web analytics
April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘matter’

Light In The Face Of Darkness

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

As I write these words I am still in my new adopted home. Originally I came to my wonderful friends’ warm apartment with the intention of staying just overnight and I did not even bother packing. My children kept pressuring me – “Ima, you have to go!”

My daughter who lives just a few blocks from me was going to move in with a friend who had a generator and she asked that I come with her. But I planned to wait Hurricane Sandy out. I was confident that while it would be a very intense storm it would not require evacuation. Just the same, all my children kept pressuring me. “Ima,” they pleaded, “you cannot stay in the house.”

My son who lives in a neighboring community was going to Brooklyn to my children there. Baruch Hashem, they all have large families, children and grandchildren. Their houses were full but they lovingly insisted I join them. I was debating in my mind what to do when my very kind talmidah – my Torah daughter – called and begged that I come to her. Not wanting to place added pressure to my children, I decided to accept her loving invitation.

When morning came it was not the dawn’s light that awakened me but the nightmarish news that my community and countless others were under attack by the merciless Frankenstorm that was leaving total devastation in its wake. I heard that ten feet of water flooded the lower level of my home but that was the least of my concerns. There was only one concern in my heart, and that was for my children who stayed behind and the countless other children and families there. I kept repeating to myself, “Ribbono shel Olam, Ribbono shel Olam.” Every few minutes I called my children, though usually I could not get through.

So it was with a trembling heart and tears flowing down my face that I davened and then davened some more. As the days passed and more and more painful and horrific stories emerged, my tears and my fears also increased.

Many of you know that every Thursday night I teach Torah at the Hineni Heritage Center on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. It was now Wednesday and the immediate dilemma facing me was whether we should close down or keep our doors open and the classes going.

It wasn’t a hard call. Of course we would have to stay open. If ever there was a time we had to gather together, it was now. It did not matter how many or how few would come. We had to raise our voices in prayer, with Tehillim and the study of Torah. No matter what is going on around us, davening and Torah study must continue. Those are our only weapons, our only salvation, our only hope for help.

I have had good training; I know from whence I speak. I learned in the best of universities that majored in cruelty – Hitler’s concentration camps. My daughter once said, “Ima, no matter what the topic, no matter what the situation, you always go back to those days of Auschwitz and Bergen Belsen.”

I had never been consciously aware of it, but as soon as she mentioned it I realized she was so right. Sadly, most of us who were there are no longer here to tell the story, and most of those who are here are elderly or infirm and can no longer speak out. So yes, I do go back and I do tell the story and I can never forget.

In that dire darkness, in that pit of hopelessness, my saintly father, HaRav HaGaon Avraham HaLevi Jungreis, zt”l, taught me to never to give up, never to forget that prayers can awaken the dawn and Torah can be brighter then the sun. Through Torah and prayers the sun can shine again and our worlds can be illuminated.

Our Sages teach us “ein doma – there is no comparison to that which you hear and that which you see.” My daughter, who was there with her family, saw the terror and devastation with her own eyes and experienced it with her own heart and mind. Next week I will share excerpts from her diary.

Love And Fear…Of Food

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

Some of us climb a scale each day in terror and dread. Some of us alight a scale, with our hearts thumping and throats tightening. We may know how to jump off and on, or gyrate this way or that to create a different number. And we will stare at that all important number – which could very well dictate our mood for the rest of the day. We believe the final number to be the true judge of our worth – of how well we are doing. And we are sorry that the scale could not be fooled.

I try not to think back to those obsessive weighing-in days. Yes, I am not as slender as I was back then. Yes, I still have days where I feel very large, and need to remind myself that I am much more than a dress size. One day I discovered other ways to monitor size, and my scale lost its power over me. No longer was my self-worth tied to random blinking numbers. I bravely abandoned the scale that was my companion most of my youth and put it away. I learned about a whole world that did not revolve around food plans and rigid choices. I learned that food could be my friend, and I could enjoy it based on my tastes and likes. I learned that my body actually knows when food is necessary, and that I could trust my hunger. I realized that G-d wants us to eat and enjoy, instead of feeling tortured when faced with tasty food.

Eating is a constant, and we ought to notice what it is we consume. What am I choosing to eat at this moment? Do I eat with abandon, or with awareness? Am I even enjoying the food? Am I making my blessings properly, before and after a meal or snack, expressing to G-d how grateful I am for these choices?

I think of a friend, a mentor from my days in New York. She was a truly special woman who not only raised a large family, but had also begun to have grandchildren. Then she succumbed to an awful illness and quickly was gone. The first thought I had then upon hearing the news was “but she never got to be as thin as she wanted.” Yet, G-d took her. Her time was up.

What if we spend our all our waking moments mourning over an extra morsel of cake? What if we regret our food decisions each time we make them? What if we don’t see what we’ve become?

All of us are expert calorie counters. We know all the labels, and can recite the calories fat and carbs of each item. Our generation is truly more educated than any other about food, and the consequences of eating poorly. Even young children have jumped on the food bandwagon, and can rattle off the fat contents and calories. We have the knowledge to make better choices.

It is good to be aware, to be sure we are not eating recreationally, to fill time, but rather that we are reaching for food based on our internal hunger signals. I wonder, though, do we focus equally on our spiritual progress?

The High Holidays are just a few weeks behind us. We have been judged by the one true Judge – and we made promises and resolutions. The real world, the real judgement of our worth, lies entirely in our behaviors and choices. Good intentions are nice, but only valuable if we make them concrete with action. G-d does not care about the number on the scales; He does not care how much we weigh. However, He does care about how we treat our mothers and fathers. He will measure the nuances of our speech around our coworkers and how we act when we are behind the steering wheel.

Am I spending all my waking moments mourning over something I ate that was high in calorie? Am I noticing how I look or who I have become? Do I appreciate the gift of what I do have? Do I truly revel in the present, appreciating life? Do I count my blessings or my calorie consumption?

Q & A: The Sandak (Part I)

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

Question: I was at a brit where the father and grandfather of the boy argued over who should be sandak. The grandfather had served as sandak once before, but he persisted and, as they say, “might makes right.” I am curious as to your view on this matter.

M. Renkin
(Via E-Mail)

Answer: The source of the word “sandak” is important to our discussion, as is an examination of what exactly the sandak’s role is at a brit. We find the following in the Midrash (Tehillim pg. 723): “With the tender [young infants] I do sandikus at the time of milah and priyah.”

“Sandak” is clearly a Greek word, as are many words found in the Midrash. It means “companion of child” or “advocate.” Rabbi Tzvi Elimelech Spira of Dinov explains that it is an acronym: “Sanegor na’aseh din kategor,” which means “The defense emerges victorious vis-à-vis the prosecutor.” This is explained in the Zohar (Parashat Pikudei pg. 255b): “At the time that a person is cut [circumcised], the sitra acher, the one on the other side [Satan], is broken and no longer empowered to cause any harm because the defense of Israel has been performed.”

In answer to your question, we find that the Rema (Yoreh De’ah 265:11) writes as follows: “It is customary for one to pursue this mitzvah to hold the infant at the time of circumcision. And the sandak is considered even greater than the mohel in that he is given the honor of being called up to the Torah even before the mohel. This is because every sandak is compared to a kohen who offers ketoret [Temple incense]. It is customary not to give sandika’ot to someone more than once, as we find in regards to offering ketoret.”

The Rema is referring to the mishnah (Yoma 26a) and Gemara (ad loc.) that relate that the ketoret was never offered by the same individual more than once since it enriched the one who offered it, and everyone wished to benefit from this blessing. The Temple used to conduct a lottery for kohanim who had never offered ketoret to ensure that everyone had an equal share in this avodah.

The Shach (Yoreh Deah, ad loc., sk 22) clarifies that the Rema does not mean that one may not serve as a sandak more than once. Rather, he means that a father should not give the honor of sandika’ot to the same person more than once.

The Rema notes the possibility of a woman serving as sandak and cautions against it, especially where a man is available. He explains that it is immodest for a woman to serve as sandak. Rather, he writes, the woman serves as the companion to her husband as she is given the honor of bringing the baby to the synagogue where she hands the infant to him. (This husband and wife are commonly referred to as the kvater and kvaterin, which mean, respectively, “in place of the father,” his messenger, and “in place of the mother,” her messenger.)

(To be continued)

Gold Buyers Beware: Fraudulent Gold Found in the Marketplace

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

A fake gold bullion bar makes a fine gag gift, but think twice before making it part of your investment portfolio.

What would happen if the gold bars you bought from a reputable dealer were “salted” with tungsten?

Word has been spreading that some gold experts have cracked open the gold bars that they bought only to discover tungsten (a metal worth about one-fifth of the value of gold) inside. Since tungsten has a similar density to gold, it’s easy to confuse people, amateurs and experts alike. With bars of gold that weigh ten ounces or more, using regular x-rays to determine the chemical composition of the metal doesn’t work well since the x-rays don’t penetrate deep enough.

Some alarmists have referred to the recent findings as evidence of a possible market-shattering conspiracy. What if there are hundreds or thousands of counterfeit bars of gold sitting in the vaults of companies and governments? If you can’t trust that the gold you buy is genuine, would you really buy it? Regardless of the veracity of the possibility that gold supplies are tainted, if people simply think that they are, the price of the commodity could start tumbling.

An additional way that falsified gold bars can affect the price of gold is that it also increases the cost of ownership of gold, as there may be increased costs involved in higher level testing for purity.

Regardless of how you purchase your gold, beware of the possibility that the whole gold marketplace might be affected by some bad eggs… just a reminder that you shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket, no matter how shiny it is.

Buying novelty fake gold coins or a 24K gold dipped real rose is fine if that is your aim, but before you buy gold for an investment, you might want to read my previous post on buying gold.

Begin Told Meet the Press: Partition was Illegal

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

Found, an exchange between Begin and Lawrence Spivak on Meet The Press, from December 12, 1948 during his first visit to the United States.

Menachem Begin:

You know, this partition of the country was just imposed on our people. As a matter of fact, when Mister Ben-Gurion, who is now Prime Minister in our country, was in the U.S. during the World War in America, and visited the famous Baltimore Hotel, [he] came out with the so-called “Baltimore Program” which went now into oblivion. And according to that program the whole of Western Palestine, through the Jordan (river), should be turned into a Jewish State.

So as a matter of fact, then I would like to remind you, that when the Balfour Declaration was issued by the British, and when the amendment was approved by the League of Nations, Palestine was considered to be the territory of both sides of the Jordan. I would like even to remind you that the English had an argument with the French when the French would like to take TransJordan for their amendment of Syria and Lebanon. The English told [them] that TransJordan is an integral part of the Jewish national home.

So as a matter of fact, this partitioning of our country is an illegal act! And we are not going to recognize it. If our government will acquiesce in the partition of her country, we are certainly not going to fight it by arms . . .we are not going to fight any government of our people by force. We will fight only on the political field.

Visit My Right Word.

Palestinian Statehood, Terror, And The U.S. Presidential Election (First of Two Parts)

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

President Obama and Governor Romney strongly disagree on many issues but the daylight between them is especially great in the imminent matter of Palestinian statehood. For his part, the president still believes in a two-state solution, and in a corollary willingness of the Palestinian side to negotiate fairly. His opponent is unambiguous in a fully contrary insistence that the Palestinians are not interested in peace.

One thing is certain. Jurisprudentially and strategically, Romney’s position here is substantially more compelling. After all, both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas are clear in their continuing commitment to use force for “self-determination” and “national liberation.” For these two contending factions, this belligerent commitment would make sense even after a formal granting of Palestinian sovereignty. This is because, in their view, and on their maps, all of Israel proper would still remain “Occupied Palestine.”

