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August 30, 2014 / 4 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘way’

Sen. Leahy: Obama Secretly Suspended Egypt Military Aid

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

The office of Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), head of the Appropriations State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee, told The Daily Beast that military aid to Egypt has been temporarily cut off.

“[Senator Leahy’s] understanding is that aid to the Egyptian military has been halted, as required by law,” said David Carle, a spokesman for Leahy.

If it’s done as required by law, why is the U.S. government keeping it a secret that it believes the regime change in Egypt was a military coup? If it is, indeed, temporarily suspending most of the military aid to Egypt, where is the public announcement that we don’t send money to governments that were installed by a coup?

After skewering Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hard—through the good services of the NY Times—for his attempts to preserve stability in Egypt and the integrity of the peace treaty, now the administration is attempting to punish the naughty Egyptian generals, but without making a big deal out of it.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki was asked on Monday about the suspended aid, and told reporters the aid is not officially suspended.

I suppose the Egyptians can use the officially unsuspended aid money the same way Israelis can live in the officially unfrozen homes in East Jerusalem…

“After sequestration withholding, approximately $585 million remains unobligated. So, that is the amount that is unobligated,” Psaki said.

I looked up “unobligated” and means funds that have been appropriated but remain uncommitted by contract at the end of a fiscal period. In other words, an I keep, you don’t get kind of relationship.

“But it would be inaccurate to say that a policy decision has been made with respect to the remaining assistance funding,” Psaki clarified.

In other words, I keep, you don’t get, but it’s not forever.

The Daily Beast quotes two Administration officials who explain it was the government lawyers who decided it would be more prudent to observe the law restricting military aid in case of a coup, while not making a public statement that a coup had taken place.

Bret Stephens, a deputy editorial page editor of The Wall Street Journal, wrote on Monday (A Policy on Egypt—Support Al Sisi):

“What’s realistic and desirable is for the military to succeed in its confrontation with the Brotherhood as quickly and convincingly as possible. Victory permits magnanimity. It gives ordinary Egyptians the opportunity to return to normal life. It deters potential political and military challenges. It allows the appointed civilian government to assume a prominent political role. It settles the diplomatic landscape. It lets the neighbors know what’s what.”

By taking the opposite approach, making it harder for the new Egyptian government to bring the internal conflict to a conclusion, the Obama Administration is promoting and prolonging chaos in yet another country. Which is why, I suspect, Senator Leahy has spoken to the Daily Beast in the first place, to stop this blind march over the cliff.

Middle East analyst Brian Katulis from the Center for American Progress, told the Beast he thought the Administration was “trying to maintain maximum flexibility,” but he suggested that this horse is long out of the barn. “Egypt’s struggle has become so intense, polarized, and violent, and I worry that no matter what move the United States makes now, the competing power centers in Egypt might continue down the dangerous course they’ve headed.”

Unless, of course, the U.S. is making clear, with loud noises and a light show, that it supports stability in Egypt, and in order to hasten new elections, it will not suspend military aid to Egypt. In fact, with its financial and military might, the U.S. will do everything it can to restore stability and democracy in Egypt.

But that would require President Obama to get over the insult of the Egyptian nation ignoring his wishes and dethroning his favorite Muslim Brother president.

The Collective Jew

Monday, August 19th, 2013
I keep trying to make this point to show what I believe is the unique Israel. In the last few weeks, three incidents have happened that once again reinforce what I have known all my life. Am I wrong to believe there is no other country in the world that would do these things?

Here’s the first amazing story:

A young cancer patient on the way to the US with a bunch of other sick kids can’t find her passport.

With no other choice, the young girl was removed from the plane and the plane prepared to depart after a fruitless search on the plane, in the airport, everywhere. Minutes before takeoff, while the plane was taxiing to the runway, they found the passport in another child’s backpack.

Too late, no? The stewardess told the pilot – the pilot radioed the tower and was given permission to turn back. The story appears here.

As the child cried, so too did people on the plane – and the stewardesses, and people on the ground. Amazing.

And the second story…

David Finti is 19 years old. He is a Romanian Jew. While boarding a train, David was electrocuted and severely burned. The local Jewish community contacted the Jewish Agency. They recognize the collectivism of our people just as on the Israeli side it was recognized as well. And so, Israel flew the young man to Israel, making him an Israeli citizen so that he could get critical care free of charge. David and his parents were flown to Israel and are now at Hadassah’s Ein Kerem hospital. The story appears here.

Yet another story in the last few days has come to light. Israel recently managed to bring in another 17 Yemenite Jews – leaving 90 left.What amazes me is that we were able to bring another group here to Israel and more, that we know how many remain. We are watching, waiting, hoping to bring the last remnants of what was once a great community here to Israel.

It is what we do. Three stories of how Israel watches, Israel waits, Israel acts.

Visit A Soldier’s Mother.

Failing in Order to Succeed

Monday, August 19th, 2013

The rabbis teach that we can only truly understand Torah when we allow ourselves to fail at it (Gittin 43a). Unless we push ourselves to reach for deeper understanding, where we inevitably get it wrong before we can get it right, we will not grasp the very essence of the Jewish enterprise. Rashi here seems to think that it’s the public shame of getting it wrong (and the concomitant rebuke) that strengthens one’s intellectual rigor. It is not hard to think about giving constructive feedback (“rebuke”) when it comes to moral matters, but do we care enough about ideas that we (respectfully) challenge others when ideas are misinterpreted or misapplied? How much do we really value the marketplace of ideas and the assurance that we as individuals and as a society get it right?

History is full of examples of leaders who acknowledged that persistence in the face of failure was more important than individual failures. President Abraham Lincoln, whose army suffered many crushing defeats in the early years of the Civil War, said: “I am not concerned that you have fallen — I am concerned that you arise.” A century later, Robert F. Kennedy echoed the optimistic spirit of youth when he said, “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” Besides for being tragically assassinated, what these presidents have in common in that their causes lasted, their legacies carried on, and they are remembered as being among the greatest and most successful men to occupy the Oval Office.

Very often, one can be lured by the traps of conformism (just follow others’ ideas or practices) or isolationism (just follow one’s own marginal ideas and practices). Our job as Jews is to break free from these ploys for mediocrity. We must challenge ourselves and the status quo to reach higher by engaging with societal ideas but without blindly accepting them.

Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, the great-grandson of the Baal Shem Tov (the founder of the Chassidic movement) and founder and intellectual-spiritual leader in his own right, was anything but a conformist. He not only told his followers to be happy, but he also encouraged them to do silly things, highly unusual for a religious leader. Rebbe Nachman stated that each person had to fall in order to rise, and stressed the universality of this concept:

[E]ach person who fell … thinks that these words weren’t spoken for him, for he imagines that these ideas are only for great people who are always climbing from one level to the next. But truthfully, you should know and believe, that all these words were also said concerning the smallest of the small and the worst of the worst, for Hashem is forever good to all.

However, Rebbe Nachman went further, stating that it is “a great thing for a person to still have an evil inclination.” Even the tendency to evil could serve G-d, as people worked through these passions and eventually overcame them. To Rebbe Nachman, it seems, spiritual stasis is the only unacceptable path.

We must be willing to learn and debate with others. Ideas matter. Inevitably that will lead to some level of shame when we get it wrong, but the promise land afterwards is much greater. It offers a culture of more honest, informed, connected individuals who are willing to be vulnerable for the sake of truth and who are willing to be wrong in order to get it right. Our great rabbinic and presidential leaders wouldn’t have it any other way.

The Valero Tradition

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

Most couples establish their own routines. They have their own rhythms that may include where they eat, when they vacation, and what they read. My husband Lou and I are no different. We like to eat Israeli food on Tuesday nights and we usually order the same—shwarma for him, grilled chicken for me. Our regular waitress knows us so well that she brings us hummus and babaganoush as soon as we sit down. We love to see romantic comedies—but only at the discount theatre on Cedar Lane in Teaneck. In the winter, we vacation someplace warm—typically in the Caribbean. For every seven days we’re away, Lou plays golf three times. And, each Monday, in the summer, on our way home from the Catskills, we like to stop at the Velaro gas station in Monroe to eat eggs and drink coffee.

The Velaro tradition began in an unexpected way. My husband and I bought a new Volvo SUV that contains every safety feature known to mankind. As we were driving from Loch Sheldrake to Teaneck, the car apparently did not like the way Lou was driving. I was in heaven. I was thrilled that I had the good sense to buy a car that has a built-in high tech “wife” to nag him—taking the pressure off of me. In any case, the car suggested that he stop for a coffee break.

We pulled over at exit 130 on Rt. 17 and headed to Monroe for caffeine. I waited in the car for Lou to return with our drinks. But, about two minutes later Lou came out to the parking lot to get me. “You have to see this,” he said, and thus our Valero relationship was born. Inside, Lou directed me to the back right corner where there was a counter and we could purchase all manner of freshly made kosher food. The front of the building housed a convenient store with various packaged and frozen foods all sporting an OU. Gathered around were a handful of Satmar Chassidim eating soup and hot cereal. Not one to ever imagine myself actually eating in gas station, I decided that it looked clean and fresh and that I would give it a try. The other patrons were happy to recommend their Valero favorites to us.

