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September 16, 2014 / 21 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Pirkei Avos’

‘Torah Live’

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

Rabbi Dan Roth’s very first day teaching in yeshiva did not at all go as planned. After learning in kollel for many years in some of the best yeshivos in Israel, Rabbi Roth got his first job teaching in a program for teens-at-risk. A short time before taking the job, he wrote a sefer on modern-day lessons gleaned from the teachings of Pirkei Avos. In the process of writing the book, he realized that he had a talent for making Torah concepts relevant and down-to-earth.

 

 The book was aptly entitled Relevance (www.relevance.co.il). He was certain his material would inspire his new students. Rabbi Roth was in for a shock. His first class was a total nightmare. The students completely ignored him and even walked out of the room – enough to make anyone say goodbye to a career in teaching. Instead of quitting, however, Rabbi Roth decided to try to get to the root of the problem.

 

The Solution

 

As he thought about it, he realized that the issue wasn’t the kids or the material – it was the entire generation. “Today people are used to absorbing information in a whole different way,” he explained. “Internet and television have changed the way people learn. We need to teach Torah in today’s language.” The result was the development of dynamic multi-media Torah presentations. Students, who were previously unable to sit through a class, were suddenly on the edge of their seats. By speaking their language, they were turned on to Torah and felt it part of their lives. Thus was born Torah Live.

 

 

A Torah Live presentation in Munich, Germany

 

 

Together with a team of talented graphic designers and programmers, Torah Live has since produced close to a dozen interactive state-of-the-art multimedia presentations on a variety of Torah topics, from the intricacies of halacha to the beauty of hashkafa, all under the guidance of Rabbi Yitzchak Berkovitz. Topics include: materialism and happiness; how to reach success; conquering anger; as well as the laws of Mezuzah, Yichud, Arba Minim and more. Using cutting-edge special effects, coupled with a healthy dose of humor, Torah Live engages audiences of all ages and religious backgrounds. Rabbi Roth has presented over 100 lectures in 50 cities around the globe to schools, businesses, shuls, and kiruv organizations, each tailored to the unique needs of the particular audience, for maximum effectiveness.

 

 Presentations given to mixed secular and religious audiences in Israel have completely bridged the divide that traditionally separates both sectors of society. The non-threatening nature of the lectures makes them ideal for anyone regardless of their background. “The versatility of Torah Live is evidence of the Torah’s eternal message,” Rabbi Roth said. “We need only find the right way to present it to each distinct audience in the right language.”

 

“Every generation has a different voice and a different way of hearing things,” Rabbi Akiva Tatz explained in an exclusive interview with The Jewish Press. “Nowadays, people don’t connect to dry intellectualism. Torah Live presents real Torah content without compromise. It uses graphic, dynamic, and creative ways to catch the imagination of our generation.” Following the words of Rav Shamshon Raphael Hirsch, the goal is to show that “authentic Judaism . . . does not belong to an antiquated past but to a living, pulsating present . . .”

 

A Torah Live presentaiton in PriceWaterhouseCoopers (London)

 

 

Renowned mechanech Rabbi Noach Orlowek said of Torah Live that it could be called a new vessel filled with old wine. “The medium may be new, but it is full of old, authentic Torah, showing people the beauty and simplicity of even the most complex halachos.”

 

             Seeing the impact the presentations were having, Torah Live has now begun licensing its materials to schools and kiruv organizations around the world, empowering them with the training and tools to deliver Torah Live presentations themselves for the benefit of their students and communities.

 

Cashing In

 

After watching the lecture on Ma’aser Kesafim, many viewers reported tithing their money for the very first time. Shortly after watching the presentation one businessman was about to close a big deal. He promised Hashem that if the deal went through he would give $200,000 to tzedakah. “I realized the incredible power of multi-media to get through to people,” Rabbi Roth said. “Here was a regular guy, not a philanthropist by any means – ready to give philanthropic sums for the first time in his life after simply watching an hour presentation. Who would ever think that people would be happy about giving away money? What started as a teaching disaster with a group of teenage boys ended up beginning a new era in education. It’s a revolutionary way to get people excited about Torah.”

 

“We can do any topic – there’s no end to how far we can go,” Rabbi Roth said. “The Torah has an opinion on all the issues that the world is struggling with today – not only an opinion but a deeper take – that’s higher, subtler, and more profound. Let’s make it available globally so that everyone can have access to our rich heritage.”

 

Rabbi Roth will be traveling the world in the coming year presenting Torah Live. His itinerary is as follows: Oct 10-15, UK; Nov 7-17, USA; Jan 2- 12 South Africa; Feb 6- 11, UK; March 1-13, Australia; May 11- 19, USA; June 13- 20, UK. To bring a Torah Live lecture to your community or to find out how to license the material for use in your organization, e-mail, info@torahlive.co.il or visit www.torahlive.co.il.

Speak Out Against Child Abuse – Now

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

We are winning the war on child abuse. We shall fight this war until we win. We shall fight the abusers in the yeshivas, the synagogues, the mikvehs. We shall fight them in the hills, the valleys, on the land and on the beaches. We shall fight with every ounce of our strength, until we win.

So soon after Yom Kippur, please find forgiveness in your heart for my Winston Churchill-style excess. I am a lawyer, in the thick of the fight, and as my colleagues and family can attest, my occasionally mordant sense of humor helps preserve my sanity. I am a witness to the great evil of child sex abuse, and the aftermath of fractured lives, drugs, alcohol and suicide.

Above all is the good news that we are winning. With the help of God, we are winning.

The eight days of October 17 through October 24 – k’neged the holy mitzvah of bris milah – have been officially declared the National Jewish Week for the Prevention of Child Abuse. This historic declaration has been issued by the Jewish Board of Advocates for Children, the Rabbinical Council of America, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, the Iggud Harabbonim-Rabbinical Alliance of America, JSafe-The Jewish Institute for an Abuse-Free Environment, the Chicago Rabbinical Council, and Associated Talmud Torahs of Chicago. Advertisement

In the war against child abuse, what are we asking you to do?

Speak out against child abuse – now. Speak out! Recall the words of Moshe when he witnessed one Jew about to strike another. “Rasha, lama takeh reyecha?” – “Evil one, why do you hit your friend?” Moshe asked that question even before the blow had landed.

At the unforgettable Boro Park rally against child abuse on March 1, 2009, organized by Assemblyman Dov Hikind, those eternal words of Moshe were quoted by psychologist Asher Lipner, whose speech was published in these very pages a few days later.

I am president and co-founder of the Jewish Board of Advocates for Children. The idea for National Week originated with our Executive Committee member Dr. Vivian Skolnick, a Chicago psychoanalyst. The kickoff event for National Week will be a community seminar in Chicago on Sunday, October 17, addressing questions on preventing, detecting, and treating child sex abuse.

Seminar presenters will be Rabbi Gedalia Dov Schwartz, Rabbi Moshe Soloveichik, Rabbi Mark Dratch, Dr. Vivian Skolnick, Dr. Asher Lipner, survivor/advocates Mark Weiss and Pinny Taub, a Chicago prosecutor, and this writer. Every aspect of the child abuse problem will be scrutinized – the history of the problem, the halachos, the laws, the psychology, the medicine, the prevention, the detection, the treatment.

Please visit our website, www.jewishadvocates.org. There you will read about what we are asking all Jewish communities to do during National Week. We call for drashas, shiurim and seminars in all shuls and mosdos throughout America. Following the example of Moshe Rabbeinu, we call for the denunciation of child abuse. It is in darkness where child abuse thrives. Our Moshe-inspired words will be the candle that banishes the darkness.

On our website you will also find our position paper to the New York State Legislature and our online petition. To prevent child abuse, we need new laws. New York State has the weakest laws in the country for preventing abuse of religious schoolchildren.

Public school students in New York receive the benefit of mandatory employee background checks, strong mandatory abuse-incident reporting laws, compulsory termination of sexually abusive employees, and no silent resignations of abusive employees.

Religious schoolchildren receive none of these legal protections. It is any wonder that child abuse, over the decades, has been allowed to fester and grow, like weeds in a vacant lot?

In 2007, our group was responsible for a new law allowing New York non-public schools to fingerprint their employees. It had been illegal since 1937. A few months ago, I made a Freedom of Information Law request to the New York State Education Department asking how many non-public schools were utilizing the new law.

The answer, which was published in the New York Post, was disturbing. Of 1,900 non-public schools in New York educating 475,000 children, only 17 – less than 1 percent – were fingerprinting employees to determine whether they were registered sex offenders or had other dangerous criminal histories. Of 390 Jewish schools educating 135,000 children, only one – North Shore Hebrew Academy in Great Neck – was fingerprinting.

Tzviki

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

I love to sing, but venues for frum women who sing are few and far between. I have to settle for kvelling when I listen to the men in my family lead the prayers in shul.

Then again, I can always go to a concert, and that is what I recently did. I attended a Shwekey concert.

There were several developmentally disabled young adults and children in the audience. I couldn’t help but noticing a particular young man, whom I will call Tzviki. When the ushers instructed each guest to hand in his ticket, Tzviki dutifully handed his in.

Tzviki stood for most of the performance, swaying to the music. At times, he walked up to the front of the stage and waved to the percussionist, who was happy to return his greeting.

Tzviki’s rhythm was perfect, and he sang along with the performers, who encouraged several of their “special guests” to participate.

My eyes filled with tears as I watched Tzviki and the other special folk. For a few moments, the joy on their faces mirrored the soaring of their neshamos. For those few minutes, they forgot their daily existence, which is a struggle both for them and for their families.

There is not one family that does not have, or does not know of a family that is experiencing these special challenges. We struggle to understand Hashem’s ways.

Sometimes, we are able to accept that each neshama was sent to earth to fulfill some special mission that needs to be completed. Yes, we know that. But we are only human, and we cry as we watch our “special” children struggle to do the everyday things that most can do without missing a beat.

Imagine a baby too weak to cry. How we beg Hashem to make the baby strong enough to cry and to keep his parents up at night! Oh, the things we sometimes take for granted!

When I was growing up, I had a neighbor named Angel. She had Downs Syndrome. Her parents kept her locked up in a basement apartment. They were elderly and left specific instructions that Angel should always have a home. She was an “angel,” yet she was kept caged, like an animal!

We, as a society, have come a long way since the 1950′s when Angel was born, but we still have a long way to go.

Yes, there are many wonderful fundraisers today for special folks. In fact, the Lubavitcher Rebbe taught us that “Raising up many students” (Pirkei Avos) means that every Jewish neshama should have a proper Jewish education. The Rebbe continued that running a school for only the best and the brightest was unacceptable. Not only must we teach our children the concept that “Moshe commanded us the Torah” from the cradle, but it is incumbent upon us to bring all of Hashem’s children to Torah and to mitzvos.

I return to the lovely music, the excitement, the clapping. Music is the expression of the soul. Music frees the neshama from bodily limitations.

We are ready Hashem … we are ready to make that final trek to the Beis HaMikdash with each and every one of Your precious kinderlach walking upright, whole, and healthy, to serve You with unimpeded joy.

Dedicated with love to Ahuva Esther bas Rivka.

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 3/03/06

Wednesday, March 1st, 2006

Readers react to letter by “Unimpressed Male Onlooker” (Chronicle Jan.13).

Dear Rachel,

To the man who wrote that he is uncomfortable with women davening on the subway, my answer is for him not to look at the women. While the subway is not an ideal place to daven, I think it is great that a woman takes the time to do so – a time oriented mitzvah that is not really expected of women at all. It is especially commendable in these busy and troubled times. Though I myself daven at home daily, I don’t believe that it is in this man’s place to tell women what to do. I’ve seen both Jew and Gentile praying on buses and subways.

Glad to be living in a land of Freedom of Religion

Letter #2

I am an 18-year old student who frequently rides the subway and was very disturbed by your response to the “unimpressed male onlooker.” Since when have Jews concerned themselves with what others think when doing what Hashem wants of them? As far as calling attention to oneself, l find that females on the train who are just looking around or listening to music draw more unwanted attention. When davening or saying tehillim with your head and heart in the siddur, not only are you purifying the surroundings, you are safely distracted from the subway environment. I speak from personal experience.

The subway’s just fine for me

Letter #3

“Unimpressed male onlooker” seems more interested in carping and criticizing others (i.e. women) than studying a sefer on the train. Did he ever learn Pirkei Avos (1:6) – to judge others for merit (l’kaf zchus)? No, I suppose he is too busy studying girls on the train. How dare he act as judge and jury over his fellow Jew! On a personal note, my great-grandfather was renown for his great piety. And yes, there were occasions when he davened on the train. And yes, he had such kavanah and “devakus” (closeness) to Hashem that the secular surroundings did not dissuade or distract him. “Unimpressed

¼” is insulting my own family, as well as countless other Yidden whom he views as “overly pious.”

Both you and the letter-writer would do well to read SHMUEL ll (6:14-23) about Dovid HaMelech dancing, leaping and whirling before the Holy Ark with great kavanah and emotion. When Michal, his wife, saw this “tasteless display,” she accused him of being vulgar and “exposing himself” before the slave girls of his subjects. King David’s reply was – as you would say – “on target”: “Before the Lord Who chose me… I made merry. Before the Lord I will demean myself even more than this and be low in my own eyes

¼ and among the slave girls of which you speak, I will be honored…” So, what takes priority – the idle thoughts of man, or honoring Hashem?

Dismayed by your attitude

Letter #4

I read your article on a weekly basis. However, I was very disappointed to see your view on women davening. Did you consult a Rav before saying that women shouldn’t daven at all if that’s the only time they have to pray? Take, for example, a married woman of children who is the breadwinner for the family as her husband learns all day. Her job is out in Manhattan and she has to be there at 9:30 a.m. Why shouldn’t she daven on the train? What’s wrong with it? Even a girl, I’m sure, has reason for davening on the train. My mom had a baby last year. Having had a difficult birth, it took a while for her to get back to her normal self. My sister arose early to see our siblings off to school and to help out with the baby. Once when she hadn’t managed to fit her davening into her hectic morning routine at home, she took her siddur out on the train on her way to work. As she began to daven, an Israeli male said to her, “Miss, this is not the way

¼to pray on a train where you can’t concentrate. Get up a half hour earlier…” My sister politely told him that she had been up since 5:30 to send kids off to school, etc. The man embarrassingly apologized. So you can inform your letter writer that if he has a problem with women praying on the subway, he can either ask them why they are doing so or give them the benefit of the – in that maybe this is the only time the girl can make for davening. And what’s wrong with purifying the train and making it holier? Tell this man to move to a different car so that he doesn’t see what the nashim tzidkonios of this generation are doing. What a selfish man! Even the few minutes that a woman has to talk to G-d he wants to take away from her!

A very upset reader

(To be continued )

Dear Dr. Yael

Wednesday, July 14th, 2004
Dear Dr. Respler,
After reading the letter written for the April 23rd issue, I would like to share my experience and some of the lessons that I’ve learned related to the topic of friends, both single and newly married.

My story sounds exactly like the one you printed in your column of April 23, however, I did get married seven years ago at the age of 27, and I have three children.

All of my close friends from high school got married at age 19 during the year after seminary/ high school. They all moved to another city or state, New York or Israel with the exception of one friend who moved to the other side of town.

I was so happy for all my friends, since I really didn’t feel the urgency to get married, just yet. However, soon thereafter, I realized how lonely I was, and how much I really missed their friendship. I complained to my friends when they came into town for Yom Tov, only to have my words fall on deaf ears. I so desperately wanted to see them, speak to them, get together. I was especially hurt by the one friend who only moved to the other side of town. Couldn’t she have invited me for Shabbos? She had already stopped phoning me and certainly made no effort to spend time together despite my complaints. I would have been more than happy to help her with her errands, just to feel that I was still part of her life.

As the years went by, my hurt only grew and I began to feel very resentful towards all my friends. I didn’t know how to get this message through to them so that they would change. I begged them to treat me like a chesed case, but that didn’t help either. They rarely tried to set me up with any shidduch either. People told me to make new friends. I really did try, but I wasn’t very successful. After several years, I did meet a couple of single girls, but I just didn’t feel the same way about them. I eventually lost touch for the most part with almost all my old friends.

I was determined that when I got married, I would not treat my new single friends the same way I was treated. I knew too well the loneliness of being single. I knew too well the feeling of being at everyone else’s mercy to get a date.

I finally did get engaged, and during the time of my engagement, my father suddenly became ill, and my parents found out at the same time that they lost a good part of their savings in a bad investment. (My parents had always made me feel that they had enough money to marry me off and to put a down payment on a house for me. Suddenly my parents were in a financial crunch, as well. This piece of news was also a shock for me, since I spent most of the money I had been earning.)

During this time, I was working part time and going to school for my Master’s degree, which alone was a heavy load. And to top it all off, I had a lot of engagement anxiety. I kept wondering whether I had picked the right man, after all! My mother was so overwhelmed with everything that it was hard for her to focus on wedding plans, which left me with a lot to do. My schedule was quite overloaded. Getting married, especially after such a long wait, was supposed to be a happy time. For me, it was a very hard time. None of this really changed for the better during my first year of marriage.

Despite what was going on in my life, I never told my new friends what was really going on in my life. How could a person be an emotional life support for a single friend when she feels that she herself needs emotional life support? Well, I tried. And here is the crux of the matter. While tried to do a little bit for everyone, I sacrificed my husband and marriage

Besides helping with many needs of my parents and siblings still at home, there were times that, night after night, my husband would wait for a long time for me to hang up the phone, either when just arriving home from work or before going to sleep while I took care of one friend or another who needed me. I would many times carve out of my busy schedule time to meet the demands of these friends. I avoided mentioning it to my husband since, when he asked me a favor, I would find it hard to make the time for it.

I spent time trying to set my single friends up with the few single friends that my husband had. I argued with my husband about inviting them for Shabbos when he had an overloaded schedule, and he told me he wasn’t up to having company. Believe me, considering my schedule it wasn’t easy for me either to do all the extra preparation for company. But I was on a mission to take care of everyone, except for my husband and my marriage! What a mistake!

My husband was so kind to me that first year. He was so patient and understanding. He tried to help me through the hard time I was having with my father’s illness and family. But the message that I gave him was just the opposite. Everyone else came before him. It was not long before he started to feel rejected and hurt… Sometimes, I wonder if my marriage would be better today had I taken the first step in the right direction. I guess I just wasn’t able to balance everything.

 

To The Singles

This is my message to all those singles who are feeling lonely and rejected by a newly married friend.Realize this: Your friend just made a major life change!   That means that, yes, she has a new, intimate best friend – a partner. She has to learn how to get along with this new best friend. That requires a lot of adjustment. She now has a private life, which she should not be sharing with you, even though, up until her wedding, she told you everything! She has to form a border around her husband and herself in order to become a unit.Yes, it is sad for you because she really doesn’t need your friendship in the same way anymore. And when you get married, you hopefully won’t need it in that way either. It surely is a hard adjustment for you. It’s definitely a loss.She now has to make his family a priority and make time for them. She has many more responsibilities than she had as a single person and so, there’s less time for other things.

I think that it is pretty common for newly married people to be a little homesick. Even if a husband and wife are happy together, and even if they live in the same neighborhood as their families, still, they are no longer living with their original families. This is even truer for people who move away from their hometowns. When they come home for a short period of time, they want to spend time with their families. (Sometimes, this issue creates conflict between a husband and wife. Whose family is more important? Which one gets first priority?)

Also, every person’s situation is different. Some young couples get lots of support from their parents and extended families. Other couples get limited help, and still others don’t get any emotional, physical, or financial support at all.

And then, again, maybe your friend is having difficulties in her marriage or family and isn’t sharing it with you, since it is private. (Maybe her husband is extremely possessive.) There are endless possibilities as to what can be going on that you don’t know about.

Every person has different strengths and weaknesses. Not everyone can balance all of life’s challenges and demands very well. Even if everything is going well for your newly married friend, she still may have a hard time balancing everything. And certainly, if she is not in a good place, she will have a hard time to be there for you.

Once a person ends the challenge of being single, she moves on to the next stage of life, which has its own challenges. Some of them are also real hardships!

If your newly married friend is able to maintain her close friendship with you in addition to maintaining a good marriage and dealing with obligations, then perhaps she has very little hardship to contend with or has a lot of (emotional/physical/financial) support from her family/in-laws. There are many more possibilities as well.

And if your friend had a baby, then, yes, she made another major life change! (I remember when my first baby was born, and at the bris my single cousin requested that I invite her for Shabbos in the very near future before the baby grows. That request reminded me so clearly of how it felt when I was single, to have that desire to be included in the simcha from the inside.

However, at the time of the bris I really was not up to having company. We had just moved to a new apartment. Most of the stuff wasn’t unpacked yet. I was feeling physically worse than I did when I was pregnant, and I didn’t have much help. Children and especially babies can be extremely demanding.

Finally, yes, make new friends! If your once best friendship has dwindled into an infrequent call, and you’re having a had time stomaching it, then especially you should even do everything in your power to acquire new friends, as it says in Pirkei Avos. Keep busy, as well. Volunteer your time for the people that really need it, sign up for dance classes, sewing lessons, and shiurim. Friendships really don’t always last forever.

To The Newly Married Friend (Or Not So Newly Married)

I would like to add only one comment to the letter in the April 23rd column.

If you sense that your single friend is hurting, or she directly tells you that she’s hurting due to the loss of your once close friendship, at least give her a clue as to what you are going through (if you’re going through a difficult time). (I wish that one of my friends had done that.) Please don’t share any private information. In a general way you can convey the message that you, too, are going through a challenging time. Marriage is a challenge.

If you are just simply involved in your own life and don’t have many issues, then try at least to make a little more time for your friend, and validate her feelings of loss. Please try at least to understand her situation. If you got married very young, then you cannot possibly understand the feeling of being single, lonely, searching for a spouse, and at times, feeling helpless and hopeless over the situation. It is imperative that you try at least to set up a shidduch.

Been There, Done That

Dear Been There, Done That,
Thank you for your beautiful letter which reflects your deep insights and sensitivity to others. If you realize what a special husband you have, please don’t say, “Sometimes I wonder if my marriage would be better today, had I taken the first step in the right direction.” Baruch Hashem, you realize your mistakes and you can work on improving your marriage today by making your husband and your relationship with him a priority.  Find time to ‘date’ him. If you can, go away for even one night alone with him to focus just on your relationship. (Two nights are better, if possible.) Some of my clients go to local kosher hotels for a few hours to spend private time together and take a babysitter for a few hours, go to sleep at home, and then come back for breakfast in the morning. This is if you absolutely have no one to leave your children with for even one night.

Please don’t live with regrets. Instead, recognize your mistakes and make your marriage the best that it can be. You sound like a very giving and caring person. May Hashem bless you with health to you and may you and your whole family enjoy happiness and simchas.  Hatzlacha in your marriage and in raising your children!

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/marriage-relationships/dear-dr-yael-11/2004/07/14/

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