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December 5, 2016 / 5 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘step’

Iranian Professor Refuses to Step on Israeli or American Flags

Sunday, November 6th, 2016

Once Upon a Time, the People of Iran and the People of Israel were friends and allies, and then the crazy Islamists and Kakameinis took over the Iranian country, and put an end to that.

While the current Iranian regime threatens to annihilate Israel, there are still sane people in Iran who remember and value what once was.

Iranian professor Sadegh Zibakalam has made it a point to stand up to the Iranian regime and its hatred of Israel.

In a recent video, Professor Zibakalam makes a very clear point of NOT stepping on the Israeli and American flags strategically placed on the floor of his Tehran university.

Last year, the professor spoke out against the Iranian regime’s goal of destroying Israel.

Keep safe professor, and perhaps one day you will see our countries as friends and allies again.

Video of the Day

Just One Step

Friday, October 21st, 2016

Editor’s Note: Rebbetzin Jungreis, a”h, is no longer with us in a physical sense, but her message is eternal and The Jewish Press will continue to present the columns that for more than half a century have inspired countless readers around the world.

  * * * * *

In last week’s column I wrote about the sincere Rosh Hashanah/Yom Kippur resolutions we make year after year to become better, kinder people, with increased loyalty to Torah and mitzvos.

And then comes the down part. Despite all our good intentions, when our machzorim are shelved, so are our resolutions. Not that we do so intentionally; it just happens. It’s a downward spiral, for no sooner do we exit the sheltered sanctuary of the synagogue than the craziness of our world assails us and we slip back to old habits.

But it need not be that way. We can change. We can become different, and we can become the people Hashem intended us to be. It is part of our legacy. It is all in our spiritual DNA. We are the children of Avraham, Yitzchak, Yaakov, Sarah, Rivkah, Rochel, and Leah, who were paradigms of chesed and devotion to Hashem.

Many of us, however, find this entire concept of teshuvah – returning to G-d –daunting, beyond our reach. And yet the path beckons to all of us.

There is a well-known story that can be of enormous help to anyone who wishes to embark on a path of spiritual growth.

A man once consulted a rebbe and asked, “How far is the road of teshuvah?”

“As far as east is from west,” responded the rebbe.

“So far!” the man responded in dismay.

“No,” the rebbe answered. “So near. Just one turn in the right direction.”

“Is it as simple as that?” the man wondered in amazement.

“Yes,” the rebbe assured him. “We have a promise from Hashem that if we take just one step toward Him, He will take two steps toward us.”

Again and again I have seen this truth unfold.

I recall a young woman who joined our Hineni group many years ago. She was totally secular. After studying Torah with us, she came to realize that Shabbos is a pillar of our Jewish faith but her job demanded that she work on Saturdays. What should she do?

“Go to your boss,” I told her, “and take a Chumash – a Bible – with you. Show him the passages in which G-d commands us to observe the Sabbath, to keep it holy, and to refrain from all manner of work.”

“Oh, Rebbetzin,” she protested. “It will never work. You don’t know my boss. He will laugh at me and probably fire me to boot.”

“Just try it,” I urged. “Approach him with sincerity and before you go, pray. Ask Hashem to help you. At the same time, offer to make up the time on Sunday or with overtime during the week. Let him see that you’re not shirking responsibility but responding to a higher directive that comes from the Almighty Himself.”

The following week when I saw her she was aglow. “Rebbetzin, you’ll never believe this. I was so frightened. I kept procrastinating about making an appointment but I was afraid to come back to class without having made the attempt. Well, you’ll never believe this. My boss was so impressed that he agreed that I could leave early on Fridays as well.”

Taking just one step to do a mitzvah opens the doors. We need only try it and the help of Hashem will come.

I’ll never forget the time one of our devoted Hineni members shared with me that a young woman she knew had unfortunately been diagnosed with Stage IV cancer. As often happens, the illness struck without warning. Her predicament was further complicated by the fact that she was unmarried and had no children or husband to care for her, nor did she have any savings to ease her situation.

