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December 4, 2016 / 4 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘sense’

The Parsha Experiment – Ki Tavo: How To Make Sense Of The Terrible Curses

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

God promises us dark, sadistic curses, if we don’t live up to our responsibilities to Him. It’s so difficult to read, how could He be so cruel to us? Join us as we grapple with the incredibly difficult curses of Ki Tavo.

This video is from Immanuel Shalev.

Link to last week: https://www.alephbeta.org/course/lecture/ki-teitzei-2016-5776

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Immanuel Shalev

The Foundation Stone: A Sense Of Place

Thursday, September 1st, 2016

{Originally posted to Rabbi Weinberg’s website, The Foundation Stone}

A sense of place, especially God’s place, is frequently too far, inaccessible, and unreachable. The man, who lost his job and money, loses his place in his community, if not his home. A sick child stuck in a hospital away from her family loses her sense of place. The desperate mother who enters a synagogue for the first time in years to pray for that sick child will often feel out of place. A young man, leaving the safe walls of Yeshiva to work “out in the world,” will struggle to find his place.

A child, with whom parents are angry or who overhears parents arguing, a student in trouble at school, a couple experiencing tension, all feel out of place. Israeli families that live close to Gaza and are too terrified to return home, have lost their place. European Jews, experiencing the open anti-semitism on the streets, have lost their sense of place, as have we, post Tisha b’Av, when we mourned the historical destructions of Jerusalem. And yet, now, as we begin the approach to Rosh Hashana, hear God calling us home. What are those who have lost their home to do?

We can, of course, find our place in the abstract and ethereal. Yet, we are warned, “Beware for yourself lest you bring up your elevation offerings in any place that you see (Deuteronomy 12:13).” The Ha’amak Davar explains that one who seeks to elevate his relationship with God will strive to do so wherever he is, but must do so only in a place that is set aside for such elevation, such as the Temple, synagogue, or study hall. What are we to do when we cannot go to the Temple, and when we feel out of place in a synagogue or study hall?

This week’s portion, Re’ei, speaks of our need for a sense of place, how difficult it often is to find, and how we must protect others’ sense of place. It also guides us in how to manage the experience of ‘no place.’ It addresses the sanctity of the Land of Israel, private altars, and the proper place to eat sanctified foods, a place for the blood of slaughtered animals, the wayward city, and the Pilgrimage Festivals. We are taught to be sensitive to the poor person’s loss of place, and forbidden from eating a fish that carries its home, its place: shellfish.

Our experience of distance from the proper place is described in the laws of the Second Tithe that must be eaten in Jerusalem. “If the road will be too long for you, so that you cannot carry it [Second Tithe], because the place that God, Your Lord, will choose to place His name there is far from you, for God, your Lord, will have blessed you, then you may exchange it for money, wrap up the money in your hand, and go to the place that God, your Lord, will choose (14:24-25).”

There is a step in our service of God that encourages us to wrap up all the moments, insights and experiences that lack a proper place, so that, when found, we can bring them to the right place.

I recently read a quote from J.G. Ballard, “One of the things I took from my wartime experiences was that reality was a stage set. The comfortable day-to-day life, school, the home where one lives and all the rest of it, could be dismantled overnight.” I realized that when moving from one city to another, changing jobs, or while in extended stays in hospitals in Argentina and Germany, I have always sought to find my place in things that could not be dismantled. I find my place when I wrap myself in Tallit and Tefillin and pray, when sitting at a Shabbat table, and, most of all, when I study Torah. I then wrap up those experiences by incorporating them into my regular prayers, studies, and service. I hold on to those places inside of me, waiting for the opportunity to bring them to that place that God will choose for me. I carry those places inside of me, much as Noah grabbed a vine from the Garden of Eden to carry on the Ark and replant in the new world so that the Garden would remain a real place.

When Rosh Hashana begins to call out with the Elul Shofar blasts, its invitation to come home, I hear it in all those internal places I have managed to wrap up. As long as those places inside resonate to the call, I know that I will one day reach that place that will never be dismantled.

Chodesh Tov and Shabbat Shalom

 

Rabbi Simcha Weinberg

Rightwing NGO Proves the Left Has No Sense of Humor, Introspection [video]

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

Israel’s remaining vestige of leftwing cultural tradition, Ha’aretz, fell for a rightwing hoax that exposed it as utterly bereft of the capacity for introspection, and worse, utterly without a sense of humor. This absence of humor could be attributed both to the paper’s proud tradition of German publishing (Ve don’t like jokes, sank you very much), as well as to the decline of the Israeli left, which used to do funny.

