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October 22, 2016 / 20 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘learning’

Learning The Basics

Friday, July 1st, 2016

The last thing on people’s minds as summer officially starts is school. People are breathing a sigh of relief at the thought of their kids being in camp or in the bungalow colony and school seems like a far away destination. But it is because of summer and the financial expenditures that come with it, as well as the physical dangers and threats from nature that seem to occur in hot weather, that I am mentioning school, or rather the teaching of crucial life skills to our children that will serve them well as they become adults.

Some might argue that the school day is already packed with lessons, but it might be a good idea to downsize some and create time for subjects that are actually practical and life-enhancing.

For example, the ins and outs of managing money.  Almost two-thirds of Americans have less than $1,000 in their savings accounts to use in case of an emergency, and 21% don’t even have a savings account, according to a recent survey of more than 5,000 adults conducted by Google Consumer Survey for GOBankingRates.com.

Why is that?  So many people complain that they don’t have money – even if they are gainfully employed and make a decent salary. I suspect that in many cases it’s because of poor money management and clueless spending.  For example, a person may buy a coffee every morning that costs S4.00; what’s $4.00 after all. But do that five times a week and it comes to $20 a week or $80 a month; a year later $960 is gone. There’s your emergency fund – just don’t make a trip to the coffee shop.

I am not saying that people should forgo this relatively cheap pleasure – like my fellow columnist Rachel Bluth, I love my cup of coffee – but just be mindful of the expense and perhaps cut down. I buy a jar of flavored coffee at a fraction of the coffee shop price and it lasts for weeks. The money I save is spent on bus and air plane tickets and being a traveling Bubby.

I come from a family that never bought what they couldn’t pay, but I think that way of thinking is the exception these days. Many kids are being raised unaware of the difference between a need – fix a flooded kitchen floor – and a want – an updated phone with state-of-the-art gadgets.

Kids need to be taught how to save and spend money.  Even a kindergarten student can understand how the pennies collectively put in the pushka can add to real money that can help a kallah buy linens or feed a family for a week.

Lessons on fiscal responsibility should be taught in school and be adjusted according to grade. Perhaps money management can be part of math class. It’s something school administrators should consider while designing the curriculum.

If you listen or read the news, you know that there are floods, hurricanes, even earthquakes. And if you think that you live in a part of the world where these things never happen, think again. In August of 2011, I was visiting a friend in Brooklyn when the couch I was sitting on shifted! It was a strange feeling to be on a piece of heavy furniture that was moving.  For a second I thought I had vertigo, but my friend said she also felt disoriented for a few seconds and wondered why the paintings on her wall were crooked. There had been earthquake in Virginia and the quake was felt as far away as New York.

I have no idea where to place myself in case of an earthquake, a flood or a hurricane.  Do you stay or go outside? Do you hide in a closet, go to the basement or up on the roof? I visit Texas from time to time and twice in less than a year, flooding waters damaged neighborhoods with large frum communities. Did you know that if you are in a car in a flooded street, you should get out if the water is not moving, but if it is, stay put? Even a few inches of moving water is dangerous. Who knew? My instinct would be to get out of the car and swim with or against the current, but that apparently would be a very bad choice.

Knowing what to do in a disaster is crucial for survival.  Kids are taught how to get to safety in a fire but these life-saving lessons need to be expanded. I just read that several hikers perished this weekend while hiking in sweltering heat. During bein hazmanim, it’s not unusual to hear of bachurim who have drowned or gotten lost in the desert and were niftar. Hashem has commanded us to watch over our lives and protect ourselves. To do so we have to arm ourselves with knowledge. It is not bitul Torah to take time out from learning and be taught by experts. A live person can learn Torah, but a bachur who died prematurely cannot!

Perhaps a discount in tuition can be given to motivate parents whose children have not learned to swim by age eight to get them lessons. It is a mitzvah to teach a child how to swim. This goes for both girls and boys. Drowning does not gender discriminate.

In the same veinkids should be taught how to defend themselves if they are being attacked. A bully will think twice about beating up a child if he/she knows how to block blows and how to inflict them in a way that will have the brute running in the opposite direction.

A bigger issue is that our kids are too trusting and naive or are taught to obey adults, especially if they appear to be part of the community. They need to be taught how to be mindful and alert and know how to prevent an abduction.

Even elementary age students should be taught basic first aid and get refresher courses every semester. Babies and toddlers can choke on something they swallow and it is crucial that young people know how to recognize the signs of distress that indicate choking and how to do the Heimlich maneuver on a choking child or adult. They should also be taught CPR and other life-saving techniques appropriate to their age and strength.

