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Posts Tagged ‘loss’

The Three Weeks – Realizing What We Are Missing

Friday, July 13th, 2012

The Geese and the Peasants

The story is told of a Chassidic Rebbe who stayed one night in the attic of a simple farmer. Promptly at chatzos (midnight) the Rebbe sat on the floor and began saying Tikkun Chatzos (a prayer said most nights by pious individuals, mourning the destruction of the Bais Hamikdash.) Immediately, a fountain of tears began to flow from his eyes, as he unabashedly mourned our great loss. Soon, his crying became so loud that it aroused the farmer and his wife from their sleep. The concerned farmer quickly knocked on the door and asked if everything is okay. The Rebbe answered that he is simply mourning the Bais Hamikdash. Seeing the puzzled look on the ignorant farmer’s face, the Rebbe began to vividly describe the glory of the Bais Hamikdash and what will be when Moshiach comes. He portrayed all the Jews around the world returning to Eretz Yisroel, unhindered by the influences of the non-Jews. As the Rebbe became more and more excited he grabbed the farmer’s hands and said “Come, let us pray for Moshiach! Perhaps at this moment, the Gates of Heaven are open, and our prayers will be answered!”

“I must ask my wife”, replied the simpleton. He rushed to his wife who looked at him in disbelief. “What?! Leave our farm and our geese and go to Eretz Yisroel?! Absolutely not!”

The farmer returned to the Rebbe with her answer. “Go remind her,” said the Rebbe gently, “about the peasants who are constantly stealing from you and ruining your farm. In Eretz Yisroel you won’t have any of these problems.”

The farmer trudged down the stairs and told his wife the response. After thinking for a moment, her face lit up. “I don’t mind if Moshiach comes, but he should take all the peasants with him to Eretz Yisroel, and leave us with our farm!”

Are we any different than that foolish couple? Each year, when “The Three Weeks” arrives, the time of mourning over the Bais Hamikdash, do we truly mourn the loss, and desire Moshiach’s coming? Or perhaps we just go through the outward motions, and look for legal loopholes. Yes, it is difficult for us to feel the loss, because we don’t really understand what we are missing.

Anyone Who Mourns Jerusalem

Our sages tell us (Bava Basra60b) “Anyone who mourns Jerusalem will merit and see its joy.” The simple implication of “anyone” is, no matter who you are and how little you mourn, you will merit seeing its rebuilding. That means that even now, just by reading these words you have joined the ranks of those who are seeking the redemption! However, this statement is a little difficult. Why is it written in present tense: “he will merit and see its joy,” which implies that right now he will see it. Shouldn’t it have said that he will see it in the near future when it will be rebuilt?

The Mikdash – A Miniature Mount Sinai

In a previous article (The Revelation On Mount Sinai, 5-25) we described how at Mount Sinai we merited the most fabulous revelation in the world’s history. We saw and clearly felt Hashem’s presence and His solitary rule. In addition we merited a feeling of extreme closeness to Hashem. In Shir Hashirim (1:2), the Song of Songs, we yearn once again for that closeness. “Kiss me with the kisses of Your mouth!” This refers to the moment when we heard the Ten Commandments. The Ramban tells us that the Mishkan, which was the forerunner of the Bais Hamidash, was in truth a miniaturization of that spectacular revelation. Meaning, that connection was not a one-time event, it continued in the Mishkan and subsequently the Bais Hamikdash!

When a person entered the Bais Hamikdash he immediately felt and saw Hashem’s presence. There were many miracles that could be instantly witnessed. For example, every morning the Kohen took a small portion of ashes from the altar and threw it on the solid marble floor, where it was swallowed instantaneously, leaving no trace. On the altar was a column of smoke which rose to heaven like a marble pillar. Even on the windiest day, it stayed straight! But that was only a small part of the uniqueness which resulted from Hashem’s presence. Jerusalem (not Disneyland) at the time of the Bais Hamikdash was called “The Happiest Place on Earth” (see Tehillim48). This was because one constantly merited atonement from sins. The joy which resulted from that closeness to Hashem was indescribable.

A Life Of Spirituality

All the above shouldn’t just excite a tzaddik, but every one of us. We know that we were created to serve Hashem, and therefore any spiritual accomplishment brings us more joy than a windfall on Wall Street. And if we lose an opportunity, we are greatly saddened. Even more so, we are saddened by the extreme disgrace of Hashem’s Honor in the world. The power and success of those who profane His name seems unstoppable, and it is extremely painful. Therefore, we yearn for the rebuilding of the Bais Hamikdash with all our hearts. For then, Hashem’s glory will fill the world, and we will merit to once again be close to Him. All the hindrances in serving Him will disappear and we will soar to great heights of spirituality.

Audiologist in Training Writes

Friday, June 29th, 2012

It’s time for finals and I’ve been studying hard for all of my exams. My favorite class this semester was audiology, and studying more about the field has solidified my decision to pursue audiology as a career.

In the beginning, we focused mostly on the anatomy of the auditory structures. Not just the outer ear – the one people get pierced or make fun of if it sticks out too much – but also the middle and inner ear. The middle ear contains the three tiniest bones in your body. They magnify sounds from the outside and transfer the mechanical signals into the inner ear and the cochlea. The cochlea contains the fluid that stays in contact with thousands of little hair cells, which are connected to nerve ending. This is where the sound wave – mechanical signals – are made into electrical signals and carried to the auditory processing portions of the brain.

Learning about the normal chain of events that happens automatically to make you hear is inspiring to begin with. And that’s before you begin to consider the vestibular system that controls your sense of balance, and which can be extremely debilitating when impaired. Just ask anyone who has ever experienced vertigo!

In our recent unit I learned about the myriad of things that could go wrong and the disorders related to ear function. There are conditions relating every area that should be opened and for when they are closed. For example, otic atresia, a narrow or malformed ear canal; patulous or chronically open eustachian tube, which regulates middle ear pressure; perforation of the tympanic membrane or ear drum – just to name a few. Otosclerosis, the leading cause of hearing loss in adults, occurs when the smallest of the tiny bones, the stapes, is immobilized and can’t pass on the vibration messages as it’s should.

Reciting the blessing of Asher Yatzar after using the restroom is a way of giving thanks for our digestive health and overall bodily functioning. Saying Asher Yatzar becomes automatic for many, but if we do give it a moment’s thought, let’s keep in mind our miraculous ability to hear together with all the heart valve and digestive openings and closings too!

The #1 Thing You Should Know About Real Estate Investing in Israel

Sunday, June 17th, 2012

If you buy a property as an investment, there are two ways you can profit – either you sell it for more than you paid, and/or you collect rent. Let’s look at each of these and see why they often don’t work out:

Selling for a profit

If you buy a property for an investment, hoping to sell years down the line at a profit, remember, that it’s not always easy to sell an apartment. Though people talk about the dearth of housing in Israel, there are “For Sale” signs all over, even in Jerusalem. The best way to ensure a quick sale of property is to sell it at a low price, often at a loss. But even if you don’t need the money and can afford to hold onto the property, remember you have the “friction” of buying and selling in the form of taxes, lawyers’ fees, real estate agents, assessors, mortgage costs, and more.

Collecting rent

In some parts of Israel, rental income represents 2% of the value of the property. So if you’re looking at a rental apartment to provide cash flow, you haven’t found the best return. Moreover, there’s no guarantee that you’ll have renters for 12 months a year. If you presume that, on average, you’ll only be full 10 or 11 months a year, account for the fact that your income would be around 8% lower than if you were full all year round. And if you can’t rent the property out at all, then your money is tied up in a non-performing asset.

So if you are considering investing in real estate in Israel, the #1 thing that you need to know is that buying physical real estate could be a bad investment. That’s why for real estate investing, I prefer using REITs (real estate investment trusts), which trade on a stock exchange, pay dividends, are easy to buy and sell with low cost, and can be bought in the form of a mutual fund.

There are many reasons to buy property in Israel, not only financial. Some Zionists want to solidify their connection to Israel, or hope to one day retire there. Before you buy real estate (or any investment vehicle), make sure you understand your motivation and the pros and cons.

If you want to know about practical investing in Israel, sign up for my company’s investment newsletter and get a free investment ebook as a gift.

Are Diamonds Forever?

