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September 27, 2016 / 24 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘mitzvah’

Yisrael Kristal to Celebrate Bar Mitzvah at 113

Thursday, September 15th, 2016

The world’s oldest Jewish man is about to celebrate his bar mitzvah, albeit a century late.

Yisrael Kristal has just turned 113 years old on the secular calendar on Thursday; but in two weeks he will also have his birthday on the Hebrew calendar. On THAT date, he will finally celebrate his bar mitzvah as well.

The supercentenarian was born to religious Jewish parents on September 15, 1903, in Maleniec, Końskie County near Żarnów, Poland, then part of the Russian Empire on September 15, 1903. His father was a Torah scholar who ensured he had a religious education, and as a result, he has remained religiously observant all his life. He attended a cheder at age three, where he studied Judaism and Hebrew. He learned Chumash (Five Books of Moses) at four and the Mishnah at six. In a 2012 interview, he recalled his father waking him at five in the morning to begin his religious instruction.

Documents from Polish archives showing him to have been a resident of Lodz in 1918 at age 15 proved his age to the Guinness World Records organization.

But tragedy struck early: His mother died when he was 10 years old, shortly after his father had been captured for the draft by the Imperial Russian Army, dying within months. By the time he turn 13, Mr. Kristal was living in a world gone mad, under the care of an uncle dealing with World War I.

He moved to Lodz after the war to work in the family confectionary business, according to his daughter, Shulamit Kuperstoch. But the Nazis invaded the city during World War II, turning the Jewish quarter into a ghetto. Mr. Kristal’s two children died in the Lodz Ghetto, and he and his wife Chaja Feige were sent to the Auschwitz death camp, where she died too.

But Mr. Kristal survived, weighing only 37 kilos (81 lb) when the camp was liberated. After regaining his strength, he made aliyah to Israel with his second wife Batsheva — also a Holocaust survivor — and their infant son, moving to Haifa, where he opened a candy store.

In two more weeks, his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and cousins and friends will all bless him as he celebrates Jewish manhood in the Jewish ritual that circumstances denied him a century ago. Mazel tov!

Hana Levi Julian

It’s My Opinion: Flying High At Bar Mitzvah Time

Monday, August 29th, 2016

My amazing grandson Jacob Abraham Benveniste has turned 13. His bar mitzvah was held recently and I am filled with gratitude to Hashem to be the grandmother of this incredible young man. Jacob’s affect is sweet, charming, and without drama. However, Jacob is so much more than the lighthearted veneer he can project. He is very smart. He is very determined. He is willing to work hard to accomplish his goals.

Jacob is a talented baseball player. Despite his grueling schedule of a dual-curriculum Jewish day school, he has remained on the local youth baseball team where he is the catcher. Every ball that comes his way is treated with the same effort and focus. Jacob gives each play his best.

Jacob is interested in aviation. His knowledge of aerodynamics is vast. He wants to be a pilot and I have no doubt he will succeed at his goal. He joined the Civil Air Patrol when he was 12 and has worked tirelessly through its daunting ranks. He earned the co-pilot seat on two flights and has actually steered and helped fly the plane.

The C.A.P. is a secular group and yet on several occasions its planned events have been changed because Jacob is shomer Shabbat and cannot attend on Saturdays. He has won the respect of his peers and officers. His presence is a Kiddush Hashem.

I offer my blessings to this wonderful bar mitzvah boy. Jacob, I wish you health and happiness and success in life. I hope and pray that no matter where life takes you, you will always go in the ways of Hashem and follow the path of Torah. I am proud to be your “baba.” Congratulations and fly high!

Mazel tov to the entire Rosenbluth and Benveniste families. May we be privileged to share many celebrations together.

Shelley Benveniste

Mitzvah Brings Mitzvah

Thursday, July 28th, 2016

Several years ago, my husband and I went to Israel for a close friend’s wedding – another Emunah contributor – Debbie Garfinkel Diament. It was her “last” child’s wedding and I changed my previously purchased ticket that I was using to travel to my father’s yahrzeit a week later, to travel to the wedding instead (a week earlier). I went to my father’s kever a few days earlier than his yahrzeit.

