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August 25, 2016 / 21 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘staff’

The Guiding Staff

Friday, June 17th, 2016

Rav Yaakov Kamenetzky ztl was once asked how a person should educate his children to recite blessings before eating. Rav Yaakov replied, “I really don’t instruct or teach my children to recite blessings. My children constantly hear my wife and I reciting blessings slowly and meticulously, and they learn to say blessings the same way.”

A few years ago, before I was married, I met Rav Avrohom Chaim Feuer, our (then) family’s Rav, in the parking lot of one of Monsey’s shopping malls. It was the week of Parshas Naso and he related the following thought:

In Parshas Shemos, the Malbim comments that there are three words the Torah uses in reference to a stick: makel, mishenes, and mateh. He then explains the fundamental difference between each word. A makel refers to a stick one uses to goad and urge, much like a shepherd uses a stick to guide his sheep. Mish’an is an expression of leaning and support. It is similar to a cane which one uses to maintain balance. Finally, a mateh is analogous to a baton, a stick waved in the air in order to direct and instruct.

With this in mind, the Malbim elucidates an exchange that transpired between Moshe and Hashem, as it were, at the commencement of Moshe’s tenure as leader of Klal Yisroel. When Hashem instructed Moshe to convey His message to Klal Yisroel that the redemption was imminent, Moshe was hesitant. He was afraid that the Jewish people would not listen and would not believe that he was G-d’s emissary. G-d proceeded to give Moshe three signs that he could use to prove the veracity of his mission. The first involved a staff. “And He [G-d] said to him [Moshe], ‘What is in your hand?’ And he replied, ‘A mateh’” (Shemos 4:2).

The Malbim explains that when G-d asked Moshe what was in his hand he was testing him. He was essentially asking Moshe to define how he viewed his role as leader. “Is the staff in your hand a makel used to beat people as you assert your authority with chastisement and rebuke? Or, perhaps you view it as a mish’an used for support because you plan to ‘milk’ the nation for everything they’re worth and see how lucrative being a leader can be?”

Moshe, the consummate leader, immediately responded that it was a “mateh,” a baton which represented his role as a guide and example. The way to teach is not solely with words but more profoundly by example.

With this idea, Rav Feuer offered a novel explanation of a verse in Parshas Naso. When the Torah introduces the individual offerings brought by each of the nesi’im (princes) it says, “The leaders of Yisroel, the heads of their father’s household, brought offerings; they were ‘ne’seeay hamatos’ [lit. leaders of the tribes], they were those who stand at the countings” (6:2).

Why does the Torah first introduce the princes as the “leaders of Yisroel” and then add, “they were the leaders of the tribes”?

Rav Feuer explained that the verse is actually conveying the greatness of the princes by expressing their philosophy for leadership. Like Moshe, they understood that proper leadership is accomplished by example. Just as Moshe viewed his staff as a baton used for guiding, they too viewed themselves as ne’seeay hamatos, princes of the matos, i.e., princes who teach by personal example.

This idea is further developed with a classic thought from Rav Shimon Schwab ztl on this week’s haftarah (Ma’ayan Bais Hashoayvah). The haftarah relates the events that preceded the birth of Shimshon, the great and righteous warrior who dedicated his life to developing his spiritual and physical prowess.

An angel appeared to “the woman” who had been childless for years and informed her that she would bear a son. The angel added that the child must remain a nazir his entire life. The angel concluded that this wunderkind would save Klal Yisroel from their Philistine oppressors. When the woman relayed the angel’s message to her husband Monoach, he seemed disturbed. “Monoach prayed to G-d and he said, ‘Please, my Master, the angel that you have sent should please come again and instruct us what to do with the child’” (Shoftim 13:8).

When the angel reappeared, Monoach repeated his request. The angel responded, “Whatever I have said to the woman you should safeguard.” Then the angel repeated the instructions he had mentioned previously.

What was it that so troubled Monoach about the instructions his wife had received that he needed the angel to clarify? In fact, we don’t find the angel relating any novel ideas; he merely repeats his earlier instructions!

Rabbi Schwab explained that the angel was teaching them a profound educational lesson. When Monoach heard that he would have a son who would be obligated to maintain an austere level of holiness beyond normal law, he was troubled. “How am I to ensure that my son not partake in wine when I make Kiddush every Shabbos on wine? How can I tell him he is prohibited to shave and take a haircut when I do so regularly? How can I inform him that he may not join me at a funeral of someone close to our family? Is that not a double standard?” Monoach wanted to understand how to educate the child to do things that he himself was not going to practice.

The angel replied that Monoach’s concern was well-founded. There was only one viable solution, “Whatever I have said to the woman you should safeguard.” Indeed, the only way to educate a child properly is to practice what you preach. If Shimshon will be obligated to observe added restrictions his father would have no recourse but to safeguard them as well!

To educate others, a person must personify the ideals and values he/she wishes to convey.

The Dubner Maggid once asked the Vilna Gaon how one can influence and educate others. The Gaon replied with an analogy: One should take a large cup and surround it with a number of smaller cups. One should pour the liquid into the large cup, and it will overflow into the smaller cups. That is how one influences others. It must spill over from one’s personal passions and efforts.

In a similar vein, Rav Yaakov noted that educators must view themselves more as mashpi’im (influencers) then mechanchim (educators). The word mashpia is related to the word shipua, something inclined or on a slant. Educators must be like a slanted roof from which everything flows down to what is below it. What educators do, what they think, and what values they hold dear trickles down to their students and leaves a lasting effect.

In the words of noted psychologist Abraham Maslow, “If we do not model what we teach, we are teaching something else!”

Rabbi Dani Staum

New Hezbollah Chief of Staff Declares Truce with Israel

Thursday, May 19th, 2016

Mustafa Mughniyeh, who replaced Hezbollah’s slain Chief of Staff Mustafa Badreddine, has reportedly declared that Israel, at least for now, is no longer considered the enemy of the Shiite organization. According to cairoportal.com, citing a source they say is familiar with Hezbollah’s internal affairs, Mughniyeh is planning to carry out a major attack against the Saudis.

The new Hezbollah military chief, whose father was legendary terrorist Imad Mughniyeh—killed in 2008 in a car bomb blast, reportedly said that “while my father and uncle (Badreddine) failed to kill the Emir of Kuwait, I will not fail to kill the king of Wahabia (a reference to the Wahabi faith, Saudi Arabia’s state religion, which is the most viciously anti-Shiite) and cut off the hand of anyone who wishes to turn Syria Wahabi.”

Speaking before a cadre of Hezbollah’s top command, Mughniyeh then declared that Israel is a friend and a strategic ally opposite the Saudi enemy, and therefore, from this day on, there is no more war against Israel.

He also noted that Israel was the only country that liberated the Shiites in south Lebanon from the Palestinian conquest in 1982. The PLO, which had been driven out of Jordan a decade earlier, created an independent state in everything but a name in south Lebanon, and used it as a base from which to harass Israel—leading to the first Lebanon war.

JNi.Media

Memorial Day Speech by Former IDF Chief of Staff and Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

“We will use any means to ensure that the Israeli society is based on equality, ethics and justice,” he said. “We must not lose our morals or our purity of arms, even during the most difficult times. No small number of soldiers and commanders have endangered their own lives, and even injured or killed for the sake of these values. This shows the legitimacy of our path.”

This is the same Mofaz who is directly responsible for the death of IDF soldier Madhat Yusuf as he bled to death defending Joseph’s tomb from “Palestinian security personnel” (terrorists in uniform whom we acknowledged with the Oslo perfidy, and with weapons we gave them) in October 2000.

Rather than risk the “peace” with our “peace partners,” Mofaz, then chief of staff, was there on the scene observing with his field glasses, as delirious Arab mobs assailed and desecrated our holy site and shot at our soldiers cowering inside.

Incredibly, Mofaz chose to put his faith in his “Palestinian counterpart” as he was assured that the attacks will end and the he will send an ambulance to help the wounded. The ambulance never arrived.

Our soldier bled to death – but the “peace process” survived!!

This is the ‘Sodom and Gomorrah’ mind set that directs people like Mofaz; and our current deputy chief of staff who sees a parallel between Israel today and Nazi Germany of the 1930’s…

Of course, these self appointed bearers of the moral torch, were there as advocates of handing our land to our enemies at every opportunity, even , or especially, if it meant the mass expulsion of our people from their homes and destroying their lives. Morality demands

This Memorial Day we remember the 23,447 soldiers and victims of terror who gave their lives for us in our land. This ghastly number does not include the tens of thousands crippled in body or mind– or both. It does not count the thousands of devastated families who will never be the same.

On this day, I rather not hear from our “military leaders” who have lost the moral compass and rub salt into our wounds.

Perhaps we can better understand now why Israel has not won a war since 1973. (We fought five since then; three in Gaza in 2005 that we gave to Hamas and two in Lebanon that we gave to Hizbullah in 2000)

The chief of staff during the 2006 Second Lebanon war was , Dan Halutz. While sending men into battle he did not forget to take the time to sell his entire portfolio as he knew that war and stocks don’t go well together..Smart man . Great leader. Lost war. Lots of dead soldiers. Saved his portfolio.

One year before, to the day, Halutz very proudly presided over the very successful, well planned military campaign in Gaza – the one in which he expelled ten thousand Jews from their homes and handed it to Hamas..

On this Memorial Day, as we remember our true heroes, those 23,447  who put down their lives despite the blustering and warped moral compass of some of our generals, let us take solace in the fact that the people are indeed waking up.

No doubt, these blowhard “leaders” realize that their light is fading.

Servants of values not shared by the majority of Jews in Israel, the baton of leadership is slowly but surely changing hands.

May we be blessed with leaders who know the value of Jewish lives and Jewish land.

 

Shalom Pollack

Analysis: Deputy Chief of Staff Compares IDF to Nazis, Then Says He Didn’t

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Yair Golan, speaking at a commemoration of the Holocaust, said he sees in today’s Israel evidence of events that took place in Europe before the Holocaust. The ceremony, at the Massuah Institute for the Study of the Holocaust in Kibbutz Tel Yitzhak, included dignitaries like Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Habayit Hayehudi), who were visibly unhappy with what the man who could some day lead the Jewish Army thought about his subordinates.

Maj. Gen. Golan, who is the child of a Holocaust survivor whose entire family was murdered by the Nazis, said that what truly frightens him in recalling the Holocaust is to identify the same blood curdling processes that took place in Germany and in the rest of Europe “70, 80, and 90 years ago, and discovering evidence of their taking place here, among us, in 2016.”

Golan summed up the characteristics he found in both pre-Holocaust Europe and in 2016 Israel as follows: hatred of foreigners, fear mongering, brutalization, rhinocerization and self-righteousness. The one before last term refers to the 1959 play Rhinocéros by Eugène Ionesco, a Romanian exile in Paris, who explains Nazism and Fascism in a satirical tale of a small, provincial French town whose people turn into rhinoceroses.

The Golan statement goes to show that being the child of a Holocaust survivor does not automatically qualify one to be able to make convincing analogies between the state-organized, industrialized slaughter of six million Jews and what amounts to 150 years of a difficult relationship between neighbors in Israel. The comparison, inaugurated by the late professor of chemistry and ingenious commentator on Jewish law and Jewish history, Yeshayahu Leibowitz, who coined the term Judonazis, has been rejected with contempt by many Israelis, most notably the late Prime Minister Itzhak Rabin:

In 1993, Prof. Leibowitz was selected for the highest national award, the Israel Prize. Before the award ceremony, Leibowitz was invited to speak to the Israel Council for Israeli-Palestinian Peace, where his controversial remarks calling upon Israeli soldiers to refuse orders triggered outrage, and PM Yitzhak Rabin threatened to boycott the Israel Prize ceremony. The IP jury convened to withdraw the award from the provocative and intentionally nasty professor, but Leibowitz quickly announced that he would refuse to accept the prize, taking charge of his own public execution.

Maj. Gen. Golan on Wednesday night may have walked into his own public execution, which explains why he and the IDF spokesperson’s office and Army Radio have been swimming the backstroke all of Thursday trying to persuade a livid nation that the deputy chief did not mean the IDF was starting to look like the Wehrmacht.

So, here is what the man next in line to lead the IDF said about the IDF (translated from the full text of his speech, courtesy of Ha’aretz):

Saying that Holocaust Memorial Day must also be a day of national reckoning, Golan suggested such reckoning must include “unsettling phenomena.” Referring to the public debate over the purity of the weapon (a uniquely Israeli term, dating back to the pre-state years, meaning when Jews use their weapons they must do so ethically), he said he wished to comment on the matter.

The most notable “unsettling phenomenon” Golan was citing had taken place on Purim day, when two Arab terrorists stabbed an IDF soldier in the neck at a check post outside Hebron in Judea. The force at the site shot down both terrorists, killing one and neutralizing the other. About ten minutes after the incident, a 19-year-old medic who served with the same unit showed up to help treat the stabbed soldier, and was documented by a B’Tselem video as he shot dead the terrorist who was still living, who was lying on the ground. The IDF and the Defense Ministry reacted at lightening-speed to the video, turning what would have probably resulted in a disciplinary action, if at all, into a murder investigation. The sheer audacity of the military prosecution in attempting to pin a murder charge (which has now been reduced to manslaughter) on a combat soldier aroused a groundswell of popular protest, the likes of which Israel’s security apparatus brass had rarely faced before; and the protest also served to enhance the demarcation between left and right, Zionist and anti-Zionist, ruling elites and everyone else in Israel. When you read Maj. Gen. Golan’s notes below, keep all of that in mind as the subtext.

“Irregular use of weapons, and damage to the purity of the weapon have taken place in the IDF since its founding,” Golan conceded, adding, “The pride of the IDF has always been in our ability to investigate difficult incidents, without bias, to bravely investigate problematic behavior, and to accept full responsibility for the good but also for the bad and the unlawful. We didn’t justify, we didn’t hide, we didn’t paint over, we didn’t wink, we didn’t roll up our eyes to the heavens, we also didn’t make excuses. Our path has been and will continue to be the path of truth and accepting responsibility, even when the truth is hard to take and the responsibility heavy. We believe in the righteousness of our path — but not everything we do is righteous. We trust the morality of the IDF as an institution, but we do not overlook the exceptions. We demand of our soldiers precisely what we demand of ourselves, and we insist that being a personal example be second nature to every commander.”

Education Minister Naftali Bennett issued a tweet saying, “One minute before the Holocaust deniers turn these erroneous words into a flag, one minute before our soldiers are compared to Nazis, God forbid, with approval from the brass, [we say] the deputy chief of staff made a mistake and he must correct it at once.”

The IDF released a statement saying, “The Deputy Chief Of Staff wishes to clarify that he had no intention of comparing the IDF and the State of Israel with events that took place in Germany 70 years ago. The comparison is absurd and utterly groundless, and there was no intent to create such a comparison, nor to criticize the political echelon. The IDF is a moral army which observes the purity of the weapon and the dignity of man.”

But, of course, he did just that, he compared the IDF and the State of Israel with events that took place in Germany 70 years ago — in fact, that very reference is a quote from his speech, spoken with a self-righteous tone reserved to the members of the ruling elite when they describe the plebeian masses who foolishly fail to adhere to the wisdom and moral uprightness garnered by decades of being in charge.

Come to think of it, the Golan speech was the perfect analogy for the decadence, hatred of foreigners, fear mongering, brutalization, rhinocerization and self-righteousness — of Israel’s Jewish left, and Holocaust Memorial Day was the perfect time for such an analogy.

The fact that a man who compares his subordinates to Nazis may be considered to replace the current chief of staff, who, for his part, has told the nation that the rabbinic principle of “He who rises to kill you, kill him first” is merely a metaphor and not a moral principle; and that both men are commanded by a Defense Minister who keeps Jews in prison for many months without charges, and uses brute force to evict Jewish dwellers from their homes — while permitting widespread illegal Arab dwellings — those are crucial lessons Jews must learn and absorb, lest we are tempted to believe that what followed the Nazi Holocaust was a full Jewish liberation.

There’s still a whole lot more liberation left to be done.

JNi.Media

Aliyah and Keeping Young with Yisrael

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

As an education writer for the nonprofit organization, Kars4Kids, and as someone who made Aliyah from Pittsburgh 34 years ago, I decided to write about the challenges of Aliyah from western countries with school age children. See the previous piece in this series, Fully Absorbed, Coming Through to the Other Side.

As a teen, Randi Lipkin spent three consecutive summers working at HASC, a camp for Jewish children with special needs. Randi’s husband Michael spent his nineteenth summer as a counselor there, and the couple both worked at HASC one summer after they were married, never knowing that someday, they would have a special needs child of their own.

The Lipkin family made Aliyah in August of 2004, with four children from Edison, New Jersey. After they made Aliyah, Randi discovered she was pregnant with Yisrael, who has Down syndrome.

Michael serves as senior editor of financial articles at a local company, Seeking Alpha. Randi is an occupational therapist who works at a “Gan Safa,” a Beit Shemesh nursery school for children with developmental language delays. The Lipkins live in Beit Shemesh.

Proud father Michael Lipkin holds newborn Yisrael Simcha (photo credit: courtesy Michael Lipkin)

Proud father Michael Lipkin holds newborn Yisrael Simcha (photo credit: courtesy Michael Lipkin)

V: Tell me a bit about your children and their adjustment to your Aliyah.

Michael: We had 4 children when made Aliyah. They were 19, 17, 14, and 3 when we moved. Our oldest, one year post-seminary, was our big Zionist and would have moved here even if we hadn’t. Her adjustment was very smooth. She married a year and half later and is now living in our neighborhood with her husband and 3 children.

Our next oldest was borderline interested in moving. As she was entering her senior year in a Flatbush Beit Yaakov the year we made Aliyah, we decided it was best for her to finish high school there while boarding with Randi’s sister who lived nearby. She subsequently came here for seminary, married soon after, and is living in Bet Shemesh with her husband and 3 children.

Our older son had the toughest adjustment. Even though he wanted to move he had a difficult time adjusting to dorm life at Maarava high school. However, he is now our most integrated child having married an Israeli girl and is currently serving his country.

Our youngest at the time adapted very well because of her young age and smarts.

V: How old were you and Randi when Randi became pregnant with Yisrael?

Michael: I was 47 and Randi was 45. We had just had our first grandson and our second daughter was married during Randi’s pregnancy.

V: How did you and Randi feel about the pregnancy? How was the level of obstetric care here compared to the care Randi received in the States during previous pregnancies?

Michael: I was ecstatic, very excited, but nervous for her. Getting pregnant at that age was nervous-making, and of course, we worried about Down syndrome.

Randi: The overall care here was fine, but I found it very weird that you develop a relationship with a doctor and then he has absolutely nothing to do with your delivery. The experience was totally different than in the states. In certain ways the doctors seemed very laidback and in other ways hyper-nervous.

I had gestational diabetes as I’d had before in my previous pregnancies. The doctor transferred my entire case to an obstetrician that handles gestational diabetes and I at one point said to the doctor, “Can we listen to the heartbeat?”

They were too focused on the diabetes. There was far less connection to me as an expectant mother compared to what I had experienced in the States. Of course, I’d had tremendous relationships with my doctors in the States, because I’d known them for 25 years. It’s just not what you have here.

Since I was having an elective, planned C-section, we paid for a private doctor instead of showing up at the hospital and just getting whoever was on duty that day and we felt very comfortable with that decision.

V: I know you gave Yisrael the middle name “Simcha” because you wanted him to always know he brought simcha, joy, into your lives. Was that immediate? Or did it take some adjusting to the idea?

Varda Meyers Epstein

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/ear-to-the-ground/aliyah-and-keeping-young-with-yisrael/2013/11/26/

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