Friday, June 1st, 2012

This is in no way intended to dampen the enthusiasm of kallahs flush with excitement over their upcoming nuptials, but who hasn’t heard a “lost diamond ring” story or, for that matter, experienced firsthand the traumatic loss of a precious piece of jewelry?

In the recent past, the media featured a story of a Swedish vegetable grower who pulled a carrot out of the ground and was shocked to find her wedding ring wrapped around the vegetable. She had lost the ring sixteen years earlier and explained that her pet sheep had eaten it and “deposited” it in the compost heap where the ring’s owner eventually harvested her carrot crop.

We should all be so lucky in retrieving our lost treasures. I won’t soon forget the story of a young, naïve married woman who, some several years back, was duped into believing a tall tale a couple of strangers regaled her with on a Manhattan street. A man and woman, pretending to have suddenly stumbled upon some valuable papers lying on the ground, soon had the newly married chassidic wife parting with her jewelry as a way of showing good faith in partnering with them in a purportedly lucrative business venture — one that would have supposedly netted them dividends beyond their wildest dreams.

By the time the poor woman realized she’d been hoodwinked, she was stripped bare of all of her kallah trinkets, and at the end of the day, literally, had to face not only her spouse but her dumbstruck in-laws as well. Take heart, dear reader, for the story has a happy ending. No, she never recovered the jewelry, but her husband and new family proved to be tremendously supportive and sympathetic, and the young couple went on to build a bayis ne’eman despite the harrowing affair.

And what of those mysterious losses — earring(s), rings, and whatnots that have a way of vanishing from one day to the next? Heaven only knows how many baubles are forever buried in crevices behind yesteryear’s archaic radiators or behind sheetrock walls with central vacuum system inlets (those small circular openings children love to hurl things through).

Responsible adults can lose themselves too. Just ask the Floridian husband who tossed his wife’s $10,000 custom-made wedding ring into a trash heap. She had handed it to him as she was stepping into the shower, but instead of placing it in her jewelry box, he discarded it along with an old razor he’d been holding in his hand.

By the time the realization of his blunder dawned on him, the garbage collectors had done their thing. Undaunted, the negligent hubby donned goggles and protective gear and dove into the smelly county dump. After a half hour of wading in the most “absolutely disgusting” rubbish, he hit pay dirt when he located the pricey ring. “It was like winning the lottery,” he declared triumphantly.

My cousin Rachel can probably identify with that feeling of euphoria. Over thirty years ago, around Pesach time, her diamond ring was nowhere to be found. Presuming it went the way of the household chometz, she gave up on it. Her husband pacified her with a facsimile in the form of a cubic zirconia as a Shavuos gift.

Eight years and three kids later, my cousin rummaged for some old baby clothes her two-year old could dress her doll in, but the frustrated toddler soon handed the ill-fitting stretchy back to her mom — who reached into the foot of the outfit and fished out none other than her long lost ring. (Tucked in a pocket of a smock she had worn while Pesach-cleaning, the ring had apparently become enmeshed in the stretchy during a wash cycle.)

As the saying goes, you win some you lose some. Today many couples choose to forgo the costly real thing for a more modestly priced imitation (which to the untrained eye will pass as genuine more often than not). This would certainly help lessen one’s grief over being looted by sticky fingered domestic help.

Take the Monsey family whose live-in housekeeper absconded with $20,000 worth of jewelry in an almost clean getaway. Apprehended by detectives at the airport as she was about to board a flight back to her native country, she justified her thievery by claiming she hadn’t been paid all of her wages. Not so, countered her employers who had the forethought to secure some form of identification early on and thus had a name and passport number to go by.

Sometimes we have only ourselves to blame. Years ago, we stopped at a highway rest area where I could conveniently change my baby’s diaper. Not wanting to risk scratching him with my cherished opal-and-diamond ring I’d just received for my birthday, I removed it and placed it on the counter next to the changing table. I remembered leaving it there just as soon as I returned to our car, but it was too late. Some rest room patron had evidently found it hard to resist.

So how do we handle knowing with relative certainty that a prized possession is gone with the wind? To believe that Hashem in His mercy and benevolence has spared us a worse fate or inconvenience is a far better option than eating our hearts out. As the Yiddish expression goes, “Zol zein a kapora” (it should be an atonement).

My memory takes me back to my last year of high school, when a girl who had graduated the year before and had just become engaged, dropped in to bask in our adulation and collect our good wishes. As we surrounded the kallah and oohed and aahed over her sparkling diamond engagement ring, she smiled broadly and said, “It’s my chosson who is the real diamond.”

Now that’s a diamond forever (a gem of a guy?) and one of the more important lessons we took home with us that day.

It’s My Opinion: Tantrums

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

The recent loss by the Knicks in game two of their playoff series with the Miami Heat resulted in more than the loss of a basketball game. In an explosive postgame meltdown, Knicks star Amare Stoudemire lost control and punched the glass case of a fire extinguisher. His outburst led to 15 stitches in his hand. Stoudemire left Miami bandaged up and wearing an arm sling.

Tantrums, unfortunately, are not just the behavior of frustrated toddlers. Many adults give themselves permission to act out their anger. An explosive tantrum is always a terrible way to deal with a vexing situation.

During a tantrum the thinking part of the brain simply shuts down and the primitive reactionary component kicks in. Psychologists agree that neither promises of incredible gifts nor threats of dire punishments are effective once a child is in the throes of a frenzy. This shutdown occurs in tantrum throwers of all ages. The trick to averting this occurrence is, of course, not to allow one’s anger to rage out of control. Anger management skills are essential.

Jewish tradition treats the results of acting on anger in a very serious way. Rambam warns of the consequences of this phenomenon in a letter of counsel to his son. He writes of the importance of controlling rage. Our sages admonish, “If one becomes angry, if he is a prophet, his spirit of prophecy will be removed from him.” It is common sense to understand that if an individual’s mind is not letting him see the present clearly, it would be impossible for him to have the clarity to see the future.

Amare Stoudemire wound up with a bloody hand and as a derided target for tabloid headline writers. He said, “I am so mad at myself right now. I want to apologize to the fans and my team….”

It’s normal for human beings of all ages to experience a full range of emotions. Anger is one of them. People are “wired” differently and can respond differently to the same provocation. Our job is to harness our reactions and attain mastery of our own behavior.

Met Council and NYC Food Bank Launch Virtual Food Drive for Passover

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

This Passover season, more than 100,000 Jewish families in NYC will find themselves struggling to put food on the table, according to the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty. Many households have lived through job loss, dwindling savings and maxed-out credit cards.

Met Council and the Food Bank For New York City, two of New York City’s major hunger-relief organizations, have partnered to fight hunger by launching an interactive Virtual Food Drive, which will remain live through April 14, 2012.

Unlike a traditional food drive, the Virtual Food Drive mirrors the experience of online grocery shopping.  Users will be able to choose staple Passover items to fill a shopping cart and then check out to make a secure donation.  Thanks to Met Council and the Food Bank’s wholesale purchasing power and efficient distribution models, dollars are stretched to ensure the maximum impact is made through each donation.

On the reverse side, some 15,000 Jewish homes will be issued pre-paid debit cards — from $50 to $300, depending on family size and needs — to help with the cost of Passover holiday preparations.

“There is a sense that Jewish poverty is an oxymoron, people don’t think that there are poor Jews out there,” said Met Council CEO Willie Rapfogel. “Passover is a time of year when people ask for help. Everything in the ‘fridge and pantry can’t be used. They need everything.”

 

Rav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg, ZT”L

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

The Jewish Press joins Klal Yisrael in mourning the loss of Rav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg, a world renowned Talmudist and posek, longtime rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva Torah Ore in Jerusalem, and one of the foremost figures in the yeshiva world for three quarters of a century.

Recognized in his early years as a Talmudic prodigy, he developed a reputation for heroic immersion in Torah study, often at the price of great physical deprivation. A prolific writer, he authored several important works, including Tabaas Hachoshen, a comprehensive analysis and explanation of the seminal classic Ktsos Hachoshen, by R. Aryeh Leib HaCohen Heller, long regarded as an essential exploration of the Torah laws governing business and financial transactions.

Over the years he directed the education of thousands of students, many of whom went on to leadership positions in Jewish religious, educational and communal circles.
May his memory be a blessing.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/editorial/rav-chaim-pinchas-scheinberg-ztl/2012/03/28/

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