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December 8, 2016 / 8 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘prayer’

Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner Visit the Rebbe’s Ohel [video]

Sunday, November 6th, 2016

(JNi.Media) As the US Presidential elections draw closer, the candidates are looking for all the support they can get.

On Saturday night, Ivanka (Yael) Trump, presidential candidate Donald Trump’s Jewish daughter, and her husband Jared Kushner visited the grave of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, also known as the “Ohel”. The Ohel is located in the Old Montefiore Cemetery in Queens, New York.

The visit was ostensibly for a blessing before the elections, but it may have also been to drum up additional last minute support among the Orthodox community, many of whom already support Trump.

Press were not invited to the event.

The visit also happened to coincide with the gun scare at Donald Trumps’ rally in Reno, Nevada.

On the other side of the Hassidic spectrum, last week, a Satmar Brooklyn weekly, Der Yid, according to a report in The Forward (Der Yid does not have a website), recommended that voters show their appreciation to Hillary Clinton for being “sympathetic to the needs of the Haredi Community.”


The Prayer For Fish

Thursday, October 27th, 2016

My daughter’s Rav in her Jewish College told a story from his Israeli army days one day in class. I’m sure he was making a great point. But his story stayed long after.

He was the captain and the only religious one in his troop. He felt a great sense of duty to protect his boys physically and spiritually since he reckoned this was a rare opportunity to introduce “his boys” to a bit of Jewish thought. Most were from a poor background meaning deprived of their rich Jewish heritage. Matan, one of the soldiers, as an example, who was raised in a kibbutz where pork was served on Yom Kipper, had certainly never heard nor seen any Jewish practice in action. Matan felt it was his secular duty to scoff at any little Jewish notion that Rav Avi would introduce to them. Rabbi Avi was challenged.

It was during the Lebanese War, and Rabbi Avi and his troop found themselves stationed on the outskirts in Lebanon, far from any army kitchen or store, nor on the regular food delivery route. The troop was hungry. With nothing pressing on their duty roster, Rabbi Avi was convinced by the boys to try to catch fish at the river nearby.

A few of the men were able to construct fishing rods and plied their wares into the water hoping for a catch.

“Hey Avi, you are going to eat the fish if we can catch it?”

“Sure why not?”

“Does that mean if you’re hungry enough you don’t have to keep kosher?” Matan asked, probably more out of real curiosity than even any true malice.

“Are you guys kidding? Fish is the easiest food type to classify as kosher.” Rav Avi excitedly explained, thrilled at the opportunity to throw in a little kashrut lesson when able. “If it has fins and scales then it is kosher. You don’t even have to ritually slaughter it.”

Since Rabbi Avi was not experienced at fishing, he suggested he would provide the moral support by saying Psalms. He prayed that his “fish” prayer should be answered. Not only were the men famished for food, but they were starving for a sign of Hashem in their daily lives as well. In spite of the men’s perseverance in fishing the entire day complemented by Rabbi Avi’s prayers, they were not successful. Not one fish was caught.

“Hey Rabbi Avi, what’s with all those prayers of yours? Not even one fish! You can’t really believe that G-d answers prayers?”

“Matan, we are taught that G-d answers all of our prayers, we just don’t always understand His answer.”

When the men got back to the base, the men were very hungry and frustrated. Some of the guys tried to see what could be put together form the bits of vegetables that were still around. The rest of the men entered the dining tent hoping for some fare. Just then they heard a jeep pull up in front of the makeshift building. A corporal from a nearby and larger base entered the room carrying a large sac.

“I was thinking of you guys and got worried that maybe you didn’t get enough food,” he said.

He placed the pouch on the table and opened it. It was full of fish.

Devorah Hirsch

Interfaith Encounters at Ben-Gurion Airport [video]

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

Some Muslims from Turkey traveling through Ben-Gurion airport in Israel decided to use some of their free time while waiting for their flight to pray.

The Ben-Gurion synagogue was empty at the time, so the group decided to go there, but the tourists mistook the Jewish prayer shawls (Talit, Talitot, Taleisim) in the shul for Islamic prayer rugs.

They put them on the floor and began to kneel and bow on them.

A Jewish man entered the synagogue and saw them there. He explained to the confused tourists they were kneeling on Jewish prayer shawls and they were in a Jewish synagogue.

The Muslim tourists apologized and neatly folded up the Jewish prayer shawls and put them back where they found them.

Video of the Day

Before Yom Kippur, Israelis Pray for Syrian Neighbors

Tuesday, October 11th, 2016

Hundreds of Israelis gathered across the country on Monday to pray for the welfare of their Syrian neighbors the night before the holiest day of the Jewish year, Yom Kippur. Prayer rallies were held in nine different locations including Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Pardes Hanna, Beer Sheva, Tekoa, Ariel, Ma’ale Gilboa, and the Golan Heights, where shofars were sounded in solidarity.

