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December 5, 2016 / 5 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘soul’

Soul Talk – Embracing Change and Maintaining It! [audio]

Tuesday, November 1st, 2016

A new year is often ushered in with new resolutions to improve ourselves and our relationships. Even with the best intentions, the changes we commit to often don’t last. How can we most successfully maintain the positive changes that we have committed to throughout the year?

Join Rabbi David Aaron and Leora Mandel where you will learn concrete tools for maintaining positive change in your life.

We welcome your thoughts and questions: soultalk@israelnewstalkradio.com

Soul Talk 30OCT2016 – PODCAST

Israel News Talk Radio

A Heroic Soul: Yosef Yehuda Sherman

Monday, October 31st, 2016

As a guest at the Shabbos table of a chassid of Erlau, Yosef Yehuda Sherman was inspired by the dramatic story the family’s elderly grandfather told of their escape from the horrors of the Holocaust. The story of the righteous gentile who took a major risk to procure visas and paperwork for the whole family, allowing them to escape from Hungary intrigued him. The family had been pushed to leave by their Rebbe, Reb Yochanan Sofer zt”l, who refused to leave until all his chassidim had escaped.

The heroic act of the Hungarian gentile touched Sherman deeply and made him realize how important it is for us to express our gratitude to those who helped rescue Jews during the war.

Yad Vashem has done a remarkable job of recognizing almost 26,000 non-Jews who saved Jewish lives, usually at great risk to their own. Yet, they have limited the acknowledgement to those who saved lives in Europe from Nazi Germany. Jews are and always have been threatened in many locations, and, more often than not, have had to rely on the graciousness of non-Jews for help.

Yosef Yehuda Sherman realized he had a mission.

A painter, Yosef Yehuda was encouraged by Rabbi Issamar Ginzberg, the Nadvorna-Kechnia Rebbe, to use his talents to make a kiddush Hashem. While he had painted his whole life, since beginning his journey towards becoming a religious Jew, he hadn’t shared his talent with others.

Yosef Yehuda, who had been compared to Marc Chagall by art critics, returned to his easel to create art for the righteous gentiles of the world. He intended to present his gifts to the various ambassadors who resided in Israel.

And, having been born to a devoted Christian family, he knew how to relate to non-Jews.

*** Josef Sherman was born to an evangelical Christian family in Anaheim, California. His family, sincere searching Christians, first of Pentecostal church, a movement that recognizes a personalized G-d who is involved in people’s lives. His parents were also wary of letting secular culture dictate the morals in their home.

In Delphi, Greece before his conversion

In Delphi, Greece before his conversion

As his mother explains, “We raised our son in a moral environment, where he was protected from the dangers of society. We did not allow sinful music or television into our home. We taught him that everything you feed your soul will impact who you are.” Josef (a long-awaited son like his biblical namesake) was encouraged to find meaning in the church.

At 15, he was ordained as a minister, a position he held for more than a decade. When he was 16, he was given the opportunity to participate in a science research program at The University of California, where he worked with neurotransmitter sensors for research on the brain. Using the scientific approach made him appreciate how detailed, balanced, and remarkable a world G-d created and he began applying scientific logic to his religious studies.

Religion continued to play an important part of his life and, when his family moved to North Carolina, he served as an ordained lay minister. The mix of religion and science, as well the encounters with atheists and intellectuals while in college, raised more questions then he ever anticipated.

It was also in college that he met real live Jews, with whom he felt an affinity. Although he still believed in and taught Christianity, he was drawn to Reform services and attended lectures taught by a female rabbi. He loved the classes and the ability to ask questions. The church had not only discouraged the asking of questions, Sherman had realized that many of the ministers could not answer the questions or understand the original texts.

hirsch-102816-pinkIt was in with in the Reform congregation that he discovered the “Eight Steps of Charity.” He was amazed not only by the value Judaism placed on charity but on the laws that dictated how to be a giver, laws that existed thousands of years before modern society acknowledged its importance.

He also was dazzled by Hebrew and the fact that Jews all over the world seemed to be able to speak the same language. To him, it highlighted how connected they all were. Even the Reform, whose Jewish knowledge was less than others, knew Hebrew.

Globe Trotting Josef studied in educational institutes across the globe: University of California at San Diego; the University of Göttingen, Germany; at the Tecnológico de Monterre in Mexico; the University of California at Berkeley, and in France, Lebanon, Morocco and China.

Eventually he made his way to Israel, where he was awed by Jerusalem’s holiness. He had always known that his father’s father was Jewish, but while in Israel he discovered that his maternal grandfather was Jewish as well. This generated a great desire to learn about Judaism; he felt he was being directed towards the Jewish people.

When he returned to the University of North Carolina as an administrator researcher and a resident assistant in the local church, he suddenly appreciated how far he was from any Jewish center. The realization of how much he missed the Jews, their holidays, their Shabbos and their way of life suddenly hit him and made him a pause.

He took the time to seriously learn Hebrew and used it to review his translated version of the Bible. Cracks, inaccuracies, mistakes, misinterpretations, and errors surfaced. He began to see that many of the concepts he grew up with were taken out of their Biblical context or just misconstrued.

“When Christianity was tested, it failed. Judaism scored 100 percent. But it was a huge shock for me – my world literally turned upside down.”

With Rosh Hashanah approaching, he realized his very soul needed the prayers and holidays to feel complete. He searched for real Jewish services – an Orthodox shul. But he was afraid. He was Christian and did not know what people’s reactions to him would be.

Tziyona Hirsch

Economic Accounting of the Soul

Monday, October 10th, 2016

In these “awesome days” of Elul and Tishrei it is usual for us Jews to examine closely our situation both individually and vis-a-vis our friends and the Creator. Therefore, we pray a great deal, repent, and forgive one another, and increase our good deeds prior to the Day of Judgment which falls on Rosh Hashana, the New Year, and reaches its climax on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, on which, according to tradition, the judgment for the new year is sealed. These actions are called “Heshbon Nefesh” – or “accounting of the soul,” and the idea behind it is the assumption that, just as a person is unable to manage his material affairs in an intelligent manner, such as his household or business economies, without keeping an orderly calculation of profit and loss and weighing the balance in its separate parts, the soul accounting comes in order to ascertain whether his situation has improved or, Heaven forbid, has worsened. These calculations will be presented before the Supreme Judge as material for reaching the verdict for the new year for all His creatures. Moreover, it must be stressed that the accounting of the soul also serves the person as a tool to keep track of his general situation, whether he is regressing or progressing towards his goals, or whether the situation is ideal in his eyes.

The accounting of the soul has a moral, ethical, spiritual as well as an economic-worldly content. We exploit this opportunity in order to request for the entire Jewish People and for each one of us that the Creator will improve our economic situation, as we recite in the Avinu Malkenu prayer: “Our Father, Our King inscribe us in the book of maintenance and sustenance.” and in the special Unetaneh Tokef prayer during the Days of Awe: “Who shall become rich and who shall be impoverished.”

Hence, in these days there is a need for an economic accounting of the soul, to weigh the balance-sheet of our personal and national economic condition, particularly in light of the problematic economic situation prevailing in the world since the year 2008 when there erupted the crisis from which the world has not yet recovered. In order to prevent a major global blow (such as the 1929 Great Depression), the United States is mortgaging the coming generations by debts, and despite this there it still no light in its economy. The European countries are following in its wake, and despite this their economy has remained static. This economic behavior of the West is causing the awakening countries in Eastern Asia to reduce their economic rate of growth.

The countries of the world pin their hopes on major institutions like the Common Market, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, but they don’t know how to act in the future, because in the course of the crisis they lost their monetary and fiscal work tools. The monetary tool which they possessed was the ability to set the interest rate. Today the rate is zero, and recently it has even dropped to a negative rate (that is to say, the lender receives in return less than what he loaned at the outset). The captains of the economy are at a loss to

know how to act, and continue with the classic conditioning stipulation to lower the interest rate increasingly. The fiscal tools have also lost their efficacy, and massive injections of capital into the market (contrary to the economic ideology) have not essentially changed the situation of the markets. Undoubtedly, such a difficult global situation calls for a profound and extensive economic accounting of the soul.

Are we, here in Israel, also a part of this global accounting of the soul? Israel is a minor player in the Western market, and is dependent on it for the export of its products, but our economic situation, as compared with the rest of the world, is fine. The standard of living of the citizens of the State is continually rising, unemployment is falling- an all-time record, the national debt is increasingly diminishing, and the natural resources such as gas – granted to us and for generations to come – promise an even better future. It can be said that, by comparison with the rest of the countries of the world, the economy of Israel is healthier. Nevertheless, an economic accounting of the soul is required. On the macro side we have not yet achieved fulfillment. Considerable improvement is required in the following areas of the economy: the housing market is too volatile due to the failure of the system; failure of management of the natural resources; failure of investment in pensions; monopolization in many branches – and this is just a partial list of the governmental economic problems of our young State of Israel.

Do we have adequate tools to deal with the reality? Our Holy Torah supplies us with many tools, and their exploitation depends on us. Instead of appealing to the powers that have proved their worthlessness, the Torah gives the individual Mitzvot which can transform the economic reality. Two Mitzvot, which as a rule we have trouble understanding how to observe, and which are a part of the mutual responsibility, will enable us to improve the economy. One Mitzvah is between a person and his fellow-man: “And if thy brother be waxen poor with thee” (Leviticus 25, 39), and the second, “Thou shalt surely rebuke they neighbor, and not bear sin because of him” (Leviticus 19, 17). The first is micro in nature, and the second mainly macro.

In order to observe the first Mitzvah there is no need to wait until your brother is forced to sell his clothes, his home and afterwards himself, but one may help him while he is still at the initial stage of his decline. It is advisable to keep an eye on him, and already in the initial stages of his fall, in order to offer him assistance. Charity is one of the forms of help to the needy, and based on our action in this regard, the Holy One Blessed Be He has chosen us, and He said: “For I have known him, to the end that he may command his children and his household after him, that they may keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice” (Genesis, 18,19).

The power of the observance of the Mitzvah is very great, as it is said at the end of Tractate Shabbat: “Charity saves from death,” and therefore charity is also one of the three things –repentance, prayer and tzedaka – which can “avert the evil decree” (in the Unetanah Tokef prayer).

The second Mitzvah is more general, and the form of its observance is less clear but connected with every economic activity. We can observe it

when we know that a certain policy does not correspond with the principles of the Torah, as for example “Tisporet”(debt-cutting) and even investing money in places which do not promise suitable returns, or taking money disproportionately, as recently practiced in the Israeli economy.

Lack of room does not allow us to enlarge on the essence of these Mitzvot, and so we shall be brief and say here that we wish that each and every Jew will be granted to observe these Mitzvot together with all the people of Israel, and that, thanks to them and the new accounting of the soul, that our actions shall redound to the benefit of the Jewish People as a whole.

{Translated from the Hebrew by David Herman}


Nahum Gutentag

The Jewish Soul Of Shimon Peres

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

Much will be written about the incredible life of Shimon Peres, who passed away last week at age 93, and it is not my intention here to present a comprehensive review of his fascinating biography or to praise his important contributions to Israel, which spanned many decades. Nor is it my intention to paper over what many felt were his misguided ideas and policies. Suffice it to say that his fierce dedication to Israel and its people is beyond dispute.

He is the only person ever to have served as both prime minister and as president of Israel, although he did lose five elections for prime minister, which may constitute the all-time historical record for futility by the nominee of a major political party seeking election as head of state.


Peres was a principal player in the building of the state of Israel. Ironically, though touted around the world as a man of peace, he played a seminal role in engineering and advancing Israel’s military establishment, from acquiring weapons for the new Israeli army to developing Israel’s state-run military industries to being singularly responsible for the development of Israel’s nuclear capability.

Following the 1967 Six-Day War he championed the establishment of settlements under the slogan “Settlements Everywhere,” but he eventually changed course as he pursued his dream of a “New Middle East,” which would have entailed significant Israeli concessions as part of a hoped-for peace agreement.

But Peres’s legacy presumably will be defined by the important role he played as architect of the disastrous 1993 Oslo Accords (for which he was awarded the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize together with Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO chief Yasir Arafat) and by his naïve trust in Arafat’s good intentions.

Though Peres was raised in a non-religious family and was not personally observant, he studied Talmud as a child with his maternal grandfather, the great Torah scholar Rav Tzvi Hirsh Meltzer, Hy”d, who had a great influence on his life. Rav Meltzer’s last emotional words to Shimon as his grandson immigrated with his family to Eretz Yisrael in 1934 were “Be a Jew!” and indeed he was.

In recognition of Peres’s deep respect for traditional Judaism, David Ben-Gurion often sent him to work with rabbinic leaders on critical religious matters, including the deferment of military service for yeshiva students. (Peres later recalled that whenever he met with the rabbis, “I felt like I was sitting with my grandfather.”) He also met frequently with the Lubavitcher Rebbe to discuss issues relating to Jewish identity in Israel, including many specifics regarding Russian immigrants.

Standing against his fellow secular Zionists, Peres opposed the elimination of traditional Judaism from the new Jewish state and throughout his life maintained a deep respect for Jewish customs and practices. For example, he declined to attend the Friday night opening ceremonies of the 2012 London Olympic games out of respect for Shabbat. In the historic June 30, 1994 correspondence written on his Minister of Foreign Affairs letterhead to Rav Menachem Porush and exhibited with this column, he displays further sensitivity to Shabbat observance:

As to your letter of 20 Tammuz, 1994 – in order to prevent the mass public desecration of Shabbat, we have expended great effort to ensure that Yoshev Rosh Ashaf [the head of the PLO, i.e., Yasir Arafat] will arrive in Gaza on Friday during the early afternoon hours.

Rav Porush (1916-2010) was an Israeli rabbi and politician (and longtime Jewish Press columnist) who served as a member of the Knesset, deputy head of the Jerusalem city council, and deputy minister of labor and social welfare.

singer-100716-from-peresThe background of the letter is fascinating. Arafat’s sudden announcement that, in his first trip to the Palestinian territories since 1967, he would be visiting the Gaza Strip – “I am coming home!” – had the Israeli government scrambling to make security arrangements. Prime Minister Rabin, committed to honoring the Oslo Accords regarding Palestinian self-government, agreed to a three-day visit and told his generals and security chiefs that the question was not whether Arafat would come but, rather, how Israel would manage the visit.

Though Arafat had not asked to come to Jerusalem, then-mayor Ehud Olmert expressed his belief that Arafat might try to sneak into the holy city on Shabbat, when religious Jews could not organize a protest. Thousands of Israelis opposed to the Oslo Accords jammed the center of Jerusalem in a wild demonstration and hundreds of policemen were posted in the Arab Old City as a precaution. Nevertheless, on Friday, July 1, 1994, Arafat made triumphant return to the Palestinian territories, though he was prevented from going to Jerusalem.

Finally, in Peres’s memory and in the spirit of the yamim noraim, exhibited with this column is a 23 Elul 1989 correspondence on his Minister of Foreign Affairs letterhead that evinces his knowledge of biblical verses, his respect for Jewish tradition, and the honor he accorded Rav Porush:

With greetings of the New Year, I extend to the Rav’s honor and to his entire household a good and blessed year, a year in which all your wishes be fulfilled with health and long years.May it be [Hashem’s] will that the year, may it come upon us for the good, will be a year of peace and serenity for Israel in our land and in our Diaspora, a year of the ingathering of exiles and, in the words of the verse from the weekly Torah portion: “And Hashem your God will return you to your home and will have compassion for you and gather you from among the nations which Hashem your God had dispersed you” (Deuteronomy 30).

Saul Jay Singer

Soul Talk – Secrets to a Really Really Happy New Year [audio]

Tuesday, October 4th, 2016

There are many concepts connected to the High Holiday’s: Rosh HaShannah and Yom Kippur that are essential to properly understand in order to make the most of the opportunity of the holidays.

What does it mean that G-d has the book of life and death open during this time? What bad decrees are we trying to avert through mending our ways? What is the power of Repentance, Prayer and Charity giving in revoking these bad decrees?

Join Rabbi David Aaron on Soul Talk to gain a better understanding of essential High Holiday concepts and enter the holidays with clarity and focus.

We welcome your questions and comments. Send us an e-mail at soultalk@israelnewstalkradio.com

Soul Talk 02Oct2016 – PODCAST

Israel News Talk Radio

Soul Talk – The Art of Living in the Now! [audio]

Sunday, September 18th, 2016

Time is one of those factors that we are all aware of as a reality in our life, but how much do we really understand it? Is time real or a perception? Why is it that sometimes that time seems to pass so quickly, at other times so slowly? How does the Torah explain the concept of time? Finally, within my day to day life, how can I more fully live in the now instead of getting stuck in the past or thinking to much about the future? Join Rabbi David Aaron and Leora Mandel on Soul Talk to get learn the art of living in the NOW! We welcome your questions and e-mails: soultalk@israelnewstalkradio.com

Israel News Talk Radio

Shiloh Musings: Bibi: Selling Soul and Country to the Devil!

Sunday, September 18th, 2016

I’m just sick over the fact that our Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, didn’t have the guts and faith to hold out on the so-called aid, sic offered by American lame duck President Barack Hussein Obama.

This “package” is poison for the Israeli economy, particularly our military industries. A sovereign leader always has a choice. By accepting the many stringed offer, Netanyahu is showing weakness.

Republican senator: Israel made a mistake signing security deal
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who oversees the U.S. foreign aid budget, opined on Friday that Israel made a mistake by signing a new $38 billion security agreement with the Obama administration, The Associated Press reported.
Graham said Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu could have gotten a better deal if he had waited until President Barack Obama left office.
He stated that there is ample support in Congress among Republicans and Democrats for providing Israel with more military aid. And a new U.S. president, either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, would be more generous too, he said on a conference call arranged by the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.

I don’t know how we can get out of it… sigh….

Batya Medad

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/shiloh-musings/shiloh-musings-bibi-selling-soul-and-country-to-the-devil/2016/09/18/

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