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Posts Tagged ‘Three Weeks’

What is the Link between 17th of Tammuz, July 4th and Lincoln?

Friday, July 5th, 2013

A rabbi delivering a Shabbat sermon on the coincidental dates of the 17th of Tammuz and the Fourth of July in 1863 used the phrase “four score and seven years ago” before Abraham Lincoln made it famous, according to an historian.

British Prof. Marc Saperstein, who is a visiting professor of Judaic Studies at Yale, wrote in the Huffington Post  Wednesday that Rabbi Sabato Morais delivered his message in Philadelphia after the Battle of Gettysburg was fought but before its outcome was known.

“His sermon contains a phrase that might well have influenced the most celebrated speech in American history,” according to Prof. Saperstein.

The Fourth of July usually falls during the three-week period when Jews mourn the destruction of the First and Second Temples. On an average of about once every 10 years or so, Independence Day falls on the first day of the three weeks, the Fast Day of the 17th day of Tammuz and which also was on the Sabbath in 1863.

Without knowing whether the Confederate army had won in Gettysburg , a victory that would have allowed it to threaten Philadelphia, Rabbi Morais said in his sermon that he was asked to refer to Independence Day.

However, since it was the 17th day of Tammuz, even though the fast is postponed because of the Sabbath, Rabbi Morais explained he could not deliver an encouraging address that was recommended by the Union League. It suggested that clergy quote the uplifting verse form Leviticus that is inscribe on the Liberty Bell: “”Proclaim liberty throughout the land, unto all the inhabitants thereof.”

Instead, the rabbi chose the lament from King Hezekiah in Isaiah, “This is a day of trouble, of rebuke, and derision,” which he also meant as a reference to the Battle of Gettysburg before knowing the Union forces had won.

Rabbi Morais made sure to refer to Independence Day, 87 years after the United States was founded. “’I am not indifferent, my dear friends, to the event, which four score and seven years ago, brought to this new world light and joy,” he said in his sermon.

The King James translation of Psalms 90:10 translates a Hebrew in the psalm as “threescore and ten.”

Prof. Saperstein  explained that when Abraham Lincoln spoke to a small group of people three days later, he said that it was “eighty odd years” since the founding of the United States.

The professor wrote,  “Needless to say, some three months later, for the dedication of the Gettysburg cemetery, Abraham Lincoln elevated the level of his discourse from ‘eighty odd years’ to “four score and seven years, our fathers brought forth to this continent,” possibly borrowing from the published text by the Philadelphia Sephardic preacher who, without knowing it, may have made a lasting contribution to American rhetorical history.”

Preventing Wedding Waste And Wedding Waist

Friday, August 17th, 2012

With the Three Weeks and its social restrictions as they pertain to simchas behind us, heimishe Yidden everywhere are “dusting off” their party clothes, taking their jewelry out of the safe and getting ready to attend a multitude of weddings – with some people invited out on an almost daily basis.

While all weddings are beautiful – some are more “beautiful” than others, with no expense spared by the chosson and kallah’s proud parents, to provide a magnificent send off for their children as they begin their new life together.

Which is a great thing – may we all know from simchas – but a reality that can also be problematic. For after attending lovely, opulent weddings over the years, I have come to the conclusion that for both host and guest, extravagant weddings, like cigarettes, are quite enjoyable (so they insist) but are bad for you – physically and financially.

Many of the young men getting married intend to spend several years learning, or are in college/graduate school. This means that someone will have to provide the funds to pay the bills. Since the couple will likely have a family sooner than later, and the wife will work part time – or full time and have a chunk of her salary go to pay for childcare -the burden of support often falls on one or both sets of in-laws.

Supporting the young couple, often in the style they are accustomed to, means that their parents, even if they are relatively “comfortable,” have an additional financial obligation that is not fiscally or physically healthy. Don’t forget, these middle-aged mothers and fathers (aging baby-boomers) are likely paying several yeshiva/seminary tuitions, as well as dealing with the extra daily expenses of living an Orthodox lifestyle.

Therefore the question begs to be asked – wouldn’t it be more sensible to make a less lavish, less expensive simcha, and use the money saved to pay a year’s rent for the new couple? Since there are so many expenditures in setting up the young couple’s household, why not minimize the pressure on the ones paying the bills?

For those who are very wealthy and “money is no object” and can afford to make a big splash for their kids, wouldn’t it be a mitzvah (in the merit of a happy life for their children) if the parents made a less lavish simcha and instead donate the money to a hachnasat kallah organization, so that those in real need can have a wedding they can remember with pride?

So, how does one cut down on one’s wedding expense, yet make a simcha the guests will still thoroughly enjoy?

Since food is arguably the biggest expense, (kosher food seems to be getting more and more costly, especially when the simcha is out of the New York metropolitan area), why not just serve less food? So much of it is wasted anyhow.

I suggest the baal simcha provide either a smorgasboard before the chuppah, with several hot and cold choices, or a dinner after the chuppahbut not both. Most guests eat to their fill at the smorg, which often contains fish, chicken and beef dishes, as well as pasta, vegetable and fruit salads. There is no need, a mere hour or so later, to provide a multi-course dinner, followed by a mouth-watering, calorie-laden Viennese table, resplendent with cakes, pastries, nuts, candy etc.

Instead, after the chuppah, a small dessert table should suffice, perhaps with some light salads, allowing the guests to wander around and socialize (as opposed to being seated and meeting only the guests at the table). That would allow for more dancing, which could last an hour or two after the young couple makes their appearance. No doubt the emotionally exhausted chassan and kallah would appreciate being left alone a bit sooner than later, especially with a full week of sheva brachot ahead of them.

At any rate, since most of the guests have gorged themselves at the smorgasboard, much of the food offered at the dinner is barely eaten. Just how much can a person consume? While some leftover food can be given to food pantries, much is thrown out. A piece of beef that obviously was partially eaten by a guest who wanted to taste the lovely piece of meat on his plate but was too full – from fressing at the smorg – to actually eat it, ends up in the garbage. A sad, unnecessary waste of food and money.

‘Single-minded’

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

The somber Three Weeks period of semi-mourning that we observed recently has been quickly replaced with the whirlwind post Tisha b’av “wedding season.” With an avalanche of invitations spilling out of mailboxes, and myriad calls made regarding time and place of sheva brachot, it seems like everyone you know is joyfully making a simcha.

But unfortunately that is not the case. For many young people their goal of standing under the chuppa has not been actualized; their dream of building a bayit ne’eman b’Yisrael is still just that – a dream, not a reality. As the years pass and their single status remains the same – while seemingly everyone else in their sphere of friends and relatives has moved on – the unmarried endure a private Tisha B’av on a daily basis as they mourn the emptiness and deprivation that is the lot of one who does not have a soul mate. Friends and close family – as loving and supportive as they may be – still do not make up for not having a spouse who is your pillar, your “seatbelt” and co-navigator as you wend your way together through the inevitable curves, obstacles and pitfalls that confront you on your life’s journey.

For though an older single might spend his or her free time in a crowd full of close friends, and have an active life that includes going to evening classes, shiurim, restaurants and engaging in hobbies and doing acts of chesed with a carefreeness that many marrieds would envy, the reality is that at the end of the day he/she goes home alone to an empty house.

While it might appear that unmarried men and women have less complicated lives by virtue of being on their own, and hence have fewer responsibilities and obligations to take up their time and energy, life for them is nonetheless more difficult. Ask yourself what is easier – walking half a mile on one leg or walking a whole mile on two. The non-married person may only be facing “half a mile” of responsibilities, but dealing with them on one leg (i.e. alone, with perhaps family and friends as “crutches”) can be more challenging then the “one mile walk” of his/her married counterpart, who despite their potentially overwhelming and seemingly never-ending tasks and duties, can “navigate their mile” so much more easily because each half supports and works with the other. (I am referring to a happy marriage, for if there is no shalom bayit or unity, then for each spouse, the daily “mile” involves dragging a dead weight leg, which is worse than moving on one with crutches.)

The fact is, the older single (with older being subjective – in some communities 21 is older – in others 30 plus) often feels like an “outsider” due to the emphasis among the heimisch olam on being half of a pair. While being unmarried in the secular world is quite the norm, to the degree that having a child while single has become somewhat fashionable, that is not how our community operates.

Our culture revolves around creating a nuclear family, which is obtained through marriage and children (biological or adopted). This mindset so permeates our community that almost always, as soon as a baby is born, its parents, half in jest – half seriously, mention potential shidduchim for it from among their friends’ babies. Not surprisingly, after a bris, the blessing uttered over the eight-day-old -infant boy is that he should grow to Torah, chupah and good deeds. The priority is Torah or course, with marriage a close second.

Marriage is such a valued commodity in our community that couples and singles should make it their business to help their unmarried friends achieve this state. Young couples, however may initially be in the best position to do so since the husband knowsthe bachrim and the wife knows the girls.

On Yom Kippur and on other days of yahrzeit, people make pledges to donate charity in the merit of a beloved relative – often for several of them. I suggest that on the day of their wedding, while davening under the chupah, chosens and kallahs “pledge” to work at helping a beloved friend of relative – or several – find their bashert. It has to be more than lip service – they have to follow through with their pledge and make a reasonable effort to set the single up or network on his/her behalf in a way that could lead to introductions. For example, when they as newlyweds move to a different neighborhood or town and are guests of or hosts to other couples, they can ask their peers at the table if they have single friends, and then go from there.

An important, yet difficult component of helping a friend or relative get married is offering grooming or dressing tips to maximize their presentation; or if this is an inevitable conclusion, even recommend that they go for therapy to help them see if there are deep-rooted issues they are unaware of that is holding them back from making a commitment.

Of course, everything ultimately is in Hashem’s hands, and thus there is no guarantee that one’s efforts will lead to success; but the fact that you are trying – and will continue to do so, is what counts. Being unmarried for way longer than you thought you would be can be very demoralizing and depressing and can cause a person to start questioning their intrinsic value and self-worth. Knowing that even though they are alone – but not “alone; aware that others are thinking about them and caring for them, is like helium for the soul, lifting low morale, boosting faltering egos and most importantly, raising hope.

The Three Weeks – And A Nation That Dwells Alone

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

We begin the Three Weeks.

Is it an accident that the world seems to be engulfed by one crisis after another? The oil bubbling up from the ocean floor is a perfect symbol of the continuously unfolding tide of disasters. The world teeters, increasingly out of control. And Israel stands alone. As Balaam says in this week’s parshah, “Behold! It is a nation that will dwell in solitude and not be reckoned among the nations” (Numbers 23:9).

In all honesty, I do not understand our nation. As the world lines up against us, people say, “How is it possible that this ‘friend of Israel’ has gone against us, and that ‘friend of Israel’ has gone against us? I am amazed! I am appalled! I am outraged. We must demonstrate! We must contact the media! We must correct the lies that are being against us!”

What are we “amazed” about?

Were we born yesterday?

Did Balaam not tell us thousands of years ago that we “dwell in solitude” and are “not reckoned among the nations”? Don’t we get it? Why are we surprised?

But the nations of the world are engaged in an impossible mission. There is absolutely no doubt they will fail. Balaam’s very curses came out backward. Every word uttered against us – in Balaam’s time and in our time – will come out backward. Every venomous arrow will become a shower of blessing upon God’s people Israel. There is nothing they can do to change it.

“How can I curse? God has not cursed. How can I anger? God is not angry” (Numbers 23:8).

But instead of understanding this and drawing closer to the God Who loves and protects us, we give weight to our enemies’ words. We react to them; we insist on arguing with them, trying in vain to “correct” the “misinformation.” By attributing reality to these curses, we are in danger of falling into the trap of the miraglim, who thought their fate lay in the hands of their enemies, for “we were like grasshoppers in our eyes, and so we were in their eyes” (Numbers 13:33).

Is God not real? Is the Torah not real? What power do the curses of our enemies have? As we read in Tehillim (Psalm 118): “Hashem is with me. I have no fear. How can man affect me?”

It is much easier to blame someone else than to work on ourselves.

As Rav Yisrael Salanter put in a letter written in 1849: “[It is the norm for people] to conduct themselves by following after the dictates of desire . [But] the battle is raging. The yetzer ha’ra waits in ambush; desire is unrestrained and negative character traits overwhelm us. We have no weapon [with which to fight the yetzer ha'ra] . There is no hope to be saved from the snare of death unless we grasp the weapon, the ideals of yiras shamayim and mussar study.”

Reb Yitzchok Blazer, zt”l, cites a Gemara: “The yetzer ha’ra of a man grows in strength from day to day and seeks to kill him And were it not that Hakadosh Baruch Hu is his help, he would not be able to withstand it” (Sukkah 52b as quoted in Ohr Yisrael p. 578).

What our enemies say about us makes no difference. The only thing that makes a difference is what God says about us. And the only way to change what God says about us is to change ourselves.

This is our task for the Three Weeks.

We learn from Balaam that our Father in Heaven converts the curses of our enemies into blessings if we merit His mercies. Now is the time to work on ourselves. Obviously this labor is not confined to the Three Weeks, but the intense period of teshuvah culminating in Yom Kippur does in fact begin right now.

During our entire glorious journey through history, from Avraham Avinu to the present day, we have constantly been protected from Above, whether it is “directly and not through an angel” as in Egypt, or through the agency of angels, or pillars of glory, or pillars of fire, or manna, or in a hidden manner. If we mistakenly attribute power to our enemies, then we are denying this Truth.

Tisha B’Av Program In Flatbush

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008


            The annual Tisha B’Av Program of Flatbush will be held in Kings Terrace (formerly Le Marquise/Alexandria), 815 Kings Highway, (between East 8 and East 9 Streets) on Motzei Shabbos, August 9 and on Sunday, August 10.

 

            For more than 25 years, the Tisha B’Av Program, together with a smaller lecture program on the 17 of Tammuz, has inspired members of the community to focus on the significance of the Three Weeks. At this time, Klal Yisrael mourns the loss of the two Batei Mikdash (temples) in Yerushalayim and other related tragedies that have befallen our nation in exile.

 

           The program begins with Maariv at 9:20 p.m. afterShabbos, August 9. Participants should bring their own siddurim and Kinos. After the reading of Megillas Eichah, Rav Shlomo Pearl, shlita, rosh kollel of the Bostoner Night Kollel in Flatbush, will present an introduction to the kinos, and set the tone for the day of mourning. At 10:30 p.m. Rav Pinchos Breuer, shlita, Rav of Agudas Yisroel Bais Binyomin in Flatbush will offer reflections on this, the saddest of all days in the Jewish calendar.

 

            The program will resume the following morning with Shacharis at 8 a.m. followed at  9 a.m. with an introduction to the kinos and explanations of selected kinos, given by Rav Yaakov D. Homnick, shlita, of Florida. Mincha is scheduled twice in the afternoon – at 2:30 p.m. and at 7:10 p.m.

 

            Rav Baruch Rabinowitz, shlita,  rosh mesivta of Mesivta Ateres Yaakov of Long Island will give the first the drasha at 12:30 p.m. Rav Herschel Welcher, shlita, of Congregation Ahavas Yisroel and of Mesifta Tiferes Yisroel will offer words of chizuk at 1:30 p.m., followed by Mincha. At 3:15 p.m., Rav Ezriel Tauber, shlita, founder of Shalheves, will offer a fascinating perspective of the moed from the eyes of one who survived the Holocaust.

