web analytics
October 22, 2016 / 20 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘sense’

Bereishis: Appreciating The Good

Friday, October 12th, 2012

And Adom said, “The woman that you placed with me, she gave me from the tree and I ate.” Bereishis 3:12

Adom HaRishon was given one mitzvah: not to eat from the Eitz HaDas. When he transgressed it, Hashem gave him the opportunity to do teshuvah. Not only did Adom not repent, he played the blame game – “It was that woman that You gave to me. You gave her to me as a helpmate and she turned out to be my ruination.”

Rashi quotes the Gemara that calls Adom a kofi tov, one who denies the good. The Gemara explains that this is a trait that has plagued mankind from that moment. Instead of appreciating the good, man has continued to deny the very good that is given to him over and over again.

The difficulty with this Rashi is that it doesn’t seem that Adom was guilty of denying the good. Hashem appeared to him and he felt trapped, caught red-handed. The correct action on his part would have been to admit his guilt and beg for forgiveness. That isn’t what he did. Instead, he shifted the blame. There was, however, a logic to it. “Because she was given to me as a helpmate, I relied on her and trusted her.” After all, the Creator of the heavens and the earth gave him this woman. Surely he could trust Hashem’s choice.

Adom was guilty of not owning up to his responsibility for the act. Maybe he was guilty of being dishonest. He just wasn’t courageous enough to admit that he did wrong. But his sin wasn’t one of not appreciating the good.

Appreciating Our Great Wealth

The answer to this question lies in understanding a different perspective. The Chovos Ha’Levovos gives a parable. Imagine a man who becomes blind at age 35. For the next ten years he does his best to reconstruct his life, but now without sight. Being a fighter, he struggles to create a productive life for himself. One day his doctor informs him of an experimental procedure that, if successful, would enable him to see again. He is both frightened and exuberant. If it works he regains his sight; if it fails, he might die.

He gathers together his family to talk it over. After much debate he announces, “I am going ahead with it.” The operation is scheduled. The long-awaited day arrives. Paralyzed with dread, he is wheeled toward the operating room. Given sedatives, he sleeps through the 10-hour operation.

When he wakes up, the first thought on his mind is to open his eyes. He prepares himself for the moment. He will now find out how he will spend the rest of his life. With his family gathered around, with the doctors and nurses at his side, the surgeon begins removing the gauze. The first bandage is off, now the second. The surgeon says, “Open your eyes.” He does. And he sees!

For the first time in ten years, he looks out and experiences the sights of this world – and he is struck by it all. Struck by the brilliance of colors and shapes; moved by the beauty and magnificence of all that is now in front of him. He looks out the window and sees a meadow covered with beautiful green grass. He sees flowers in full bloom. He looks up and sees a clear blue sky. He sees the faces of loved ones that had only been images in his mind – the sight of his own children whom he hasn’t seen in years. Tears well in his eyes as he speaks: “Doctor, what can I say? What can I ever do to repay you for what you have given me? This magnificent gift of sight! Thank you!”

This emotion, this extreme joy and sense of appreciation, is something we should feel regularly. The feeling of elation that man felt when he regained his sight is something we can feel on a daily basis if we go through the process of training ourselves to feel it. We have this most precious gift called sight, and it is something we are supposed to stop and think about – not once in a lifetime, not even once a year, but every day. A part of our spiritual growth is learning to appreciate the gifts we have. Every morning we thank Hashem for this most wonderful gift of sight. The blessing is meant to be said with an outpouring of emotion.

Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier

Reflections on My Trip to Israel

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

I’m on my way back to Chicago. Unfortunately I don’t think I will be able to post anything today except for this short note. I left Israel shortly after Yom Tov Sheni ended. I will not be arriving in Chicago until Wednesday afternoon.

It was great spending Yom Tov with my son, daughter in law, and 7 Israeli grandchildren.

Ramat Bet Shemesh A is a great place to visit and to live. I met all kinds of people there on all sides of the Hashkafic spectrum and every single one of them welcomed me as if I were one of their own.

Despite some of my early negative observations – it still seemed like there was a tremendous sense of Achdus in many respects. The Shul I davened at was very Charedi and yet a great number of regular attendees there are Dati Leumi – Kipa Seruga, no jacket or hat. Even an occasional Israeli solider in full uniform can be found  catching a Minyan there. All are welcome.

There are Hashkafic differences that have led to some of the things I described in an earlier post. But at the same time there is what I just now described. Hard to explain it but that’s the way it seems to be there.

I guess if you avoid talking Hashkafa or politics with your ideological opponents, you can get along marvelously. Is that enough? Not sure.

