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July 26, 2016 / 20 Tammuz, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘street’

The Secret of Happiness

Monday, August 20th, 2012

This month, we will be dedicating our blogs to the subject of t‘shuva, as illuminated in the writings of Rabbi Kook. So you can look forward to daily light bulbs of inspiration and self-improvement, taken from our commentary, The Art of T’shuva, which I had the privilege of writing with Rabbi David Samson. It very well may be the most exciting and worthwhile voyage you ever experience.

Be Happy!

Dear Reader — if you are looking to be happy, creative, in harmony with God and with the universe, Rabbi Kook has the answer — t’shuva.

For Rabbi Kook, t’shuva is a concept much deeper than the common understanding of repentance. It is much more than penitence over sins and the remorse a person must feel when he strays from the pathways of goodness and truth. While t’shuva includes these factors, the phenomenon of t’shuva spreads out over all the universe, bringing harmony and perfection to all of existence.

Return to the Source

While t’shuva is normally translated as penitence or repentance, the root of the Hebrew word t’shuva means “return.” T’shuva is a return to the source, to one’s roots, to one’s deepest inner self. Rabbi Kook writes:

“When one forgets the essence of one’s soul; when one distracts his mind from seeing the true nature of his own inner life, everything becomes doubtful and confused. The principal t’shuva, which immediately lights up the darkness, is for a person to return to himself, to the root of his soul. Then he will immediately return to God, to the Soul of all souls. And he will continue to stride higher and higher in holiness and purity. This is true for an individual, a nation, for all of mankind, and for the perfection of all existence….”

Anything which is a return to the pure, original, natural state, whether it be physical, moral, or spiritual, is a part of t’shuva. As Rabbi Kook develops his ideas about t’shuva, he speaks not only about the individual, but about the Jewish nation as a whole. T’shuva encompasses the nation of Israel, and more. All of humanity is destined for perfection and upliftment. Rabbi Kook even writes about the t’shuva of the heavens and earth — when the bark of a tree will be as edible as its fruit, and when the moon will return to its original size, as big and bright as the sun. In effect, t’shuva is the force which pushes all physical and spiritual worlds towards completion.

One can readily understand that to reach fulfillment and happiness, a person must be his true self. In modern times, this basic understanding has been corrupted into a “do your own thing” attitude. Rabbi Kook is advocating a deeper, inner search, far beyond the surface passions and emotions which often lead people to express their every desire and lust. Rabbi Kook understands that the individual, and all of existence, has a deeper, spiritual source. In the depths of this ever-pure realm, our true essence lies. A person who makes the inward journey of t’shuva comes to encounter his soul and the Creator who gave it. As Rabbi Kook writes:

“It is only through the great truth of returning to oneself that the individual, the nation, the world, all of the worlds, and all of existence, will return to its Maker, to be illuminated by the light of life.”

Throughout history, man has been searching to discover the driving force of life. To a capitalist, money makes the world go around. To a romanticist, love is what impassions mankind. Freudians claim that man’s unconscious desires and libido are to blame. Peering into a microscope, a modern physicist declares that atoms and neutrons cause the world to spin. For biologists, the uniting power resides in strands of DNA. When Rabbi Kook gazes into the inner workings of the soul, the soul of the individual, and the soul of the world, he sees that the force behind all existence is t’shuva.

The Age of Anxiety

It is no secret that there is great darkness, confusion, and pain in the world. Bookstores are filled with self-help books on how to be happy. Layman’s guides to psychology line shelf after shelf. Our generation has been called “the age of anxiety.” People often live out their lives plagued with depression, sickness, a sense of unfulfillment and constant unrest. Psychiatrists, psychologists, and humanists like Freud, Jung, Adler, Horney, Fromm, May, Erikson, Dr. Dryer, and dozens of others have become the prophets of the moment, proposing dozens of theories to explain man’s existential dilemmas. Whether it is because we suffer from an Oedipus complex, or from a primal anxiety at having been separated from the womb, from sexual repression, or from the trauma of death, mankind is beset with neuroses. Vials of valium and an assortment of anti-depressants and “uppers” can be found in the medicine cabinets of the very best homes. Not to mention the twenty-four-hour bombardment of work, television, computer games, discos, and drugs which people use to blot out the never-ending angst that they feel.

Tzvi Fishman

Balabasta Nutty Summer Festival

Monday, August 6th, 2012

Just in time for its 100th birthday, the ever-evolving Machane Yehuda market has transformed itself once again, this time into one of Jerusalem’s hottest summer cultural venues. On Monday nights throughout August, the shuk hosts “Balabasta” (literally, “come to the shop-stall”), a centennial carnival of sorts, complete with street performances, a collaborative wall-of-origami project, live video art projections, watermelon giveaways, chili eating contests, concerts, giant puppets, sets by DJs and bands, produce carving workshops and the first-ever “Shuk Olympics.”

It’s a veritable cacophony of music, art and food – with many of the cafes and restaurants staying open late to serve the crowds and culinary tours of the shuk’s hottest kitchens. The Hagigit collective, which strives to bring art to a wider public audience, is organizing production-set photo shoots (pictured, with white backdrop) and walking around in costume throughout the Balabasta events.

Read and see more.

Jewish Press Staff

Muslim Polygamists to Get More Welfare Benefits in Britain

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Muslim immigrants with more than one wife will see an increase in their social welfare benefits beginning in 2013, when reforms to the British welfare system come into effect.

Although polygamy is illegal in Britain, the state effectively recognizes the practice for Muslim men, who often have up to four wives (and in some instances five or more) in a harem.

Currently the state pays extra wives in polygamous households reduced amounts of individual income support, in addition to the normal amount received by the husband and his first spouse.

Under the new rules, however, the extra wives will be eligible to claim a full single person’s allowance (despite being married), while the original married couple will still receive the standard married person’s allowance.

The changes are part of wide-ranging reforms to the welfare system that are being implemented by Prime Minister David Cameron’s coalition government, which admits that it wants to treat extra wives as single so that the state will not officially be recognizing polygamy as it is under the current system.

Critics who had hoped the government reforms would do away with benefits for polygamy altogether say the so-called Welfare Reform Bill is simply opening up a loophole for polygamous families to claim more money from the state.

Details of the changes were revealed in a 13-page legal brief dated July 19, and published by the library of the House of Commons. The document states: “Treating second and subsequent partners in polygamous relationships as separate claimants could mean that polygamous households receive more under Universal Credit than under the current rules for means-tested benefits and tax credits.”

The issue of Muslims with multiple wives claiming extra welfare payments has been steeped in controversy for years.

In September 2011, a British newspaper exposé on the subject found that the phenomenon of bigamy and polygamy — permitted by Islamic Sharia law — is far more widespread in Britain than previously believed. The rapid growth in multiple marriages is being fuelled by multicultural policies that grant special rights to Muslim immigrants, who demand that Sharia law be reflected in British law and the social welfare benefits system.

The exposé quotes two senior social welfare experts and is based on least 20,000 bigamous or polygamous Muslim unions in England and Wales. If the average size of such a “family” is 15 people, these numbers would imply that around 300,000 people in Britain are living in polygamous families.

The multiple marriages have been encouraged by changes made to the British welfare system by the previous Labour government, which allowed Muslim immigrants to have a second, third or fourth wife (and in some cases five or more) treated as a single mother who can get a house and an array of other state payments for herself and her children.

The exposé shows how Muslim men can take a new spouse from anywhere in the world, father any number of children with her, and have British taxpayers assume responsibility for this family’s upkeep and care.

Although all marriages that take place in the United Kingdom must be monogamous, Muslim immigrants can and do employ countless evasions to practice polygamy without running afoul of British matrimony laws.

Muslim men, for example, can marry their extra “wives” in an Islamic Nikah ceremony (temporary marriage), either in their own homes or in a mosque. Because these marriages are not officially recognized, they do not appear in government statistics, nor do they have any status under the law. As a result, the “single mothers” involved in these marriages are entitled to receive welfare benefits from the British state.

Another technique is for a Muslim couple to marry legally under British law but then divorce, leaving them then to have a Nikah ceremony and continue living together. The woman will then be entitled to welfare payments as a single mother and the man can then bring another woman from abroad and legally marry her in Britain.

Muslim men also cheat the system by bringing brides from abroad as nannies for their children, or as nurses for a sick relative. After the bride’s one year visitors’ visa expires, she then disappears into a tight-knit local Muslim community and is then entitled to receive welfare handouts.

Soeren Kern

Jerusalem Late Nite 101 for the Younger Set

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

Here’s a list of something exciting to do in Jerusalem each night of the week. This doesn’t have to be taken literally – choose your favorites or mix and match, depending on how long you’re here. Post below with any other ideas of your own!

Saturday A classic and possibly overdone routine for Birthright groups: there’s a reason Ben Yehuda Street is always upbeat. Take a walk down and feel the love from the street performers with their unusual talents. Some do caricatures, some sing, play the harp, dance, swallow fire – there’s really no telling what to expect. There are delicious treats to pick up along the way, especially if frozen yogurt or crepes are your guilty pleasures. Along the train tracks you can stop by and grab a drink at some of the bars off of Yaffo street. Mike’s place is good to hang with the American crowd, Kings is good for dancing, and further down the street there are places to smoke hookah with a more laid back atmosphere. But don’t limit yourself to that area either. Explore some of the side streets. My friend and I decided to get creative and found another place hidden behind them with funky, Mediterranean music and a more Israeli vibe.

A street performer at a festival on Emek Refaim street in the center of Jerusalem

A street performer at a festival on Emek Refaim street in the center of Jerusalem

Sunday Emek Refaim is a place where on some days you can find a street fair with live music, art and theater. At night, take your taste buds for a tour of the area. Known for its great restaurants, you can eat your way through the neighborhood. Whether it’s Oriental, pizza, bagels or ice cream, there is an option for every craving. It’s like a little city in itself; a great way to have a more low-key night and ease into the week. Also, not far from the center of the city, you can take a starlit walk to the old city to burn off some of those calories when you’re done.

Israelis shop for food at the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem.

Israelis shop for food at the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem.

Monday The Mahane Yehuda market is a hub of chaos during the day. But every Monday night when the dried apricots are safely tucked away and all seems quiet, the street is resurrected. With only the lingering smell of the fish stands, the shuk turns into a late night party. A very hipster crowd packs the aisle and a DJ drops dance tunes. When I was there, it was a 90’s theme (score!) and people from all over the world moved to all the favorite childhood pop songs. A bar opens up in one of the stalls, with a rugelach and baked goods stand on the opposite side of the street. Take some to snack on for the way home, or pack some for the morning. The whole experience changes the perspective of the shuk and certainly makes for an entertaining evening.

The Mamilla shopping mall in Jerusalem at evening time.

The Mamilla shopping mall in Jerusalem at evening time.

Tuesday For a night with slightly more sophistication, check out Mamilla. The shopping area is beautiful with its giant stone buildings and twinkling lights. The Mamilla Hotel Bar will make you feel like a guest on a classy business trip. The hotel looks like a castle, and the bar is lit with candlelight, and features a giant projector and international beats. When I was there, the manager claimed to be featuring a DJ from Europe who cost 10,000 euro a night! Apparently a company brought him in for the night. Although it’s a little on the pricier side, the atmosphere is good for an intimate group of friends. Sip a glass of wine while watching the game or get up and dance. It’s a cool and classy way to take a trip to another country without even leaving Jerusalem!

Alex Abel

You Sleep Where You Eat

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

Netanya cats are numerous and just this week we’ve seen the summer litters being sprung into the street and the lawns and the parking lots and, yes, the beaches. If you’re a New Yorker, think of these cats as Netanya’s squirrels, except they’re way more useful than squirrels because they eat mice, rats, snakes, roaches – if it moves, Netanya’s cats will eat it.

They’re usually lean and move quickly, but only when they move, that is to say, during the 20 daily minutes in which they budge. The rest of the time they sunbathe, preferably above the garbage, to make sure they’re around when the new shipments arrive.

That’s it, whatcha’ looking at? Nothing to see, go away…

Yori Yanover

The Soul of the Stranger

Sunday, July 1st, 2012

Israel faces a genuine dilemma about the best way to handle the influx of African refugees and migrants. Many people are already debating the policy decisions that will need to be made in this regard.

Of greater concern to me than the specific arguments in this debate, is the shocking naked racism and hatred for Africans that it has exposed across all levels and sectors of Israeli society. From elected officials to people in the street, from the highly educated secular upper class to yeshiva students to the working poor, numerous Israelis seem to share a lexicon and intellectual framework which denigrates and dehumanizes Africans, belittles their suffering, and trivialized their plight. This in and of itself should sound an alarm for all of us that something is seriously amiss in the core of our culture and society. When the tone set by such speech boils over into outright acts of physical brutality, how can we fail to realize that we must, as a society, engage in introspection and self-evaluation?

I hesitate to write the following lines because I believe everything I have to say should be self-evident. There is something inappropriate about writing a formal religious discourse about a matter of values that should be so elementary as to require no explanation. In light of the apparent need for this article I have elected to compose it; I do so with a heavy heart. I also regret that I have little novel to write. Most of what can be said on this subject should be familiar to anyone with a passing familiarity with Jewish texts.

The Torah tells us that God chose Abraham because he was confident that he would instruct his descendants to follow a path of righteousness and kindness (Genesis 18:19). The midrash (Devarim Rabba 3:4) takes this further, and says that there are three distinctive characteristics of the Jewish people: they are meek, merciful, and perform acts of kindness.

The Torah reiterates on many occasions that Jews should be especially sensitive and caring towards the stranger in their midst, for we ourselves were once strangers in the land of Egypt. Rashi (Exodus 22:20) understands that the salient feature of a “stranger” is that he is displaced from his homeland. That is why he is deserving of special compassion, and that is the basis of the comparison between strangers in Israel and the Jews’ status in Egypt. Other rabbinic interpretations focus this message on the convert to Judaism, but Rashi’s simple reading of the verse stands: in a majority Jewish country, we must be especially sensitive to the rights and feelings of minority groups, because of our own unique history of oppression in alien societies.

Performing acts of kindness in a discriminatory manner is seen as a sign of corruption. The chasida (commonly translated as stork) is singled out as a non-kosher bird, even though its name means “the kind one,” because, according to our rabbis, it is kind only to its own species. The kindness for one’s own species is transformed into a perverse act when it is part of a pattern of abuse towards outsiders.

Above and beyond imploring us to perfect our actions, our rabbis were concerned with the nature of our speech. They repeatedly implored us to speak respectfully to, and of, every person. In tractate Avot, they reminded us to greet every person first and with a welcoming face, and that the most honored person is the one who accords others honor. The right path that a person should choose, they instructed there, is one which engenders the respect of God by those who observe it.

In tractate Yoma (86a) they went much further, singling out the public disgrace of God’s name as one transgression that cannot be atoned for, even through repentance on the Day of Atonement. What constitutes such a transgression? A person known to be devout and pious, who does not speak gently with others and conduct his affairs with integrity. Outrageous racist statements, parroted from the most disgraceful historical antecedents, certainly run afoul of this teaching.

Building Israel as a utopian Jewish nation should not entail inflicting suffering on others. Rambam (Hil. Melachim 12:4) writes that the sages and prophets did not desire the messianic era of Israel “in order to conquer the entire world, or to oppress the gentiles…,” rather only “to be free to study the Torah and its wisdom without persecution and interruption, and thus merit the world to come.”

Rabbi Aharon Frazer

A People Apart

Friday, June 29th, 2012

(((CLICK BELOW TO HEAR AUDIO)))

Jack Berger, an activist that has been involved in a wide-range of pro-Israel causes, joins Yishai at Jerusalem’s Plaza hotel. They discuss Berger’s recent trip to Hebron and how important the city is to the Jewish People, including the comparison between the Chicago the American city and the street in Hebron. Yishai and Berger talk about the need for more Jewish heroes among American Jews. The second half of this segment (starts at minute 18:00) has Yishai presenting an interview with Guy Segeiv, a resident of Beit El who has recently been forced to move due to a judgment by the Israeli Supreme Court. They discuss the situation in Beit El first hand.

Yishai Fleisher on Twitter: @YishaiFleisher
Yishai on Facebook

Moshe Herman

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/jewish-press-radio-with-yishai-fleisher-a-people-apart/2012/06/29/

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