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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Kabbalas Shabbos’

The Prime Ministers: I Liked The Book So Much, I Had To Speak With The Author

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

I had just finished reading The Prime Ministers (Toby Press) and enjoyed every one of its 700-plus pages.  Yahuda Avner’s “fly on the wall” account spans the governments of Levi Eshkol (Six-Day War), Golda Meir  (Yom Kippur War), Yitzhak Rabin (Entebbe, Oslo), and Menachem Begin (peace treaty with Sadat, attack on Iraqi nuclear reactor, Lebanon invasion), describing sensitive, frightening and sometimes hilarious events, mostly of the kind you will never read in a newspaper.

Avner had served in various capacities – adviser, speechwriter, ambassador, consular diplomat – to all of the above-named prime ministers and as such was present at meetings and privy to conversations between Israeli officials and their counterparts around the world.

I thought it would be instructive to speak with Avner; though aware that The Jewish Press had published a lengthy interview with him shortly after the book was published a little more than a year ago, I was curious as to how the book had been received since its publication.

He agreed to set aside some time to meet with me while on a visit to New York. The ambassador is a genteel man. His demeanor is that of an elegant European diplomat, equally comfortable at an official state function and at a humble beis medrash.

Avner disclosed that he was able to remain as the senior Foreign Service officer on “loan” to the Prime Minister’s Office through four administrations because he had become the “institutional memory” of that office. He was always apolitical, walking out whenever the discussion turned to parochial politics. He recorded every conversation using his own shorthand, and after every meeting dictated the minutes of the proceedings for posterity.

When I asked him about the reaction his book had garnered, he told me he was besieged by demands on his time for speaking engagements all over the world, to the extent that he had to hire a publicist who handles his speaking engagements and schedule.

I wondered whether there had been complaints from any of the individuals mentioned and/or quoted in the book.

“To the contrary,” he replied. “I made it a policy that before I published any incident or quoted any person, I would send a draft manuscript to the protagonist for his or her comments, but only as it related to the accuracy of a particular incident or quote.”

Thus, every story and quotation was “vetted” by those involved, and the reaction has been very favorable.

Avner has heard from readers from every part of the globe who have praised him for his candor and his remarkable ability to quote, verbatim, occurrences of a half a century ago.

I asked Avner how he could quote persons on the other side of a phone call while he was present in the room on the Israeli side. He told me a former U.S. ambassador to Israel, who happens to be a good friend, shared with him notes he had sent to the State Department based on conversations on the other side of these phone calls which had became known to him through his own channels.

We discussed the challenge of Avner’s being strictly shomer Shabbos in an environment that, at least until Menachem Begin became prime minister, was not particularly sensitive to “Shabbos” issues.  Avner noted with a laugh that he found that most political and governmental crises occurred Erev Shabbos. He cited as an example the time Henry Kissinger and Yitzhak Rabin engaged in a rather stormy meeting in Jerusalem late one Friday afternoon.

Kissinger stormed out, slammed the door to the Prime Minister’s Office, and prepared to complain to the world press about Israel’s obstinacy. Rabin immediately ordered Avner to prepare and distribute a press release relating Israel’s version of the collapsed talks. On the grounds that “a press release was not a vital Israeli security matter but only hasbara” – public relations – Avner said he would not desecrate Shabbos by writing one.

A Weekend To Remember: Reflections on the OU’s Marriage Retreat

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

“You’re going where?! That sounds interesting. What is it?” This response we received from friends when we mentioned our plan to attend the Orthodox Union’s Marriage Enrichment Retreat this past July reflected the very same questions we were thinking. And it was with those thoughts that we went to the retreat – interested but unsure of what exactly we were getting into. A nice hotel, no kids, good food and maybe some interesting workshops.

Having been married for some 16 years, we decided to do something a little different from our standard summer one-night, two-day getaway and ventured into this idea of “making a good marriage even better.”

The ride up from Baltimore to Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey alone was worth it as we had four hours of uninterrupted time to just talk. With anticipation, we pulled up to the Hilton and began noticing the other participants carrying their hat/sheitel boxes and rolling suitcases.

After checking in and receiving our nametags (detailing where we were from and the number of years married) we strolled to the welcoming buffet. Sitting down in the comfortable room to a wide array of appealing food, we began to get a taste of the beautiful and inspiring weekend that was about to begin.

At this point, we were still somewhat nervous about what the weekend would entail. Was this retreat for older married couples? Was it for couples with serious relationship issues? Would we agree in terms of hashkafa with the topics and the speakers? Nevertheless, it was with an open mind and satiated stomach that we got ready for Shabbos.

The choices of workshops and topics ran the gamut for all ages and stages of marriage – including remarriages and blended families. With topics like “Learning to Grow Together…and Not Apart: Actualizing Emotional Closeness”; “The Overscheduled Marriage: Finding Time for Each Other”; “How to Fight Fairly”; “Communication: I’m Listening…Are You Still Talking?”; and “Dating Never Stops: Creative and Fun Ways to Still Court Your Spouse,” it was sometimes tough to choose which of the workshops to attend. We mutually agreed on the ones most fitting for our situation and attended the same workshops where possible. For the separate sessions on intimacy we parted ways and then compared notes afterward.

Back-to-back sessions left little time for us to discuss what we learned, but we certainly came away with lots of food for thought for the four-hour journey home.

Our fears of hashkafic discordance went unfounded as we saw and heard the high caliber of the speakers and were treated to some beautiful divrei Torah. We came away relaxed and rejuvenated both physically and spiritually and were ready to synchronize all that we had learned.

There were also unexpected benefits. Most inspiring was the array of people who attended the retreat. There was every color of the “Jewish Rainbow” present – truly a sense of Mah tovu ohalecha Yaakov. The Kabbalas Shabbos service was quite uplifting and set the tone for the rest of the weekend. Mealtimes (and snack times) offered the opportunity to mingle and meet others in a relaxed and friendly environment. After all, we were all here for the same purpose, no matter what hue you represented in that rainbow.

As the retreat unfolded and we were able to meet more people, we saw there were both young and old in terms of ages and stages.

We were glad the participants were asked to sit at different tables for each meal, which afforded us the opportunity to meet more couples. We sat with people married for less than a year and with couples together for 20-plus years; people marrying off their first child and people who had married several children. Some of the best advice and conversation came from these couples at spontaneous discussions throughout the different meals.

Listening to all the potential and actual problems that arise during marriage was a real eye-opener to us and gave us new appreciation for our own marriage, for what we have as a couple, as separate individuals and, ultimately, as a family, baruch Hashem.

We would like to take this opportunity to express our hakaras hatov, which we experienced on many levels. First, to the OU, especially organizer Frank Buchweitz; then to the caterer and the hotel staff for their high level of professionalism and sensitivity. No detail was overlooked in terms of luxurious comfort and the more sublime aspects of davening, kashrut (of course, it’s the OU!), and shmiras Shabbos. We also wish to express hakaras hatov to the speakers for their obvious dedication in preparing for the multiple workshops and for the time they set aside for private consultations.

This Week's Luach

Thursday, January 23rd, 2003

New York City
CANDLE LIGHTING TIME
Dec. 27, 2002 – 22 Teves 5763
4:15 p.m. E.S.T.
Sabbath Ends: 5:26 p.m. E.S.T.

Weekly Reading: Shemos
Weekly Haftara: Habaim Yashresh Yaakov (Yeshayahu 27:6-28:13;29:22-23)
Daf Yomi: Sanhedrin 107
Mishna Yomit: Bechoros 4:6-7
Halacha Yomit: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, 180:12
Rambam Yomi: Nusach Bircas Hamazon (to conclusion) – Hilchos Shabbos chapt. 1-2
Earliest time for Tallis and Tefillin: 6:20 a.m. E.S.T.
Latest Kerias Shema: 9:38 a.m. E.S.T.

This Shabbos is Shabbos Mevorchim. We bless the new moon, Rosh Chodesh Shevat is next Shabbos (1 day). The molad is Friday morning, 50 minutes and 14 chalakim (a chelek is 1/18 of a minute) past 9:00 a.m.

Friday evening, Kabbalas Shabbos and the usual Maariv tefilla with inclusion of Ya?aleh VeYavo in the Shemoneh Esreh. Birkas Hamazon: In the Grace After Meals we add Ya?aleh VeYavo, as well as mention of Rosh Chodesh in Beracha Acharona (Me?ein Shalos) at all times.
The following chapters of Tehillim are being recited by many congregations and Yeshivos for our brothers and sisters in Eretz Yisrael: Chapter 83, 130, 142.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/torah/this-weeks-luach-5/2003/01/23/

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