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October 25, 2014 / 1 Heshvan, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘sign’

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 Tradition and the Secrets of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

What can explain the Shades of Grey phenomenon? Why are so many women reading a book about submission in an age of feminine liberation? Several national magazines have tackled the question, but no one seems to answer it satisfactorily.

Women worked so hard to achieve parity with men and to even win independence from them. They have even overtaken men in many areas. Sixty percent of all college degrees are awarded to women. Boys can’t keep up with the girls in High School, even in subjects like mathematics and the sciences where the boys used to dominate. Three out of four of the last Secretaries of State were women. And about seventy percent of divorces are initiated by wives. It’s the women rejecting the men and not so much the opposite. Battle of the sexes? The men lost.

Yet now women are fantasizing about submission before men, obsessing over a book where a young, liberated female college student signs an agreement to be completely submissive to a billionaire businessmen.

What gives?

I read the first volume of the trilogy, and it only compounds the question for me. It’s poorly written and I found it boring. Perhaps the subsequent volumes are better. As erotic literature it deserves at best a ‘C’. Yes, the contract part where the woman has to sign and  officially become submissive was novel. But that’s about it. I don’t mean to be uncharitable, but most of it reads like cheap smut.

Some writers have said that the explanation lies in the modern woman’s inability to carry the entire burden that has been placed on her. As she struggles to balance career, family, and other responsibilities, she just wants someone to lighten her load. She wants someone to take full control so she gets a break. And a book about a man taking over her life is thereby, in a sense, liberating. But if that were the case then a novel about a woman getting a really good housekeeper and financial planner could have been just as adequate. Why submission?

Here’s the reason.

Our world has little understanding of lust. We put all our emphasis on love. We watch romantic comedies about men and women slowly falling in love, in a low-simmering manner. We laugh with them until they tie the knot and live happily ever after in their comfortable, humorous, cozy little lives. We offer platitudes like love as if they were the most powerful emotion in the world.

But here is simple proof that it is not. About eighty percent of the men who cheat on their wives claim to love their wives. Except lust for another woman has superseded their love.

In truth, lust is the most powerful emotion in the universe. Yes, it is far more temporary than love and it wears off much more rapidly. Yet, like a long-distance runner competing with a sprinter in a 100-meter-dash, love doesn’t stand a chance.

That’s why in Judaism a husband and wife are not supposed to get so close to a member of the opposite sex to whom they are not married. We’re not supposed to allow lust to grow to such an extent where it begins to challenge love. Love can compete in the long term, but rarely in the short.

And, in truth, lust is one of the most necessary components of a marriage. I pity the husband and wife who have ceased lusting after one another. In so doing they have lost the deep, carnal passion that draws them to one another and makes each feel desirable. We all want to be wanted, need to be needed, desire to be desired.

The Bible concurs. The tenth commandment is that a man should not lust after another man’s wife, which means, by direct implication, that he ought to be lusting after his own wife.

So why do we so disparage lust? Why do we trumpet love at lust’s expense?

For two reasons. First, we mistakenly think that lust is something merely physical. We wrongly attribute it to being of the body. In truth lust is the feverish, intuitive gravitation of masculine to feminine and feminine to masculine. Real lust occurs when there is perfect polar alignment between masculine and feminine opposites. Lust is what magnetizes an otherwise ordinary man and woman to become infatuated with each other. It is not merely of the body but is rather the arrangement of two opposing energies that causes us to passionately incline toward one another.

Report: Israel Uncovers Terrorist Plot to Abduct Israelis, Hatched in Israeli Prisons

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

The Shin Bet (Israel Security Service) revealed on Tuesday that it recently uncovered and foiled a terrorist plot to kidnap Israeli citizens.

The group, identified as the “Holy Warriors Brigades,” was comprised of five Palestinians coordinating from Hebron and Gaza. The Shin Bet reasoned that the group sought to use the abducted Israelis as bargaining chips to obtain the release of Palestinian prisoners, including one of the plotters – Ibrahim Animat. Animat is serving a life sentence for raping and murdering an Israeli woman in 2010.

“The Holy Warriors Brigades” originated in Fatah’s military wing, al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, but splintered off in 2007. Since then, the group has been funded by Hamas. According to the Shin Bet, it is headed Assad Ibrahim abu Shariya, whose imprisoned brother, Omar, hatched the plan with fellow inmates that have since been released.

The Shin Bet stated that the group, which has been responsible for a number of terrorist attacks against Israelis in recent years, planned to abduct Israelis sometime in the coming weeks.

The revelation is particularly disturbing because Israel recently agreed to ease restrictions on Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails so that they would end their hunger strike. An explicit term of the agreement required the prisoners to sign a pledge to forswear terrorist activity.

 

Hebron Jew Arrested for Refusing to Sign Own Restraining Order

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

A Hebron resident summoned for routine interrogation was asked to sign a restraining order banning him from Mitzpe Avichai, an outpost of Kiryat Arba-Hebron. When he refused, he was arrested for 24 hours, Honenu reports.

Several days ago A., a resident of Hebron, was summoned for interrogation on Tuesday at the Hebron Police Station. A. arrived at the police station as requested and was interrogated on suspicion of illegally staying at Mitzpe Avichai. According to Police, the site is a closed military zone.

A., who was asked to sign of his own volition a restraining order banning him for 15 days from the site on bail, refused, claiming that the closed military zone order excludes residents of the outpost. According to him he has been living in Mitzpe Avichai for approximately three years.

In response to A.’s refusal the police officer decided immediately to arrest him for 24 hours. A Honenu attorney filed an appeal on the remand and a deliberation will take place in court late Tuesday.

Hollywood to the Holy Land (Part 2)

Friday, May 4th, 2012

We left off the first part of my story with me bleeding my guts out in Hollywood. Shaken by my friend’s question why I didn’t know anything about Judaism, I rushed to a Jewish bookstore in the Fairfax neighborhood and bought a book about the basics of Judaism. Rosh HaShanah was coming, and I read about the custom of Tashlich. So on Rosh HaShanah day, I walked down to the beach and threw my cortisone pills into the Pacific Ocean. “Please God,” I begged. “Accept these pills as my sins and please heal me without any more medicine.”

During my quest to discover what lay at the bottom of my colitis, I had tried everything. Suddenly I realized that my separation from God was the source of my problems. But without the medicine, I became sicker and sicker. I started bleeding profusely. Within a short time, I lost twenty pounds. Finally, I had to be hospitalized. I was given cortisone intravenously for a week. Just to emphasize how far away I was from Judaism, the book that I brought with me to the hospital was a manual about yoga. Though my first readings of the Bible led me to understand that God wanted Jews to be in Israel, I was hoping to find God on a journey to India.

The minute I got out of the hospital, I stopped taking the cortisone once again. I figured that by relying on the medicine, I would never get down to the root of the problem. Once again, I started to bleed. One evening, I became really scared, thinking that if I kept boycotting the medicine, I would either bleed to death, or I would have to have my colon surgically removed. That night I had a dream. I was in a second-hand clothes shop, looking at old clothes when I spotted a door to another room. Curious, I stepped inside. The inner room was filled with books in Hebrew, four walls of bookshelves stacked with holy Jewish texts, like the study hall of a yeshiva. I didn’t understand Hebrew at that time, but I was filled with a profound sense of peace and calm – what the Hindus call “Nirvana.” I just wanted to stand there and soak in the holiness of the books. But the shop owner appeared and said he wanted to close the store. I begged him to let me stay another five minutes, just to stand there and look at the magical tomes. Grudgingly, he agreed. That’s when I saw another door to yet another inner room. Venturing forward, I stepped inside. The room was empty except for a huge black box in the center of the floor. It was a giant tefillin, looking like some gigantic oversized prop in a Woody Allen movie. Gazing at it, my heart swelled with love. Man, how I wanted that tefillin!

Suddenly, I heard a tremendous thunderous Voice From Above, like a Voice out of Sinai, proclaiming, “THIS IS THE ANSWER! YOU HAVE TO ATTACH YOURSELF TO GOD!”

I woke up, startled. My heart was pounding. The Voice still rang in my ears. It was the clearest, truest, most real experience I had ever had in my life.

Several years later, when I finally made it to a yeshiva, I discovered that my dream was amazingly similar to the dream of the king at the beginning of the book, “The Kuzari.” In the king’s dream, an angel appears and tells him that his desire to get close to God is pleasing, but that his actions are not the right actions. That’s the catalyst that sets him on a quest to find the actions pleasing to God, which turn out to be the commandments of the Torah.

But way back then in Hollywood, I had never heard of “The Kuzari,” and I was still a long way off from making a commitment to Torah.

Nevertheless, I was so shaken up by the dream that when morning came, I went to an Orthodox shul and asked the rabbi to show me how to put on tefillin. He happily agreed and told me to say the Shema Yisrael prayer, which I still remembered from Hebrew School. But even though I would return to the synagogue every morning to put on tefillin, I was still bleeding profusely. Finally, I decided that I had to continue taking the cortisone. That very same morning, my uncle phoned, asking if I could drive him to the hospital. He had to have laser surgery on a cataract, so he needed someone to drive him home after the procedure. Since his wife (my aunt) was a doctor, I asked him if she could write me out a prescription for the cortisone, because I wanted to avoid the tortuous medieval examinations I always had to suffer whenever I went to the gastroenterologist. When I met him later that morning, he handed me the prescription. At the hospital, all during his treatment, I stood outside the operating room and prayed the same mantra over and over, “God, please heal my uncle. God, please heal my uncle, God, please heal my uncle.” For forty-five minutes straight. Fortunately, the treatment was a success. When I returned to my apartment, I headed straight to the bathroom, as was my usual custom. But this time, there was no bleeding! The blood had vanished. Disappeared! No more! I felt like God had reached out a finger, touched my belly, and healed my colitis. I was astounded, dumbstruck by the miracle.

Three Females Among IDF Naval Officer Course Graduates

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

This week the 124th class of IDF Naval Officers, including three women, completed their training and were stationed on deck Israeli Navy vessels. One of them, Lieutenant (junior grade) Or, has been a professional swimmer for seven year before enlisting, and Lieutenant (junior grade) Omer’s father has been a skipper for many years and she has been sailing since she was ten years old.

As to the dynamics on board a Navy ship, the female naval officers know they are expected to flawlessly overcome every challenge, exactly like their male counterparts.

“In the beginning you have to prove you are here because you deserve to be here, without any favors or shortcuts,” said Omer. “Once you complete the training, the male soldiers treat you like one of the guys, the differences are barely noticeable. We feel extremely comfortable.”

While most IDF women serve only two years, these three officers have already served through the 36-month naval officers’ course, as graduates will be required to sign up for at least an extra 16 months.

“Some people don’t understand why I’m here, since right now I could already be released from the army and start my life,” Or said, smiling. It turns out there’s an unexpected upside to her extraordinary commitment: “Boys ask me about my military service, what it’s like to succeed and complete the course. It’s extremely encouraging,” she said.

Who can resist a woman in uniform?

Jewish Cemetery in Poland Vandalized

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

The AP reports that last Sunday vandals desecrated a Jewish cemetery in Wysokie Mazowieckie, eastern Poland, spraying swastikas and anti-Semitic slogans on tombstones and memorial plaques.

according to the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland, the vandals also wrote “This is Poland, not Israel” on one sign at the Jewish cemetery.

Police are investigating the attack, which took place in a town that has tried to preserve the memory of the Jews who lived there. The cemetery, restored six years ago, is not completely fenced in. Michael Traison, an American lawyer who has raised funds to restore the cemetery, said it was the first time vandals attacked it.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/jewish-cemetery-in-poland-vandalized/2012/03/20/

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