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December 20, 2014 / 28 Kislev, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘sign’

Which Are You?

Friday, October 5th, 2012

I watched them tear a building down;
A gang of men in a busy town.
With a mighty heave and a lusty yell,
They swung a boom and a side wall fell.

I said to the foreman, “Are these men skilled
As the men you’d hire if you had to build?”
He gave me a laugh and said, “No indeed!
Just a common laborer is all I need.
And I can wreck in a day or two
What it took the builder a year to do.”

And I thought to myself as I went my way,
“Just which of these roles have I tried to play?
Am I a builder who works with care
Measuring life by the rule and square,
Or am I a wrecker as I walk the town
Content with the labor of tearing down?”

When I read this anonymously written poem, I immediately thought about self-confidence. Do you work brick by brick to build your own self-confidence and those of everyone around you or do you use a wrecking ball to knock it all down? Granted, it is a lot quicker to wreck things than it is to build them well.

But, self-confidence is essential to a healthy, happy life. Self-confidence is needed in order to create meaningful friendships, apply for competitive jobs, and parent our children with assurance and ease. Perhaps the most important reason we need to believe in ourselves is that if we do not, we will teach our children that it is okay to put themselves down as well. This can ultimately lead to a rejection of self.

First, let’s discuss how to build your own self-confidence.

Focus on the positive. Obviously, no one is perfect, but every one of us has positive qualities that we can build on. Even if overall you are not happy with who you are – you can definitely come up with qualities that you appreciate about yourself. Perhaps you are a wonderful organizer, a great listener or an excellent cook. Make a list of the things you like about yourself and schedule activities that bring out those qualities during your day.

Some examples:

If you are a wonderful organizer: Volunteer to run a fundraiser for your shul or school.

If you are a great listener: Visit the elderly and listen to their stories about the past.

If you are an excellent cook: Cook meals for the new mothers in your neighborhood or for the less fortunate.

Engaging in activities that you feel competent in (and that are additionally helpful to others) will help build your self-confidence.

Treat yourself. Every now and then, remind yourself that you are worth it. Depending on what you can afford (both time and money), give yourself something you love: a massage, an hour of babysitting to read your book quietly, a fast walk outside to clear your mind, or an extra two hours of sleep. Treating yourself will signal to your inner “wrecking ball” that you believe you have value.

Once you begin to work on your own self-confidence, it might be time to focus on your children as well. Do they say things like, “I am so stupid” or “I can’t do anything right”? If so, they could use some help figuring out how to build themselves up.

Child psychologists and educators often suggest the following steps:

Avoid labels. Instead of saying, “You are so smart.” Say, “When you figured out how to read that sign without any help, I was so impressed with how much you have learned.” Or, instead of “You are a kind and sweet girl” say, “Remember the time when your sister Faigy was crying and you went over and sang her a song to make her feel better? That was so nice of you.”

Engage in their strengths. Just as you should do for yourself, talk to your child about the things she feels she does well and then help her do those activities regularly. For instance, if your daughter is artistic, sign her up for an art class after school or on Sundays. If your budget does not allow for afterschool activities, consider investing in some art supplies that will be hers alone so that she can feel special.

Blurred Reality: Muslim Protesters’ Anti-Jewish Slogans

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

The Guardian’s recent edition of “Picture Desk Live,” Sept. 24, included this photo of more protests by Muslims over the anti-Islam film, as well as the recent caricatures of Muhammad by a French satirist.  This protest took place in Sri Lanka.

Here’s the picture the Guardian published:

And here’s the caption:

I noticed the word “Jew” on one of the signs, but the shot was taken too far away to make out the words on the sign, so I googled the image and was able to find a bit more information.

The Washington Post had a shot of the same protest, albeit with photos focusing much more closely on the scene.  Here’s what you can see:

Sign in middle reads: “Who’s behind the film? Jews.”

Here’s the caption:

The following sign (“France, Don’t Fall Victim to Jewish Propoganda”), from the same protest in Sri Lanka, is a reference to Charlie Hebdo, who published several caricatures of Muhammad (along with one of an orthodox Jew) in a French satirical magazine.