Gotta go. Next new post: Thursday.

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah.

Harry Maryles

Addicts in America

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

Some nights ago I sat in an emergency room while a 19-year-old heroin addict was brought in. It was after midnight, the witching hour, on a weekend when the zombies and ghosts of the city’s party circuit begin drifting in dressed in their best clothes, escorted by police officers, clutching bloodied rags to their faces or lying on stretchers and always at their articulate best.

The girl came from a wealthy background and was articulate enough to hurriedly assemble her story. An addict since her teenage years, she had been clean for a while and never used anything but heroin, except occasionally cocaine. The drug use was just a single slip, one mistake, and then she would be clean again.

Anyone who hasn’t worked with addicts doesn’t know how charming and persuasive they can be. The addict is the distilled ego focused on a single burning need. All the cleverness and intelligence of the human being, the attributes that we would ordinarily use to work, create, befriend and empathize, become tools for protecting the addiction and the supply.

Addicts are intense because they are among the few people in this world who know exactly what they want. They can be charming, but their routines are mechanical. They retain only enough of their humanity to charm us into giving them more of what they want. It is their only reason for interacting with us. The addict is pure ego and the drug is the only focus of their ego. The addict needs so badly that he or she becomes an incarnation of need. Their humanity is slowly or rapidly burned away leaving behind nothing but the animal need, their outer characteristics consumed by their ego and then their ego consumed by the id.

The girl was no friend or family member of mine. I had seen many like her and as our civilization unwinds into its own night of the soul, there will be many more like her. Having all the advantages of life, she was desperately unhappy and like so much of the modern world that tunes in to Oprah for tips on how to be happy or browses self-help sections on a desperate quest for happiness, she was still trying to be happy. Her cry was the cry of a country addicted to emptiness and losing its soul.

I do not come to judge or to moralize about how people live their lives. Even the best of us are flawed and even the worst of us have their moments of redemption. Many are addicts of one kind or another, becoming tethered to the thing that assures us happiness, even as it seems to drain us of something vital. Many such addictions can be harmless, but when an addiction becomes unsustainable, then it becomes a death sentence. A death of the soul followed by the death of the body.

While I sat there, trying to ignore the noises, the shrieks of pain, the pleas for help and the mumbles, the Republican Convention was beginning to recede. My fingers tapped out the essay on a 3’5 inch screen that would become, “How to Write About the Republican Convention.” Ahead of me lay the Democratic Convention, the addicts convention, the festival of that corner of America that was not so slowly losing its soul.

I did not, I could not anticipate the full insane spectacle of it at the time. No one could have. But I sensed that it would sound a lot like the heroin addict in the bed, shrieking at her parents, changing emotional pitches in a moment from hysteria to sweetness, turning on the momentary charm with the nurses, innocently assuring the staff that she was not a user. And it did. It was a lunatic addict festival with designs by LSD and math by cocaine addicts fresh from Wall Street and social programs from potheads.

All that outrage over Mitt Romney’s 47 percent hits home because we are all users. Some of that usage is more legitimate. Some of us are using money that we put in there as insurance and some of us are using money that we didn’t. But that’s not the real story. The real story is that our social safety net was supposed to be like one of those, “Take a Penny, Leave a Penny” tills that depend on the honor and neighborliness of a community. And we don’t have that community. What we have is a fragmented mess of givers and takers who are not the same people.

Daniel Greenfield

Test Him Before He Fails

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

Parents often bring children into my office when they are already failing several subjects in school. These students are dejected, frustrated, and often depressed. They believe that because of their past performance, they will never succeed in school. It is not strange that constant effort and subsequent failure have taught them to believe that failure is the only option.

Recent advances in the way that educators assess learning disabilities can prevent this pervading sense of futility many children who struggle with school feel. This new initiative, called “Response to Intervention” (RTI) is helping educators recognize learning disabilities before the children have a chance to struggle.

Professor Lynn Fuchs, a special education professor at Vanderbilt University, explains that that the traditional way to find out which children need help is to test those who are failing. She continues, “But research shows that failure can lead to depression, and that can make improvement in school very difficult.” To combat this problem, some educators and schools are implementing RTI which helps parents and teachers identify problems much earlier.

Perhaps the most important element of RTI is universal screening, which means everyone gets tested regardless of their scores or perceived aptitude. This allows educators to catch potential struggles without forcing the child to fail first.

Response To Intervention

Screen: the first step in RTI is the screening process. In other words, RTI involves administering a series of short, comprehensive tests that have no bearing on the standard curriculum. Rather, these tests are used to determine whether a child might have difficulty responding to the core curriculum as traditionally delivered in the regular classroom. These tests determine children who are academically “at risk” or who might have undiagnosed learning disabilities. The downside of these tests is that they may produce many false positives for “at risk” children.

Teach. The next step is ensuring that the regular classroom teaching is research-based and field-tested. Trained and qualified teachers should administer this curriculum.

Intervene. In addition to the regular curriculum, children who are determined to be “at risk” during the screening process should be provided enhanced opportunities to learn, including, additional time with the core curriculum, small group lessons, and other supplementary instruction.

Probe. Given that children who are identified as at-risk are provided with extra instruction, their progress in essential skills must be monitored to ensure that this instruction is sufficient and effective. Short, frequent assessments that test specific skills help teachers understand the usefulness (or lack thereof) of the instruction provided.

Chart. Based on the probes above, a specialist should create a chart that provides a visual record of the rate of gain in specific skill areas that lead to a specified goal. Because the goal of intervention is to help the child improve his skills, this chart helps indicate whether the intervention is working.

Adjust. After several sessions and charts, the educator should evaluate in what ways the intervention is successful and in what ways the intervention is failing. Adjustments should be made in both directions, pumping up the successful methods and skills and reworking the unsuccessful ones.

Potential Learning Disabilities Aided Through RTI

Visual Processing Disorder: A visual processing (or perceptual) disorder refers to an inability to make sense of information absorbed through the eyes. This does not mean that the child has trouble with sight and needs glasses; rather it involves difficulty processing the visual information in the brain. Reading and math are two areas that can be severely affected by visual processing disorder because these subjects rely heavily on symbols (letter, numbers, signs). Some indications of visual processing disorders are:

Spatial Relation: Spatial relation involves distinguishing the positions of objects in space. For reading, confusion of similarly shaped letters such as “b” and “d“ or “p” and “q” can be attributed to a problem with spatial relation. In addition, for many math problems, the only cues are the spacing and order between the symbols. For instance, for the problem “13 + 6,” the child must be able to recognize that 13 is one number rather than two distinct numbers (1 and 3) and recognize that the “+” is between the 13 and the 6. While this is automatic for many people, these activities presuppose an ability and understanding of spatial relationships.

Rifka Schonfeld

Rosh Hashanah: A National, Not Personal, Holiday

Friday, September 21st, 2012

We are used to assuming that Rosh Hashanah is a holiday of repentance and atonement, a holiday of judgment, and the holiday when our fate for the coming year is determined. The Selichot prayers before and after Rosh Hashanah add to the sense of personal days of judgment, an obvious truth.

But from a simple look at the prayers, we can see that the focal point of the days is completely different. The main thing that we are supposed to be doing on Rosh Hashanah is crowning the Creator as King of the world. This is also the main reason for the central mitzvah of the day: the blowing of the shofar. That is first and foremost an announcement that the coronation is about to take place.

How did the focal point of Rosh Hashanah turn into something private? The answer is simple: The Torah states, “Due to our sins we have been exiled from our land and we have become distant from our earth.” Just as the entire Torah has transformed into a religion that hovers above reality, not really a part of it, so Rosh Hashanah no longer expresses our national aspirations. When we lost our sovereignty and we lost Jerusalem, when the royal palace on the Temple Mount was destroyed, the nation of Israel also lost the possibility to actualize the purpose of its existence – to perfect the world in the Kingdom of Heaven. From a national holiday, Rosh Hashanah morphed into a personal holiday, just as Judaism as a whole became a system of personal reminders outside of reality.

Even now, after we have returned to our land and after we received the Temple Mount during the Six-Day War (six days of miracles), we continue with our private – not national – Rosh Hashanah ritual.

However, we who have declared our goal to perfect the world in the Kingdom of Heaven and who are working toward that goal politically – from within reality – can make the coronation of the King of the world a palpable event.

May we perceive G-d’s rule over the entire world, and may we merit a year during which we are favored and loyal tools to make that happen.

I wish all of you a sweet and blessed year.

Moshe Feiglin

Jihadists Make No Secret of Their Ambitions in Sydney

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

This past weekend, we blogged here about foaming-at-the-mouth proponents of jihad rampaging through the streets of Australia’s largest city, Sydney [see our blog post here].

Today, the mainstream Australian media are reporting with astonishment on the sight of elementary school children being pushed front and center by radical adults to embody the lust for Islamist jihad and to advocate the killing of unbelievers.

*An eight year-old Australian girl called Ruqaya, reading a prepared speech promoting jihad at a Hizb ut-Tahrir (“Party of Liberation” in Arabic) conference for “Islamic fundamentalists” in the western Sydney community of Bankstown this past Sunday, a day after the riot. [The video is here – she starts in Arabic, and then switches between English and Arabic.] The name of the conference: Muslims Rise. More than 600 people took part.

*A second child, probably younger than the girl, is photographed today in several Australian papers, holding a placard that reads “Behead all those that insult the prophet.” It’s unlikely he has the ability to read the sign, let alone write it.

Jared Owens writing in The Australian [here] says, without much evident conviction, that these unsettling developments amount to a challenge for moderate Australian Moslems to stand up and speak out. Speaking in customarily measured and moderate Australian tones, he uses the word ‘set-back’ in describing the general mood among Australians exposed to the events of the past four days.

Our familiarity with Australia gives us the sense that, after showing considerable tolerance and exemplary patience to their newly arrived Islamic neighbours over several decades, a sense of alarm and dismay at what these people are ready to do to their own children has begun setting in, along with a sense of dread about what they are willing to do to other people’s children

We wonder how much Australians in general know about the emerging calls to restore this thing called a caliphate. Following is a brief extract from Wikipedia’s “Caliphate” entry:

“Al-Qaeda has as one of its clearly stated goals the re-establishment of a caliphate. The late al-Qaeda leader, Osama Bin Laden, called for Muslims to “establish the righteous caliphate of our umma.” …Ayman al-Zawahiri (Bin Laden’s mentor and al-Qaeda second-in-command until 2011), once “sought to restore the caliphate…which had formally ended in 1924 following the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire but which had not exercised real power since the thirteenth century.” Once the caliphate is re-established, Zawahiri believes, Egypt would become a rallying point for the rest of the Islamic world, leading the jihad against the West. “Then history would make a new turn, God willing,” Zawahiri later wrote, “in the opposite direction against the empire of the United States and the world’s Jewish government.”

In the videos of Saturday’s Sydney Islamist riots, the clearly-heard rallying cry of the men bashing the police was “Obama, Obama, we love Osama” [check it on the RT (Russia Today) video here]. Understanding what they mean is child’s play.

Frimet and Arnold Roth

Crossword Puzzle – K2

Monday, September 10th, 2012


1. Yearn

5. Number cruncher, for short

8. Tiny creature (var.)

13. Little buffalo

14. Get an F

15. Kind of position

16. Perfume brand by Dana

17. Coffee dispensers

18. Kind of line

19. Doeg’s horrible sin

22. Poet’s palindromic preposition

23. Sense of self

24. Richard ___

25. Yummy pastries with very few stores in the northeastern United States.

31. Camp or kibbutz

34. Stan who created Spider-Man

35. Apiece, in scores

36. Actress Moran from “Happy Days”

37. Injury

39. Sage

40. Sensitive subject, to some

41. Meal source

42. All over again

43. (Obvious) name for a Jewish eatery found at an angle

49. C.I.A.’s forerunner

50. Aquarium denizen

51. Have a run

54. Famous Jewish entertainer who is yellow

59. Indian coin

60. Dumbfounded

61. Earthen pot

62. Part of a tennis court

63. “Buenos ___”

64. Pizzeria output

65. English university city

66. Queen, maybe

67. Genesis son


1. Jewish seasonal treat

2. Kind of personality

3. Majestic

4. Frenchman, once

5. Some shorts (pl.)

6. Girlie color

7. “Not to mention …”

8. Important occasion

9. Hardly Mr. Nice Guy

10. Small case

11. It’s soothing

12. Cockpit reading: Abbr.

14. Mushrooms, e.g.

20. Occupational suffix

21. Did Half Dome

25. Folks, e.g.

26. Cartoon canine

27. Hankering

28. Primary

29. “… or ___!”

30. Knocked off, biblically

31. Tap trouble

32. Jason’s ship

33. Struggles

37. Least good

38. Furniture wood

39. Yom Kippur, e.g.

44. Did hachnasat orchim

45. College application parts

46. Fix, as leftovers

47. Exigencies

48. Caribou kin

51. Often photographed actress

52. Young night flyer

53. Grind

54. Cabbage like vegetable

55. Agitate

56. “Etc…etc…,” when tripled

57. Kind of bed

58. Cuts off

59. Amigo

The Crossword puzzle appears on this page the first week of every month.

(Answers, next week)

Yoni can be reached at yoniglatt@gmail.com.

Yoni Glatt

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/kidz/gamez/crossword/crossword-puzzle-k2/2012/09/10/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: