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August 28, 2016 / 24 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘matter’

The President And Operation Pillar Of Defense

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

True to his word, President Obama has demonstrated that when it comes to Israel’s security, he does indeed have the country’s back. In the current confrontation with Hamas, he has from the start unequivocally laid the blame on Hamas and said Israel has the right to defend itself and that for the crisis to end Hamas must stop firing rockets at Israel.

Further, his robust support for Iron Dome has resulted in the saving of countless Jewish lives, and the military aid he has authorized over the past four years has enhanced Israel’s ability to strike back at Hamas. Moreover, his staunch, and very public, support of Israel has certainly hobbled the attempts by the usual suspects to press the charge of “disproportionality” against Israel.

So there is much for which to be grateful. But at the same time we have to wonder whether the president made any promises or commitments to those adversaries of Israel he enlisted in the effort to bring both sides to a cease-fire. And were any inducements dangled in front of Hamas?

Just consider the following exchange between State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland and reporters concerning the parade of foreign dignitaries visiting Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip:

Ms. Nuland: We appreciate the fact that [Egyptian] Prime Minister Kandil went personally to try to ameliorate the situation. And will continue to work with them on the efforts that we can all take to try to de-escalate.Question: Have they coordinated the visit with Washington or with the Israelis?

Ms. Nuland: Well, I think both we and the Israelis were aware that the prime minister would make this visit….

Question: …I don’t understand. Two weeks ago you said it would be a bad idea for [Turkey’s] Erdogan to go to Gaza. You were not particularly enthusiastic about the emir of Qatar going to cost. And now all of a sudden it’s a wonderful thing that the Egyptian prime minister went there?

Ms. Nuland: … [W]e have a different situation, obviously.

Question: Okay.

Ms. Nuland: We are in the process of trying to de-escalate a very, very dangerous situation between Gaza and Israel. So the purpose was completely different in this case, and can be helpful, we think.

Question: It can be helpful because they’re talking to Hamas.

Ms. Nuland: Because they’re talking to Hamas, they’re talking about the danger of this kind of situation.

Question: So the way that Hamas gets a stamp of U.S. legitimacy in terms of being an interlocutor is to fire lots of rockets into southern Israel, and then you’re okay with people going to talk to them?

Ms. Nuland: We have a – we have an extremely dangerous and volatile situation. We have a dangerous situation inside Gaza, we have a dangerous situation inside Israel. It is not a matter of legitimating violence. This is a matter of supporting diplomacy to get this to end, which is a different thing than what the visits were intended to do before this.

Question: Okay. Through the mediation with your good friends the Qataris, the Egyptians, and the Turks, Hamas moderates tremendously and gives up on rockets and so on. Will that be, like, an opening with direct contact with Hamas, with the United States?

Ms. Nuland: With our direct contact with Hamas?

Question: Yes, ma’am.

Ms. Nuland: You know what our conditions for contact with Hamas have been. They have not changed; they will not change in this circumstance. They need to recognize Israel’s right to exist. They need to renounce violence and take those other measures that we’ve always called for.

Prudence requires vigilance.

Editorial Board

The Age Of Disrespect

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

And Lavan and Betuel answered and said, “It is from Hashem that this has come forth. We can speak neither for nor against it.” – Bereishis 24:50

Eliezer, the servant of Avraham, went to find a wife for Yitzchak. He approached the city of Charan, waited at the well, and asked Hashem for a sign. “Let it be that the girl who not only gives me water when I ask for it, but says, ‘Not only will I give you to drink, but I will give your camels as well.’ She should be the one that is right for Yitzchak.”

No sooner did he finish speaking than Rivka, the daughter of Betuel, came upon the scene and fulfilled his request exactly as he specified. Eliezer knew that he had found the right one.

He then asked Rivka to take him to her father. As they neared the house, Rivka’s brother Lavan saw the camels laden with treasure and ran out to greet the new guest and usher him in. Eliezer described the miracles that happened and then asked for approval of the marriage. Lavan and Betuel exclaimed, “It is from Hashem! How can we stop it?”

Rashi comments that from here we see Lavan’s wickedness. Why did the Torah mention his name first? To teach us that he spoke before his father. This shows us that he was a rasha.

This Rashi is difficult to understand. Why does Lavan’s speaking before his father show that he was wicked? Disrespectful, yes. Rude, certainly. But a rasha?

The answer to this can best be understood from a historical vantage point.

A yeshiva student learning in Israel found himself on a bus, sitting near two secular American Jews. Noticing that one was a bit older than the other, he was surprised to hear them calling each other by their first names. “Bob, did you notice that?” said one. “Hey, Joe, what do you think?” said the other. His surprise deepened when in the course of conversation it became clear that the two were father and son. Dad explained, “I don’t want barriers between us, so we call each other by our first names.”

That isn’t the way that it used to be. Not all that long ago in America, a teenager wouldn’t dream of calling an adult by his first name, let alone his father. And certainly a child wouldn’t dare open his mouth when his father spoke. It didn’t matter how foul-mouthed the child was, and it didn’t matter how unpolished the father was. Children knew their place, and the idea of a child speaking back to an adult was unheard of.

Things have changed. The countercultural revolution of the 1960s brought new attitudes and ideas. And while much of the hysteria of those times has passed, one of the relics is that respect is no longer part of the culture. Gone is respect for leaders. Gone is respect for the clergy. Gone is respect for elders. In its place is the cynicism of a new age – an egalitarian age – where we are all equals.

We no longer need to treat institutions with reverence, and we no longer need to treat authority with deference. And so we argue with our doctors. We argue with our lawyers. And we argue with our parents, who don’t really know that much anyway. Welcome to the Age of Disrespect.

This seems to be the answer to this Rashi. In the times of Lavan, society was still relatively normal. Workers respected bosses. Students respected teachers. Younger people respected older people. As such, there were things that were done and things that were not done. In that world, for a child to answer in his father’s presence was outrageous. It simply didn’t happen. The only time such a thing could occur was when the child had veered way off course – had become deviant. And so Rashi tells us that Lavan’s response shows just how wicked he was.

This is especially illustrative because Lavan wasn’t known as a paradigm of virtue. He died trying to poison Eliezer in order to steal his money. Yet even in his home, for a child to answer before his father did was so out of the norm that it could only happen if that child was wicked.

Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier

Q & A: The Sandak (Part III)

Wednesday, November 14th, 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 Midrash (Tehillim pg. 723) contains the term “sandikus,” a Greek word meaning “companion of child” or “advocate.” Rabbi Tzvi Elimelech Spira of Dinov explains that sandak is an acronym of “sanegor na’aseh din kategor – the defense emerges victorious vis-à-vis the prosecutor,” referring to the brit’s function as a protection from Satan.

The Rema (Yoreh De’ah 265:11) writes that the sandak is given the first honor of being called up to the Torah, even before the mohel. The Rema explains that the sandak is compared to a kohen who offers incense in the Beit Hamikdash. All kohanim wished to benefit from the blessing of the incense, which enriched the one who offered it. Therefore, a lottery was established to assure that all had an equal opportunity to perform it. Similarly, it is customary not to give the role of sandak to one individual more than once.

The Shach (Yoreh Deah ad loc. sk 22) clarifies that Rema does not mean that one may not be a sandak more than once. Rather, if a person has served as sandak for a boy, he should not serve as sandak for any of his brothers in the future.

The Rema also talks about the honorary role of the kvaterin and kvater, the female and male messengers who bring the baby to the synagogue for the brit.

Last week we continued with Rabbi Ari Enkin’s discussion of this matter in his new sefer, Shu’t HaShulchani, which we now conclude.

* * * * *

Rabbi Enkin continues his discussion of whether someone should serve as sandak twice (Shu’t HaShulchani 154-156):

“There is also a variation of this custom, seemingly of Turkish and Greek origin, in which one refrains from honoring the same person to serve as sandak twice in a single year – should another boy be born to the family within that time – but allows him to serve as sandak once again after a year has passed.

“There is also an opinion that the custom does not apply to relatives. According to this approach, one can invite a relative to serve as sandak more than once. This is especially true with regard to the baby’s father. Indeed, a father shouldn’t hesitate to be the sandak for all of his children should he so desire.

“Although the custom of restricting a sandak to once per family is widely observed, there are some exceptions to the rule. In some communities, the local rabbi is designated as the exclusive sandak and this includes serving as sandak for multiple children from the same family. It is explained that such an arrangement is not truly a deviation from the supposed custom, for the community rabbi can be compared to the Kohen Gadol, who was indeed permitted to perform the incense offering over and over. Similarly, very prominent, world-renowned rabbis are often repeatedly invited to serve as sandak for the same family.

“It is also noted that the custom to restrict someone form serving as a sandak twice likely originates from Rabbi Yehuda Hachassid, whose rulings are often understood as being optional in nature. So too, the custom of restricting someone from serving as sandak more than once is not found in the Talmud. As a general rule, though there are many exceptions, a restriction that doesn’t have its origins in the Talmud is not truly binding.

“Indeed, the conclusion of most halachic authorities is that one may indeed serve as a sandak more than once for the same family should one be invited to do so.

“There is also a view that it is the mohel, not the sandak, who is comparable to a kohen offering the incense in the Beit Hamikdash. Even according to this approach, however, there is no restriction on using the same mohel more than once.”

(To be continued)

Rabbi Yaakov Klass

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.

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

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?

Penina Scheiner

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)

Rabbi Yaakov Klass

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.

Doug Goldstein, CFP®

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/goldstein-on-gelt/gold-buyers-beware-fraudulent-gold-found-in-the-marketplace/2012/10/22/

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