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October 25, 2014 / 1 Heshvan, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Man’

NY Post Spreading Misinformation, Jew Baiting Humor

Sunday, April 15th, 2012

Should we be offended by this NY Post headline?

An April 13 short item in the Post, on the number of inmates inside the NYC jail system who receive kosher meals, was headlined: “20 inmates fat on glatt.”

Now, is this a suggestion that City jail kosher meals be made more healthful, perhaps with larger salad portions and less fatty, albeit kosher, meat – or was this a callused NY Post insult to Jewish criminals who are so insolent, they won’t even eat pig like a decent Christian convict?

As to the actual information in this tiny and offensive bit: The Post cites City officials who say that some 20 of the city’s 12,500 prisoners are receiving meals certified as “glatt kosher,” which the paper is only too happy to inform is “the strictest level of kosher certification.”

The Post says three servings of what it dubs “special chow” costs taxpayers $6.92 a day. Of course, this would mean that kosher prisoners would be consuming meat morning, noon, and night, which certainly would make them “fat glatt.”

David Seifman, who’s been working for the Post since 1982 and has been City Hall bureau chief since 1989, does not know, apparently, that “glatt” is not Yiddish for “really, really kosher,” but a statement suggesting the slaughtered animal in question has been examined for internal blemishes such as a punctured lung, which would have nullified its kosher slaughter.

Seifman has compared “regular kosher” with “glatt” jail food and discovered that the former costs only $6.46 a day, a whopping savings of 46 cents a day. Man, those Jew criminals are really glutton for their glatt… (I’ll bet that “regular kosher” probably means eggs, toast, meatless soup and veggie loaf, which aren’t labeled “glatt” because no cow was involved in their preparation).

Steifman adds that “halal meals are a relative bargain at $4 a day — not much more than the $3.82 standard fare served to 7,000 inmates.”

Some of that bargain may have to do with the fact that there are a great deal more than 20 Muslim prisoners in the system. I’m just guessing.

Steifman says the City is looking for new bids for its jail food. It’s a much better approach than looking for more kosher prisoners, so they could shop wholesale…

The Mercy Of Hashem

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

“Speak to the Jewish people and they should take to Me terumah; from each man whose heart so motivates him, you should take My terumah.” – Shemos 25:2

The entire Jewish nation – every man, woman, and child – experienced the revelation of Hashem on Har Sinai. They saw Hashem as clearly as humans can, and they attained a level of prophecy. Now they were being offered one of the greatest gifts imaginable: Hashem Himself was going to dwell among them. They were going to experience Hashem’s presence regularly, and have the opportunity to participate in the building of the greatest edifice ever created – Hashem’s dwelling place in this world. The gold, silver and copper, the wood, hides and oil will all come from the people themselves: “from each man whose heart so motivates him.”

It should come as no surprise that the people offered their donations to the Mishkan with zeal and enthusiasm. After a short while Moshe had to turn away more donations; there was more collected than could be used.

Interestingly, the Ba’al Ha’Turim explains that when Hashem told Moshe to ask for contributions, He told him to ask in a gentle tone. Since it means people will have to part with their money, please speak softly.

This Ba’al Ha’Turim is very difficult to understand. Why would Moshe have to make this appeal in a gentle manner? This wasn’t a tax the people were being forced to pay. It wasn’t some despot demanding an exorbitant bribe. This was a moment in history – the people of Israel were being given this great opportunity to be a part of building the house of Hashem, and they understood it for what it was. Why would Moshe have to speak softly? Surely they would give willingly.

The question is even more pointed because the Jewish people were fabulously wealthy. Hashem promised Avraham Avinu that when his children would leave bondage, it would be with great riches. Right before the Jews left, they went to their Egyptian masters and “borrowed” gold, silver, and all types of valuables. They despoiled Mitzrayim, walking out with wealth that had been gathered for hundreds of years.

They were being offered the chance to convert some of that wealth into one of the greatest honors given to man – to become a builder of the Mishkan. If every contribution was given willingly, and the entire generation had enough to give, and it was a great honor to give, why would Hashem be concerned that Moshe gently coax them into giving?

The answer can be best understood when we focus on man’s relationship to his Creator.

Hashem’s Relationship to Man

The Chovos HaLevovos explains that if you to take the most generous, loving person that you have ever met and then multiply that mercy by ten thousand ten thousands, you won’t begin to reach the love Hashem has for each of His creations. The one concept that must be firmly embedded in the mind of every Jew is that Hashem is more concerned for his good than he is, and Hashem loves him even more than he loves himself.

This love manifests in many ways. Chazal tell us that Hashem has mercy on the money of Yisrael, as if to say Hashem feels badly that the Jewish people have to spend money, even on mitzvahs. Granted it is for their good, and granted it is the greatest investment they could ever make, but, it means parting with things valuable to them, and if it could be, Hashem feels badly. Hashem is the Giver, always wishing to share of His good, to give more, not to take. This seems to be the answer to the question on the Ba’al Ha’Turim: There is no doubt the chance to contribute something toward the Mishkan is a great honor. Anyone whose donation would be accepted would bear a mark of nobility he would cherish for years. But it involved his giving. He had to part with some of his wealth, and Hashem, if it could be, felt badly.

It was as if Hashem were saying: “It must be difficult. You have that precious gem, that beautiful gold. I feel badly even asking.” Even though the act of giving had taken something fleeting and turned it into the greatest investment, something that would remain with them for eternity, at the moment the person gave over those stones, it was difficult on some level. Hashem felt his pain and said: “Moshe, please be gentle with them.”

This is a fantastic illustration of the extent of Hashem’s concern for us, and the extent to which He is sensitive to our feelings. When we focus on the loving kindness Hashem showers on us daily, we grow in our apperception of that love, and then reciprocally we feel an overwhelming sense of appreciation and love for our Creator.

Religion And Psychiatry

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

           Many times I have been asked if there was a conflict between religious principles and psychotherapy; if religion and psychiatry were at odds. It was always my belief that if one did enough research he would find accepted psychiatric beliefs in the writings of our great rabbis and scholars.  


 

Alfred Adler, one of the disciples of Freud, in many of his writings, stated that happiness depended on satisfactory conditions in three areas of life, Society, Sustenance and intimacy. It was his clinical opinion that the neurotic could be diagnosed from his failures in these three areas. He felt that an individual must be social minded, must be aware of the people around him and must want to mix and be part of a growing community. The person who withdrew from human relations was the one who was on his way to mental and emotional failure.

 

Let us read what this great psychoanalyst had to say about “The Social Feeling.” In Understanding Human Nature, Adler writes, “We may now understand that any rules that serve to secure the existence of mankind such as legal codes and education, must be governed by the concept of the community and be appropriate to it We can judge a character as bad or good only from the standpoint of society. The criteria by which we can measure an individual are determined by his value to mankind in general. We compare an individual with the ideal picture of a fellowman, a man who overcomes the tasks and difficulties which lie before him, in a way which is useful to society in general, a man who has developed his social feeling to a high degree. He is the one who plays the game of life according to the laws of society. In the course of our demonstrations it will become increasingly evident that no adequate man can grow up without cultivating a deep sense of fellowship in humanity and practicing the art of being a human being.”

 

            Our own sacred writings are just full of good, practical psychiatric advice along the same lines. What psychiatrists and psychologists are now discovering has been uttered hundreds, if not thousands of years ago. “Man was not intended to live alone, but as a member of society” is advice that can be read almost anywhere in our writings. Ample illustrations are offered by our rabbis as to just what this rule entails. “A person is a unit in the body of humanity,” they claim, “and this fact creates many duties for him with respect to his relationship with his fellowman. His life is not his own to do with as he pleases. His conduct affects his neighbors as their conduct affects him.”

 

It is like a company of men on board a ship. One of them took a drill and began to bore a hole under him. The other passengers were worried.  One said to him, “What are you doing!” He replied, “What has that to do with you? Am I not making the hole under my seat!”  “Yes”, they retorted, “but the water will enter and drown us all.” 

 

“An isolated life is not worth living”, advised Choni the Circledrawer (HaMa’agel), the Rip Van Winkle of the Talmud. Since the life of a man has grown more complex man’s requirements are so many that he must realize how much of his comfort he owes to the toil of others.  In Ecclesiastes 9 the advice is given “Two are better than one.” “Separate not yourself from the community” (Avos 2:5) was the advice of Hillel. Cooperation and mutual assistance are essential factors in life, as a proverb tells: “If you will lift the load I will lift it too; but if you will not lift it, I will not.”

 

The ethical wills of some of greatest rabbis contain a wealth of good advice as to how an individual can be social minded. In 1544, R. Eleazar the Great published a work which he called Paths Of Life. Part of it might be called an ethical will. It advises a son, believed to be Tobiah son of Eleazar, a contemporary of Rashi, along social lines. The advice might very well be a listing prepared by a psychologist as to examples of social mindedness. He states, among many other items, the following: My son!! Take heed to hold constant intercourse with the wise. Rely not on thine opinion. Be zealous in visiting the sick, for sympathy lightens pain. Bear thy part regularly in the burial of the dead, delivering them into the hand of their maker. Comfort mourners, and speak to their heart.

 

          Join in bringing the bride to the canopy, help to gladden the bridegroom. Show honor to the poor, and draw out thy soul unto him. Crush not the poor with harsh words. Stop not thine ears at the cry of the poor, for he who is deaf to the appeal of others, when he crieth shall himself obtain no answer. Make not thyself too much feared in thine home. Love the wise and attach thyself to them. Walk not alone, judge not alone, nor be witness and judge at the same time.”

 

It seems that our scholars laid down some basic rules as to social living which we could do well in following. We ought to remember that knowledge without common sense is folly; without method it is waste; without kindness it is fanaticism; without religion it is death. But with common sense, it is wisdom; with method it is power; with character it is beneficence; with religion it is virtue, life and peace. 

Is Curious George Jewish? Monkeys and Jewish Art

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

The Wartime Escape: Margret and H.A. Rey’s Journey from France

March 26, 2010 – June 20, 2010

Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center

9603 Woods Drive, Skokie, Ill.

http://www.ilholocaustmuseum.org

 

Curious George Saves the Day: The Art of Margret and H.A. Rey

March 14, 2010 – August 1, 2010

The Jewish Museum

1109 5th Ave, at 92nd St., New York

http://www.thejewishmuseum.org/ 

 

 

Monkeys and apes are generally symbols of base passion, particularly lust, in Western art. Giovanni Battista Foggini’s 17th century bronze sculpture “The Fall of Man” shows not only the serpent dangling from the Tree of Knowledge tempting Adam and Eve, but also a monkey seated behind the tree eating an apple. Foggini may have gotten the idea from Jan Brueghel the Elder, whose 1612 painting “Garden of Eden” features a monkey prominently, or from a c. 1410 “The Garden of Eden” by an unknown artist in Frankfurt. A century earlier, Martin Luther had famously referred to Satan as “God’s ape,” building upon the then-popular view of monkeys as unintelligent animals that simply mimicked primitive human behavior.

 

A monkey dressed as a court jester sits with a ball-and-chain shackling its legs in David Teniers the Younger’s “Prodigal Son” (1640), representing the son’s immorality and infidelity. In Eastern art, monkeys often torment the Buddha (as they do Christian saints), and several Frida Kahlo self portraits feature monkeys, no doubt referencing the artist’s passion. The title alone of El Greco’s 1577-9 work, “An Allegory with a Boy Lighting a Candle in the Company of an Ape and a Fool,” identifies the tradition of identifying monkeys with loose morals.

 

Since monkeys so closely resemble humans (or vice versa), many artists have personified monkeys to offer social commentary, much like William Wegman photographed dogs dressed as people. The master of still life painting Jean-Sim?on Chardin’s 1740 “Monkey as Painter” shows a fashionably-dressed monkey painting a still life. Teniers, who placed a monkey beside his prodigal son, was famous for populating many of his works with monkeys: “Monkeys Drinking and Smoking” (1630s), “The Monkey Sculptor” (1660), “Monkeys at School” (c. 1660, not to be confused with his “Monkeys in School”), “Barber Shop with Monkeys and Cats” and “Guardroom with Monkeys” (c. 1663).

 

Like many other symbols from different faiths, monkeys found their way into Jewish art. According to some scholars, notably Rachel Hachlili in “Ancient Jewish Art and Archaeology in The Diaspora,” monkeys may appear on some of the walls at the synagogue at Dura Europos. In his seminal “Dreams of Subversion in Medieval Jewish Art and Literature,” Marc Michael Epstein, professor of religion and Jewish studies at Vassar College, notes that monkeys were among the animal depictions adorning the walls of the 17th century synagogue in Hodorov (modern day Ukraine).

 

In “The Oxford Handbook of Jewish Studies,” Martin Goodman, Jeremy Cohen and David Sorkin add that monkeys are among the animals depicted on seals found “at Israelite sites dating primarily from the eighth and seventh centuries B.C.E.” A 1309 edition of the Pentateuch with Rashi’s commentary from Brussels by Joshua b. Elijah (cited in Norman Roth’s “Medieval Jewish Civilization: An Encyclopedia”) features an illustration, which covers nearly the entire page, of a seated scribe holding a dog on his lap facing a monkey.

 

18. Margret and H. A. Rey, United States, late 1940s.  H. A. & Margret Rey Papers,

de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection,

McCain Library and Archives, The University of Southern Mississippi.

 

 

It is against this larger tradition of monkeys that Margret and H.A. Rey created Curious George, the inquisitive monkey many will know from the Reys’ children’s book series.

 

Since there is no literal Jewish content in the work of the Reys, many readers might be surprised to learn there is any Jewish significance to Curious George. But the playful monkey has been the subject of recent shows at the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center and The Jewish Museum, owing to the Jewish identity of his two creators.

 

In fact, the Reys had to temporarily halt their work on the Curious George series to flee the Nazis and they escaped Paris on their bicycles with the George manuscripts in tow. When one looks for references to the Reys’ status as refugees in their character, one is reminded that the Man with the Yellow Hat (who remains anonymous) traps George and removes him from his home in the African jungle. As David Chack, president of the Association for Jewish Theatre, pointed out to me when we visited the exhibit together at the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center, the man’s hat could be a reference to the yellow stars Jews were forced to wear.

 

 

4. H. A. Rey, final illustration for “One day George saw a man. He had on a large yellow straw hat,” published in The Original Curious George (1998), France, 1939-40, watercolor, charcoal, and color pencil on paper.  H. A. & Margret Rey Papers, de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection, McCain Library and Archives, The University of Southern Mississippi.  Curious George, and related characters, created by Margret and H. A. Rey, are copyrighted and trademarked by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

How Some Extraordinary People Saved Our Pesach

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

I’ve long been familiar with the saying “Man proposes and G-d disposes,” but the depth of its meaning was recently brought home to me suddenly and unexpectedly. 

 

If I had been asked in the early part of 2009 where we would be spending Pesach, I would have answered, “with the Chevra in San Diego.” Instead, I found myself in the Sephardic Nursing Home/Rehabilitation Center in Brooklyn.