Mommy might be outside chatting with a neighbor while seven-year-old Leah notices the baby turning blue from something he put in his mouth while crawling. She needs to know what to do in those crucial first seconds.

Teaching teenage boys and girls basic auto maintenance in school can be life-saving as well – how to gauge if your tires are over- or under-inflated can prevent a crash. Knowing how to attach cables to restart a battery in the middle of nowhere can prevent much worry, stress and loss of valuable time.  It’s important to learn these skills. You don’t necessarily have to do it yourself but it’s handy to have that knowledge. On a lighter note, the same goes for knowing how to sew on buttons or make a hem. It’s a plus to know how, even if you have the means to get someone else to do it.  The extra money you save by doing it yourself can mean an extra cup of your favorite latte!

Cheryl Kupfer

Learning About Arabs and Jews from a Lifeguard

Thursday, June 9th, 2016

I would imagine that in most parts of the world, if you want to know what is happening, you need to read the newspapers and talk to experts. In Israel, however, that is not what you do. For years, people found out the real news from taxi drivers but today, in the modern world, the #1 expert to talk to is… the lifeguard at the beach!

I don’t go to the beach too much, so talking to lifeguards is not something I usually do, but last week I attended the bar mitzvah of a close friend’s son and one of the guests was Itzik, the lifeguard at the separate beach in Herziliya. My friend introduced us and for the next 30 minutes I found myself listening to a man who had incredible insights into life. As soon as he heard my American accent he insisted on speaking in broken English, even though I understand Hebrew perfectly. He told me that he is “the lifeguard at religion beach” (yes, that is a direct quote) and works all week but not on Shabbat. He has been a lifeguard since 1985 and told me things that proved what I had been saying for years.

The beach in Herziliya is 7.5 kilometers long and for all the years that Itzik worked there (over 30 years already!), the Arabs who came to enjoy the beach always bathed at the farthest northern point. There is actually a mosque at that location and it is next to the historical Apollonia National Park, which contains the remains of a Crusader city, built around 1250. While never officially declared the “Arab section of the Herziliya beach”, it was in fact the unwritten rule that Arabs go there. This happens to be a very nice section of the beach, with an official lifeguard, as well as all the comforts that exist everywhere else. Itzik told me that all that changed about 3 years ago.

He said that 3 years ago he noticed how Arabs began coming to all the areas of the beach – including the separate beach! He saw buses and buses of Arabs and found out that these Arabs were being bussed in from Hebron and Ramallah. He couldn’t understand what happened so he asked one of the Arabs whom he befriended, and this is what the guy told him; “The leaders of the Palestinian Authority told us not to go to the northern part. They told us to spread ourselves over the entire beach to show that this is our land and we can go wherever we want.” The Arab then told him that the leaders said, “Only the Jews remain in ghettos and small areas but we will show that all of Israel is ours.”

I want you to read that last paragraph again… and then again. The Arabs are not just talking or writing emails. They are acting and conquering even when they go to the beach! Stay in a corner?? Not us, they say! The entire land is ours, we are the home owner – the “Ba’al Ha’Bayis” -and nobody tells the Ba’al Ha’Bayis where to sit in his home!

Just a minute, please…. Itzik wasn’t finished yet. “My Arab friend told me another unbelievable thing. He said that those same Arab leaders told them that when they shop in the malls in Israel, they are not to speak in Hebrew (which they speak very well), but only in Arabic. These leaders said that they want the shoppers and store owners/workers to know that they are Arabs and that, once again – just like the beach – they can walk freely in any mall and shop in any store.”

I left my discussion with Itzik the Lifeguard and wondered; how many people realize this? What he said was nothing new to me… but I’m sure it will be revolutionary to most others. Too many people have their head in the sand and refuse to see the non-politically correct truth, but here it is: The Arab of today is not the Arab of yesterday. He is not apologizing. He is not making excuses. He is not hiding… and he is at war with the Jewish state 24/7, in everything he does.

The Arab of today declares to the entire world that Israel is his, and when he says “Israel” he doesn’t just mean Gaza, Jenin and East Jerusalem. “Israel” includes Herziliya and Ra’anana and Tel Aviv. It is all his and this is why he swims near the 5-star hotels and not near some Crusader ruins from 760 years ago. This is also why he shops in the fanciest malls in Ramat Aviv, Petach Tikva and Netanya and talks Arabic the whole time. He is not “undercover” nor is he a member of an illegal “underground” movement. He is proud and very vocal about his beliefs.

