web analytics
November 26, 2015 / 14 Kislev, 5776
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Simchat Torah’

Netanyahu: We Will Defeat This Wave of Terrorism

Monday, October 5th, 2015

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu praised the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) Monday night for the arrests of the murderers of Rabbi and Naama Henkin last week and vowed, “Just as we defeated previous waves of terrorism, we will defeat this one as well.”

The Prime Minister stated:

I would like to commend the ISA personnel who solved the terrible murder of the Henkins near Nablus [Shechem]. They acted very quickly and also apprehended the murderers. We are acting with a strong hand against terrorism and against inciters.

We are operating on all fronts. We have brought an additional four IDF battalions into Judea and Samaria, and thousands of police into Jerusalem. The police are going deeply into the Arab neighborhoods, which has not been done in the past.

Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Security Cabinet are meeting in emergency session Monday night, after the Shemini Azeret-Simchat Torah holiday, to approve strong measures that reverse previous orders that restricted soldiers trying to protect themselves and civilians from terrorists, armed with everything from rocks to rifles and bombs.

He said:

We will demolish terrorists’ homes.

We are allowing our forces to take strong action against those who throw rocks and firebombs…. We are not prepared to give immunity to any rioter, inciter or terrorist anywhere;

Therefore, there are no restrictions on the action of our security forces. We will also lift restrictions regarding action against inciters. We will act against the Islamic Movement which, together with Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, is the main source of incitement.

We are in a difficult struggle but one thing should be clear – we will win. Just as we defeated previous waves of terrorism, we will defeat this one as well.

Solidarity Suggestion for Diaspora: Alter Simchat Torah Celebrations

Monday, October 5th, 2015

In the multitude of articles and emails responding to the horrific murders of Jews in Israel that have taken place over the past few weeks, one struck out because it suggested a useful response for Diaspora Jews to express their solidarity.

The email came from Dr. Rafael Medoff. He is the founding director of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies.

Medoff wrote of an effort by one Brooklyn rabbi to respond to the horrors of the holocaust.  He learned about this effort during an interview he conducted with the daughter of a rabbi of a Brownsville, Brooklyn congregation.

In 1942, when the initial reports about the mass murder of European Jewry was first confirmed, Rabbi Baruch David Weitzmann, imposed a condition on his congregation.

The condition was that “if somebody wanted to get married–and there were a lot of these situations, involving boys who were about to go into the army–they came to our house, there was a little chuppah, some cake and soda, nothing more. No celebrations, no dancing, just the chuppah. He explained to us that you cannot celebrate at a time when other Jews are dying.”

Rabbi Weitzmann’s daughter explained that her father “wanted us to feel the tsa’ar of the Jews who were being killed in Europe.”

Medoff points out what a departure such a condition was from the usual Jewish response to wild celebrations for marriages:

“Consider, for a moment, how drastically this deviated from normative Jewish practice. The mitzvah of making a bride and groom happy at their wedding is considered so important that it is one of the few commandments which supersede the obligation to study Torah. Normally stoic rabbis set aside their books to take part in wild dancing and assorted ribaldry to entertain the newlyweds.

“The Talmud (Tractate Brachot 6-b) declares that one who gladdens the hearts of the bride and groom at their wedding ‘merits to acquire the knowledge of the Torah.’ One Talmudic sage compares making newlyweds happy at their wedding to bringing a sacrifice in the Temple in ancient Jerusalem; another says it is the equivalent of rebuilding some of the ruins of Jerusalem.”

Medoff explained that Weitzmann believed it was imperative for Jews to feel the pain of other Jews. The Brooklyn rabbi wanted to raise Jewish awareness of the mass murder of European Jewry, and in doing so, galvanize his congregants to take action.

Medoff wisely reminds us that the

very existence of the American Jewish community, after all, is based on the premise that Jews should care about, connect with, and assist each other. We are not merely a haphazard mass of individuals who happen to practice similar religious rituals in our private lives. We join together–in prayer, in celebration, and in other activities of communal partnership. The classic United Jewish Appeal slogan, ‘We are one!,” resonated deeply precisely because it spoke to the essence of Jewish peoplehood.’

And then Medoff built upon Rabbi Weitzmann’s extraordinary injunction to call for a similar response by Diaspora Jewry to the ongoing brutal murders of our fellow Jews in Jerusalem. “Two rabbis stabbed and shot to death in the streets of Jerusalem. A young couple gunned down in front of their four children.”

Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, in his seminal book “Were We Our Brothers’ Keepers?,” confronted the painful fact that most American Jews in the 1940s failed to respond in meaningful ways – if at all – to the plight of Europe’s Jews.

Medoff recounted Lookstein’s observation that there were no signs “American Jews altered some aspect of their lifestyle to indicate their awareness of the plight of their European brothers [and] keep the matter at the forefront of their consciousness and to generate feelings of sympathy and solidarity….The Final Solution may have been unstoppable by American Jewry, but it should have been unbearable for them. And it wasn’t. This is important, not alone for our understanding of the past, but for our sense of responsibility in the future.”

Showers Expected Day after Prayers for Rain

Sunday, October 4th, 2015

The first rains of the winter season are expected on Tuesday, one day after Jews around the world begin adding to daily prayers that God “brings the wind and rain.”

The change is made during the prayers on Shemini Azereth, the same day that Simchat Torah is celebrated in Israel. In the Diaspora, the two holidays are marked on separate days, ending Tuesday night.

In Israel, a special request for rain is added to prayers two weeks later, while Jews in Diaspora make the change on December 4.

Precipitation is expected to begin after noon in the north and center of the country on Tuesday and spread to the Negev at night and on Wednesday. The heaviest rainfall is predicted for the Galilee area, in the north.

Weather models indicate another warming trend at the end of the week, but is may be followed by a longer respite from the long hot summer, one of the hottest on record.

Temperatures will rise on Friday through next Sunday, according to longer term indications, but cooler weather is possible from next Monday through the entire week.

Chief Rabbis Urges Jews to Go to Western Wall and Pray for Peace

Sunday, October 4th, 2015

Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef has called on Jews to arrive en masse at the Western Wall on Hoshanah Raba and Shemini Azeret-Simchat Torah to pray show their strength and faith in the face of terror.

Rabbi Yosef’s message was in response to the murder of two Jews and wounding of two others in the Old City Saturday night by a Palestinian Authority terrorist.

He asked Jews “to perform the commandment of the holiday and to pray for the peace of the wounded.” and added:

The situation in which the blood of Jews is spilled like water in the land of Israel, day after day, when their only sin is their being Jews, is unbearable.

We can’t allow a situation in which Jews are afraid to go to the Western Wall,” continued Rabbi Yosef.

The rabbi called on “all the sources involved in the matter to bring about a situation in which Jews will feel secure in all parts of the land of Israel.”

The prayer rally at the Kotel parallels mass protests elsewhere in Israel, including opposite the official residence of the Prime Minister in Jerusalem.

Israel Police Limit Access to Old City of Jerusalem

Sunday, October 4th, 2015

Israel Police began limiting access to the Temple Mount early Sunday in the wake of a massive wave of terror this weekend in and around Jerusalem.

Access to the area is to be limited for the next two days, the period spanning the Jewish holidays of Hoshana Raba and Simchat Torah, the final days of the first Jewish festival of the Hebrew calendar.

Two Israeli rabbis were murdered, and a young mother and her 2-year-old toddler were gravely wounded by a teenage Arab terrorist as they were walking back from the Western Wall on HaGai Street near the Lion’s Gate.

At around 3 am Sunday morning, a 15-year-old Jewish teen was stabbed in the chest by a Palestinian Arab terrorist outside the Old City. Police saw the attack, and the terrorist with the knife in his hand, and shot him dead.

Following the attacks, Israel’s government “agreed to proposals by Israeli security services and police to limit access to the Old City for the next two days,” according to a government statement.

Access to the Old City is to be restricted to Israeli citizens, residents of the Old City, tourists and business people who work in the Old City, and students who study in the Old City.

The murderer who carried out Saturday night’s terror attack was a resident of al-Bireh, an Arab village near the Palestinian Authority capital city of Ramallah, in Samaria.

Access to the Temple Mount for Muslim prayer is to be limited to males aged 50 and above, although there will be no age limit on female Muslim worshipers. That access will be through the Lions Gate, where Saturday night’s terror attack took place.

Can Peres and Abbas Save ‘Settlers’ Synagogue from Destruction by Israel?

Sunday, September 27th, 2015

A Jerusalem area community in Samaria is hoping former president Shimon Peres and Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas can help them stop the planned government destruction of a 20-year-old synagogue allegedly built on Arab land.

The Supreme Court, which previously accepted leftists’ claims that the synagogue was built on private Arab land, received on Friday a last-ditch petition to stop the destruction, based on arguments that the court and the government did not take into consideration international law concerning the  protection of Holy Sites.

The appeal, filed by attorney Gilad Korinaldy on behalf of Givat Ze’ev regional council rabbi Yosef Toledano, also asked the court to consider aspects of Jewish law, the Hareidi website Kikar Shabbat reported.

The court has ordered Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon to answer the petition by next Monday night, the end of Simchat Torah in Israel.

The Netanyahu administration has ordered that the 2-year-old Ayelet HaShachar synagogue, where several hundred congregants have prayed, be demolished immediately after the Sukkot-Simchat Torah holiday.

The petition to the court also explained that the community has appealed to Peres and Abbas to “think outside the legal box” and find a political-diplomatic solution.

Korinaldy, who also represented Gush Katif in efforts to save Gush Katif synagogues from destruction in the expulsion of Jews from Gaza in 2005, said, according to Kikar Shabbat:

Synagogues are the voice of the existence of Judaism for generations. All possibilities must be examined to protect the holiness of Israel and respect for God. There is no greater disgrace than Jews destroying a synagogue.

TheJewishPress.com reported here last month that Givat Ze’ev worshippers already have taken holy books out of the synagogue in preparation for the demolition, which Prime Minister Netanyahu postponed from August until immediately after the holidays.

The  suit against the synagogue followed the pattern of several previous appeals by the left-wing Yesh Din and Peace Now grows, arguing that Jews did not legally buy the land on which they built.

It usually is difficult to prove the legal purchase because it is always done through a third-party. Otherwise, the Arab seller would face death, either by an angry mob or by the Palestinian Authority policy that follows the Jordanian law that selling land to a Jew is punishable by execution.

If the petition is successful, it would prove the seeming impossibilities of life in Israel.

Who would dream that Peres and Abbas would be the intermediaries to stop the destruction of a Jewish place of worship in the “occupied territories?”

Not Enough Joy and Meaning

Monday, October 7th, 2013

The recent NY Times article on the newly released PEW findings on Jewish continuity paints a bleak future for American Jewry. The study, among other findings, reported that nearly six in ten Jewish respondents (58%) who have gotten married since 2000, have married a non-Jewish spouse. The study also showed that only 20 percent of those who have intermarried are raising their children Jewish by religion.

There are, I’m sure, many reasons for this worsening situation including a serious lack of Jewish education for most American Jews, a more than ever distracting world in which living any kind of religious life becomes more challenging, and many other contributing factors. However I believe there is another cause, which I have seen in my 20 years of outreach to the young and less affiliated: the sheer lack of joy or meaning that so many young Jews associate with Judaism.

More often than not, the perception young people have of Judaism is of a faith filled with rules and restrictions which offers little or no joy or meaning in return.

But why should young Jews be left with any other impression? When Yom Kippur continues to be the most celebrated Jewish experience in synagogue what else should we expect? How many American Jews are present for the somber Yom Kippur service, complete with fasting and chest-pounding/forgiveness asking but are no-where to be found the next week when joyous singing and dancing in honor of Simchat Torah takes place? That balance of reverence and joy is vital to keep our interest and it is so authentically Jewish. In the Temple of old, the Beit Hamikdash, the feeling on Yom Kippur was one of awe and even trepidation as the High Priest performed the service to secure atonement for all of Israel, but the next week that same Temple was filled with a sense of joy and exuberance during the Simchat Beit Hoshava (water drawing ceremony) on which which the Talmud tells us: “Whoever never witnessed the Simchat Beit Hashoeva has never in his life seen true joy.”

Like most synagogues, MJE has always drawn larger numbers for its Yom Kippur services than for Simchat Torah. This year however, for the very first time, we had approximately the same number of participants for both holidays. It took us 15 years but we did it. The same number of previously less affiliated 20’s/30’s who were willing to fast and pray with us on Yom Kippur returned to sing and dance with us on Simchat Torah.

Young Jews desperately need to experience both the serious and lighter sides of Judaism. We can no longer allow our beloved faith to be marketed as a religion of guilt and restriction without even trying to present it for what it truly is: a path which can ultimately bring joy and meaning to contemporary life. And we must learn to properly articulate how the limitations Judaism does place on our lives are important in helping to create that more joyous and meaningful existence.

The goal of our synagogues and Jewish institutions today must be to demonstrate this balance of reverence and joy; fealty to tradition with personnel meaning and relevance. Jewish educators need to be better trained to invest more explanation and inspiration into our prayer services and provide greater depth and insight as to how living a life of Torah can actually improve our lives and make us happier and more fulfilled people.

Otherwise, for most American Jews, why bother?

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/not-enough-joy-and-meaning/2013/10/07/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: