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September 26, 2016 / 23 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘middle’

Q & A: Chazzan And Congregation (Part VIII)

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

Question: I understand that at a minyan, the chazzan is required to repeat Shmoneh Esreh out loud so that people who may not know how to daven can fulfill their obligation to daven with the chazzan’s repetition. What, however, should the chazzan do when he reaches Kedushah and Modim? I hear some chazzanim say every word of Kedushah out loud and some only say the last part of the middle two phrases out loud. As far as the congregation is concerned, I hear some congregants say every word of Kedushah and some say only the last part. Finally, some chazzanim and congregants say Modim during chazaras hashatz out loud and some say it quietly. What is the source for these various practices?

A Devoted Reader
(Via E-Mail)

Answer: The Shulchan Aruch Harav (Orach Chayim 124:1) explains that a chazzan repeats Shmoneh Esreh out loud to fulfill the prayer obligation of those who can’t pray on their own (see Rosh Hashana 33b-34a).

The Mechaber (Orach Chayim 125:1) states that congregants should not recite Nakdishach [Nekadesh] together with the chazzan; rather they should remain silent and concentrate on the chazzan’s recitation until he finishes that portion, at which point they should say, “Kadosh, kadosh…” The Mishnah Berurah (ad loc. sk1) explains that congregants should remain quiet because the chazzan is their messenger, and if they say Nakdishach along with him, he no longer appears as their messenger.

Many do not follow the correct responsive procedure for Kedushah, and since the practice is widespread, it may have to be overlooked (Berachot 45a). If the congregants will miss z’man tefillah, however, the Rema (Orach Chayim 124:2) writes that they should quietly recite along with the chazzan until after Kedushah. At least one person who already prayed, even a child, should answer “Amen” to the chazzan’s blessings to substantiates the shlichut of the chazzan. Those praying with the chazzan may not respond “Amen.”

Another prayer style when time is pressing is as follows: The chazzan begins the Amidah, and after “HaKel HaKadosh,” everyone begins their silent Amidah (while the chazzan continues quietly with his own Amidah). (See Mishnah Berurah, Orach Chayim 124 sk8.) This procedure is commonly performed for Mincha, especially in yeshivot.

The tefillah of Modim within the Amidah is so important that Berachot 21b instructs one who arrives late (after kedushah, explains Orach Chayim 109:1) to begin praying only if he will conclude before the chazzan reaches Modim. The Mishnah Berurah (sk2) notes that this applies to a latecomer in middle of birkat keriat Shema attempting to catch up to the minyan and debating whether he should start his personal Amidah after the congregants have started theirs. Tosafot explain that one must bow with the congregation at Modim in order that he not appear as a denier of G-d to whom they are praying (see Rabbenu Tam, Tosafot s.v. “ad sh’lo yagia…” Berachot 21b).

Modim D’Rabbanan is discussed in the Gemara in Sotah. Rav offers a text to recite for Modim and Shmuel, R. Simai, and R. Acha b. R.Yaakov all add more verses to recite. R. Papa says to recite them all – hence the name “Modim D’Rabbanan,” the Modim of (all) the Sages. Our Modim text also includes additions by sages listed in the Jerusalem Talmud (Berachot 1:5).

Rabbi Soloveitchik (as cited in Nefesh Horav by Rabbi Herschel Schachter, p. 128-129) notes that the congregation must listen to Modim of the chazzan. Rabbi Soloveitchick acknowledges the similarity between the recitation of Modim D’Rabbanan and the practice of reciting pesukim during Birkat Kohanim, discussed in Sotah 39b-40a. He cites R. Chanina b. R. Pappa, who argued against doing so, as does the Tur (Orach Chayim 128). Others favor the practice. Rabbi Soloveitchick suggested that the chazzan recite the beginning of Modim out loud, pause for the congregants’ Modim D’Rabbanan, and then continue with his Modim blessing out loud.

Sefer Kol Bo (siman 11, hilchot tefillah) points out that the gematria of Modim equals 100, corresponding to the 100 blessings that a Jew is required to say every day (Mechaber, Orach Chayim 46:3, also see Tur ad loc. who attributes this enactment to King David). I pointed out that the number of words in the opening paragraph of Modim added to the number of words in Modim D’Rabbanan (Nusach Sefard, exclusive of the concluding blessing) also yields the number 100. These gematriyos hint at the importance and efficacy of reciting Modim.

Rabbi Yaakov Klass

Q & A: Chazzan And Congregation (Part VII)

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

Question: I understand that at a minyan, the chazzan is required to repeat Shmoneh Esreh out loud so that people who may not know how to daven can fulfill their obligation to daven with the chazzan’s repetition. What, however, should the chazzan do when he reaches Kedushah and Modim? I hear some chazzanim say every word of Kedushah out loud and some only say the last part of the middle two phrases out loud. As far as the congregation is concerned, I hear some congregants say every word of Kedushah and some say only the last part. Finally, some chazzanim and congregants say Modim during chazaras hashatz out loud and some say it quietly. What is the source for these various practices?

A Devoted Reader
(Via E-Mail)

Answer: The Shulchan Aruch Harav (Orach Chayim 124:1) explains that a chazzan repeats Shmoneh Esreh out loud to fulfill the prayer obligation of those who can’t pray on their own (see Rosh Hashana 33b-34a).

The Mechaber (Orach Chayim 125:1) states that congregants should not recite Nakdishach [Nekadesh] together with the chazzan; rather they should remain silent and concentrate on the chazzan’s recitation until he finishes that portion, at which point they should say, “Kadosh, kadosh…” The Mishnah Berurah (ad loc. sk1) explains that congregants should remain quiet because the chazzan is their messenger, and if they say Nakdishach along with him, he no longer appears as their messenger.

Many do not follow the correct responsive procedure for Kedushah, and since the practice is widespread, it may have to be overlooked (Berachot 45a). If the congregants will miss z’man tefillah, however, the Rema (Orach Chayim 124:2) writes that they should quietly recite along with the chazzan until after Kedushah. At least one person who already prayed, even a child, should answer “Amen” to the chazzan’s blessings to substantiates the shlichut of the chazzan. Those praying with the chazzan may not respond “Amen.”

Another prayer style when time is pressing is as follows: The chazzan begins the Amidah, and after “HaKel HaKadosh,” everyone begins their silent Amidah (while the chazzan continues quietly with his own Amidah). (See Mishnah Berurah, Orach Chayim 124 sk8.) This procedure is commonly performed for Mincha, especially in yeshivot.

The tefillah of Modim within the Amidah is so important that Berachot 21b instructs one who arrives late (after kedushah, explains Orach Chayim 109:1) to begin praying only if he will conclude before the chazzan reaches Modim. The Mishnah Berurah (sk2) notes that this applies to a latecomer in middle of birkat keriat Shema attempting to catch up to the minyan and debating whether he should start his personal Amidah after the congregants have started theirs. Tosafot explain that one must bow with the congregation at Modim in order that he not appear as a denier of G-d to whom they are praying (see Rabbenu Tam, Tosafot s.v. “ad sh’lo yagia…” Berachot 21b).

Modim D’Rabbanan is discussed in the Gemara in Sotah. Rav offers a text to recite for Modim and Shmuel, R. Simai, and R. Acha b. R.Yaakov all add more verses to recite. R. Papa says to recite them all – hence the name “Modim D’Rabbanan,” the Modim of (all) the Sages. Our Modim text also includes additions by sages listed in the Jerusalem Talmud (Berachot 1:5).

We now continue with an important observation by the gaon Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchick, zt”l.

* * * * *

Rabbi Soloveitchik (as cited in Nefesh Harav by Rabbi Herschel Schachter, p. 128-129) notes that the congregation should say Modim D’Rabbanan and also listen to the entire Modim of the chazzan. This position is similar to that of several Amora’im who maintain that congregants should recite pesukim during Birkat Kohanim in addition to listening to the kohanim.

Not all sages, however, agree with this position. In Sotah 39b-40a, R. Chanina b. R. Pappa asks, “Is it possible that a servant is being blessed and he does not listen?” The Tur (Orach Chayim 128) adopts this standpoint and states that congregants should not say any pesukim while the kohanim are blessing them because, if they do, they will be unable to concentrate fully on Birkat Kohanim.

Rabbi Soloveitchick reasons that the same logic applies to the recitation of Modim D’Rabbanan. Even if the chazzan says his Modim very loudly, congregants will still find it impossible to both listen to the chazzan and concentrate on their own recitation of Modim D’Rabbanan. Therefore, in his synagogue in Boston as well as at Yeshiva University, Rabbi Soloveitchick instituted that the chazzan recite the beginning of Modim in a loud voice and then pause somewhat to allow the congregation time to recite Modim D’Rabbanan. The chazzan would then continue with his Modim out loud.

Now, if saying Modim D’Rabbanan causes such difficulties, why say it altogether? After all, many authorities rule that we should not say pesukim during Birkat Kohanim. Why should Modim D’Rabbanan be different?

To answer this, we have to take a better look at the Gemara’s question in Sotah 40a: “At the time that the chazzan recites Modim, what does the congregation say?” We should wonder why the Gemara only asks this question about Modim. Why doesn’t it ask, for example, what the congregation says during the berachah of Techiyat Hameitim, Ata Chonen, or Shema Kolenu? Why does the Gemara assume that the congregation should say something during Modim when none of the other blessings of chazarat hashatz have a corresponding prayer?

The Abudarham (Seder Shacharit shel Chol, p.115) resolves our difficulty. He states: “And when the chazzan reaches Modim [in his repetition] and bows, all the congregation bow [as well] and recite their “hoda’ah ketana – small thanks” [i.e. Modim D’Rabbanan]…because it is not proper for a servant to praise his [human] master and tell him, ‘You are my lord,’ by means of a shliach (messenger). [How much more so when the recipient of praise is Hashem.] Rather, every person has to express with his own voice his acceptance of the yoke of the Heavenly Kingdom upon himself. If he accepts via a messenger, it is not a complete acceptance, as he can always deny that acceptance and say ‘I never sent him as my agent.’

“However,” the Abudarham continues, “as regards to the rest of the [blessings in the Amidah that the chazzan recites aloud], which is supplication, one can request one’s needs via a messenger because every person seeks that which benefits him. Thus, he will not deny and say, ‘I never sent him [as my messenger].’ ”

The Sefer Kol Bo (Siman 11, Hilchot Tefillah) interestingly points out that the gematria of the word Modim equals 100. This corresponds to the 100 blessings one is required to say each day (Mechaber, Orach Chayim 46:3; also, see Tur ad loc. who attributes this enactment to King David). We thus see an allusion to the additional efficacy of Modim.

If I may, I might add the following. If one adds the number of words in the opening paragraph of Modim to the number of words in Modim D’Rabbanan (nusach sefard, exclusive of the chatimah, “Baruch E-l Ha’hoda’ot”) one arrives at that same number of 100. Thus, it would seem that the efficacy of this blessing enjoys even further enhancement when the prayers of the chazzan and the yachid are combined.

As we thank Him for all His munificence, we hope and pray that Hashem answer all our supplications.

(To be continued)

Rabbi Yaakov Klass, rav of Congregation K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush, Brooklyn, is Torah Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at yklass@jewishpress.com.

Rabbi Yaakov Klass

“There Ain’t No More Middle-Ground”

Sunday, July 1st, 2012

http://sultanknish.blogspot.co.il/2012/06/there-aint-no-more-middle-ground.html

“There is no more neutrality in the world,” said Black Panther leader, civil rights activist and fun-loving rapist; Eldridge Cleaver. “You either have to be part of the solution, or you’re going to be part of the problem– there ain’t no more middle ground.”

We live in Eldridge Cleaver’s world now, a world with no more middle ground. Where not doing anything does not mean you will be left alone. This is no longer a nation founded on the curious premise that the government should leave people alone unless they are causing problems.

That peculiar idea was held by a nation of farmers and merchants who fled religious persecution, and whose great contribution to human history was the notion that governments shouldn’t be all-powerful and that everyone should mind their own business when it comes to other people’s affairs. Our present-day rulers revile them as racist slave owners who only cared about money, but they also happen to be racist slave owners who only care about money, and they have far more of both.

The average American still holds the fanciful belief that, if he isn’t annoying anyone, he should be left alone. To the people running his country, this is as bizarre and unworkable as Phrenology or the Geocentric theory or handing out universal health care without also compelling everyone to buy it.

This is not a nation where people are left alone anymore. This is a nation where they are hounded from the moment they are born until the moment they die by the arms of a regulatory state run by men and women weaned on Cleaver, Alinsky, Fourier, Marx, Wells and countless others. This is a nation, where accordingly, being left alone is the greatest of luxuries.

It takes a lot of money to be left alone. Regulatory space is much more expensive than physical space, and buying it requires investing in lobbyists, fundraisers and lawyers. If you make the right payoffs, then you can buy the privilege of being left alone, exempted from regulations, going uninspected and protected against the agents of the state. But once you do that, you are no longer neutral. You have bought yourself the privilege of not being considered the problem; instead, you have become part of the solution for the people you are paying off.

The Americans bushwacked by ObamaCare, the scam artist’s dream of a tax paid to a third-party in exchange for benefits accrued to a fourth party, still thought they had the freedom to take the middle, to despise meddling politicians in both parties, ignore most things the government did, while living their own lives. They had seen their savings devalued, their homes seized, their lives bedeviled by a thousand regulations, but they still thought that it was possible to take a middle-ground, to reject the solutions by asserting that they are not the problem.

They did not understand that in Cleaverland, in Alinskytown and in Obamaville– no one opts out. Either you volunteer or you get drafted. Raise your hand or you will be called on anyway. Not volunteering to be part of their agenda means that you are the problem.

You, sitting right there in your chair, watching these words move across your screen, are the problem. A problem 311,591,917 human souls strong. You eat too much or you don’t pay enough taxes, you drive your car too often, you haven’t bought solar panels for your roof, you browse ‘extremist’ websites when you should be browsing government informational sites for tips on how to do or not do all of the above. But most of all… you still don’t understand what a great problem you are for the people running this country into the ground between the Atlantic and the Pacific. They keep trying to solve you, but you don’t go away.

There is no neutrality when dealing with people who reject the very concept of neutrality. Who draw everyone into the long columns of their spreadsheets and catch everyone in their spider’s web. There is no middle ground with people who don’t believe there is a middle ground, who believe that every human on earth is part of the problem and can only opt out of being the problem by joining up with them and following their directives.

Daniel Greenfield

Audiologist in Training Writes

Friday, June 29th, 2012

It’s time for finals and I’ve been studying hard for all of my exams. My favorite class this semester was audiology, and studying more about the field has solidified my decision to pursue audiology as a career.

In the beginning, we focused mostly on the anatomy of the auditory structures. Not just the outer ear – the one people get pierced or make fun of if it sticks out too much – but also the middle and inner ear. The middle ear contains the three tiniest bones in your body. They magnify sounds from the outside and transfer the mechanical signals into the inner ear and the cochlea. The cochlea contains the fluid that stays in contact with thousands of little hair cells, which are connected to nerve ending. This is where the sound wave – mechanical signals – are made into electrical signals and carried to the auditory processing portions of the brain.

Learning about the normal chain of events that happens automatically to make you hear is inspiring to begin with. And that’s before you begin to consider the vestibular system that controls your sense of balance, and which can be extremely debilitating when impaired. Just ask anyone who has ever experienced vertigo!

In our recent unit I learned about the myriad of things that could go wrong and the disorders related to ear function. There are conditions relating every area that should be opened and for when they are closed. For example, otic atresia, a narrow or malformed ear canal; patulous or chronically open eustachian tube, which regulates middle ear pressure; perforation of the tympanic membrane or ear drum – just to name a few. Otosclerosis, the leading cause of hearing loss in adults, occurs when the smallest of the tiny bones, the stapes, is immobilized and can’t pass on the vibration messages as it’s should.

Reciting the blessing of Asher Yatzar after using the restroom is a way of giving thanks for our digestive health and overall bodily functioning. Saying Asher Yatzar becomes automatic for many, but if we do give it a moment’s thought, let’s keep in mind our miraculous ability to hear together with all the heart valve and digestive openings and closings too!

Lilach Gez

Q & A: Chazzan And Congregation (Part VI)

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

Question: I understand that at a minyan, the chazzan is required to repeat Shmoneh Esreh out loud so that people who may not know how to daven can fulfill their obligation to daven with the chazzan’s repetition. What, however, should the chazzan do when he reaches Kedushah and Modim? I hear some chazzanim say every word of Kedushah out loud and some only say the last part of the middle two phrases out loud. As far as the congregation is concerned, I hear some congregants say every word of Kedushah and some say only the last part. Finally, some chazzanim and congregants say Modim during chazaras hashatz out loud and some say it quietly. What is the source for these various practices?

A Devoted Reader
(Via E-Mail)

Answer: The Shulchan Aruch Harav (Orach Chayim 124:1) explains that a chazzan repeats Shmoneh Esreh out loud to fulfill the prayer obligation of those who can’t pray on their own (see Rosh Hashana 33b-34a).

The Mechaber (Orach Chayim 125:1) states that congregants should not recite Nakdishach [Nekadesh] together with the chazzan; rather they should remain silent and concentrate on the chazzan’s recitation until he finishes that portion, at which point they should say, “Kadosh, kadosh…” The Mishnah Berurah (ad loc. sk1) explains that congregants should remain quiet because the chazzan is their messenger, and if they say Nakdishach along with him, he no longer appears as their messenger.

In Sefer Abudarham Hashalem (p. 73-74), Rabbi David Abudarham (1258-1295) states that Nakdishach [Nekadesh] and the like [Keter – Na’aritzach] are devarim she’b’kedushah (matters involving sanctifying Hashem) and require a quorum for recital while the kedushah of Yotzer Ohr and U’va Letziyyon may be said without a quorum. He confirms this as being noted in siddurim of his time. He explains that the latter kedushot refute those who deny G-d’s presence in the world by relating how all creation praises Him. The former kedushot are joint offers of praise with the angels (Rabbi Emden in his Siddur Beit Yaakov).

Many do not follow the correct responsive procedure for Kedushah, and since the practice is widespread, it may have to be overlooked (Berachot 45a). If the congregants will miss z’man tefillah, however, the Rema (Orach Chayim 124:2) writes that they should quietly recite along with the chazzan until after Kedushah. At least one person who already prayed, even a child, should answer “Amen” to the chazzan’s blessings to substantiates the shelichut of the chazzan. Those praying with the chazzan may not respond “Amen.”

Another prayer style when time is pressing is as follows: The chazzan begins the Amida, and after “HaKel HaKadosh,” everyone begins their silent Amidah (while the chazzan continues quietly with his own Amida). (See Mishnah Berurah, Orach Chayim 124 sk8.) This procedure is commonly performed for Mincha, especially in yeshivot.

The tefillah of Modim within the Amida is so important that Berachot 21b instructs one who arrives late (after kedushah, explains Orach Chayim 109:1) to begin praying only if he will conclude before the chazzan reaches Modim. The Mishnah Berurah (sk2) notes that this applies to a latecomer in middle of birkat keriat Shema attempting to catch up to the minyan and debating whether he should start his personal Amida after the congregants have started theirs. Tosafot explain that one must bow with the congregation at Modim in order that he not appear as a denier of G-d to whom they are praying (see Rabbenu Tam, Tosafot s.v. “ad sh’lo yagia…” Berachot 21b).

This week we direct our attention to Modim D’Rabbanan.

* * * * *

Modim D’Rabbanan is referred to in the Gemara in Sotah. The Gemara asks: “At the time that the chazzan recites Modim, what does the congregation say? Rav said: ‘Modim anachnu lach Hashem Elokeinu al she’anu modem lach – We give thanks to You Hashem, our G-d because we [are able – Rashi] to give thanks to You.’ Shmuel added [see Rashi, who says that each of the sages enumerated in this Gemara added to the praise of the one previously cited]: ‘Elokei kol bosor al she’anu Modim lach – G-d of all flesh, since we give You thanks.” R. Simai added: ‘Yotzreinu yotzer bereishit al she’anu modem lach – Our Creator and the Creator of [all in] the beginning.’

Rabbi Yaakov Klass

Q & A: Chazzan And Congregation (Part V)

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

Question: I understand that at a minyan, the chazzan is required to repeat Shmoneh Esreh out loud so that people who may not know how to daven can fulfill their obligation to daven with the chazzan’s repetition. What, however, should the chazzan do when he reaches Kedushah and Modim? I hear some chazzanim say every word of Kedushah out loud and some only say the last part of the middle two phrases out loud. As far as the congregation is concerned, I hear some congregants say every word of Kedushah and some say only the last part. Finally, some chazzanim and congregants say Modim during chazaras hashatz out loud and some say it quietly. What is the source for these various practices?

A Devoted Reader
(Via E-Mail)

Answer: The Shulchan Aruch Harav (Orach Chayim 124:1) explains that a chazzan repeats Shmoneh Esreh out loud to fulfill the prayer obligation of those who can’t pray on their own (see Rosh Hashana 33b-34a).

The Mechaber (Orach Chayim 125:1) states that congregants should not recite Nakdishach [Nekadesh] together with the chazzan; rather they should remain silent and concentrate on the chazzan’s recitation until he finishes that portion, at which point they should say, “Kadosh, kadosh…” The Mishnah Berurah (ad loc. sk1) explains that congregants should remain quiet because the chazzan is their messenger, and if they say Nakdishach along with him, he no longer appears as their messenger.

In Sefer Abudarham Hashalem (p. 73-74), Rabbi David Abudarham (1258-1295) states that Nakdishach [Nekadesh] and the like [Keter – Na’aritzach] are devarim she’b’kedushah (matters involving sanctifying Hashem) and require a quorum for recital while the kedushah of Yotzer Ohr and U’va Letziyyon may be said without a quorum. He confirms this as being noted in siddurim of his time. He explains that the latter kedushot refute those who deny G-d’s presence in the world by relating how all creation praises Him. The former kedushot are joint offers of praise with the angels (Rabbi Emden in his Siddur Beit Yaakov).

Many do not follow the correct responsive procedure for Kedushah, and since the practice is widespread, it may have to overlooked (Berachot 45a). If the congregants will miss z’man tefillah, however, the Rema (Orach Chayim 124:2) writes that they should quietly recite along with the chazzan until after Kedushah. At least one person who already prayed, even a child, should answer “Amen” to the chazzan’s blessings to substantiates the shelichut of the chazzan. Those praying with the chazzan may not respond “Amen.”

Another prayer style when time is pressing is as follows: The chazzan begins the Amida, and after “HaKel HaKadosh,” everyone begins their silent Amidah (while the chazzan continues quietly with his own Amida). (See Mishnah Berurah, Orach Chayim 124 sk8.) This procedure is commonly performed for Mincha, especially in yeshivot.

This week, we turn to Modim.

* * * * *

The tefillah of Modim is so important that we find the following in the Gemara (Berachot 21b): “R. Huna stated, ‘A person who enters a synagogue and finds the congregation in the midst of prayer [the silent Amida] should pray if he is able to begin and conclude [the Amida] before the chazzan reaches Modim. However, if he will not be able to [conclude before the chazzan reaches Modim] he should not pray.’ ”

The Mechaber (Orach Chayim 109:1) codifies this halacha as follows: “A person who one enters [a synagogue] after kedushah should pray if he is able to begin and conclude before the chazzan reaches Modim. However, if he will not be able to do so, he should not pray” (emphasis added).

The Mechaber’s citation takes into account the view of R. Yehoshua b. Levi (Berachot 21b, infra) that only if a latecomer is able to commence and conclude in time to recite Kedushah may he begin his Amida. Therefore, when talking about Modim, the Mechaber frames the question in terms of someone arriving after Kedushah has already been said. That person must quickly assess whether, in that short time span, he will have sufficient time to begin and conclude his Amida in time to recite Modim with the congregation. (Of course, if this person will miss z’man tefillah by waiting, he should, without hesitation, immediately begin saying his own Amida.)

Rabbi Yaakov Klass

Tomorrow 2012 – Inspiration

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

I went to the President’s Conference in Jerusalem today – it’s a three day conference for thousands of people with big-name speakers…and some surprises. I heard a lot of people, saw a lot…whatever. I want to write about some of them in the next few posts. Some annoyed me, some impressed me, one inspired me today.

There were several very moving speeches but by far, the most inspiring was Keren Leibovitch. She came to the stage moments after Dr. Ruth and Yossi Vardi left. The ever-efficient staff of the convention center quickly came out and removed the chairs, a small table and flowers. And then, Keren wheeled herself out onto the middle of the stage.

She introduced herself and then turned sideways to face the back projection wall and asked them to run a video. I could start the way she did – by showing it (if I could find it). She told us how old she was…or I think she did. But more importantly, she told us that she’d spent 3 years in a hospital after being injured during her army service and during that time, her ambitions were focused on getting home and learning to move around with a cup of coffee. Injured is a ridiculous term here, actually. She suffered massive damage to her back, leaving her 90% paralyzed in her legs. The inspiration comes from realizing that despite her injuries, she chooses to live, to strive, to challenge and challenge again. She is married and has a set of twins that are about 4 years old…and another set of twins that are about 2 years old – all boys, she explained with a smile…all boys.

Keren is an inspiration because, as she said, she has learned that failure is only a step towards success. She asked everyone, “please do not be afraid of failing. It is the step you take to success. I am the best in the world for what I do.” And for who she is – a true inspiration.

Keren is an Olympic gold medalist…several times over. She won three gold medals for Israel in 2000 in the Sydney Paralympics, and more four years later in Athens. While all the other athletes were able to stand and dive into the pool, gaining that extra momentum, Keren had to push off the wall because she is unable to stand. She won the first gold, won the second, and won the third because she believed in herself. Oh, and she didn’t just win – she broke a world record (twice in that one day…first in the morning in practice, and then again during the actual competition).

Inspiration.

Paula R. Stern

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