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December 8, 2016 / 8 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘meeting’

Cabinet Holds Special Meeting in Fire Plagued Haifa

Sunday, November 27th, 2016

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu assembled his cabinet on Sunday morning in Haifa, the Israeli city that has suffered more than any other large urban center in the week of blazes, both the natural and the man made kind. The prime minister said: “First, I would like to commend the IDF soldiers who, this morning, successfully repelled an attack against in the border triangle area (where Israel, Lebanon and Syria meet). We are well prepared on our northern border and we will not allow any ISIS or other hostile elements, under cover of the war in Syria, to establish themselves adjacent to our borders.

“En route here this morning I spoke with Rama Ben-Tzvi; her and her husband’s restaurant in the Jerusalem hills was completely burnt. I think that we all know how much love they have invested in this, their life’s work, for 20 years, and in an instant, it went up in flames. The fire there and in other places burned property, it burned objects replete with memories, it even burned animals in some places, but to our joy, this time we were well-prepared and it did not burn lives; we saved lives. I told Rama that we would help her rebuild her restaurant forthwith. The Director General of the Prime Minister’s Office has already spoken to her. This, in effect, is our message to all Israeli citizens whose homes and property were hit by the fires: We will help you rebuild your homes and your lives forthwith and this is the main goal of this special Cabinet meeting this morning in Haifa.

“We have come to Haifa and we have invited council heads from across the north whose communities were affected by the fires in order to give them clear message: All government ministries are committed to extending a hand to you quickly, to shorten the bureaucracy, and I say to brutally shorten the bureaucracy, to bring you assistance, relief and rebuilding as soon as possible. In the meantime, we will do everything necessary to maintain your remaining property.

“Immediately upon concluding my remarks, I will ask my fellow ministers – the ministers of Public Security, Finance and Interior – who, I must say, from the outset, have worked tirelessly in the field, to report on their ministries’ activities.

“Later, I will ask the other ministers to do so. Of course, we will be measured by results and not by processes, by deeds and not words. We will be measured by results. The event is still not over. There are reports now of a fire in the Zichron area and several other locales, that seem as if they are rekindling. We are working on all fronts, including law enforcement. Whoever starts a fire, either by malice or negligence, whoever incites to arson – we will act against them with full force.

“There is no doubt that thanks to the courage of the firefighters, the pilots from Israel and abroad, and to the determined response of the Israel Police, MDA, IDF, Home front Command and the other rescue forces, the local councils represented here and the extraordinary spirit shown by Israeli citizens – thanks to all these, we achieved impressive control of the fires which, to a certain extent, were much more complicated and much more difficult than the Carmel fire.

“On Friday, I received a meteorological report, which indicated difficult conditions vis-à-vis dryness and the weather, the combination of temperatures and the wind and continued dryness, it was 30% more difficult than the conditions that prevailed during the Carmel fire. Along with all the government ministers here, I salute all those who took part in dealing with this crisis, in extinguishing the fires, and in guarding life and property. We have built an impressive ability to fight fires on the ground and from the air and it proved itself. I do not want to imagine what might have happened if we hadn’t built this ability.

“I would like to thank the many governments who sent assistance in the form of firefighting aircraft, pilots and firefighters and I would like to thank the personnel at the Foreign Ministry and the National Security Council and especially you, Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Zeev Tzuk-Tam who supervised very impressive international coordination. It is not simple to bring here so many elements, pilots, planes and materials from so many countries.

“Against the mighty forces of nature, countries worked together and the principle that has guided me and the government was – better over-ability than the risk of under-ability.

“During the events, I personally visited several centers of the fires and I already instructed that a team be established to learn lessons so that we will be even better prepared in the future. I am initiating the establishment of a multi-national force that will be coordinated not just for action in time of disaster, but also to acquire planes and allocate the acquisition of various types of planes so that we might thereby achieve multi-national effectiveness, and not just national effectiveness, in dealing with gigantic fires. I have spoken about this with several leaders from the region. I must say that they have shown great interest in the idea and we will advance it.”

