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October 28, 2016 / 26 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘tragedy’

A Near Tragedy

Friday, September 30th, 2016

“All Israel are guarantors one for another,” (Shevuoth 39a). The Jews of the town of Kalinkubitz, which adjoined the city of Minsk in Lithuania, learned this lesson well when a near tragedy struck their town. It happened during the time of Rav Dovid Tabli, a talmid of Rav Chaim of Volozhin and the chief rabbi of Minsk.

Erev Yom Kippur, a company of soldiers arrived in town escorting a group of prisoners on their way to St. Petersburg to stand trial. The prisoners were accused of various crimes ranging from sedition to murder. Amongst them was a Jew accused of murder.

When the Jewish leaders of the town heard about the Jewish prisoner, they approached the captain of the guard and asked him to release the prisoner into their custody so that he might be able to pray in the synagogue on Yom Kippur. The captain was reluctant to take a chance, but agreed after being offered money. However, he assigned a soldier to accompany the prisoner to the synagogue to guard him.

When the prisoner came into the shul he was given a tallis and siddur and began to daven with the guard sitting next to him. When the shul reached Shemoneh Esrei, he turned to the guard and whispered that he had to go to the bathroom.

Before the guard could react, the man took off his tallis and left the room. The guard waited a few minutes and then went out to look for him. But the prisoner had vanished. The guard went back into the shul and yelled that the prisoner had escaped. The congregation began to search for him. They even looked for him in the surrounding villages but he was nowhere to be found.

That same night the leaders of the town were taken to jail, to await the arrival of the governor arrived. The townspeople were afraid they would be accused of helping the prisoner to escape. They also knew that the governor loved money and were sure he would use this opportunity extract a big ransom from them.

Their worst fears were realized. The community leaders were taken from their cells and brought before the governor. He shouted at them, accusing them of plotting the prisoner’s escape. He knew that they had bribed the captain of the guards.

His judgement: All of them, including the rav, would receive 25 lashes until they revealed where the prisoner was hidden. They pleaded with the governor for time, and told him that they would pay any fine he would impose upon them.

“Very well!” shouted the governor, “I will give you a month’s time to raise the money.” He then named an amount that would be impossible for them to come up with.

The community leaders decided to send a messenger to Rav Zundel Sonnenberg, known as Zundel the Great, the chief rabbi of Petersburg. They chose lots to determine who to send and the choice fell on the elderly dayan. The distance was great and the road was difficult as it was the rainy season, but the dayan happily undertook to save the lives of the Jews of Kalinkubitz. While all the Jews of the town were saying Tehillim for his success, the aged messenger started out.

On the way, he stopped off at the home of Rav Dovid Tabli in Minsk for a bracha. Rav Dovid wrote a personal letter to Rav Zundel, urging him to help this messenger and he blessed the man that he be successful in his venture.

“Go in peace,” said Rav Dovid, “and remember the edict of our sages that the saving of even one life is more important than all the mitzvot of our Torah.”

The messenger continued riding day and night until it was erev Shabbos. Remembering Rav Dovid’s words he told his Jewish coachman not to stop for Shabbos.

Shabbos morning, the harried horses, foaming at the mouth, reached the great shul in the city of St. Petersburg where the Gaon, Zundel the Great, was praying. Shouting at the top of his lungs, the old messenger said, “Rav Zundel, save the Jews of the town of Kalinkubitz!”

The members of the congregation were thunderstruck. They were in the middle of Krias HaTorah. Rav Zundel the Great was annoyed and he ignored the commotion until the aged messenger gave him a letter from the Gaon Rav Dovid Tabli and told him about the urgency of the matter.

When Rav Zundel heard the name of Dovid Tabli he immediately stopped the reading of the Torah and listened to the full story of the tragedy. Rav Zundel then urged every person to go home immediately and make a collection for time was of the essence.

That afternoon the money was raised and turned over to the messenger. Rav Zundel assured everyone that they had not committed any sin but on the contrary had earned one of the greatest mitzvot.