Sign reads: France, don’t fall victim to Jewish propaganda

As I observed in a post on Sept. 23 (and as Palestinian Media Watch reported on Sept. 24) the hypocrisy of the protesters, in condemning insults to Islam while continually engaging in virulent antisemitism, is stunning – a cultural habit which results in the absence of natural feelings of guilt or embarrassment most of us experience when holding two inherently contradictory views.

The Guardian, as with most of the mainstream media, in failing miserably to expose such groups to the kind of critical scrutiny which would necessarily challenge such moral hypocrisy, ensures that no lessons will be learned.

The significance of the MSM’s gross moral abdication when reporting on the recent riots in the Arab and Muslim world can’t be overstated.

House Members: Holder and Clinton Considering Release of ‘Blind Sheikh’

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

In a strongly worded letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton, eight members of congress have demanded that a request to release Omar Abdel-Rahman from federal prison be rejected.  Abdel-Rahman, known as the “blind sheikh,” inspired the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and is serving a life sentence for his role in a plot to conduct assassinations and destroy bridges, tunnels and other landmarks in New York City.

It is believed that the unrest blanketing much of the Middle East last week was inspired at least in part by the demands that the Blind Sheikh be released, and that any consideration of such a request was inspired by an effort to quell the widespread anti-American fury.

The letter sent by Representative Pete King (R-NY), Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security and seven other key members of congressional leadership warned of the consequences of appeasing terrorism through such a blatant act of submission:

Succumbing to the demands of a country whose citizens threaten our embassy and the Americans serving in it would send a clear message that acts of violence will be responded to with appeasement rather than strength….The release of Abdel-Rahman or any terrorist who plots to kill innocent Americans would be seen for what it is – a sign of weakness and a lack of resolve by the United States and its President.

In addition to Rep. King, the letter was signed by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith; House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen; House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers; House Committee on Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon; House Committee on Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers; House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Chairman Frank Wolf; and House Appropriations Subcommittee on State of Foreign Operations Chairwoman Kay Granger.

The administration has not yet formally responded to the letter, according to Rep. King’s communications officer.

The full text of the congressional letter follows.

September 19, 2012

The Honorable Eric H. Holder, Jr.
Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
Washington, D.C. 20530

The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary
U.S. Department of State
Washington, D.C. 20520

Dear Attorney General Holder and Secretary Clinton,

We are concerned about recent reports that the Obama administration is considering the release of Omar Abdel-Rahman, better known as the “blind sheikh,” to the custody of Egypt for humanitarian and health reasons.  If these reports are true, such considerations would be extremely disconcerting as release of this convicted terrorist should not happen for any reason.

The blind sheikh inspired the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, ordered the 1997 massacre of Western tourists at Luxor, Egypt, and issued the Islamic religious ruling that Osama bin Laden relied upon to justify the terror attacks of September 11, 2001.  He is serving a life sentence at a federal penitentiary, for seditious conspiracy to wage war upon the United States, based on his role in a 1993 plot to conduct assassinations and destroy bridges, tunnels and other landmarks in New York City.  The blind sheikh was the first person convicted under this statute since the Civil War. Nonetheless, the newly-elected government in Egypt has indicated that his release is amongst its top foreign policy priorities.

While considerations regarding the blind sheikh’s release would be disturbing in any context, they are particularly alarming given recent events.  The 11th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks was marked by the assassination of America’s ambassador to Libya and an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Egypt. The violence in Egypt has been attributed, in part, to that government’s demands for the blind sheikh’s release.

Succumbing to the demands of a country whose citizens threaten our embassy and the Americans serving in it would send a clear message that acts of violence will be responded to with appeasement rather than strength.  The blind sheikh should remain in federal prison.

The release of Abdel-Rahman or any terrorist who plots to kill innocent Americans would be seen for what it is — a sign of weakness and lack of resolve by the United States and its President.

We request a briefing this week by representatives from each of your Departments on the accuracy of recent reports and the status of any negotiations with Egypt.  We look forward to your immediate response.

Cheeseburgers and T’shuva

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

In some of our previous blogs about t’shuva, we have mentioned the bitterness and pain that accompanies the early stages of the process. When people begin to enter the realm of t’shuva, they start to experience a fear, an uncertainty, an inner anguish and pain. While this unpleasant aspect of t’shuva is quickly overshadowed and forgotten in the baal t’shuva’s pursuant great joy, it is a necessary step in the process. Recognizing its value and purging effect can help the penitent weather the stormy seas he must travel. The knowledge that the sun is shining just behind the clouds can give him the strength to continue. In the same way that a woman soon forgets the agonies of childbirth in the happiness of being a mother, the baal t’shuva quickly forgets the “labor pains” of t’shuva in the great joy of his rebirth. Rabbi Kook writes:

“T’shuva does not come to embitter life, but rather to make it more pleasant. The joy of life which comes from t’shuva evolves from the waves of bitterness which the soul wrestles with in the beginning of the t’shuva process. However, this marks the higher, creative valor which knows that sweetness stems from bitterness, life from death, eternal delight from infirmity and pain” (Orot HaT’shuva, 16:6).

When you first swallow aspirin tablets, there is a small taste of bitterness in the mouth. So too, in the initial stages of t’shuva, the first explorations of one’s inner world can cause uncomfortable feelings. However, as one continues on the path of inner cleansing, one discovers a great happiness in knowing that he is doing exactly what he was created to do — to get closer to G-d.

The process is not that at first you are sad and then you are happy. Rabbi Kook teaches that you are happy from being sad. It is the bitterness itself that causes the joy. One’s suffering makes one realize that the t’shuva is sincere.

Some people are overwhelmed by the mountain of sin which seems to confront them as they begin to set their lives in order. How can they deal with so many transgressions? How can they ever make the drastic changes needed to live a holy, ethical life? Rabbi Kook reassures us that this feeling of nervousness is a very good sign. It is a sign that the person has already broken free of his previous material perspective and is ready to consider a more spiritual life.

In the same way, Rabbi Kook tells us that if you are hurting inside, that is a sign of spiritual health. It’s a sign that your inner self recognizes that it does not belong to an environment of sin. Feeling pain over the sins of the past is an important part of the t’shuva process. It goes hand-in-hand with a commitment to a life of good deeds in the future.

The pain and anxiety associated with the first thoughts of t’shuva evolve, in part, from the need to separate from former ways. Just as an operation to remove a cancerous tumor from the body is accompanied by pain, so too is t’shuva. However, the pain is a sign that a healing process is underway. An amputation hurts, but sometimes it is needed to save a person’s life. Before the operation, the patient is wary. His leg may be gangrene, but it still is his leg. What will he be like without it? Will he be the same man? How will he function?

These are all natural, legitimate, and very distressing questions. The unknown can be scary. So too, when a person has become used to a part of his psyche, even if it be some negative trait which is detrimental to his inner well-being, it is not easy to escape from its clutches. Already it has become a citizen of his soul. Breaking away from the past and being open to change is not a simple task. Great inner courage is needed. Often, it can only be done with the help of a teacher or guide. In effect, in unveiling the step-by-step process of t’shuva, Rabbi Kook is giving us a map to assist us on the way.

“The pain experienced upon the initial thought of t’shuva derives from the severance from evil dispositions which cannot be corrected while they are organically attached to the person and damaging all of his being. T’shuva uproots the evil aspects of the spirit and returns it to its original essence. Every separation causes pain, like the amputation of a diseased organ for medical purposes. However, it is through these deep inner afflictions that a person is freed from the dark bondage of his sins and base inclinations, and from all of their bitter influences” (Ibid, 8:1).

The Road Paved with iPhones

Monday, September 10th, 2012

I wish I could say that I am perplexed by what happened at a wedding hall in Jerusalem last week. Because that would be the normal response by someone who had heard that a Rosh Yeshiva disqualified an individual designated as a witness to sign a Kesuva (the Halachic marriage contract).

It would be shocking to most people that a witness was disqualified because he owned an iPhone But the way things are going now, I am not shocked or even perplexed by it at all. From YWN:

As the kesuva was being written, Rabbi Yosef Ze’ev Feinstein, Rosh Yeshivas ‘עמלהשל תורה’, the mesader kedushin, asked to meet the Eidim (witnesses). He asked them to see their cell phones. One pulled out a kosher phone. The second an iPhone. The latter was disqualified as a witness.

There are many Halachic reasons to disqualify a witness. But owning an iPhone is not one of them. And yet this Rosh Yeshiva decided that owning an iPhone is so bad that it is enough to… not only disqualify someone from being a witness, but enough to embarrass him in doing so in front of those who designated him as such and those who watched this happen.

This is the state of the extremism that runs rampant in certain Charedi circles in Israel I guess. While I don’t think anyone has yet been disqualified as a witness in America for owning an iPhone, it can’t be that far off. In the never ending chase to be seen as the frummest (more observant), what happens in Israel… doesn’t stay in Israel.

There is always someone here who will take up the cause and be the first to be the “Frummest”! It happened with the devaluing of Limudei Chol (secular education) and it will easily happen to iPhone owners.

I know all their arguments. The internet is pure evil – worse than anyone can imagine! If you have any device that can access it… YOU are evil! Especially if it is a hand held device where one can hide access and pretend to be “holy”.

And now, post Internet Asifa, one is in direct violation of the edict against the internet imposed by someone who many consider the Posek HaDor. An edict about which a key speaker said that violating a public Psak by such a Posek causes one to lose their place in Olam Haba. This was not contradicted by any of the many rabbinic leaders who attended that Asifa.

So this poor ex-witness who very likely does not use his iPhone for illicit purposes has not only lost his status as a Kosher witness, he may very well have lost his portion in the world to come too. Nebech!

But… perhaps I’m wrong. Perhaps the Rosh Yeshiva was doing us all a favor. This witness will now realize the evil of his ways; throw away his iPhone; and do Teshuva. And the rest of us will now take heed of how terrible owning an iPhone is.

I’m sure glad to know that the worst thing anyone can do is own any device that can access the internet. (I will now forever spit every time I say the word “internet”.)

I hope Rabbi Nechmya Weberman is paying attention. He can rest easy now knowing that compared to owning an iPhone, sexually molesting numerous young women – teens and pre-teens – who came to him for guidance and “therapy” wasn’t so bad. At least not compared to owning an iPhone.

I’m sure if he were one of the witnesses at that wedding he would have passed with flying colors. I hope the judge in his case takes note of the fact that Rabbi Weberman does not own an I phone. And never would! Chas V’Shalom! If not I hope his character witness point that out. I can almost guarantee there will be numerous character witnesses at his trial testifying to what a Tzadik he is.

Good to know where the Torah world’s priorities are heading.

Visit the Emes Ve-Emunah blog.

LOL: NFL Fighting Brain Injuries

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

I recently received this press release from the Department of Defense:

Army, NFL Team Up to Fight Traumatic Brain Injury

OK, the headline itself is a dead giveaway. The two worst perpetrators of brain injuries in the world are teaming up to fight them? Seriously? Why don’t you, instead, like – stop causing them?

Read on:

The top leaders of both organizations — Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell – met at the U.S. Military Academy Aug. 30 to discuss the issue and sign a letter of agreement to continue sharing resources to combat TBI.

“Mental and physical toughness, discipline, team over self and stressing the importance of resilience are fundamental to the cultures of both the NFL and the Army,” Odierno said. “We have the Warrior Ethos, reinforced by the Soldier’s Creed.”

OK, I can accept a certain amount of TBI on the battlefield. You run into some mean people out there, you’re going to get hurt, some of it will go to your head. But on the Football field? Why? What’s the point of sending young men in the prime of their lives to hurt each other so brutally? What’s the point?

The point is it makes money. Americans, like the Romans of a couple millennia ago, enjoy this stuff. I don’t begrudge them their joy. I don’t begrudge these young men of average to high intelligence their decision to trade in their brains for some cash. Those are choices mature adults should be permitted to make.

But don’t treat us, the readers, as if we too have sustained TBI with drivel like this from NFL commissioner Goodell:

“Together, we can make a big difference, sharing medical research, and helping players and fighters and bringing a greater awareness to society as well. I believe we can change our cultures, with athletes and soldiers sharing their experiences.”

Change our culture? You are the blessed commissioner – make it a game losing violation to bang into an opposing player in ways you wouldn’t dare treat someone’s car, much less someone’s God given body.

 

The NY Times wrote in 2010:

A 2000 study surveyed 1,090 former N.F.L. players and found more than 60 percent had suffered at least one concussion in their careers and 26 percent had had three or more. Those who had had concussions reported more problems with memory, concentration, speech impediments, headaches and other neurological problems than those who had not, the survey found.

A 2007 study conducted by the University of North Carolina’s Center for the Study of Retired Athletes found that of the 595 retired N.F.L. players who recalled sustaining three or more concussions on the football field, 20.2 percent said they had been found to have depression. That is three times the rate of players who have not sustained concussions.

And if that’s not enough, read up about potential links between repetitive head trauma in football and a serious health condition, called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Originally associated with boxers, CTE is a type of neurological deterioration caused by repetitive head trauma. (Brawn and Brains: Looking at NFL Head Injuries).

I like Football, I’m a guy, I enjoy watching territorial wars, my brain is hardwired to go gaga over it. (The fact that I’m a Jet fan only means that I’m really bad at picking sides.) Still, I derive zero joy from seeing players getting hurt. I’m all for adopting the Touch Football rules. You got tagged with the ball – play stops.

It should open the field for less hefty and more agile and athletic defenders.

And would bring and end to TBI. Immediately.

This was my morning rant about things I can’t possibly change. I feel much better now and ready to move on with my day.

A Modesty Request in Williamsburg – Or Is it?

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

http://haemtza.blogspot.co.il/2012/08/a-modesty-request-in-williamsburg-or-is.html

Whenever my wife and I visit New York, we try and “take in” all the Jewish neighborhoods. Among the places we visit are Boro Park, Monsey, and the Satmar enclave of Williamsburg.

A couple of years ago as I was walking down Williamsburg’s famous shopping district of Lee Street, I recall seeing a sign in one of the stores that had a message written in both Yiddish (Hebrew characters) and English. The English sign said “Closed”. The Yiddish sign said “Offen” – which is Yiddish for “Open”.

I smiled when I saw it. How clever, I thought for this storeowner to avoid “unwanted” customers. But that smile was immediately followed by the realization that not only was he guilty of Geneivas Daas (deception), he may very well have been guilty of ethnic prejudice.

I thought that the store owner  wanted to avoid the ethnic minorities that share the wider Williamsburg neighborhood with him. Among the 45,000 Satmar Chasidim that live there are significant numbers of Black and Hispanic people.

But perhaps it was something other than prejudice. Maybe the issue was one of modesty in dress.

A sign was posted recently posted in one of those stores that read in English, “Please… do not enter in immodest clothing (i.e. short sleeves pants…).” This was obviously directed towards women.

That sign has caused quite a controversy. In these hot summer days where people tend to dress as comfortably as they can – modesty by Orthodox Jewish standards goes “out the window.” If one is not Orthodox one would hardly be expected to cover themselves up by Orthodox standards of dress. So when these signs went up, cries of “discrimination” were heard.

This is not discrimination. Requiring that patrons observe a dress code does not discriminate against a class of people. People have a right to require dress codes for their establishment. A restaurant for example is well within their rights to require jackets for their patrons. As long as it is all patrons and not just – say… black patrons. The same thing should be true of dress codes for religious reasons.

I therefore side with the Chasdim on this one.

But still… in the back of my mind is that deceptive sign from a couple of years ago: “Closed” in English – “Open” in Yiddish. Was it prejudice or modesty that motivated them? That there was deception involved makes me wonder what the real motivation is.  Is this just a legal way of eliminating unwanted patrons?

Who knows?

But the way the sign reads now, there is certainly nothing wrong with it. Not any more than if I would put up a sign saying that only people wearing underwear on their heads would be allowed in the store.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/haemtza/a-modesty-request-in-williamsburg-or-is-it/2012/08/07/

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