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November 24, 2014 / 2 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘judaism’

Chabad Gives New Tefillin to Wounded Soldiers Who Lost Them in Battle

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

Wounded IDF soldiers whose tefillin were destroyed in clashes with Hamas received a pleasant surprise in the hospital on Wednesday with a brand new set presented by Young Chabad, the Kikar Shabbat website reported.

Several troops told visitors in the hospital that they were without their tefillin, and the Lubavitch House in Paris responded quickly to help fulfill a request to replace them.

Members of Young Chabad visited the soldiers the same day with a visit and a gift of new tefillin.

One woman from Pisgat Ze’ev, in northern Jerusalem, said that her son, who suffered injuries that required the amputation of one leg, learned in Chabad while in Morocco.

“This is the most important gift for my son,” she said.

Kidnapping Saga: Lapid Dusts Off His Siddur to Pray

Friday, June 20th, 2014

Secular Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid’s turning to prayer for the safe return of three teenagers kidnapped by Palestinian Authority terrorists symbolizes the country’s ability to plug the dikes against surrender to the frustration that has followed the initial reaction of anger to the abductions.

Every media outlet in the country has rightfully tried to keep the crisis in the headlines, but the truth is that for all the efforts to report something new, the bottom line is “nada.”

Zilch. Zero.

If the security forces know something, they aren’t saying or may even be lying to throw the terrorists off course. Hanging on to every word to interpret, analyze and dissect, journalists have covered every possibility and every angle possible,  and the IDF has carried out thousands of searches for the terrorists and their captives, Gilad Sha’ar, Naftali Frankel and Eyah Yifrach.

Lapid, during a visit to the family of Sha’ar, told Gilad’s mother, “I haven’t prayed for six years. Since the bar mitzvah of my son I haven’t been in a synagogue. When the story of your sons broke, I looked through the entire house searching for my grandfather’s siddur. I sat and prayed.”

It would be easy – and mean – to ridicule Lapid, whose who has made a religion out of spewing venom against observant Jews, especially Haredim.

Mocking him so would simply be another way of venting frustration, and we have already seen this week enough cracks in the unity that Israelis have displayed in their prayers for the kidnap victims and the trust that the IDF will find them alive and will capture the terrorists, dead or alive.

Naftalii Frankel’s mother Racheli said this week, “I believe wholeheartedly that they will return, but whatever happens, remember God does not work for us. Do not forget, even if God forbid, something happens, I believe they will come back but if not, please be united. Be united.”

Not everyone was listening.

David Ha’Ivri, who has done wonders in the Shomron Regional Council to bring journalists like Lapid as well as foreign media and political leaders to see for themselves that Jews are not oppressors and that settlers are not terrorists, vented his anger and frustration on the Arutz Sheva website Thursday and blamed the Israeli security forces for not preventing the kidnapping.

And Rabbi Dov Lior of Hebron-Kiryat Arba, one of the leading national religious rabbis, blamed the kidnappings on the failure of Israelis to do more mitzvot.

Between Ha’Ivri, Rabbi Lior and Lapid, guess which one gets the thumbs up for saying the right thing at the right time?

As every day passes without real news, the danger grows that frustration will turn to hopelessness.

Pundits already are warning that the army’s operating against the Hamas terrorist infrastructure in Judea and Samaria could have repercussions as we get closer to next week’s beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Security forces have arrested more than 300 terror suspects and killed at least one, while three soldiers have suffered light injuries.

Rabbi Berel Wein, in comments on the Jewish view of frustration., has written,  “Usually, frustration leads to feelings of anger and anger leads to bitterness of spirit and even to violence….

“’Blowing off steam’ is an understandable reaction to moments of extreme frustration. Yet the Torah and Jewish tradition militates strongly against such expressions of anger in almost all circumstances of life. Maimonides, who advocates moderation and a middle of the road approach regarding all human behavior traits, nevertheless advocates extremism in avoiding anger.

“The Talmud is replete with statements denigrating anger as a response to the frustrations of life. Anger is a statement that there is no God present in the world. Anger by its very presence is heresy and a denial of faith.”

Easier said than done, but Lapid, of all people, has shown the country how to do it.

Ten Questions on Evolution and Judaism

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

“Heresy!” An uproar erupted in parts of Israel yesterday when the Education Ministry announced that evolution will be taught to seventh through ninth grade pupils across the state education system, including in national-religious schools. Evolution is feared by many as being heretical. But is this really the case?

Here are ten questions about evolution and Judaism, along with brief answers. This does not substitute for the detailed discussion that this topic requires; it is merely intended as an introduction.

1) Evolution is alleged to have taken place over millions of years. But doesn’t the Torah teach that the universe was created just a few thousand years ago?

There is a strong (albeit not universal) tradition in Judaism that “the account of creation is not all to be taken literally,” to quote Maimonides. Rav Dovid Tzvi Hoffman (1843-1921), a member of Agudath Israel’s Council of Torah Sages, suggested that the Six Days of Creation were lengthy eras rather than 24-hour periods. Maimonides himself, as the commentaries on the Guide to the Perplexed reveal, was of the view that the Six Days represent a conceptual rather than historical account of creation.

2) Why should schools accommodate evolution? Isn’t it just a theory, not a fact?

“Evolution” is a confusing term, because it covers two very different concepts. One is common ancestry, the concept that all animal life arose from a common ancestor – simple organisms gave rise to fish, fish to amphibians, amphibians to reptiles, reptiles to birds and mammals (without getting into how that could have happened). This is supported by a wealth of converging evidence along with testable predictions. Common ancestry is considered by all scientists (except certain deeply religious ones) to be as well-established as many other historical facts, and is thus often referred to as “the fact of evolution.” It is of immense benefit in understanding the natural world – for example, it tells us why whales and bats share anatomical similarities with mammals, despite their superficial resemblance to fish and birds.

The second and very different aspect of evolution is the mechanism via which one species changes into another. This is called the “theory” of evolution. It is, however, important to bear in mind that the word “theory” has a very different meaning in science than in everyday conversational English. It does not refer to wild speculation, but rather to an explanatory mechanism. Most, though not all, biologists believe that random mutations, coupled with natural selection, broadly suffice to explain this mechanism. The issue is, however, of zero religious significance, as we shall explain in the answer to the next question.

3) How can we accept scientific explanations for how animal life came about? It was God who made everything!

We have a science of meteorology, but that does not stop us from saying that God “makes the wind blow and the rain fall.” We have a science of medicine, but this does not stop us from saying that God “heals the sick.” We have documented history of the process involved in winning the ’67 war, but this does not stop us from talking about God’s miraculous hand. God can work through meteorology, through medicine, through history, and through developmental biology. This is why it makes no difference if the neo-Darwinian explanation of the mechanism for evolution is true or not.

4) Doesn’t the Torah say that animals and man were created from the ground, not from earlier creatures?

Indeed it does. But what does that mean? The blessing recited over bread is “Blessed are You… Who brings bread out of the ground.” But what actually happens is that God created wheat, which man sows, nature grows, and man transforms into bread. Yet the blessing simplifies this in describing God as bringing bread out of the ground. By the same token, the description of God bringing animal life out of the ground can refer to His creating the raw material of nature and the natural processes that lead to the formation of animal life.

Torah Book Fetches Record $3.87 Million at Paris Auction

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

A 15th century printed book of the Torah fetched a record $3.87 million at an auction in Paris.

Three buyers attempted to outbid each other over the telephone during the sale which the Christie’s auction house organized on April 30, the news website actualitte.com reported Thursday.

Christie’s listed the buyer as “anonymous” but said the sale broke two records. According to Christie’s, the item was the world’s most expensive Hebrew-language book and fetched a higher price than any printed book known to ever have been sold in France.

The book was printed in Hebrew in Bologna in January 1482, according to Christie’s. “The volume represents the very first appearance in print of all five books of the Pentateuch as well as the first to which vocalization and cantillation marks have been added,” according to the Christie’s website.

Prior to the auction, Christie’s estimated the item’s worth at up to 1.5 million euros, or $2.08 million.

The back of the copy bears the signature of three 16th and 17th century censors, testifying to its presence in an Italian library until at least the mid-17th century, according to Christie’s.

“Over the last hundred years only two copies of this rare edition have come to auction: the first in 1970, printed on vellum and complete, the second in 1998, printed on paper and missing eight pages,” Christie’s added in a news release before the sale.

The copy sold Wednesday was printed on vellum and is complete, apart from the rear free-end paper, and is “in exceptionally fresh condition,” the auction house said.

In 2012, the Paris office of Christie’s sold a 15th century mahzor, or Jewish holiday prayer book, for $2.41 million. It was created in Florence, Italy and was richly embellished with intricate designs.

Egged Buses Reportedly Stop Counting the Omer

Monday, April 28th, 2014

The “Counting of the Omer, the custom practiced for 49 days between Passover and Shavout, may have ended after less than two weeks on Israeli Egged buses after complaints by passengers, including one who carries an anti-Haredi axe.

Many buses have carried digital signs showing passengers the correct day of the counting of the Omer, a measure of grain.

That sounds like a cute idea that shouldn’t be considered “religious coercion,” no more than it is “secular coercion” with advertising of products with scantily-clad women on posters on buses.

The digital signs that not only show the location of the next bus stop but also display  the correct day for Counting the Omer, which was considered “irrelevant information” by passenger Idan Yosef, who posted his complaint on a Hebrew news website.

He claimed that information on the buses must be for all passengers and not just those who count the Omer. Egged reportedly has stopped reporting the Counting of the Omer, but the company has not confirmed or denied the report.

Yosef’s complaint included a nasty swipe at Haredim who do not recognize Independence Day. He wrote that it is all right if a digital sign states “Happy Holiday” on Yom HaAtzmaut on buses that travel through Haredi neighborhoods.

That kind of “coercion” is okay.

In other words, separation of synagogue and state is valid so long as it can be manipulated for one’s personal agenda.

ADL Warns Missionary Group is Using Holocaust – Again – to Lure Jews

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

The New York-based Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is warning that the Jews for Jesus missionary group is using Holocaust imagery to lure Jews away from their faith.

ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman issued a statement Thursday condemning a new video posted to YouTube by the missionaries as a “cynical abuse of the Holocause for proselytizing.”

The video shows an image of Jesus carrying a cross among the Jews, and being selected for the gas chambers by a Nazi officer at the gates of the Auschwitz death camp. The tag line of the video is, “That Jew died for you.”

Mr. Foxman, who called the video an “outrage,” said, “It is deeply offensive not only to Jews who lost family members in the Holocaust but also to Christians who would not want to see images of Jesus used for propaganda or shock value.

“Jews for Jesus has taken their abuse of Holocaust imagery to a new low… [it is] an outrageous cheapening of the tragedy of the six million Jews and millions of others who perished in the Holocaust for the purpose of gaining attention to the Jews for Jesus missionary cause, which is to convert Jews to the belief that Jesus is their messiah.”

There is a direct contradiction between the two.

In Judaism, the messiah has not yet arrived. Jesus is perceived in the Jewish faith as having lived as a human being who did not meet the qualifications to be the messiah, either in his time or in future years. Jews do not believe that Jesus bears any divine attributes whatsoever.

In Christianity, of course, the exact opposite is true. Jesus is perceived as having lived as a man with divine attributes, and as being the messiah who lived and was “resurrected to live again.”

Anti-Terror Airport Squads Briefed on Tefillin and Matzah

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

The Transportation Security Administration has made its employees aware the Jews with a kippa and praying with tefillin are not necessarily terrorists.

This good news should help Jews relax when praying at the airport or on the airplane during the Passover holiday.

This is no laughing matter.

When a Jewish teen put on his tefillin and prayed on board a US Airways four years ago, the crew panicked and aborted the flight from LaGuardia Airport, landing in Philadelphia amid unfounded fears of a terrorist bomb.

The tefillin’s two small Scripture-filled boxes were a bit strange to the nervous crew. After all, they could be explosives inside. Or maybe a collapsible Uzi.

And those straps! There are two straps hanging down from the tefillin that are put on the head, and there is a strap on one arm, so who knows? Someone who never saw tefillin in his life could run away with his imagination and suspect that the straps could be wires from an explosive device.

The plane landed, and the boy, a lot more scared than the crew, was met by police, the FBI and bomb-sniffing dogs

And he didn’t even get a chance to pray.

A similar incident the following year caused the pilots of an Alaska Airlines flight to lock down the cockpit and alert authorities because of three Orthodox Jews with tefillin on the flight from Mexico City to Los Angeles.

When the same thing happened on a flight in New Zealand, the country’s Race Relations Commissioner said the armed response was unfortunate and showed “an exaggerated fear of terrorism.”

So this time, TSA is prepared and instructing staffers that tefillin are not bombs, the kippa is not designed to hide a bomb, and matzah is not a bomb.

“Our workforce is aware of the unique items carried by individuals and religious practices individuals may engage in while traveling,” said a TSA statement. This may include reading of religious text or participating in prayer rituals. Observant travelers may be wearing a head covering, prayer shawl, and phylacteries — in Hebrew, kippa, tallit, and tefillin.”

The TSA has also informed baggage inspectors to be careful with matzah packages.

Perhaps they have explained to them that matzah is not suspicious cardboard. Hopefully, workers understand that they are not to be munching on any cookies made with leavened bread when checking matzah packages

“Some travelers will be carrying boxes of matzah, which are consumed as part of the Passover ritual. Matzah can be machine or handmade and are typically very thin and fragile, and break easily,

“Passengers traveling with religious items, including handmade matzah, may request a hand inspection by the TSO of the items at the security checkpoint.” TSO is the abbreviation for Transport Security Officer.

Agudath Israel of America, an umbrella group for Orthodox congregations, expressed its “profound thanks” for the notice, stating that the agency has been deeply sensitive to our community’s needs and concerns on this and many issues.”

But if a worker does accidentally break a matzah in half, who gets the Afikomen

(JTA contributed to this report.)

Below is the TV report of the tefillin-bomb scare four years ago.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/anti-terror-airport-squads-briefed-on-tefillin-and-matzah/2014/04/10/

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