What’s good for the goose, the gander should at least try once, figured Israeli rightwing NGO Regavim, which is usually engaged in tracking European Union and Arab violations of real estate regulations in areas legally under Israeli control in Judea and Samaria. If upwards of 30 Israeli and Arab leftwing NGOs are receiving millions of euros annually to influence Israeli policy, why not invest a couple of shekels in influencing European policy? Take, for instance, the Brexit referendum coming up this week, in which Britons will decide whether or not to leave the European Union, and which all UK citizens find annoying, humiliating and repressive, but about half of them say it’s worth it for the economic benefits (which brings to mind certain obvious professions).

So Regavim launched a campaign featuring a website with a message to expat Britons in Israel to vote yes on leaving the EU: Support Israel – Leave Europe, which features some inflammatory text, actually making their case about the goose and the gander:

“The EU pumps hundreds of millions of pounds into Israel annually through an array of NGOs in addition to the Palestinian Authority. With over 200 land disputes worldwide, the EU’s constant singling out of Israel is tantamount to state sponsored anti-Semitism.

“For decades, the pro-Israel community has sat and watched as the Europeans increase their influence and meddle with the lives and future of the people of Israel. Finally Israel supporters in the UK and abroad can take a stand against the EU, by voting leave.”

How much could that have cost? Eight bucks to register the URL, plus, say $50 to get a guy to put it up. Then they invested another hundred bucks or so in a video showing a Hamas traditionally masked press conference encouraging Britons to stay in the EU, because it would advance the Hamas cause. The bang they got for their buck was huge, because Ha’aretz reporter Uriel David leaped on the opportunity to slam the right, leaped without looking, we should add.

“Rightwing NGO Receiving Public Funds Calling on British to Leave the Union” was the headline, followed by, “The rightwing NGO Regavim supports the UK leaving the European Union as revenge for its support for the Palestinians. A January examination revealed that, according to the same NGO, it received about 11 million shekels ($2.85 million) from government entities.”

Then Ha’aretz added, without a shred of self awareness, apparently, after decades in which it has supported the vast flow of European money to fully fund anti-Israeli, leftwing NGOs: “Regavim is a non-profit active in favor of judaizing lands and against illegal Palestinian construction in Israel and the West Bank. The organization’s heads often criticize the European Union and other international entities for their alleged (sic) intervention in Israel’s internal affairs and their support for illegal construction programs.”

So now it’s been established, the goose really hates it when the gander is doing goosey things, and sees nothing funny about it.

 

Finally, the most rewarding reaction from the left came from Peace Now founder Yariv Oppenheimer, who regularly reminds you of the kid who gets picked last for games but hasn’t given up trying to look cool, who tweeted: “The Israeli government is funding an NGO that tries to meddle in the internal affairs of another country? Can it be?”

Hey, if the Brexit goes in favor of cutting away from the continent—a move endorsed by John Cleese of Monty Python fame, who really knows humor—it could be blamed on those pesky settlers.

JNi.Media

It’s My Opinion: Animals, Humans, And Common Sense

Thursday, June 16th, 2016

Harambe, a silverback gorilla, was recently shot to death at the Cincinnati Zoo. The 450-pound ape grabbed a three-year-old boy who tumbled into his enclosure. The unexpected arrival of the child and the screams of the crowd agitated the gorilla. Harambe dragged the boy about in the moat like a tiny rag doll.

Zoo officials determined the child was in grave danger. They concluded that a tranquilizer dart would take too long to act on the gorilla and in the interim might lead to further agitation. They opted to shoot the gorilla to save the child’s life.

Animal lovers and animal rights activists have reacted with outrage. The 17-year-old Western lowland gorilla was a member of an endangered species. He has been made into a tragic martyr. Some Facebook posts have said the bullets aimed at Harambe should have been aimed at the parents whose lapse in watching their child caused the death of an innocent animal. Tens of thousands of people signed a petition demanding “Justice for Harambe.” A tearful vigil was held at Cincinnati Zoo. Mourners left flowers and gifts at the gorilla exhibit. A sign read “Gorillas’ Lives Matter.”