 

            At 4:15 p.m., Rav Yosef Viener, shlita, rav of Kehilas Shaar Hashamayim in Monsey will focus on the tragedy of Tisha B’Av and relate it to the contemporary challenges of life in America and the world today, followed at 5:15 p.m. by Rav Shmuel Dishon, shlita, menahel of Mosdos Yad Yisroel, Karlin Stolin, who will offer a powerful analysis of how a Jew should feel on this sad day.

 

            Rav Mattisyahu Salomon, shlita,  mashgiach ruchani of Beth Medrash Govoha in Lakewood will speak at 6:15 p.m.  Rav Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, shlita, will conclude the program with reflections on the importance of the day and implications for the future.

 

            Maariv, havdalah and kiddush levana (clouds permitting) will begin at 8:50 p.m. Participants are invited to break the fast with light refreshments.


                 


            The program is open to men and women, with separate seating. Admission is $12 per person or $35 per family. There will be no charge for those coming to the Motzei Shabbos program. Kings Terrace is wheelchair accessible. For more information, or if you would like to help subsidize the costs of running these programs, call 718-998-5822 or 718-377-7091 or e-mail torahconnections@earthlink.net.

Painful Words: A Painful Reality

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

Jews globally are commemorating the Three Weeks of Mourning period that began with last Sunday’s 17th Day of Tammuz fast and culminates with the Fast of Tisha B’Av. This period of time marks the breaching of Jerusalem’s walls through the destructions of our Holy Temples, and our subsequent exile from the Land of Israel.


 


During the two millennia of our galut,Jews from every corner of the planet were – at various times and places – tortured, brutalized, isolated into ghettos, accused of horrendous crimes, ostracized, prevented from earning a living, forced to convert, marginalized in every conceivable way, and more recently decimated by the millions.


 


We attribute our bitter, dark exile and the destruction of the Second Temple to lashon hara and sinat chinam (negative speech and baseless hatred) – often due to groundless jealously.


 


The following are two poems I wrote about the destructive impact of gossip and slander. I hope they will serve as a deterrent when one is tempted to say something they shouldn’t.


 


The Gossip’s Lament


 


You were a good friend, yet I caused you much pain,


For I gossiped about you – though there was little to gain.


Merely moments in the limelight, the center of attention,


It didn’t matter that what I said was a bit of my invention.


 


I snickered and mocked you behind your unsuspecting back,


I dissected your character, pointed out the qualities you lack.


I listed your failings, and belittled the things you do,


Not giving much thought if what I said was even true.


 


I revealed your secrets that I had sworn to secrecy,


I shattered forever your cherished privacy.


I did not pause to consider what I was doing to a friend,


I had damaged your reputation – one you might never be able to mend.


 


You had been there for me for so many years,


You delighted in my joys, and shared in my tears.


You soothed my worries, assuaged feelings that were hurt,


And I cravenly repaid you by dragging your name in the dirt.


 


Now I have lost you – and others have turned away,


I glance at a phone that is silent all day.


I destroyed a priceless gift for a false moment of “glory,”


And I know it can’t be fixed by saying, “I’m so sorry.”


 


Spoken Words


 


The spoken word is a powerful thing,


Whether uttered by a pauper or a powerful king.


For each word has a meaning and nuance that is unique,


And your words are a part of you that take wing when you speak.


 


Whether whispered very softly, or hurled in a shout,


A word is unstoppable – once it’s let out.


When you part with a word, you can’t get it back,


It flies to its intended – it’s full meaning intact.


 


A word can be a healing thing,


A word can make a sore heart sing.


A word can bring relief and hope to those in tears,


Or build bridges between strangers, dispelling all fears.


 


But a word can be a pain-inflicting thing,


It can cut, it can wound, it can deeply sting.


And for both speaker and listener, bring regret and shame,


A bond that once was – will never be the same.


 


A word, once spoken, can be a life-enhancing tool,


But also a destructive weapon in the mouth of a fool.


So weigh your words carefully, release them with thought,


For words that are let go – can never be caught.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/painful-words-a-painful-reality/2008/07/23/

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