As is the case with most cancer patients after traumatic treatments, she had lost all her hair. A tzedakah organization gave her a wig, but it did not suit her at all, so I called a wig stylist I knew and she in turn contacted Georgie in Boro Park. I went to pick up a new wig and chose one I thought would look good. But as I arrived at the young woman’s apartment in Manhattan, it hit me – as nice as the wig was, it still had to be styled and cut, and certainly that was not one of my talents. Who, I wondered, could I ask to come to her aid?

Even as I was pondering the question, I was aware that this was no simple matter. The woman was in constant pain and did not have the patience for someone to style and comb the wig on her head. It would have to be an individual who would take the wig, style it, and bring back a finished product. Still lost in thought, I rang for the elevator.

As I got in, a young man greeted me with a friendly hello.

“Hi,” I responded.

“How are you?” he asked.

I sensed the man wasn’t Jewish, but I replied the way I always do when someone asks me that.

Baruch Hashem,” I said.

“What’s that?” he asked.

“It means, ‘Blessed be G-d.’ I’m Jewish, and that’s how we respond to questions asking us how we are.”

“That’s really nice,” he said.

“What do you do?” I asked.

Even as I posed the question, I wondered what made me ask it.

“I’m a hair stylist,” he responded.

My heart skipped a beat. “That’s bashert,” I said.

“What did you say?” he asked.

Bashert,” I said. “It’s another Jewish word.” And I explained to him the concept of bashert.

There’s more. When I told him about the young woman I was trying to help, he told me he was a cancer survivor and therefore identified with the woman’s ordeal. And he lived in the same building!

He took the wig from me and when he brought it back, it was just right.

Coincidence?

Hardly. Just take one step toward a mitzvah and Hashem will do the rest.

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Taking the First Step to Ending our Unhealthy Dependence

Monday, August 15th, 2016

{Originally posted to the authors. website, Abu Yehuda}

In a recent press conference at the Pentagon, US President Obama said,

[The] Israeli military and security community … acknowledges [the Iranian nuclear deal] has been a game changer. The country that was most opposed to the deal.

Sorry, but no. A fact-checker would have to give this at least 3 or 4 Pinocchios. I don’t doubt that Obama found some former or present Israeli official who said this, but it definitely does not represent the views of the “military and security community” here. PM Netanyahu responded (too) politely that Israel’s position opposing the deal hasn’t changed, but Israel’s Defense Ministry issued a very harshly-worded comment, comparing it to the Munich agreement of 1938 that sacrificed Czechoslovakia to the Nazis and paved the way for the Second World War.

As always, Israel sent a mixed message. The PM’s office later conveyed via its ambassador in Washington that it had not seen or approved the stronger Defense Ministry statement. Left-wing politicians in Israel blamed hawkish Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and chastised him for trying to destroy the relationship between Israel and the US.

Here we go again, the submissive wife walking on eggshells so as not to upset the abusive husband. Obama is easily “infuriated,” by such things as announcements of planned Jewish construction in eastern Jerusalem or Netanyahu’s recognition of the fact that a Palestinian state is unlikely to come about in the near future. And he makes his anger evident in numerous ways, all the way from vulgar insults to attempts to intervene in our elections.

As these things go, this is a minor incident but it is indicative of the unhealthy relationship between Israel and the US administration. And since it really is true (as Netanyahu noted in his response to Obama’s very-misleading-if-not-lying remark) that America is our greatest ally, we need to do what we can to improve it.

I think the most glaring problem is that the US has trouble treating us as a sovereign nation. And that makes sense, because American decision makers see us receiving some $3 billion in military aid each year. Shouldn’t we be more grateful? Or to put it more bluntly, they feel like they are visiting a whorehouse where all the whores claim to have headaches.

Until the advent of the first truly anti-Israel administration in the US, the military aid program with its commitment to maintaining a “qualitative military edge” for Israel vis-à-vis her enemies, has been a great benefit to Israel. But today it has given a great deal of leverage to an administration that is remarkably persistent in its attempts to force Israel back to indefensible borders, as well as to appease her single greatest enemy, Iran.

The Obama administration demonstrated its use of the aid program for leverage when it held up delivery of Hellfire missiles during 2014’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza. The threat of a hostile administration withholding critical supplies of equipment that Israel has become dependent upon to force a change in course, even in the middle of a war is a very real danger.

The present aid program which is currently being renegotiated includes a provision that 26% of the funds can be spent on equipment purchased from Israeli manufacturers. This has enabled Israel to build up its military industries to the point that they represent competition to US companies, despite a “de facto veto power” held by the US on Israeli arms exports. The new program currently being negotiated will phase out the 26%. Every penny will be spent in the US. This will seriously impact the Israeli defense industry and cause a loss of numerous good jobs. It will also further increase Israel’s dependence on the US by making it harder to produce critical items at home.

The F-35 program is another aspect of the aid relationship which is of questionable value to Israel. The F-35 was developed in order to meet the multiple requirements of all of the US armed forces, and is extremely expensive – the initial 20 aircraft will cost some $2.7 billion, financed entirely by military aid. The planes are also expensive to maintain and operate, do not perform as well as expected and still have many serious unsolved problems. If it weren’t for the aid program, it is unimaginable that Israel would commit to replacing its aging F-16 fleet with F-35s.

The close relationship is too close in other ways. The US has a permanent radar installation in the Negev, operated by American personnel, off limits to Israelis. It is said to have a much longer range than Israeli radars, and the Americans have promised to provide to Israel an early warning of Iranian missile launches. But the radar can also detect even a small drone taking off from anywhere in Israel. If, for example, Israel wanted to launch an attack on the Iranian nuclear facility, it could not prevent the US from knowing about it in real time. Would it not be better to develop and deploy our own radar systems?

Intelligence and technology sharing with an ally has benefits – until the ally’s interests diverge from ours, as they started to do when Obama became President.

Another more subtle issue concerns the effect that Israel’s dependence on the US has on Israeli officials, from the PM down to military officers. Suppose you are the Chief of Staff, you are running a massive enterprise with tens of thousands of ‘employees’ and an enormously complicated budget, and the lives of millions of people depend on the smooth functioning of your ‘business’. Then suppose someone that you know is closely connected to the US administration, the source of about 1/5 of your ‘revenue’, calls you. Listen, he says, it’s important to us for you to support (or oppose) this or that initiative, this or that candidate. What do you do? He’s not asking you to commit treason, just to lean one way or the other, and his talking points aren’t unreasonable.

In 2010, PM Netanyahu and then-Defense Minister Ehud Barak wanted to hit Iranian nuclear facilities. The Obama Administration strongly opposed it – and so did Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi. In 2011 there was a new Chief of Staff, Benny Gantz, who thought that Israel had the capability to do it, but other officials did not support the idea. Can we say for sure that the opposition was not based on fear of Obama’s reaction, or even pressure from the US?

Surveys show that a solid majority of the American people still support Israel and her right to defend herself, and the US Congress follows their lead. But foreign policy is controlled by the administration, and as we saw with the Iran deal, Congress can do little to prevent a determined administration from getting its way. Israel has been lucky until now that American presidents have at worst been indifferent to her. Today there is an actively hostile one, and we can’t predict what the future will bring.

Why not start phasing out US military assistance? It could be done over a period of years to reduce the pain, and would be the first step to reducing the excessive American influence over our nation.

Our defense budget is around $15 billion, and our GNP is $300 billion. American military aid in recent years has been around $3 billion per year. This is a lot of money, but Israel’s economy is good, and new discoveries of natural gas promise to improve cash flow in the near future. There is certainly room to economize in the military budget. We could handle it. We can still purchase American equipment when it is the best choice, but with our own money. Our own military industries would be stimulated and some of the shortfall would  be made up by increased export sales.

We need a divorce from the abusive Obama Administration, but we’ll still stay friends with the American people.

Vic Rosenthal

Muslim Brotherhood Picks Hawk as New Leader

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

The Muslim Brotherhood (MB) on Tuesday named Mahmoud Ezzat as its new leader after the Egyptian government arrested its former leader Mohamed Badie earlier on the same day.

Experts are suggesting that hardline MBs who managed to go underground to evade an arrest, would seek ways to avenge Badie’s arrest.

Ezzat has strong relations with the international Muslim Brotherhood and with the Hamas movement, Tharwat Kharabawy, a dissident former MB leader, told Xinhua.

Ezzat is a hawk, Kharabawy said, “the real guide of the group” and the one “managing the group from behind the curtains.”

The appointment means that the MBs are in no mood for peaceful negotiations with General al-Sisi and the new regime in Cairo.

Ezzat, former MB secretary general, has been a member of the guidance bureau and a deputy of Badie. In 1965 he was arrested and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

He was chosen as a member of the guidance bureau in 1981, and was arrested again in 2008.

According to the Egyptian authorities, Badie has been transferred to Mazraah prison in the Torah prisons’ complex, where former President Hosni Mubarak and his two sons are currently residing.

Badie is going to stand trial on Aug. 25, together with his two deputies, Khairat al-Shater and Rashad al-Bayoumi.

The new Egyptian rulers appear determined to crush the MB. In an interview with the CNN, presidential political advisor Moustafa Hegazi said that putting Badie in jail is a step toward restoring law and order.

He said “Egypt is waging a fierce war against terrorism and criminal acts.”

Hegazi suggested that the cruelest incident in all of Egypt’s history was the execution of 25 off-duty security servicemen on Monday in the northern Sinai Peninsula.

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said on Tuesday that she had offered to return to Cairo.

“I told the Egyptian prime minister at the weekend that I would be more than willing to go back to Egypt if they wish me to come back,” said Ashton, who has been to Egypt twice since the regime change by the military.

Yori Yanover

Vacationing Tip: Get Lost

Friday, August 9th, 2013

I’m on vacation this month, so there won’t be a regular column.  Or at least there wasn’t going to be.  The questions keep coming in.

Dear Mordechai,

I keep losing my stuff.  What do I do?

Lost

STEP 1: Check your person.  (Your person is you.  That’s just how people say it.  I don’t think you’re expected to carry around a smaller person and go, “Hi, I’m Mordechai, and this is my person.”  But if you do, you should probably check him as well.)

STEP 2: Make sure to check the same five places 68 times.  Especially if it’s not a likely place for it to be.  For example, if you’re looking for your car keys, make sure to keep checking the fridge.

STEP 3: Call for the item.  Continuously say things like, “I can’t believe this!  Where is it?”  Like the item is finally going to break down and tell you.

STEP 4: Calm Down.  Whenever I lose something, my wife ends up finding it, and whenever my wife loses something, I end up finding it.  Now I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking we should stop hiding each others’ stuff.  But it really has more to do with panicking.

STEP 5: Buy a new one.  As soon as you open the package, the old one will turn up.  Guaranteed.  For example, if you lose your car in a parking lot, the best way to find it is to buy a new car.  If that doesn’t work, you can use the new car to drive around the parking lot looking for the old one.

On the other hand, maybe the reason we can’t find anything is because we keep buying new things, and everything keeps getting lost under everything else.

 

Dear Mordechai,

Why does everyone around me move so slowly?  Especially when I’m in a rush.

No Time

 

 This is definitely a problem.  These people are everywhere.

For example, there are the people in front of us one the supermarket checkout line, who, even though they’ve been waiting the same 25 minutes you were, don’t even start looking for their supermarket card until they get to the front of the line.  Like it’s a total surprise to them that they need a Shoprite card.  In Shoprite.

Or how about the person directly in front of you who leaves his cart in line and goes off to do his shopping, even though you got in line behind him in the first place because he had a pretty empty cart?  But then he looked back at your cart, and he got some ideas.

“Orange juice!  Where’d you find orange juice?”

“Over by the refrigerated juices.”

“Ooooh!  I’ll be right back.”

There are also a lot of people in your way on the road.  Now I don’t begrudge other people for being on the road.  But sometimes I can’t go because the person in front of me is stopped, and has his window rolled down, and is talking to someone who’s sitting in a car facing the other way, who also has his window rolled down, and I want to yell, “Get a cell phone!”

But you know how your mother always told you, “If you do things quickly, you’ll just mess everything up and have to do it over?”  Everyone else’s mother told them the same thing, and they’ve taken it to heart.

But of course, on the other hand, there’s a pretty big chance that if you do things slowly, you’ll mess them up anyway.  At least if you go faster the first time, you’ll have more time to do it over.

 

Dear Mordechai,

Is it possible I just need a vacation?

Stressed

That depends.  How annoyed do you get by everyday things?  For example, I recently came across a poll of the top 20 irritating pieces of technology, and apparently, the invention that annoys us most is car alarms.  Of course, the main reason this annoys everyone is that no one knows what their own car alarms sounds like, so when it goes off in middle of the night, they’re just as annoyed as everyone else, and instead of going out and turning it off, they spends hours trying to block it out and to fall asleep.  So I’m thinking that maybe we should be able to personalize our car alarms, like ringtones.  For example, I would make mine sound like an ice cream truck, so that as soon as a burglar sets it off, everyone will run outside.

Another item on the list was printers.  Everyone knows how frustrating printers can be.  You have a tray that can hold 100 pieces of paper, but if you put in more than 5, it gets stuck.  And sometimes, for no reason at all, it will tell you that you’re low on ink.

“Proceed?”

Yes, of course proceed!  I spend $85 on that cartridge, and the papers are still coming out fine!

But when the printer breaks down, what do you do?  It has one button.  You press the button, and if that doesn’t work, you press the button again.  There’s no way this button is doing anything.

Another item on the list was alarm clocks.  Those guys take so much abuse.  It’s not their fault it’s 7:00.

But if you’ve gotten to a point where you’re finding technology inconvenient – technology, which is supposed to at least be better than not having technology, — then maybe it’s time for a vacation.

 

Dear Mordechai,

Where do you suggest I go to get away from it all?

Still Here

 

If you’re looking to get away from the irritations of technology and people in your way, the best place to go is Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  My wife and I took the kids there recently, and it’s an excellent place to go if you want to get lost.  For example, one thing we did was walk through a gigantic corn maze.  Because getting lost while driving wasn’t enough for us.         

We actually spent a lot of our trip lost, because as it turns out, all farms look exactly the same, and there’s no one to ask directions from but the cows on the side of the road.  And we even did a lot of the steps of what to do if something’s lost: We called around for the place, we calmed down, we went down the same roads 68 times, but nothing.  And the whole time the kids are in the back going, “Look a cow!”  “Look! Another cow!”

Our GPS couldn’t find us either.  In fact, before we left, I had tried, unsuccessfully, to borrow a better GPS just in case this happened.  But then my wife put it in perspective.  “Were going to visit the Amish,” she said.  “We need a GPS?”

Because yeah, we visited the Amish.  The big draw of the Amish, apparently, is that they live without any of the conveniences of modern life, such as cell phones.  Except for one Amish guy that I saw while waiting for a buggy ride (mostly what you do with buggy rides is wait for them) in a town called “Ronks”, which, I have to admit, is a fun name for a town.  Ronks Ronks Ronks.  It sounds like a duck clearing its throat.

I later asked a non-Amish tour guide about it:

TOUR GUIDE: “The Amish don’t use electricity, because they don’t want any wires coming into their house from the outside world.”

ME: “I saw a guy on a cell phone today.”

TOUR GUIDE: “Um… Cell phones don’t have wires.”

But the Amish do have it tough when it comes to parental discipline.

“You kids don’t know how good you have it.  When I was your age, we didn’t even have… Wait.  You don’t have that either.  Well, we had to walk… Well, you have to walk too.  Oh, I got one!  When I was your age, we didn’t even have covered bridges.”

“Whoa, really?”

“Yeah.  All our bridges were uncovered.”

“Wow!  What did you do?”

So where do they take vacations?  Amusement parks, apparently.         I see them at every one.

 

Got a question for “You’re Asking Me?”  Send me a smoke signal.  My cell phone’s still missing.  Or maybe call it, and I’ll listen for the ring.

Mordechai Schmutter

US Issues First Visas to Same-Sex Israeli Couples

Friday, August 9th, 2013

The American embassy in Tel Aviv issued its first derivative visas to same-sex Israeli couples.

The derivative visa allows the applicant to receive a visa through a spouse or first-degree relative who is eligible for residence in the United States.

The embassy on Thursday issued the visas to the same-sex spouses of two Israelis relocating to the United States on work visas. The visas were presented by Amb. Dan Shapiro and Consul General Lawrence Mire.

“We are delighted that Embassy Tel Aviv has now issued its first visas to a married same-sex couple,’ Shapiro said.  ”Gay rights are human rights, and our new visa regulations are an important step forward.”

Same-sex marriages are not performed in Israel, but marriages performed abroad are recognized.

JTA

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/us-issues-first-visas-to-same-sex-israeli-couples/2013/08/09/

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