Posts Tagged ‘vacation’
I’m back from a summer visit to Israel and processing the amazing experience. The Eretz Yisrael Movement Tour, as always, proved to be the perfect vehicle for exploring a country that is so much more than a vacation destination.
Despite ongoing torrents of negative worldwide negative publicity, Israel continues as a stable and steady environment – and the homeland and birthright of every Jew. For those who fear Israel is unsafe, I suggest they open their eyes and take a good look around. Israel, more than any other country, is ready to deal with the challenges that exist in the world today.
Our tour guide, Margalit Frydman, was the perfect escort. Margalit is equally adept at taking out a Tanach and quoting a relevant passage, discussing history, current events, and archeology – or encouraging her charges to participate in song and dance. Her obvious love and devotion to the land make the journey very special. Her upbeat attitude is contagious.
My family and I were blessed to travel the length and breadth of the Jewish state. We were in Tzefat, Tiberius, and the Kineret. We were in Tel Aviv, the Shomron, and the Jordan Valley. We were in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Gush Etzion, and Hebron. We were in the Negev and Beersheba.
It is truly humbling, as a Jew, to be able to stand at holy sites that had been inaccessible to us for two thousand years. I remember coming to Israel as a kid in 1965. There was no Jewish access to eastern Jerusalem, Har Habayit, or the Kotel. There was no Jewish access to Hebron and Kever Machpelah (the burial cave of the Patriarchs). There was no Jewish access to Bethlehem and the tomb of Rachel.
Unfortunately, as we went about our tour, a 13-year-old Israeli girl was stabbed to death in her bed in Kiryat Arba by a Palestinian terrorist and a father of ten was murdered in his car in an attack near Hebron. His wife and three family members were injured in the unprovoked drive-by shooting.
Is Israel a uniquely unsafe place to be or visit? The savage acts of Islamic extremism are not restricted to Israel. Recent events in France, Belgium, and many other locations including America can attest to the fact that the epidemic is worldwide.
On June 13, Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old American security guard, pledged allegiance to ISIS and then killed 49 innocent people and wounded 53 others in an attack in a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Orlando had in the past been associated with Disney World. Now it will forever be tainted by this carnage.
I found it quite ironic that the day before our group journeyed to Hebron, an Israeli man in a store asked me where I came from. When I replied that I lived in Florida, he was aghast. “Florida, it’s such a dangerous place,” he said. “They shoot you up in nightclubs and then the alligators snatch you!” He shook his head. He could not imagine why I allowed myself to live in such a menacing environment.
Don’t worry. Be happy. Go to Israel. Send your children. It is, indeed, home.Shelley Benveniste
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
EasyJet Airlines categorically denied having removed and separated Jewish passengers from the rest of the travelers on board a flight from Barcelona to Paris on May 1, in a statement to media on Monday by Andy Cockburn, the airline’s director of public relations.
“Flight EZY3920 from Barcelona to Paris Charles de Gaulle on 1 May 2016 with 180 passengers on board returned to the gate in Barcelona and was met by police due to a group of passengers behaving in a disruptive manner,” said Cockburn, as quoted by JTA in several Jewish publications.
“All passengers were asked to disembark at the request of the police so they could speak to a small number of passengers in order to investigate the incident…. [EasyJet] does not tolerate abusive or threatening behavior on board,” he added.
JewishPress.com and Cockburn exchanged phone calls numerous times on Monday but each time JP returned the call, Cockburn was unavailable or could not be reached. Messages were left on both sides and emails were exchanged as well, but contact was elusive.
Even if some passengers were “disruptive” it still is not clear why an entire flight was forced to disembark, nor why only the Jewish passengers were required to remain secluded for six hours in a separate section of the terminal under armed police guard, nor why their captors refused to answer their questions.
Cockburn’s contention that the Jewish passengers were separated at the request of the police so they could be questioned under investigation does not make much sense, unless the police were only probing Jews. However, the spokesperson’s final comment that the airline “does not tolerate abusive or threatening behavior on board” seems to imply that Jews were behaving in an abusive or threatening behavior on board prior to takeoff.Hana Levi Julian
There is nothing like Chol Hamoed in Israel. There are two major holidays in Judaism that have what is considered a “holy” day at the beginning and a “holy” day at the end, with what is referred to as the “intermediary” days being considered as…wait for it…half-holy. What this means is that the first and last days are like the Sabbath – we don’t drive, use electricity, phones, computers, etc. and have special prayers. These two holidays are Sukkot and Passover (Pesach). The intermediary days are called Chol HaMoed and while you are allowed to drive, use electricity, phones, etc. it is considered holiday-like and hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions, of Israelis take vacation and take to the parks, the beaches, the streets.
It isn’t about shopping; it’s about just relaxing. Some families go different places every day; others use the time to catch up on resting and just doing nothing. Yesterday, we went north.
For once, I’ll use pictures to speak, rather than words. It was an amazing day…
By Jonathan Benedek/TPS
Tourism Minister Yariv Levin and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon presented a national plan earlier on Wednesday, November 11 that aims to reduce vacationing costs in Israel.
“We are jointly presenting today a broad national program that, for the first time, deals with the core issues of tourism and creates a historical procedure which, according to professional sources, will reduce the cost of vacationing in Israel by about 20% over five years,” explained Tourism Minister Yariv Levin. “This is a step that will be felt in the pocket of each and everyone of us.”
As part of the plan introduced by Ministers Levin and Kahlon, approximately 15,000 hotel rooms will be built over the next five years and 27,000 hotel rooms over the next ten years. The increase in the number of hotel rooms is meant to increase competition, helping to reduce vacation costs by about twenty percent.
Additionally, hotels will be considered “national infrastructure,” allowing for the approval process of hotel construction by the National Infrastructure Committee, to be much more fluid and quick.
In particular, the plan seeks to make an easier business environment for entrepreneurs in the hotel industry. “The program will ensure that entrepreneurs will not be forced to go through the bureaucratic ordeals, and the construction of a hotel in Israel will no longer be a dream,” Levin said.
The plan also attempts to minimize risk for entrepreneurs. Independent local committees for example, will be able to approve up to 20% of hotel rights for residential purposes, helping to reduce risk assumed by entrepreneurs in a hotel project.
“We are providing an answer and a solution to entrepreneurs and investors from Israel and overseas that, until now, have been prevented from investing in hotels in Israel, and we are reducing the economic risk inherent in investment,” explained Levin pointing to the potential benefits for entrepreneurs.
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, Chairman of the Kulanu Party echoed Minister Levin’s remarks. “Strengthening the tourism sector in these times in particular is in the national interest,” said Kahlon.
“Shortening the procedures for planning and construction in the industry joins the other initiatives in the housing market that we are leading, by removing the obstacles and reducing unnecessary bureaucracy,” continued Kahlon. “We will continue to work to increase competition, reduce the cost of living and ease the lives of citizens in all spheres of life.”
Bureaucratic hurdles and a shortfall of hotel rooms pushed Ministers Levin and Kahlon to initiate reforms in the hotel industry. Despite the construction of approximately 3,000 new hotel rooms in Israel over the last decade, the cost for overnight hotel accommodations increased by about 70% over the same time period.
The national plan aims to match supply with increasing demand and is scheduled to be presented for government approval on Sunday, November 15.TPS / Tazpit News Agency