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September 3, 2014 / 8 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘pesach’

Dominican Friar Erik Ross: Israel Embodies the Jewish Heart & Seder Acid Test

Friday, May 2nd, 2014

(((CLICK BELOW TO HEAR AUDIO)))

Yishai is joined by Dominican Friar and dear friend of the Fleishers Erik Ross. Together, they discuss the principal reason behind Ross’s current trip to Israel and the background behind the Catholic world’s study of how science relates to the Bible. Listen in as Ross gives a dynamic description of the Seder he attended in Israel and the diverse figures that were present.

Yishai Fleisher on Twitter: @YishaiFleisher
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Pesach’s Dusty Windows (Part Four)

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

For the past several columns I’ve been focusing on “windows” – albeit dusty windows that block our vision and prevent us from looking out and seeing the reality of our Jewish lives.

These windows are everywhere; they encompass our Yom Tovim and all events that befall us. These windows speak. They send us messages. But our ears do not hear. Our eyes do not see. Our windows are covered with layers of thick dust that have accumulated over the millennia.

We have just celebrated the wonderful days of Pesach when G-d broke the chains of our bondage and led us forth to Sinai and the Promised Land. We had beautiful Seders, and while at some point our eyelids may have become heavy with slumber, we forced ourselves to remain awake as we related the story and sang the songs of the Haggadah.

In the midst of our celebration, however, it never occurred to us to look out of our dusty windows, and after Yom Tov we returned to normal everyday life.

Yet the windows of Pesach are crucial. Through them we can see our bitter exile.  Yes, the Haggadah speaks loud and clear: In every generation there are those who stand ready to pounce upon us and devour us but Hashem saves us from their hands. But few of us look out our windows and ask, Why does Hashem have to save us? Why are they trying to devour us?

We fail to understand that all of Jewish history is a replay of sorts. “Whatever happened to our forefathers is a sign” – a message to their descendants concerning what will happen throughout their long and bitter exile.

Let’s dust off the windows and study that first bondage of Egypt – the bedrock of all our future suffering.

Joseph is in Egypt and becomes the country’s viceroy. He sends a message to his father, Jacob, to come join him with the entire family. Jacob comes and Joseph, along with his entire entourage – what in our day would constitute members of Congress, the president’s cabinet, and the elite media – goes to greet him.

Paradoxically, Joseph tells his father to present himself and the family to Pharaoh as shepherds. It’s an odd message, since the Egyptians, as Rashi notes, considered sheep to be sacred and held shepherds in disdain.

Why would Joseph wish to portray his family in such a negative light? Why would he wish to alienate them from Pharaoh and the Egyptian people?

Joseph, who had survived in Egypt for twenty-two years as a lone Jew, had become an expert in preserving Jewish life in exile. He knew that in order to protect his people from disappearing, he would have to settle them in their own community where they could adhere to their own traditions without being threatened by assimilation. But for that to happen, the Egyptians would have to keep Jews apart from the mainstream of Egyptian society and isolate them in their own neighborhood, hence Joseph’s instructions to Jacob. And indeed, a “Jewish city” arose – Goshen.

Thus, Joseph laid down one of the first principles of Jewish survival – a strong, self-contained Jewish community. The Jews prospered, but while they became a vital part of Egypt, they remained a nation apart. All this came to a dramatic halt with the death of the Jacob. This change is related in the Torah in so subtle a manner that the casual student would probably not even pick it up.

Every Torah portion in a sefer Torah either starts on a new line or is separated from the next portion by at least a nine-letter space. But the last portion of Genesis, Vayechi (Genesis 47:28-50:26), in which Jacob’s demise is announced, is not separated from the previous portion (Vayigash), and is therefore known as a “stuma” – closed.  Rashi explains that “with the death of the patriarch, the eyes and hearts of the Jewish people closed – shut down due to the anguish of the bondage.”

Pesach at the Kinar

Sunday, April 27th, 2014

The Wife and I have been debating – what was our favorite part of staying at the Kinar Resort over Pesach?

Was it the overabundance of good food? The great service? That most of the guests were Americans (some very strangely holding 2 Sederim and keeping 8 days of Chag while in Eretz Yisrael)? That we were right on the Kinneret lake? Free wi-fi. That it’s a great jumping off point for all the Tiyulim (day trips) we were doing?

Nope. All that was good and fine, but that wasn’t the best part.

The best part was that we didn’t see our kids (except for trips and meals) for the entire week. I don’t think we heard “we’re bored” even once (well maybe once).

I know the hotel likes to market itself as the resort for religious people and Hareidim, and they think that this is their biggest selling point (and it is important), but it’s not just that. They had Pesach programs and activities for the kids that kept them so busy all the time, that it gave us adults time to actually relax and actually enjoy our vacation – and I think that’s an even better selling point.

How often does that happen?

The hotel has a massive lawn, huge. It reminded me of the Catskills (except for the palm trees and exotic green birds flying around).

The hotel brought in an entire mini-carnival with rides and jumping balloons that kept the kids busy for hours. And when the kids weren’t at the carnival, they were on the swings and slides.

Jumping at the Kinar

If that wasn’t enough, there was an arts and crafts camp, organized basketball games, ping pong and soccer tournaments, not to mention story telling, ice cream, and God knows what else.

Rides at the Kinar

Children’s paradise.

So what did that mean for us adults?

First of all, it meant we were able to enjoy our meals. Because you can never eat enough on Pesach.

Though I will admit I found one aspect of the meals quite amusing.

The hotel caters to a wide range of religious people (this particular crowd ranged from typical Young Israel to Yeshivish black hat, with a Chossid and Hiloni or two thrown in for good luck).

The dining room’s buffet provided different meat stands with clearly marked Kashrut certifications (Machfud, Rubin, Beit Yosef, etc.), so everyone could select which Rabbi’s Hashgacha they were happiest with (I have absolutely no idea who’s Hashgacha it was, but trust me, the steak and hamburgers were excellent).

They even had a stand with Matzah Brei (Oy Gebrochts!).

A piece of advice, if you can, talk to the Maitre D about getting a window seat, it’s such a pleasure to sit and eat while watching the lawn and the lake.

Our rooms were nice, and relatively big for Israeli rooms. Not ultra-fancy, but certainly clean and well appointed. They also have bungalows right on the grass, as well as ground floor rooms that lead right onto the main lawn. I didn’t get to see what the bungalows look like from the inside.

Kinar Room

The hotel has a basketball and tennis court, a small workout room, and an outdoor swimming pool.

My advice, the pool is cool, but instead, go to the pool area, grab a few towels, walk across the lawn, and jump into the Kinneret. Well, don’t jump, walk down the path into the super-clear water, and then jump in. (And don’t forget to bring the towels back).

The water is much warmer, and it’s a lot more fun.

SAMSUNG

The hotel has a separate beach for men and women, and off to the side, past the fishing pier is a (shhh) mixed beach.

Hundreds at Bangkok Chabad Passover Seder

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

More than 400 people sang their way through the Haggadah on the first night of Passover at the first seder held this year at the Chabad House of Bangkok, Thailand.

Dozens of children ascended special stage set up in the hall where the seder was held in order to sing the traditional “Ma Nishtana” – the Four Questions that launch the story explaining the reason for the celebration of Passover.

For those with slim budgets, the Chabad of Bangkok website stated clearly that everyone was welcome regardless of ability to pay. “Please contact the Rabbi in confidence if the charge is beyond your means,” the statement on Chabad’s “JewishThailand.com” site advised. “‘All who are hungry may come and eat’ is the theme of Passover and it will be our pleasure to host you regardless of financial ability.”

A seder for the second night was made available with the Kantor Family according to the announcement, sponsored by the Jewish Association of Thailand. “No charge but please RSVP,” the notice read.

Hebrew-language Passover seders were conducted in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Ko Samui and Phuket.

A Third Intifada to Begin at the Temple Mount?

Monday, April 14th, 2014

Once again, on the eve of a major Jewish holiday, Israel Police have  closed access for Jews and Christians to the Temple Mount due to intelligence “there would be disturbances” if Jews were allowed to ascend to the site.

Hundreds of tourists who flocked to the site on Monday were turned away due to violence spawned by Muslim rioters the previous day.

Police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld told The Jewish Press in a telephone interview Monday morning, “Police officials made the decision to close access to the site based on information there would be disturbances similar to those that occurred yesterday, and which caused injuries to two police officers. As a result, access to the site was restricted solely to Muslim men age 50 and above, and to Muslim women of all ages.”

Asked whether Muslim women had never caused any disturbances at the Temple Mount – which they have on numerous occasions — Rosenfeld responded: “Muslim women do not pose any problem for Israel Police. It is Muslim men under age 50 who are the most dangerous to the general population and to police officers during disturbances at the site.”

On Sunday police closed the Temple Mount to visitors — but not to Muslim worshipers — after Muslim rioters hurled rocks and firebombs (Molotov cocktails) at police officers posted at the Mughrabi Gate near the Western Wall Plaza.

Two Israel Police officers were injured in the riot which started when the site was opened to visitors.

Rosenfeld claimed he had “no idea what [you] are talking about” when asked about a report posted on the Arutz Sheva website describing a virtual takeover of the Temple Mount by “dozens of Hamas men… waving Hamas flags and ‘not allowing Jews and tourists into the Mount.’

The site has always been a flash point of contention between Jews and Muslims. There is no holier site in the Jewish faith, and it ranks third in importance in Islam.

The Temple Mount encompasses the Western Wall – the last remnant of the Holy Temple, the western retaining wall of the Temple Mount. It is the wall that was the closest to the Holy of Holies when the Holy Temple once stood in Jerusalem.

In Judaism, the Temple Mount is also known as Mount Moriah, which according to Jewish tradition is the place where the creation of the world began from the Foundation Stone at the peak of the mountain, and is where Adam, the first human being, was created.

It is also the site where the Biblical patriarch Abraham was commanded to prepare his son Isaac for sacrifice, (by the way, the Muslims believe it is Ishmael who was nearly sacrificed) and where the binding of Isaac – the Foundation Stone – took place. The Holy of Holies, around which both the First and Second Holy Temples were built, is set around the Foundation Stone.

Known to the Muslims as Haram al-Sharif, the Temple Mount site is believed to be that from which Islam’s prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven to speak with God about the details of prayer rituals after a night-long journey to Jerusalem, “the farthest mosque,” on his steed Buraq. For this reason, Islamists fight with particular ferocity over the site and do what they can to claim sovereignty over the Temple Mount.

Israel’s willingness to allow the Islamic Waqf Authority to administer the site has backfired dozens of times as increasing violence by Islamist extremists on the eve of every Jewish holiday makes it clear it is impossible for the status quo to continue.

A similar scenario was deliberately used by Hamas to ignite the Second Intifada in the year 2000 when MK Ariel Sharon made a visit to the Temple Mount just prior to the Jewish new year holidays, setting off violent Muslim riots and sparking a lethal police response. It seems likely that plans are afoot to recreate the same scenario again.

US Jews Crunch More Hand-Made Matzah

Sunday, April 13th, 2014

American Jews are increasingly buying more hand-made matzah as well as American-made manufactured matzah. All at the expense of Israeli exports, according to Kosher Today.

Israeli exports used to hold approximately 40 percent of the American market but has declined by 11 percent.

Sales of hand-made “shmurah matzah” have soared by nearly 15 percent.

One of the reasons for the decrease in exports of Israeli matzah, which once was 30 percent cheaper than those made in the United States,  has been a shrinking difference in prices.

The hand-made matzah is more expensive than machine-made matzah but has become more popular not only by more religious Jews but also by some secular Jews.

“While shmura matzah was believed to be at about 20 percent of national matzah sales, there are indications that it may be inching towards 30 percent. In domestic sales,” Kosher Today reported. Manischewitz remains the leading seller with Streit’s a strong second.

Is it Time to Abandon Kitniyot?

Friday, April 11th, 2014

Rabbi David Bar-Hayim of Machon Shiloh, in this video, argues that it is time for Ashkenazim to abandon the prohibition against eating Kitnyot (legumes) on Pesach.

After hearing his argument, what do you think?

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/holidays/is-it-time-to-abandon-kitniyot/2014/04/11/

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