Posts Tagged ‘summer’
The Torah in Parashat Behaalotecha tells of Beneh Yisrael’s departure from Mount Sinai, where they had been stationed for nearly a year: “Va’yis’u Me’har Hashem” (“They journeyed from the Mountain of G-d”). The Gemara comments that this departure from Sinai was a calamity. It was such a grave calamity, in fact, that the Torah had to insert two pesukim after this verse to serve as a “buffer” between it and the next story, which tells of the tragedy of Kibrot Ha’ta’ava. Reporting two tragedies one after the other would be a source of great shame to Beneh Yisrael, and therefore the Torah made an interruption between them. The obvious question arises, why is this calamity? Were Beneh Yisrael meant to remain at Sinai forever? Didn’t G-d want them to leave and proceed to the Land of Israel?
Tosafot answers that the calamity lay not in the departure itself, but in the mindset with which Beneh Yisrael left. In Tosafot’s words, Beneh Yisrael left “as a child flees from school.” They left Sinai joyfully, as though “escaping” school.
Rav Mordechai Gifter zt”l explained Tosafot’s comments by noting that throughout the day, children are bound by a schedule and a set of expectations and responsibilities. The moment the bell rings, they are free from the school’s demands until the next day. And this was the tragedy of Beneh Yisrael’s departure from Sinai. They relished their perceived newfound “freedom.” They felt that their journey from “the Mountain of G-d” meant their “release” from the constraints and obligations, which the Torah demands. They felt “free” like a child who hears the bell at the end of the last class.
This is indeed a tragedy, because a Jew must never feel “free” from the Torah’s obligations. We are bound by G-d’s laws when we are in yeshiva, at home, in the synagogue, in the office, at a social event, or on vacation. Even when we “journey from the Mountain of G-d,” when we – for entirely legitimate reasons – leave our familiar religious surroundings, the obligations and values which were taught at Mount Sinai must accompany us in our travels.
Unfortunately, many people – children and adults alike – approach summer vacation as “a child fleeing from school.” They see it as a time to relax their religious standards, to take a break from the regular schedule of prayer and study, and to enjoy a period of “freedom.” As Gemara teaches us, this is tragic.
There is never a break or vacation from religious commitment. When it comes to spiritual growth, momentum is critical. Once the momentum is broken, we can fall back to where we were at the outset. We all know that it is far easier to break than to build. An exquisite crystal vase can take days or weeks to make, but can be smashed in a split second. And this is true of spirituality, as well. We can all attest to the fact that it takes time and hard work to grow in Torah and in our connection to Hashem. But losing our achievements is very easy. It takes a lot less time than the 75 days of summer vacation.
As the summer unfolds, many of us will “journey from the Mountain of G-d,” and spend some time outside our ordinary framework of Torah and Misvot. We must ensure that even during this period of departure, we maintain our momentum of religious commitment and ensure even as we “journey from the Mountain of G-d,” we will not, Heaven forbid, journey from G-d Himself.
The Torah and Big Ben
At the beginning of the parasha the Torah briefly discusses the mitsva of the menorah, which was lit each day in the Mishkan. The Torah (8:3) makes a point of informing us that “Va’ya’as Ken Aharon” – Aharon did as he was commanded. Rashi comments that this verse was added to give praise to Aharon “she’lo shina” – for not “deviating.” He fulfilled the mitsva precisely as he was commanded, without any changes or modifications.Rabbi Eli J. Mansour
Against her best judgment and because she’s been slipping in the polls in trying to capture the support of her opponent’s followers once she is crowned Queen of the Democrats, candidate Hillary Clinton agreed to give Bernie Sanders 5 out of the 15 spots on the Democratic party’s platform committee. She took 6, and DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz got 4. So then Senator Bernie Sanders went ahead and appointed his peeps, and now two of them, Cornel West and James Zogby, on Wednesday condemned Israel for its “occupation” of Judea and Samaria and Gaza (Gaza? Really?) and let the world know they plan to get their views into the platform at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in July, the NY Times reported.
“Justice for Palestinians cannot be attained without the lifting of the occupation,” West said in an interview, adding that with all due respect to thousands of years of persecution, the platform should reflect “the plight of an occupied people.”
Nothing there about the plight of half a million Syrians being butchered by everyone and their uncle only a fee miles away. Nothing about weekly hangings in Iran, flogging and beheading in Saudi Arabia, the tyranny of Islamic terrorism in Syria and Iraq, those are not the important injustices in Cornel West’s Middle East, it has to be a defunct plan from 1993 that has been rejected so many times by the PLO leadership, it brought to near-tears three, count them, three US presidents.
Dr. Zogby, who is the president of the Arab American Institute and a career advocate of “rights of Palestinians,” said in an interview, “Any honest assessment would say that the debate on this issue has shifted over the last 30 years and the platform has reflected that but lagged slightly behind, and it’s now time to catch up. Clearly most Democrats agree. But we will see what happens.”
Republican candidate Donald Trump has good friends in Cornel West and James Zogby, who will surely rattle and shake one of the Democratic party’s most third-ralish third rail issues, in public, while Clinton is trying to unify the troops against Trump. There’s no other issue more likely to turn away middle class voters than the Democrats criticizing US support for Israel. But the left is not concerned. In fact, the NYT cites an April Pew Research Center survey showing liberal Democrats are twice as likely to sympathize with Palestinians over Israel than they had been two years ago. 40% of liberals sympathized more with Palestinians, only 33% sympathized more with Israel.
In the Wednesday interview, Dr. West, who once called President Obama a “Rockefeller Republican in blackface,” accused Prime Minister Netanyahu of “war crimes.” He also blamed “the role of money and lobbies” for the absence of “a candid dialogue” on Israeli-American relations.
Of course, Hillary will do the only sensible thing and ignore the party platform as best she can. Otherwise, as Malcolm Hoenlein of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations told the NYT, the party could be perceived as adopting “positions that could be seen as hostile to Israel.” (You think?)
Hoenlein was unhappy not just with the presence of Zogby and West on the DNC platform committee, but also with a third Sanders appointee, Representative Keith Ellison of Minnesota, a Muslim. It’s as if Sanders had decided to force Hillary to touch that rail, or look bad jumping over it. “For us, the concern is that it legitimizes and potentially puts into a major party platform” the extreme left’s view “that undermines the principles of the Israeli-US relationship that have been bipartisan for decades,” Hoenlein warned.
And all Donald Trump has to do is sit back and watch his opponent disintegrating on an unwinnable issue. Former Florida congressman Robert Wexler, a Clinton supporter, who served on the platform committee back in 2012, told the NYT, “My concern is that the Democratic platform is not the venue in which to litigate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” Ah, a lucid voice in a sea of crazy. How refreshing.JNi.Media
Israelis are preparing to get “happy” this summer when Grammy Award-winning American vocalist Pharrell Williams arrives in the Holy Land.
Pharrell is scheduled to appear on July 21 at Live Park in Rishon Lezion.
His monster hit “Happy” is probably the most successful and well-known of his tunes, but Pharrell is a multi-talented musician.
Numerous ‘Happy’ videos were made in Israel when his hit came out.
He has scored many international number one hits as a solo performer. He’s also written top hits for other performers as well, including Madonna, Beyonce, Kanye West and the Rolling Stones, among others.
Pharrell has won 11 Grammy Awards for his work as a performer and producer. He’s currently a judge on the American hit talent show, The Voice.Hana Levi Julian
Most Israeli children find themselves a little bored once school has let out for the summer months. Many summer camp programs last only a couple of weeks at most.
But Education Minister Naftali Bennett says his ministry will extend and expand the summer camps and other activities for children in the Gaza Belt area this year.
Children in Sderot, a city located barely a mile from the Gaza border, will also be included in the program, called the “summer vacation school.”
In addition to the program – for first and second graders – summer camps and enrichment activities will also be held for preschool and other elementary school children as well, Bennett said.
The minister made the announcement to the heads of local authorities and communities in the Gaza Belt region this week.Hana Levi Julian