Farther south, people were experiencing their own angst with the animals that shared their habitat. A large alligator was found with a man’s partially eaten body in its mouth in Lakeland, Florida. The nine-foot reptile fled when local law enforcement arrived at the gruesome scene. The beast was later found and captured by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation officials. An investigation has been launched to learn the identity of the victim and determine whether he was killed by the alligator or had already been dead and was just used as a convenient snack. Residents of the area were horrified. How could this have happened?

Humans are often confused when it comes to understanding the actions of animals. It is quite common to ascribe human motives and behavior to pets and other creatures. But it’s a false premise, a projection of our own ideas, and has little to do with the workings of other species.

Harambe yanked and dragged the little boy though his pool because he was an anxious animal. The child was an unanticipated presence and the crowd was loud. He was in an unforeseen situation and probably felt threatened. No police psychologist could talk him down. He was, after all, a gorilla.

The alligator was chomping on his human lunch because he was hungry. He certainly was not going to refrain from eating anything he could get in his mouth because of any sense of propriety, good manners, or suitability. He was, after all, an alligator.

Jewish law stipulates that it is a major sin to cause an animal unnecessary harm or suffering. However, Hashem created the world and gave human beings dominion over all other creatures. Yes, animals’ lives matter, but human lives matter more.

Shelley Benveniste

Tribalism, Post-Tribalism and Counter-Tribalism

Monday, August 19th, 2013

Originally published at Sultan Knish.

Man begins with the tribe. The tribe is his earliest civilization. It is enduring because it is based on blood. The ties of blood may hinder its growth, the accretion of tradition holds it to past wisdom while barring the way to learning new things, but it provides its culture with a physical culture.

The modern world embraced post-tribalism, the transcendence of tribe, to produce more complicated, but also more fragile cultures. And then eventually post-tribalism became counter-tribalism.

Our America is tribal, post-tribal and counter-tribal. It is a strange and unstable mix of all these things.

The post-tribal could be summed up by the melting pot, a modernist idea of a cultural empire, the E pluribus unum of a society in which culture could be entirely detached from tribe, manufactured, replicated and imposed in mechanical fashion. The counter-tribal and the tribal however are best summed up by multiculturalism which combines both selectively.

Modernism was post-tribal. It believed that advancement lay with abandoning the tribe. Post-modernism however is counter-tribal. It doesn’t just seek to leave the tribe behind, but to destroy the very notion of one’s own tribe as the source of evil, while welcoming the tribalism of the oppressed.

The post-tribal and counter-tribals both felt that the rejection of one’s own tribe was a cultural victory. But where the modernists thought that tribe itself was the evil, the post-modernists think that it is only their tribe that is the evil. The modernists had no more use for the tribalism of any culture than that of their own. The post-modernists however believe that the tribalism of oppressor cultures is evil, but that of oppressed cultures is good. And so they replace their own tribalism and post-tribalism with a manufactured tribalism of the oppressed consisting of fake African proverbs and “Other” mentors.

Counter-tribalism is obsessed with the “Other”. It regards the interaction with the “Other” as the most socially and spiritually significant activity of a society. Counter-tribalists instinctively understand diversity as a higher good in a way that they cannot express to outsiders. They may cloak it in post-tribal rhetoric, but the emotion underneath is the counter-tribal rejection of one’s own identity in search of a deeper authenticity, of the noble savage within.

For the modernists, tribalism was savage and that was a bad thing. For the post-modernists, the savage was a good thing. The savage was natural and real. He was a part of the world of tribe and blood. A world that they believed that we had lost touch with. It was the civilized man and his modernism that was evil. It was the tribalism of wealth and technology that they fought against.

The modernists believed that culture was mechanical, that it could be taken apart and put back together, that fantastic new things could be added, the boundaries pushed into infinity in the exploration of the human spirit. The post-modernists knew better. Culture was human noise. Boundaries defined culture. When they were broken, there was only the fascinating explosion of anarchy and private language. Communications broke down and elites took over. They stepped outside those boundaries and lost the ability to create culture, instead they went seeking for the roots of human culture, for the tribal and the primitive, hoping to become ignorant savages again.

The modern left has become a curious amalgam of the modern, the post-modern and the savage. There you have a Richard Dawkins knocking Muslims for their lack of Nobel prizes and then side by side is the post-modern sneering at the idea that being celebrated by the Eurocentric culture and its fetishization of technology matters compared to the rich cultural heritage of Islam and the savage on Twitter demanding Dawkins’ head.

The same scenes play out on daily commutes in modern cities, where Bloombergian post-tribal social planners exist side by side with Occupier counter-tribals and violent tribal gangs acting as flash mobs in the interplay of liberalism, the left and the failed societies left behind by the systems of the left.

Muslim immigration is a distinctly counter-tribal project. The European tensions over it among its elites, as opposed to the street protesters who make up groups such as the EDL, is a conflict between the post-tribals who envisioned the European Union and the counter-tribals who view it as a refugee camp that will melt down the last of Europe’s cultures and traditions.

Daniel Greenfield

Julie Menin Announces Campaign for Manhattan Borough President

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Julie Menin, former Chair of Community Board 1 in Lower Manhattan, today announced her candidacy for the Democratic nomination for Manhattan Borough President endorsed by more than 200 grassroots community leaders from communities across the length and breadth of the borough.

“I’m running for borough president because I believe my strong track record of leadership and solution driven approach is what is needed in the challenging times our borough faces. As Manhattan builds – and rebuilds – we should create good jobs and affordable housing for people who live in every part of the borough.

“Every parent should be able to send their child to a nearby school that meets their needs. Every family should have access to great parks and playgrounds in their own neighborhood.

“Every New Yorker should have a voice in decisions that affect their community.”

She added: “Making sure that our growth benefits every neighborhood will take leadership, common-sense solutions and the ability to bring people together. That’s been my record as a lawyer, small business owner and community leader, standing up for what’s right and getting results.”

Menin is a community leader and mother of three young children who is known for helping lead downtown Manhattan’s recovery after 9/11, helping lead the charge to build three new schools, exposing government waste and taking on the big battles to protect our democratic principles.

Having completed fundraising for the 2013 race, Menin’s campaign launch is focused on her grassroots support. She has announced a schedule of 200 “Menin Meet-Ups” and will be drawing on a volunteer list that is already over a thousand New Yorkers long.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Ceasefire a Poor Outcome for Israel

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

Today, the IDF announced that it had “accomplished its pre-determined objectives for Operation Pillar of Defense, and has inflicted severe damage to Hamas and its military capabilities.”

It is embarrassing to read this statement, which includes the fact that 130 rockets slammed into Israeli towns on the last day until the ceasefire came into effect at 9 PM. It does not even mention that 20 more struck between 9 PM and midnight.

While many Hamas rockets and launchers were destroyed, clearly many were not. Hamas has been building fortifications since 2009, and much of this infrastructure escaped the air bombardment. Hamas was certainly dealt a serious blow, but not a knockout punch. Its Iranian weapons suppliers will soon re-equip it, and it will probably get millions in ‘humanitarian’ aid from its friends in Europe.

Israel’s operation is estimated to have cost 3 billion Israeli Shekels (about $770 million). Each Tamir interceptor fired by Iron Dome cost $40,000. Now there is a ceasefire, and 30,000 reservists (cost: $60 million) will likely be sent home.

Hamas established that it can hit Tel Aviv and Jerusalem with missiles that can only improve in the future. It established that — by launching a large number of rockets at once, as it did in an attack on Beer Sheva today — it can overwhelm the Iron Dome system. It established that it can withstand a concentrated air attack and still fire rockets.

Palestinians understand quite well what happened, both the people in the street and their leaders.

As always, Israel’s overwhelming military might can’t stand up against the ‘persuasive’ powers of the White House, and yet again defeat is snatched from the jaws of victory. There will be another round, and another, and another.

But what do you expect? Israel is addicted to US weapons systems and spare parts — and now, to the Iron Dome system, developed in Israel but funded by the US. Saying no is unthinkable.

One question that Israelis are asking is this: why didn’t Barak and Netanyahu expect this? Did they have assurances from the Obama administration that they could go into Gaza, assurances which were later withdrawn? It doesn’t make sense to call up 30,000 reservists just to scare the other side.

We’ll probably never know exactly what happened. But no matter how hard I try, I can’t interpret this as a positive outcome for Israel.

Visit FresnoZionism.

Vic Rosenthal

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/fresno-zionism/ceasefire-a-poor-outcome-for-israel/2012/11/22/

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