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December 9, 2016 / 9 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘sign’

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.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

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).

Tzvi Fishman

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.

Harry Maryles

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.

Yori Yanover

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.

Harry Maryles

Shmuel Hakatan

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

In the days of Shmuel Hakatan a terrible drought held the land in its deadly grip. The wheat withered in the field and the grass dried and died. Day after day, the skies remained leaden and no clouds appeared to bring rain and salvation to the parched land.

The people knew that Shmuel Hakatan was a saintly and righteous man and they hoped that in his merit the Almighty might bring rain to them.

Coming to Shmuel Hakatan, they said: “The people of Israel are in great distress. Pray to the Almighty that He send us rain. Perhaps He will hearken to your prayers.”

The Rains Come

Shmuel Hakatan then answered the people saying: “Proclaim a fast for the morrow and call unto G-d with all your might and He will have mercy upon you.”

The leaders of the community immediately issued a call throughout the area for a fast and prayers to begin the next day. No sooner had the sun risen, then a great shower of rain began to fall on the land, soaking all the fields and fill­ing all the wells with precious water.

The people were overjoyed and they called out in great happiness: “Today we have seen that we are good in the eyes of the Almighty for He answered us rapidly, even before we called out to him.”

But Shmuel Hakatan shook his head and said: “No, what happened here today is a sign not of great love. On the contrary, it is a bad omen.”

The people looked at the great sage in puz­zlement.

“Why do you say that Behold, G-d sent us rain before our prayers were even ut­tered. Is this not a good sign?”

“No. It is similar to the case of a servant who seeks a favor from the king. The king knows of this and quickly tells his other ser­vants: ‘Hurry and give him what he wants, for I do not wish to be bothered with him.’”

Another Drought

Some time later, still another drought struck the land. Once again the fields dried up and the people were in great distress. Shmuel Hakatan called for yet another fast and more prayers.

This time, the people continued fasting and praying the entire day.

“Please G-d, Have mercy upon us! Redeem us, Grant us salvation and do not turn us away empty-handed.”

All day they prayed; all day they fasted. It was to no avail. The skies remained as before, the rain locked in and the land still thirsty. The people returned to their homes that night, sad and forlorn. Only then did the skies open up and the rains came down on the earth bringing life and hope.

“This, too, is not a good omen,” said Shmuel Hakatan. “To what may this situation be compared? To a king, whose servant re­quests a favor and the monarch tells his ad­visors: ‘wait until he suffers a little more before giving it to him.’”

The Good Omen

The people then asked Shmuel Hakatan: “If this is so, how can we know when the people are acceptable in the eyes of the Almighty?”

And Shmuel Hakatan answered: “This is how you shall know. When the peo­ple are in need of rain and they come to the synagogues and say, ‘Who makes the wind to blow and the rain to come down,’ if then, the Almighty grants them what they ask, this is the sign that they have found favor in His eyes and at that time you may rejoice.”

In The Days To Come

And the spirit of G-d rested on the great Shmuel Hakatan and he was permitted to see the events that would occur in the future for Israel. He saw the terrible tragedies and terror that would befall his people and his heart grew heavy within him. He would not eat or sleep and he walked about the entire day as a mourner, with his head bowed and bent. He grew ill and was forced to lie in bed but his situation grew worse and he lay at death’s door!

The sages, hearing the sad news, hurried over to see how he was. They found him only a shell of the man that he had been, pale and emaciated, unable to speak above a whisper.

Rabbi Sholom Klass

Kashrut

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

The following essay, written by Michelle Natanova of Richmond Hill, an eighth grade student at Yeshivat Ohr Haiim, was named a Winner of the 2012 OU Kosher Essay Contest for grades 7-12

Kashrut

Hashem gave the Jewish people the special privilege to keep kashrut. Kashrut is a decree that we just do because God commanded us to; we do not understand why we are doing it. When one keeps kashrut, he only eats pure, fit, and halachically permitted food. Even when one eats non-kosher food unintentionally, the non-kosher food becomes a part of a person and has harmful effects. Hashem is making us keep kashrut because He loves us; Hashem only wants the best for us and our health.

I am so lucky to keep kashrut. Not only am I fulfilling one of the misvot of Hashem, but I am also benefiting myself in many ways. By keeping the laws of kashrut, I am eating healthier food. The meat is kosher; it is clean from blood. We only eat tahor animals, such as chickens, sheep, and cows. We do not eat wild animals, for we do not want to become like wild animals. In addition to everything that the Jewish people gain from kashrut, it is truly amazing that the animals are not harmed when being slaughtered. Therefore, the animals are kosher.

Another reason the Jewish people are blessed to keep kashrut is that we gain self-control. We have to be aware of our lives, and therefore, we have rules. Because there are steps to eat something, we gain self-control. Firstly, we check if the food is kosher or not. Next, we think whether we had dairy or meat. Then, we make a berakhah on the food. Finally, we eat the food, and then we say the berakhah akhronah. These steps help us to have self-control and become better people. The Jewish nation is not like the other nations of the world, which cannot control themselves. We do not act like animals; we think before we do things.

By eating kosher food and making a berakhah on it, we divulge Hashem’s presence into the physical world. Eating is a physical thing, and it is good for our body. However, when we add kashrut, we reveal Hashem’s presence in the world and make eating spiritual. This way, ingestion is also beneficial for our soul.

The kosher signs on foods are what allow me to eat the foods. When I see the kosher sign, I feel that I can trust that the food was supervised by a rabbi and that it is kosher.

The kosher sign on a food also means a lot to me. I feel that it is special when I look for foods with a kosher sign. Searching for a kosher sign on a food is one of the many things that make the Jewish people unique. We are not like the Goyim who just buy and eat any food they like; we look for the kosher sign with happiness and zerizuth. It makes the Jewish people holy and separate from the other nations when we eat only kosher food. I think it is amazing that many of us can buy kosher food without even thinking about it, because we are so used to it.

A story is brought down from Stories of Spirit and Faith, by Rabbi David Sutton in conjunction with Miriam Zakon, about R’ Shalom Chasky dealing with a kashrut problem. The inviting fragrance of a beautiful Shabbat dinner filled the home of R’ Shalom Chasky. A delicious meal awaited the people assembled around the table of the Chief Rabbi of Ein Tab, a small town located near Aram Soba. R’ Shalom said kiddush slowly, pronouncing each word with care, his eyes resting on the dancing flames of the candlesticks. When kiddush was done, the family and visitors washed their hands and took a bite of wonderful homemade bread. All eyes turned toward the kitchen in anticipation of the delicacies to come when R’ Shalom dropped his bombshell. “Please bring us olives and lettuce,” he told his wife. “We may not eat the meat tonight. It is not kosher.”

His wife and all the other guests stared at R’ Shalom in shock. The Chacham was known to be thoroughly careful in matters of kashrut, and his wife only bought from the most reliable sources. How could the food possibly be unkosher? But there was no arguing with R’ Shalom, and his guests contented themselves that Friday night with olives and bread dipped in oil and lettuce leaves as a crunchy, but not terribly tasty, side dish.

Jewish Press Staff

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/teens-twenties/kashrut/2012/08/03/

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