Jewish Press Staff

Tefillah: A Meeting with Hashem – A Personal Request

Friday, November 4th, 2016

Yankel, the town gvir, was doing quite well. His business was flourishing, money was pouring in from all sides and he was quite happy. Unfortunately, though, his observance of Torah and mitzvos was quite lacking. He came late to shul, left early, and rarely opened a sefer. One day, though, his fellow congregants were quite surprised to see him praying with much fervor. “He must be going through a difficult time,” they thought to themselves. But when they got close enough to hear his prayers, they were quite shocked. “Hashem,” said Yankel, “today I am about to make a huge business deal, and I can manage all by myself — all I ask of You is not to mess it up for me!”

What a pity! I think it is safe to assume that none of us would ever say or even think such a thing, but to a small extent we may have the same problem of self-trust. Let me explain.


Whom Can I Trust?

The Chovos Halevavos writes (Sha’ar Habitachon, chapter 2) that we only put our trust in someone after certain conditions are met, and all of them are found with Hashem. In a previous article, we discussed the first condition, that Hashem loves us dearly and only wants what’s best for us. The second is that as a result of that love He never stops thinking about us, is constantly taking care of us and is always watching us. The clearer that becomes, the more we will trust Him. How can we build up that awareness?

The pasuk in Mishlei says (3:5), “Bitach el Hashem b’chol libecha, v’el binascha al tishaen – Trust in Hashem with all your heart, and do not rely upon your own understanding.” Rabbeinu Yonah explains that complete faith in Hashem means not attributing any success to our own actions or ideas. We must believe with all our heart that without Hashem, we cannot accomplish anything.

And before you begin to wonder how to reach such a great level, Shlomo HaMelech continues: “B’chol dirachecha da’eihu, vehu yiyasher orchosecha – In all your ways know Him and He will smooth your paths.” Rabbeinu Yonah explains that there are many people who only turn to Hashem for help when they are about to do something really big, such as embarking on a sea voyage or traversing the desert. But when doing something small, they are sure they will be successful on their own. Thus, Shlomo HaMelech tells us: In all your ways you must turn to him – even before performing small actions. By doing so, you will straighten your ways and not rely on your intellect at all.

We see from here that one who only asks Hashem for help in areas where he realizes that he needs help demonstrates that the rest of the time he thinks he is taking care of himself, like Yankel the gvir. But if we make sure to always turn to Hashem, we will avoid this pitfall.


Daven for Everything!

The Chazon Ish once told Rav Elazar Tzadok Torchen (co-author of the sefer Shoneh Halachos): “Sometimes we see a bachur who was very strong in his observance of Torah and mitzvos before he got married, but after his chasuna he suddenly starts getting weaker. I believe the problem began before he got married. Obviously he had not worked enough on his emunah and, therefore, when he found himself out in the big world, he was not able to withstand the temptations that faced him.”

When Rav Torchen asked how one should work on one’s emunah, the Chazon Ish answered that a person should turn to Hashem and ask for each and every thing he needs. And he gave the following example: “Let’s say you need to buy new shoes. You go to the shoe store and tell the owner that you would like comfortable ones that do not cost too much and will last a long time. Instead of only requesting that of the store owner, first turn to Hashem and say the same exact thing: ‘Hashem, I need new shoes. Please help me find ones that are not too expensive, are comfortable, long-lasting etc.’ And then, if Hashem gives you what you requested, immediately thank Him for it, as that will reinforce the reality that all is from Him.”

We have now learned an important way to make ourselves aware that Hashem is involved in every part of our lives: Daven in your own words (English is fine) and in great detail (as above) before everything you do. As a first step, let us take one action each day and ask Hashem to help us succeed with it. For example, Rav Avigdor Miller zt”l would say that many people have been hit by cars as they innocently cross the street. So, before you step off the curb, say a short prayer asking Hashem to protect you as you cross. (But don’t let anyone hear you, lest they make fun!)


A Great Ending

Besides for saying short prayers throughout the day, a person should, as I heard from Rav Elchonon Meir Fishman, mashgiach of Toras Moshe, add his or her own requests at the end of the weekday Shemoneh Esrei, right before we say “yihyu l’ratzon” (after which one takes three steps back). At that point, open your heart and ask Hashem for all your needs in whichever language you feel the most comfortable. If you are not married yet, or if your children are not married yet – even if they are still young – don’t wait! Now is the time to ask Hashem to find you or your children a good shidduch without any of the heartache and delays that many people unfortunately go through. Daven that each one of your children should always be healthy and have yiras Shamayim. The boys should be talmidei chachomim and the girls should be tzniyus, and so on and so forth.

Rav Shimshon Pincus zt”l would say that we have treasure houses of presents waiting for us in Heaven – but they won’t come down until we open our mouths and ask! Ask Hashem for your heart’s desire – ask for anything – even the smallest, simplest things, and don’t be embarrassed. Nothing is small in Hashem’s Eyes! On the contrary, when we ask for small things, we make it clear that we are totally and completely dependent on Him. And then, even when we are going about our jobs and daily lives, it will be clear that we are not able to do anything without Hashem’s help.

However, Rav Fishman would add that since there is a rule that if we repeatedly ask Hashem for something He will sometimes give it to us even if it is not really in our best interests, we should conclude “v’hatzlicheini b’hatzlocha amitis – and give me true success.” Meaning, I only want this if it is truly good for me.

We are now in the month of Cheshvan, a perfect time to work on this concept. This is because the full name of the month is “Marcheshvan” and there are those who explain these words to mean “the lips are moving.” (See Ta’anis 22b “sifvassei d’ka mirachashon.”) That is, in this month our lips continue moving in prayer after all the tefillos of the month of Tishrei. If we keep our lips moving in prayer this month through all our personal tefillos to Hashem, hopefully they will continue moving all year long!

Rabbi Eliezer M. Niehaus

Emergency Likud Meeting on Amona Arrangements Act

Thursday, November 3rd, 2016

The Likud Knesset faction announced an emergency meeting at 4 PM Israel time (10 AM NY Time) Thursday to debate the proposed Arrangements Act compelling Arab claimants to accept market value for their land where a Jewish community has already been established. The new law, if passed, would undoubtedly be struck down by the Supreme Court, which is insisting that claimed land, such as in the case of the Amona community in Samaria, must be returned to its Arab claimant in its original state, with all the hints of Jewish life erased.

The meeting will also discuss the status of the Attorney General, who is both the government’s legal counsel and the head of Israel’s law enforcement agencies. The meeting will discuss what to do in cases when the AG announces his refusal to represent the state before the Supreme Court on legislation which he believes doesn’t stand a chance to be approved by the justices. In other words, as the organizers have phrased it: “Who is the sovereign — the legal counselor or the legislator?”

According to News 0404, 18 heads of municipalities will also attend the meeting. Leaders of the settlement enterprise in Judea and Samaria have expressed fears that a victory for anti-Zionist groups like Peace Now would only embolden them to go after thousands more homes in Judea and Samaria, using the open door policy of the Supreme Court where—unlike every other appeals court in the Western world—a plaintiff need not show personal cause for petitioning the justices.

David Israel

Tefillah: A Meeting With Hashem -Teshuva Through Prayer

Friday, October 7th, 2016

“The Shabbos Shuva drasha will be given at 5:00 in the main sanctuary.” The age-old custom of listening to a Shabbos Shuva drasha will take place all over the world this Shabbos and definitely should not be missed. When the community gathers together to hear words of inspiration from the rabbi, it is a wonderful opportunity to prepare ourselves for Yom Kippur. The fact that we have come together as one unit to raise our level of spirituality causes much joy to Hashem, and that in itself is a reason to take part in this special event.

But we must know that besides the rabbi’s speech, there is another important one, given by none other than the navi Hoshea during the Shabbos morning services. For some people, hearing the chazzan begin reading the weekly haftarah is a signal to doze off. What a pity! These words contain such holy inspiration that just hearing them will help us peel away some of the layers of sin that cover our hearts. And certainly anyone who listens to Hoshea’s message will learn what to do in order to achieve true repentance.

So let us take a look at the opening words of the haftarah of Shabbos Shuva. There we will discover what we should be doing during these special days.