According to UN estimates, over 400,000 Syrians have been killed in the past five years of civil war, including some 50,000 children according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Event organizer, Einat Kramer, 39, of the Galilee told TPS that a recent news report on Syria spurred her to organize the prayer gatherings. “I recently saw a news report that showed two Syrian children crying,” said Kramer.

“There was something about their crying that reminded me of the sound of the shofar [ram’s horn] that we just heard in the synagogue on Rosh Hashana. After seeing how the war has caused such terrible suffering for the Syrian people, I felt that during these holy days I had to something for our neighbors.”

Kramer said the nation-wide prayer rally was organized in less than five days. Volunteers across the country responded to Kramer’s Facebook posts and began planning prayer rallies in different locations.

“There was an overwhelming response. All the different sectors of Israeli society took part – from Orthodox Jewish volunteers in Jerusalem to the Reform movement in Tel Aviv, along with musicians, rabbis, and professors who took on active roles in the gatherings – leading the calls to wake up the world to the dire situation in Syria,” said Kramer, who describes herself as social activist.

“The one thing we can do is pray for the Syrian people and not ignore what’s happening. We cannot allow the tragedy facing our neighbors to continue quietly,” added Shivi Froman, 36, another event organizer. Froman is the son of the late peace activist, Rabbi Menachem Froman of Tekoa in Gush Etzion.

“The human catastrophe in Syria keeps getting worse. The world cannot accept the slaughter of innocents and I hope our prayers open the gates of heaven tonight,” Froman told TPS.

Despite the terrorist attack that shook Jerusalem on Sunday, which left two Israelis dead and six injured, over one hundred people attended the prayer rally overlooking the walls of the Old City in Mishkenot Sha’ananim. One elderly religious couple, Gal and Uri Kaplun told TPS that they felt it was important to attend the event. “For us, this is about Jewish values and sharing our empathy for others through praying,” said Gal Kaplun.

Anav Silverman, Tazpit News Agency

Tefillah: A Meeting With Hashem -Teshuva Through Prayer

Friday, October 7th, 2016

“The Shabbos Shuva drasha will be given at 5:00 in the main sanctuary.” The age-old custom of listening to a Shabbos Shuva drasha will take place all over the world this Shabbos and definitely should not be missed. When the community gathers together to hear words of inspiration from the rabbi, it is a wonderful opportunity to prepare ourselves for Yom Kippur. The fact that we have come together as one unit to raise our level of spirituality causes much joy to Hashem, and that in itself is a reason to take part in this special event.

But we must know that besides the rabbi’s speech, there is another important one, given by none other than the navi Hoshea during the Shabbos morning services. For some people, hearing the chazzan begin reading the weekly haftarah is a signal to doze off. What a pity! These words contain such holy inspiration that just hearing them will help us peel away some of the layers of sin that cover our hearts. And certainly anyone who listens to Hoshea’s message will learn what to do in order to achieve true repentance.

So let us take a look at the opening words of the haftarah of Shabbos Shuva. There we will discover what we should be doing during these special days.


Take Words

The haftarah begins: “Shuva Yisroel ad Hashem Elokecha, ki chushalta ba’avonecha! Return, Yisroel, unto Hashem your G-d, for you stumbled in your iniquity. Kechu e’machem d’vorim v’shuvu el Hashem – Take words with you and return to Hashem…” (Hoshea 14:2-3).

The midrash (Shemos Rabba, Tezaveh) explains what these “words” are: “Klal Yisroel says to Hashem: ‘We do not have sacrifices to grant us atonement!’ And Hashem answers, ‘I only request words from you, and words means Torah.’ So Klal Yisroel says ‘But we don’t know how!’ And Hashem answers, ‘So cry and pray to Me. Did I not redeem your forefathers in Egypt because they prayed to me… and in the days of Yehoshua, was it not through prayer that I performed for them miracles? So too, I do not want from you offerings or korbonos – just words…’”

This amazing midrash addresses our generation, as we also do not have sacrifices. Hashem compares us to being in Egypt – where we needed salvation from the torture and slavery that entrapped us. And today we need miracles just like our nation needed in the times of Yehoshua. Why is this so?

The painful answer is that even though we try hard to fulfill the commandments of the Torah, many times we, unfortunately, fall short. And when a temptation to sin arises, we usually overcome it – but many times we don’t. All this needs atonement, as it is not possible to enter the World to Come with stains on our souls. We may have to endure various punishments or suffering, chas v’sholom. But Hashem, in His great kindness, gives us the opportunity each year, during these ten days of repentance, to achieve that soul cleansing and avoid the need to undergo pain.

So we say to Hashem: “What should we do? Once, we had a Bais HaMikdosh where we could offer korbonos and receive atonement. But we don’t have that anymore! We try to learn Torah, but we don’t know how! Our learning is not on the level sufficient to save us from our dire situation.” Hashem answers: “Cry and pray to me! That is what you should bring me – words of prayer!”

We see from here that there is a deep connection between prayer and repentance.

We find the same connection from the fact that viduy, confession, is part of the Yom Kippur davening – it appears five times during the silent Shemoneh Esrei and five times during the chazzan’s repetition. Similarly, we say in the moving prayer of U’nesaneh Tokef: “But repentance, prayer, and charity remove the evil of the decree!” So an integral part of achieving atonement is through prayer. Why is this so?


In Your Presence

As part of the viduy of Yom Kippur we say over and over “al cheit shechatanu lifanecha.” We ask forgiveness for the sin that we sinned “in Your presence.” I heard from the mashgiach of Yeshivas Toras Moshe in Yerushalayim, Rav Elchonon Meir Fishman, that the main reason we sin is that we forget we are in the presence of Hashem.

He illustrated his point in this way: Let us imagine that right now we hear the shofar of Moshiach. When that great shofar will finally be blown, there will be no doubts – this is it! Moshiach is here! As it gets louder and louder, someone walks into the room and starts telling you a juicy piece of loshon hora. Normally, you would have trouble resisting, but this time you scream: “Get out of here! The King is coming; how can I sin in His presence!”

When we express our remorse, we admit that “the sin was in Your presence.” The first step in repentance is to say to Hashem that until now we lived as if we were not in front of You, but now we have come back.

Now we can understand why we repent specifically during Shemoneh Esrei. As we explained many times in this series, tefillah is a meeting with Hashem. We put aside all other matters, business and personal, and turn to Hashem in prayer. At that moment, when we feel the strong connection to Hashem, we are able to truly feel how far we have strayed. We can honestly say that we sinned because we did not feel that we were in Your presence. So please accept our regret and forgive us!

This is what Hoshea is telling us: The way to repentance is through prayer! Praying is the quickest and most direct way of placing ourselves back in front of Hashem. That is why he stressed taking “words with you and return to Hashem” – because through these words of prayer we return directly to Hashem. And once we are there, we will be able to see everything in the correct perspective and truly turn over a new leaf in our lives.

Rabbi Eliezer M. Niehaus

Jewish Minor Detained by Jerusalem Police on Suspicion of Prayer

Sunday, September 25th, 2016

A Jewish minor was detained by police on Temple Mount Sunday morning, when he toured the area with a group and was accused of praying to God, which Jews are prohibited from doing there, legal aid society Honenu reported. Honenu attorney Rehavia Piltz is providing legal representation to the minor.

David Israel

The Power Of Prayer And Kavanah

Friday, September 16th, 2016

Chazal considered Bnei Yisrael’s greatest weapon to be its ability to pray. With tefillah we can move mountains and change the world.

Al tiree, tolat Yaakov, Fear not, you worm, Yaakov” (Yeshayahu 41:14). Just as a worm has its power only in its mouth as it bores into the trees, the same is true of Yisrael; through prayer it overcomes all of its enemies.

“Some boast of their chariots, others of the their horses, but we boast of the name of the L-rd our G-d. They will fall and be defeated but we will arise and pray to G-d who will hearken to us when we call to Him” (Tehillim 20:8-10).

But prayer must be sincere and uninterrupted. Even if a king greets you, you should not answer him. Even if a snake winds itself about you, you must not interrupt your prayers. Chazal tell us a story of a pious person who was traveling on the road. When it became dark, he stopped to pray. In the middle of Shemoneh Esrei, an officer approached and greeted him. The pious person didn’t answer him.

The officer waited until he finished his prayers and then said to him, “You fool! Why didn’t you return my greeting? Doesn’t your Torah advise you to guard your life? Were I in the mood, I could have cut off your hands and no one would have known the difference.”

The man answered: “Permit me to explain my actions. If you were standing before a king and your friend came along and greeted you, would you have returned his greeting?”

“No,” replied the officer.

“And if you had responded to his greeting, what would they have done to you?” the pious man asked.

“They would have cut off my head,” answered the officer.

“Therefore, by your answer, can you understand my actions?” replied the pious man. “If you are afraid to respond when you stand before a mere mortal king, who is here today and gone tomorrow, how much more so when I stand before the greatest king of all, G-d, the King of Kings, who lives eternally. Is it not proper that I should not respond to your greeting when I pray?”

The officer was very pleased by this clever answer and he escorted the pious man on the road to protect him from any harm.

We should learn a lesson from this story and never speak or hold any conversations during our prayers.

Rabbi Sholom Klass

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/kidz/midrash-stories/the-power-of-prayer-and-kavanah/2016/09/16/

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