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October 21, 2016 / 19 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘voice’

The Day After Tomorrow

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

I had a much better day today at the President’s conference than I did yesterday. The reason is actually quite simple. I stayed away from the political panels, and instead met with interesting people one-on-one.

Who needs or wants to hear Dennis Ross’s tired proposal of paying Settlers to leave the West Bank for Peace? Maybe, if he had instead said that someone should pay the Arabs to leave Judea and Samaria for Peace he could have been interesting.

And not surprisingly, there were plenty of other people at the conference who had the same idea. They were turned off by the overt left-wing bias of many of the panels and panelists and decided to instead congregate in the various meeting lounges for healthier debates.

During the day I bumped into Stanley Fischer, and thanked him for his contribution to our stable economy. Raanan Gissin and I schmoozed about Social Media and Revolution. Though I admit I found myself surprised when he mentioned Stalin and Marx and wondered what they could have done if they had had Twitter. I told Raanan they did enough damage without it.

I spent part of the afternoon with many of the well-known bloggers and twitterers I’ve met over the years.

But the highlight of my day was the time I spent with Irwin Cotler. We spoke on record for an hour, and talked more after that. And we’re far from done talking.

I found in Cotler an unparalleled advocate for Israel. A man who can argue and put Israel’s position into perspective with incredible clarity, backed up not only by his intellect and knowledge, but also his record and actions.

He was like a voice in the wilderness.

We covered subjects from Human Rights organizations, the new anti-Semitism, the UN, Apartheid, and the Infiltrators. We talked about his family in Israel, and if he would make Aliyah. The stimulating two-way conversation will be getting its own well-deserved, stand-alone article.

The President’s conference does have what to offer, but it comes from the people you’ll meet in the many lounges and hallways, not from the slanted content you’ll to hear on many of the panels.

And if I might add, the food is excellent in the VIP lounge – if you can get in there.

Stephen Leavitt

To Polish A Diamond

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

Rav Ezriel Tauber says that a husband and wife are like two rough diamonds. A rough diamond can become a priceless, pure jewel, but only if another diamond is used to remove the impurities. So HaKadosh Boruch Hu puts together two perfectly matched rough diamonds. He makes sure that they have their little differences. The friction from these differences scrapes away at their impurities so they gradually become multi-faceted, pure, shining jewels.

However, when the differences go deep, when the problems – perhaps temper, perhaps criticism, perhaps lack of help – rock the shalom bayis, then the scraping and rasping of those two diamonds can often be too much to bear. Trying to “dig out” either spouse’s “impurity” without an anesthetic is hardly likely to decrease the pain.

There may be another way to purify the diamonds. Perhaps a solvent where the couple joins forces to dissolve the problem might do the trick.

So let’s imagine a couple and hear what they may say:

WIFE: I tried so hard the other day. I got up at 5:30. I slipped out of bed as quietly as I could and left the room on tiptoes so as not to wake my husband. I dressed, davened and made everybody his or her lunches. Then I heard the children stirring. All their clothes were ready, so I popped my head into their room and said, “Come on children, time to get up. Off you go to do neggel vasser and then you can get dressed.”

My bed wetter had wet his bed. I calmly stripped his bed and said, “Well, tonight you can try again.” I was so pleased with myself for not getting angry. My dreamer was still sitting on his bed singing to himself, lost in some imagining game. “Come on,” I said, “it’s time to start dressing for school.” On the way to the washing basket with the wet sheets, I heard the rumblings of a children’s squabble. I dropped the sheets and dashed to the bedroom to prevent a full fledge war. My husband also heard and came in, rubbing his sleepy eyes. “What are these wet sheets doing in the middle of the hall? I could have tripped over them! Why can’t you keep the children quiet for the few extra minutes I have before it’s time to get up for minyan?”

I kept my mouth shut tight. I was not going to answer back. I was not going to let that larva stream of angry defensiveness pour out of my mouth in burning words and accusations. I tried encouraging the children to get dressed but my message came out all wrong. My voice was too loud and my words sounded more like demands and commands than encouragement.

“There you go again shouting at the children. Why can’t you make our mornings a happy, fun time?”

“Stop it!” I screamed. “Stop criticizing me in front of the children!” I ran to my room, took a deep breath, wiped my streaming eyes, and promised myself that I would calm down and make another try for a good start to the day.

“Come on kids. If you hurry up then I’ll have time to read to you before the school bus comes.”

I did it. I really did try again.

“I want my book,” piped up the oldest.

“No, I want the crocodile book.”

Meanwhile my “dreamer” was still singing away and all the neat piles of clothes had been thrown haphazardly on the floor.

