam HaBa, the soul has to go through a ‘cleansing period’ whereby it pays for sins it committed during its brief stay in the body. By doing things in the merit of the Niftar it is hoped that the punishment it gets during this ‘cleansing period’ will be reduced.

This is a universal practice in Judaism. No matter how great – or not so great – the deceased parent was, assuming he was not a Rasha the practice is to say Kaddish for the same amount of time (11 months. Saying Kaddish for more than 11 months implies that the deceased was a Rasha). Why Kaddish was established as opposed to other ways of bringing merit to the deceased is beyond the scope of this post.

The question arises as to whether a woman can say Kaddish for a parent. There are differences of opinion about that. I am not here to Paskin. That is beyond my pay grade. But I believe there are Poskim that permit it.You would think that a woman saying Kaddish for a parent in Shul was tantamount to using profanity the way some people react to it. That is not OK. From a letter submitted to JOFA:

No, you can’t say kaddish because you’re a woman… Shh! Why can’t you keep your voice quiet!? We can hear you over the mechitza!… [The silence when no one says amen to my kaddish recitation]… You know, it doesn’t actually count when a daughter says kaddish… Couldn’t you get your husband or father to say kaddish instead?… It would be much more respectful if you didn’t say kaddish… Is there a man who is REALLY saying kaddish for your mom?

No one has a right to criticize any woman for saying Kaddish for a deceased parent. No matter what their opinion is about the permissibly or effectiveness of it. To say the things said to one such woman contained in this letter (reproduced above), is not only insensitive, but in my view a disgusting psychological abuse of another human being. An abuse of the type Chazal had some very harsh words for: Kol HaMelaben Pnei Chavero B’Rabim K’ilu Shofech Damo! Embarrassing some one publicly is tantamount to murder.

Kayla Jacobs submitted this letter as a reason for needing JOFA – the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance.

I submit that she does not need JOFA for that. I am not a member of JOFA and I am as outraged by such comments as she and any Orthodox Feminist is. Justifiably so. But do we really need a Feminist organization to protest this kind of insensitivity on the part of some ignorant people? Or do we need common sense?

Where is the empathy? Where is the Jewish Soul? Where is the brain?!

What kind of human being would insult a woman who is expressing the best way she knows how her mourning for a parent?

I do not see this as a feminist issue at all. This is a human issue. And if there are more than a few people in the religious world who are like this, the fault lies in the Chinuch they get. Either in the home or in the school. Or both.

Not that they aren’t entitled to their views with respect to who gets to say Kaddish and who doesn’t. Honorable people can disagree about that. But in how to treat a fellow human being. Especially one who is suffering the loss of a parent. The disgusting comments contained in that letter is not how that is done. Those kinds of statements can only lead down a different road. One that will require offspring to say Kaddish for more than 11 months.

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah.

Harry Maryles

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