The following week Rav Zundel received a letter from Rav Dovid Tabli, “May your lot be my lot,” said the letter. “Now I realize why you are called, ‘great.’ For it is a din (Rambam, Hilchos Shabbos 2, third halacha) that to violate the Shabbos to save a life, you are not to do so through a non-Jew, a servant, a woman or a child but only through the greatest person in Israel.”

“And if you feel any regret about violating the Shabbos,” the letter concluded, “Therefore do I offer you any amount of Sabbasos which I observed during my life. I offer them all in exchange for that one Shabbos which you violated to save the Jews of Kalinkubitz.”

Rabbi Sholom Klass

Analysis: Rabbinical Court Lookstein Ruling Could Spell Our Next Kamtza and Bar Kamtza Tragedy

Thursday, July 14th, 2016

It should be noted that despite our fantastical idea, Ivanka Trump was actually converted under the Rabbinical Council of America and the Israeli Chief Rabbinate Geirus Policies and Standards Network (GPS) agreement, and so her conversion is not, in fact, in jeopardy.

Now to the fantasy:

A friend of ours suggested a rereading of the Talmud narrative of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza (Gittin 55–56) in light of Wednesday’s ruling of the High Rabbinical Court. Same Rabbis, same Roman Emperor, except he could be living in DC come next January:

They went and said to the presidential candidate, “The Jews hate you, they think you’re nothing but a nasty Goy, and they’re all praying Hillary humiliates you.”

Said he, “That would be YUGE. How do I know you’re not lying?”

“Send an offering to the Jewish Nation,” they said, “and see whether they will accept it on their altar.”

So he sent them the most gorgeous blonde offering he could find, his own flesh and blood. But while on the journey, they put a blemish on her Haskel (or as some say, on the Look of her Stein) – in a manner where the Chief Rabbinate counted it a blemish but we do not.

Most of us urged the Rabbinical Court to accept her in order not to offend a presidential candidate. Even the two chief rabbis, the Ashkenazi and the Sephardi, begged the Rabbinical Court to accept her as Jewish.

Said the Rabbinical High Court to us: “People will say that blemished blonde offerings are acceptable on the altar.”

Most of us tried to kill the story so that no one write or talk about it on CNN, but the Chief Rabbinical Court objected, saying “Are we who are just doing our jobs, pointing out obvious blemishes on consecrated offerings, to have our story be killed, our sage honor impugned and our authority undermined?”

We thereupon remarked: “Because of the scrupulousness of the High Rabbinical Court our House was destroyed, our Temple burnt, and we ourselves were exiled from our land.”

To remind you (since it’s been almost a full year since Tisha B’Av), this is the original story from Gittin 55–56 (courtesy of the Soncino Talmud):

Kamtza went and said to the Emperor, The Jews are rebelling against you. He said, How can I tell? Kamtza said to him: Send them an offering and see whether they will offer it [on the altar]. So he sent with him a fine calf. While on the way Kamtza made a blemish on its upper lip, or as some say on the white of its eye, in a place where we [Jews] count it a blemish but they do not. The Rabbis were inclined to offer it in order not to offend the Government. Said R. Zechariah b. Abkulas to them: People will say that blemished animals are offered on the altar. They then proposed to kill Bar Kamza so that he should not go and inform against them, but R. Zechariah b. Abkulas said to them, Is one who makes a blemish on consecrated animals to be put to death? R. Johanan thereupon remarked: Through the scrupulousness of R. Zechariah b. Abkulas our House has been destroyed, our Temple burnt and we ourselves exiled from our land.

David Israel

Live Webinar with Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier of the Shmuz Tonight: Reacting to the Tragedy in Brooklyn

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

It’s a Friday night, in a typical brick home, in a typical frum neighborhood in Brooklyn, a mother and eight children sleep peacefully. The father away at a kiruv Shabbaton. After midnight, a hot plate, left on for Shabbos, malfunctions. Fire engulfs the kitchen, then rip through the house. Smoke and flames shoot up the stairway, and on to the bedrooms. Somehow the mother and one child escape. The other children are trapped. It’s not long before seven innocent children are dead.

We all heard the news, and as individuals we grieve, as a nation we are traumatized. A family. 7 Children. An indescribable tragedy. How do they go on? How do we react? And what lessons are we supposed to learn?

Join us tonight, March 31st at 8:30 pm EST for a live webinar with Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier of the Shmuz, as he discusses the issues involved and then opens the floor to questions and discussions.

Click here to register: https://theshmuz.leadpages.net/dealing-with-the-tragedy-/

Jewish Press Staff

Gaza Qassam Attack Damages Power Line in Eshkol

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

A Qassam rocket damaged a power line in the Eshkol Regional Council district Tuesday morning.

Gaza rocket fire was aimed numerous times at the region, many of whose residents have temporarily evacuated for their own safety.

Terrorists launched a barrage at the area; at least seven of the rockets exploded in open areas in the region.

Hundreds of thousands of southern Israelis have been internally displaced by the conflict with Hamas terrorists.

The Tragerman family of Nahal Oz said they have decided not to return in the wake of a mortar attack that took the life of their 4-year-old son Daniel last Friday, in the hours before the Sabbath.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Reading the Mind of God

Sunday, August 11th, 2013

I am beginning to believe that reading the mind of God is a predilection of Haredi  rabbis. At least a certain type of Haredi rabbi indigenous to the holy land. Increasingly it seems that tragedies are attributed to ‘the evil of the day’. Which almost always is connected to sex.  Which makes me wonder about the Gemarah’s s statement ‘Avira D’Ara Machkim’ – that the mere air in the land of Israel makes one wise.

Here is the latest one from a letter in Hamodia republished in Rafi’s blog, Life in Israel. It was signed by Rav Shmuel Littman.  I have no clue who that is. But it seems obvious to me by what he writes that he a Haredi Rav. Although certainly not a moderate.

His problem? Mixed seating on buses. He has determined that mixed seating on buses is the cause of their being bombed by suicide bombers.

Rav Littman can now confidently join the ranks of all those others that blame every tragedy on their myopic biases of what plagues the Jewish community. They ‘know’ that that the biggest tragedy facing Klal Yisroel is the lack of a ‘proper approach’ to sex. No matter what the tragedy, some element of that is pointed to as the reason God found it necessary to send us a message. In Rav Littman’s case he is telling us that God found it necessary to tell us about the importance of segregating buses by blowing up a few of them killing and maiming all the innocent people aboard.

How did he determine this great piece of ‘wisdom and insight’? Isn’t it obvious? There hasn’t been a suicide bombing ever since Mehadrin buses were implemented in the Haredi neighborhoods. Here is how he put it:

As soon as these chariots of kedusha started running, the suicide bombers stopped.

That is what is protecting us. Why does he bring this up now? He is worried.  Israel’s supreme court has made Mehadrin buses illegal.  Although segregating the sexes may still be done on a voluntary basis – no one has the right to tell a passenger to change their seat.  So if a woman sits in the front of the bus in the so called (unofficial) men’s section, no one is allowed to ask her to get up and move to the rear – even if they do so politely. This – says Rav Littman ‘compromise(s) the safety of our nation’.

Rav Littman almost begs people to take heed, arguing that even married couples should not object to sitting apart for the ‘short’ bus ride. They need to talk? – he asks? They can do it when they get home, for Pete’s sake!

Of course an elderly couple where one of them needs the support of the other because of health or medical issues does not occur to him to be an issue. Maybe he thinks that Tznius issues require that an elderly couple like that simply stay home. What if they need to see a doctor? Well I suppose they can just take a more expensive cab.  That they live on a fixed income is certainly no issue when it comes to the Kedusha that is generated by those who worship the concept of the Mehadrin bus.

Like the Kedusha of those valiant Haredi Kannaoim who beat women up that violate said Kedusha by sitting in the men’s section of a relatively empty bus.  Or the dozens of other similar incidents were women were subjected to all manner of violence and/or  humiliation for doing that.

If this attitude weren’t so tragic, it would be funny. How anyone could claim to know the mind of God and thereby imply that the victims who were so brutally and suddenly murdered in bus bombings because buses in general were not sex segregated. How can anyone know – or believe so strongly he feels the need to warn us – that God’s wrath will descend upon us and start blowing up innocent people again if we don’t all adhere to Mehadrin bus rules voluntarily.

Need I add that the lack of ‘Kedusha’ that happens when a woman is occasionally found in the ‘men’s section’ of a bus is minuscule (if it exists at all) compared to the lack of Kedusha in the way the many rabbinic  leaders handle sex abuse?

Harry Maryles

Murder by Rock Throwing is Still Murder

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

News item:

In a groundbreaking decision, a military court found a Palestinian man guilty of murder for throwing a rock at an Israeli car, causing it to crash and killing the driver and his infant son.

The court at Ofer military prison on Tuesday found Wa’al al-Araji, 25, from Halhul, to be directly responsible for the deaths in 2011 of Asher Palmer and his 1-year-old son Yehonatan.

Palmer was driving from his home in the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba towards Jerusalem when Araji and accomplices drove towards them in the opposite direction in another vehicle. As the two cars passed each other, Araji hurled a rock that smashed through the windshield, knocking Palmer unconscious. The car swerved off the road, killing its occupants.

The decision was unusual in that the Military Advocate generally does not seek a murder charge against stone-throwing Palestinians, even when their actions cause fatalities. However, the panel of three judges said that, in this particular case, there can be no doubt that the accused intended to kill and had practiced perpetrating similar — although less deadly — attacks in the past.

As I pointed out at the time of the murder,

Every single day, hundreds of rocks, blocks, stones, etc. are thrown at Jewish vehicles in Judea, Samaria, Jerusalem and Arab towns or neighborhoods inside the Green Line. Sometimes photographers are informed in advance that there will be exciting opportunities to view the heroic resistance to occupation. Throwing ‘stones’ (sometimes as big as a person’s head) is what Palestinian Arab adolescents do for entertainment. Even the great Columbia University ‘scholar’ Edward Said symbolically threw a stone across the Lebanese border at Israeli soldiers.

Stone-throwers are rarely caught. In this case, it was several days before the police even admitted that a crime had been committed. And just a few weeks ago, there was a similar incident in which a three-year old girl was critically injured.

Sentence hasn’t been pronounced yet, but al-Araji faces the possibility of a life sentence. Unfortunately Israel does not apply the death penalty to terrorists, who are sent to prison where they are permitted to take correspondence courses and enjoy other benefits until they are released in exchange for hostages taken by other terrorists.

While in prison, he will be paid a salary by the Palestinian Authority, which, when he gets out, will treat him like a hero, a ‘political prisoner’ like Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi or Mahatma Gandhi. Don’t be surprised — consider the treatment received by mass murderer Ahlam Tamimi, responsible for the Sbarro’s Pizza bombing in which 15 lives were snuffed out (including 8 children).

The release of prisoners has been an important demand made by the PLO, and at times has even been given by Mahmoud Abbas as a precondition for negotiations with Israel. It is an integral part of the Arab narrative that what they do — what we call ‘terrorism’ — is justified, akin to self-defense, a legitimate ‘resistance to occupation’.

At least, that’s the Western translation of their narrative, often dressed up in neo-colonial theory in which the ‘colonized’ are justified in resisting the ‘colonizers’ by any means (academics particularly eat this nonsense up).

Probably in Arab minds it is more like “they took our land and our honor, and we will get it back by killing them, especially the children they value so much.” That might be a little raw for Western sensibilities.

Visit Fresno Zionism.

Vic Rosenthal

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/fresno-zionism/murder-by-rock-throwing-is-still-murder/2013/04/03/

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