I was thrilled to go to a wedding in Israel and especially such an important one, as Debbie and I have been close friends for over 50 years. At the age of 18, Debbie and I decided to embark on a summer trip to Israel for eight weeks. This was our first Israel experience. We rented an apartment in Tel Aviv and saw the whole country while traveling around on buses and trains. This was the beginning of a beautiful and special friendship.

At the airport, upon our return, she proclaimed, “I plan to live in Israel one day im yirtzeh Hashem.” Somehow, though I loved being in Israel, I didn’t feel that way at all. Her desire was fulfilled many years ago. What a bracha!

After discussing wedding arrangements, I had asked Debbie to please arrange a ride for me to the wedding, as it was distant. She said to me, “The driver will be Carol and there will be a passenger in the car named Max, by himself, and please don’t ask him if he needs a shidduch (as I’m known to do), as he is married.”

The ride came, as promised, and I was on my way. I was in the back seat while Max and Carol were in the front. Never having seen Max’s face, I asked him, “Do you have any single friends?” This was for a close friend’s daughter. We talked a little and he called his friend Jonathan. After speaking to him by phone, he said he would be interested in meeting my friend’s daughter. I had never met Max or Jonathan at that point.

Well, to make a long story short, they now have two children, b”H, and are very happy living in Jerusalem.

For this shidduch, my friend had given me some money. Whatever a person gives me for a shidduch is sufficient. When I do get money, I like buying myself a piece of jewelry, so I remember not to use it for a bill, or other expenses. I purchased a colored stone bracelet, which I treasure. Every now and then a stone falls out or it needs some repair, and the jewelry shop is very accommodating.

My husband has been at one job for 44 years and was recently forced to retire. He was looking for a part time local job to keep occupied. One day, my bracelet needed some repair, so I visited this local jewelry store. I was conversing with the store owner, and he mentioned the company my husband was employed at, since we had discussed my husband’s place of employment in the past. I told the owner that my husband was now retired. Not even mentioning that he was seeking a part-time job, the owner responded, “I would like to meet your husband.”

A short time later, my husband was employed there in the capacity that he was looking for. He is now working there for over six months, and very happy with the arrangements. To me, this is nothing short of a miracle. My husband had been at other business ventures that didn’t work out. Lo and behold, who would have thought that through my shidduch a job would emerge.

Hashem is always placing us in the right place at the right time.

Esther Lehman Gross

Rebuke: The Malpractice Of A Mitzvah

Thursday, May 12th, 2016

When the Torah mentions the obligation to rebuke a fellow Jew, it ends with the words, “and do not bear a sin because of him” (Vayikra 19:17).

The Targum translates this as “and do not receive a punishment for his sin.”

According to the Targum, it appears that if Reuven ate a ham sandwich and I didn’t rebuke him, I would be punished for his sin. This seems difficult to understand. Why should I be punished for his sin? At most, you might argue that if I was capable of rebuking him and didn’t, I would be responsible for the sin of not rebuking him. But how do I become responsible for the sin he perpetrated? He transgressed it; I didn’t.

The answer to this question is based on understanding the connection one Jew has to another.

The Kli Yakar brings a mashol. Imagine a man who is on an ocean voyage. One morning, he hears a strange rattling sound coming from the cabin next to his. As the noise continues, he becomes more and more curious, until finally, he knocks on his neighbor’s door. When the door opens, he sees that his neighbor is drilling a hole in the side of the boat.

“What are you doing?” the man cries.

“Oh, I’m just drilling,” the neighbor answers simply.

Drilling?”

“Yes. I’m drilling a hole in my side of the boat.”

“Stop that!” the man says.

“But why?” asks the neighbor. “This is my cabin. I paid for it, and I can do what I want here.”

“No, you can’t! If you cut a hole in your side, the entire boat will go down.”

The nimshol is that the Jewish people is one entity. For a Jew to say, “What I do is my business and doesn’t affect anyone else,” is categorically false. My actions affect you, and your actions affect me – we are one unit. It is as if I have co-signed on your loan. If you default on your payments, the bank will come after me. I didn’t borrow the money but I am responsible. So too when we accepted the Torah together on Har Sinai, we became one unit, functioning as one people. If you default on your obligations, they come to me and demand payment. We are teammates, and I am responsible for your performance.

The Targum is teaching us the extent of that connection. What Reuven does directly affects me – not because I am nosy or a busybody, but because we are one entity, so much so that I am liable for what he does. If he sins and I could have prevented it, that comes back to me. A member of my team transgressed, and I could have stopped it from happening. If I did all that I could have to help him grow and shield him from falling, I have met my obligation and will not be punished. If, however, I could have been more concerned for his betterment and more involved in helping to protect him from harm and didn’t, I am held accountable for his sin.

This perspective is central to understanding why rebuke doesn’t work.

When Reuven goes over to Shimon and “gives it to him good,” really shows just what did wrong, the only thing accomplished is that now Shimon hates Reuven.

To properly fulfill the mitzvah of tochachah, there are two absolute requirements. The first relates to attitude, the second to method.

What’s My Intention?

When I go over to my friend to chastise him, the first question I must ask myself is, “What is my intention?”

Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier

Pope Says Catholics should not ‘Breed like Rabbits’

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

Catholics should be “responsible” parents and not “breed like rabbits,” Pope Francis commented to reporters while traveling from the Philippines Monday.

He still is against contraception and noted that the church has approved other ways to make sure there are not too many Bugs Bunny Catholics running around

“God gives you methods to be responsible,” he said, adding that natural birth control should be practiced by avoiding relations when a woman is able to conceive.

So much for the first mitzvah in the Bible, unless the Old Testament no longer exists for Catholics.

Jewish law takes a direct opposite approach and prohibits a man from even touching a woman when he is ritually impure and cannot conceive.

The pope is consistent his disregarding ancient texts. Not only did does he dismiss the first mitzvah, he also chose to use rabbits as his analogy instead of citing a Talmudic text in Berachot 22a, where rabbis teach that couples should take it easy on intimate relations and practice a bit of self-restraint and not act like “roosters.”

Maybe the pope prefers rabbits because they are not kosher.

The pope also lambasted “ideological colonization,” meaning countries conditioning aid to the promotion on birth control and permissiveness, if not encouragement, of homosexuality.

“Every people deserves to conserve its identity without being ideologically colonized,” Pope Francis said.

So it seems that the pope wants to encourage the holiness of family by restricting sexual relations, especially if it means having more children who can build more families.

But too much birth control has backfired in the past.

Isn’t the virgin Mary the mother of Catholicism?

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Mohel Urges New Dads to Help Make the Cut at Circumcision

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

Natan Zaidenweber thought the mohel was kidding. His wife, Linda Raab, thought it was some kind of religious formality and didn’t give it a second thought.

But the mohel, Cantor Philip Sherman, was serious. Though most fathers demur when he invites them to perform the bris on their sons by clipping their foreskin, preferring to delegate the task to someone professionally trained in the procedure, Sherman finds that about 5 or 10 percent of dads agree to do the cut.

“It is the father’s mitzvah to actually perform the bris as Abraham did for his son, Isaac,” Sherman said. “Many fathers have told me what an incredible moment it was for them to do the actual bris and enter their sons into the covenant of Abraham.”

The Mill Valley, Calif., couple realized the cantor wasn’t joking only once the ceremony was underway. Sherman began with a naming ceremony for Jay Hilay and his twin sister, Sivan Rose. Then he again offered Natan the option of making the cut.

The new dad stepped forward, and as his startled wife screamed his name in a tone that she says was intended to say, “Are you crazy?” a friend reassured her it would be easy.

“I then took a deep breath, surrendered to the faith I had in Phil and motioned that they had my blessing to proceed,” Raab said.

Sherman, who says he has performed more than 20,000 circumcisions, set up what was needed, gave the baby some sugar water, put a clamp in place and offered Zaidenweber some direction. Making the cut, Zaidenweber said, was a powerful bonding experience.

“I’m glad I did,” he said. “I’m glad I have that connection with my son. Your love is equal for both [twins], but it’s special that we have that bond.”

For Raab, too, the experience was a positive one. Sherman had told the gathering that a baby’s cry during a bris is like the sound of the shofar opening the gates of heaven.

“I closed my eyes, heard Jay’s cry and actually was able to experience it as deeply spiritual and beautiful,” Raab said, noting her pride that her husband took on the role.

“He stepped up, fearlessly, with a faith in himself that I wouldn’t have had in myself,” she said. “I have since been aware of how much his modeling has helped me to muster more courage as I face the tasks of mothering.”

If the couple were to have another son, would Zaidenweber make the snip again? Yes, say mom and dad, without hesitation.

JTA

The Day Netanyahu Helped an Old Man to Take Out the Trash

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

The following article was written by Daniel Estrin, published on PRI (Public Radio International) and disseminated by JTA.

Last Saturday, I was pruning some plants on the balcony of my fourth-floor apartment in Jerusalem when I tossed a dead leaf over the ledge and saw Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu standing below.

I was surprised. The prime minister’s official residence is just up the street, but he usually gets around by motorcade. It was the first time I had seen him walking around the block since he took office.

What surprised me more was why he (and his son and about 15 armed guards) had stopped below my building. He was on a Sabbath stroll in the neighborhood, wearing sneakers and a black shirt, and had stopped to help an old man take out the trash.

So the man lives next door, I thought to myself. It was the old man I always see shuffling around the neighborhood with a walker, the tongues of his Velcro shoes sticking up out of place. I always felt sorry, and worried, for him. Once, I helped him cross the street, but I never struck up a conversation.

And there was Netanyahu, chatting with the man for minutes. At one point, Netanyahu asked an aide for a notebook and pen, jotted something down, and pocketed the small piece of paper. [Netanyahu is not Sabbath observant – ed.]

He shook the old man’s hand, and left. And the old man shuffled back to his apartment, alone.

It took a whole week before I finally ran into the old man at the corner convenience store, and introduced myself.

Turns out the old man is not very old at all. Rami Yizraeli is only 69-years-old. A stroke left him barely able to walk, but it left his mind sharp.

Last Saturday, when he looked up to see Netanyahu standing before him, Yizraeli pounced on the unexpected one-on-one with the Israeli leader to share his greatest dream: to memorialize the 1,000 Jews, fighters and civilians, who were killed in Jerusalem in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war that led to the establishment of Israel as a state.

Many of those killed were never memorialized, Yizraeli said. Their names were not properly recorded on memorial plaques, and their families were never given proper compensation, as the Israeli government does with the families of war victims.

Working as a historian for the Ministry of Defense in the 1990s, Yizraeli scoured burial society archives, met with families and, with luck and coincidence, discovered the names of people who had been killed but never properly recorded and remembered. These included the two brothers who had arrived from Canada to fight in the war and the baker who was killed by a bomb while walking in the street. Thanks to Yizraeli’s sleuthing, numerous Israeli families began receiving government compensation.

His dream, he told Netanyahu, was to list those victims, whose names were now known, on a stone that commemorates the war and is displayed — but etched with no names — near Israel’s Supreme Court.

Netanyahu jotted down Yizraeli’s name and phone number on a piece of paper.

“Thank goodness I had remembered my new number,” Yizraeli said. And the very next morning, Netanyahu’s cabinet secretary phoned him, saying the matter was important to the government and that he was interested in implementing Yizraeli’s idea, and that they would be in touch.

His dream may come true — all because of a serendipitous encounter with a prime minister helping him take out the trash.

“My entire life has been about coincidence,” Yizraeli said to me on the bench, and smiled.

JTA

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/the-day-netanyahu-helped-an-old-man-to-take-out-the-trash/2013/12/04/

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