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

Posts Tagged ‘road’

IAEA Expert Killed in Road Accident in Iran

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

An International Atomic Energy Agency expert lost his life in a road accident in Iran on Tuesday, the Iranian Mehr News Agency reported.

According to the report, a car carrying two IAEA experts veered off the road and overturned.

One of the experts, who had South Korean nationality, died in the incident that occurred at about 12:00 a.m. local time Tuesday, near the Khondab complex in Markazi Province, which is located in western Iran.

Iran offered condolences to the family and colleagues of the expert at the IAEA.

An American Odyssey (Part 9)

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

These days, Israel commemorates Holocaust Memorial Day, IDF Memorial Day and Israel Independence Day. I hope to write about these days sometime soon. For now, back to the Odyssey.

On Sunday morning, after breakfast at the Elite Café, we loaded the van, filled the gas tank and travelled the famous Route #1 from Los Angeles toward San Francisco, along the Pacific Ocean coast. It was the 4th of July weekend and the narrow route was crowded with miles of RV’s, campers and fellow travelers. Traffic was a bit slow along the way.

Our first pit stop was at the Santa Barbara wharf. My wife, Barbara, enjoyed stopping there to buy a refrigerator magnet with her name on it. We enjoyed the beautiful boardwalk and watched all of the tourists watching us. After a short visit, we drove along the highway, searching for a vacant table so that we could enjoy a picnic lunch.

From Santa Barbara, we drove to the very famous Hearst Castle, the beautiful former mansion of publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst. Today the castle is run by the Parks Service and is considered a historical treasure of majestic beauty. With 165 rooms, three phenomenal swimming pools and 127 acres of gardens, terraces and walkways, it is a popular and very crowded tourist attraction. On jam-packed weekends, tours often have to be arranged in advance, so we just enjoyed the film about the history of the castle and, of course, visited the gift shop where Barbara and Martha enjoyed trying on the big, colorful hats that were for sale.

We left the castle and returned to Route #1. The traffic and the single-lane curvy road, with no cross road exits, was bumper-to-bumper for many miles. This 12-hour day of Sunday traffic became one of our longest days on the road, and we were exhausted when we arrived at our motel, midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The next morning we stopped at the beautiful new home of our cousins Sara and Dave Benevento. The house is located in a forested area and has several spacious rooms. Dave works for a company that packages delicious berries (which we enjoyed with our breakfast yogurt). When we left Dave and Sara, we stopped at a roadside fruit stand and purchased freshly-packed, delicious California cherries.

We travelled a bit off the beaten track and drove to visit the James Lick Observatory. It is owned by the University of California and is located at the very top of Mount Hamilton (4,700 feet above sea level). The narrow, winding mountain-side road was a steep uphill climb (drive) to the top. Everyone, except for the driver, kept his or her eyes tightly shut during the scary ascent on this often single-lane road. It took over 75 minutes to reach the top (but only 30 minutes to travel down). The visit to the telescope room was very interesting and we heard an informative talk by one of the staff members. James Lick was a “generous miser” who grew wealthy dealing in California real estate. The telescope is used each clear night to observe the solar system and search for distant galaxies. The telescope needs darkness to work and light-pollution can be a problem.

We continued our drive on the beautiful scenic route to San Francisco with a stop at Menlo Park to visit my sister-in-law’s brother, Teddy Hamlet. Visiting relatives that we have not seen in a long while was one of the purposes of our trip. The local Glatt Kosher restaurant was, unfortunately, closed and the bagel place is open on Shabbos, so we could not go out for a meal. Some supplies from a stop at the local Walmart and our packaged meals served as dinner and we enjoyed the 4th of July fireworks from our motel room and via TV.

Next: San Francisco.

Comments may be sent to dov@gilor.com.

