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September 25, 2016 / 22 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘OLAM’

Tefillah: A Meeting With Hashem – E-ZPass To Olam Haba?

Friday, April 15th, 2016

Anyone who wants to avoid tollbooth lines knows that an E-ZPass device allows you to go through without any delays. And actually, on a recent trip I borrowed one and whizzed past the booth. Suddenly, I noticed a sign telling me to slow down to 15 MPH, but it was too late. A screen notification told me that my E-ZPass had not registered.

Hmm. Okay, I’ll be more careful at the next booth. When I reached tollbooth #3843, I made sure to creep through at 5 MPH, sure that this time the light would turn green. But to my chagrin that same gloomy message informed me that I could expect another fine in the mail. What did I do wrong this time, I wondered? Oh, my E-ZPass was sideways, so the sensor didn’t detect it. I began to realize that the E-ZPass is only e-z if you know how to use it.

This reminded me of the Gemara (Brachos 4b) that seems to offer an E-ZPass straight to Olam Haba. Rabi Yochanan said: “Who inherits the world to come? The one who follows the Geulah immediately with the tefillah.” At first glance it seems quite easy. I just have to start Shemoneh Esrei immediately after I say the blessing of “Ga’al Yisroel” and presto: Instant entry to Olam Haba! But this seems quite strange. We all know that good things take hard work – so how could someone become a “ben Olam Haba” through one small action?

Indeed, the students of Rabbeinu Yonah (Brachos, ibid.) ask this question and answer that only if one understands what he is doing will one receive this reward. Here is one of their explanations as to how it works: “When a person mentions the redemption from Egypt and then immediately turns to Hashem in prayer, he shows that he is putting his trust in Hashem through these prayers. One who does not place faith in his friend will not ask him for anything.”

Through this seemingly small action, a person shows that he trusts Hashem. Since this trust is the basis of all our service to Hashem, he has turned himself into a member of Olam Haba. Let us explain.

 

Three Seminars

It states in Parshas Ha’azinu (Devorim 32:11) that Hashem came “ke’nesher ya’ir kino – like an eagle arousing its nest.” The Vilna Gaon explains that this refers to the exodus from Egypt. During the days of enslavement, Klal Yisroel had emunah, but they were in a state of slumber. When a person is asleep, even if he is blessed with the greatest skills and talents, he is doing nothing. In order to entice the Jews to sin, the Egyptians offered a brief respite from the harsh labor and oppression to any Jew who agreed to worship idols. Many succumbed to the pressure until they eventually became complete idol worshippers.

Nevertheless, deep in their hearts, a spark of faith could still be found. Witnessing the ten plagues, that spark was fanned into a roaring flame of faith, and they woke up, until they actually lived based on that faith. How?

The Haggada states that Rabi Yehuda divided the ten plagues into three groups: Detzach, Adash, and Be’achab. The commentators explain that these three groups were in truth three different seminars in emunah. Each one began in Pharaoh’s secret riverside bathroom with an introductory lecture by Moshe, who explained the theme of that session. This was followed by the three plagues that taught that lesson.

The first seminar was to teach that Hashem is the master of the world and that there are no other powers. Therefore, Moshe began (Shemos 7:17), “Bezos teidah ki ani Hashem – Through this you will know that I am Hashem.” The Egyptians worshiped the Nile River as their source of life. When Hashem turned it into blood, He demonstrated that if He so desires, it can be a source of death. They saw the same when the Nile spewed out millions of frogs that wreaked havoc and made their lives miserable. And to prove that Moshe was not just a great sorcerer, Hashem turned every speck of dust into disgusting and painful lice. (Sorcery does not work on something smaller than barley.)

Rabbi Eliezer M. Niehaus

UK Chief Rabbi in First Ever Visit to India Stresses Social Responsibility

Thursday, January 7th, 2016

(JNi.media) On the first ever visit to India by a Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis expressed his support for the eradication of hunger and illiteracy. The Chief Rabbi visited Jewish aid and development organizations in Mumbai and Kolkata (formerly Calcutta).

“As Jews, we have a responsibility to ensure that, where possible, our charity extends beyond our own community to people who we may never meet but who are so deserving of our help,” Chief Rabbi Mirvis said, adding, “I call upon all Jews to recognize that responsibility, and will be using my experiences here to raise awareness about what more can be done in this sphere.”

During his visit to India, Chief Rabbi Mirvis visited Gabriel Project Mumbai (GPM) and Sundara, two Jewish organizations that work with underprivileged populations. GPM cares for vulnerable children living in slums and poor rural areas of India by attending to the Children’s education, health and nutrition; and Sundara’s mission is to reduce preventable, hygiene-related deaths by creating sustainable soap recycling programs for under-served populations around the world.

Both organizations are part of OLAM, a new initiative of the Alliance for Global Good, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, and Pears Foundation, designed to help advance the global Jewish service movement— a coalition of 40 organizations dedicated to promote, enhance and showcase the impact of Jewish organizations and individuals in the field of global volunteering, aid and development.

OLAM Executive Director Dyonna Ginsburg spoke about the importance of the Chief Rabbi’s visit and the impact of Jewish service, aid and development organizations in India and around the world, saying, “We are delighted that someone of the stature of Chief Rabbi Mirvis has placed the issue of social responsibility on the highest agenda, especially in the Jewish world. Our coalition partners do amazing work, often without much recognition in the broader Jewish community. The Chief Rabbi’s visit has been deeply affirming, demonstrating that their work is valued as a Jewish act.”

“At OLAM we firmly believe that Jewish tradition and historical experience has taught us to take responsibility, help make the world a better place and look after the stranger,” Ginsburg noted. “Today, as the world faces extraordinary and complex challenges, it is more important than ever to strengthen Jewish efforts to repair the world and to make the imperatives of Tzedek (Justice) and Tikkun Olam (Improving the world) central to Jewish identity and purpose.”

The Chief Rabbi also visited a project run by the Economic Rural Development Society, which is financially supported by Tzedek, another OLAM coalition partner.

JNi.Media

Israel’s Never Looked So Good

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

They all warned us. The geniuses at Peace Now. The brilliant diplomats. The think tanks. Even the Arab dictators warned us. For decades now, they have been warning us that if you want “peace in the Middle East,” just fix the Palestinian problem. A recent variation on this theme has been: Just get the Jews in the West Bank and East Jerusalem to “freeze” their construction, and then, finally, Palestinian leaders might come to the table and peace might break out.

And what would happen if peace would break out between Jews and Palestinians? Would all those furious Arabs now demonstrating on the streets of Cairo and across the Middle East feel any better? Would they feel less oppressed?

What bloody nonsense.

Has there ever been a greater abuse of the English language in international diplomacy than calling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict the “Middle East peace process?” As if there were only two countries in the Middle East.

Even if you absolutely believe in the imperative of creating a Palestinian state, you can’t tell me that the single-minded and global obsession with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the expense of the enormous ills in the rest of the Middle East hasn’t been idiotic, if not criminally negligent.

While tens of millions of Arabs have been suffering for decades from brutal oppression, while gays have been tortured and writers jailed and women humiliated and dissidents killed, the world has obsessed with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

As if Palestinians – the same coddled victims on whom the world has spent billions and who have rejected one peace offer after another – were the only victims in the Middle East.

As if the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has anything to do with the 1,000-year-old bloody conflict between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, or the desire of brutal Arab dictators to stay in power, or the desire of Islamist radicals to bring back the Caliphate, or the economic despair of millions, or simply the absence of free speech or basic human rights throughout the Arab world.

While self-righteous Israel bashers have scrutinized every flaw in Israel’s democracy – some waxing hysterical that the Jewish democratic experiment in the world’s nastiest neighborhood has turned into an embarrassment – they kept their big mouths shut about the oppression of millions of Arabs throughout the Middle East.

They cried foul if Israeli Arabs – who have infinitely more rights and freedoms than any Arabs in the Middle East – had their rights compromised in any way. But if a poet was jailed in Jordan or a gay man was tortured in Egypt or a woman was stoned in Syria, all we heard was screaming silence.

Think of the ridiculous amount of media ink and diplomatic attention that has been poured onto the Israel-Palestinian conflict over the years, while much of the Arab world was suffering and smoldering, and tell me this is not criminal negligence. Do you ever recall seeing a UN resolution or an international conference in support of Middle Eastern Arabs not named Palestinians?

Of course, now that the Arab volcano has finally erupted, all those chronic Israel bashers have suddenly discovered a new cause: Freedom for the poor oppressed Arabs of the Middle East!

Imagine if those Israel bashers, during all the years they put Israel under their critical and hypocritical microscope, had taken Israel’s imperfect democratic experiment and said to the Arab world: Why don’t you try to emulate the Jews?

Why don’t you give your people the same freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom to vote that Israel gives its people? And offer them the economic opportunities they would get in Israel? Why don’t you treat your Jewish citizens the same way Israel treats its Arab citizens?

Why don’t you study how Israel has struggled to balance religion with democracy – a very difficult but not insurmountable task?

Why don’t you teach your people that Jews are not the sons of dogs, but an ancient people with a 3,000-year connection to the land of Israel?

Yes, imagine if Israel bashers had spent a fraction of their energy fighting the lies of Arab dictators and defending the rights of millions of oppressed Arabs. Imagine if President Obama had taken one percent of the time he has harped on Jewish settlements to defend the democratic rights of Egyptian Arabs – which he is suddenly doing now that the volcano has erupted.

David Suissa

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/israels-never-looked-so-good/2011/02/09/

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