web analytics
April 18, 2015 / 29 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Sabbath’

Jews and Arabs Exchange Fisticuffs in Eastern Jerusalem

Sunday, October 7th, 2012

A group of over 20 Jews consisting of men, women, children, and elderly  returning to the Maale HaZeitim neighborhood on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem on the Sabbath were attacked by a group of Arabs hurling rocks and cinder blocks.

Reports indicate that Jewish men in the group responded by punching assailants, who returned lobbies with their own fists.

Guards were called immediately to the scene, no serious injuries were reported.

Yom Kippur Guide for the Perplexed 2012

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

1.  Yom Kippur is observed on the tenth day of the Jewish month of Tishrey, whose astrological sign is Libra (♎). Libra symbolizes key themes of Yom Kippur: scales, justice, balance, truth, symmetry, sensitivity and optimism. Libra is ruled by the planet Venus (Noga, נגה, in Hebrew), which reflects divine light and love of the other person.  The numerical value of Venus, נגה, is 58 just like the numerical value of אזן, which is the Hebrew root of “balance” and “scale.”

2.  Three holidays – Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot (Tabernacles) – are celebrated during the month of Tishrey. The number 3 is identified with balance, stability and The Essence.  The triangle is a symbol of stability.

3.  On the first day of Tishrey, the first human being, Adam, was created. Each year on the tenth day of Tishrey, Yom Kippur, human beings are accorded an opportunity to recreate themselves spiritually. Tishrey and Libra are dominated by the Hebrew letter ל, which is the tallest Hebrew letter, consisting of 3 parts, aiming upward, reflecting the need to elevate-oneself morally, self-enhancement. Yom Kippur is not driven by punishment, but by behavioral-enhancement.

4.  Yom Kippur’s central theme is the plea for forgiveness – directly and not merely via prayers – from fellow human beings.  It highlights humility (admitting fallibility), faith, soul-searching, thoughtfulness, being considerate, compassion, accepting responsibility, magnanimity.  Speaking ill of other people (“evil tongue” in Hebrew) may not be forgiven.

5.  The Jubilee – sanctifying each 50th year by proclaiming liberty, as also inscribed on the Liberty Bell – is announced by blowing the Shofar (a ritual ram’s horn) on Yom Kippur. The Jubilee liberates people physically and spiritually. The word “jubilee” (יובל) is a Hebrew synonym for “Shofar.” Yom Kippur and Jubilee highlight liberty and the subordination to God.

6.  Yom Kippur culminates the ten days of genuine, heart-driven atonement/repentance, which begin on Rosh Hashanah, the first day of the Jewish month of Tishrey – an Acadian word for forgiveness and Genesis. It is observed on the tenth day of TishreyTen has special significance in Judaism: God’s abbreviation is the tenth Hebrew letter (Yod – י); Ten attributes of God – Divine perfection – were highlighted during the Creation; the Ten Commandments; the Ten Plagues;  Ten reasons for blowing the Shofar; 10% gift to God (tithe); The Ten Martyrs (Rabbis who were tortured/murdered by the Roman Empire); Ten generations between Adam and Noah and ten generations between Noah and Abraham; a ten worshipper quorum (Minyan) is required for a collective Jewish prayer;  etc.

7.  Yom Kippur is a Happy Jewish Holiday, replacing vindictiveness and rage with peace-of-mind and peaceful co-existence between God and human beings and, primarily, among human beings.  Yom Kippur emphasizes God’s Covenant with the Jewish People, ending God’s rage over the sin of the Golden Calf.

8.  The Hebrew word Kippur כיפור (atonement/repentance) is a derivative of the Biblical words Kaporet כפורת – which covered the Holy Ark at the Sanctuary – and Kopher כופר, which covered Noah’s Ark and the Holy Altar at the Temple.  Yom Kippur resembles a spiritual cover (dome), which separates between the holy (days) and the mundane (rest of the year), between spiritualism and materialism. The Kippa כיפה (skullcap, Yarmulke), which covers one’s head during prayers, reflects a spiritual dome. 

9. Yom Kippur calls for repentance – Teshuvah, תשובה, in Hebrew.  The root of Teshuvah is similar to root of the Hebrew word for Return שובה – returning to positive values – and Shvitah שביתה – cessation (strike) of mundane thoughts and actions and eating.  It is also similar to the root of Shabbat שבת. Yom Kippur is also called Shabbat Shabbaton – the supreme Sabbath.  The last Sabbath before Yom Kippur is called Shabbat Teshuvah (based on Hosea’s prophesy, chapter 4).  While the Sabbath is the soul of the week, Yom Kippur is the soul of the year.

10.  The Hebrew spelling of “fast” (צם/צום) – abstinence from food – reflects the substance of Yom Kippur.  The Hebrew word for “fast” is the root of the Hebrew word for “reduction” and “shrinking” (צמצום) of one’s wrong-doing.  It is also the root of the Hebrew words for“slave” (צמית) and “eternity” (צמיתות) – enslavement to God, but not to human-beings. “Fast” is also the root of עצמי (being oneself), עצום (awesome),  עצמה (power), עצמאות(independence), which are gained through the process of fasting, soul-searching, spiritual enhancement and trust in God.

11.  The prayer of Veedooi-וידוי (confession/reaffirmation in Hebrew) is recited ten timesduring Yom Kippur, re-entrenching genuine repentance and the plea for forgiveness. The prerequisites for forgiveness are the expression and exercise (talking and walking) of repentance; assuming full-responsibility for one’s (mis)behavior, and significantly altering one’s behavior.  King Saul sinned only once – ignoring the commandment to annihilate the Amalekites – but was banished from the crown and killed, because he shirked responsibility, while responding to Samuel’s accusation.  King David sinned twice (The “Bat-Sheba Gate” and the “Census Gate”), but was forgiven, because he accepted full-responsibility and the death sentence (as proclaimed by Nathan the Prophet), which was promptly rescinded.

Preparation is Key to a Successful Shabbat

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

“It is a Sabbath of Sabbaths for you, and you shall afflict yourselves, It is an eternal statute” (Vayikra 16:31).

This is how our Torah sums up the upcoming experience of Yom Kippur: a Sabbath of all Sabbaths. Rather than use the more colloquially known “Yom HaKippurim,” The Day of Atonementthe Torah reading of Yom Kippur morning uses the above term to summarize the twenty-five hour experience we are about to step into.

This once-a-year “Sabbath of Sabbaths” is not alone; our weekly Shabbat is coined a “Sabbath of Sabbaths” as well (see  Shemot 31:15, 35:2, Vayikra 3:3).  However, there are many distinctions between our weekly Shabbat versus the “once a year Shabbat,” ones that make it highly doubtful that any of us would   naturally state that Yom Kippur is just another Shabbat. After all, the tenth day of Tishrei is devoted to fasting in place of the three obligatory Shabbat meals, praying almost all day in place of far more free time, and abstaining from other prohibitions that are totally permissible on Shabbat. Alas, if G-d decided to coin the same phrase for both, it’s incumbent upon us to try and seek the similarities between these two elevated days in our calendar.  Allow me to extrapolate but one that the former clearly possesses, to which the latter, in my opinion, has not been properly privileged: preparation.

There isn’t a Rabbi or Teacher that preached during the past few weeks, and didn’t state, in some way or another, how vital it is to “prepare” for the Days of Judgment. Teshuva, introspection and other such terms were surely refrains in any sermon or class, imploring us not to “stumble into” Yom Kippur without the proper period of preparation.

And indeed, preparation seems to be exactly what is on the menu at this time of the year. Jews of Sephardic decent began to recite Selichot  prayers forty days before Yom Kippur (Code of Jewish Law, OC 581:1,). Ashkenazic Jewa began Selichot at least fourdays before Rosh Hashana (Rama’s glosses, ibid), allowing at least four days of “inspection” of oneself, as one would inspect a sacrifice for blemishes prior it’s offering (Mishna-Berura, ibid, 6). As we draw closer to Yom Kippur, preparations increase greatly, as articulated beautifully by Rav Solovetchik:

“I remember how difficult it was to go to sleep on Erev Yom Kippur. The shochet (ritual slaughterer) used to come at the break of dawn to provide chickens for the Kaparos ritual, and later the people would give charity…Minchah, vidui, the final meal before the fast (seudah hamafsekes), my grandfather’s preparations all made Erev Yom Kippur a special entity, not only halakhic, but emotional and religious as well.

Erev Yom Kippur constitutes the herald that the Ribono Shel Olam is coming…  (A. Lustiger, Before Hashem, page 60-61).

If all the above preparations are so vital for the “Shabbat” of Yom Kippur, are they not critical also for the weekly “Shabbat?” If both are called “Shabbat of Shabbats,” why should just one require preparation, while we stumble into the other with none?

Indeed, it’s known that “One that was busy preparing on the eve of Shabbat will eat on Shabbat, and one that didn’t prepare will not eat on Shabbat (Tractate Avoda Zara 3a). While this seems like good advice rather than a rabbinical edict (i.e., the prohibition of cooking would prevent one who didn’t pre-prepare food from eating on Shabbat), this is not the only statement that speaks of preparing for the Shabbat. Just as the Code of Jewish Law deals extensively with the Laws of Shabbat, there are endless chapters dealing with the Eve of Shabbat (OC, chapters 249-252, 256 & 270), from what should be done in honor of Shabbat, to what one should refrain from due to the oncoming holiness of the day.

The list goes on and the idea is clear: we are about to enter a twenty-five hour period of time with just family, friends and G-d, without distractions of the email, phone, work and more. If we want to have a profound “Shabbat” experience, it is vital that we prepare for it prior to its commencement.

It is uncanny for any event to turn out successfully without months of preparation,  Thus too, our weekly Shabbat-event, even while refraining from the thirty-nine prohibitions, and making Kiddush, can easily turn into a wasted experience, or G-d forbid, a disastrous one, if not properly prepared for. Thus lamented Rav Solovetchik:

True, there are Jews in America who observe the Sabbath. The label ‘Sabbath observer’ has come to be used as a title of honor in our circles…But, it is not for the Sabbath that my heart aches, it is for the forgotten ‘eve of the Sabbat’ There are Sabbath-observing Jews in America, but there are not ‘eve-of-the-Sabbath’ Jews who go out to greet the Sabbath with beating hearts and pulsating souls… (Pinchas Peli, On Repentance).

And indeed, even if you buy “ready-made” Shabbat food, pay someone to clean your house, and even have someone else bathe your kids, much spiritual and mental preparation is needed for Shabbat to become a true experience; Have you put thought into what will be the topic of discussion at the Shabbat table? Have your kids prepared a Dvar-Torah to share? Which games will you play with your kids over Shabbat? How will you balance your time between your guests and friend, and the time with your husband/wife and kids? Is there inspiring reading material in the house? How will this Shabbat be different from all others?

Tevye in the Promised Land, Chapter 13: Tzeitl’s Last Wish

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

“What are we going to eat?” Shmuelik asked Tevye as they changed into their Sabbath clothing.

Tevye did not understand the question. “What do you mean?” he asked.

Before Shmuelik could answer, Hillel spoke up in a bard’s satirical manner. “He means that though you may be overjoyed to be reunited with your daughter, the Lord has commanded the Jewish people to observe certain dietary laws like eating properly slaughtered meat. And while we have only been here a short time, I have not seen the likes of a God-fearing butcher.”

“So we won’t eat meat tonight,” Tevye responded. “There is no sin in that.”

“Not eat meat on Shabbos?” Hillel asked. “Even when my mother, God bless her, didn’t have a kopeck to buy a new pair of shoes for me or my brother, we still had meat on Shabbos.”

“That’s the way it goes,” Tevye answered. “The Almighty is in charge of the menu. Whatever He gives us is more than we deserve.”

“The meat is not the only problem,” Shmuelik observed. This is the Holy Land. There are laws of priestly dues and tithes. Before we can eat vegetables and fruits which Jews have grown in the Land, the proper portions must be set aside as commanded in the Torah.”

Tevye sighed. Whoever said it was easy to be a good Jew? Your thoughts had to be holy. Your deeds had to be holy. Your food had to be holy. Your day of rest had to be holy. Even your Land had special religious laws of its own which no one ever thought about in Russia.

“This is one of the reasons why Moses begged the Almighty to let him enter Eretz Yisrael” Shmuelik informed them. “So he could fulfill the mitzvos which we can only perform in the Holy Land.”

“If it was important to Moses, our teacher, than it certainly is important to us,” Tevye agreed. “But how does one take these tithes?”

Because sundown was almost upon them, and a detailed explanation would take much too long, Shmuelik volunteered to hurry to the kitchen to prepare the food as required. Dressed in his Sabbath finery, he ran off across the kibbutz grounds in search of the dining hall. Kibbutzniks pointed the way, their eyes wide with wonder as they stared at the ultra-Orthodox Jew in his white stockings and knickers. Embarrassed, he tapped on the kitchen doorway, noticing that it lacked a mezuzah. The young women inside stopped their work to gape at the bearded, black-coated apparition with a fur shtreimel hat on his head.

“We are visiting Hodel,” Shmuelik explained. “That is, her father and sisters have arrived, and there are certain matters of kashrut which need to be performed.”

The girls stared at him brazenly, directly into his eyes, the way men look at each other. Shmuelik had never encountered females like this. Embarrassed, he looked away.

“Do whatever you have to,” one said. “You are a guest.”

Quickly, Shmuelik entered the kitchen and set aside small portions of the vegetables which the women had prepared. When he finished separating the trumah and maaser tithes as the Torah prescribed, he began washing leaves of lettuce in a bucket of water.

“We already rinsed them,” one of the young women said.

“Hold a leaf up to the light,” he answered.

The girl inspected one of leaves which had already been washed. The green stalks were speckled with insects.

“Yeech,” the girl said in disgust.

“A Jew isn’t supposed to eat crawling creatures,” Shmuelik explained.

He asked for some vinegar. Soaking the leaves in the bitter liquid was the best way to make them bug free. “After soaking the leaves in the vinegar, they have to be washed again so that the taste isn’t spoiled,” he taught.

“Oh, nonsense,” said a girl with long braided hair. “Bugs are so small, what harm can they do?”

Once again, with the Sabbath only minutes away, Shmuelik didn’t have time to answer the question. “Did you bake any loaves of bread?” he asked.

“Certainly we did,” the girl named Sonia answered. “What do you take us for?”

Shmuelik broke off some pieces from the bread which the women had baked and said a blessing over the special challah portion. As it turned out, kosher meat wasn’t a problem at all. The evening’s main course was fish. Meat was a luxury which the kibbutz could not afford even on the Sabbath.

Edon, ‘America’s Got Talent’ Semifinalist, Getting Free Kipahs

Monday, September 10th, 2012

A New Jersey store reportedly is sending free yarmulkes to Edon Pinchot, the kipah-wearing former contestant on “America’s Got Talent.”

Cool Kippahs in Teaneck, N.J., is sending Edon several free yarmulkes in honor of the fact that the teenager wore them during all of his performances on the NBC reality show,  the TMZ website reported. Edon, a singer and pianist, was eliminated last month in the semifinals.

Edon, a student at the Ida Crown Jewish Academy in Chicago, is Sabbath observant and keeps kosher. His kipah made him a focal point for viewers.

Tomchei Shabbos Of Miami Serves Needy Families

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Tomchei Shabbos of Miami was founded in 2009 by students of Rabbi Friedberg of North Miami Beach. Every Friday the organization distributes kosher food to more than seventy families throughout South Florida. Tomchei Shabbos means “supporters of the Sabbath” and that is just what the organization does.

Preparing Tomchei Shabbos packages.

Tomchei Shabbos believes in helping the Jewish needy without making them feel needy. There is 100 percent confidentiality for recipients. The nonprofit organization is unique. All donations go directly toward the cause. There are no salaries. All work is done by volunteers.

Donations are needed of food, money, toys, etc. Volunteers are needed who can give time for packing and delivering. All packages are put together on Thursdays in a warehouse and delivered to families in need on Friday.

For more information visit tomcheishabbosofmiami.org, call 305-773-2033, or e-mail tomcheishabbosofmiami@hotmail.com to refer a family in need or to offer a donation.

Grounding Kings and Presidents

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

Okay, I’ll start off by saying that I really don’t understand where some of these titles come from – but what can I do…I’m just the typist here. My brain says to the fingers – type it and they do…so don’t blame them, please.

I didn’t walk among kings last week, but I certainly walked among presidents, ministers, generals, former generals, and ambassadors. They walked somehow above the rest of us, occasionally stopping to speak to someone here or there. They were hustled in, hustled out. We were the audience, the children – told to stand (as if we did not know); told not to leave our seats for security reasons.

We were a bit awed, a bit nervous. They are but men, flesh and blood but when someone like Gabi Ashkenazi stands a short distance away, you hesitate to approach. When Peres comes into the room, your mind fills with questions and you wonder if you should ask. I did approach; I did ask. I pushed myself by reminding myself that I have as much right to share in the sunshine of this world as they do, to question what my country is doing and where it is going. It is the future of my children; I am their mother.

After two full days, I was ready for the quiet that is my home. I woke Friday morning to the task of making challah and as I kneaded the dough, I thought about the week. My success of the day was not measured in international agreements brokered among diplomats and journalists, but on whether my dough would rise and if the bread that would be baked would be sweet enough.

Hours later, the table set, two of my children received their father’s blessings and we watched as he cut the bread and gave each of us a piece. It was delicious – this fantastic recipe I got from Lauren months ago. I’ve changed it a bit – added mostly whole wheat flour, increased the honey by a bit. I braided six strands, which makes a lovely loaf – and we enjoyed it and it was as I was kneading and later as I was eating it that I thought about how we are grounded, as kings and presidents are not.

More than the simple task of making bread is the concept here. We can walk among presidents and kings all week long, but it is only as we ground ourselves on Friday and enter the Sabbath do we approach the True King. These men who spoke have voice but no real power. They do not determine the present and future of Israel, nor do the rockets that hit our land, even on Shabbat. As we entwine the strands of dough, we are entwined with our land, our people, our faith and most of all, with God. It is this act, of preparing the challah and caring for our families that Jewish women have done for centuries, millennium.

All week long, we can forget that. We can listen to politicians suggest that Israel can make peace if is surrenders this, concedes this, gives up that, forgets that. We can listen to academics play with lines on a map wondering if they notice, perhaps, that the line just happens to go through someone’s living room, and we can wonder about whether this man’s perceived crisis is really more about him than about us. And then we can come home, add yeast and flour, eggs and water and honey and salt, We can watch the dough rise, a promise that Shabbat is coming soon.

And we can bake it, letting the house fill with the most amazing scents. We can thank our married children as they stop by to bring a salad for us, or as they call and wish us a peaceful Shabbat. We put the freshly baked bread on the table, light the Shabbat candles as we close our eyes and pray for peace. No, not the peace of these kings and politicians, but true peace that comes from the heart and in the heart.

And then, as the candles burn and we sit around, we have that first taste of the challah and know we have been truly blessed, truly grounded and truly honored to walk with the King.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/a-soldiers-mother/grounding-kings-and-presidents/2012/06/27/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: