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December 3, 2016 / 3 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Mashiach’

Tevye in the Promised Land, Chapter Nineteen: A Trail of Tomatoes

Saturday, November 10th, 2012

The indefatigable woodchopper, Goliath, provided the posts and slats for the fence which the settlers began erecting around the kibbutz. Ben Zion adamantly opposed the idea, claiming a fence would turn the settlement into a ghetto and curtail any further expansion.

“If the fence is intended to keep our enemies out, I have a better way,” Ben Zion declared, holding up his rifle. “And if the fence is intended to keep us inside its borders, we left the ghettos of Europe and Russia behind us. Fences are for frightened people. If we want to build a proud and brave nation, we have to start acting like one.”

While even the philosopher, Gordon, said that Ben Zion was right, Perchik insisted on honoring the agreement, arguing that they could purchase additional land when their economic situation improved. To keep Shoshana’s end of the bargain, he arranged for a loan from the older, more established Degania kibbutz on the southern shore of the Sea of Galilee. Several days later, the goodwill money was paid to the Arabs.

As it turned out, peace was achieved on another front as well. Miraculously, Tevye did not have to go to war with Bat Sheva. She apologized on her own. She confessed that she loved Ben Zion, but she was not going to run after him like a chicken without a head. Until he was ready to marry her, she did not want to see him again.

“Hodel is right,” she said. “Ben Zion is so in love with himself, he doesn’t have room in his heart for anyone else.”

So that’s what caused the turnaround, Tevye thought. Thank the good Lord. Bat Sheva had been speaking with her sister. That was a smart thing to do. As King Solomon said, “Wisdom comes from increased advice.” The girl had some intelligence and sechel after all. What a pity that Hodel herself had not confided in someone before running off with her own egotistical shpritzer.

“He will never have any respect for me if I don’t first have respect for myself,” Bat Sheva said.

Tevye was pleased to hear his little girl speak with such common sense. If he had uttered the very same words, Bat Sheva would have protested and bolted angrily from the house. In retrospect, Tevye realized that he should have been more patient with his other daughters. With a little more tolerance and trust on his part, they might have been less rebellious.

It seemed that any day now Hodel would have to give birth. Her belly was so swollen, when she walked, she waddled back and forth like a duck. If she sat down in a chair, she needed help getting up. With a feeling of great expectation, Tevye drove his wagon out to the fields for another morning’s work. Who could tell? Perhaps his Hodel would give birth to a boy. A year ago in Anatevka, who would have dreamed of celebrating a brit milah in the very Land where the covenant of circumcision between God and the Jewish people had been forged?

The day’s chore was to harvest the tomatoes which had been planted in a rocky field at an edge of the settlement. Because there was no private ownership on the kibbutz, Tevye’s wagon had been appropriated to serve the needs of the community. He had reluctantly agreed, with the stipulation that he be the only driver. And he made it clear to the appropriations committee that if he were to leave the kibbutz, the wagon would depart with him.

As usual, the kibbutzniks riding in his wagon sang happy songs about Zion and about the glory of working the Land. Spirits were especially high in expectation of the harvest ahead. What greater joy for a farmer than gathering the fruits of his labor? Imagine everyone’s shock upon reaching the field of tomatoes and finding every vine bare! The tomatoes had already been picked! Not a vegetable remained on a stalk. The shattered fence and fresh wagon tracks leading north toward the Arab camp were clues any blind man could read. During the night, while the Jews of Shoshana were sleeping, the Arabs had come and harvested the entire crop.

Tzvi Fishman

What Does It All Mean?

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

The continuation of my column on the power of prayer was ready to go – but then tragedy hit. Tragedy of a magnitude none of us could have envisioned.

New York City, the capital of the world, is shaken to its core as buildings tumble, electrical power is lost, highways and neighborhoods are flooded, bridges and tunnels are closed down, cars float away, people lose their homes and even their lives.

What are we to do? How are we to understand this?

As readers know, whenever suffering befalls us I search our holy books to find illumination and guidance. I turn to my most loyal friend – a friend that has always been at my side and given me comfort and strength and never betrayed me – my sefer Tehillim, my Book of Psalms.

