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July 24, 2016 / 18 Tammuz, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘LIFE’

What’s The Plan? Getting The Life You Want

Monday, June 6th, 2016

If it is your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first – Mark Twain

The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one – Mark Twain

Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones that you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover – Mark Twain



Mark Twain, the nineteenth century American author of classics such as Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was born Samuel Clemens. He was a prolific writer and highly sought-after public lecturer. He often spoke about procrastination and success – and how the key to success was to begin rather than to wait around and react to what life has thrown your way.

In their new book Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want, Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy deal with many of the same issues, but approach it in a systematic way. Their basic question is: “How can you achieve the life you want to live?” Don’t we all want to know the answer to that question!

Hyatt and Harkavy begin their book by explaining a term they coined: drift. They explain that we have the tendency to drift or to veer from what our own intentions. It is as if you are out in the ocean and you lose sight of the shore, but do not realize it until you have moved many miles away. This drift can occur in our careers, in our marriages, in our health, or in other arenas that are particularly important to us. Why does this drift happen? The authors ascribe it to four different factors:

It happens when we are unaware. We don’t have a plan for what we want and thus are not even aware of what our goal is.

It happens when we are distracted. We are so focused on one area of our lives that we ignore everything else. For example, you might be building your business and heavily investing your time and energy into that for many years. Then, one day you might turn around and notice that your marriage is struggling because you have not focused on it at all.

It happens when we are overwhelmed. Sometimes in the busy pace of life, we are just struggling to keep up and say we will “get to that when this next project is done” or “I will think about that over the summer.” In reality, those are often just excuses and we don’t ever get to the thing we said we would.

It happens when we are deceived. Sometimes we believe that we cannot do things or make changes. In those cases we might be deceiving ourselves (and we think we can’t change…)


Consequences of drifting:


Expense – Fix your health or fix your marriage.

Lost opportunity – Busy trying to keep up, you can’t take opportunities.

Pain – Hurts not to be in optimal health or your careers is not where you want it to be. Regrets – You are not in the place you want to be.


“Life Planning is the exact opposite of the drift. The drift is about passivity. Life Planning is about proactivity. The drift is about blaming our circumstances or other people. Life Planning is about taking responsibility. The drift is about living without a plan. Life Planning is about having a plan and working it.”

Benjamin Franklin is the first Life Planner we know of. Around 1730, while in his late twenties, he drafted a plan for self-improvement. He listed thirteen essential virtues he wanted to develop in his life – things like temperance, frugality, industry, and humility. He chose one virtue to focus on each week and kept a daily chart to track his progress.

A Life Plan is a short written document, usually five to fifteen pages long. Yes, that’s right. Not a big, fat, three-ring binder with a hundred pages of detailed plans. No, just a short, written document that you can read with ease on a daily or weekly basis.

It is created by you and for you. It describes how you want to be remembered. It articulates your personal priorities. It provides the specific actions necessary to take you from where you are to where you want to be in every major area of your life.

Three powerful questions: How do I want to be remembered? What matters most?

How can I get from here to where I want to be?

Plan a wedding, plan which car to buy, but who plans their life? The drift – reactive. The plan – proactive.

Life will be different: Clarity – where you want to end up, what the action steps are. Courage – can say yes to what is truly important. Control – go through life feeling out of control, but this allows us to be in control.

Rifka Schonfeld

Life Chronicles

Monday, June 6th, 2016

Dear Mrs. Bluth,

I am so devastated at this writing, as are many others in my community. I am writing to you not so much for a solution, rather to bring this terrible problem to the forefront and perhaps save someone else’s child.

I just received the news that a neighbor’s son was involved in a horrible car accident and was niftar.  He was driving home from a vort with three friends and they had all been drinking.  Two of the other young men are in critical but guarded condition and the third, who had been sitting in the front seat, without a seat belt on, is not expected to make it. What makes no sense, is that the young man who died, the driver, was not drunk. What made him lose control and hit a tree? We might never know.

