web analytics
April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘shul’

Golan Heights Wind Farm

Monday, November 12th, 2012

The Golan Heights Wind Farm is located 3,150 ft. above sea level on Mount Bnei Rasan, three miles south of Quneitra in the Golan Heights.

In other words, just a stone’s throw away from the bloodiest civil war raging in the region.

It was the first wind farm ever built in Israel, back in 1992. It perates 10 Floda 600 wind turbines generating 6 MW for the Mey Eden mineral water bottling plant, the Golan Heights Winery and 20,000 local residents, give or take. The surplus is fed into the electrical grid.

Several more wind farms are planned in the Galilee, the Negev, and the Aravah regions.

Walking to shul on the shore of the Mediterranean in Netanya, holding on to my yarmulka against the crazy gale, I wonder why they haven’t filled up the horizon with off-shore wind turbines. Altogether, it’s nuts that a country with this much sun and this much wind has to keep looking for oil and natural gas in the ground.

You know why the off shore rigs Israeli companies keep building are yet to yield a drop? Because the midrash says there was no deluge in Eretz Israel. No deluge – no oil or natural gas. It’s scientific…

But, like I said, we’re blessed with so much wind and sun, we should be able to make with it more than just hot air…

Rains of Blessing

Friday, October 26th, 2012

It’s not an easy translation, the Mishna’s notion of “gishmei bracha.” Midrash Rabah (Vayikra 35:10) suggests that the blessing of “I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees of the field their fruit” (Lev. 26:4) is fully realized when those rains come down at night.

During the days of King Herod, who endeavored to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem, it would only rain at night, and come morning the clouds would disperse, the sun would come out and the workmen would go out to do their labor knowing their actions are favored by their Father in Heaven.

A slightly different view suggests the verse is fully realized when it rains on Shabbat nights (meaning Friday nights). The midrash relates that in the days of Shimon Ben Shatach and his sister, Queen Shlomtzion, the rain would come down only on Shabbat nights, until the wheat grains became the size of kidneys and the rye the size of olive pits and the lentils the size of gold dinars. The sages then harvested and preserved those huge yields for the coming generations, so they would realize how much good they can receive if only they didn’t sin.

It rained early this morning throughout Israel. We received our share in Netanya. Strong, hard, rain, which went on for about an hour and then stopped just before 7 AM, so we could go to shul.

Shabbat Shalom.

Highland Lakes Jewish Center/Chabad Chayil’s Classes And Programs

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

The Highland Lakes Center/Chabad Chayil, located at 2601 N.E. 211 Terrace in North Miami Beach, is again holding “Secrets of the Hebrew Alphabet.” The popular class will be held at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday nights. The course is deep, lots of fun, very informative and open to all backgrounds. Get the inside scoop on Hebrew letters, their meanings, shapes and numeric values according to the Kabbalistic tradition.

The center will also begin a new kids’ program from the Discovery Chanel on Wednesday afternoons at 4 p.m. Children will have the opportunity to take Discovery Kids computer classes at Chabad Chayil.

Family Film Night will take place Saturday evenings. The first film of the season was, “Your Grandpa Abe,” the true story of young Avraham, brilliantly animated for adults and children and a thoroughly enjoyable educational big screen experience.

Highland Lakes Jewish Center/Chabad Chayil suggests that South Floridians reserve these dates:

November 11 – Jewish Leadership Conference
November 23 – Hebrew School Shabbaton
December 12 – Chanukah Production/Shul Party
January 21 – Community Cruise

For more information e-mail the shul at office@ChabadChayil.org or call (305) 770-1919.

Modern Orthodox Dropouts

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

There has been a lot of discussion about young people abandoning Mitzvah observance (going OTD) over the past few years. A lot of that discussion took place here.

Indeed it has been declared a crisis by some. The focus of this issue in the religious media has been primarily in the Charedi world. Many theories have emerged as to why children go OTD. Among them: being sexually abused and the negative reactions to it by family and community, dysfunctional family situations, faulty educational environments, teachers unprepared to deal with questions of faith, or being overly sheltered from the world so that rebellion occurs when they are exposed to it unprepared.

I’m sure I missed a few reasons, but suffice it to say there are many reasons or combination of reasons to explain the phenomenon in the Charedi world. This problem is non discriminatory and touches even the best of households. Much ink has been spilled on horror stories of good and decent parents who have one child who has completely crashed and has become – not only OTD, but even a societal outcast (e.g. use of hard drugs and generally dropping out of society).

What has not been discussed much is the phenomenon of Modern Orthodox children going OTD. As though it wasn’t a problem for them. Of course that isn’t true. MO kids go OTD too. But I was amazed to find out the rate. According to an excellent blog post by Rabbi Steven Pruzansky there is an unpublished study claiming that 50% of Modern Orthodox high school graduates go OTD within two years of their graduation!

That is a shocking statistic. It almost justifies claims I often hear by the right that whatever problems they have with OTD, it is a drop in the bucket compared to our problems with it. My answer to them is that their drop is a very large drop which has been declared a crisis by many of their own leaders. But their point is well taken if that 50% statistic is anywhere near true.

But let us examine what is really going on with a statistic like this. Just as is the case by Charedim, there are many reasons why someone may abandon his religious observance. Some of them probably overlap. But there are definitely reasons that are unique to Modern Orthodoxy. One very plausible explanation is that many of the children attending MO schools are not from religious homes. When a child doesn’t see and live at home what he is taught in school, there is little chance of him remaining observant – if he ever was. But I don’t think anyone believes that is the entire reason.

Rabbi Pruzansky proposes another reason which I think is completely valid – although I don’t think it is the only reason by far.

He says that one has to look at the home first. What kind of role models does a child see in his or her parents?

I have long ago contended that the many MO Jews are what I call MO-Lite. This means that they are socially religious. They live in MO Neighborhoods and go to MO Shuls. But they are not really all that into their Judaism in any serious way. They observe Shabbos and Kashrus because that is how they were basically raised. But their observance is more social that idealistic – and outside of those two main Mitzvos – picking and choosing what they do and do not observe.

MO-Lites pay as much (if not more) attention to their lifestyle choices than they do religious choices. So when the two conflict – the lifestyle choice may win. Not that they will purposely violate Halacha, but they don’t look at their Judaism as the primary part of their lives. As Rabbi Pruzansky points out:

Children who see their parents prioritize shul – not once or twice a week, but every day – see shul as a value. Children who see their parents attend shul once a week and primarily socialize and converse while there see shul as a place to meet their friends. When older, they can just bypass the middleman and just go straight to their friends.

Similarly, children who see parents learning Torah during their leisure time perceive learning as a value. Children whose Shabbat is different than the other days of the week – the Shabbat table is different, the conversation is laden with talk of Torah, ideas, values, and zemirot instead of idle chitchat, sports, and gossip – experience a different Shabbat. It’s just a different day. When Shabbat is not observed as a different day, it stops being a different day.

It’s A Boy’s World, You Know

Friday, October 19th, 2012

You’ve gotta settle, stop being so choosy, it’s a boy’s world after all
And you’re just one of the millions who think their worth something, have the gall.
You’ve got to start looking better, so that you’ll be noticed when you walk through town
And perhaps you can lose a few pounds too, so we can pull your resume dress size down.

‘Tis a boys market, you know, so stop being such a case
Fess up and accept the reality that you’re being forced to face.
You can’t just tell a shadchan “no” because the guy’s very bummy
For it’s the reality that all girls are gold while all the guys are crummy.

Shadchan after shadchan tells you this, their words sting like an open wound
Your hopes of ever finding Mr. Right for you, suddenly shattered and ruined.
Their conversations were so similar, that they all seem like one big blur
And the sad reality is that your parents seem to side with him or her.