The psalms were written by King David, who experienced every type of pain and suffering that can befall mankind, and so each word is drenched with his tears and speaks for all eternity and for all mankind.

The devastation of Hurricane Sandy began on Monday, October 29, the 13th day of the month of Cheshvan. The psalm designated for the 13th day of the month is Psalm 69. I opened to it and the words jumped out: “Save us, oh G-d, for the waters have reached onto my soul.”

There is more. This psalm does not leave us in the cold – it also provides our remedy, our answer: “But as for me, my prayer is to You, Hashem.”

Yes, we must turn in heartfelt prayer to our Heavenly Father and beseech His Mercy, His Salvation.

I looked at the weekly parshah and read how our father Abraham, whose hospitality had no bounds, opened his home to strangers. That which our forefathers experienced and shaped their lives has become part of our DNA.

I think of all those who lost power or were left homeless. I know of a woman who stood in her home, waist deep in water, desperately searching for photographs of her father and mother who are no longer here. Who can comprehend the pain?

And I think of all the wonderful people who opened their homes just like our father Abraham. I am one of those people who had to evacuate and I too have benefited and continue to benefit from that hospitality.

The Rambam taught that when suffering is visited upon us we are commanded to cry out and awaken our people with the sound of the shofar. Everyone must be alerted. Everyone must engage in self-examination and ask, What is my life all about? How would I rate if I were given a “neshamah checkup”? What does my Judaism, my Torah, really mean to me?”

The Rambam wrote that if we regard the tragedies that befall us as simply the way of the world, natural happenings, we are guilty of achzarius (cruelty). At first glance it is difficult to understand why Maimonides would choose the term “cruelty” to describe those who see trials and tribulations as the way of the world. They may be unthinking, apathetic, foolish, obtuse or just cynical, but to accuse them of cruelty seems rather farfetched.

The answer is simple. If we regard our pain and suffering as “mere coincidence” and feel no motivation to examine our lives, abandon our old ways and change, then indeed such an attitude is cruel, for it invites additional misfortunate upon ourselves and others.

Great Torah luminaries of recent generations told us we were entering the final stages of history, a period called ikvsa di Mashiach – footsteps of the Messiah. So how can we remain silent? Would that not be the ultimate cruelty?

Ours is a generation that has been challenged again and again. We have had so many wakeup calls – some terrifying, some more subtle – but we have remained indifferent to them all.

I will not go back to the time of the Holocaust, though by every right I should – for if that didn’t shake us up, what will? Even the terrible events of 9/11 are no longer vivid in our minds and the fellowship and the kindness that ensued in its wake are all long gone.

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Letters To The Editor

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

The Futility Of Sanctions

If anyone still harbors any thought that President Obama’s plan to coerce Iran through economic sanctions to abandon its nuclear weapons program might work, he or she should read the front page news story in last week’s Jewish Press (“Iran: No Retreat On Nuclear Program”).

Mr. Ahmadinejad – who after all is in a position to know – said it straight out: “We are not a people to retreat on the nuclear issue…. If somebody thinks they can pressure Iran, they are certainly wrong. And they must correct their behavior.”

We ought not follow the lead of those who wishfully see a link between the worsening of the Iranian economy, which is obvious, and some future political decision to abandon nuclear weapons.

Mindy Abrams
(Via E-Mail)

Abbas’s ‘Scholarship’

I enjoyed Dr. Richard L. Cravatts’s “A Monumental Distortion of History” (front page essay, Oct. 5). I think however, that whenever Mahmoud Abbas’s “scholarship” is evaluated by serious people, he wins just by having been taken seriously.

The truth is, anyone who denies the existence or import of the evidence of the Holocaust is not a scholar by definition – and by the same token, not a partner for peace with Jews anywhere. Israel and the world should just move on past this slick extremist in moderate clothing.

Howard Miller
Los Angeles, CA

The Mullahs And Obama

I was intrigued by last week’s “An Iranian November Surprise” editorial. It is not so far-fetched that the mullahs would think they could play our president – a man who does seems obsessed with currying favor with the Arabs/Muslim world. What do they lose if they string us along and stretch things out past the election?

Rose Wilk
(Via E-Mail)

Depressing Prayers?

It was troubling to read the essay by a Stern College student about the tefillot for the Yamim Noraim not being “upbeat” enough (“God, Are You Threatening Me?” Personal Perspectives, Sept. 28).

Actually, Jews are not a morose people and we are taught to be joyful in our celebrations. In fact, our holidays are filled with warmth and festive worship. Therefore, to “snort with laughter” during the Unesaneh Tokef tefillah on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year, when the book of life is open before our Creator, seems like the ultimate chutzpah.

Writer Hannah Dreyfus is upset that God is threatening her and explains that is why her generation, like her charges in summer camp, has a problem with obeying authority. Well, Ms. Dreyfus, life is not summer camp. Hashem does not promise us a prize if we behave. Perhaps you need to take a careful look around your shul, or read the newspaper, or listen to the news and notice how many people around you are affected by disease and war and the many natural disasters mentioned in the prayer written so many years ago but still applicable today.

We are supposed to look carefully at our deeds and ourselves and to pray for the benevolence of a caring and loving God who gives us so many opportunities to change our ways and become better people. This in itself is our reward, to be a shining example to the rest of the world.

Estelle Glass
Teaneck, NJ

A Working Mother Responds

I am a frum working mother of three, and while I am not judging Ziona Greenwald’s decision to be a stay-at-home mother (“Revaluing Motherhood,” op-ed, Sept. 28), I do take issue with some of her comments.

To give you some background about myself, I went to a Bais Yaakov school and then continued on to higher education. I pursued a career in the finance field where I am still active in today. But I am by no means a feminist. My mother never worked outside the home. She was there to wake us up in the morning, give us breakfast, put us on the bus and wave goodbye. Her time at home allowed her to be fully involved in all of her children’s schoolwork and extracurricular activities. The house was clean, the meals were prepared and the laundry was done. We had everything we needed and more. She was there to greet us when we came home and spent her nights tidying up and getting us ready for bed.

Our Readers

Tevye in the Promised Land, Chapter 14: The Dybbuk

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

Strangely, the person who seemed most affected by Tzeitl’s death was Goliath. Upon hearing the news, he surrounded himself with an impenetrable wall. He even found it hard to play with the children. Shmuelik said the body had to remain wrapped in a sheet on the floor of Hodel’s house until the Sabbath was over. During the Sabbath, mourning was forbidden, and Tevye did his best to remain strong. But come Motzei Shabbos, when the day ended, the children’s sobs at the funeral made everyone feel the very great weight of the loss. Little Moishe and Hannie clung to their grandfather as if he were father and mother in one. For their sake, Tevye kept his face locked in an optimistic expression. When the Mashiach came, he told them, their mother would return. With God’s help, they wouldn’t have long to wait. If they prayed hard enough, the Mashiach could come any day. All things considered, he reasoned, the situation of the dead was a lot better than that of the living. That is, if there were cows which had to be milked, and wagons which broke down in the World to Come, Tevye had never heard about it.

Tevye’s hope-filled posture paid off. After a few days, with the resilience of children, Moishe and Hannie ventured away from Tevye’s shadow to play outside with the youngsters of the kibbutz. Tevye and his daughters sat out the seven-day mourning period in Hodel and Perchik’s tiny, mud hut of a home. Goliath joined them as if he were a part of the family. He kept to a corner, trying to be as unobtrusive as possible, but owing to his size, he filled up a substantial part of the room. He was gladdened when the children mustered enough courage to venture outside on their own. It gave him an excuse to sit outside the house, where he could keep an eye on their activities. That way, he could keep out of the way, yet still be a part of the mourning.

Because her family had to eat in her home while they were sitting shiva, Hodel had to be more stringent in the kitchen. While she never mixed milk products and meat, she had become less mindful of some of the other kosher laws. Since she and Perchik normally ate in the dining hall with the other members of the kibbutz, she had to make use of the communal kitchen in preparing the meals for her family. Shmuelik boiled the utensils which needed to be purified, and he kashered the pans in a blazing fire. Perchik called the procedure a primitive voodoo, but he controlled his disapproval as long as Tevye was in the house. However, he warned that when the week of mourning concluded, the foolishness would stop.

“It may seem like foolishness to you,” Hodel answered. “But to me it is important.”

“Has your father been brainwashing you again?”

“Don’t you dare to speak out against my father,” she said in a temper.

Perchik stared at his gentle wife in surprise. She stood glaring at him in defiance, as if she were seeking a fight. Since Tzeitl’s death, something in Hodel had changed. As strange as it sounded, she felt that Tzeitl’s spirit had entered her body. Everyone knew that stories of dybbuks were true. Souls of the dead could enter a person on earth until they found rest. In Anatevka, the Rabbi had exorcised more than a few. After all, Hodel reasoned, God had not brought Tzeitl all of the way to Israel to die in her arms for no reason at all. It was enough that Tzeitl wanted her children to grow up with Ruchel and the young rabbi, Nachman, to make Hodel realize the shortcomings of her present lifestyle. She had experienced a sense of rejection in her sister’s last wish, a condemnation of the path she had chosen, but in her heart, she knew that her sister’s decision was sound. After all, what sort of Jewish tradition could Hodel pass on to the children if the basics of Torah observance, like kashrus, Shabbos, and prayer were not to be found in her house? Soon, she realized, she would be a mother herself, and she wanted to bequeath to the next generation the things which had been important to her. Not only the aroma of freshly baked challahs, but the reverence for religion which had filled her house in Anatevka with a blessing from one Sabbath to the next. After all, it was the faithfulness to tradition which made a people last. Who said that modern ideas were necessarily better than the beliefs of the past?

Tzvi Fishman

Kashrut – More Than Just A Symbol On A Box

Monday, September 10th, 2012

When I walk in to the grocery store it is second nature for me to just check to make sure that that bag of chips or that cookie has an OU or other kosher symbol on it. To many Jews, it is just something that they do, and it usually is like that for me. But when this question was asked, I thought deeper. I began to think about how this label gives me a sense of community; and as I made that connection, I thought of our rich heritage, and once that relationship was made I thought about our homeland – Israel.

When I look at the kosher label on a box of cereal or a chocolate bar, it reminds me that this symbol is something bigger than just a letter or a word on the box. It reminds me that I am part of a community – a community bigger than just my shul, or even Denver in general. A community all around the world, a community of Jews. All around the world there are people like me. Someone who won’t eat bacon at his classmate’s birthday party, or who won’t go to that basketball game with his teacher on Saturday. When a terrorist attack happens in India and a rabbi and his wife are killed, we in Denver, Colorado feel the pain and mourn the loss of our fellow brother and sister.

A couple weeks ago I went to a deaf school to learn about the deaf community. One of the teachers asked me what my school’s letters, DAT, stood for, and I told her that they were letters in Hebrew. She pulled out her necklace with the word chai on it and said to me, “I am Jewish, too.” This is what the Jewish community is. It is larger than just me and my friend, larger than just me and everyone in Denver. This is a community all around the world that show and feel a rich connection to a Jewish past; people deaf or hearing, blind or seeing, religious or not.

Our rich history is something that unites us. I often feel that one of the reasons is because in the Torah we see great role models and leaders uniting us. There is Avraham – the original leader; Moshe – who united us and brought us to a great level; and in the future, Mashiach – who will bring us all back to Israel. Unity started when the ‘Father of Judaism’ brought us all together. We know Avraham went around traveling and converting people to Judaism. He showed people there is something greater than just themselves – something bigger than them all in which they can all connect and join together. Moshe brought us out from a time of pain and affliction from the King Pharaoh. He united us, and we all went in togetherness, relying on one another, out of Mitzrayim. We know that in the greatest time of Bnei Yisroel we were all in unity as we heard the Ten Commandments being given. This was what made Hashem so happy, and this is what Moshe brought to Bnei Yisroel. For forty long years he helped us unite when we were in the desert at a hard and rough time. He made sure we were all protected and that we followed the way of Hashem – the ultimate Being that keeps us united.

Finally, I would like to focus on Mashiach. Every day we await and hope for the arrival of Mashiach, who will bring us all back from the galut into Israel. Have you ever thought why this is so important? I think this is so important because all around the world there are people searching for something deep inside with this connection to our history. When Mashiach comes, he will do that. He will bring us all together in oneness underneath the greatness and the awesomeness of Hashem – something that connected us all as one with Avraham.

The third connection that I have to this bottle of apple juice with some letter on it is my homeland Israel and how it came to be. During the Holocaust, six million Jews were killed by terrible people and their entire Jewish identity was threatened. In a sense, to me personally this symbol shows the world ‘we are here; we are here to stay.’ After this tragic event happened, people came together and Israel was formed. When I look at this can, I know that my friend Gali in Israel has the same symbol on her can of soda, too. In Israel today people have come together – Jews everywhere can look at that tiny sliver on the map and say, ‘that is my home.’ Everywhere, people connect to Israel. I am very fortunate to have a community with Bnei Akiva – a youth group centered on Israel – where we learn about Israel and get to experience people with the same fiery passion within for Israel. Israel is our home and on every single kosher symbol we can see that connection to home.

Hannah Kark

Letters To The Editor

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

‘Gotcha’ (I)

I was intrigued by Meir Weingarten’s spin on the El Al cheap ticket fiasco of a couple of weeks ago (“Is ‘Gotcha!’ a Jewish Value?” op-ed, August 24).

First, I’m not sure he is the best choice to present the case for voluntary surrender of the tickets. After all, as a self-described “leader in group travel to Israel” he is not exactly a disinterested party when it comes to matters affecting El Al.

Second, while he referred to “some rabbis who wrote long, intricate articles why it’s not assur” to keep the tickets, he dismissed those articles without any authoritative explanation yet took it upon himself to apply a p’sak issued in a different context, again without authoritative explanation.

Third, he spoke of El Al as if it were human and therefore the beneficiary of halachot governing these kinds of transactions. Can a corporation be Jewish? And who says so? Finally, El Al did not request a return of the tickets and thereby legitimized the choice of customers in keeping them.

Why does Mr. Weingarten take it upon himself to go beyond what the owners of El Al demanded from the purchasers?

Gary Bernstein
(Via E-Mail)

‘Gotcha’ (II)

I wish those who initially took advantage of El Al’s mistake had had the benefit of Meir Weingarten’s article. However, it’s not too late for them to do the right thing – the Jewish thing. We are in Elul, after all.

Harold Marks
(Via E-Mail)

Egypt And Sinai

Re: “Israel’s Trojan Horse” (editorial, Aug. 24):

Wonderful analogy. The Egyptian military was given a way to reenter Sinai without Israel’s protesting. Why should they leave? Would you? And what will Israel do if they stay? Start a war? Another example of Israel’s continuing dilemma.

Selwyn Weiss
(Via E-Mail)

A Reelected Obama

Reader Gary Stein (Letters, Aug. 24) got it exactly right. It is very clear that on Israel and the economy, Mitt Romney is the clear choice over Barack Obama.

Concerning Israel, I have yet to hear from anyone why a reelected President Obama will continue to act as a friend of Israel when there is no longer a political reason to do so.

Misha Gold
(Via E-Mail)

Presidential Double Standard (I)

Re: “The President’s Double Standard” (editorial, Aug. 24):

It’s really very simple why President Obama would ignore attacks on Dennis Ross’s loyalty and rush to the defense of Huma Abedin when similar questions are raised about her.

Obama has always demonstrated a hyper-sensitivity to the feelings of Muslims (to be fair, George W. Bush did so too, as when he repeatedly declared that Islam is a “religion of peace”), while he knows most American Jews are so mindlessly beholden to the Democratic Party that they will vote for him no matter what he says and does.

Michoel Price
(Via E-Mail)

Presidential Double Standard (II)

I was frightened by the “dual loyalty” implications in last week’s editorial titled “The President’s Double Standard.” In discussing a 2011 New York Times article about the pro-Israel advice Dennis Ross gave to President Obama and several presidents before him, you wrote: “The inference is that such advice is so self-evidently against American interests that it could only have been offered by someone whose pro-Israel agenda trumps U.S. interests.”

That really opened my eyes. I’d read that Times article last year and was oblivious to what the writers were implying.

Anne Stern
New York, NY

Communal Disunity

I really appreciated the letter to the editor from Michael Brenner in the Aug. 24 issue. His views on the Siyum HaShas reflect my own and those of many other Modern Orthodox Jews.