And the most important lesson of all? He wants the entire land of Israel – which is what I have said for over 40 years – and not just a small strip of land like some fools would have you believe. My blessed Rav, the great Rabbi Meir Kahane ztz”l said, “I understand the Arabs and they understand me but neither of us understand the Jews!” How true that comment was in 1980 and how true it still is in 2016.

People who supported the horrific “Gaza Disengagement Plan” believed that the Arabs would be happy with Gaza and that this would bring peace. Those people are fools yet most of them now support “The Two-State Solution”. I guess it’s true that fools never learn.

We need to talk straight and clear; The Arabs want one state and they want it Judenrein. They want every Jew out, even the ones that help them, and they will never be satisfied until their “Final Solution” has been successfully implemented, G-d forbid. You need to know this if you want to seriously deal with the issues confronting Israel today. Only strong, proud leaders who are not afraid to say this will be successful in leading the Jewish nation to greatness. All others are part of the problem and will never have a hand in the solution.

My advice to those weak, impotent and politically correct Jewish leaders is simple. Grab a towel, sun screen and a cold beer and talk to Itzik the Lifeguard. That beach experience can change your life.

Shmuel Sackett

An Open Letter to MK Rabbi Dov Lipman

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

By Rabbi Avraham Edelstein

My Dear Reb Dov,

Even prior to your standing as a Knesset Member, we met in my office and had a positive conversation. From afar, I saw you as a man who had served his nation well in the USA, who had written an excellent book for the unaffiliated, who had gotten involved in trying to make peace between the parties in Beit Shemesh, and who, at some stage, risked parnassa to become a full time social activist. After your election, I sent you a blessing and a message that, among other things, you would use your new-found power for the sake of the Jewish people.

Although I already had doubts about your direction—for Yesh Atid got 19 mandates based on hatred of the Haredim—I still felt that you would engage the Haredim in dialogue, and that you would use your oft-claimed status as a Haredi rabbi to be a bridge between all of our brethren in the State of Israel.

Now I know that that is no longer the case. From the first missed opportunity during your opening speech in the Knesset, you have relished your newfound role in certain circles as being the brave hero who says unpopular things to, and about, your own. Your new friends generously provide you with hourly confirmation that your positions are correct.
The problems you express regarding the lack of parnassa in the Haredi community are real and admitted to by every intelligent Haredi leader. But, as I shared with you when we met, solutions to these problems were being executed even as we spoke. Haredim were going to work in increasing numbers. In fact, last year alone, there were five thousand Haredi males engaged in courses and degree programs that represented a full range of careers. The mainstream Haredi communities no longer stigmatize those men who go to work.

For better or worse, the Haredi community in Israel is in rapid transition, with the Gedolim helping to guide the visionaries who serve to facilitate the process. And in conjunction with the State of Israel, operations like Kemach and Keren Canada, among others, have provided the financial backing.

We Haredim really and truly believe in the Torah. We believe in maximizing its study and we believe in giving up a great deal to do so. Many of us are willing to live in poverty for the sake of learning, and I so admire all those who make that choice. What we want is that others who want or need to go out to work can do so without stigma. This is what is happening now.

But along came MK Dov Lipman and decided to stage a show-down. “There will be war!” came the message. “We must get those Haredim out of those yeshivos!” “We will only allow a tiny amount of the elite to stay in learning, as a grand concession.” “We will starve them out – we will cut their funding if they don’t do the core curriculum, and we will cut their social security, and we will cut their children’s allowances… ” “And we will do all of this for their sakes, for they do not know what is in their own best interests.”

Reb Dov, I am perplexed. How did you move so far away so rapidly?

Did you think that all of our Haredi brethren who were shteiging away in yeshivos would rush into the arms of the army, leaving one avreich here and two there to switch off the lights?

Did you think we were going to give up our daily sacrifice for Torah because you tightened the screws a little bit? Did you think that Gedolim, such as Rav Aron Leib Shteinman, were not deeply concerned, day and night, about the issue of the public’s parnassa? Believe me, the most desperate avriechim go to him, not to you!

I won’t repeat the claims of those who have built a much larger case against you, because once there is a pattern, there is no need to point out every instance thereof. What I am glad about is that you are still calling yourself a Haredi, because it means that you and I can still have a dialogue. What I do worry about, though, is that you are moving so fast out of our realm, you will begin to see us as the enemy that you and your Yesh Atid brethren have to fight. After all, your voters tell you that this is why they elected you.

Guest Author

In Hebrew: ‘To Dial’

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

לְחַיֵּג As language develops, words sometimes depart from their original meaning to take on a similar but new meaning.

Take, for example, the English verb to dial meant something else to do with the word day in its original Latin, but today its main meaning is to press numbers on a keypad.

Likewise, the Hebrew word for to dial – לְחַיֵּג (leh-khah-YEG) – comes from the root ח.ו.ג (kh.w.g), which has to do with circles. This root appears in the children’s song, עוּגָה עוּגָה עוּגָה (OO-gah, OO-gah, OO-gah) – Cake, Cake, Cake, in the word נָחוּגָה (nah-KHOO-gah) – we shall go around (see a translation and transliteration as well as a video of the song).

What do circles have to do with dialing? You may recall the ancestor of the iPhone, the rotary phone, which had a round dial.

Visit Ktzat Ivrit.

Ami Steinberger

Daf Yomi

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

Sow The Seeds Of Repentance
‘This Potted Plant’
(Shabbos 81b)

The minhag to shlag kapparos before Yom Kippur is an old and accepted in many communities. The Mechaber (Orach Chayim 605:1) dismissed this custom and urged that it be abolished. The Rema (ibid.), on the other hand, encouraged it, writing: “Some Geonim and many Achronim cited this custom. It is practiced in all these countries [Ashkenaz], and it should not be abandoned since it is the custom of the pious.”

The earliest known source for this minhag is a Rashi on our sugya. The Gemara discusses a potted plant called parpisa. To define this term, Rashi (s.v. “hai parpisa”) writes, based on teshuvos of the Geonim, that in Talmudic times people customarily made wicker baskets and filled them with earth and fertilizer – one basket for each member of the household. The baskets were called parpisa. Grains or legumes were planted in the baskets 22 or 15 days before Rosh Hashanah, which sprouted by the time Rosh Hashanah arrived. On erev Rosh Hashanah, each person would take his or her designated basket, circle it around his or her head, while reciting, “This is in place of that. This is my redemption, this is my substitute,” and then throw the basket in the river.

What was the significance of this custom? The Chasam Sofer (ibid.) explains that the seeds planted in the parpisa baskets represented a person’s children. People prayed that if a Heavenly decree had been passed against their seed, it should fall it upon the parpisa seeds and not upon their children. This concern was especially prevalent in the time of the Gemara when an epidemic of ascara, a fatal breathing disorder (tuberculosis?), claimed the lives of many children.

People would cast these parpisa baskets into the river because when beis din is unable to carry out the punishment of death by strangulation, Hashem brings about the guilty party’s death by drowning or ascara. They thus prayed that the “drowning” of the plant take the place of the drowning or ascara that might afflict their children, G-d forbid.

Kapparos With A Chicken

Many years later, the custom changed, and people performed kapparos with chickens instead. The Rosh (8:23) cites this custom, and asks why specifically a chicken is used and not a different animal. He offers a simple explanation: chickens were the most common animals to among the impoverished Jewish communities of Europe. Indeed, in more affluent communities, horned animals were used in order to recall the merit of the horned ram that was sacrificed in place of Yitzchak Avinu. Another reason why a chicken was used is because the Hebrew word for rooster is gever, just like the Hebrew word for man. Therefore, a chicken is the most appropriate substitute for man.

Additionally, the Acharonim write that one must never use an animal for kapparos that would be kosher as a sacrifice on the mizbe’ach (such as a dove, sheep, goat or cow) in order to avoid the mistaken impression that one intends to sanctify the animal as a korban (Mishnah Berurah ibid. s.k. 4).


The Aruch Hashulchan (O.C. 605:1) suggests that the sources for the Mechaber’s negative assessment of kapparos are the Ramban and Rashba who sensed a tinge of “darkei Amori – Amorite custom” in this practice (as cited by the Mechaber himself in his longer Beis Yosef commentary to the Tur, O.C. 605).

Widespread Acceptance

Nevertheless, the minhag of kapparos is prevalent today among both Ashkenazic and Sephardic communities. Although Sephardim generally follow the rulings of the Mechaber, who opposed the custom of kapparos, in this case they follow the Rema since the Arizal also attached great importance to kapparos (Kaf Hachayyim 604, s.k. 5)

Interestingly, R’ Yaakov Emden (Shaar Shomayim 112b) writes that even today, if someone does not have chickens or money with which to perform kapparos, he should follow the custom of parpisa and perform kapparos with seeds.

Kapparos On Erev Rosh Hashanah

We conclude with the following interesting note. Although the prevalent custom today is to perform kapparos on, or before, erev Yom Kippur, Rashi writes that it was customarily performed on erev Rosh Hashanah.

Rabbi Yaakov Klass and Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/halacha-hashkafa/daf-yomi-56/2012/12/19/

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