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April 24, 2014 / 24 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘thought’

Hashem’s Power

Friday, November 9th, 2012

On October 29th, the verdict was revealed
As we faced what was destined as the Din was sealed
With a storm that echoed the words we know to be true
of B’Rosh Hashanah Yikaseivu.

We saw the power of wind, the power of a rain
A power that some had mockingly thought to be inane
A power destined to show itself and let out its wrath
To destroy houses, alarm cities, and clear everything in its path.

It shook full-force upon the neighborhoods that experienced its fury
And left no family in vulnerable areas without question or worry
The sea reached the consumed towns, as though struck by His rod
Turning all of our established places left to nearly an esplanade.

It thundered and damaged without stoppage or yield
Leaving no stone unturned, not a crop in the field.
Through its insatiable storm, its rush and its wind
A work He had predestined and didn’t wish to rescind.

Many mocked its prediction, denied the truth
Of that which effected all from the elderly to the youth
We underestimated its severity, yet soon saw the waters
Upon our tunnels, our houses, our sons and our daughters.

Flooding our highways, flooding New York
Leaving mouths gaped in horror at the magnitude of its torque
It left all religions and races with respect and with awe
From experiencing something so mighty like the world has never saw.

‘Twas a work of only His hand, His might, His word
That shook up each person, each animal, each bird
Stabbing and damaging, as though a loose pack of knives
And taking along with it so many lives.

We saw a power so strong; a force that’s so vast
An overturning exertion poured upon us so fast
Something so unimaginative; something so odd
A clear indication of fury from the hand of G-d.

Fence Contractor Injured in Gaza Attack

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

A construction worker building the security fence along the Gaza border was lightly injured in an attack Thursday evening.

The man was injured from a nearby explosion.

It was originally thought that it was from a mortar that had exploded nearby, but Palestinians have been talking about an IED they placed alongside the fence, and it is now believed that it might indeed have been that.

Cleverer than God

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

This Shabbat marks the yahrtzeit of Rabbi Meir Kahane, may Hashem avenge his murder. To honor his memory, our next two blogs will feature essays he wrote for The Jewish Press, which appear in the incomparably thought-provoking collection of his articles, “Beyond Words.” May his memory be for a blessing.

***

Cleverer Than God

By Rabbi Meir Kahane

December 1, 1978

It has been three weeks now since I left Israel to speak to the Jews of the American Galut. My most profound impression has clearly been the attempt of American Jews — especially the practitioners of ritual — to be clever; to be cleverer, cleverer than our Maker. The words of the prophet Isaiah (45:9) ring out across the ages, saying: “Woe to him who argues with his Maker! . . . Shall the clay say to Him who forms it: ‘What are you doing?’”

In every generation this would appear to have been so. The created striving to be cleverer than the Creator. And in every generation, forgetting the words of that Creator: “I made the earth, and created mankind upon it . . . !” (Isaiah, 45:12).

A mere cursory look at the Torah reveals an unmistakable fact: Amidst any and all of the punishments and warnings issued by the Creator, one continually stands out as the ultimate national one: Galut, exile. Whatever else it may be considered: sin, impurity, akin to idol worship — the Galut is, first and foremost, primarily a curse and a punishment. Here are just a few examples:

“And you will perish quickly from off the good Land that the Lord gives you” (Deuteronomy 11:17).

“I call heaven and earth this day to bear witness against you, that you will soon be utterly removed from off the Land, into which you are crossing theJordanto inherit.” (ibid., 4:26)

“That the Land not vomit you out, when you defile it.” (Leviticus 18:28).

And, of course, the two classical Tochachot, admonitions, the first in Leviticus and the other in Deuteronomy. In both, a long series of punishments, and tribulations. In both, curses taking the place of blessings. In both, an escalating warning: “And if you continue to refuse to listen to me . . . ” followed by yet another punishment, worse than those that preceded it.

And in both, the final, ultimate, most dreaded of all punishments: “And the Lord will scatter you among all the nations, from one end of the earth to the other . . . ” (Deuteronomy 28:64).

Galut. Exile. The worst of the punishments, the most dreaded of the curses. To be driven out of our Land. Thus did the Almighty decide to show His wrath and teach the Jew the magnitude and enormity of his sins.

I have seen the Jew of America. Non-observant and observer, both. And they are clever. Cleverer by far than their Maker. For the Almighty planned to “scatter the Jew among all the nations,” and the Jew of Los Angeles and Chicago and Monsey and Boro Park and Monroe and a hundred other fleshpots, winks and sighs: “Very well, then, I suppose I will have to suffer in Los Angeles, Chicago, Monsey, Boro Park and Monroe . . . ”

Really, dear Jew, give the Almighty a little credit for cleverness. Do, indeed, consider that He conceived of your “cleverness” and prepared for it. Are we really so contemptuous of the Creator that we believe that He drives us out of our Land so that we can enjoy a better material life in that Exile that he conceived of as a punishment? Are we, indeed, so irreverent that we truly think that the words of the Torah become a game and a plaything to be outwitted so easily? Ah, what a difficult time we will have in the Galut of Great Neck . . .

No, dear Jew, the G-d of Israel is not as simple and foolish as we think. He did not conceive of the ultimate punishment of a Jewish people driven from their Land, merely to have them enjoy a fabulously better material life in the Exile. For that very same chapter that booms forth: “And the Lord will scatter you among all the nations” continues and decrees: “And among those nations you will find no tranquility, neither will the sole of your foot have rest . . . ”

I watch as the comfortable American Orthodoxy unfolds in Flatbush and Flattest bush. We buy our houses and discuss the inflated price. We furnish them with delectable possessions, above our heads the sheitel, and above that the chandelier. We plan our vacations. We buy our women their expensive garments (lest they be shamed by those that have them). We build a comfortable and relaxed Judaism that mockingly proclaims our clever victory over the plans of our Maker. There is not the slightest serious thought to life inIsrael. There is not the slightest qualm of conscience as we luxuriate in the fleshpots of idol worship. The clay figure basks in the American sun, turns to its Maker and sighs: “And because of our sins we were exiled from our Land.” And having paid the obligatory obeisance, the clay then turns on its color television set to watch the football game, or goes off to purchase a sheitel that will clearly make every male’s eye turn.

Ribono shel Olam, Sovereign of the Universe, what a bitter exile . . .

I offer an urgent suggestion. Let us understand that we are not as clever as we think. Let us understand that the Almighty is a bit wiser than we give Him credit for. If the Galut was conceived by the God of Israel as a curse, then there is nothing that can turn it into a blessing. If it was designed to be a punishment, it can never become a reward. Rationalize away, dear Jew, in the 150 ways that you think you are able to purify the impurity. It is to no avail. Your political science (“But America is different! It is a democracy!”) will not help you. Your religiosity (“But we must stay here to build Yiddishkeit!”) will avail you naught. Be not cleverer than your Creator. “Be not overly wise — why should you destroy yourself?” (Ecclesiastes 7:16).

That which is crooked cannot be made straight and that which is impure cannot be made holy, and that which was designed as a curse, punishment and tribulation cannot ever, ever be turned into enjoyment, pleasure and permanent safety. For a while, the Almighty may allow us to delude ourselves, hoping we will regain our sanity. He gives us time to do the right thing.

Invariably, we mistake His kindness for our cleverness, but the day of reckoning must come, and does. The lights of the chandeliers dim and then are extinguished. The sheitel withers away, and the impure crawling insect that we “purified” proves to be impure indeed. That which is crooked cannot be made straight, and that which is Exile can never be anything but tragedy. Jew, stop listening to those who cannot see. Do not repeat the tragedy of 40 and 50 years ago. Clay, know your place. The Maker is cleverer by far. Go home before it is too late.

On This Day

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

Ever have a day going along just fine until something comes and floors you? I wasn’t feeling well last night and thought of skipping work…but I had to do this, I had to do that…so I came in saying that maybe I’ll crash tomorrow.

Yesterday morning started sluggish, but I hit my stride and I chugged along happily cleaning things off my desk. I’m tried to watch what is happening with the massive hurricane hitting the U.S.; trying to switch windows, worrying about whether Gaza has decided to fire another rocket at Israel. And then, I saw this message on Twitter and I just stopped and took a deep breath.

They probably all died – those 2,000 elderly and sick Jews who were deported to Auschwitz. I clicked the link – there is a picture there, of the Jews being loaded on to trains for the trip to their deaths. The sun seems just a little bit less bright; my heart hurts just a little bit.My eyes are stinging. My brain, ever the smart one is telling the rest of me to get back to work. There are things I have to deliver, a website I have to build, a document I have to edit. It’s close to the end of the month and there’s accounting coming up soon.

It’s hard to get back to work without thinking about this little tweet. Two thousand people… two thousand Jews. On this day…on this day…

Visit a Soldier’s Mother.

Jewish Gold Dealer Escapes Robbers En Route From Holland To Belgium

Monday, October 29th, 2012

It was a miracle en route to Antwerp: A gold dealer who lives in Antwerp, Belgium, was traveling in his car last Wednesday as he does every week, with a very large amount of gold in his case, B’Hadrei Haredim reported.

Driving from Holland toward Antwerp, the dealer noticed that a car was following him, but didn’t give it much thought.

He made a stop at a gas station along the highway to fill up his tank.

After he started driving about 300 meters out of the gas station, a car with blue lights ordered him to pull over. Three armed assailants got out of the car with their guns pointing at him.

The driver sped backwards into the gas station, got out of the car, grabbed his case from the back seat and ran into the store at the service station.

He shouted, “There is a robbery here!” and the shop owner immediately locked the doors and pressed an emergency alarm button. The shop was full of people at the time and the three unmasked bandits arrived on the scene within a short time brandishing their weapons.

They demanded that the owner open the doors and that the case with the gold be handed over to them. Police arrived on the scene shortly thereafter, but the criminals managed to escape.

After a thorough search, the bandits’ car was found abandoned. It had been reported stolen.

The main highway was closed due to the incident and there were traffic jams reported over the next six hours.

The Jewish man noted that when he was being interrogated by the police, he was asked if he hadn’t notice being shot at and he answered that he hadn’t. The police then showed him that the lower portion of the hood of his car had been hit by a few bullets. Apparently, the criminals used a silencer on their guns and he hadn’t realized his car had been hit.

On Shabbat, the man got an aliyah in shul and benched gomel.

10,000 Pounds

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

Staring out his window, Yakov tried ignoring the overwhelming sweep of emotions. He watched as the horses calmly grazed in the fields, oblivious to the deep hate brewing on each side of the farm. The audacity his brother has, Yakov shuddered thinking about it. Shaking his head he couldn’t think. Things hadn’t been easy since Father had died, he admit, but why now? After all the legal issues to deal with. After all the emotional pain. After watching their own mother wither away from the ache and void. But Levi couldn’t let it go.

He couldn’t let that child rivalry pass. Fighting over toys. Fighting over who sat where at the table. Why couldn’t it just disappear with the childish freckles? Why couldn’t they just move on, and start their lives all over again? Was it still about whose sandcastle stayed over night? Whose tower didn’t topple? Whose snowman didn’t melt? Somehow it still leads to those subconscious levels of hatred.

Silently Yakov had hoped it would stop, now that Father had died. Didn’t Levi realize it wasn’t a game? Can’t he see that this is real life now? But still, for Levi it was about whose side of the farm was better. It’s still about who can do it faster.

The glimmering blue water, shining in the sunlight. Biting his lip, Yakov couldn’t believe this immature gesture. Levi had built a lake. A lake to separate them – like a trap in Capture the Flag.

A lake! To separate their halves of the farm. Like the jump rope they had tied across their bedroom. Swallowing, Yakov couldn’t hold back anymore. Levi was no brother. This was not the way brothers acted. Years of this, and still it hadn’t stopped. He was tired of it, he decided.

Yakov watched as the muscled workers carried long wooden panels across, their sweat laminating in the sunlight. Ten thousand pounds of wood, the contractor explained. A couple of weeks and the wall would be up – a wall that would cut Levi off from Yakov’s side of the farm. He wouldn’t have to watch Levi’s children running through the meadows. He wouldn’t have to watch Levi come out every morning, content with life, while torturing his younger brother, just a couple of acres across the field.

Turning from the window, Yakov sat down to eat his breakfast, finally satisfied. All these years of tireless childish arguments would come to an end. A wall blocking his view of that half of the world. Blocking him off from the entire idea. Running away from the reality of facing the painful rendezvous.

Hours later, Yakov turned back to see his masterpiece. A forced smile was on his lips as he strutted towards the lake, and that’s when he saw it. There wasn’t a fifty foot wall, blocking every ray of sun from that side of the planet. It was just a thin bridge. One that went from one end of the lake to the other. Connecting his half to the other. Breaking the gap. Ending the problems.

Staring blankly Yakov didn’t understand, “I asked for a wall,” he yelled at the contractor, “To block that devil out of my life forever.”

Rummaging through his pockets, the contractor extended the blueprint, “It was the same ten thousand pounds of wood,” he explained.

Biting his lip, Yakov tried holding back his anger. He thought these useless games were over. But Levi would come back at him some other clever way. He would think of another childish prank to break off their ties once again. He took a deep breath, closing his eyes in defeat.

Scratching his head, he looked up at the contractor, “You’re going to need to take this down,” he demanded. “You’re going to have to build the wall I asked for.” Pausing he tried biting back his anger and then burst, “I don’t understand! You know I hate him!”

Shaking his head, the contractor whispered, barely audible, “It was the same amount of wood. It was the same effort.”

And then Yakov noticed, under the splash of the watercolor sunset, his brother’s shadow came closer and closer. Levi stood humbly in front of him, a slow smile creasing his face, “You did it, dear brother. You built a bridge.”

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

Title: The Little Book for BIG Worries
Dealing With Serious Illness
Author: Rabbi Y.Y. Rubinstein
Publisher: Israel Bookshop Publications

Receiving a difficult medical diagnosis can easily spell trauma, anguish, and hopelessness for a patient and his loved ones. Yet even amidst the dark skies of such a situation, Rabbi Y.Y. Rubinstein affectionately known simply as YY assures us that there is still hope.

The Little Book for BIG Worries is a compact guide that offers chizuk and calm to those who have heard worrying news about themselves or someone close to them. The book offers answers to the questions we all ask when bad news arrives. It shows readers how to find the right people who can help them, and how to avoid those who can’t. Additionally, it includes advice from renowned doctors, which can provide direction toward making the often-confusing world of medicine work with and for the patient.

Most of all, The Little Book for BIG Worries will show those going through hard times how they can smile and laugh again… even when they thought they never could.

The Little Book for BIG Worries is informative, engaging and always insightful. Rabbi Rubinstein makes his points quickly and clearly.

Rabbi YY is one of the most sought after speakers in the Jewish world. Now based in New York, he regularly speaks in the UK, USA, Canada, France, Belgium, Gibraltar, South Africa and Israel. He is a regular broadcaster on National Radio in the UK and now USA and has written and presented shows for the BBC. The Independent newspaper cited him as among five people in the UK to turn to for advice. Queen Elizabeth has declared herself a fan of Rabbi YY’s broadcasts saying, “He’s awfully good!”

Inviting Tragedies?

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

There’s a superstitious thought that when you invite tragedy, it happily walks through the door. A second, more pragmatic view, is that when you prepare for it, you are better able to cope. Israel takes the second view as today we once again take part in the Turning Point 6 nation-wide exercise preparing us not only for earthquakes, but several other disasters.

According to INN, yesterday’s drill included:

The IDF rehearsed an emergency scenario in which an earthquake measuring 5.8 on the Richter scale takes place in Eilat at 11:00 a.m. and a second, even stronger quake, subsequently hits northern Israel.

According to the scenario, MDA then receives reports of thousands of buildings collapsing throughout Israel, damage to hospitals, power outages and more.

In addition, the drill included a tsunami wave, a school in ruins, a mass casualty situation on Nahariya’s train station, a crash landing of a jet plane in Eilat, building collapses at Hebrew University and two prisons, a train wreck and more.

The drill had MDA emergency crews treating 2,600 “casualties” throughout Israel, 1,800 of them in moderate to serious condition.

Over two THOUSAND casualties…take a look at this video – it is, in every sense, a real exercise. Yes, there are subtle differences – the soldiers are not running around – many are standing and watching. In a real tragedy, they would likely all be in movement, trying to help where the could. Another difference, the “wounded” soldier on the stretcher was smiling and talking to the other soldiers as they carry him away. These are the faces that calm us as we watch – let them smile. Let them laugh. Please, let it never be real.

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Visit A Soldier’s Mother.

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