 

As a result of the sudden onset of a medical emergency, my husband was unable to fly, and in need of therapy. And I wanted to be by his side. After the initial shock of my husband’s situation wore off, I found myself in uncharted territory. I had to find a nursing/rehabilitation home for my husband, and the only ones I had ever seen were far from appealing to me. It was also hard for me to make decisions at that time, as I was still having trouble coming to terms with the whole situation.

 

The name Sephardic kept coming up in discussions with family and friends and I finally went to check it out. That is when a whole new world opened up to me. Angela Villanella gave me a tour and I was very impressed — so much so that I chose it for my husband. The place is beautiful and clean and very welcoming. There is a very special garden in the back with a small waterfall that flows into a pond with Koi fish. It is a joy to sit out there.

 

            Most impressive was the rehabilitation floor, which is top notch. But all the tours in the world could not have prepared me for the exceptional care and rehab my husband is given by the people who work there, and that makes all the difference. All the nurses and aides on his floor are wonderful, but as with all things, some are outstanding and deserving of mention. Barbara the evening nurse is in a class by herself. Nurses Lisa, Angela and Valerie are also very much appreciated. Aides Carmen, Townsend, Jennifer, Esther, Ms. Smith and others go a long way toward making a big difference in the day-to-day care of a patient. 

 

           Of course, Sephardic runs as well as it does thanks to its very able director, Michael New, who is hands-on at all times. I have found a level of caring — and a desire to help — at Sephardic that was lacking at the world-famous hospital my husband was in before he transferred here.

 

But there is one more thing about Sephardic — and it’s something no other place has. The secret weapon is Rabbi Avraham and Mrs. Dina Amar. I met them for the first time in the beautiful shul at Sephardic. I had expected a social hall/makeshift shul, so I was unprepared for the beautiful sanctuary with furnishings from Kibbutz Lavie in Israel. Both the men’s and women’s sections are large and comfortable. The bimah has ramps on both sides so that wheelchair-bound men can still get an aliyah to the Torah (my husband got the aliyah before Az Yashir on the seventh day of Pesach).

 

Rabbi Amar runs the shul and all religious services. He makes it his business to know everyone residing at Sephardic and he sees to it that anyone who wishes is brought to services. He davens and reads the Torah in his beautiful voice and gives divrei Torah that are appreciated by all. Rabbi and Mrs. Amar go to great lengths to see to the smallest details and they give everyone a sense of being needed.

 

So there we were for Pesach. Rabbi Amar led the two sedorim and gave special meaning to all the rituals. Everything was very festive and beautiful. By that time we already had friends who were also patients there. We sat with Helen and Sam Sherman and they felt more like family than friends. Suddenly I realized I didn’t feel sorry for myself anymore.

 

By the last days of Pesach I didn’t think I could be more impressed than I already was, but then again, I had never experienced a Yizkor service at Sephardic. Rabbi Amar went over to every man and woman and said the Yizkor prayer for their mothers and fathers. Yes, it took some time, but old and younger alike felt the satisfaction of knowing their loved ones had not been forgotten.

 

Meanwhile, the weather had turned spring-like and we went out to the beautiful garden in the afternoon. We got seats under an umbrella and it was easy to forget our circumstances and imagine we were in the garden of a resort hotel.

 

What made it possible for me to spend Pesach with my husband? The wonderful Bikur Cholim of Bensonhurst, which maintains an apartment for women and a second one for men, just down the block from Sephardic. The apartments are beautifully furnished with three bedrooms in each and a living room and kitchen. (The family that takes care of the apartments tries to accommodate everyone and can be contacted at 718-234-1067.)

 

My husband is slowly regaining his health and we are both very grateful to everyone at Sephardic and at Bikur Cholim of Bensonhurst. Most of all we give thanks to Hashem for putting us in the hands of such wonderful shlichim (messengers).

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/potpourri/how-some-extraordinary-people-saved-our-pesach/2009/05/06/

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