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September 27, 2016 / 24 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘sense’

Hiroshima on My Mind

Friday, November 16th, 2012

The Spokesman for the IDF is constantly announcing that the Israeli Air Force is doing pinpoint bombing in order to protect innocent civilians. Prime Minister Netanyahu also says that Israel deserves praise for the care it is taking not to injure innocent civilians.

Apparently to them, these “civilians” are “innocent” even though they house grad rocket launchers in their homes, and it’s their fathers and brothers who are doing the firing. In the meantime, we are bombing evacuated warehouses and underground tunnels, and the Gazans keep firing away, not at all worried about being hit. In the 200 plus forays our fighter bombers have made over Gaza, maybe 20 people have been killed and a couple dozen wounded. Peanuts. So the innocent civilians keep shooting away.

Whose approval are we trying to win? Has America or the United Nations applauded us on our great sense of morality and fair play? Has France or Russia? You’ve got to be kidding. In their heart of hearts, they think that we’re jerks. No one fights a war this way.

Calculations of the death-toll from the Anglo-American bombing of Dresden in February 1945 have varied widely. Figures have ranged from 35,000 through 100,000 and more. The German city of Dresden had a population of three quarters of a million people, plus hordes of anonymous refugees from the Eastern Front. It was destroyed in one night by Allied aircraft armed with more than 4,500 tons of high explosive and incendiary bombs. The devastated area amounted to around 13 square miles – not much different from the size of Gaza. The victims weren’t Nazi soldiers but innocent civilians. No one said a word.

Toward the end of World War 2, following a firebombing campaign that destroyed many Japanese cities, the Allies prepared for a costly invasion of Japan, knowing that thousands of American soldiers would be killed. To avoid this, American airmen dropped the “Little Boy” atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima on 6 August 1945, immediately killing 66,000 innocent civilians. Then they dropped the “Fat Man” bomb over Nagasaki on 9 August, killing 40,000. Six days later, the Japanese surrendered without the loss of one American soldier in Japan. Within the first two to four months of the bombings, the acute effects killed 90,000–166,000 people in Hiroshima and 60,000–80,000 in Nagasaki. Once again, no one said a word.

If you ask me, it’s time we took a lesson from the goyim. Before even one of our soldiers steps foot in Gaza, instead of bombing vacant warehouses and tunnels, we should level a few eight-story buildings filled with “innocent civilians.” That will stops the rockets, believe me.

Tzvi Fishman

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

Dear Rachel,

In your column of Oct 26th you published a letter written by B’Ahavat Yisrael (really??) who attacked you for being soft on the candy issue. Actually, she sounded hyper, like someone who overdid the sugar, in her stinging criticisms of the people she (in her signature) professes to love.

She claims that we have lost our “sense of Yiddishkeit” and lists a whole host of grievances she has against us. Besides our “obsession with sweets,” she takes issue with the way we give mishloach manos, the type of music we enjoy and the expense we go to when making a simcha, and to add insult to injury she cites our frum culture as mirroring that of a non-Jewish society.

With all due respect, I would like to address her faulty analysis. Regarding her criticism of the way we give mishloach manos, she’s apparently never heard of hiddur mitzvah (the beautifying of a mitzvah by embellishing it). An example of hiddur mitzvah: some of us go all out to decorate our sukkah, which of course doesn’t mean that a plain looking sukkah does not cover the bases.

The same with the esrog; most men vie for a beautiful esrog, despite the increase in expenditure, and some even use a magnifying glass to check for the tiniest blemish. Would she consider this to be in excess or a sign of materialism? It is neither.

Giving more than the traditional two mishloach manos and getting enjoyment out of applying our own personal touch to them is hardly frivolous. On the contrary, it is putting our G-d given talents to good use. She can present hers without flourish and stick to the minimum required if she so desires, but she is not right in begrudging others their indulgence in a hiddur mitzvah.

She might also keep in mind that those in a position to go all out in celebrating occasions like weddings are mostly the same people who dispense charity to the needy with a generous hand. One should not dictate to others how their money should be spent. There have always been rich people, those of moderate means, and the less privileged. Naturally their different lifestyles reflect their resources; this is the normal way of the world and always has been.