They convince you to at least try to date him, with “no” “ifs” “ands” or “buts”
So what if he’s missing a screw or two so what if he’s completely nuts?
So what if he recalculates his every move, so what if he’s weird and nerdy?
So what if he looks disheveled, his hair all loose, his suits all dirty?

It’s a boy’s world you know, and girls come a dozen a dime
So you have to be on your best behavior, always and graduate college on time.
You have to do everything right, from high school, to work-life to sem
You always have to look great at weddings and portray yourself as a gem.

You always have to act nicely to people; you always have to act stable
You can never act moody or vent, but rather have to empower and to enable.
You have to act sweet and happy, and if you’re not, you just have to pretend
Otherwise, how on earth do you expect your singlehood to ever end?

Yet he can do as he wishes and pleases, and nobody says a peep
He can sit around and klutz all day, and arise at 12p.m. after sleep.
He can flunk out of school and take his time with things, because there’s simply no rush for guys
Despite how completely messed up he turns out to be, they’ll be flocking to him like flies.

Because it’s just a boy’s world you know, so he can act like a jerk
Date hundreds of women and live it up, and then dump them for every quirk.
He can still be warming the bench in yeshiva, and so what if he’s 24?
There will somehow still be a million girls lined up, knocking on his door.

Hang out in the coffee room till 12 a.m. comparing Chock-full to Nescafe
Daven three times without a minyan and not go to shul all day.
He’s few and far between, you know, so why should he bother to try?
He’ll be easy to marry off anyway for his chromosome is XY.

It’s a boy’s world, so I better get used to it, for I’m a mere commodity
Valued by how many thousands my parents will give if he so chooses to marry me.
Perhaps I may be a top girl, but I’m defective merchandise nonetheless
Simply because I’m not wearing pants, but instead put on a skirt or a dress.

So what if I’m pretty and fun to be around, so what if I’m in Columbia law?
So what if I come from the most charming family and can make the prettiest cakes you ever saw.
So what if I have the best track record, while his is far less than great?
He’s one of those hard-to-find yeshiva bochurim, so I better accept the date.

So what if he appears to be obnoxious, wants to marry a slave to him, get a free ride
So what if his ego’s humongous, and nothing can ever shatter his pride.
So what if he looks like a monkey, and is 4’11 and rates a Tanner II
So what if he takes his life easy and parties, as though he’s got nothing better to do.

Suspected!

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

“I arranged with Simon Cooper, the plumber, to clear the blockage in the kitchen sink this morning,” Mr. Laks told his wife.

“Oh, great!” she replied. “I’ll clean the kitchen before he comes.”

At 10 o’clock Simon arrived. Mr. Laks showed him into the kitchen. “This sink is blocked terribly,” he said. “I’ve tried drain cleaner and a snake, but haven’t been able to clear it.”

“I’ll get to the bottom of it,” replied Simon confidently.

“Do you need help?” asked Mr. Laks.

“No,” said Simon. “You can go about your business; leave the sink to me.” He worked for about a half hour, going in and out of the house to bring tools from his car.

Mrs. Laks came into the kitchen and opened the drawer near the sink. “Have you seen my ring?” she asked Simon.

“No, I haven’t,” Simon responded.

“I left my ring in the kitchen drawer when I cleaned the kitchen this morning,” Mrs. Laks confided to her husband, panic-stricken. “There was no one else in the house other than Simon all morning, and he’s been in and out to his car numerous times.”

“Are you sure you left it in the drawer?” Mr. Laks asked her.

“Absolutely positive,” she said. “I also noticed the drawer was ajar and had been rummaged through.”

“Did you confront Simon?” Mr. Laks asked his wife.

“I asked him if he saw the ring,” replied Mrs. Laks, “but he claims he didn’t. I’m sure he took it, though.”

“I’m going to confront him directly,” Mr. Laks said.

Mr. Laks went over to Simon. “My wife is missing her ring,” he said. “She is positive she left it the drawer near the sink this morning, and only you were in the house today.”

“How dare you accuse me?” said Simon indignantly. “Your wife probably moved it and forgot where.”

“She is sure she left it in the drawer,” said Mr. Laks emphatically.

“You have no evidence I took it,” said Simon, shaking his head angrily. “Anyway, I just finished clearing the blockage. That’s $150 for the repair and I’ll be off.”

“I’m not paying anything,” said Mr. Laks. “I’m holding the payment in lieu of the ring, until we discuss this with Rabbi Dayan.”

“We’d better do so,” retorted Simon. “Let’s go right now!”

“My wife left her ring in the kitchen drawer, and it was taken,” Mr. Laks told Rabbi Dayan. “Mr. Cooper was working in the kitchen and was the only other person in the house. What recourse do we have?”

“A person who makes a definite claim but has no evidence or testimony an impose an oath, shevuas heses, on the other party who denies the claim,” answered Rabbi Dayan. “Although in general a person cannot impose an oath without a definite claim, Rama writes that a person can impose an oath if there is a strong basis, raglayim ladavar, for the claim, even if it is not definite.” (C.M. 75:17)

“What is an example of something considered a strong basis?” asked Mr. Laks.

“Let’s say someone was in your house. You find the moneybox broken and the contents stolen, and you suspect that person – you can impose an oath upon him,” replied Rabbi Dayan. “However, the Shach [75:63] questions the Rama’s ruling. He concludes that it depends on the evaluation of the beis din; if they see sufficient basis for the allegation, they can impose an oath upon the accused.”

“I understand that nowadays beis din is wary about imposing an oath,” said Mr. Laks. “Anyway, I want to withhold Mr. Cooper’s wages!”

“This is a complicated issue,” replied Rabbi Dayan. “The SM”A [75:49] writes that if the plaintiff grabs payment from the suspected thief unobserved, so that there is no evidence that he grabbed, he can keep the payment. Shach [75:64] and Taz [75:17] vehemently disagree; a person cannot take money from another when there is an element of doubt. Pischei Teshuvah [75:20] cites varying opinions of later authorities. Bottom line, since the plaintiff is already in possession of the money, he can keep it when he has clear basis for his claim.” (See Pischei Choshen, Geneivah 1:13)

“Then I should be able to withhold the wages,” said Mr. Laks, “since I am in possession of the money.”

Hoshana Rabbah Rocks

Sunday, October 7th, 2012

Sukkot is by far the most mystical holiday in the Jewish holiday cycle, with the four species and the sukkah and the daily hakafot in shul.

Every day on Sukkot, except on Shabbat, we walk in a circle around a guy holding the Torah in shul, we all hold up our lulvim and hadassim and aravot and—with considerable difficulty and dexterity—the etrogim, and we recite verses, a special group of verses for each day of the seven-day holiday. On Shabbat we also recite special verses, but we don’t do the circle thing.

Then, on Hoshana Rabbah, the seventh day of Sukkot, everything reaches a crescendo and we recite seven groups of verses, and we circle the shul and the Torah sever times, and then we take a bunch of aravot and smack them five times against the floor – and we feel really weird but at the same time strangely liberated and actually quite content if not outright happy.

So today was Hoshana Rabbah in my new shul in Netanya, and I was recalling my special Hoshana Rabbah minyan on East Broadway, in Rabbi Heftler’s shul, where all the guys who were too impatient to endure the 4-5 hour deal up at the Boyan kloyze (the holy place where the first chassidic rebbe in America lived) would go for a shorter, but very uplifting version nonetheless.

In my new shul they don’t blow the shofar at all between the hakafot (those are the circling of the shul). At Rabbi Heftler’s shul they blow the shofar, and during the verses about the fire and everything we’ve lost in the fire, his voice would break down in a tearful cry that rattled my spine like a well honed lulav.

Granted, my new shul was a whole lot more crowded than Rabbi Heftler’s, where getting a minyan even for Hoshana Rabbah is a considerable task. But our rite today was tamer than I’m used to. And no shofar. I should probably try a chassidish minyan next year.

Have a fabulous two-day yom tov and think of us, here in Israel, getting the second day to tend to our cars and our smartphones…

Chag Sameach, dear friends.

Road to Recovery

Friday, October 5th, 2012

Dear Brocha,

Thank you so much for your honesty! Since you have bared your soul, I now feel I can do the same. While growing up, the Yomim Tovim were always my favorite times of the year. On Sukkos we always went sukkah hopping, to Simchas Bais Ha’Shoeva, and boy did we dance on Simchas Torah. On Purim we went collecting in fancy cars, danced in the streets to the leibedike music, and had a mesiba in yeshiva where we danced with our rabbeim. On Pesach we ate lots of delicious food and yet we still complained that we had so little to eat. We went on fun Chol Ha’Moed trips and made good wholesome memories together as a family.

Today, I am a father of six bochurim b”ah. While I love and appreciate all of my children, unfortunately the Yomim Tovim aren’t filled with the good memories as in the days of yore. You see, one of my sons got involved with the wrong crowd, and at 16 he looks forward to Shabbos and Yom Tov as simply another opportunity to drink. Now that Sukkos is almost upon us, instead of joyfully anticipating, I am cautiously fearful about what Simchas Torah will bring.

Simchas Torah is a celebration of Klal Yisroel’s completing and re-commencing the cycle of reading the heilige Torah. It is a time when we can reach great heights in our closeness to HaKadosh Baruch Hu. It is a time for parents to enjoy their sons getting an aliyah, dancing with them and watching them be showered with candies to symbolize the sweetness of the words of the Torah. All of this is greatly encouraged!

However, my 16-year-old son has graduated from candies to liquor. Last year someone had to call Hatzolah because he appeared to be so inebriated, we thought he might have had alcohol poisoning. Some of the members of our shul were concerned about adults getting into trouble for giving liquor to minors, so instead he was taken to a local pediatrician who instructed us on what to look for so he wouldn’t have to have his stomach pumped. I was hoping that this scare would make him abstain from liquor for good. Yet now, he simply recounts that incident with pride as if it’s his rite of passage to adulthood. Unfortunately, most of the young adults pat him on the back and give him high fives over this “great accomplishment.”

Just last week, my wife and I told him, in no uncertain terms, that his behavior was unacceptable. We also told him that while we try to look the other way when he takes a drink on Shabbos, we would not permit him to get drunk on Simchas Torah. We also told him that if we saw him drinking, we would be forced to take him home. Boy was I shocked by his reaction! He told us that if he were offered a drink, he would not refuse it. He said that while he will not drink on his own, if others offered him a drink, he would partake.

I know that liquor flows freely in our shul on Simchas Torah and I can’t stop it from happening. I went to discuss this with the rov, who was empathetic, yet said he can’t enforce a change to this tradition. My wife and I even considered going to our married son for the second days of Yom Tov so there would be no temptations, however, our son informed us that in his shul there are plenty of l’chaims on Simchas Torah as well. We have desperately been searching for an alcohol free or alcohol reduced shul and are unable to find one. Why do people think they need alcohol to attain a level of simchas hachaim? Why can’t we get a spiritual high through the kedushas hayom? Where have the days gone, when our primary concern was that there was too much candy being given out in shul?

A Worried Father

Dear Worried Father,

What a terrible way to have to look at Yom Tov! I actually believe that the dilemma you face is far greater than just the issue of Simchas Torah. The teenage years are chock full of episodes of experimenting and asserting one’s independence. As teens transition into adulthood, they often become tempted to partake in what they perceive as adult activities. They want to follow their parents’ lead, try the activities already done by their friends and establish their own identities. Alcohol frequently becomes a factor in this struggle. Many teens will likely turn to alcohol or other substances during their teenage years. Seventy percent of high school students have had at least one alcoholic beverage, and they are often with their friends when they drink.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/battling-addictions/road-to-recovery-5/2012/10/05/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: