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December 8, 2016 / 8 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘voice’

‘Jewish Voice for Peace’ Rallies Against Jewish Club Owner’s Right to Bar Anti-Israel Event

Monday, September 19th, 2016

A group of about fifty actors, playwrights and other theatrical types, led by the Jewish Voice for Peace, whose stated mission includes seeking “an end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem,” signed a letter protesting the cancellation of a Black Lives Matter benefit concert that had been scheduled for 9/11 at Feinstein’s/54 Below near Times Square in Manhattan.

Signatories include playwright Sarah Ruhl, singer Justin Vivian Bond, playwright Annie Baker, novelist Alice Walker, and actors Wallace Shawn, Tonya Pinkins and Kathleen Chalfant.

Back in 2013, Alice Walker’s speech at the University of Michigan was cancelled because of her views on Israel. Walker has likened Israel to the Jim Crow racist system she grew up with in the South. Kathleen Chalfant has been a long time supporter of BDS.

An email the club owners sent out to ticket buyers read, “The owners and managers … strongly believe in and support the general thrust of the goals and objectives of BLM. However, since announcing the benefit they’ve become aware of a recent addition to the BLM platform that accuses Israel of genocide and endorses a range of boycott and sanction actions.

“Feinstein’s/54 Below would have preferred to hold the concert in support of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, without endorsing or appearing to endorse the entirety of the Black Lives Matter organization and its platform, but we’ve found that a distinction is impossible for us to effect.

“As we can’t support these positions, we’ve accordingly decided to cancel the concert.

“We’re sorry about this unfortunate situation which has not dimmed our commitment to supporting social justice.”

The JVP letter willfully ignores the fact that the club owners have declared their support for the BLM agenda, but would not accept the movement’s recent turn against the Jewish State. Instead of acknowledging any American’s right to pick and choose his or her causes, the JVP letter states that the cancellation “both undermines the visionary leadership of the Movement for Black Lives and contributes to the institutionalized silencing of advocates for Palestinian human rights. … We call on theater venues, artists, and supporters in New York City and beyond to proudly support the Movement for Black Lives and its inspiring solidarity with the Palestinian people.”

Chalfant told the NY Times she was “very distressed to discover that, in order to support one movement I thought was important, there was some kind of peculiar political test.” But, in fact, that’s precisely what the benefit organizers were demanding of the club owners, that in order to host the pro BLM event, they had to reject their own pro-Israel views.

JNi.Media

RJC Applauding New Republican Jewish Voice in Congress

Saturday, August 6th, 2016

Republican Jewish Coalition Executive Director Matt Brooks on Friday released a statement congratulating David Kustoff on his primary victory, defeating 12 opponents to capture the Republican primary for Tennessee’s 8th Congressional district Thursday night, making him the projected successor of Rep. Stephen Fincher in Congress.

“David Kustoff’s victory last night is wonderful news, as it means there will be another strong Jewish Republican voice in Congress, joining our friend, Congressman Lee Zeldin,” Brooks said. “Our country needs more lawmakers like David and Lee, who will fight to roll back President Obama and Hillary Clinton’s disastrous foreign policies and stand up for our principles.”

Meanwhile, in the Tennessee 9th Congressional District, which includes a large portion of Memphis and its immediate suburbs, Democratic incumbent Steve Cohen won the primary vote by a whopping 86%. Cohen is projected to win the November general election in the Democratic district versus Republican Wayne Alberson and independent Paul Cook.

JNi.Media

The Voice Inside

Thursday, July 28th, 2016

“Pinchas, the son of Elazar, the son of Aharon HaKohen, appeased My anger against Bnei Yisrael by taking My revenge amidst them, and so I didn’t have to destroy them with My vengeance.” — Bamidbar 25:11

 

The pasuk tells us that because Pinchas defended the honor of Hashem, he was granted a “bris of shalom.” Sforno explains that as a result of this covenant of peace, Pinchas lived to an extraordinary age – far longer than was expected in his times. However, Sforno points out the reason for his longevity wasn’t supernatural, but rather because he was granted this bris.

Since he was given shalom, he was at peace with himself, and as a result he didn’t suffer the normal internal conflict that causes damage to our bodies. He therefore lived to an extremely old age.

Sforno explains, “All deterioration happens to the body because of conflict of the opposites.” In other words, all disease, infirmity, and weakening with age only occurs because of internal conflicts. Since Pinchas was granted peace, he had no internal battles; therefore, his body didn’t age and he lived hundreds of years.

The Body Was Made to Last Only So Long…

The difficulty with this understanding of the Sforno is that it negates our basic understanding of health. The reality is that humans age. The heart, the liver, and the pancreas were designed to function only for a given length of time. After that, they break down. Infirmities and weakness come naturally with old age. Arthritis, high blood pressure, and thickening of the arteries are a part of life. While the heart may be a remarkable living pump, the valves start to weaken with time, the muscle tissue begins to break down, and it deteriorates with age. So how can Sforno argue with our accepted understanding by stating “All deterioration happens to the body because of conflict of the opposites”?

The answer to this question is based on 20th century medical findings. Herbert Benson, M.D., Ph.D., was a professor of medicine at Harvard University in the 1960s when he stumbled upon an unusual phenomenon. He found that when a patient’s blood pressure was taken in his office, invariably it was higher than when it was taken at home. His patients would regularly report blood pressure levels significantly lower than what was found in his office.

After careful study, he concluded that anxiety contributes to high blood pressure. Being examined by a doctor was causing his patients to be nervous, and that was contributing to the rise in their blood pressure.

While it may seem obvious to us today, at the time it wasn’t at all clear that there was a correlation between stress and high blood pressure. For decades, it was assumed a person’s mental condition had no effect on his physical condition. Any reported effects of stress and anxiety on health were taken as psychosomatic or imagined.

Benson’s discovery led him to firmly establish the correlation between stress and high blood pressure, and he became a pioneer in a new field of medicine: the relationship between mind and body. Since those times, it has become accepted in the medical community that stress causes a marked deterioration in a person’s health. Stress can bring about heart disease, gastrointestinal disorders, pain, insomnia, asthma, allergies, etc.

It is now widely accepted that along with diet and exercise, lowering of stress levels is a major contributor to a person’s overall health.

This is something Sforno taught us over 500 years ago. What he was saying was that Pinchas naturally lived for hundreds of years because the normal cause of deteriorating health didn’t apply to him. He wasn’t in conflict; he was at peace with himself, and as such, his body was healthier and able to live to an astonishingly advanced age.

The Ultimate Cause of Distress

This concept has major ramifications in our lives. When Hashem created man, He implanted into each of us an inner sense of right and wrong, a Voice Inside that allows us to know the correct course of behavior for each situation. More than simply a moral compass, this Voice Inside acts as our guide to self-perfection.

When a person listens to that voice, he lives a fulfilling, meaningful life as his Creator intended, and he is at peace with himself. If he chooses to ignore that voice, not only does he not grow to the heights for which he was destined, he lives in discord and conflict because the voice doesn’t give him any rest.

He didn’t ask for or choose that voice. He may no longer want it, but the voice is there, and speak it does – often against his wishes: Why are you living your life that way? Why aren’t you learning more? Why aren’t you davening like a mensch? What do you think you were put on this planet for?

Many times, the person may even want to scream at that voice, “Leave me alone! What are you – my rebbe or something?!” But the voice doesn’t stop. The person may ignore it for a while. He may squelch it, but it returns over and over, giving him no rest. If a person decides not to listen to that voice, one of the prices he pays is discord and inner conflict. He is at war with himself, and he suffers.

Hashem created the human to be healthy, happy, and to live a fulfilling life. If a person lives in accordance with the wishes of his Creator, not only does he grow as a person, he lives a peaceful, happy life. If, however, he chooses to ignore that path, not only does he fail to fulfill the purpose for which he was created, he suffers greatly in this world as well. He lives in discord with his inner sense and finds no peace, joy, or happiness.

 

To view Rabbi Shafier’s parsha video, click here.

Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier

Why Must Jewish Women Wear So Much Black and Gray?

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

So you and your husband get stranded on a deserted island. Your clothes are tattered. Everything besides what you’re wearing is lost at sea. You need to go shopping. No one is going to see you, but of course you’re going to need to dress tzniusdik and even in the spirit of the law regarding tznius.

In the distance you see a structure. As you come closer, you see that it is a building. You walk in and lo and behold it is an abandoned women’s clothing store. Not only that, but as you look through the clothing you realize that everything there is absolutely tznius and in style. WOW! This is like Gan Eden and it’s all free.

Be totally honest, which section of the store would you go to? Would the black and white with a few shades of grey section immediately catch your eye? Would you almost not be able to contain yourself with the mere thought of the fun of matching so many different shades of black?

How surprised would you be to find yourself more attracted to the section with a diverse selection of colors? Would you start getting creative with matching different colors and trying on all sorts of different combinations or would you stick to black and white and feel like that is perfect and a true reflection of yourself and your taste?

My hunch is that the majority of women would choose to look at all the different colors and try on numerous creative outfits until they find what they feel really suits them and fits their personality. I do also think that some women would go to the black and white and some shades of gray section. Not because they feel like they have to go there, but because they really like it. That is more than perfectly fine. But again, for most women I believe they would go to the colorful section.

So now I ask you; what section do you go to in the store when you go clothing shopping? Don’t answer that, but do ask yourself which sections you pass up that you really want to go to. So why are you going to the black and white with a few shades of gray section?

My wife tells me that black makes people look slimmer. Is that the reason? I can hear it, but I don’t think that’s the prevalent reason. Is it because of a tznius issue? I don’t think so. Unfortunately, my hypothesis is that you go to that section because everyone else is going to that section. If you were to go to the colorful section, you would stick out and not be part of the system any more. It has gotten to a point where many women have been doing this for so long that they can no longer even get in touch with the part of themselves that wants to wear something colorful.

Hashem created such a beautiful world. The Gemara says there is no artist like Hashem. Look at the way Hashem chose to express Himself in the world. It is so vibrant and full of color. Look at the trees, the animals and the birds. There is nothing more exotic, diverse and stunning. Even when creating people, Hashem was so colorful and creative. Every single person was created different with different tastes and personalities. Women were created with a sense for beauty and aesthetics. Men only get as far as feebly attempting to match a tie to their suit.

When you buy flowers for Shabbos, do you buy black and white flowers with some grey ferns? How would you sensitively tell your husband that the next time he buys you black and white flowers, he’s doing all the cooking for Shabbos? What colors do you choose for bar mitzvahs or weddings? How about furniture and carpets? How did you dress your daughter before she began dressing in black?

What made you switch from pinks and purples to dressing her in black on black with black shoes? Do you connect more to the joy of dressing her at a young age or to the way you have to dress her in 6th grade? It is truly amazing that wherever you turn, you’re choosing all different types of colors, but when it comes to clothing, your taste suddenly changes to black and white with a few shades of gray. Does this bother you?

Bezalel Perlman

The ‘Jewish Voice for Peace’ is Anti-Israel & Anti-Peace

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

The Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), classified as one of the ten worst anti-Israel organizations in the US by the Anti-Defemation League, partook in Harvard’s One State Conference, supports a Palestinian right of return, which remains the main obstacle to peace, and promotes the BDS Movement. According to a report published by NGO Monitor, they also seek to create a barrier between the American Jewish community and Israel with the goal of diminishing American support for the Jewish state. They work under the presumption that their Jewishness lends legitimacy to ideas that would otherwise not gain as much traction if uttered by a non-Jewish person.

As JVP Executive Director Rebecca Vilkomerson reiterated, “I think part of our job as the Jewish wing of the [Palestinian solidarity] movement, is to facilitate conversations inside the Jewish community… So, I think it’s very important to think sort of how we plan a wedge… So, I think that the more and more we can sort of put that wedge in, saying the Jewish community’s not agreeing on these issues, the more we’ll make progress.” Heike Schotten, an activist in Boston’s JVP Chapter, further explained, “Groups like Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) […] drive a wedge between Zionism and Judaism, demonstrating by their very existence that not all Jews are Zionists.

soda stream israel

One of the Jewish Voice for Peace’s recent initiatives is to urge Sur La Table to stop selling SodaStream, a product originating from an Israeli company operating out of Judea and Samaria. As United With Israel has previously reported, SodaStream builds bridges for peace by offering Palestinian Arabs high quality jobs that can provide them with a decent standard of living. Additionally, SodaStream produces an environmentally sustainable product that allows for soda to be produced inside ones home. Despite these facts, at a Jewish Voice for Peace demonstration, JVP activists chanted: “Occupation is not green! Stop selling SodaStream! Occupation is not green! Stop selling SodaStream!”

According the Anti Defamation League, “While JVP’s activists try to portray themselves as Jewish critics of Israel, their ideology is nothing but a complete rejection of Israel.”

PLEASE CONTACT SUR LA TABLE AND ENCOURAGE THEM TO CONTINUE SELLING SODASTREAM!

Visit United with Israel.

Rachel Avraham

The Other Caped Crusader

Friday, November 30th, 2012

I quit my full-time job eight months ago without another one to fall back on. In hindsight, it wasn’t one of my better decisions, but it was time for me to move forward. I was in a position that never quite suited me – like an ill-fitting pair of shoes that’s one size too small and rubs across the toes. Sure, a nagging thought called a recession cropped up from time-to-time before I resigned, but I was confident I would only be on the market for a few weeks, max. Armed with a new LinkedIn profile and a heaping dose of faith, I bid farewell to my boss and colleagues of six years to embark on my new journey.

The job hunt went well at first, until I realized my journey had taken me down a metaphorical six-lane highway, ejected me from the car, and thrown me down an embankment. I lay among the debris, moaning. I managed to crawl back up, only to lie down in the middle of the highway as traffic barreled down on me. And I stayed there – unemployed – for months. I began arguing with God. “How could you do this to me?” I howled. “I’m a good person. I don’t deserve this.” I was greeted with silence.

Echoes of the poem “Footprints” ran through my mind: “You promised me Lord that if I followed you, you would walk with me always. But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life there have only been one set of footprints in the sand. Why, when I needed you most, have you not been there for me?” More silence.

I rolled over on the now jam-packed highway to confirm that my super-hero cape –emblazoned with the word “righteous” on the back – was still firmly affixed to my neck. It was. I could not make any sense as to why God had not yet sent me a rental car to get me back on my journey. I reasoned perhaps He was waiting for some additional prayers. “Fine,” I thought. “Let’s get this over with.”

“Please God,” I began. “Please send me a new job. I have always been a good servant to You. I am honest and ethical and I call my mother almost every day.” Silence. I needed a different tack. “The emotional and financial toll of my unemployment on my family is heartbreaking,” I pleaded. “They shouldn’t suffer because You haven’t sent me a new job.”

There was an angry silence – but this time, it was mine.

That was it. All bets were off. I was fuming. I had no choice but to officially declare war on God. I would not speak to Him unless spoken to – and since that seemed rather unlikely given the chilly reception I had been receiving – I decided from that moment forward, we would maintain separate lives and living quarters. I stopped davening. I stopped hoping. I cursed my fate and my belief system, angry at being punished. I began an accounting of all the things that had gone wrong in my life and found God sorely lacking. But I was not ready to admit defeat. I would not let God off the hook for abandoning me in my time of need.

And from the rubble that was now my life, a calm voice – one of reason – suddenly emerged. “You can’t lie down across a six-lane highway and expect to be saved,” God said. “But the cape,” I said, my voice trailing off. “What about the cape? Did you see it? I’m a righteous individual, a good person,” I argued. “I know I haven’t given much to charity lately, but what do you expect when you refuse to send me a new job?”

“Roll over,” God said. I did. “The other side,” God instructed. And there it was on my cape. “Self” was inscribed just before the word “righteous.”

I was embarrassed. There it was for all to see – like the Scarlet Letter. I had been self-righteous and pompous and I had to own my mistakes. “I sinned against you,” I told God. “I failed in my journey of faith.”

Allison C. Witty

The Sensitivity Of A Tzaddik

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

When Yaakov met Rachel at the well, he experienced conflicting emotions. He felt tremendous joy at having finally met his bashert, yet he raised his voice and cried. Rashi explains that he cried because he came empty-handed. He said, “My father’s servant came with ten camels laden with gifts and finery, and I come with empty hands.”

Rashi goes on to explain why Yaakov didn’t bring a gift for Rachel. When Yaakov found out that Eisav was plotting to kill him, he fled from his father’s home. Eisav sent his son Alifaz to chase down Yaakov. Alifaz was a tzaddik, and when he approached Yaakov he said, “I can’t kill you because you are an innocent man. On the other hand, what will be with the command of my father?” Yaakov said to him, “A poor man has the halachic status of a dead man. Take my money, and it will be considered as if you killed me, so on some level you will have fulfilled your father’s words.”

As a result, Yaakov came to the well empty-handed. When it was time to propose to Rachel, he didn’t have the gifts that would be expected, and so he raised his voice and cried.

This Rashi becomes difficult to understand when we focus on who these people were. The Avos may have walked the same planet as do you and I, but they lived in a very different orbit. Their every waking moment was occupied by thoughts of Hashem. They lived and breathed to attain closeness to Hashem. That was the focus of their lives and existence. It was the only thing that mattered to them.

For many years, Rachel knew she was to marry Yaakov and be a matriarch of the Jewish people. You have to assume that when she finally met her bashert, she was overcome with joy. Here was the man she had waited for. Here in front of her was this great tzaddik, the man of her dreams, offering to marry her so she could fulfill her destiny. Her very life’s ambitions and desires were now coming to fulfillment. It is hard to imagine that at that moment she was concerned about glitter and trinkets.

Yet Yaakov cried because he didn’t have a diamond ring to give her. The question is – why? All that Rachel really wanted was being delivered to her. If so, why did Yaakov cry?

It seems the answer is that the lack of gifts may not have bothered Rachel much but the bottom line is that it wasn’t respectful to her. When you come to your kallah, you bring her a gift. That is the way dignified people act. That is the way of the world, and it isn’t proper to come without a gift. On some level, it is treating her without the kavod due to her, and that caused Yaakov pain – so much pain that he raised his voice and cried.

Everyone Hungers for Recognition

This is a tremendous lesson to us because the people among whom we live aren’t on the level of Rachel. A slight to their honor causes them real pain. People will go to great lengths to protect their reputation and dignity because these things are very important to them. And for that reason we need to develop a real sensitivity to other people’s dignity and honor.

But this concept goes much further. The reality is that there are few people who get enough recognition and respect. We humans have many needs. We need food and drink, shelter and protection, friends and companionship – and most of those needs are met. The one need that that is almost never met is the need to be appreciated. It is something we hunger for, something basic to our success and vitality. Yet there is no store in which it can be bought, no marketplace in which it can be acquired. And a person often can go around with a deep hunger, not even realizing what is amiss.

One of the greatest acts of kindness I can do for another person is to treat him with honor. If I find your currency and can acknowledge you in that vein, I can give you that which you deeply crave – and it costs me nothing.

Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/the-sensitivity-of-a-tzaddik-2/2012/11/22/

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