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September 16, 2014 / 21 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘purpose’

Syrian 400m Hurdler Disqualified after Failing Drug Test

Sunday, August 12th, 2012

Syria’s Olympic 400m hurdler Ghfran Almouhamad has been disqualified from the Olympics after testing positive for methylhexaneamine, according to the BBC.

Almouhamad, 23, finished eighth in the second heat of the first round of the event on 5 August.

Although intended to be used as a nasal decongestant, methylhexaneamine has been marketed as a dietary supplement in combination with caffeine and other ingredients, under trade names such as Geranamine and Floradrene, to be used as a general purpose stimulant.

Almouhamad was just one of four women in the 10-member Syrian team.

It is the seventh positive case reported by the IOC since it started its testing program for the London games on 16 July. She is only the second athlete who competed in the Games who has been sanctioned for doping. The others were caught before competing.

American judoka Nick Delpopolo was expelled after testing positive for marijuana during competition, which he said he unintentionally consumed in something he ate.

The Olympics Obsession With Body Glorification and Might-Makes-Right

Monday, August 6th, 2012

The Olympics focus on physical prowess places brawl over brain, and body over spirit, in the hierarchy of importance. This paradigm needs to be shifted. Fitness comes from feeding both soul and body and strength is not only about defeating others but cooperating with others.

My revered mentor the Lubavitcher Rebbe (1902-1994) often admonished that it is incumbent to maintain optimal health because a healthy body is a healthy spirit. Studies demonstrate that exercise helps reduce anxiety, promotes better sleep, combats disease, improves mood, and even chemically alleviates depression by releasing endorphins and neurotransmitters.

Bodily health alone is not enough. One needs a healthy body in conjunction with a healthy mind. Obsessing over body image can lead to anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, malnourishment, depression and compulsive overeating. Neglecting the body by entirely focusing on the mind is also not the answer. We need a balance of fit mind and fit body.

My grandfather Reuven Helman was born in Israel-Palestine in 1927. He was an Olympian recognized as a weightlifting champion, distinguished athlete in Track and Field, the Decathlon and for his career as an athletic instructor. His ability to handily hoist 330 pounds wasn’t enough to keep him healthy. He needed a sense of purpose, peace of mind.

That moment of synergizing his physical health with his spirit came in the early 1950′s when the Rebbe handed him a sefer Torah, a handwritten scroll of the five books of Moses, on the Holiday of Simchat Torah - telling him to “dance with the Torah like a true champion.” The message was that you need purpose, spirit, and soul to be a champion not just a good physique.

Pirkei Avos, a book on Jewish ethics, teaches that the hallmark of true strength is self-discipline. Not conquering others, but conquering ones self. Working cooperatively with others is what civilization is based on, not exerting brute force over others.

Several Olympians this year have made racially hateful remarks toward their fellow competitors. The Greek triple jumper Voula Papachristou Tweeted: “With so many Africans in Greece at least the West Nile mosquitoes will eat homemade food;” and Swiss soccer defender Michel Morganella Tweeted after Switzerland lost, 2-1, to South Korea: “I’m going to beat up every Korean. Go on — burn yourselves!”

There is nothing wrong with competition and testing the limits of the body, when it is coupled with mutual respect and ethical sportsmanship. The Olympics is about uniting nations not dividing them. It is not all about which country is ahead on the leader board. By combining a healthy body with a healthy spirit we can help achieve the goal of unity, respect and cooperation.

Peres Says ‘Israel Will Act against Terror’ as Dead, Wounded Return Home

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

President Shimon Peres said in response to the deadly attack in Bulgaria that Israel will “locate and act against terror all over the world,” as the wounded and dead began arriving in Israel.

“This was a bloody attack against civilians going on vacation. Many of them lost their lives, others were wounded for no reason, for no purpose. They were attacked for the simple and unacceptable reason that they were Jewish or Israeli,” Peres said.

“We will not forget, we will not ignore and we will not give up. Israel will locate and act against terror all over the world. We have the capabilities for it and are committed to act. We have the ability to silence and incapacitate the terror organizations. Anywhere in the world where it is possible we shall build friendship and anywhere in the world where it is necessary we will chase murderous terrorists. We will uproot terror both near and far.”

Israel’s Foreign Ministry said Thursday morning that of the seven dead, five were Israelis, one was the bus driver and one the suicide bomber.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Thursday that Israel has concrete information that the Iranian-backed Hezbollah terror group carried out the attack.

Meanwhile, two Israel Defense Forces airplanes arrived in Israel carrying 32 of the wounded Israelis. Two remain in Bulgaria, too seriously injured to travel.

A third commercial airliner brought home the 70 Israelis who escaped injury in the attack.

The dead have not yet been positively identified, according to reports.

Photography Unit to be Established in the IDF

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

Photographers will join the combat fighters in the Golani Brigade for a full eight month course.  The purpose is to prepare them to document major operational events and improve the IDF’s challenge with public relations.  Captain Micah Ohana explained anyone can have a camera and distort an image that then becomes shown to the public.  Therefore, this change comes from the need for documentation from the battlefield that is authentic and can be delivered quickly.

J.E. Dyer: A Fun Independence Day List of Things That are Now Considered Taxes

Wednesday, July 4th, 2012

If you have decided to go along with Chief Justice Roberts and agree that Obamacare is a tax, now is the time to contemplate the many things this reading will allow Congress to require you to do.

The list is literally endless, because of the endless number of things ideologues can come up with. But these are some of the top tunes:

1. Congress can force you to buy an electric car.

2. Congress can force you to buy solar panels.

3. Congress can force you to buy and install a remote-control thermostat for your home.

4. Congress can force you to buy internet service.

5. Congress can force you to buy particular kinds of food.

6. Congress can force you to buy contraceptives for yourself.

7. Congress can force you to buy biofuels, even if you don’t have any use for them.

8. Congress can force you to donate to political causes and “charities.”

9. Congress can force you to pay union dues.

10. Congress can force you to buy the New York Times.

11. Congress can force you to buy “green travel” packages.

12. Congress can force you to buy a 3-bedroom, 2-bath townhome with a 1-car parking spot for your electric car.

13. Congress can force you to pay for soccer, gymnastics, and ballet lessons for your children.

14. Congress can force you to pay for a gym membership.

15. Congress can force you to rent a 2-bedroom apartment with no parking space.

16. Congress can force you to borrow money.

17. Congress can force you to pay for a state-college education for your children, regardless of where or whether they actually attend college.

17. Congress can force you to buy a goat.

19. Congress can force you to hire people.

20. Congress can force you to buy mass transit passes, whether you use mass transit or not.

The list could go on and on. After all, if fining people for not buying health insurance is the same thing as a “tax,” then fining them for not spending on other things is also a tax.

We rarely make important distinctions in our politics anymore, and that is a great menace to our idea of liberty and limited government. We must not let our concept of the purpose and character of a tax be corrupted, precisely because taxing us is a power accorded Congress in the Constitution. The definition of “tax” is, in fact, the most important limit on what Congress can do with its power to tax. In the wake of the Obamacare ruling, defining “tax” is defending our liberty – or, from the opposite perspective, attacking it.

This is not a minor point. Definitions are central to the idea of constitutionalism. We have let government dig into our pockets in so many different ways that many Americans have lost sight of the importance of definitions, but it is fatal to our liberty if we accept that any old way the government might make us spend money is a “tax.” It’s not. Taxes produce revenue for the government as their primary purpose and first-order effect.

I recommend reading Federalist 30-36 to discern the prevailing view of taxes at the time of our founding, as a revenue-production measure for the expenses of government. Count the number of times you see the word “revenue.” In Federalist 30, Alexander Hamilton makes an illuminating distinction between having power over the people’s lives and having the power to tax:

In the Ottoman or Turkish empire, the sovereign, though in other respects absolute master of the lives and fortunes of his subjects, has no right to impose a new tax. The consequence is that he permits the bashaws or governors of provinces to pillage the people without mercy; and, in turn, squeezes out of them the sums of which he stands in need, to satisfy his own exigencies and those of the state. In America, from a like cause, the government of the Union has gradually dwindled into a state of decay, approaching nearly to annihilation. Who can doubt, that the happiness of the people in both countries would be promoted by competent authorities in the proper hands, to provide the revenues which the necessities of the public might require?

Read the whole paper; it is clear that Hamilton viewed federal taxation as a revenue-raising measure, and not as a means of exercising mastery over the people’s lives and fortunes (e.g., regulating, penalizing, or social- or environmental-engineering the people). If we have come to see federal taxation in the latter light, it is not because such a purpose can be read into the Constitution or the Framers’ intent. We have a choice to accept the statist-interventionist mentality on taxes, or not. The most important thing we can do today is affirm limits on Congress’s power to tax, by requiring narrow definitions.

Shelach: The Merit And The Meritorious

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

One aspect of Divine Justice stipulates that through the decisions we make we help shape the world around us. Good deeds bring in their wake positive outcomes and the reverse is also true. In the mitzvah of the Second Pesach (Pesach Sheni), Rabbi Avigdor Miller, zt”l, develops this understanding and finds that Hashem manipulated history specifically for the purpose of making such outcomes happen.

“And those men said to him, why should we be held back from offering the offering of Hashem?” (9:7). Why did Hashem not teach the law of Pesach Sheni to Moshe immediately when the general laws of Pesach had been taught, and why had it been necessary to wait until these men put the question to Moshe?

This was Hashem’s stratagem to teach a lesson and bestow honor on the righteous ones. “A meritorious matter is caused to be brought into being by means of meritorious men” (Shabbos 32a). Hashem intentionally omitted any mention of Pesach Sheni when He spoke to Moshe on the laws of Pesach, and Moshe was caused by Hashem to refrain from inquiring. This “hiatus” in the Pesach laws awaited the virtuous men who would be honored by having their inquiry and Hashem’s reply recorded in the eternal Torah. Similarly, “Harm is caused to be brought about by guilty ones” (ibid).

The decree to keep the sons of Israel as wanderers in the wilderness for 40 years was actually planned beforehand but was not made known until the sin of the spies, in order to impart the lesson that the sentence of 40 years in the wilderness was caused by the guilty meraglim. Similarly, “Moshe proved worthy, and he caused the public to become worthy” (Avos 5:21): Because Moshe was the most virtuous, he was made the agent of causing the Exodus and the Giving of the Torah, though these events were foreseen and been intended from the beginning (Bereishis 9:27, 15:13-14).

In this episode Hashem teaches another principle as well: Even when a man is absolved from any obligation to perform a mitzvah, he should desire the opportunity to be obligated. These men had not been able to participate in the Pesach sacrifice and they were therefore blameless, according to the principle “The Torah absolves in unavoidable circumstances” (Bava Kama 28b). But it is not sufficient to be absolved, for the loss of the positive achievement is in itself a cause of intense regret in the minds of the righteous.

Because of the merit of these righteous men who longed for opportunities to be obligated in mitzvos, Hashem arranged that the subject of Pesach Sheni be revealed at their instigation. Otherwise, had they not inquired, Hashem would have taught the laws of the second Pesach offering to Moshe together with the laws of the first Pesach offering (Shemos 12).

Similarly, the poor man who has no money should regret the loss of opportunity to perform the mitzvah of charity to the poor. Jews in exile should regret the loss of the mitzvah of terumah and maaser. “The early chassidim longed to bring a sin-offering” (Nedarim 10a) which they could not do because they did not sin. And today we declare our regret that “We are not able to go up and to… do our obligations in Your chosen House” (Mussaf of Yom Tov). In a certain sense, the failure to perform a mitzvah is more regrettable than the sin of performing a transgression.

In Gehinnom the sinner is cleansed of the stains of his iniquities after a period of chastisement, and then he goes on to enjoy the reward for his mitzvos in eternal happiness. Thus the punishment for some sins is limited, but the payment for mitzvos is unlimited and eternal. (Journey Into Greatness)

Compiled for The Jewish Press by the Rabbi Avigdor Miller Simchas Hachaim Foundation, a project of Yeshiva Gedolah Bais Yisroel, which Rabbi Miller, zt”l, founded and authorized to disseminate his work. Subscribe to the Foundation’s free e-mail newsletters on marriage, personal growth, and more at www.SimchasHachaim.com.

For more information, or to sponsor a Simchas Hachaim Foundation program, call 718-258-7400 or e-mail info@SimchasHachaim.com.

The Great Identity Crisis

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

http://sultanknish.blogspot.co.il/2012/06/great-identity-crisis.html

A moral crisis tends to go hand in hand with an identity crisis. It’s when you don’t know who you are that you’re most likely to take refuge in a political or ethical identity that provides you with the comfort of a false sense of superiority. When all other identities fall apart, you can always rely on being the better man, the better nation and the empty space with the moral high ground.

Societies that go multicultural tend to experience identity drift and take refuge in a self-definition based on values. Who are Americans? As generations of presidents on the left and right have told us, they are people who believe in American values. What are American values? They’re the values that Americans are told they need to believe in, in order to be Americans. Like tolerance, immigration, free trade, and respecting the right of anyone to be a member of the Communist Party or the Muslim Brotherhood.

In a time of crisis, nations and peoples have to choose to survive. But what is survival? Proponents of a values-based identity have argued that survival means the survival of our values. If we take Measure X against an enemy, whether it’s outlawing the Communist Party or waterboarding Islamic terrorists, then we have “killed our values” and we are no longer Americans. It doesn’t matter then whether an act saves millions of American lives, if it means we destroy our values, then we have killed the only worthwhile thing about us.

Physical identity and values-based identity are in conflict in a time of crisis when the question is asked, do we want to survive or do we want to be morally pure. A values-based identity appears to be superior, but it is actually the product of an identity crisis. And a nation or a people with an identity crisis is vulnerable because they no longer know who they are. Their identity has been replaced with an identity based on their superior values, values that require them to die rather than give up those values. And if they have forgotten who they are, then they are too afraid to risk their values-based identity by fighting back.

The problem is not a unique one. For example, Jewish assimilation dropped the ‘peoplehood’ aspect leaving behind a values-based identity. When liberal Jews express their identity, it is values-based, built around “Tikkun Olam”, or “Social Justice”. That opens up a hole for someone like Peter Beinart to crawl in with a crisis of Liberal Zionism, a conflict between values-based identity and Jewish survival.

Would you rather live as Jews or die as liberals? The determining factor here is whether you have a Jewish identity. Without a Jewish identity, there is only the posturing of values-based identity, and giving up the high “ethics” of bending over backward for the bad guys seems a lot like the death of the only identity such miserable people have. If all that matters about Jews is their “ethical values”, then to step down from the moral high ground by bombing a terrorist stronghold is suicide.

The first question is; “Who are you?” That’s a question that is asked to individuals and to nations. It’s asked directly in the form of a national dialogue, and it’s asked indirectly in the choices that are made in a time of crisis.

The second question is; “What do you live for?” The answer to this question is determined by the first question. What we live for derives from who we are. Self-knowledge gives purpose, and purpose gives self-knowledge. A lack of identity is also a lack of purpose. And a lack of purpose betrays a lack of identity. A nation adrift has lost its identity; it lacks direction because it has no starting point.

A thing that does not exist for its own sake has no existence. It has no existence, because it is not survival-based. It is well and good to dedicate yourself to higher causes and beliefs, but if they do not begin with your own existence, then they have no more substance than you do. You can volunteer for a thousand causes, but if you don’t care whether you live or die– then you have nothing to contribute to them.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/sultan-knish/the-great-identity-crisis/2012/06/07/

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