Take Words

The haftarah begins: “Shuva Yisroel ad Hashem Elokecha, ki chushalta ba’avonecha! Return, Yisroel, unto Hashem your G-d, for you stumbled in your iniquity. Kechu e’machem d’vorim v’shuvu el Hashem – Take words with you and return to Hashem…” (Hoshea 14:2-3).

The midrash (Shemos Rabba, Tezaveh) explains what these “words” are: “Klal Yisroel says to Hashem: ‘We do not have sacrifices to grant us atonement!’ And Hashem answers, ‘I only request words from you, and words means Torah.’ So Klal Yisroel says ‘But we don’t know how!’ And Hashem answers, ‘So cry and pray to Me. Did I not redeem your forefathers in Egypt because they prayed to me… and in the days of Yehoshua, was it not through prayer that I performed for them miracles? So too, I do not want from you offerings or korbonos – just words…’”

This amazing midrash addresses our generation, as we also do not have sacrifices. Hashem compares us to being in Egypt – where we needed salvation from the torture and slavery that entrapped us. And today we need miracles just like our nation needed in the times of Yehoshua. Why is this so?

The painful answer is that even though we try hard to fulfill the commandments of the Torah, many times we, unfortunately, fall short. And when a temptation to sin arises, we usually overcome it – but many times we don’t. All this needs atonement, as it is not possible to enter the World to Come with stains on our souls. We may have to endure various punishments or suffering, chas v’sholom. But Hashem, in His great kindness, gives us the opportunity each year, during these ten days of repentance, to achieve that soul cleansing and avoid the need to undergo pain.

So we say to Hashem: “What should we do? Once, we had a Bais HaMikdosh where we could offer korbonos and receive atonement. But we don’t have that anymore! We try to learn Torah, but we don’t know how! Our learning is not on the level sufficient to save us from our dire situation.” Hashem answers: “Cry and pray to me! That is what you should bring me – words of prayer!”

We see from here that there is a deep connection between prayer and repentance.

We find the same connection from the fact that viduy, confession, is part of the Yom Kippur davening – it appears five times during the silent Shemoneh Esrei and five times during the chazzan’s repetition. Similarly, we say in the moving prayer of U’nesaneh Tokef: “But repentance, prayer, and charity remove the evil of the decree!” So an integral part of achieving atonement is through prayer. Why is this so?


In Your Presence

As part of the viduy of Yom Kippur we say over and over “al cheit shechatanu lifanecha.” We ask forgiveness for the sin that we sinned “in Your presence.” I heard from the mashgiach of Yeshivas Toras Moshe in Yerushalayim, Rav Elchonon Meir Fishman, that the main reason we sin is that we forget we are in the presence of Hashem.

He illustrated his point in this way: Let us imagine that right now we hear the shofar of Moshiach. When that great shofar will finally be blown, there will be no doubts – this is it! Moshiach is here! As it gets louder and louder, someone walks into the room and starts telling you a juicy piece of loshon hora. Normally, you would have trouble resisting, but this time you scream: “Get out of here! The King is coming; how can I sin in His presence!”

When we express our remorse, we admit that “the sin was in Your presence.” The first step in repentance is to say to Hashem that until now we lived as if we were not in front of You, but now we have come back.

Now we can understand why we repent specifically during Shemoneh Esrei. As we explained many times in this series, tefillah is a meeting with Hashem. We put aside all other matters, business and personal, and turn to Hashem in prayer. At that moment, when we feel the strong connection to Hashem, we are able to truly feel how far we have strayed. We can honestly say that we sinned because we did not feel that we were in Your presence. So please accept our regret and forgive us!

This is what Hoshea is telling us: The way to repentance is through prayer! Praying is the quickest and most direct way of placing ourselves back in front of Hashem. That is why he stressed taking “words with you and return to Hashem” – because through these words of prayer we return directly to Hashem. And once we are there, we will be able to see everything in the correct perspective and truly turn over a new leaf in our lives.

Rabbi Eliezer M. Niehaus

Jerusalem Mayor Awards Pollard Gold Pin in NY Chance Meeting

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, who is on business in New York City, on Monday ran into Jonathan Pollard and his wife Esther who were sitting in a Manhattan coffee shop just around the corner from a Barkat fundraising event.

According to the Jerusalem Municipality’s spokesperson, this was the very first meeting between a senior elected Israeli official and Pollard since his release from Federal Prison last November 20. Barkat, apparently, was thrilled to run into the former Israeli spy, whom he had awarded the medal of Honorary Citizen of Jerusalem while the latter was still behind bars.

Mrs. Pollard told Barkat that Jonathan was yet to physically receive the medal, and Pollard hinted that he would be delighted to get it, and so Barkat, ever the improvising Israeli, removed his gold Jerusalem pin from his lapel and put it on Pollard.

Barkat told the couple, “Since Jonathan is not allowed to go to Jerusalem, the eternal city of the Jewish people will come to him in New York or anywhere else in the world.”

“We are longing for the day when you can arrive in Jerusalem to make it your real home,” Barkat told Pollard.


Netanyahu Holds Security Meeting Ahead of High Holidays

Monday, September 19th, 2016

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday held a meeting to assess the security situation ahead of the Tishrei holidays—Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot. Netanyahu called for in creased police presence, especially in the Old City and around the Temple Mount, directing “determined action” against any attempt to violate the public order there. In the case of Jews on the Temple Mount, these actions are normally determined by the Waqf agents, who are empowered to assess the level of spiritual engagement exerted by any Jew on the Temple Mount, and to decide whether said Jews have crossed the line and got dangerously close to their Father in Heaven.

Prime Minister Netanyahu ordered Knesset Speaker MK Yuli Edelstein to continue to prevent MKs and cabinet ministers from going up to the Temple Mount during this sensitive period, such sensitive period being defined as “always.”

The Prime Minister also directed that activity be increased against PA Arab incitement on social networks, including Facebook, with the goal of removing inflammatory content. He also instructed that a response team be established to refute disinformation about Israeli policy on the Temple Mount, such as the Jews are plotting to destroy the Al Aqsa mosque.

Netanyahu received an update on IDF operations and the reinforcement of units along the roads and inside Judea and Samaria communities.

Also participating in the meeting were Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, Israel Policy Deputy Inspector General Zohar Dvir, Jerusalem District Police Commander Yoram Halevy, the deputy Director of the ISA, an IDF representative and personnel from the National Security Council.

David Israel

Tefillah: A Meeting With Hashem – Are We Atheists In Foxholes?

Friday, September 2nd, 2016

“There are no atheists in foxholes,” goes the saying. When in dire straits, even the greatest non-believer will often admit that until now his life was a farce. He had denied G-d’s existence only because he wanted to live without any constraints – like an animal, without the burden of his conscience. Now, when he feels helpless, as shells explode around him and the angel of death ruthlessly snatches away his comrades, he raises his eyes in prayer to G-d, whom he just rediscovered.

We Torah-observant Jews are definitely light years ahead of that poor fellow. But in a certain way we are similar. Let us think about how we daven Shemoneh Esrei. We all try to concentrate, but it is difficult. Our mind wanders, and we daydream about countless topics. And before we know it, we find ourselves taking three steps back.

But if, chas v’sholom, a person is told by his doctors that he has a severe disease and needs to undergo intense medical treatment, his prayers take on new dimensions. Each word is said with emotion and feeling, because he knows that his life is on the line. And if his business is floundering, he pours his heart out during the blessing of Bareich Aleinu, and begs Hashem for help.

Sure, we are much better than the atheist who only sees the truth when it may be too late to start living a life of faith. But to a certain degree we also forget about Hashem when the sailing is smooth. How can we rectify the problem?


Foolish Complacency

This Shabbos is Rosh Chodesh Elul. In just thirty days it will be Rosh Hashanah, when Hashem will decide what will happen to us in the upcoming year – and sometimes the ruling can have an effect that will last for many years to come. Since we are judged based on our past performance, we should be quite terrified. But for some strange reason we are calm and complacent. Indeed, much ink has been spilled regarding this phenomenon: Just several generations ago, even the simple water carrier was terrified when Rosh Chodesh Elul arrived, but in our times, it is very difficult for us to truly be worried about our impending judgment.

One of the explanations given is that in those generations most people did not really know where their income would come from, nor whether there would be food available. And, at any moment, the gentiles could rise against the Jews with terrible pogroms and persecutions. Before the discovery of antibiotics, a simple cold could lead to deadly illnesses. The people living in those times truly understood that they were totally dependent on Hashem’s ongoing protection and kindness. Hence, the Yomim Noraim were truly scary days. But in our modern age, our livelihoods are relatively secure, we have doctors who can cure most ailments, and except for sporadic terrorist attacks, we feel more or less safe. Of course, in our hearts we know that everything we have is truly from Hashem, but those feelings are not enough of a reality in our daily lives. Thus, Rosh Hashanah does not have enough significance to us. What can we do to change our mindset?


The Poor “Rich” Man

The Gemara (Rosh Hashanah 16b) states: “Reb Yitzchok says that any year that is poor in the beginning will be rich in the end.” Rashi explains that “poor in the beginning” means that “Klal Yisroel makes themselves poor on Rosh Hashanah to utter supplications and pray, as it says in Mishlei (18:23) ‘A pauper utters supplications.’” On Rosh Hashanah we must turn to Hashem in prayer the same way a poor man asks people for help. Rav Matisyahu Salomon, the famed Mashgiach of Beis Medrash Gavoha in Lakewood, explains this with the following parable:

Everyone thought that Bob was fabulously wealthy. The estate that sprawled over several acres, the fabulous mansion, the numerous luxury cars, the private yacht and airplane – they all bespoke riches. Not to mention his downtown skyscrapers and countrywide chain of stores. But the truth was far from what the eye beheld. For the last three years Bob had suffered tremendous losses on all financial fronts. He desperately tried to bail himself out of the rut he had fallen into, but to no avail. The bank began warning him of seizures and foreclosures, until, one day, it came. “If you do not pay us the money you owe, in exactly three days we will seize all your assets and properties,” the letter from the bank stated. Without waiting a moment, Bob ran to the bank manager and literally went down on his knees. “Please, please, have mercy!” he pleaded. “If you take everything away I am finished! I have new plans which will definitely succeed! Give me a few more months to save myself!”

If a person foolishly feels that he is all set and does not need Hashem for anything, he will not view his life as being on the line. Entering Rosh Hashanah in such a manner is not very smart. We must consider the possibility that we are in exactly the same situation as our friend Bob. Yes, Baruch Hashem, we have health and parnasah, but perhaps it is all on credit! Maybe Hashem in His infinite kindness is giving us a chance to mend our ways – but at any moment He can decide that the time is up. And in truth, that is what happens every Rosh Hashanah. Just as the bank reevaluates its client’s credit ratings from time to time, so too, each year on this day, Hashem evaluates how we have acted until now. And then He decides to extend us credit, or, chas v’sholom, not to.

We must approach Hashem the same way that Bob beseeched the bank manager, and beg Him like a poor man. If we do so, says the Gemara, we will merit a good year. The more we show that we realize that we do not deserve anything, the more we will deserve mercy.


The Daily Foxhole

Let us return to our daily Shemoneh Esrei. One of the reasons we have so much trouble concentrating during a regular Shemoneh Esrei is the same reason we do not feel scared about Rosh Hashanah: We simply do not feel that we are in danger. But if we would think about all the people who suddenly lost their parnasah or health, we would change our mindset. All those cases teach us that nothing can be taken for granted. Then, every time we ask Hashem for health, we will do so as one who really needs a medical salvation, because we never really know if our good health is really just on credit.

We are better off than the atheist in the foxhole – his faith in Hashem is buried so deep that it requires a life-threatening situation to bring it to life. We, on the other hand, know the truth – we are just fast asleep. With a little thought, we can awaken ourselves, and show our true colors.

If we use these days of Elul to instill in ourselves the reality that one good year does not tell us anything about the coming year, by the time we reach Rosh Hashanah we will truly be able to pray to Hashem like a poor man does. And then, we will merit, b’ezras Hashem, having a happy sweet New Year.

Rabbi Eliezer M. Niehaus

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/tefillah-a-meeting-with-hashem-are-we-atheists-in-foxholes/2016/09/02/

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