National Union Recess Tour

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

The National Union went on the road this week, despite the Knesset’s recess. The first stop was Naot Kedumim, near Modiin, where the faction took a specialized agriculture tour in the popular Biblical Landscape Reserve. After the tour, MKs Ariel, Eldad and Ben-Ari, faction manager Uri Bank, and other National Union faction officials sat down with the manager of the site, who informed them of the many difficulties Naot Kedumim faces in the areas of development, promotion, marketing, infrastructure, and transportation.  The National Union agreed that the educational aspect of the reserve is important and said they will encourage more visitors, particularly youth, to the site.

The next stop was Ateret, where the National Union heard from local representatives about the current and planned projects for the Shomron settlement. The faction viewed the new access road to Rawabi, the new exclusive Arab city being built on the mountain next to Ateret. The MKs were shocked to see the access road being built in Area C, an area under Israeli civilian and military control, despite government assurances that the road would not interfere with Ateret’s current projects and transportation access.

MK Ariel reacted to the new road:  “The rapid development of Rawabi is very alarming.  There is an urgent need to find solutions to refrain from harming Jewish access roads both from a security standpoint and in terms of infrastructure, and I will work most urgently together with my faction.”  MK Eldad, also upset by the road, said, “the claims that objections to the road were published legally are false, unless they were published in Zimbabwe. Together with the Members of Knesset, I will take parliamentary action in order to stop these illegal activities in Rawabi.”

Kindliness: A Reflection Of Hashem

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

“And Pharaoh sent for Moshe and Aharon and said to them, ‘I have sinned this time. Hashem is righteous, and I and my people are wicked.” — Shemos 9:27

After months and months of rebellion, Pharaoh finally admitted he was wrong. The Dos Zakainim explains that the plague of barad moved Pharaoh more than any other. And it was because of one factor: Moshe had warned him that the hail would kill anything living. Again and again, Moshe cautioned Pharaoh to take his livestock and his slaves inside. Because Pharaoh was repeatedly warned to save the living creatures, he was moved and recognized his error.

This Dos Zakainim is difficult to understand. Why would this detail cause Pharaoh to admit that Hashem was right? He witnessed the greatest revelation of Hashem’s mastery of nature and it didn’t move him. He watched as Mitzrayim, the superpower of its time, was brought to its knees. That didn’t move him. Why should this single factor have such an effect?

This question is best answered with a mashal.

The Nature of the Human

Henry Ford, while a brilliant businessman, was not known for his kindliness. In fact, he used to brag that he never did anything for anyone. The story is told that while he was going for a walk in the fields with a friend, they heard yelps coming from a nearby property. A dog had gotten caught in a barbed wire fence and couldn’t get out. Ford walked over to the fence, gently pulled on the wire, and freed the dog. When he returned to the road, his friend said to him, “I thought you were the guy who never did anything for anyone.” Henry Ford responded, “That was for me. The dog’s cries were hurting me.”

This story is compelling because Ford didn’t care about anyone but himself. He didn’t choose to be kind. He didn’t want to feel the pain of others. In fact, he tried his best to squelch this sensitivity. But it was still there. He couldn’t stop himself. He was pre-programmed to have mercy. In his inner makeup, there was that voice that said, “Henry, the poor animal is in pain. Go do something!” Even though he prided himself on selfishness, he couldn’t quell that voice inside. It bothered him to hear a creature in pain. When he heard those cries, they reached down to his inner core, to that part of the human that only wants to do good, proper and noble things. That part was touched. It saw an animal in pain and said, “Don’t just stand there, Henry. Do something. That poor animal is suffering.”

This is illustrative of the basic components of the human. When Hashem created man, He joined together two diverse elements to form his soul. These are his spiritual soul, what we call his neshamah, and his animal soul, which is comprised of all of the drives and inclinations needed to keep him alive. The conscious “I” that thinks and feels is made up of both parts.

The neshamah comes from under the throne of Hashem’s glory. It is pure and holy and only wishes for that which is good, proper and noble. Because it comes from the upper worlds, it derives no benefit from this world and can’t relate to any of its pleasures. The other part of man’s soul is very different. It is exactly like that of an animal, with all of the passions and desires necessary to drive man though his daily existence.

We humans are this contradictory combination. Within me is an animal soul made up of desires and appetites, and within me is a holy neshamah that only wishes to do that which is right and proper. The animal soul only knows its needs and exists to fulfill them. The neshamah is magnanimous and only wishes to give. These two total opposites are forged together to create the whole we know as the human.

This seems to be the answer to the Dos Zakainim. Pharaoh was a human being, and as all humans, he had a sublime side to him. He may have spent years ignoring and pushing it down, but it remained within him. What he experienced during the plague of hail was pure chesed. His enemy was concerned for his good. There was nothing that Hashem had to gain by protecting the cattle and the slaves of the Egyptians. The only motivation was generosity, goodness, and a pure concern for others. Seeing this warmed even the callous heart of Pharaoh. He recognized this wasn’t driven by lowly motives. He understood he was dealing with something outside the realm of normal human interests.

Being Like Hashem

This also helps us understand one of the great ironies of life. The selfish person is focused on his needs and his wants. The generous person is concerned about the welfare of others – even at the cost of his own needs. We assume the selfish person would be happy. After all, he is singly focused on what’s good for him. But the generous person has the good of others on his mind – surely he can’t be as happy. He has to worry about the good of others.

Reb Elimelech M’Lizhensk (Part VI)

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

History recounts that the Baal Shem Tov did not appoint a successor, so when he passed away on Shavuos 1760, his only son, Zvi, became the leader for a full year. According to tradition, on the first yahrzeit of his father, the Baal Shem Tov’s son disclosed that he had had a vision of his father relating that the Shechinah (God’s holy presence) had moved from Mezhubesh (the court of the Baal Shem Tov) to Mezeritch and then symbolically removed his white coat and placed it on the shoulders of Reb Dov Ber from Mezeritch.

The Maggid was a masterful imparter of his master’s teachings, but because he was physically weak, restricted to crutches and an ill individual, he could not go out and intermingle with the people. The center of chassidus was transplanted to Mezeritch and whoever was thirsty to hear chassidic teaching would travel there.

Because the Maggid could not physically take the message on the road and to the people like the Master before him, he appointed shalichim (agents) to act on his behalf.

These shalichim entered study halls and they entered beer halls – virtually anywhere that the commoners could be found. When they encountered a Torah scholar they would offer no rest until he would agree to visit the Maggid in Mezeritch, who would invariably enchant – converting a skeptic into a chassid.

Many of these scholars, after having personally imbibed the world of chassidus, would head out to the field and metamorphose towns into chassidic centers.

By the time of his death in 1772, the Maggid had attracted to his center of learning in Mezeritch some of the most brilliant minds, extraordinary personalities, and dynamic leaders of his day. He would mold them into inspired teachers and holy men. The Maggid was able to take a man of outstanding potential and develop him into “the tzaddik” that the Baal Shem Tov had described, the very key to the success of chassidus.

The popularity of the rise of chassidus did not go unnoticed by those who did not share the same allegiance. As long as the movement was limited to the commoner and isolated in a few pockets of Poland no one perceived it as a threat. But all of this had changed by 1772.

Because of the outreach work of the Maggid’s agents the movement flourished and expanded beyond all assumed, natural geographic borders. It extended to Central Poland and Galicia, Lithuania and White Russia.

But the nascent movement of chassidus not only leapt passed geographic boundaries, but it also flowed up from the commoners and impacted upon important scholars and leaders. Suddenly the non-chassidic mainstay of Polish, Lithuanian and White Russian Jewry felt threatened. Overnight, everything the chassidim did was suspect.

The hitherto reluctance to consult kabalistic texts was disregarded by the chassidim, creating panic and alarm that the influence of Shabbetai Zvi and Jacob Frank lingered yet. There was also concern that the unprecedented emphasis upon prayer would shift time-honored priorities. It had previously been assumed that only a scholar familiar with all of the intricate minutiae of the law could be considered holy and close to the Almighty. Suddenly chassidim had hoisted the unschooled commoner to an equal level of closeness to God by opening the gateway of prayer.

Prayer did not require erudition or diligence, only sincerity. The story is told of an ignorant, shepherd-boy who entered a synagogue on Yom Kippur and was taken by the sincere devotion of the congregation. He too wished to offer up his voice in prayer but was unschooled in how to pray – even how to read from a prayer book. He therefore took out his recorder and began to offer the only profound expression that he knew how to articulate.

The worshippers in the synagogue were shocked, disgraced and appalled at the boorish behavior of this simpleton, who desecrated the Yom Tov with his simple flute. A shonda, they cried in unison and derision!

Only the Baal Shem Tov came to his defense, chastising those present by admonishing, “I could see that the prayers of this shul had almost made their way to the high Heavens, but they were lodged impenetrably at the gates. It was only this sincere and utterly pure blowing of the recorder that was able to hoist and transport all the prayers of this assembly into the portals of Heaven.”

(To be continued)

Chodesh tov – have a pleasant month!

Who’s Watching Anyway? (Me’ilah 2b, 9a)

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

Summertime in Massachusetts, one often sees flowers for sale at the side of the road. But there is no salesperson present. Instead, there is a sign requesting $10 for the flowers. You leave the $10 bill on the table and go back to your car with flowers in hand. It is an honors system. There is nobody watching to see if you pay only $5 or if you creep back, retrieve your $10 bill and make off with the money and the flowers. Doing that would be a breach of trust.

The Torah calls breach of trust “me’ilah.” It cites several examples of me’ilah on a social level: One who accepts an item from another on deposit and then denies that she was ever given the deposit in the first place; one who finds lost property but denies she found it and keeps if for herself; one who takes unfair advantage of a fiduciary relationship; one who breaches the trust of a spouse and enters into an extramarital relationship – all such persons are guilty of me’ilah.

There is also a breach of trust toward God. We give God something of value, but when He is not “looking” we take it back or use it for ourselves. The way we give God something is by pronouncing an item “kodesh” or “hekdesh.” That pronouncement, uttered even in solitude with no witnesses present and even before the kohen knows about it, has the power to transfer the property in the item to the Temple.

“Just words!” one might say, “and besides, no-one was watching. Let’s change our mind and take it back.” That would be a breach of trust, a me’ilah against God. The Talmud discusses this type of breach of trust in tractate Me’ilah.

Me’ilah in connection with Temple property can be intentional or it can be inadvertent, such as when one was genuinely unaware the item one was enjoying belonged to the Temple. The sanction for intentional me’ilah is lashes and monetary restitution. The sanction for unintentional me’ilah is threefold. In order to atone for the transgression, the perpetrator must offer up on the altar a guilt offering – asham meilot – in the form of a ram worth two Shekalim (38.2 grams of silver) and must make restitution for the item misappropriated. In addition, the perpetrator must add a fine equal to one quarter the value of the misappropriated item. Thus if the item is worth four quarters, one must pay five.

Me’ilah applies to items that are intrinsically holy – kedushat haguf – such as various types of kornbanot including animal offerings, bird offerings, flour offerings known as menachot, the Show Bread, known as lechem hapanim, the two loaves of bread offered up on Shavuot known as shtei halechem, the libations of water known as nesachim and the incense known as ketoret.

Me’ilah also applies to items dedicated to the Temple to assist in its upkeep. These items, which are either used in the Temple in the form they are given or sold so that their proceeds are given to the Temple, are known as kodshei bedek habayit. Although items donated for bedek habayit are not intrinsically holy, once they are dedicated to the Temple they too, like the korbanot, are subject to the laws of me’ilah.

The underlying principle of me’ilah is that nobody may derive any benefit from an item that is kodesh laHashem – that belongs exclusively to God. It follows that once an item ceases to belong exclusively to God in the sense that the Torah permits humans to derive some benefit from it, it is no longer subject to me’ilah.

