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October 25, 2014 / 1 Heshvan, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘light’

Lightening Up Your Chanukah Table

Friday, December 7th, 2012

I found these sleek looking shot glasses in a number of stores. Lined up neatly, they can create simple, yet striking (and certainly sweet) centerpieces for your Chanukah parties. Here is one colorful suggestion. (Tip: When purchasing the shot glasses, stick with something simple. The simpler the glass, the more dramatic the projects will look)

Striped Jello Menorah

With a couple of simple steps you can create eye-catching striped jello “candles.” You’ll find that not only are the results a great conversation piece, but each step fun and intriguing as you add each layer one by one. For best results use Kolitan Jello, as it congeals to a perfect texture for the tilts. Additionally its colors will not “bleed” one into the other.

Supplies

1 box lime Kolatin Jello
1 box raspberry or strawberry Kolatin Jello (I added in a couple of drops of blue food coloring to make a purple color.)
1 box orange Kolatin Jello
Cupcake pan
9 Shot glasses
Glass tea light holder
Narrow tray (optional)

Directions

1. Prepare the first color, following the directions on the jello box.
2. Pour it into your glasses, filling them approximately a third of the way up.
3. Once each glass is filled evenly, it’s time to tilt. Place glasses in a cupcake pan, being careful that each glass is tilted in the same direction and angle.
4. Place inside refrigerator and allow to jell.
5. Repeat step one using a new color and adjusting the tilt of each glass in your cupcake pan accordingly.
6. Prepare the last layer of jello and then refrigerate the glasses in an upright position.
7. When totally jelled, line up all the shot glasses in a neat row (place on tray if desired).
8. For the “Shamash,” raise the center glass by placing it on a glass tea light holder (turned upside down).

 

What I Learned from Hurricane Sandy

Friday, December 7th, 2012

I am writing this column as Hurricane Sandy is barreling through the greater New York area, after having sorted a load of clean laundry by the light of a group of yahrtzeit candles and having washed my supper dishes with the aid of a clip on barbeque lamp. My electricity went out almost four hours ago and thoughts of what I did right and what I did wrong in preparation for a one of a kind storm that ironically, bears my name are still fresh in my mind.

Hurricane Sandy marks the second time I have had my electricity knocked out by a late October storm, having lost power exactly one year ago for five and a half days during a freak snowstorm that turned my little corner of the world into something that looked more like a war zone than a picturesque hamlet in New York’s Hudson Valley. In light of last year’s storm, I thought I had all my pre-storm preparations under control, but I can tell you right now that I was wrong and I am hoping that as we celebrate the anniversary of last year’s power outage with yet another blackout, I will finally learn my lesson and be better prepared for future meteorological mishaps.

I should add that this is by no means a comprehensive guide to weathering a storm (no pun intended.) Those are available by the dozen on the Internet, although you obviously want to read those before the storm blows through and totally decimates your wireless connection. These are just random tips that I have had the unfortunate opportunity to collect during too many days without electricity.

Lesson Number 1: It doesn’t matter what the season, storms can be very serious business and should be respected, given their ability to wreak havoc with our lives, particularly in this day and age when our lives revolve around numerous items that require electricity. So be it a hurricane, a nor’easter, a blizzard or a tropical storm, don’t underestimate the weather’s ability to do major damage.

Lesson Number 2: Just because you think you are prepared for a storm doesn’t mean you are. I know I have enough flashlights for every member of my family and that I have a basket full of batteries sitting in my closet. Yet, somehow, almost all the flashlights have disappeared and I am almost completely out of AA and D batteries, the two sizes I need for the few flashlights that didn’t mysteriously vanish into thin air. Keep a flashlight next to your bed at night and if you are going out and will be coming back after dark, take a flashlight with you. Unless you have lived through a blackout, you can’t possibly imagine just how dark it can get when there is no power anywhere in your neighborhood.