My heart breaks for our neighbors, who must now bury their only son and for the other parents who must wait and daven for a good outcome for their sons.

This is the most recent tragedy in a long history of road accidents that our community and neighboring communities have suffered over the last few years and I fear it will not be the last.

Please warn others that before they allow their sons and daughters to get behind the wheel of a car they are sure these kids are mature enough to make the right decisions.  Kids with drug problems or alcohol addiction should not be allowed to drive, period.  It is bad enough when older people are involved in car accidents, do to age, poor judgement or substance abuse but when it happens to eighteen and nineteen year olds, it is devastating!



Dear Friend,

My heart goes out to you, your neighbors who have suffered the tragic loss of a child and to the communities that have experienced so many losses. Your pain is palpable.

Car accidents can happen for any one of a hundred reasons, only two of which you mention.  Aside from substance abuse and immaturity, there is also the possibility that a driver is too tired and his judgement is impaired or he dozes off while driving, or that he is ill which may cause him or her to lose control of the vehicle.  You must also consider that there may have been another vehicle with an erratic driver who may have caused this young man to swerve off the road in order to avoid hitting him.

And then, there’s the addiction that is not documented anywhere, or actually considered an addiction, and that is speed.  Not the kind that is inhaled or ingested, but actual speed that gives the driver, bicyclist or motorcyclist the rush and exhilaration on a stretch of empty road, especially at night.

Speed represents power and power is a strong draw for eighteen- and nineteen-year-olds who experience the thrill of it when they first get behind the wheel of a car.  This often is the first feel of ultimate control and complete independence that they have and the rush is powerful and addictive – and often, deadly.  Not every person is ready to drive when he or she is eighteen.  Maturity and good judgement are things that develop at different times with different people and the legal age at which a young person is judged to be fit to drive may not be a true measure for everyone.  Parents must be honest enough to recognize if their son or daughter is capable of handling the responsibility of driving, and if not, they are obligated to make sure that young person does not get behind the wheel of a car.  A car and a gun are almost the same in that they are weapons that can maim or kill in the hands of the wrong person.  So let’s add speed to the list of recognized addictions that could very well be the cause of so many car accidents where nothing else seems to justify a reason.  And then, there’s Hashem’s Will.


Dear Mrs. Bluth,

This is in regard to the letter about the blind person and his guide dog.  Please note that in two letters sent by the Lubavitcher Rebbe to the Rav Mendel Kasher, who wrote in his Torah Shleima (vol. 15) that it is forbidden to allow a dog in shul, the Rebbe disagrees with him and with the proofs brought to support the thesis.  The Lubavitcher Rebbe concluded as follows (translated from the original Hebrew, words in square brackets have been added by the translator for explanation):

“In such a case [of allowing a blind person’s guide dog to accompany him into shul] there is another special point involved – according to the ruling in Shulchan Aruch Orech Chayim, end of chapter 88, that it [causes] great suffering when everyone gathers [in shul] while they [regarding women, during their periods] have to stand outside (although in the Shulchan Aruch it [refers] only to two weeks in the month, and even then, not for always. which is not the case for a blind person, etc. [for whom forbidding his dog from accompanying him might exclude him from shul permanently].  Of course, it is possible to arrange [his] entry into shul, with the assistance of a human being.  But in the case mentioned in your column, if there is any importance to his coming into [shul] whether it is because or [otherwise it causes] emotional pain or because of the impotence of prayer specifically in a shul) one should seek ways to enable him to enter [with the dog] as is easy to understand.”

These letters are published in volume 18 of the Rebbe’s Igros Kodesh (pg. 422 and pg. 455) and are also reproduced in Shulchan Menachem (volume 1, pp. 308 – 310).

In other words, the Rebbe felt strongly that, out of sensitivity for the blind, and to avoid their emotional pain, every effort should be made, within the framework of halacha, to find ways of permitting their guide dogs to accompany them.

D. Goldberg

Dear Friend,

Thank you for taking the time to share an answer that will allow all of Klal Yisroel, including those who are afflicted with blindness, to be mispallel in shul, as is the right of every Jew.

Rachel Bluth

Gay Activists Threaten Gay MK’s Life Ahead of Parade

Friday, June 3rd, 2016

MK Amir Ohana (Likud), the first openly gay rightwing legislator, was assigned a security detail after he had received threats of being attacked during the Tel Aviv Gay Pride parade Friday. Ohana received the information from senior members of the Knesset Guard.

A source in Ohana’s circle told Ynet that just as he has never capitulated to terrorism and threats in the past, he will not cower this time either. The source said: “The knight of the LGBT agenda, who pride themselves on their tolerance, openness and pluralism, should ask themselves how they’ve reached such a situation facing almost the only coalition MK who’s been acting on behalf of the community for so many years, even if he is rightwing.”

Back in February, MK Ohana raised the ire of many in the LGBT community, when he chose to stay out of the Knesset plenum when the coalition voted down pro-gay legislation. The bills that were killed, and that as coalition member Ohana was not permitted to support, included banning the sending of LGBT children to conversion treatment, recognizing single sex families, and same-sex spousal contracts. One Facebook user, Alon-Lee Green, wrote at the time that despite the coalition requirement, MK Ohana should be ashamed of himself for helping to kill a bill he himself had praised. The post received hundreds of shares.

David Israel

Life Chronicles

Monday, May 30th, 2016

Dear Mrs. Bluth,

The new week was completely ruined for me when I opened my mail Motzzei Shabbat. I received what can be called an “un-thank you” letter with the writer stating that it was cheap of me to give a “religious” gift instead of a monetary one for a morning Bar Mitzvah. The writer noted that I am financially well off and should have been more generous.

I was appalled by the lack of derech eretz expressed and the harsh tone in which the letter was written.  The sense of entitlement expressed was hurtful, to say the least, and a poor example of mentchlichkeit, and what kind of message does it send to the bar mitzvah boy about appreciating gifts given and received.

I was so upset that I asked a number of people how to address this issue.  Everyone agreed that the person who wrote the hurtful note was wrong, that what I did was the proper thing and I should not take it to heart.  The underlying message was that I got to see the shallowness of the note-writer who had the chutzpah to write to me in this ugly fashion.

Nevertheless, this does not ease my pain at all.  How do you deal with this? I have always appreciated the wisdom in your words, so I ask you and your readership to guide me.

Feeling Hurt In Midwood



Dear Friend,

How sad that you received such an ungracious note for your kind gesture. There is an unwritten rule that, unless specified, discretion is left to the guest to give the gift of his or her choice – be it monetary or something practical.  I find no fault in your choice of gift for the occasion and believe that it was in good taste. The hosts of the affair responded in a low-class, boorish manner.

Don’t stoop to their level by responding in kind. It does no good to keep fanning the flames of lashon hara by sharing the situation with other; instead, pity the note writer his/her pettiness. 

Remember that no one has the right to dictate how much you spend on a gift or surmise how much you earn.  Should these people have the good fortune to make another simcha in the future, make a mental note to be busy or out of town should these opportunists send you an invite and spare yourself a possible repeat performance. 




Dear Mrs. Bluth,

This has been bothering me for the longest time. While it happened almost a year ago, I cannot rid myself of the sense of guilt I carry around for not speaking out and possibly making a difference in the outcome.  I will not say where I live or name the people responsible; however, it is a situation, albeit rare, that may come up at another time, in another shul, in another city.

It was on Tisha B’Av last summer when we gathered in our shul to hear Megillas Eicha that I heard a murmuring from the entrance and turned to see what the disturbance was about.  I saw a young man guided by a seeing eye dog trying to enter the shul along with an elderly gentleman. The older man tried to seat the young man near the door, the dog close by, not barking and being well behaved.  I heard the elder gentleman trying to explain that the young man was his grandson, a veteran, blinded and injured in Afghanistan, who was staying with him while he received treatment for his wounds. They were there to hear Eicha.

I heard angry voices saying that an animal had no place in a shul, voices that seemed to cover any voice of reason that may have presented itself, as the voice inside my heart was trying to do. The rabbi came down from the pulpit and asked the both men to leave saying that an animal was not allowed in his house of worship.  I watched in sadness as the elder and the younger man left, along with this beautiful, loyal animal, who was as vital to this young man who had fought for us, as a wheelchair is to a paraplegic or a prosthesis is to an amputee. All this young man wanted to do is hear the megilah in shul, to exercise his privilege as a Jew, but was asked to leave because his new set of eyes came in the form of this magnificent animal.

I know that animals are not allowed in a place of worship; however, this goes far beyond the normal code of rule.  I also know that how this was addressed was wrong on many levels. I am curious to know if there is a way for a Jewish person, totally dependant on an animal for safety and mobility, to be able to come to shul.  I have been given to understand that the animal is trained not to leave its master’s side, thus making it impossible to leave the animal outside until services are over.



Dear Friend,

This is certainly an unusual situation, and I empathize with you on how it was handled.  However, to be fair, the halachic issue is one I cannot address, but have forwarded it to a number of rabbanim. What I can address at this writing is the act of embarrassing someone in public, a sin which is tantamount to killing a person and warrants the harshest punishment.

That your fellow congregants had lost their ahavas Yisroel at a moment when it was most warranted is indicative of how insensitive we have become as a people.  This wounded warrior who lost his sight fighting for our safety, who came to hear Eicha, was cut down by verbal bullets that were as lethal as those that missed him in the war.  Words are terrible weapons that can kill the spirit just as actual bullets kill the body.  I would have hoped that some wisdom would have prevailed and the hostility downplayed to save face for both the young man and the congregation.

As I await a response from my panel of experts, perhaps there will be a reader who can share how this type of situation has been dealt with in his or her shul.

Rachel Bluth

Life Chronicles

Monday, May 23rd, 2016

Dear Mrs. Bluth,

I have just recently come into the “shidduch parsha” and have seen three young ladies who, thankfully, did not want a second date with me.  Truthfully, I am terrified of getting married!  I have heard such miserable stories about failed marriages from friends and members of my extended family who have suffered horribly during and after divorce, that I am totally soured on the topic of dating and certainly marriage.  My biggest fear is meeting someone I want to spend my life with, making commitment, getting married and then finding out after a number of children that we are not meant for each other.  My life would be ruined, I might hardly ever see my children and I would have to support a family that is no longer mine, damaging any chances of my ever getting married again, chas v’shalom.

From where I stand as a young man just starting out in the quest of finding a life partner, the odds of my making a mistake and suffering the consequences are as good as my finding someone I’ll spend the rest of my life with.  That is terribly frightening and extremely off-putting.  I have started going out because my parents expect me to, not because I want to and certainly not because I’m ready to join the circus and perform, as is expected of me.  When I read articles about “starter families,” “first wives” and “second/third marriages,” I am horrified at how acceptable it has become.  Maybe I am old school in my thinking, but whatever happened to “until death do us part”?  Where did the ideal of a “life partner for life” go?  Why is it so prevalent to hear that “Ploni is divorcing Almoni” after three years of marriage and one child when they seemed to be so perfect for each other?

I really don’t know how long I can put off the inevitable, I’m not cut out to be a player like some of the guys I know; I would love to find a nice, sweet girl with the same aspirations as myself and lead a loving, devoted and happy life.  Is that still a possibility for a young man like myself?



Dear Friend,

Your letter represents the fears of many of your peers, both male and female, who are hedging the “shidduch parsha” out of fear and concern about the future.  Just as in most things we undertake, there are no assurances about the success or failure of these endeavors, but that should not be a deterrent to trying our best to achieve our goals.

To try and assuage your fears and those of the many others out there who worry about the same things you do, I want to remind you all that we are commanded to marry and procreate by the Ultimate Shadchan who created Chava expressly as a life partner for Adam.  Hashem will guide you to find your zivug, but you must be wise enough to see her (or him, if you are a young lady reading this), even if she does not the exact visual, physical or emotional picture you had conjured up in your mind for the perfect soul mate.  If you have a certain type of person in mind for yourself and are rigid in that expectation, you may, indeed, be waiting for a very long time, while you pass up the one Hakodosh Boruch Hu has created just for you.  What I’m suggesting is that you approach this with a very open mind and without a laundry list; just go out on a date and let things evolve naturally.  Stop worrying about what you cannot control. Concentrate on your own life and not the success or failure rate of others.  That is your objective.

Rachel Bluth

Israel Among Top Five Countries on WHO 2015 Life Expectancy Chart

Friday, May 20th, 2016

Only 22 countries around the globe have reached an average life expectancy at birth greater than 80 years, according to the World Health Organization’s Global Health Observatory (GHO) data, which would suggest that if one is planning to retire abroad, one should consider those countries most seriously.

Life expectancy at birth reflects the overall mortality level of a population. It summarizes the mortality pattern that prevails across all age groups in a given year – children and adolescents, adults and the elderly. Global life expectancy at birth in 2015 was 71.4 years (73.8 years for females and 69.1 years for males), ranging from 60.0 years in the WHO African Region to 76.8 years in the WHO European Region, giving a ratio of 1.3 between the two regions. Women live longer than men all around the world. The gap in life expectancy between the sexes was 4.5 years in 1990 and had remained almost the same by 2015 (4.6).

Global average life expectancy increased by 5 years between 2000 and 2015, the fastest increase since the 1960s. Those gains reverse declines during the 1990s, when life expectancy fell in Africa because of the AIDS epidemic, and in Eastern Europe following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The 2000-2015 increase was greatest in the WHO African Region, where life expectancy increased by 9.4 years to 60 years, driven mainly by improvements in child survival, and expanded access to antiretrovirals for treatment of HIV.

As to the friendly global race of whose citizens get to live longer, the top countries are, in descending order: Japan – 83.7, Switzerland – 83.4, Singapore – 83.1, Italy – 82.7, and Israel – 82.5. The US did not make the 80+ club in 2015, with only 79.3 years’ life expectancy. Neither did the Russian Federation – 70.5.

Israel’s neighbors are definitely not ideal locations for retirement: Egypt – 70.9, Jordan – 74.1, Lebanon – 74.9, and Syria – 64.5 (if you’re lucky). Nigeria stands out with 54.5 life expectancy, along with Angola – 52.4, Burkina Faso – 59.9, Burundi – 59.6, Cameroon – 57.3, Central African Republic – 52.5, Chad – 53.1, Guinea – 59, and Guinea-Bissau – 58.9.

So, here is the list of world countries where you’ll get to grow older than 80, barring unexpected circumstances:

Japan – 83.7
Switzerland – 83.4
Singapore – 83.1
Italy – 82.7
Israel – 82.5
France – 82.4
Sweden – 82.4
Canada – 82.2
Luxembourg – 82
Netherlands – 81.9
Norway – 81.8
Malta – 81.7
New Zealand – 81.6
Austria – 81.5
Belgium – 81.1
Finland – 81.1
Germany – 81
Denmark – 80.6
Chile – 80.5
Cyprus – 80.5


With 5 Life Sentences for 5 Murders Marwan Barghouti Prepares to Play Nelson Mandela

Thursday, May 19th, 2016

Members of Belgium’s parliament on Wednesday nominated Marwan Barghouti for the Nobel Peace Prize, referring to the security prisoner serving five life sentences as the “Palestinian Mandela” and a symbol of peace. The recommendation cited a group of Nelson Mandela’s fellow prisoners on Robben Island, who in 2013 called for the release of “Palestinian political prisoners” held by Israel.

Before we explore the decision and its possible outcome for Israel, it is essential to establish the differences between Mandela and Barghouti, lest a lie be allowed to be perpetuated unchallenged.

In July 1963, Mandela and about a dozen other members of the African National Congress, including three Jews, were arrested in their farm hideout, in the Rivonia suburb of Johannesburg. Ten of them were tried for recruiting individuals and training them to carry out attacks against the Apartheid government; carrying out such attacks themselves; serving world Communism; and raising funds abroad for their illegal enterprise. Mandela spent the next 18 years in prison.

Barghouti, on the other hand, was convicted of 5 counts of murder of innocent civilians, including authorizing and organizing the March 2002 seafood market attack in Tel Aviv in which 3 civilians, including a Druze policeman, were murdered. He was given five life sentences for five murders altogether, and 40 years imprisonment for an attempted murder.

Now that we’re clear on the differences between the South African and the Arab terrorist, we should note that it is hard to imagine the Norwegian parliament not giving the Nobel peace prize to Marwan Barghouti. In fact, if the Netanyahu government had not been rattled this week by right-shifting coalition changes, it could be expected to support the award, at least tacitly.

Marwan Barghouti, with his record as the leader of the First and Second Intifadas, may be the only viable alternative to rule the Palestinian Authority after Mahmoud Abbas (81) leaves office–most likely on a stretcher. Barghouti has the political skills and experience to run the PA effectively. In fact, at one time he said he supported the peace process, but when he realized that Israel was not ready to capitulate on key issues such as the right of return for Arabs, or the unhindered formation of a terrorist haven on its borders, he launched the 2000 Al-Aqsa Intifada.

At this point, outside the Gaza Strip, only Marwan Barghouti has the street cred and the political wherewithal to rule the PA, which should be a source of concern to Israel. Indeed, this is the final outcome of the Oslo fiasco, the fact that the only legitimate leadership alternatives in both Gaza and Judea and Samaria are murderous criminals with Jewish blood on their hands.

This is the entire rationale of the Belgian nomination, which tells the Norwegian prize committee: “By granting the Nobel Peace Prize to someone who embodies the Palestinian people’s struggle for freedom, but also their aspiration to achieve peace, a leader who can unite Palestinians around a political project that clearly includes a two-state solution on 1967 borders, more threatened than ever by colonization and the absence of a political horizon, the Committee for the Nobel Prize would be helping to resurrect the indispensable hope of creating a way out of the current [political] impasse.”

And they emphasize: “Peace requires the freedom of Marwan Barghouti and all of the political prisoners, and more generally the freedom of the Palestinian people living for decades under occupation.”

It’s a well crafted proposal and, as we mentioned, it is very likely going to yield the authors’ desired outcome. It follows two earlier endorsements of Barghouti, one by Nobel Peace Prize recipient Adolfo Perez Esquivel, the other by a unanimous vote of the Arab League’s Arab Parliament. Once Barghouti gets the nomination, Israel would be urged by all its many friends and well-wishers around the world to respond in kind with its own magnanimous gesture, release the glorious leader from his jail cell and put him on a (roundtrip) flight to Stockholm. The word “opportunity” would be thrown around a lot, and although Barghouti would not offer even one measly concession more than Abbas has done—in fact, he’d likely cut down on all that Abbas “good will”—Israel would still be perceived as the oppressor and illegal occupier, while the new peace prize winner would be crowned king of peace. In fact, whether it lets Barghouti out or doesn’t, Israel would still be condemned.


Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/with-5-life-sentences-for-5-murders-marwan-barghouti-prepares-to-play-nelson-mandela/2016/05/19/

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