“How do you expect the children to find their clothes in this chaos?” was my husband’s “helpful” comment.

I lost it, lost it, LOST IT! “Stop criticizing me. I’ve been up since 5:30 getting everything ready for all of you. I tried to quiet the children. I dropped those wet sheets in a vain attempt to stop their squabbling. I…”

“That’s half your trouble, you’re over tired. You should get more sleep.”

“There you go again! Will you please listen to me…?”

The children shook into their clothes. They came to breakfast and the silence was deafening. Not a word from anybody. They silently left for school. I gave each of them an unresponded to kiss and told them I loved them.

Batya Jacobs

The Man Who Would Not Swear

Friday, April 27th, 2012

“You shall not swear in the name of the Lord,” says the Torah. This is true even if what one is saying is the truth.

There once was a rich man who never swore during his entire life. When he was on his deathbed he summoned his son and said, “My son! You must never swear, whether it be the truth or a lie. The reason that I am so rich is because I have never profaned G-d’s name by swearing. The Almighty, seeing how careful I was in not swearing, made me successful in all my undertakings.”

The son answered, “Father! I promise that I will be careful and not swear.”

After the father passed away, swindlers came to the son and said, “You owe us a lot of money. Your father had borrowed money from us and never repaid it. Now you have to pay it back!”

The son, taken aback, answered, “That is a lie!”

The swindlers hauled him to the courthouse where he was ordered to swear.

The bewildered son thought, “If I swear, I will be profaning G-d’s name and I will also break my promise to my father.”

The son thereupon gave all of his possessions to the swindlers. The vicious swindlers eagerly accepted the money but then informed him that they were still short 10 gold coins. This the poor son did not have.

The swindlers then said, “Pay us the 10 gold coins that you owe us or swear that you have no money left with which to pay it.”

The son answered, “I didn’t swear before and I won’t swear now!”

The swindlers then imprisoned him, saying, “You will remain in prison until your debt is paid.”

Wife Abducted

The son’s wife, a righteous woman, was too embarrassed to ask for help. So she would take other people’s clothes to wash and with the money she would earn she would support and feed the small children and her husband, who was being held in prison.

One day the wife and her little children were at the river washing clothes when a large ship passed by. When the ship’s captain saw how hard she worked, he called out to her, “Wash my clothes for which I will pay you a gold coin.”

The young wife, who needed just one more gold coin to free her husband, took the coin and gave it to her children to hold. She began to do the captain’s wash when suddenly the captain abducted her and took her aboard his ship. He then ordered the ship to leave.

Her children, who were standing nearby, were shocked at the kidnapping of their mother and began to scream and cry.

Realizing that their crying was to no avail, they quickly returned to the town and freed their father with the gold coin.

They then told their father about what had happened to their mother, “Mother was kidnapped by the captain of a ship who was headed out toward the sea.”

The man looked up to the heavens and cried, “Blessed be the Name of the Almighty, King of kings. I have been left without any belongings and without any support. Creator of the world, please be merciful towards me and my small children.”

Afterwards, he took his children to the seashore where he began to build a small boat. He then placed a sail upon the boat and he set out on the sea where he traveled until he reached a foreign land.

In this strange land, the man became a shepherd, leading flocks of sheep for people. Meanwhile, the other children, who were left behind on the river shore, sat and cried. A passing ship, noticing them, took them as prisoners.

One day, the devout man sat by the shore of a river that contained poisonous snakes and sharks. He reminisced how, at one time, he was rich and now he had so many hardships and was poor. He raised his voice in a plea, “Creator of the world! I have been left without a wife, without children, without money and there is no one who has mercy on me. You know that death is better than such a life.”

He then wanted to throw himself into the water. Suddenly, a voice rang out and said, “Fear not my son. A treasure lies here for you to take. It has been buried here for many years. You will become rich again because you have refrained from swearing. It is also pleasing that you have kept your promise to your father.”

The voice then told him where this treasure was located. With the gold and silver, he hired workers who built huge houses and large cities, and he became a king. With its vast riches, he was able to find his wife and children, whom he redeemed. He aided the poor and was beloved by all.

Rabbi Sholom Klass

The Redemption

Friday, April 6th, 2012

In the land of Midyan there lived a pagan priest, Yisro, who was greatly respected by his people. He worshiped idols of stone and wood and so did his countrymen.

But Yisro was not a fool. Indeed he was a clever and analytical thinker, and he soon came to the conclusion that his worship of these idols was futile and foolish. They were not really gods, he saw, and so he called his people together and said:

“My people, I have a very important message to tell you, and I would like you to listen very carefully. I have grown old and I can no longer worship and lead you in the worship of all these gods.

“I call upon you, therefore, to please choose some other man to be your priest. Choose a younger and stronger man, and allow me to retire in my remaining years.”

People Angry

But the people understood Yisro’s real reason for wishing to step down as their priest, and they grew angry.

“Cursed be the man who befriends Yisro and who helps him do his work and who shepherds his flocks!”

Thus was Yisro ostracized, and his life became difficult. However, since he had seven daughters, he called then in and said:

“Since we have no one who is willing to help us any longer, you must become shepherds and take care of our flocks.”

But the people of Midyan would not even allow this, and they made it a point to drive away the daughters of Yisro when they appeared at the well to take water for their flocks.

It was at just such a moment that Moshe, the son of Amram, who had been raised in Pharoh’s palace, suddenly appeared on the scene. He saw the shepherds chasing away the young girls, and he felt sorry for them. He came forward and drove away the bullies, thus allowing the girls to draw water for their flocks.

And the Almighty looked down and saw what Moshe had done.

“Because Moshe did such a thing,” He said, “and because he had pity on strange girls, he shall now be called the servant of the Lord, and the people of the world shall know that My servants are good to all and that their mercies are on all the creatures of the Lord.”

The Sin

And the daughters of Yisro rushed home to their father and excitedly told him about the incident.

“Father,” they exclaimed, “an Egyptian saved us from the shepherds who tried to drive us away from the well.”

Moshe stood outside the home and heard the words of the daughters of Yisro. He did not, however, come forward to correct their mistake.

Because of this, the Almighty said: “Because Moshe did not object to being called an Egyptian, because he did not call out and say that he was a Hebrew, therefore will he not be privileged to enter the Land of the Hebrews, and his bones will not be buried there.”

Thrown Into Prison

When Yisro heard his daughters’ words, he asked them:

“If this man did such a good thing for you, why did you not invite him in to eat? Go, get him.”

And so Moshe was brought into the house of Yisro, and they spoke.

“I am a Hebrew and I come from Egypt,” said Moshe, who then told Yisro all that had befallen him.

Yisro listened carefully to all that Moshe told him and thought to himself:

“Can this be? Can a man who has comfort and wealth give it all up for principle and ideals? I cannot believe such a thing. Surely, there was some evil action that he did. I will have him thrown into prison until the Egyptians send for him.”

And so, Moshe was seized and thrown into a deep and dark pit. There he remained for years and would have surely died of hunger if not for Tzipporah, the daughter of Yisro, who would come secretly every day and feed him. Yisro knew nothing of this, and put Moshe out of his mind.


One day Tzipporah approached Yisro. “Father,” she said, “Ten years ago, you placed the man Moshe in the pit. You ordered all to refrain from feeding or giving him drink. Why do you not send one of the servants now to see if he still lives?”

Yisro looked at his daughter in astonishment and said:

“You speak foolishly, daughter, How is it possible for a man who had not eaten for 10 years to live?”

His daughter persisted, however, and Yisro went to the pit where he had placed Moshe. Looking down into the dark hole, he was astonished to see Moshe, standing and praying to G-d for deliverance. He was dirty and haggard, but he was alive.

“It is a miracle!” cried Yisro. “He is still alive after all these years without food and water.”

Rabbi Sholom Klass

‘On the Rerouted Train’

Friday, March 9th, 2012

The sudden jerk of the train woke Rena up with a start. She blinked a couple of times realizing she was still on the subway. Her head was pounding from the roar of the tracks. She adjusted her headphones letting the music echo heavily in her ears. Rena closed her eyes again trying to ignore the headache which just wouldn’t go away. She scanned the train car mindlessly. The lone guitarist stringing at his guitar grateful for every penny thrown into his hat; the mother trying to calm her restless children; the punk rocking to his music blasting so loud for all the train to hear. The teenagers boisterously arguing. Rena looked back down at her darkly painted fingernails noticing the chipping nail polish. She took a deep breath as she switched the song on her I-pod and ran her fingers through her long straightened hair, noticing it was beginning to get oily, yearning for a warm shower.

Closing her eyes again, images kept creeping back into her mind. Her brother’s scared face… She tried pushing away the expression on his face when he walked into the bathroom and saw her holding the pills. She tried pushing away the image of her father’s anger. She tried closing her eyes to her mother’s tears. Rena fidgeted with her I-pod trying to blast the music to flood out all her thoughts. But still, between the drumbeats she heard her brother’s confused tone saying her name over and over.

“Rena…Rena!” his tone was surprised. His tone was afraid. His eyes spelled confusion. He slowly let his fingers fall from the door knob as he backed away muttering, “Rena you’re kidding right?”

She shuddered as she remembered her uncontrolled reaction. Slamming the door violently. Screaming for him to leave. It all kept creeping back at her. The loud flush of the toilet, the pills swirling down away forever. Sitting on the hard subway seat, Rena buried her face in her knees trying to block out the sounds of yelling, the endless phone calls, the endless stares from her neighbors and friends. How did she mess it all up? She asked herself over and over. But as she thought of that she heard her mother asking the same.

“Rena what happened? Rena what was wrong? Why did you do this?” And somehow as her mother’s pained voice banged at her mind dripping in guilt, she couldn’t pinpoint a specific answer.

The train came to a sudden screeching stop. Rena looked up, staring at her blank reflection in the subway window. The dark eyeliner outlining her eyes was beginning to run. Loose strands of hair hung in her face blocking her pained eyes. Again she looked around the car noticing the confusion on everyone’s faces. She lowered her music and suddenly heard the conductor announcing, “Ladies and gentlemen, we are sorry for the inconvenience but the M train is being rerouted to the A line. For the M train please transfer at the next stop.”

Rena glanced at the map trying to figure out how exactly she would get to her destination now. Annoyed she looked at the rest of the passengers whose feelings were visible on their faces.   She tried figuring out which train to transfer to as she began thinking about how crazy it made everyone when one train was rerouted. One train off its tracks. One train off the planned route. It messes everyone up. And slowly the stops on the map all came clear. She was on the wrong route.

Rena bit her lip as suddenly she saw her reflection differently. She saw herself as a lost train. Her dripping eyeliner. Her chipped nail polish. Her short skirt. She ran her fingers through her hair nervously as she approached the chassidishe woman sitting with a bunch of children. Pulling out her head phones and tugging at her skirt Rena took a deep breath and anxiously asked, “Excuse me.”

The chassidishe women looked up at her curiously and nodded. “I’m trying to get to Boro Park,” she asked bravely. She made up her mind. She would reroute her train too. The women furrowed her eyebrows and tried explaining which train to take. Rena thanked her and as she got off the train she fished for her phone in her bag full of open candy wrappers and endless packages of gum. Stepping outside onto the sidewalk the sun blinded her in her realization. She turned her phone back on ready to face the phone calls and texts. Sliding the touch screen she dialed her home number, her heart pounding with every ring. The phone to her ear, she slowly started walking down the street, each step feeling heavier and heavier. The rings seemed to go on forever and Rena bit on her nail waiting for someone to pick up.

Alti Bukalov

Councilman: Down with ‘Super Jewish’ Senate Seat

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

NY1 News reports that Councilman David G. Greenfield (D-Brooklyn) is about to denounce the creation of the so-called Super Jewish state Senate seat, merging portions of six senate districts into one. Greenfield will argue that the Senate district lines as currently proposed will dilute the voice and power of Borough Park and Midwood. Greenfield will call on the Governor to veto any redistricting lines that include a so-called “Super-Jewish” district.

“Let’s be clear, this is not a Super Jewish district but rather a Super Ghetto district that if allowed to remain in place will cause the Jewish community to lose multiple voices in Albany,” Greenfield said, according to Yeshiva World News. “That will mean less services, less funding and less political power for America’s largest Jewish community right here in Brooklyn. Quite frankly, it will be very easy for the political establishment to marginalize the one senator representing the entire Jewish community. Right now we have six senators representing the Jewish community, and to go to one simply makes no sense. We need at least two, if not three senators, to maximize the community’s political power. That’s why I urge the Governor to recognize this proposal for what it is – backroom politics at its worst – and to veto it.”

Jewish Press News Briefs

Syrian Deputy Oil Minister Defects to Rebel Forces

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

CNN reports that a man identifying himself as Abdo Hussam el Din, the country’s Deputy Oil Minister, announced in a video posted on YouTube that he was defecting from the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

“I am joining the revolution of this noble people who will not accept injustice,” the man says in Arabic. “I’ve been part of this government for 33 years and I have acquired many titles, and I do not want to retire serving the crimes of this regime.”

The man in the video appears to be the same as man pictured on the government’s oil website, which says he was appointed deputy oil minister in August 2009.

“I decided to join the voice of the righteous despite the notion that this regime will burn my house and harass my family and will invent many lies,” he states.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/syrian-deputy-oil-minister-defects-to-rebel-forces/2012/03/08/

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