The author’s husband, Lou

Now every week I make the same joke about Lou only “taking me to the finest places.” But, when he suggests we go straight home or that we go out to eat when we return to Teaneck, I always tell him that I prefer eating at the gas station. I spoke to the owner of Valero, who while preferring that I not use his name, did say “we have had kosher food at Valero for about six years. People come from far away for our vegetable soup with knaidlach.” When I asked him for the recipe, he coyly answered, “I can’t tell everyone everything…otherwise, why would they come? I can tell you this,” he confides, “we sell more sandwiches than we do beer.” And they are open six days a week – closed on Shabbosim and Yomim Tovim.

Ari, the counterman

Why has this ritual become so important to Lou and me? Well, the food is fantastic and Ari, the guy behind the counter, is the consummate Jewish mother type. He greets us with a smile, asks us about our week and then usually offers us a taste of something new he has concocted. This week, he wanted us to taste his Farina—too sweet for me. But, then he suggested preparing an omelet containing his freshly made potatoes and sautéed onions. I was in “eggcstasy.” They were hot, tasty and fresh. The potatoes were cooked perfectly and the onions were sweet and delicious. Sometimes we opt for an egg sandwich on a challah roll and other times we break into the lunch mode. We have tried salmon teriyaki, fresh tuna cakes, mashed potatoes, and veggie chulent (available beginning Wednesday afternoons) all with great success.

My Zaidy

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012

When I think of how to describe my Zaidy to someone who has never met him, I find myself at a loss. I don’t know how to put my grandfather’s presence into words in a way that will sufficiently describe the picture I have of him in my mind. The fact that my most vivid memories are from when I was quite young make the task no easier. He was, simply, “Zaidy.” Regardless of profession, history or future, he just was. His presence was one of the few things I was fortunate enough to take for granted as a little girl, in a way that marks the very sweetness and innocence of childhood – that I was important to the adults around me.

The memories I have of my grandfather are quite jumbled and out of order. He was very much the stereotypical grandfather, tall and thin, who I can easily imagine on the threshold of a country house, side by side with grandma, waiting to greet the grandchildren who are visiting for the weekend.

From the time I knew him; he had white hair and walked with a cane. He was a respectable figure, a successful stockbroker and active community member. Most important to me, however, was the grandfather figure he filled so well.

I have many fond memories of the lessons my grandfather would teach me, among them geography and basic multiplication. Other memories include the songs he would sing to me as I sat on his lap in the den, the coloring books he would buy for my sisters and myself, and the prayers he would say with us as he’d put us to bed when we slept over. I remember many early mornings when I’d wake up to the comforting sound of my grandfather going about his morning routine, which included the hum of his electric shaver and the newscaster’s voice from the radio. I remember the delight I felt when I met my grandfather on the avenue when I was out with my parents, and how important I felt walking home with him, hand in hand, while he taught me the meaning of the postal zip code.

From when I was quite young, my grandfather tried to teach me about the workings of the stock market, perhaps as a response to my asking him about his work. At five years old, I couldn’t quite understand any of it, and when he tried me again at eight years old I didn’t do much better. I have a vague memory of a family trip to the New York Stock Exchange, where my grandfather most likely gave the family a tour, or at least some explanations, which I just as likely didn’t understand.

Tied in with all the intellectual lessons I learned, or was meant to have learned from my grandfather if I could have understood at that age, are several stories, which, when put together, give me a vague sketch of my grandfather’s life.

My grandfather was born in Holland, where his parents had moved with their children for hope of greater financial opportunity than that which was available in their original hometown. When my grandfather was a young boy, the family moved again, from Holland to America, where they lived in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. I believe he worked at a local grocery or general store some time during his young adult years, after which he built himself up further with lots of hard work and some luck.

My grandfather had three siblings, all of whom I met, though one died when I was quite young. I am told that my mother brought me to see him when he was sick in the hospital, but I can’t clearly picture the scene. His sister and remaining brother both look somewhat like him, a resemblance I became more aware of after my grandfather died. It was quite a shock for me to notice that; seeing my great-uncle at a wedding ceremony of a cousin, looking like my grandfather – with the addition of a white beard. The closest my grandfather ever came to having a beard was when he was sick in the hospital at the end of his life, but that is not the image that first comes to mind when I think of my Zaidy.

Criticizing While Respecting

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012

Dear Dr. Respler:

My parents, who I love dearly, constantly contradict what I say to my children. They constantly interfere with the way my wife and I raise our children. For her part, my wife is very frustrated with this situation. What makes it harder for her, her parents live out of town while my parents live close by and are thus more involved with our children.

My mother is forever criticizing my wife, who is a wonderful mother and very caring and compassionate with our five beautiful children. My mother has a different view of how to raise children, and honestly, that makes we wish I had a mother more like my wife.

I struggle with low self-esteem, which my wife tries to bolster with her enormous love and sensitivity. I believe that my low self-confidence emanates from having critical parents who never complimented me.