As for overloading on sweets, the subject that led to B’Ahavat Yisrael’s rant in the first place, most of us are aware of the boundaries of unhealthy eating. In fact, overeating altogether (doesn’t have to be sweet junk) is detrimental to our health. Education may be what’s needed; we must talk about it – as we are doing here – and schools would do well to emphasize and promote the value of good nutrition. If we drum it into our kids early on, they’ll be more likely to live that way down the road.

Another disturbing condemnation by B’Ahavat Yisrael concerns summer camp for children. “When did that start?” she asks with incredulity. Would she really rather that they stayed home with nothing to do? Summer camp happens to be a wonderful outlet for children and a healthy way for them to unwind from their rigid school year, make new friends, and learn in a more relaxed atmosphere. Day camp is a lifesaver for those uneasy about sending their children to overnight camp or who cannot afford anything but.

No, summer camp does not spoil our kids, as B’Ahavat Yisrael implies. It offers them healthy physical and emotional outlets in a structured environment. She opines that they should stay put and “earn a little money.” At what age does she suggest they go job-hunting? At eight? Ten, maybe? Thirteen? The enterprising adolescent can, by the way, earn a few dollars by working in camp while still enjoying the benefits of being on camp premises.

As for B’Ahavat Yisrael’s contention that home is the best place for children to be in the summertime, I’m sure those mothers who can’t afford to send their children to camp of any kind would be willing to straighten her out as to the pitfalls of having children at home with nothing to do but play computer games, watch TV, annoy the heck out of their sibs, and eat. Mostly junk. Sweet junk. Lots of it.

Rachel

All that Training Pays Off

Sunday, November 4th, 2012

This is the picture of an overworked, dead tired officer somewhere on the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, who picked up his megaphone and began to try and talk some sense into Sandy, the ravaging hurricane. The image has gone a bit viral, and so we’re doing our little bit to help it along. We feel that when all else fails, reasoning with the elements is something one should try at least once.

But don’t hang around too long, in case the elements have a devastating comeback…

Yori Yanover

Drumbeat of Terror Goes On But Most Don’t Realize

Monday, October 29th, 2012

It’s just after ten in the morning here on a bright, warm Autumn morning. A delightful, breezy day.

Unless you are very determined, and even if you feel very connected to events, it’s near impossible to get a meaningful sense of the sheer terror of living within range of the rocket men of Gaza. The thugs of the Hamas-dominated enclave are armed to the teeth with a rocket arsenal that numbers in the tens of thousands… and growing.

The sheer volume of the ongoing attacks is mind-numbing, and therefore of so little news value that it’s ignored – up until the point when the Gazan Palestinian Arabs get lucky and kill someone. And even then, awareness is minor unless Israel’s defensive measures exact innocent lives and the reporters and editors go back into teeth-gnashing mode.

In the past hour [9:00-10:00 a.m.], we know of these incoming rockets:
Sha’ar Hanegev at 09:00 am [4 rockets in a single barrage: source]
Sha’ar Hanegev at 09:20 am
Hof Ashkelon at 09:35 am
Shaar Hanegev/Sderot at 09:50 am
Sdot Negev at 10:00 am
These come on top of the terrorist (meaning entirely indiscriminate) rocket attacks from earlier in the morning. We reported on those [“29-Oct-12: Wild, turbulent night and not because of a hurricane“] a couple of hours ago. And they will surely be followed by more.
What’s it like to be at ground zero when one of these rockets is fired at you? Click the image below for a taste.
Visit This Ongoing War.
Frimet and Arnold Roth

Lucky Avraham Didn’t Have the Internet

Sunday, October 28th, 2012

Good thing there wasn’t Internet and Facebook in the days of our forefather Avraham. If there had been, he may never have come to Israel. He may have decided to stay in Ur Kasdeem, and settle with being a vicarious Israeli via the Internet. That way he could have enjoyed the best of both worlds, rubbing shoulders with all of the wealthy and high-ranking idol worshippers in Ur Kasdeem, while at the same time sending in comments to The Jewish Press.com, critical of the way things were being run in the Holy Land.

After all, in Avraham’s time, there were savage Canaanites living in Eretz Yisrael. And there weren’t any kosher supermarkets back then, nor religious neighborhoods, nor Jewish Day Schools and yeshivot for the kids. In fact, there weren’t any Jews living there at all. Avraham would be the first. Who needed the hassle? It made a lot more sense to stay where he was, in Ur America, where everyone knew him, enjoying the good life with the goyim, wait for Moshiach, and pretend, via the Internet, that he was actually involved in building the Jewish State.

Lucky for us that The Jewish Press.com didn’t exist back then. It could have been a test that even Avraham might not have had the strength to overcome.

Tzvi Fishman

Divorce and Its Real Life Challenges: A Community Call to Action

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

A mother and father living in accord and harmony is one of the best presents that can be granted to a child. Yet what happens when G-d’s natural design of child rearing becomes stripped away from a family? What happens when the notion of enjoying quality time with both parents together becomes non-existent? I am of course referring to the ramifications of divorce. Divorce eradicates the stability of a traditional family unit and invites the inherent difficulties of single parenting.

Single parenting is the divorcee’s proverbial Mount Everest. It is a harrowing peak through which one is expected to perspire and blunder. The obstacles of single parenthood manifest themselves in almost every parent-child interaction. These obstacles range from the significantly personal to the mundane. A “significantly personal” dilemma might be the single parent’s responsibility to address his/her child’s emotional state in wake of the divorce, while a “mundane” dilemma might include awkward situations such as a single father needing to take his young daughter to the restroom. In almost all regards, single parenthood can be distinctly challenging and lonesome.

Yet, not only is the divorcee confronted with the hardships of single parenthood, but also with the solitary road that divorce often paves. The divorcee is faced with a sense of isolation as his or her spouse becomes more of a memory than a reality. The Torah explicitly conveys the drawbacks of loneliness when it states: “It is not good for man to be alone.” Interestingly, the aforementioned pasuk is the only instance when the Torah states what is considered “not good” for man. Why is that so? Why does the Torah feel it is essential to specify that loneliness is a state of being that man should strongly resist? It is simply because loneliness breeds emotional fatigue and frigidity, and subsequently these negative sentiments can create a deep chasm of despair and hopelessness. When people are lonely, it is quite simple for them to slip into that chasm – yet very difficult for them to climb out. There is little else in the world that is worse than the pain of being alone.

In addition, when loneliness crawls into a person’s life, it can make daily vicissitudes and life-changing struggles seem even more unbearable. An individual who is fortunate to have a caring spouse has a greater chance of smoothing over life’s cracked edges. Having a dedicated and loving partner by one’s side can assuage the various frustrations of life. There are scientific studies that record a patient’s chance for survival (from cancer and other serious illnesses) based upon his or her relationship with a partner (or lack thereof). The results of these studies portray that those who had a strong spousal relationship had a greater chance of healing, while those who did not have a strong spousal bond had a lesser chance. The burden of a divorcee’s financial and parental responsibilities, as well as his or her emotional needs, can be particularly despondent paths to traverse alone.

Furthermore, Orthodox divorcees have the added test of maintaining a sense of stability and joy during Shabbat and the holidays. These are opportune times to rekindle familial unity and happiness, yet what does a divorcee do when he or she is faced with the prospect of solitude instead of companionship? Moreover, lack of family bonding does not only create desolation for divorcees, but also for their children. Children from an observant divorced home may become saddened by the break in traditional religious practices that were once associated with family connection. For example, when a son is by his mother for Shabbat, he may sorely miss his father’s Kiddush or walk to the synagogue, and when a daughter is by her father for Shabbat she may yearn for the special moment when she lights candles with her mother. Although Shabbat and the holidays can be potentially exciting, they are usually tinged with a distinct sense of loss for divorcees and their children.

