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May 1, 2016 / 23 Nisan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘LOVE’

A Soldier’s Mother: I Promise I’ll Still Love You

Tuesday, April 19th, 2016
The great thing about the Passover holiday is that you get to clean everything, find everything. It’s a journey of discovery…at a time when you really have no time or patience for it…and yet…there you go. Years ago, faced with the fact that my oldest son was going to be coming home very close to the start of the holiday (and I was just grateful he would be home to share it with us), I realized that I had to go clean his room. And so began an adventure for me and Elie’s 8 year old sister (Bullets, Buttons, and Batteries).
David went into the army 5 months ago, which was probably the last time I cleaned his room. Since then, I’ve asked, suggested, whatever, but mostly left him to his own unless someone was coming over to sleep (and then I go with a quick straighten and mop but ignore the cabinets and under things). Like his oldest brother, he is comfortable in the chaos of his own making and so his room suffers tremendously when he comes home, only eased a bit by having guests stay over. For the last two weekends, I’ve reminded him…for the last two weekends, he’s told me he’s “working on it” which is, as any mother can tell you, another way of saying…”it ain’t getting done” or “it’s a work in progress” that will, if left to him, always be in progress.
Days left, I have no choice but to enter the lion’s den. I’m prepared this time, having cleaned his room many times in the past. I have large garbage bags for all the wrappers; I have another for the laundry I knew I would find. I took old plastic contains, as I did years ago with Elie, to begin organizing…batteries, and pieces of phones, coins, and the like. The books go back on the shelf, the clean clothes back in the closet. The extra sheets left from the last time we used the room for guests goes into the laundry. A bullet…yes, there’s a stray bullet on his floor. And a remote control car…and a gun that looks too real, but isn’t, and a broken water gun, long since abandoned.
Dishes…and I knew I was missing some forks…and a certificate for the course he finished long ago for the Magen David Adom first aid training. There are pieces to the new shaver we bought him last year and the blanket that I knitted last winter…I was wondering where that went.
And socks…more laundry if I can only find the second one…but there’s still time and what to clean. Another dish…another spoon. How many times have I told him not to take food upstairs. And some candy bars that his older brother and younger sister quickly grabbed…he’ll come home too close to the Passover holiday to be able to eat them anyway.
And as I clean the room and think of how many times I asked him to clean it, and how he’ll apologize and really be sorry that he didn’t…and how I’ll tease him about the missing fork and those dishes, I thought of a child’s book I have. The child asked the parent in many ways, “will you still love me if” and each time the parent says, “I’ll love you even if you…”
I’ll love you even if I can’t find the matching pair to your NEW and expensive New Balance sneaker.
I’ll love you despite finding four plates, 7 utensils and two cups upstairs.
I’ll love you despite finding finding that you brought home those great plastic boxes that I use to send home-baked goodies with you to the army…and two of them were crushed.
I’ll love you even though I had to pick up all those wrappers and try matching up all those socks.
And my Davidi, I promise I’ll still love you – even if the rest of the room is as bad as the first half was…
Paula Stern

Australian Rabbi: Love Muslims and Everything Will Be OK

Sunday, August 24th, 2014

Christian and Jewish religious leaders in Australia have launched a “We’ll love Muslims 100 years” campaign to express love and support for the country’s Muslim population, the JTA reported.

“We have Muslims who are made to feel like terrorists in the past few years and they report the atmosphere is similar to post-9/11 and it is simply as a result of cultural incompetence,” explained Rabbi Zalman Kastel, of the Together for Humanity Foundation.

He and pastor Brad Chilcott, national director of Welcome to Australia, a non-profit that focuses on issues relating to immigration and asylum, are heading the campaign that is supposed to make Islamic jihadists love Christians and Jews.

The name of the campaign – loving Muslims for 100 years – is a riff on a recent headline, published in the Weekend Australian, that stated, “We’ll fight Muslims 100 years,” according to a report in The Guardian.

It is clear why they will love Muslims for only 100 years and not any longer because if “love” is the solution to Muslim terror, there won’t be any Christians and Jews left in the world in the year 2114.

The year is 2024 is more likely, but let’s not quibble about the extra zero added on to 10 years.

Any assumption that Rabi Kastel is another Reform “rabbi” smoking The New York Times is dead wrong.

Believe it or not, he is a strictly Orthodox rabbi born and raised in Brooklyn.

He and his non-Jewish pals plan three major love events in Australia to rally Australian Muslims around the banner of love.

The Together for Humanity Foundation has been around for 12 years, in which time its love has paralleled the spread of fanatical Islam to the point that many Muslim countries as well as almost the entire non-Muslim world, except Israel, is scared to death, literally.

The Humanity Foundation was launched less than year after 9/11 and 12 years before the Islamic State ISIS has declared war on the United States, although President Barack Obama dismisses the declaration while ISIS beheads one American journalist, prepares another one for death and claims it has cells in the United States ready to strike fear into the hearts of heathen Christians and Jews who do not accept Islam. It does not mean middle class Islam but the real stuff that also expresses love – love for hate and love for death.

The catalyst for the “We’ll Love Muslims for 100 Years’ campaign was a recent headline the Weekend Australian, “We’ll fight Islam 100 years.”

It is forbidden to express the words “fight” in the world of Woodstock, unless one is fighting for “love” of everything, including hate. Or as John Lennon sang, “Imagine.” That is far as Rabbi Kastel’s reality goes – imagination.

But he insists he is not living in Woodstock.

It would be interesting to know what Talmudic discussion he uses for his outlook. But so far he is using his foundation’s Muslim president, Christian chairman and an atheist patron to back him.

The good rabbi, may God grant him a speedy spiritual recovery, is bothered by the “harsh talk” against Muslims in mainstream and social media.

“I was concerned about shrill, harsh talk we see both in social and mainstream, even though there is a lot of good interfaith work going on in Australia every day,” he said, quoted by the London Guardian.

“As a result, we have Muslims who are made to feel like terrorists in the past few years and they report the atmosphere is similar to post-9/11 and it is simply as a result of cultural incompetence.

“We are all on the same team, if I may use that word, in terms of the result, and that is peace.”

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

For Better or for Worse

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

It’s time to move out of our homes and into our holy humble sukkahs. Now is the time when we renew our relationship with God, who has chosen us to form an inseparable eternal union – a marriage between the children of Yisrael and the Master of the Universe.

The Torah portion of Nitzavim, which is read just before the New Year, reveals to us that Hashem is our personal “husband,” for better or for worse. Rashi explains (Devarim 29:12) that we were presented with a covenant and a curse: “Since we are forever bound together, let Me teach you how to make Me happy.”

Nitzavim goes on to prophesize everything that has transpired during these thousands of years. This is highlighted by non-Jews gasping and stating, “Why has God caused this land to become desolate? Because they have forsaken God’s covenant.” Thus, on Rosh Hashanah we think of our past year’s sins. The sound of the shofar awakens our emotions. Then ten days of introspection and repentance bring on the great and awesome day of Kippur, of Atonement.

Consider: our God is perfect, and we are anything but. We may have been envious or lustful, or worshipped money, status or a host of other vices. Now we humbly return home to our Love. If we repent out of fear, our sins are forgiven. But if we repent because we truly love our Maker, he gives us an amazing reward – our sins become mitzvahs!

Hashem simply goes beyond the letter of the law in His love for us.

The Holy Ben Ish Chai points out that if you go beyond the four letters of the Hebrew word hadin (the judgment), you get to the Hebrew word sukkah. (The four Hebrew letters that come after the letters in hadin are the letters in the word sukkah). The sukkah is where we arrive after Yom Kippur, free of sins, under the wings of God’s Holy Presence.

Note that the first time sukkah is mentioned in the Torah, it is referring to the stalls our forefather Yaakov built for his animals. Why? Because when Yaakov arrived in Shechem with his family, he built a beis medrash for himself for Torah learning, but for his animals, his “wealth,” he built simple huts.

Yaakov took his children to the window and said, “Look at how I treat my wealth, dear children. Wealth is temporary; like the sukkah, it doesn’t go with you to the next world. But here in this house of Torah, we accumulate the mitzvahs that stay with us – which are eternal.”

We have now received our “new heads” for the coming year, as implied by the words Rosh Hashanah, head for the year, and Yom Hazikaron, a day of resetting our memory apparatus. We are cleansed of our sins on Yom Kippur, after which we enter, with our entire body, into our sukkah. We enter this mitzvah where we achieve oneness with our Lover – Hashem, Blessed be He.

What is it about the Nation of Israel that attracts the love of the One God Who rules the universe?

I came upon an answer on Rosh Chodesh Elul as I prayed the silent benedictions. We bless the day in the following way: “Mikadesh Yisrael v’roshei chodoshim – He sanctifies Israel and the first day of all months.” But it can literally mean “He sanctifies Yisrael and “brand new heads.”

Our nation is forever ready to admit our mistakes and begin all over. With the coming of each new moon, we are aware that we may start afresh.

This is also evident in our morning declaration of Modeh Ani, the origin of which is in the book of Eichah (3:23) which states, “Hashems kindness is new every morning – great is Your belief [in us, to improve in the coming day]. One of the reasons Hashem loves His people is that they are always willing to start over.

Two small examples that are actually big were related to me by Rabbi Mordechai Goldstein, shlita, head of the Diaspora Yeshiva on Mount Zion in Jerusalem, where I am currently studying.

The first: A man survived hell in a concentration camp only to discover that his entire family had perished – parents, siblings, wife and children. Everyone.

Dov Shurin

Trading In Maryland for the Mediterranean

Monday, August 19th, 2013

When Sergeant Brandon Berry made aliyah (immigrated to Israel), he did not come looking for the easy life. If he wanted that, he would not have left his hometown of Potomac, Maryland to serve in the army of a foreign country half a world away from his family.

Sgt. Berry also was not looking for an easy job in the IDF – he wanted to serve wherever he was most needed. He wanted to take his talent and drive with him to contribute one hundred percent.

Sgt. Berry passed all the tests to serve in the prestigious Paratroopers Brigade. Instead the American immigrant took to the sea as a member of the Israel Navy’s Dvora-class patrol boat squadron.

It is not everyday that a young man from Potomac, Maryland travels for tens of thousands of miles to join the Israel Navy. “It was clear to me that I was destined to serve in the Navy,” he said. Sgt. Berry, stationed on a base overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, is able to indulge his love for wide-open spaces every day of his service.

Aside from his thick American accent, Sgt. Berry is indistinguishable from the other soldiers at his base – completely at home on a boat with a tan to match. He credits the Association for the Wellbeing of Israel’s Soldiers for helping him through the entire enlistment process.

“The work the association does is a blessing,” he says. AWIS helps soldiers in a number of ways, which included providing assistance to lone soldiers, running soldier homes and recreation centers, and providing support for bereaved families.

Sgt. Berry says that even though he grew up with a strong Jewish identity and attended a Jewish day school, he always felt like something was missing. Now, as a soldier for Israel, it seems he has truly come home.

Visit IDF Blog.

IDF Spokesperson's Office

A Woman of Courage and Strength

Sunday, August 18th, 2013

When I was little, my parents didn’t have much money so family vacations were non-existent. But somehow, for years if I remember correctly, my uncle and aunt invited me to spend a week at their house. These are the memories of a child – perhaps it was only a few days. For all I know, it could have been only one night – but the memory I carry with me was that I spent days and days with my Uncle Woodie and my Aunt Pia.

Pia was an accomplished artist – she filled her house with color and brightness. She was a wonderful mother…housewife…teacher. She was always dressed so beautifully, so elegantly. I have so many memories of her as I was growing up.

Seven years ago, Pia was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and told she had months, maybe even just weeks, to live. She redefined courage as she fought back the disease time and time again.

When a doctor told her there was no hope… she decided not to listen. She went experimental treatments, was declared cancer free and continued to fight even after the disease re-appeared. She became a symbol for many as she launched campaigns to raise money and awareness for a disease that leaves devastation and shock in its wake.

Through it all, she continued to smile, continued to cherish her family. I saw her a bit over a year ago when she came to Israel to celebrate the bar mitzvah of her oldest grandson. There was such pride in her as she stood on Masada and watched her daughter’s family gather around.

We all knew the disease was still there and we knew she would continue to fight it for as long as she could. She never gave up; she never gave in.

She lost her battle with cancer on Friday (Shabbat in Israel).

There are many heroes in the world – perhaps the greatest are those who simply struggle to live their lives with dignity, respect, and love.

I always knew Pia was a woman of grace, beauty, talent and love. I have learned over the last few years, that she was also a woman of incredible courage and strength. May God bless her memory.

Visit A Soldier’s Mother.

Paula Stern

This Ain’t Torah

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

Harassment and exploitation (not only in the area of sex) are expressions of abuse of power. This must be the common denominator to jealousy, lust, and ambition, which, according to the Mishna “remove man from the world.”

The most serious aspect of the Rabbi Motti Elon scandal is the fact that it emanated from a cult, defaming Judaism and the Torah itself, God forbid. I’ve been watching and hearing criticism of the path of the Torah – because of this news item about a sect that’s following its charismatic leader whose every word and action are subject to their adoration.

The phenomena of such unworthy leaders are typical of almost every such cult.

The despicable acts of indecency are not the problem here, they’re merely the symptoms. The problem is the cult, its mentality and dynamics.

We must make it clear that a cult not only does not represent the Torah and its followers – it is absolutely anti-Torah. It is wrong, detestable, despicable and an abomination.

Now we must admit a few unpleasant facts:

This kind of cult is typical of our generation, very in and new-age.

The fact that someone’s guru hasn’t yet made an appearance as a defendant on the nightly news does not mean the guru phenomenon is kosher.

The entire Jewish culture, starting with the Bible and going all the way to the latest commentators, repeats time and again the value of freedom. Our tradition demands of us to remain free, slaves only to the Eternal who is above all humans – and it absolutely forbids us to go back to being slaves of slaves.

The most despicable person is the slave whose master pierced his ear after he had said “I love my master” – choosing a love for flesh and blood over love of the Divine.

Not forced slavery, but rather willful slavery, the conscious choosing of subjugation, is the most repulsive level of the anti-Jewish existence.

That’s what every cult does, it may even be the most profound definition of what’s wrong with every cult.

We’ve seen these phenomena in the town of Migdal, in northern Israel, where Rabbi Motti Elon ruled over his cult of admirers.

There were times when I liked Rabbi Motti Elon very much, especially his classes. I still think he is one of the most gifted men of our generation. But I recall how surprised I was when I first saw the ads that were plastered in the streets of Jerusalem, inviting people to his “tish.”

Tish? This Zionist Yeke (German Jew) is having a tish?

Since that time, I’ve kept my distance.

I won’t claim to have presaged that these “tishes” would eventually turn into a cult, including the embarrassing and revolting charges of which Elon has just been convicted, but in my primitive kishkes (guts) I already felt that it’s all gone to his head, or turned his head – I won’t even attempt to psychoanalyze the man.

Naturally, I was told back then that I’m full of it, because a tish is connected to Chassidism, and Chassidism is Yidishkeit, and Yidishkeit can’t be bad.

But I happen to believe that Yidishkeit is Freedom, and freedom is very, very good, and anything that opposes freedom is not Judaism and not Torah, and is very, very bad.

I don’t have the energy to start a debate over Chassidism, but I must say that our generation has turned our glorious tradition into a complete fruit salad, served with pitiful, new-age whining, doused in pseudo-spiritual dressing, replete with hollow poses of Kabbala-like mysticism, self-worship, and heaping portions of slavery to charismatic charlatans.

After all, the self-deprecating before the leader is the other side of the coin of narcissism and self-centeredness, and both sides mean bondage, heresy and lowly paganism.

Instead of Tikun Olam through the kingdom of spirit and morality, the new age post-modernist is cynically employing “spiritual” slogans to usurp the world for his own needs, his dubious jealousy, lust, and ambition.

Rabbi Motti Elon does not concern me. But I am losing sleep over the innocent youths who choose slavery and blindness over an open gaze and freedom.

But what bothers me even more is the fact that thousands of television viewers today think that this anti-Judaism is our—and their—heritage.

Please speak up and tell them it’s not so.

Ehud Tokatly

My Week in Israel with Dr. Oz

Monday, August 5th, 2013

Everything over the past week was memorable and magical as Dr. Mehmet Oz, America’s foremost daytime TV host and the world’s most famous doctor, toured Israel. From dancing the horah outside the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, to dancing Friday night at the Western Wall with Israeli soldiers and thousands of worshippers, to meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu for ninety minutes of substantive conversation about Israel, Turkey, and the United States, Dr. Oz and his family showed the Jewish state extravagant love and admiration.

Mehmet is a remarkable man and seeing him up close reinforced the high regard in which I have always held him, ever since we started working together for Oprah at her radio network. First there was his attention to his children, all four of whom accompanied him, along with his son-in-law. Mehmet would go nowhere without them and pulled them in to hear every last explanation about Israel’s ancient and modern history.

Then there is his dedication to his wife Lisa, a remarkable and brilliant woman in her own right, and vastly knowledgeable of the Bible. Lisa was correcting me constantly on Biblical quotations (I purposely got them wrong so she could feel superior). Mehmet is a man who honors his wife at every opportunity.

Of course, there were the legions of fans – Jews and Arabs in every part of Israel – that pleaded for a picture and he turned noone down.

But more than anything else there was his attachment to the Jewish people on display at every moment. Mehmet is a Muslim, perhaps the world’s most famous Muslim who is not a head of state. He is a righteous and proud Ambassador of his faith and feels an innate kinship and brotherhood with the Jewish people.

He praised Israel constantly, from lauding its treatment of its minority citizens at our joint lecture at Rambam hospital in Haifa, to noting Israel’s phenomenal medical breakthroughs at several news conferences, to highlighting his amazement at Israel’s capacity to turn deserts into thriving cities.

In Hebron, at the tomb of the patriarchs, we prayed together publicly for peace and understanding between the children of Abraham. At the tomb of Maimonides we noted the role reversal. Maimonides, a Jew, was the world’s most famous physician, and he served the Muslim ruler Saladin. Now, a Muslim doctor – the world’s most famous – was visiting his Jewish brothers in the Holy land 900 years later.

Joined with Natan Sharasnky at the Jerusalem Press Club for a public discussion, the three of us debated whether there was an obligation to hate evil. Mehmet maintained that hatred harmed he who harbored it, even for the best of reasons. On this Sharasnky and I disagreed. Natan spoke of the evil he encountered in the KGB. I spoke of Hamas’ genocidal covenant and Hezbollah’s commitment to annihilating Israel. Terrorists deserved our contempt. Only by truly hating evil are we prepared to fight it. In the end we compromised in agreeing that hating evil should not be obsessive and internal but rather externally directed at neutralizing those who slaughter God’s innocent children, whoever they may be.

As I walked Dr. Oz and his family through the old city of Jerusalem on Friday night, we passed through Zion gate, still riddled with bullet holes from the heavy fighting of 1967 that liberated the city. At Shabbat dinner at the home of Simon and Chana Falic, my friend Ron Dermer, Israel’s newly appointed Ambassador to the United States, explained to Mehmet that even after Israel conquered the Temple Mount in the Six Day War it left control of Judaism’s holiest site to the Muslim waqf and that such an action had no precedent in all human history. Ron said that there could no greater illustration of Israel’s desire to respect its Muslim citizens and seek peace.

At the Christian holy sites, like the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem and Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth, and Muslim Holy Sites like the Dome of the Rock and the vast Muslim crowds that filled mosques for Ramadan, Dr. Oz saw first hand how Israel is a country of thriving religious liberty.

But the highlight of the visit was the conversation with Prime Minister Netanyahu where Ambassador Dermer joined Mehmet and me as we heard the Israeli leader deeply engage Mehmet about Israel’s search for peace and the challenges it faces with the destabilization of Syria and Egypt on the one hand, and the changes in its relationship with Turkey, on the other.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/america-rabbi-shmuley-boteach/my-week-in-israel-with-dr-oz/2013/08/05/

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