Lesson Number 3: Flashlights are probably not the only light sources you own. Put your kids to work and have them dig out all the munchkin sized flashlights they have gotten as prizes and those mini booklights they use to read under their blankets at night when they are supposedly fast asleep. A clip-on barbeque lamp has turned out to be the best birthday gift my sister-in-law has ever gotten my husband as it travels from room to room, particularly useful when you don’t want to shower in the dark, and a set of battery operated tea lights we bought as a decorative accent for my daughter’s vort five years ago were the perfect light source to illuminate both the stairs and the upstairs hallway.

Lesson Number 4: You can never have too many yahrtzeit candles in your house. While it is important to only light them on a non-flammable surface, far away from any flammable objects, and it goes without saying that candles are a serious hazard when there are small children around, yahrtzeit candles are easily moved, and with their flames generally confined inside their containers, are far safer than regular candles. Be warned that glass ones have been known to crack, with devastating results, so be sure to buy the metal ones.

Above and Beyond on Chanukah in 5773

Friday, December 7th, 2012

(((CLICK BELOW TO HEAR AUDIO)))

Yishai is joined by Rabbi Shimshon Nadel in a busy Jerusalem restaurant to discuss Chanukah in Eretz Yisrael. Together they discuss reaching out to Jews worldwide from Israel during the holiday and also ways one can find the light of the menorah at year round. Don’t miss this insightful segment!

Yishai Fleisher on Twitter: @YishaiFleisher
Yishai on Facebook

Lessons For Drivers

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

Dear Dr. Yael:

I am a female driver dealing with challenges of derech eretz while driving in my community. Every time the light is about to turn green, the person behind me seems to immediately honk the horn, yet no one has a problem double-parking, making me feel as if I am driving on an obstacle course.

People honk with great impatience if another driver is following the normal speed limit. Worse yet is that everyone seems to cross against a red light. I often see young mothers pushing their baby carriages across the street, straight into traffic, also against the light. They are certainly putting their children in a dangerous situation.

It is so frightening to drive in my community that I honk lightly, even if I am going through a green light. Drivers often tailgate me and persistently honk at me. When this happens I either turn toward a different direction or pull over and let them pass me. I then end up right in back of that driver at the next light. The person, so embarrassed, quickly turns right or left so that I will not be right behind and see who he or she is. (It’s perplexing that these same people with road rage can be amazing ba’alei chesed.)

There are times when I can’t pull my car out of the driveway, because of a double-parked car. When the driver is a frum man, even if I ask him to move, he does not do so. He will get out and try to direct me out of the driveway, or offer to pull the car out for me. On occasion, when someone has offered to pull out the car for me, I have agreed, and after being told that I have plenty of room and being ridiculed as a female driver, he has someone move his car anyway, because there really isn’t room to pull out. On those occasions I am always pleasant and thank him for helping me.

I try to never express anger or raise my voice, as I work very hard on practicing good middos and showing derech eretz, even when spoken to in a disrespectful tone.

The most daunting situation I experienced was when I offered a ride to a tired-looking, pregnant, frum woman and the driver behind me honked as she got into the car, even though it was clear she was having a hard time. I have even been honked at while dropping off my elderly parents.

Why is it that so many seemingly nice people undergo total personality changes when they get behind the wheel? Why does the mood of a wonderful ba’al middos become completely different? I know people who show so much patience in other situations, but develop road rage behind the wheel. Are there any studies to explain this behavior?

A Fan

Dear Fan:

Unfortunately, people become more hostile when behind the wheel. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that aggressive driving causes about a third of all crashes and about two-thirds of automobile fatalities. Studies also reveal that many individuals who become enraged on the road do not have prior arrests; rather, they are your average fellow citizens.

Psychologically, people feel a sense of power when driving and often feel slighted when someone cuts them off, even if done inadvertently. Individuals also feel territorial when driving, and if someone steps into his or her territory, it may be perceived as a breach of personal space. Logically speaking, this does not make sense. But unfortunately, people in these situations are usually reacting irrationally. Furthermore, drivers who display road rage believe that their actions are validated by the way they feel. Only afterward, when reality hits them, do they feel embarrassed because they realize they behaved irrationally.

I would hope that all of our readers, especially after reading your letter, will keep in mind the importance of focusing on their reactions to be sure they are rational. Most people, if asked, would say they would never honk their horns if they saw an elderly person or a pregnant woman getting into a car in front of them. But in the heat of the moment they may react illogically.

“You Killed Jesus” Scrawled on Miami Menorah

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

A large menorah covered in seashells and used to spread the light of Hanukkah at Miami Beach was vandalized on Sunday, scrawled with black graffiti stating “You Killed Jesus”.

Sunday marked the 11th anniversary of the first time the religious symbol was vandalized, according to Fox News, with the beach-themed Hanukkah vessel being torn down three times in its first year on display.

The menorah is lit annually by Chabad Rabbi Zev Katz.

The damaged shells have already been replaced, and police are investigating the incident.

Symbol Of The Eternal Soul

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

The festival of Chanukah celebrates two miracles – the military victory over the Syrian Greeks and that one small cruse of oil, good for one day, providing light for eight days. The miracle of the light, however, is the main focus and central theme of this festival.

Thus, according to halacha, when we light the candles in celebration of Chanukah we are prohibited from using their light for any tasks. We are commanded to simply look at the light. All year long we are looking at what we see in the light, but on Chanukah we are to focus solely on seeing the light itself.

What is so special about the light of Chanukah? What is the Chanukah menorah’s message for us in our personal lives? Why does the Rambam call Chanukah “the most beloved and precious mitzvah”?

The answer is that the Chanukah lights help us focus on who we really are. We are not our body suits but are part of God’s Endless Light. Chanukah lights are the symbol of the Divine spark of the human soul, as Shlomo HaMelech says in Mishlei, Ner Hashem nishmat adam – the candle of God is the soul of the human being.

The Mishnah in Avot teaches, “There are three crowns: The crown of Torah, the crown of Kehuna [priesthood] and the crown of Monarchy.” Corresponding to these three with which Israel was crowned, there were three crowns on the Temple vessels. The crown of Torah corresponds to the gold crown, which was set on the Ark of Testimony (containing the two Tablets). The crown of Kehuna corresponds to the incense altar, for only regarding the priests does it say, “They shall place incense in Your Presence, and consume sacrifices on Your altar” (Devarim 33:10). Finally, the crown of Monarchy corresponds to the table in the Sanctuary, for tables, which in biblical and later Hebrew can symbolize wealth and bounty (Psalm 23), may here be viewed as evoking the economic and political power of the state.

However, the Mishnah adds that there is yet another crown, “the crown of a good name,” which “surpasses them all.” This crown is not enumerated among the others. Rather, it is kept separate from them and stands on its own. To what does this crown correspond in the Temple?

The Maharal of Prague associates “the crown of a good name” with the fourth vessel of the Temple – the solid pure gold menorah. The menorah had no gold crown encompassing it. Neither was it made of acacia wood inlaid with gold like the three Temple vessels mentioned above. Rather, the whole menorah was like a pure gold crown, embellished with golden cups, knobs and flowers. The entire menorah itself is a crown.

It is the same with a person’s good name. It is not an external crown that is placed upon one’s head. A person’s good name touches on his very essence. A good name includes one’s entire personality in all its components. It is not an external image, fashioned by public relations professionals, photographers and newsmen. A person’s good name is the reputation he earns for himself through his life’s work, all his deeds and ventures. That is why the Mishnah says that the “crown of a good name surpasses all the others.”

A person’s good name does not find expression at the beginning of his life but is acquired through strenuous, daily toil. Shlomo HaMelech said “A good name is better than precious oil” (Kohelet 7:1). However good it may be, oil is applied externally to a person’s body while a good name is that person himself.

