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August 27, 2016 / 23 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘lives’

Parallel Lives: Three Weeks to Recreate a Bond of Love, Respect and Passion

Thursday, August 11th, 2016

A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person

– Mignon McLaughlin

 

We are decidedly troubling beings. We are at once noble and sanctified creatures, imbued with the glory and holiness of God while, at the same time, being vulnerable and petty creatures, mired in the sad and troubling realities of the physical world around us, realities that are often the result of our own selfish and foolish behavior.

No period of time drives our troubling nature home more forcefully than the Three Weeks. Beginning when, historically, the walls of Jerusalem were breached by the Romans and reaching their mournful, painful crescendo on Tisha B’Av, the date on which the weight, number and overwhelming calamities weighing on us find us grieving and fasting for forgiveness and relief, these three weeks are the darkest of our liturgical calendar.

Three weeks.

Three weeks when we feel most alone, most vulnerable, most distant from God and the safety of his glory and protection. Three weeks when all around us the world basks – or swelters – in the hot, summer sun – we are in our darkest period.

Summer is, for most people, a time of relaxation and fun. But for Jews, these three weeks mark an inauspicious time, a frightening time, a time when God seems withdrawn from us and our humiliations, our tragedies, our exiles and defeats loom large. During these three weeks, we feel God’s absence in a physical way. It bows our heads and tightens the muscles in our stomachs. We ache for Him to be more present. We ache for Him to return and infuse our lives with power and sanctity. We need Him close but He seems to be hiding His face. It is time of hester panim.

The Three Weeks are a hard time, a mournful time. But like any difficult time, it is also a time of opportunity; a time when we can take the difficult and learn from it, take the sadness and learn to appreciate joy, confront our fears and find courage, recognize hurt and discover new ways to heal it.

The truth is, during the Three Weeks God seems distant. But, He is never so far away that we cannot reconnect if we are determined to do so. God wants our bond to be strong, He wants us to reconnect.

Sometimes, the simple truth is as the poet has said, “absence makes the heart grow fonder” and we need to feel God turn away to know how desperately and passionate we want and need Him to be close.

* * *

In Rav Norman Lamm’s “The Veil of God”, he relates how tradition teaches that when the Romans breached the Holy Temple and entered the Holy of Holies, they came upon the two Cherubim, the “…statuettes resembling the faces of young , innocent children, and from between which the voice of God would issue forth. When the enemy beheld these Cherubim, the Talmud relates, they found that the two figurines were facing each other. Now this is most unexpected, because according to Jewish tradition, the Cherubim faced each other only when Israel was obedient to God (‘osin retzono shel Makom); when Jews did not perform the will of God, the Cherubim turned away from each other. The destruction of the Temple was certainly the result of Israel’s disobedience and rebellion. One would expect, therefore, that they turn their faces away from each other. Why, then, were they facing one another, the sign of mutual love between God and His people?”

His answer, shared by R. Pinhas of Koretz, teaches us something powerful about the nature of love and friendship. That is that just as it is most dark right before the dawn, the attachment between two people is always strongest just before they part.

Two people can have an enduring relationship, a warm relationship, a caring relationship for years and years, but let the end draw near and all the emotion, passion, hope and joy that defined that relationship at its onset returns – in abundance!

What does this have to do with the Three Weeks?

God appreciates that we daven every day; He loves that we find rest during the Sabbath and that we observe His commandments. But He wants more than that. He wants a rekindling of the passion that brings us close and lifts us. He wants us to engage in the passion that burns with holiness.

Relationships need constant words of love and appreciation to stay strong and develop. Our relationship with God is no different. During the Three Weeks, we feel the distance in our relationship with God. How do we close that distance? How do we return to the “fear and trembling” of Sinai?

* * *

The love between God and Israel follows the same pattern as genuine human love. Tisha B’av was the beginning of the hester panim, the parting of the lovers. God and Israel turned away from each other, and the great, exciting, and immensely complicated relationship between the two companions, begun in the days of Abraham, was coming to an end. But before this tragic and heartbreaking moment, there took place a last, long, lingering look, the fervent embrace of the two lovers as they were about to part. At the threshold of separation they both experienced a great outpouring of mutual love, an intense ahavah, as they suddenly realized the long absence from each other that lay ahead of them; in so brief a time they tried to crowd all the affection the opportunities for which they ignored in the past, and all the love which would remain unrequited in the course of the future absence. That is why the Cherubim were facing each other. Certainly the Israelites were rebellious and in contempt of the will of God. But they were facing each other; God and Israel looked towards each other longingly and in lingering affection before they were pulled apart. And from this high spiritual union of God and Israel was created the soul of the Messiah! Mashiach was conceived in intense and rapturous love!

* * *

We are, of course, merely human. How can we really renew bonds, genuine bonds between us and God? How could we do such a thing? Our bonds must constantly be renewed. Just as our human bonds – between friends, between parents and children, between husband and wife.

Throughout our poetic and religious literature, the relationship between Israel and God has been likened to that between bride and groom, husband and wife. It is a deep and true image. And, as we learn during the Three Weeks, sometimes in our most important relationships, distance creeps in, complacency takes over, the ongoing day by day weight of life files away the passion and joy.

How do we renew that relationship?

Husbands and wives have done a great many things to renew “the spark” of their initial love. Some things intuitively make sense – long walks, scheduling a “date night”, going on vacation – others are a bit more of a stretch – roller coasters and bungee jumping. At base, every relationship requires communication to grow, to renew, and to stay strong.

Some couples find praying together is a powerful bond. Others, walks in nature. A couple I know very well use a technique I find powerful and moving, they recite the entire book of Tehilim every week, each reciting half the book. One week, the husband recites all the even numbered chapters and the wife the odd numbered; the following week, the reverse. In this way, they communicate their deep love for one another and maintain the spiritual component of their relationship.

“It is a very boding intimate daily connection in a spiritually holy way. We feel close through it; feel like we are doing something together for ourselves and for our family.”

I wondered, How is that bonding with each other?

“It is something that we are doing together. So we are together even when we are not together. It connects us on a different, holy level.”

I grant you, it’s not bungee jumping but this couple has been doing this for four years and they seem closer, kinder, more loving and more deeply committed than ever.

* * *

Yes, there is distance during the Three Weeks. But, just as it is true that devoted friends never forget each other – even if anger and offense have caused distance. It is never the case of “out of sight, out of mind.” A father may be so angry with his son that they don’t speak but his heart aches waiting for his son to call, to write, to make some gesture towards reconciliation. No matter how long the marriage and how “set in their ways” husband and wife become, some of the initial spark will always remain.

All these are instances of separation tense with love striving for reunion.

Such indeed is the hester panim that separates us from our Father in Heaven. We are exiled from Him – but not alienated. We are so far yet so close. God’s face is hidden but His heart is awake. Of course the divine love for Israel has not expired. It is that and that alone that accounts for our continued existence to this day. Certainly “with a great love hast Thou loved us” – for though we are banished, we need but call to Him and He will answer . Like a wise parent, the Almighty may punish, even expel, but never ceases to love His child!

Rabbi Eliyahu Safran

Soul Talk – Spiritual Principles for Dealing with Difficult People in Our Lives [audio]

Tuesday, July 19th, 2016

It seems as thought everyone has a difficult someone (or sometimes more than one) in their life. How are we best to deal with and respond to difficult people in our lives? Are there spiritual principles or a specific mindset we should be in when facing challenging people or situations?

Listen to Rabbi David Aaron on Soul Talk to get greater insight and constructive tools in dealing with the difficult people in your life.

Please send us your comments and questions to soultalk@israelnewstalkradio.com.

Soul Talk 17Jul – PODCAST

Israel News Talk Radio

Naso: Adding Godliness To Our Lives

Thursday, June 16th, 2016
In Parshat Naso, we are introduced to what seems like a hodgepodge of miscellaneous laws. Why is the Torah bringing these up together? Join us as we explore something very subtle going on in this parsha.

 

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Rabbi David Fohrman

Communist MK at Committee on the Status of Women: ‘Our Society Lives in Fear’

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

“Israeli society lives in fear, and that is awful,” MK Dov Khenin, whose Communist party is part of the Joint Arab List, told the Committee on the Status of Women and Gender Equality on Monday, adding, “Unfortunately, there are those who build their politics on fear. There are different aspects to the Israeli women’s sense of lack of personal security – physical, sectorial, economic, and social. One of our most important challenges is dealing with this fear and creating a society in which people will feel safer.”

The committee discussed possible courses of action in light of a recent study that showed Israelis in general have a low sense of personal security. The study, conducted by the Knesset’s Research and Information Center, examined various aspects of Israelis’ sense of personal security, ranging from how safe they feel in public spaces to how they rate their employment, health and economic security. The study, commissioned by the Committee on the Status of Women, surveyed a representative sample of 1,028 Israeli adults, more than half of them women.

According to the study, 59% of women and 54% of men said they worried about damaging behavior by state agencies that would negatively affect their personal security. Among Arab women the figure rose to 74%, compared to 59% of Jewish women born in Israel, 51% of ultra-Orthodox women and 49% of female immigrants from the former Soviet Union.

“The national-security discourse allows generals to exclude us from the debate and from many budgets, and only when we realize that cultural and economic security is just as important, the budgets will change accordingly, and the generals will discover that they have a lot to learn,” Committee head MK Touma-Sliman (Joint Arab List) stated.

MK Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin (Zionist Camp-Labor) said that in Israel the family is not perceived as an “anchor of personal security,” and argued that the Knesset does not address the issue sufficiently. “The study found that there are 27 different types of families in Israel, and when we see that the family is the second most influential factor when it comes to personal security, then it is obvious that we have to deal with this issue and see how we can view the Israeli family in a different way.”

MK Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid) addressed Sunday’s assault on an Arab supermarket employee in central Tel Aviv by a group of Border Guard police who refused to identify themselves, and mentioned that the victim’s father is not sure about filing a police complaint. “The study includes data about the fear of turning to the police, which is the body that is supposed to offer solutions to the lack of personal security,” Lavie lamented. “I’m not sure what happened there, but it certainly must be examined, even without a complaint by the father.”

The study indeed showed that, overall, 20% of women and 24% of men said they wouldn’t feel safe calling the police.

MK Merav Ben Ari (Kulanu) said she is very concerned about the fact that more than 20% of Israeli women are afraid to turn to the police. “Last week, the committee chairwoman and I met in Ireland with the local police commissioner, who told us that in the past some 80% of the population did not trust the police, but they managed to turn the situation around. Having 10% of women being afraid is problematic, but let’s start by trying to reach that number and return to examine the situation on a yearly basis.”

Chairwoman Touma-Sliman said the debate was aimed at “trying to figure out how we move forward from here, after being shocked by the study’s findings, which should terrify every man and women who cares about the sense of personal security of all Israeli citizens. This is merely the beginning of the path towards introducing a different discourse to the political arena and towards a conscious change of the concept of security.”

JNi.Media

My Heart Lives in Israel

Sunday, April 24th, 2016

I was born in Lebanon in 1961, and I grew up in the streets of Beirut. Before the civil war that started in 1975, we played in the streets unsupervised, unaware of the fratricide hatred that was brewing. During the war, I saw Arabs kill Arabs, Muslims kill Muslims, and Christians kill Christians. When the war ended in 1990, a quarter million people had been killed.

We took a country that was thriving and beautiful, and we turned it into ruins. My Lebanon has not yet recovered, 27 years after that war ended.

Next door to Lebanon, I saw a country fending for its life, repelling Arab attack after Arab attack. When they weren’t fighting their attackers, they were building a nation. In only a few decades, they had made the desert bloom, and they were a light unto the nations.

We Arabs chose to fight each other, and we chose to fight the Jews. We chose to make them our enemies rather than our friends, and we chose to destroy rather than to build.

I now live in Canada, a great, beautiful, and successful country, but it will never be truly mine. When I watch events unfolding in the Middle East, my body remains here, but my heart keeps travelling back, and it invariably takes me to Israel.

When Israelis live with daily rocket attacks, my heart is in Israel.

When Israelis are stabbed for the crime of being Jews, my heart is in Israel.

When Israel must fight yet one more war that it never wanted to fight, my heart is in Israel.

When one more terror attack kills Israelis who were going to school, or going to work, or going to pray, my heart is in Israel.

When the world condemns Israel for defending itself but ignores that Arabs have rejected peace again and again and again, my heart is in Israel.

When my Lebanon and other criminal Arab regimes gang up to attempt to erase Jewish history in the eternal Jewish city of Jerusalem, my heart is in Israel.

My heart lives in Israel, at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, in an office building in Haifa, or on a bus in the busy streets of Tel Aviv.

As long as Israel must fight for the right to exist, my heart will live in Israel. As long as Israel grows, invents, and thrives despite the bombs and the hatred, my heart will live in Israel. As long as my Lebanon is part of the problem and not part of the solution, my heart will live in Israel.

Fred Maroun

Will Observant Judaism of the Future Look Like Satmar?

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

A friend of mine (by way of the internet – I never met him personally) once told me never to predict the future based on linear projections. That was a very wise observation.

One of the things that many people seem to believe is that the exponential rate of growth of the Charedi community is so vastly greater than the growth of any other segment – that ultimately the future will be theirs. Meaning that the rest of Orthodoxy will either be absorbed by them, or will become so small in comparison that it will become either irrelevant, or extinct altogether.

I am one of those people. The Charedim have won. By their growth and sheer determination they are the wave of the future. But I have a modified version of that prediction. Moderate Charedim will populate the the new mainstream majority. It will also contain those I have called RWMO (right wing Modern Orthodox). And evolve into a sociological demographic I call the New Centrists. Rabbi Berel Wein was first made note of this phenomenon. And it is already in progress.

In brief  what is happening is that both communities have adopted modalities of the other. So that even if our Hashkafos are somewhat different, our lifestyles are not. Moderate Charedim and RWMO are both generally are well educated in Limudei Kodesh and Limudei Chol. Both generally have solid careers where many are professionals.

We are both Koveiah Itim (establish fixed times for Torah study); Daven in the same Shuls; send our children to similar – and occasionally the same schools; are very often good friends, trust each other’s Kashrus; and our families  interact socially each other. It is not that uncommon to find a Chavrusa  beween a moderate Charedi and a RWMO learning together at night in a community Kollel. Our differing Hashkafos are not a divisive issue socially. The extremes on both the right and left may continue to exist, but in my view will at best be marginalized.

Nothing new here.  I have mentioned all this before. Many times. But what I have not mentioned in this context is another demographic that is perhaps the fastest growing demographic of all. One that has absolutely nothing to do with the above phenomenon.  The exponential growth of Satmar and like minded Chasidim. Does that mean that I believe that Satmar is the wave of the future… that eventually they will overtake the rest of Orthodoxy by their sheer population size?  Based on linear projections, one might say that will indeed happen. But I don’t think so, despite their continuing and phenomenally rapid growth.

Currently Satmar Chasidim live in their own world and prefer to keep it that way. The same is true of other Chasidic sects like Skvere.  They will not ‘assimilate’ into any new grouping.  Their values are not the same as the New Centrists at all. They live in a world apart from the rest of observant Jewry.

They are not well educated in Limudei Chol. And although they do work, they generally do not work as professionals. They do not attend colleges and universities. They work at jobs that often do not pay a living wage. Certainly not for a family of 12 or 13 is which is a very common family size. So a great many of them live in poverty…. isolated from the rest of the world.

While it is true that there are some very wealthy Satmar type Chasidim in trades like the diamond industry, construction, and other businesses (like the wildly successful B&H) – they are the exception and not the rule.  Most Satmar Chasidim barely eke out a living and more often than not have to be aided by free loan societies.

There is an article in the Forward by a Frimet Goldberger. She was raised in the world of Satmar. Ms. Goldberger describes  Satmar Chasidim as not only living isolated lives, but as living very religiously demanding lives. More than any other religious demographic. Lives that are stricter now than at any time in the history of Satmar. They have taken upon themselves Chumros that that did not even exist during the life of their founding Rebbe, Rav Yoel Teitelbaum. And he was pretty Machmir  requiring the rejection of the outside world in its totality.

His purpose was to insulate his Chasidim form the slightest taint of non Jewish culture.  His method was to not only live in a tightly knit neighborhood  – but to be as different from the rest of the world as possible. That would make it virtually impossible to see any commonlaity and thereby assimilate.  That – combined with their extreme Tznius measures makes them culturally incompatible with –  not only the secular world, but even   the moderate Charedi world. Not to mention the Modern Orthodox world.

Here is how Ms. Goldbeger describes it:

(The Satmar Rebbe) had railed against married women growing their hair underneath the turbans and wigs. After his death, most Hasidic women finally adhered to this rule – many out of fear of the severe ramifications of defiance. It is now the acceptable practice in Satmar to expel children from school if their mothers do not shave their heads. The Satmar Rebbe also decried the thin stockings and uncovered sheitels worn in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s. Now, most Satmar women wear thick, seamed stockings.

The latest Chumra is the blurring out faces of little girls in their photos. Which did not exist when the Satmar Rebbe was alive. She calls such radicalization alarming and not to be ignored.

In my view, all of these factors are the reason that we should not project a victory for the Satmar way of life. This lifestyle is not the wave of the future. Despite their rapid exponential growth. Insuring the isolation that has kept this demographic together and intact, is no longer possible. The internet has just about assured that. Especially now that one can access it in the palm of one hand.  Bans of technological advances like I-phones no matter how harsh the consequences simply are probably honored more in the breach than in adherence.

I am not saying that young people will drop out in significant numbers. Although going OTD  is a growing problem for them like it is for every other religious demographic. But I do think that they will gradually see what the rest of the even Frum world has to offer and many will seek it out. The poverty and strictures particular to this community will accelerate that process. They will see that it is possible to be religious and not be as isolated as they have been in the past. Modernity will catch up to them. Their increasing poverty that their current lifestyle practically guarantees them will motivate many of them to try another way.

They will see a growing new Centrism and realize that there other legitimate ways to practice Judaism. I am not saying that they will all eventually become new Centrists. Although not likley – it is not out of the realm of possibility once they start seeking to better their lives materially. More likely is a scenario to create their own version of a centrist society – rebelling against that part of their culture that keeps them poor – by seeking a better education and pulling back a bit on their radically different appearances… like the insistence that all their married women must save their heads.

I can’t predict the future. But what I think I can predict is that this demographic is not the wave of the future as they are currently constructed.

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah .

Harry Maryles

New Film Highlights Israel’s Strengths

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

In Brad Pitt’s latest offering, World War Z, a virus transforms human beings into zombies determined to overtake the world and destroy every country on Earth. In the film, only Israel has the foresight to build a massive zombie-repelling wall. 

One of the film’s central characters, Mossad agent Jurgen Warmbrunn, explains, “In the ’30s, Jews refused to believe we could be put in concentration camps. In the ’70s, we didn’t believe we could be massacred at the Olympics.” Warmbrunn notes that based on these experiences, Israel remains ready for any security threat, maintaining a defense infrastructure that surpasses all other nations.

Some observers see the zombie-resistant wall as representative of the real life Security Barrier that keeps Palestinian suicide bombers out of Israel. In addition to being proactive in security, the movie portrays Israel as a humanitarian country that permits uninfected Palestinians to enter so that they will not be harmed by zombies. “Every human being we save is one less zombie to fight,” remarks Jurgen. He adds that saving Palestinian lives is good for peace. This too reflects an Israel that honors the rights of its Arab citizens, works to save Palestinian lives, and serves as an inspiration to the Islamic world by treating persecuted minority groups, such as Ahmadi Muslims and Bahais, with dignity.

In World War Z, Israel is also portrayed as a country in which women are given equal opportunities. For example, the film features an Israeli warrior named Segen, played by Israeli actress Daniella Kertesz, who saves lives and helps distribute the zombie vaccine.

In reality, Israel is a pioneer in women’s rights, a country where women proudly serve in the Israel Defense Forces. It is also engaged in humanitarian missions that help other countries across the world, including fighting against gender-based violence in South Sudan, sending agricultural and medical assistance to Haiti, rescuing people trapped under a collapsed shopping mall in Ghana, bringing relief to victims of an Oklahoma Tornado, helping Hurricane Sandy Victims, treating victims of the Boston Marathon Bombing, and assisting first-responders at the Newtown Massacre. In a fictionalized form, World War Z highlights Israel’s innumerable contributions to the world and represents one of the most pro-Israel films ever made.

Visit United with Israel.

Rachel Avraham

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/united-with-israel/new-film-highlights-israels-strengths/2013/08/01/

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