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August 31, 2016 / 27 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Man’

FBI Sting Gets Man Who Planned to Bomb Florida Synagogue

Monday, May 2nd, 2016

The FBI arrested a man who was planning to throw an explosive device into an Aventura, south Florida synagogue, WSVN reported. The arrest followed an FBI sting intended to foil a terror attack at the Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center, last Friday evening. According to WSVN, FBI agents posing as terrorists stopped the suspect, who may have converted to Islam.

According to sources, the suspect wanted to throw “some type of explosive device” over the wall of the center on Friday night, which was the last day of Passover and the center was crowded.

“I think about, before we had a baby, that we used to go there for services, and God forbid, it could have been us,” local resident Stephanie Levine told WSVN. “Thank God they stopped him, but had they not, it would have been such a horrible thing to happen to this neighborhood.”

But the same sources said the center was not in danger at any time, because the suspect was taken into custody before he was able to cause any damage.

“Of course it surprised me,” local resident Richard Levinson told WSVN. “Everybody says, ‘I live in a small town. It doesn’t happen here,’ but the sad part is, it happens everywhere.”

And local resident Kim Tepper said she was not surprised, because “it’s a very scary world, and you know what? I don’t think that anybody is safe anywhere. We’d always thought, living in this area, that we could be targeted, so now you’re kind of confirming that for me. Not happy.”

The suspect will appear in federal court this week.

David Israel

Polish Man Passes as Orthodox Jew, Bakes Challas, Leads Prayer, Disappears

Sunday, April 24th, 2016

Alicja Kobus, an official of the Poznan, Poland, Jewish community, last Thursday reported that her community had been fooled by a Polish Catholic man who pretended to be an Orthodox Jew, AP reported. The man, who said his name was Ya’akav Ben Nistell, an Israeli from Haifa, wore a beard and sidecurls, and lead the congregation in Hebrew prayers. His real name is Jacek Niszczota, a cook from Ciechanow in north-central Poland.

The hoax was revealed when Niszczota’s neighbors in Ciechanow saw him on television in an ecumenical ceremony of with Catholic, Muslim and Jewish leaders, and told local journalists how their Jacek had become Ya’akav.

The Poznan community has since posted a warning on its website, saying Niszczota “deceived not only the community members but also other people with whom he cooperated on behalf of the Poznan Jewish Community.”

“He won our trust with the good things that he was doing: he baked challahs for Israel Independence Day ceremonies, he helped with maintenance of Jewish cemeteries, he had the right knowledge,” Kobus told AP.

His knowledge was deep enough to lead prayers and give lectures on Jewish tradition that were flawless. And when people addressed him as “rabbi” he did not correct them, Kobus said. She believes Niszczota picked up all that good information, including his Hebrew, by listening to Israeli Radio — which shows you what good-quality radio can do for you if you only pay attention.

Poland’s Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich said he knew Niszczota and found him to be “very sweet and smiley.” The chief rabbi also noted that the entire affair is an indication of the growing clout of things Jewish in Poland, which only 70 year ago helped annihilate millions of its Jews.

“Who 30 years ago in this country would have pretended to be a rabbi, to say nothing of 70 years ago?” Schudrich noted.

It should also be noted that despite the shock expressed by the community leader about the deceit, she, too, had nothing bad to say about Jacek Niszczota, who has disappeared since his outing.

JNi.Media

Australia: Man Stabbed at Kiddush Following Herring Dispute

Sunday, April 17th, 2016

During the Shabbat morning kiddush at a synagogue in Melbourne, Australia, one of the men stabbed his fellow synagogue mates, moderately wounding him in the upper body, according to a report in Kikar Shabbat.

The Age reports the attack happened near the Yeshiva Synagogue. Kikar HaShabbat says it happened at the Rambam Synagogue.

According to witnesses, a fight broke out between the two over some herring that one didn’t want to pass to the second. The man then picked up a knife and stabbed the other man, to the shock of everyone else there.

Hatzalah quickly treated the man and he was taken to the hospital.

Thanks to our Australian readers an update to this story can be read here.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Man Plans…

Thursday, April 14th, 2016

“Let’s go to one of our children for the Seder next year.”

I was amazed when my husband said that at the end of Pesach two years ago. We had stayed at home for Pesach our entire married life, which was more than 40 years. As my husband had been the rav of a shul when we were first married, we had never been able to go away for Yom Tov, not even the first year, when most young couples go to one of their parents. Right from the very beginning of our marriage, we hosted local families from our kehillah, people with either no Seder to go to or no idea how to run one. There were also families who had never experienced a Seder, or had barely even heard of the concept, that were thrilled to be invited for a taste of some real Yiddishkeit.

Though since making aliyah the needs of the kehillah no longer kept us tied to our home over the chagim, most of our family lived on the other side of the world leaving us to stay at home with our children, occasionally with other more distant relatives, friends, or new Russian immigrants – but always at home. Now as our family had grown, our children were all married, and the number of grandchildren was, Baruch Hashem, growing with each year, the number around our table had also grown. It was now at the point where it was no longer possible to have all our children and grandchildren stay together in our home. We would have two children with their families each year for the Seder, and see the rest of the family during Chol HaMoed and/or on the last day of Yom Tov. Sometimes our children would go to their in-laws for the Seder if they weren’t with us, but as their families grew, more of them were now making their own Seder.

So what had caused this sudden change of plan? Well my husband, quite rightly, pointed out that it would be a treat to see how our children made their own Seder and with our eldest granddaughter approaching 18, we ought to start soon before the grandchildren started marrying and making homes of their own as well.

“We won’t go away every year,” he added. “Just say once every two or three years, and the rest of the time we’ll still be home for the kids to come to us.”

So some time after Pesach we mentioned the idea to our eldest daughter, Gila, who was the first one we hoped to spend Seder night with. Both she and her family were delighted at the prospect of our joining them the following year, but that was long way ahead.

About 6 months later, Gila told us that, Baruch Hashem, she was expecting another child, their 9th. Everyone was delighted, and as she was feeling fine, I asked for no more details at this stage. As the year progressed, I asked her when her due date was but she nonchalantly pushed me off, saying she wasn’t really sure. As months went by it became more difficult for her to ignore the question. Eventually she said, “Mum it is the most amazing siata di’shmaya. I’m due on Erev Pesach. Under normal circumstances I would never have thought to ask you to come to us for Pesach because I know just how much everyone looks forward to coming to you when it’s their turn. But Hakadosh Baruch Hu obviously knew I’d be having a baby just at this time this year when he put the unlikely idea into Daddy’s head that you’d come to us for Pesach. Now I don’t have to worry about leaving the other children, possibly before or even in the middle of the Seder or over Yom Tov, because I know they’ll be in wonderful hands. You’ve no idea how much easier this makes me feel.”

Ann Goldberg

The Almighty’s Supreme Call to Man

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

It is the most famous, majestic and influential opening of any book in literature: “In the beginning, G-d created the heavens and the earth.” What is surpassingly strange is the way Rashi – most beloved of all Jewish commentators – begins his commentary:

Rabbi Isaac said: The Torah should have begun with the verse (Exodus 12:1), “This month shall be to you the first of the months,” which was the first commandment given to Israel.

Can we really take this at face value? Did Rabbi Isaac, or for that matter Rashi, seriously suggest that the Book of books might have begun in the middle – a third of the way into Exodus? That it might have passed by in silence the creation of the universe – which is, after all, one of the fundamentals of Jewish faith?

Could we understand the history of Israel without its prehistory, the stories of Abraham and Sarah and their children? Could we have understood those narratives without knowing what preceded them: G-d’s repeated disappointment with Adam and Eve, Cain, the generation of the Flood, and the builders of the Tower of Babel?

The 50 chapters of Genesis, together with the opening of Exodus, are the source book of biblical faith. They are as near as we get to an exposition of the philosophy of Judaism. What then did Rabbi Isaac mean?

He meant something profound, which we often forget. To understand a book, we need to know to what genre it belongs. Is it history or legend, chronicle or myth? To what question is it an answer? A history book answers the question: what happened? A book of cosmology – be it science or myth – answers the question: how did it happen?

What Rabbi Isaac is telling us is that if we seek to understand the Torah, we must read it as Torah, which is to say: law, instruction, teaching, and guidance. Torah is an answer to the question: how shall we live? That is why he raises the question as to why it does not begin with the first command given to Israel.

Torah is not a book of history, even though it includes history. It is not a book of science, even though the first chapter of Genesis – as the 19th-century sociologist Max Weber pointed out – is the necessary prelude to science, because it represents the first time people saw the universe as the product of a single creative will – and therefore as intelligible rather than capricious and mysterious. It is, first and last, a book about how to live. Everything it contains – not only commandments but also narratives, including the narrative of creation itself – is there solely for the sake of ethical and spiritual instruction.

Jewish ethics is not confined to law. It includes virtues of character, general principles and role models. It is conveyed not only by commandments but also by narratives, telling us how particular individuals responded to specific situations.

It moves from the minutest details to the most majestic visions of the universe and our place within it. But it never deviates from its intense focus on these questions: What shall I do? How shall I live? What kind of person should I strive to become? It begins, in Genesis 1, with the most fundamental question of all. As the Psalm (8:4) puts it: “What is man that You are mindful of him?”

Pico della Mirandola’s 15th century Oration on the Dignity of Man was one of the turning points of Western civilization, the “manifesto” of the Italian Renaissance. In it he attributed the following declaration to G-d, addressing the first man:

 

We have given you, O Adam, no visage proper to yourself, nor endowment properly your own, in order that whatever place, whatever form, whatever gifts you may, with premeditation, select, these same you may have and possess through your own judgement and decision. The nature of all other creatures is defined and restricted within laws which We have laid down; you, by contrast, impeded by no such restrictions, may, by your own free will, to whose custody We have assigned you, trace for yourself the lineaments of your own nature. I have placed you at the very center of the world, so that from that vantage point you may with greater ease glance round about you on all that the world contains. We have made you a creature neither of heaven nor of earth, neither mortal nor immortal, in order that you may, as the free and proud shaper of your own being, fashion yourself in the form you may prefer. It will be in your power to descend to the lower, brutish forms of life; you will be able, through your own decision, to rise again to the superior orders whose life is divine.

 

Homo sapiens, that unique synthesis of “dust of the earth” and breath of G-d, is unique among created beings in having no fixed essence – in being free to be what he or she chooses. Mirandola’s Oration was a break with the two dominant traditions of the Middle Ages: the Christian doctrine that human beings are irretrievably corrupt, tainted by original sin, and the Platonic idea that humanity is bounded by fixed forms.

It is also a strikingly Jewish account – almost identical with the one given by Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik in Halakhic Man: “The most fundamental principle of all is that man must create himself. It is this idea that Judaism introduced into the world.” It is therefore with a frisson of recognition that we discover that Mirandola had a Jewish teacher, Rabbi Elijah ben Moses Delmedigo (1460-1497).

Born in Crete, Delmedigo was a Talmudic prodigy, appointed at a young age to be head of the yeshiva in Padua. At the same time he studied philosophy, in particular the work of Aristotle, Maimonides and Averroes. At 23, he was appointed professor of philosophy at the University of Padua. It was through this that he came to know Count Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, who became both his student and his patron. Eventually, however, Delmedigo’s philosophical writings – especially his work Bechinat ha-Dat – became controversial. Other rabbis accused him of heresy. He had to leave Italy and return to Crete. He was much admired by Jews and Christians alike and, when he died young, many Christians as well as Jews attended his funeral.

This emphasis on choice, freedom and responsibility is one of the most distinctive features of Jewish thought. It is proclaimed in the first chapter of Genesis in the most subtle way. We are all familiar with its statement that G-d created man “in His image, after His likeness.” Seldom do we pause to reflect on the paradox. If there is one thing emphasized time and again in the Torah, it is that G-d has no image. “I will be what I will be,” He says to Moses when he asks Him His name.

Since G-d transcends nature – the fundamental point of Genesis 1 – then He is free, unbounded by nature’s laws. By creating human beings in His image, He gave us a similar freedom, thus creating the one being capable itself of being creative. The unprecedented account of G-d in the Torah’s opening chapter leads to an equally unprecedented view of the human person and our capacity for self-transformation.

The Renaissance, one of the high points of European civilization, eventually collapsed. A series of corrupt rulers and popes led to the Reformation, and to the quite different views of Luther and Calvin. It is fascinating to speculate what might have happened had it continued along the lines signalled by Mirandola. His late 15th century humanism was not secular but deeply religious.

As it is, the great truth of Genesis 1 remains. As the rabbis put it (Bereishit Rabbah 8:1; Sanhedrin 38a): “Why was man created last? In order to say, if he is worthy, all creation was made for you; but if he is unworthy, he is told, even a gnat preceded you.” The Torah remains G-d’s supreme call to humankind to freedom and creativity on the one hand and, on the other, to responsibility and restraint – becoming G-d’s partner in the work of creation.

Adapted from “Covenant & Conversation,” a collection of Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’s parshiyot hashavua essays, published by Maggid Books, an imprint of Koren Publishers Jerusalem (www.korenpub.com), in conjunction with the Orthodox Union.

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

Adultery and Marriage: a Jewish Approach to Monogamy

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

It is well known that one of the Ten Commandments is the prohibition of adultery. Extramarital sex has historically been a man’s game, since the male sexual desire is stereotypically assumed to be uncontrollable. A recent survey by the National Opinion Research Center has shown, however, that the number of married American women having adulterous affairs has nearly doubled over the last decade. Today, 21 percent of men admit to having such affairs while 14.7 percent of women now admit to having them.

Sociologists explain that women today are more willing to cheat since they have stronger careers and aren’t as worried about the financial loss they would incur in a divorce. A recent Pew Research Center poll showing that working mothers are now the primary “breadwinners” in 37 percent of American homes (up from 11 percent in 1960) seems to bear this out, as these numbers roughly match the proportion of men and women having affairs. Most of these breadwinning women are single mothers, but 40 percent of them are married and earn more than their husbands. Perhaps it is true that when women began to enter the workforce in greater numbers and rise in the corporate world, they learned from and now emulate corporate male behavior.

In What do Women Want?, Daniel Bergner notes that women may be no different from men in their struggle with monogamy and desires for sexual novelty , although there may be differences depending on the situation. For example, research on rhesus monkeys demonstrated that males initiated sexual relations when the monkeys were kept in smaller cages, but in larger spaces the females initiated sexual relations. Significantly, this and other findings have occurred at the same time that the number of women in scientific research has soared. We hope that science has passed the era when scientists could claim that women suffered from “hysteria” (based on the Greek word for uterus), irrational behavior supposedly caused by disturbances in the uterus.

One might think that monogamy was considered to be against the norms of evolution, since a male biologically wants to have as many offspring as possible. Analysis of various animals living with their brood show that anywhere from 10 percent to 70 percent of their offspring have a father different from the male animal currently staying with the brood. Professor David P. Barash of the University of Washington famously quipped, “Infants have their infancy; adults, adultery.” Even among primates (which include humans), more than 200 species are not monogamous. However, British scientists have found that in the three species of primates in which monogamy evolved, it did so after a period where males had earlier committed infanticide. In reaction, fathers began to remain by their children and mothers to protect them from rival males, thus establishing the monogamous nuclear family. The virtual universality of this system among humans, and its staying power across civilizations, argues for its value.

Even among other species from beetles to baboons, while exogamous sex occurs, one mate will often react with a ferocious jealousy if it observes the other straying. Promiscuity may be necessary among some species for survival, but that does not mean that these creatures like it.

Marriage is one formal marker and arrangement for monogamy. In the Jewish tradition, marriage is a central institution, and Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik wrote about this unique commitment:

On the one hand, the great covenant [of marriage] has been compared by the prophets time and again to the betrothal of Israel to G-d; on the other hand, the ordinary betrothal of woman to man has been raised to the level of covenantal commitment. Marriage as such is called berit, a covenant. Apparently, the Bible thinks that the redeeming power of marriage consists in personalizing the sexual experience, in having two strangers, both endowed with equal dignity and worth, meet. And the objective medium of attaining that meeting is the assumption of covenantal obligations which are based upon the principle of equality. Hence, we have a clue to the understanding of the nature of matrimony. All we have to do is analyze the unique aspects of covenantal commitment and apply them to the matrimonial commitment (Family Redeemed, 41-42).

Knowing how hard it is to find the perfect partner, the Rabbis taught: “It is [as] difficult [for G-d] to match up [a man and a woman for marriage] as it is to split the sea (Sotah 2a).” Elsewhere in the Talmud, the Rabbis debate whether the primary goal of marriage is to produce offspring or about the marriage itself:

Rav Nachman said in the name of Shmuel that even though a man has many children, he may not remain without a wife, as it says: “It is not good that man be alone.” But others say that if he does have children then he may abstain from procreation and he may even abstain from taking a wife altogether (Yevamot 61b).

But even those who subscribe to the latter position, that it is not obligatory to get married, must agree that it’s still desirable and good (i.e., not legally required but clearly very good and important) to marry.

Rav Soloveitchik further explains:

Within the frame of reference of marriage, love becomes not an instinctual reaction of an excited heart to the shocking sudden encounter with beauty, but an intentional experience in reply to a metaphysical ethical summons, a response to the great challenge, replete with ethical motifs. Love, emerging from an existential moral awareness, is sustained not by the flame of passion, but by the strength of a Divine norm whose repetitious fulfillment re-awakens its vigor and force. The marriage partners, by imitating G-d who created a world in order to be concerned with and care for it, extend the frontiers for their communal living to their offspring, and by questing to love someone who is yet unborn, defy the power of erotic change and flux. The ethical yearning to create and share existence with someone as yet unknown redeems hedone by infusing it with axiological normative meaning and thus gives it a new aspect — that of faith. Since our eternal faith in G-d is something which defies rationalization, the mutual temporal faith of man and woman united in matrimony is just as paradoxical. History does not warrant our unswerving religious faith; likewise, utilitarian psychology denies the element of faith in the marriage institution (Family Redeemed, 42).