Now that the Orthodox community is more cognizant of divorcees’ travails, what can it do to ease their transition between marriage and separation? How can the community ameliorate the divorcee’s adversities and console his or her pain? First and foremost, the Orthodox community should endeavor to embrace divorced members with warmth. Unfortunately, a divorcee’s solitude is only intensified when the community subtly castigates him or her by passing judgment (whether consciously or unconsciously). Once the community is able to develop a more accepting mindset, then it can fully open its hearts and homes to divorced individuals. A divorcee will truly appreciate it when a family willingly invites him or her to partake in Shabbat meals and holiday festivities. The loneliness will be diminished, and a sense of belonging can enter the picture once again.

Cantor Benny Rogosnitzky

Everybody Is a Winner

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

I recently read a disturbing news article about a social phenomenon that is tragic beyond words.

The article stated that more people were losing their lives by committing suicide than by car crashes. This conclusion was based on a recent study by the American Journal of Public Health based on data compiled by the National Center for Health Statistics from the years 2000-2009.

The study found that vehicular fatalities during this period had declined by 25%, but deaths from suicides rose 15%. Experts, however, believe that the number is actually closer to 20%, and that many deaths listed as accidental were not. There is a cultural and religious stigma in regards to killing oneself, so some suicides were orchestrated to look unintentional.

Conversely, despite it seeming as if there are more drivers on the road – we are all to often frustrated by traffic congestion that turns highways into parking lots – and the increase in distracted drivers, the decrease in car accidents was attributed to various safety features like front and side air bags, seat belts and stricter penalties for speeding and drinking.

So why are so many people killing themselves, or attempting to, since some try but fail? I can only imagine that they are looking for a way out of lives saturated with abject misery; they feel trapped in a cage of never-ending unhappiness.

Many wake up wishing they hadn’t. Each day is emotionally traumatic and they do not even entertain the possibility of their lives getting better; they have no iota of hope that the situation they find themselves in will ever improve.

In trying to understand the mindset of a suicidal person, I imagine that it is like having your finger stuck in a flame. No matter how hard you try to pull the finger out of the fire, you cannot. You are in such torturous pain, and so desperate for the agony to stop, that you want to kill yourself to get blessed relief. You see no other option.

But their excruciating pain is not physical – it is emotional.

They are enveloped in the flames of relentless despair and hopelessness; some try to dull the pain through alcohol, drugs or unsavory distractions and behaviors. But all they manage to achieve is a temporary respite. Their finger is still in the fire and they face endless years of torment. I believe the fuel feeding this flame is a deep sense of worthlessness, an overwhelming belief that they are perpetual losers; thus they see no point in even trying to strive for success, be it socially, financially or spiritually.

They have given up, believing they have failed and will continue to do so. They feel like caged gerbils on an exercise wheel, running and running and running to no avail – as hard as they try, they get nowhere.

Sadly, the “oxygen” that feeds this extreme sense of inadequacy is often supplied by those who should have been building their egos and fortifying their sense of self, planting and nurturing the seeds of confidence and self-like that would bloom into a happy, optimistic, and emotionally healthy human being. These include mothers and fathers, siblings, spouses, teachers, neighbors, friends, colleagues, employers – even strangers.

Constant, unrelenting criticism, denigration, and belittling – whether unintentional (in a misguided attempt to motivate you to do better academically, improve your job performance, or your looks,) or deliberate – bullies trying to shore up their own low self-esteem by mocking, teasing, and even physically hurting someone they perceive to be a bigger “loser” than themselves – whittles away a person’s belief that he is worthful (as opposed to worthless) and deserving of respect.

Individually, every put down or jab is just a single straw, but thousands of these straws piling up over the years can crush the strongest back and break the sturdiest spirit.

(I remember when I was little and would walk down the street, an elderly neighbor who often sat on his porch, would call out to me, “Hey fatty!” I was a bit chubby, but what did he gain by denigrating me? I was too much of a tomboy to care how I looked, but it was a negative straw nonetheless.)

Cheryl Kupfer

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/on-our-own/everybody-is-a-winner/2012/10/14/

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