What would be the legal status of any such post-independence expressions of Palestinian violence against Israeli citizens (noncombatants)? In broad terms, these expressions would be determinably criminal. More narrowly, they would constitute terrorism.

Under binding international law, a fully constituted or at least a UN-birthed state of Palestine would be unable to justify any linguistic transformations of an impermissible insurgency into permissible “self-defense.”

Terrorism, as I have pointed out in the past, is a codified and customary crime under international law. Its explicit criminalization can be discovered in all of the authoritative sources of international law listed at Article 38 of the Statute of the International Court of Justice. Now, though unacknowledged by President Obama, whenever Palestinian “militants” claim the right to use “any means necessary” against an alleged Israeli “occupation,” their arguments are legally unsupportable and crudely contrived.

Both Obama and Romney should always be prepared to look behind the news. Even if Palestinian claims for “national self-determination” should soon be supported at the UN, most likely, it seems, as a non-member state, there will still remain ascertainable and firm limits on the allowable targets of insurgent violence, and on the permissible levels of such violence. This is the case even though any post-independence Palestinian resorts to force would now be more or less state-supported.

Both candidates should understand: Palestine’s most probable future is written in its well-documented and bloody past. The strictly limited rights of insurgency under international law can never include the use of nail-filled bombs directed at children and other innocent noncombatants. (Sometimes these projectiles have first been dipped painstakingly in rat poison.)

Under even their most generous definition in jurisprudence, these particular and restricted rights to the use of force can never supplant the settled or peremptory rules of humanitarian international law. More popularly, these rules are known as the law of war, or the law of armed conflict.

At its heart, of course, international law intends to “make sense.” Nowhere is it written that certain political goals are so flagrantly worthy of implementation that their satisfaction can ever allow the deliberate incineration of infants in their cribs, or of children in school or at play. One doesn’t need to be a professor of international law to understand such an elementary expectation of human decency. Further, under international law, it won’t matter at all if such conspicuously murderous strategies are launched by a now recognized sovereign state.

From the beginning, supporters of Palestinian terror against Israelis have argued, disingenuously, that the desired end of their “sacred” insurgency (Palestinian independence) automatically justifies their adopted means (willful and indiscriminate attacks on Jewish civilians). Leaving aside the everyday and ordinary ethical standards by which any such argument must be manifestly unacceptable, the ends can never justify the means under conventional or customary international law. Never.

For more than two thousand years, the binding principles of world law have stipulated that intentional forms of violence that are directed against the innocent are always repugnant. Hence, prima facie, these forms are always prohibited.

One person’s terrorist can never be another person’s freedom fighter. Though it’s fashionable to insist at university or embassy cocktail parties that one person’s terrorist can indeed be another person’s freedom fighter, this popular expression is utterly facile, a thoroughly empty witticism devoid of any meaningful legal content.

While it is true that certain insurgencies can be judged per se lawful (after all, the idea of “just cause” can be found, inter alia, in the Declaration of Independence of the United States), these residually permissible resorts to force must nonetheless conform to the longstanding laws of war.

…To Be Continued Next Week

The Joy of Achdus

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

Now that the Daf Yomi cycle has reached Meseches Shabbos I’d like to take this opportunity to remind those who are participating in it that my son, Rabbi Meyer Maryles (pictured), will be giving on-line in depth daily Shiurim on the Daf on the website Shas Illuminated. If you want more out of a Blatt Gemarah than Pashut Peshat, this site is for you. Once you learn the Daf, listen to this Shiur. It will truly enhance the Daf Yomi experience. Speaking of Torah – it was just Shemini Atzeres, the last day of the holiday season. In Israel that day is combined with Simchas Torah. I celebrated that day here in Israel with my son and his family.

On Simchas Torah we complete the yearly reading cycle of the Torah by reading its final Parsha followed by beginning anew the reading of the very first section of Bereshis.The day is also marked by doing Hakafos, both at night and during the day. Men holding Sifrei Torah circle the Bima seven times in special song. That is the formality. But it doesn’t end there. There is spontaneous singing and dancing after each Hakafa by those holding the Sifrei Torah as well as most of the rest of the people in the Shul (or in a Yeshiva as the case may be).

This practice has expanded to massive proportions reflecting great joy on that day, by those who learn Torah and by all who adhere to its precepts. The joy and exuberance by religious Jews – young and old – in celebrating this event on this day is palpable.

It doesn’t matter to what segment of Orthodox Jewry one belongs. All segments celebrate this day with the same exuberance.

It is truly the Torah which unites us all, right to left. Those of us who participate in this event are sincere in our feelings of joy. It doesn’t matter if one is Charedi or MO; Chasidic or Yeshivish; Asheknazi or Sephardi; Mizrachi or Agudah. It is a true moment of Achdus for all. Jews all over the world are all dancing to the same tunes and for the same reasons.

When I get a bit fatigued at the amount of dancing, I remind myself of this very plain fact and it renews my hope for the future. With all the things that divide us, there is so much more that unites us. Achdus is what Simchas Torah is all about. At least for me.

We have concluded the holiday season. One that involves great intensity on religious matters. Beginning with the month of Elul and culminating well into Tishrei – almost two months of celebration which begins with solemnity and repentance and ends in a great joy. I like to think that the Achdus in which this season ends is a sign for us about what our goals as a people should be.

Visit the Emes Ve-Emunah blog.

Why They Love Osama, Hate Obama, and How Obama Uses the Same Tactics at Home

Friday, October 5th, 2012

Visit Rubin Reports.

Why are tens of thousands of Middle Eastern Muslims chanting about how much they love Osama bin Ladin and how much they hate Barack (Hussein) Obama?

Simple. Because bin Ladin was a Muslim and an Arab (for the Arab demonstrators) and thus he was one of their people, someone from their side, whatever tactical disagreements they might have had with him. And Obama isn’t. No amount of groveling, apology, or money will change that fact. Isn’t that clear?

I should quickly add that many Muslims don’t support the Islamists. In elections in Libya and Tunisia, a majority voted for non-Islamist parties. Even in Egypt when the showdown came in the presidential election the Muslim Brotherhood candidate won by only a narrow margin. Most Lebanese don’t support the Islamists (the main force of which is Hizballah, a Shia group). There are, of course, plenty of Islamists and they have lots of sympathizers. They can cite chapter and verse from Islamic holy texts.

Yet that doesn’t make all Muslims supporters of revolutionary Islamism or advocates of Shia totalitarian states, no matter how many times people who are ignorant about Islam and the Middle East run their little rants. Those rants are just as false as the “Islam is a religion of peace” nonsense.

But that’s not my point here. The key element for this article is this:

When solidarity along group lines takes priority and the line is that all of “us” must unite against the “other” no matter what truth, logic, or justice dictates then that means serious trouble.

Well, guess what? That is the line of the Obama Administration and its Newest Left supporters. All African-Americans should support the regime because Obama is Black and anyone opposing him is a racist. All “Hispanics” should support the president because he really wants open borders and the turning of all illegal immigrants into citizens, while everyone else is a racist.

All women should support the ruling group and leftist ideology because it wants to give them free birth control and anyone on the other side hates women. And everyone who receives a government check has to support the regime or someone might take away their check. Actually what’s most likely to take away their check is the bankruptcy of the programs due to over-spending.

In other words, the dominant forces in the mass media and academia and the current government and their supporters are tearing America apart by inciting interest groups to hate each other, make war on each other, and give loyalty primarily to their group no questions asked.

And this is precisely the kind of thing that makes Middle Eastern Muslims who even if they were Islamists–like the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafist groups—hated bin Ladin when he was alive opportunistically turn him into a martyr. The creation of a hysterical mob mentality for political gain is not restricted to the Middle East.

Visit Rubin Reports.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/rubin-reports/why-they-love-osama-hate-obama-and-how-obama-uses-the-same-tactics-at-home/2012/10/05/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: