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November 29, 2014 / 7 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘person’

Rocket Attack from Gaza (Video)

Sunday, November 18th, 2012

This is the beautiful city of Shderot – it’s a quiet town filled with people who want the quieter life. They have been under attack for 12 years and counting. When they hear either an air raid siren or the announcement “Color Red” – they know they have 15 seconds to get to safety.

On Friday, it took us at least 15 seconds to move everyone from the dining room to the bomb shelter. 15 seconds. It’s taken you longer to read to this point in the post.

This is a video, taken yesterday by someone who was not very smart. I don’t want others to do the same and yet, it’s a wonderful opportunity to let you feel what it is like. Imagine your eyes were like the camera – searching the skies, looking, waiting. You know it is coming…and then the BOOM…that is so loud, the shock knocks the person down and we lose the picture – and then it comes back…look at two things at the end of the short clip.

First, look at how close it is to this person and second, notice that it is in the middle of a city. There is no military installation there – just a city, just people, who want to live in a quiet city that because of Gaza, hasn’t been really quiet in 12 years.

Visit A Soldier’s Mother.

What Were They Thinking?

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

Sometimes you just have to wonder, “What were they thinking?” My wife and I speak on marriage-related topics to variant crowds. We know what we’re going to say, but we have no idea what the audience may offer. So, when we speak publicly, before we open the floor to comments or questions (which we welcome), we always preface with a cautionary word not to make any personal or disparaging remarks about one’s spouse.

Nobody wants his or her dirty laundry aired out in public. And no one wants the neighbors to be privy to his or her intimate goings-on.

A woman who attended one of my wife’s lecture series on enhancing marital harmony serves as a perfect example of the damage a few misplaced comments, delivered at the speed of sound, can cause. This (until then) respected woman aired it out in staccato fashion, spilling enough beans to render a public flogging of her soul mate. My wife cut her off as soon as possible but it was too late; her unexpected comments left the audience, who happened to be neighbors and friends from the community, aghast.

Why do that? Why let the genie out of the bottle? Once he’s out, you can’t put him back in. And even if you could, it won’t help much.

A story is told of the chassidic master, Reb Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev. Someone once came to him after having spoken lashon hara (slander). The person asked forgiveness. Reb Levi Yitzchak instructed the penitent to take a down pillow to the town square, open it and shake out all the feathers. The person did so and returned to the rav, who promptly said “Now, go back to the town square and gather up all the feathers.” The person asked incredulously, “How can I ever do that?” Reb Levi Yitzchak retorted, “That’s what happens when you speak libelously about another. Like you can never gather up all the feathers, you can never repair all the damage.”

On a speaking tour in New York, a rabbi related a very sad story of a couple who had previously attended marital counseling. During one of their visits, the psychologist encouraged the husband to open up and share his true feelings with his wife. The husband, fortified by the psychologist’s advice, or under his protective wing, told his wife that she was ugly, he never found her attractive and that her lack of beauty has always been a sore spot for him. He finished by telling her that he never really understood how he could have married her. (It was not a case of adding a touch of make-up…)

Needless to say, the wife was devastated. Imagine her hurt. No matter what he says or does in the future, he will never rectify the terrible damage he caused. Does anyone think flowers or chocolates will repair the destruction left in the wake of “just telling it like it is”? With such pain in her heart, will it ever be possible for them to attain true marital harmony? Simply because the therapist encourages a person to “let go” doesn’t mean that therapist is correct or that one must listen.

It reminds me of the 45-year-old man who went to a psychologist because he suffered incontinence problems; wetting even during the day, which caused him terrible embarrassment. After six months of counseling, the psychologist proudly announced, “Well, we’ve successfully cured one problem; you’re no longer embarrassed by soiling yourself. Now we only have to work on your incontinence.”

When we sit down with a couple, one of the first instructions we give them is the following: “We’re here to help but remember, when you walk out that door, it’s just the two of you. You’re going home with your spouse. You two have to live with the consequences of what you say here. Think before you make any statement and do not deceive yourselves into thinking this is the forum to even scores. Neither cruelty nor unbridled ignorance has any place here. No one comes here to destroy his or her marriage. Your goal and our goal is one; to improve your marriage.”

Thinking before speaking is key.

Rockets Injure 3 in Sderot

Sunday, November 11th, 2012

Radio Darom (South) reports that 3 people in Sderot were injured from shrapnel from a rocket launch. The injuries are listed as light to moderate.

A 4th person has been injured, but no details are available yet.

At least 10 rockets were launched at Sderot between 7:55 AM and 8:15 AM on Sunday morning.

Click here for the longer list of rocket launches from Gaza.

Hashem’s Power

Friday, November 9th, 2012

On October 29th, the verdict was revealed
As we faced what was destined as the Din was sealed
With a storm that echoed the words we know to be true
of B’Rosh Hashanah Yikaseivu.

We saw the power of wind, the power of a rain
A power that some had mockingly thought to be inane
A power destined to show itself and let out its wrath
To destroy houses, alarm cities, and clear everything in its path.

It shook full-force upon the neighborhoods that experienced its fury
And left no family in vulnerable areas without question or worry
The sea reached the consumed towns, as though struck by His rod
Turning all of our established places left to nearly an esplanade.

It thundered and damaged without stoppage or yield
Leaving no stone unturned, not a crop in the field.
Through its insatiable storm, its rush and its wind
A work He had predestined and didn’t wish to rescind.

Many mocked its prediction, denied the truth
Of that which effected all from the elderly to the youth
We underestimated its severity, yet soon saw the waters
Upon our tunnels, our houses, our sons and our daughters.

Flooding our highways, flooding New York
Leaving mouths gaped in horror at the magnitude of its torque
It left all religions and races with respect and with awe
From experiencing something so mighty like the world has never saw.

‘Twas a work of only His hand, His might, His word
That shook up each person, each animal, each bird
Stabbing and damaging, as though a loose pack of knives
And taking along with it so many lives.

We saw a power so strong; a force that’s so vast
An overturning exertion poured upon us so fast
Something so unimaginative; something so odd
A clear indication of fury from the hand of G-d.

Reality Threat

Monday, November 5th, 2012

The following is a partial list of things I always knew I would never be good at:

1) Math 2) Creative writing 3) Jewish outreach 4) Playing with children

How did I come up with this list? Simple. Math was never my favorite subject in school and I always had to work hard to earn decent grades on math tests; creative writing may have been up my alley in elementary and high school, but over the past few years I have concluded that my thinking turned way too focused for anything imaginative to be born from it; Jewish outreach is not for a person like me who grew up in a sheltered environment and who gags over all or most exposure to secular society; and playing with children, well, I’m way too intellectual to know what to do with such purely emotional beings.

I would’ve left it at that, but over the past six months my reality began to shake. It didn’t quite topple over, but I’m trying to steady it before it does.

You see, recently, I sat in on a chemistry class. As many of you know, chemistry involves math and for me math involves anxiety. But somehow, as I sat in on the class I didn’t feel anxious and I actually enjoyed the material. It was very strange. Did something suddenly turn on in my brain that made me know and like the math? Was I really good at it? And why wasn’t I feeling uptight and nervous? I tried to draw out the anxiety I always felt when in my classes of old, but then I thought better of it and decided to just let it be.

But I walked out of there in a daze.

Creative writing. Okay, I used to be good at it, but not anymore. I haven’t written a creative piece in ages – except that a few months back something possessed me to try my hand at writing a creative story, and lo and behold, it turned out pretty good. I thought I would try to earn a few bucks for it so I sent it off to a magazine for possible publication. Okay, I’ll admit that they accepted it. I wrote a few more stories since then and a few more got published, but it’s hard to imagine myself as a writer.

I mean, I’m a writer of sorts, but certainly not the creative type.

And Jewish outreach? I don’t know what to make of this, but during the summer I got a job at a kiruv school where I tutored a bunch of students. I think they learned well and they kind of liked me too, but, really, I only helped them a bit with textual stuff and tried to answer a few of their questions as best as I was able. I keep in touch with them on a fairly regular basis, but I still don’t think I’m the kiruv type. As I said, I’m too sheltered to really be comfortable with such different walks of life.

Playing with children is also something I don’t do. I would do it if I knew what to do, but I don’t know how kids think and even if I did, I wouldn’t know how to communicate with them. So, I was very surprised when a shy type of kid decided that she liked me and wanted to play with me. I mean, all I did was smile at her! I decided to try out this new experience before going back to the same old me who doesn’t know what to do with kids. I asked the little girl what she wanted to play and suggested that she get a book and that I would read it to her. She did. It was nice, but it was weird. It was hard to believe that it was me playing with this pipsqueak.

So, here I am stuck with a whole bunch of confusing scenarios that threaten to topple my identity. But I’m not the kind of person who really topples so easily and I will not allow some random aberrations to create an exception. So, to reconfirm: I am not good at math, I am not a creative writer, I will not make a good outreach professional, and I don’t know what in heaven’s name to do with children. There. Now I recognize myself. That feels a whole lot better.

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?

Rabban Yochanan Ben Zakai

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

Why The Ear?

The great Rabban Yochanan Ben Zakai was once asked by a student, “Rebbe, I have a question which has puzzled me for some time. We find in the Torah a law concerning an eved Ivri, a Hebrew slave. He serves for six years and at the end of that time he may go free. Should he refuse, however, saying that he likes his master and prefers to remain with him, the tribunal takes him and makes a hole in his ear as a punishment.”

“This is true,” said Rabban Yochanan, “but what is there about it that you do not understand?”

“What troubles me is this,” answered the student. “Why is it the ear that is pierced? Was it not the tongue that declared that the slave did not wish to go free? Should not it – rather than the ear – be the organ that is pierced?”

“What you ask is very good and I shall tell you the answer. How does one become a slave? There are two ways: The first is being sold by the court because he stole and did not have money to pay back what he took. In this case it is the theft that caused him to be a slave.

“We tell this slave, this ear which heard the words at Har Sinai, Thou shalt not steal, and which disobeyed G-d’s commandment causing the man to become a slave, shall be pierced!

“On the other hand, there are people who sell themselves as slaves. Once again we tell such a person, this ear which heard the commandment of the Almighty, Unto Me are the Children of Israel slaves, and not slaves to other slaves, and which disobeyed G-d’s commandment shall be pierced.”

A Joint Holiday

Rabban Yochanan Ben Zakkai, as the leading rabbi of his time, would get into a great many discussions with pagans who attempted to contradict or attack the Torah. He would always answer them directly and to the point.

Once he was asked, “Both of us, Jews and Pagans alike, have holidays that are happy and call for thanksgiving. Nevertheless, our holidays never come out at the same time so that we might be happy and give thanks together on the same day for the same thing.”

Rabban Yochanan then said, “This is not really true. There is one day on which we both celebrate and rejoice together.”

“Tell me what that day is,” said the man, for I do not know to what you refer.”

“I refer to the times when rains have not fallen and the whole land was parched. All the people – Jew and pagan alike – looked to the sky for rain and on that great day when rain descended from heaven to water the parched earth, every man shouted for joy and proclaimed a holiday of thanksgiving to the Almighty. And this is what our Holy Scriptures say, the wheat fields are clothed with sheep, the valleys are wrapped with produce, they shall cheer and even sing forth, shout unto the L-rd All The Earth.”

Magic

Yet another time, Rabban Yochanan was approached by a pagan nobleman and asked, “Why do you claim that we have magic and sorcery when you yourself have this?”

When Rabban Yochanan heard this he asked, “Where in our holy Torah do you claim that we have laws that are magic and sorcery?”

“I will tell you,” answered the pagan. “In the Torah you have a certain commandment concerning a red cow. You burn its carcass and mix the ashes with water and then bring it before a man who has become defiled through contact with a corpse and you say to him, when the water is sprinkled on you it will make you pure.

“Now I ask you, is this not the magic and sorcery that you object to?”

“Let me explain this to you,” said Rabban Yochanan. “Have you ever seen a man who is mentally disturbed and it is said he has been invaded by an evil spirit?”

“Yes,” answered the man.

“Tell me, what do you do with this person in order to heal him from the evil spirit?”

“We burn incense and throw holy water upon him until the evil spirit leaves him,” replied the pagan.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/kidz/midrash-stories/rabban-yochanan-ben-zakai/2012/10/25/

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