As we light the menorah on Chanukah, it is a time to focus and reflect on the light of God, which is our eternal soul.

Mountains Hanging On Hairs

Friday, November 30th, 2012

You arrive home after shul on Friday night. All the dishes washed before Shabbat are locked in the dishwasher. You have no other eating utensils and you want to retrieve them for the Friday night meal. In order to take them out you have to unlock the door by turning the lever lock to the left. The action of the lever to unlock the door automatically turns off the panel indicator lights that advise you the dishwashing cycle is complete. So you cannot open the door without turning off the lights. What do you do?

Clearly, the act of retrieving the dishes from the dishwasher is, in itself, a permissible act on Shabbat. The problem is that it inevitably causes the melachah of switching off the indicator lights. This melachah is the inevitable and unintended result of retrieving the dishes, though it is of no use to its performer. An inevitable melachah that is of no use to its performer and that arises out of a permitted act is known in halachic terminology as psik reishe de lo neecha leh. We shall refer to it as the “inevitable, unwanted melachah.”

If one performed an inevitable, unwanted melachah, one is patur, which means exempt from any biblical liability. The question is whether one is allowed under rabbinical law to deliberately perform an inevitable, unwanted melachah such as, for example, turning the indicator lights off in order to retrieve the dishes.

The answer to this question depends on the classification of the inevitable, unwanted melachah and the existence or absence of any mitigating circumstances. If the inevitable, unwanted melachah is biblically prohibited, then according to the majority of halachic opinions one may not deliberately perform the permitted act that causes it. There is a minority opinion – that of the Aruch – that permits it, but the halacha does not adopt this minority opinion.

Accordingly, one may not, for example, wash one’s hands over a public lawn because even though washing one’s hands is permitted on Shabbat, it causes the inevitable, unwanted result of watering the grass. And watering the grass on Shabbat is classified under the biblical melachah of plowing and sowing.

Similarly, one may not open a door to the street on a windy day when the inevitable, unwanted result of the permitted act will be that lighted candles placed next to the door blow out.

What if the inevitable, unwanted melachah is not biblically prohibited but only rabbinically prohibited? Still, according to the majority of opinions, one may not deliberately perform the permitted act that causes the rabbinical melachah, except in a limited number of mitigating circumstances. Physical pain or discomfort or the performance of a mitzvah are examples of mitigating circumstances that might permit one to deliberately perform the permitted act that causes the inevitable, unwanted rabbinical melachah.

For example, trapping a bird inside one’s home is rabbinically prohibited. Yet if a wild bird flew into one’s house in winter, one would be allowed to close the windows to avoid the cold. This act is permitted even though it causes the inevitable, unwanted rabbinical melachah of trapping.

If the red berries on the hadas, the myrtle branch, are more numerous than the myrtle leaves, the hadas is invalid for arba minim. Yet if a friend of the hadas owner picks off the berries on Yom Tov for food, the owner of the hadas would be permitted to use it for the mitzvah of arba minim. Picking the berries in this way is permitted even though it causes the inevitable, unwanted melachah of fixing something for use – makeh bepatish – because it enables the performance of a mitzvah.

Is the inevitable, unwanted melachah of turning off the dishwasher indicator lights a biblical melachah or a rabbinical melachah? The biblical melachah of extinguishing fire was performed in the Sanctuary to produce glowing embers needed to smelt metal. Extinguishing fire for any other purpose not used in the Sanctuary is called a melachah she’eina tzericha legufa. Although biblically exempt from liability once performed, a melachah she’eina tzericha legufa is rabbinically prohibited and should not be deliberately performed. The majority of modern poskim agree that turning off an electric light involves the act of extinguishing fire and is therefore prohibited under the category of melachah she’eina tericah legufa. It is further accepted that the rabbis are less lenient with the melachah of extinguishing fire than with other rabbinical melachot.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/halacha-hashkafa/mountains-hanging-on-hairs/2012/11/30/

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