I noticed that none of the speakers at either the Citi Field Asifa on the Internet or the Siyum HaShas wore a kippah serugah. Does what we wear on our heads define who we are?

I also appreciated the second item on the My Machberes page, concerning the conflict in the Satmar community between the two Rebbes and their respective followers. That split is a good example of why Mashiach has not yet come. In the name of their religious beliefs they are violating basic precepts of respect for each other.

Leonard Farbowitz
(Via E-Mail)

Perlman-Helfgot

Our Readers

Renewing The Face Of The Earth

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

I sleep every Tisha B’Av night on a narrow cushion in front of the Me’aras HaMachpelah in Hebron. I do this because the following chiddush came to me many years ago: When the spies went to Israel, the pasuk says “vayavo ad Chevron” – “and he came until Hebron.” He instead of they. Rashi says only Calev ben Yefuneh went to Hebron, to pray to Avraham Avinu that he not fall for the plan of the spies.

The spies gave their horrible report on Tisha B’Av night, and this night became a night of crying through the ages. So I said, “Hebron and Me’aras HaMachpelah is where I’m going sleep to remember the power of the prayer of Calev.”

And as I traveled to Hebron, how could I not stop at the tomb of Rachel Imeinu? It’s right on the way.

The Tenth of Av is my birthday, and this year as I walked from my car to Rachel’s Tomb I found myself singing, “Unhappy birthday to you, unhappy birthday to you, Dov Shurin!” – since on my birthday we are all crying for Mashiach.

Once I was in the tomb I took a Tehillim and beg David HaMelech to direct me to a verse that would consol me on my “unhappy” birthday. With my eyes closed, I asked that my finger open to a special page. I opened the book, my eyes still closed, and I asked, “Which page, right side or the left?” I imagined I was told the left. Then I ran my finger down the page until I sensed I should stop.

I opened my eyes and I was on the verse in Psalm 104 that reads “You send forth your spirit and they are created, renewing the face of the earth.” What a birthday present from above! It’s all about one’s birthday, about renewal. The verse before this is about death, and this verse is birth. I thought about the Torah giant we just lost, Rav Elyashiv, zt”l, and how Hashem certainly is renewing the earth with new tzaddikim; in fact, we’re told that Tisha B’Av is when Mashiach will be born.

Then I went to Hebron and stayed until Minchah time. At first it was difficult for me to deal with the Nachem prayer we say only on Tisha B’Av in the middle of the Vel’Yirushalayim Ircha blessing in the Shemoneh Esrei. The verses read: “Console the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem …. the city is destroyed, disgraced and empty.”

That’s not the case today, with close to two hundred thousand Jews living here, and we even have our light railroad. It just seemed to me the Nachem tefillah should be updated.

I did notice the Nachem prayer distinguishes between Zion and Jerusalem. So I decided to consult the amazing sefer of the Malbim, HaCarmel, which discusses relevant words and concepts. I turned to where he writes about Zion and Jerusalem. He notes that Metzudas Tzion was the city of David, which was occupied by children of kings, important personalities and Torah scholars, and the rest of Jerusalem is where the simple multitudes lived.

So Zion was what we refer to today as East Jerusalem. In my previous column I wrote about a police officer who was stabbed to death years ago by an Arab who came up from Silwan, which is Zion, which was the city of David and is called exactly that by those Jews who have settled there. So unfortunately the words of the Nachem prayer are in fact relevant today regarding East Jerusalem and its status in the eyes of the international community.

On Tisha B’Av Mitt Romney became the latest presidential candidate to promise to move the American embassy to Jerusalem, may it really happen this time. The Israeli government needs to make it clear that Jerusalem, and especially Zion, the city of David, is not for sale, period. Until then, the Nachem prayer remains true to its text.

May our Charming Nation see the consolation of Zion, the final Godly building of Yerushalayim, and the renewal of the face of the earth with the coming of Mashiach quickly in our day, amen.

Dov Shurin is a popular radio personality and the composer and producer of several albums of original composition. He lives with his family in Israel and can be contacted at dovshurin@yahoo.com. His column appears in The Jewish Press every other week.

Dov Shurin

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