Some korbanot always belong exclusively to God in the sense that there is never a time when a human may benefit from them. An example of such an item is the korban olah, no part of which was eaten by the kohanim and which, (apart from its hide, which was given to the kohanim) was entirely consumed by the fires of the altar. Accordingly, any misappropriation of the korban olah, from the time it was dedicated to the Temple to the time its burned ashes were removed from the altar, was subject to the laws and penalties of me’ilah.

Other korbanot belonging to the kodshei kodashim category start out belonging exclusively to God but are subsequently permitted for consumption by the kohanim. Examples of such items are the sin offering, known as the korban chattat, certain types of the guilt offerings, known as korbanot asham, and communal peace offerings such as the lambs sacrificed on Shavuot known as kivsei atzeret.

Once the blood of these animals has been sprinkled on the altar in a procedure known as zerikah, the kohanim are permitted to eat certain parts of the animal, (the breast and part of the right thigh). Accordingly, from that point on the animal no longer belongs exclusively to God and (except for the fat, kidneys and liver of these animals, which are always consumed by the fires of the altar) these animals are no longer subject to the laws of me’ilah.

Settlers: On Road to New Palestinian City We’ll Be Moving Targets

Monday, March 19th, 2012

Some 200 residents of settlements in the Benjamin region, in central Judea and Samaria, rallied Sunday night on Route 465, in protest of the new access road being paved to serve Rawabi, the modern urban center of the planned Palestinian state.

Led by Rosh ha’Moa’atza (County Clerk) Avi Roeh, the Jewish residents arrived at the work site to demonstrate against connecting the existing and the new roads. They were joined by Likud activists.

“Rawabi was born in sin,” Itzik Shadmi, chairman of the residents committee of Benjamin Region, told Ma’ariv. “It was planned deliberately in a location that would create a contiguous Arab settlement to serve the additional Arab state in the heart  of Eretz Israel. It also affects environmental quality and Israel’s mountain aquifer (underground water table).”

The road that will connect the Arab city of Ramallah to Rawabi runs south to north, and halfway through it crosses highway 465, the cross-Benjamin highway, the central access road to Ateret and Halamish.in West Benjamin.

In the future a tunnel will be dug at this junction, to allow Palestinians to drive under Route 465. But for the time being, the Ramallah-Rawabi road will connect directly to highway 465, which will become part of Ramallah-Rawabi for a mile and a half.

A member of the Benjamin residents’ committee explained that the entry and exit of vehicles to Palestinians from Highway 465 is done only with road signs and no traffic lights at the junction. “We know the wild manner of driving of many of the Palestinians,” he said. “Put them here on the road, and they’ll turn it into a major traffic artery, with us as moving targets on the highway.”

An aerial view of construction work on the site of Rawabi

An aerial view of construction work on the site of the new, modern, Palestinian City of Rawabi

Jewish settlers fear another security aspect of heavy Palestinian traffic on the road. “It could be a major Palestinian event, or a funeral, causing serious traffic jams, and then if an Israeli vehicle is stuck inside a Palestinian convoy, it could end with very unpleasant  consequences,” the source suggested.

Rawabi (“The Hills” in Arabic) is the first Palestinian planned city in Judea and Samaria, located near Ramallah and Bir Zeit. The master plan for the city calls for constructing 10,000 homes in six neighborhoods with a population of 40,000.

Over the course of two years, before construction began, the developers bought private property from 2,000 families living in Canada, Iraq, Spain, Kuwait, Britain, Portugal and Italy. The source of the city’s water supply is not yet clear, with the most obvious solution being hooking it up to Mekorot, the Israeli water utility, via the settlement of Ateret.

The Palestinian website The Electronic Intifada accused Bashar Masri, the Palestinian businessman and CEO of the company developing the “Rawabi luxury real estate project in the occupied West Bank,” of “actively helping Israel deepen its hold on the Palestinian economy despite his earlier claims that he is trying to help end this relationship.” This because “a dozen Israeli companies have been contracted to take part in the construction of Rawabi.”

A map of highway 465 connecting Halamish and Atarot

A map of highway 465 connecting Halamish and Atarot

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/settlers-on-road-to-new-palestinian-city-well-be-moving-targets/2012/03/19/

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