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December 10, 2016 / 10 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘light’

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.

Dr. Yael Respler

“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.

Malkah Fleisher

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.

Rabbi Ephraim S. Sprecher

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.

Raphael Grunfeld

The Stories Of Rabba Bar Bar Chana

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

(Editor’s Note: The famous allegoric stories of Rabba Bar Bar Chana and other of our Gedolim are enveloped in clouds of figurative speech. Undoubtedly, the great and eminent Rabba was trying to picture Israel’s trials during the long and bitter exile. The ship of Israel had sailed many a time over terribly stormy oceans and in many instances suffered shipwreck. On the other hand, Bnei Yisrael enjoyed the light of freedom in many countries. But that proved still more disastrous to them because the nation was either almost swallowed up by the fish (nations) wherein it made its abode, or at the end it drank the bitter cup of inquisition, significant in the overturn of the fish mentioned in Rabba’s proverbs.

In the following parables, Rabba pictures Bnei Yisrael’s exiled life. He could not have dared to speak openly on account of the strict censorship of the Roman government. He therefore chose the figurative manner in order to give vent to his pent-up feelings, escaping, at the same time, the shrewd eyes of the government.

The allegoric contents of these stories are ingenious. Many of our gaonim, such as the Maharsha, offer various interpretations. Take the story of when he was on a boat and saw an island. He settled on the island and lit a fire. The island turned out to be a fish, which reacted very fiercely to the fire. Had the ship not been so near, he would have drowned.

The Maharsha explains that Bnei Yisrael’s ship, traveling in the ocean of exile, reached a new land and the people thought they had finally reached salvation. They intermixed with the natives and then, lo and behold, the country (the fish) throws them over and they are driven out. Were it not for their heritage, their Torah, they would have become extinct. The reader is invited to test his intelligence and to fathom the deeper and hidden meaning of these stories, which appear in the Talmud in Baba Basra 73.)

The Tremendous Waves

Rabba Bar Bar Chana related the following, “Sailors told me that once they were threatened with gigantic waves that could have sunk their ships. These waves appeared with a ray of whitish light at their crest and when they struck it with clubs engraved with the words ‘I will be what I will be, L-rd G-d, King of Hosts, Amen, Amen, Selah,’ the waves subsided.”

Rabba Bar Bar Chana continued, “The sailors related to me that the distance between one wave and the other was 300 parasangs (a Persian mile, about 4,000 yards) and the height of each wave lifted them so high that they saw the resting place of the smallest star. There was a flash as it shot 40 arrows of iron. If it had lifted them any higher they would have been burned by its heat.

“They also heard the following conversation between two waves, ‘My friend,’ one wave called to the other, ‘have you left anything in the world that you didn’t wash away and flood? I will go and destroy it.’ The other replied, ‘Go and see the power of the Master by whose command I must not pass the sand of the shore even as much as the breadth of a thread. It is this sand line that separates the sea from the land and yet I could not step over it.’

Rabba Bar Bar Chana went on, “I saw an antelope, one-day-old, that was as big as Mount Rabor, which measures four parasangs. The length of its neck was three parasangs and the resting place of its head was one parasang and a half.

“I saw a frog the size of the Fort of Hagronia (a fortified town in Babylon) that contained 60 houses. A snake came along and swallowed the frog and then a large raven came and swallowed the snake. The raven then ascended the tree and perched on one of its limbs. Imagine the strength of that tree.”

Rabbi Papa ben Samuel said, “Had I not been there I would not have believed it,” and added, “Once, while we were traveling on board a ship I saw a gigantic fish in whose gills I saw a parasite, the mudeater worm. It entered and killed the fish. Thereupon the sea cast up the fish and threw it upon the shore. Sixty towns were destroyed thereby and 60 coast towns consumed its flesh and 60 other coast towns salted the flesh that was left for future use. From one of its eyeballs 300 kegs of oil were filled. On returning there after 12 months, I saw its bones being sawed into boards as to restore the streets that were destroyed by it.”

Rabbi Sholom Klass

Romney and Obama, Live From the Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner

Friday, November 16th, 2012

(((CLICK BELOW TO HEAR AUDIO)))

Yishai presents a bit of comic relief by presenting audio from this year’s Albert E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner, which was held in October 2012.  The first speaker is Massachusetts Governor and former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who is followed by President Barack Obama.  This audio segment shows a light-hearted side to both Governor Romney and President Obama that isn’t normally seen.

Yishai Fleisher on Twitter: @YishaiFleisher
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Moshe Herman

Friday Morning Overnight Update

Friday, November 16th, 2012

7:35 AM NYC closed the area around the Israeli Consulate in light of the protests and for security reasons. Security has also been increased around other Israeli sites in the city.

The Federation announced they are donating 5 million dollars to Israelis in the South.

A Suspicious Object was found near the Jerusalem light rail at the Herzl train stop.

IDF was busy pounding terror targets overnight.

6:55 AM Missile hits house in Ashdod. No injuries.

 

Jewish Press News Briefs

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/friday-morning-overnight-update/2012/11/16/

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