No one claims that monogamy is easy. We know from psychological studies that young people often have cognitive skills that are still evolving, and it is difficult to tell whether two people can grow compatibly over decades. The choice of a partner is a serious matter. Honest and loving marriage is central to the Jewish faith. We must do all we can to collaboratively preserve the holy covenant that strengthens our families and societies.

We must protect our own marriages and the institution of marriage. Adultery, as one of the many causes of failed marriages, must be rejected through ethical conviction and spiritual commitment. We must all have personal moral accountability, legitimate caring for our spouses and children, and Jewish commitment to the pledge of monogamy and shared covenant of love and devotion.

Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz

Looking Back on the Life of Barack Obama

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

Originally published at Sultan Knish.

He Taught us to Laugh, He Made Us Believe, and then He Took All Our MoneyHe was the first black President of the United States, and he also became its last President when in 2019, after his term in office had been extended indefinitely by HR:0666 or “The Hope and Faith in Obama’s Everlasting Presidency Act” (Holo-Link), he was forced to leave office because the government had run out of money to pay for itself.

Though he lived a very public life, few could agree on even the basic facts of his life. For a man who spent most of his life in front of the camera, his death leaves us with few answers about who Barack Obama (Holo-Link) really was. Obama only added to the uncertainty swirling around him by using multiple names,  multiple birthplaces and even passports.

The bestselling Presidential biographies of Obama, from Edmund Morris’ “America’s Greatest Con-Man” to Michael Beschloss’ “Obama: Citizen of the World” cover the range of opinions on Obama’s presidency.

And long after the fall of the United States, there is still no real consensus by former Americans on who Obama really was.

Yet to many Barack Obama represents a nostalgic time in history; the last years when such diverse nations as the Confederate States of California (Holo-Link), the Republic of New Hampshire, the People’s Republic of Minnesota, the Empire of Texas, El Reino de Aztlan and the Arch-Duchy of Upper New York were all part of one single nation that stretched from ocean to ocean.

His Life

Born in a hospital in some still undetermined part of the world, Barack learned to use multiple names and identities at an early age. Traveling from country to country, the young Obama or Soetoro, would quickly become adept at blending into any culture. This skill would prove crucial in his political career, allowing him to invent new identities and win the trust of his audience. If there is one thing his biographers agree on, it’s that he had a genuine gift for sensing what his audience wanted to hear. Unfortunately like most con artists, he lacked the same ability for long term financial planning, that he did for short term schemes to extract money from a gullible American public.

There is no denying that Obama cheerfully used fraud and strong arm tactics throughout his political career, but the chief weapon in his arsenal was flattery. Many of his supporters remember the special feeling of being made to feel that he was their friend. As one former aide wrote, “He taught us to laugh, he made us believe, and then he took all our money”.

This conflicted legacy helps explain Barack Obama’s popularity, even after his corruption and abuses of power destroyed the  government, ending the era of the United States for good– he was ranked 4th on the prestigious Dow Jones’ “Most Likable Celebrities in North America in 2019” index (Holo-Link).

It helped that Obama left the White House voluntarily after learning that there would be no more money left for his trips abroad, and that due to the failure of the Federal Reserve and the secession of 23 states from the Union, no national budget would be possible.

He did leave with everything of value in the White House that his family and associates could grab or pry out of the walls, but by then most Americans were too busy dealing with the problems of the Great Partition to notice. Even the farewell party that burned down most of the White House seemed a small thing in the wake of the Detroit Food Riots or the discovery of the Red River Gulag (Holo-Link).

His popularity afterward enabled Obama to begin several successful careers in the entertainment industry, including a long-running stint on the soap opera General Catastrope, his own line of shammy infomercials and a music career with such nostalgia singles as, “Where’s Da Money”, “Where All Da Money Go” and “What Happen to All Da Money?”

Even today viewers watching old fashioned television can still catch commercials of Obama in his older years, holding up a shammy cloth, dipping it in a spilled pool of olive oil and telling the audience to have faith that the mess would be gone. Even his famous tagline, “At a price that won’t bankrupt you, unlike me” was meant to be a good humored reference to his controversial two and a half terms in office.

Daniel Greenfield

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/sultan-knish/looking-back-on-the-life-of-barack-obama/2013/08/21/

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