My children are, Baruch Hashem, doing well in school. They have derech eretz, clearly showing that my wife’s childrearing techniques are working. My parents, conversely, are nervous people, and believe that children should be seen and not heard. They believe that we are wrong in not hitting our children. They are so critical that it drives us both crazy. I have spoken to them numerous times about not interfering in the way we raise our children and he last things I want to do is keep the children away from them.

We have spoken to our rav who has made it clear that while we do not have to accept their child-raising suggestions, we are obligated to respect them. Please help us with this challenging situation.

Frustrated

Dear Frustrated:

It appears that your parents need to control you in some manner and choose to do so through criticizing the way you raise your children. Critical people are often insecure and need to control others in order to bolster their own self-esteem. Is it possible for you to change the subject when your parents begin to criticize you? If their criticism persists, you can respectfully disagree by saying, “Mom, Dad, is it possible that even if you don’t agree with our childrearing techniques, you can respect our methods and not criticize us? We feel hurt when you constantly criticize the way we raise our children. It is also not healthy for the children to see this disagreement.”

In my professional practice, I see grandparents who were very strict with their own children and then undermine them when they are disciplining the grandchildren. This is incredibly in appropriate. It is only in situations where grandparents witness their children damaging their grandchildren in some way or, chas v’shalom, acting abusively or neglectfully toward them do they have the right to intervene. Even then, they should tread lightly to ensure that their interventions are taken the right way.

I support your efforts to respect and love your parents by not severing the important bond between them and their grandchildren. However, you must demonstrate derech eretz toward your parents when discussing with them their inappropriate, meddling behavior and when telling them that you do not want to ever be faced with the possibility of having to sever that very important bond. If your parents realize how serious you are, they will hopefully back off. Continue to be supportive of your wife by working with her in continuing the successful chinuch that you are giving your children.

As for hitting your children, I too do not generally believe in that technique. Sometimes, though, hitting young children gently in order to explain a point may be appropriate. A rav I once spoke to about hitting shared this perspective. The rav felt that American parents who generally hit their children do so in order to pacify their own frustrations, i.e., they hit to rid themselves of their self-anger.

Al pi halacha, we are not allowed to hit children when we are angry. Some tzaddikim were known to hit their children gently when they were not angry in order to teach them. Since we are not on their madreigah and we generally hit our children to alleviate our own frustrations, it is forbidden for us to do so.

Here is a beautiful story that I learned from Project Derech: The eight sons of Rav Shlomo Carlebach, a rav in Germany, all grew up to be rabbanim. Whenever one of his sons was late to minyan, his punishment was to not get jam on his toast. But Rav Carlebach also did not put jam on his own toast, to show the child that he felt his pain and would thus deny himself that eating pleasure as well. This level of childrearing is one that we should aspire to. If we deny ourselves of a small privilege and therefore share the pain with our children, they will be less likely to have punitive feelings toward us and will ultimately have a very deep regard for us, their parents.

Why Do Celebrity Marriages Fail?

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012

Not long ago, he was jumping on Oprah’s couch like a lovesick teen, and now Tom Cruise faces a bitter divorce with Katie Holmes. Why is it that when a couple seems to have everything: fame, fortune, health, and an adorable child, it doesn’t work? It’s enough to make everyone else hopeless. After all, if celebrities have everything and can’t make it, what are the chances for the rest of us?

Don’t worry. The very fact that they have it all is the very undoing of a good marriage.

Fame is dangerous to relationships for at least a couple of reasons. Most troubling is that it demands swaths of time away from each other, as seen by the divorce petition being served while Cruise is in Iceland on a shoot. My research of over 400 married women showed that the number one indicator of happiness in a marriage was the amount of time spent with one’s spouse. Women who were happily married reported spending a daily average of over 30 minutes of uninterrupted time talking to their man. Unhappy women reported a daily average of less than 30 minutes and 24% of those unhappy reported that they spent less than five minutes a day talking to their husbands.

It should come at no surprise that consistent time is necessary to sustain a happy marriage. All relationships need time and consistency. We need to keep up with each other’s lives, look into each other’s eyes, be in the same physical space to feel the mood and emotions from each other. Without that, we might love each other, but staying “in love” demands much more than occasional get-togethers where we catch up. You would never say to your six-year-old for example, “Hey, can’t wait to catch up but right now I’m finishing a project. I can’t wait to talk about first grade and catch up in a month or two.”

Celebrities seem content with the understanding that their work schedule will take them away from each other for long periods of time. However, it is a simple recipe for disaster.

The next problem of having “everything” is the inability to define what is your “couple culture.” A marriage needs to have a sense of meaning and a way to grow together – there needs to be a purpose to the union. Rarely do couples actually discuss what they want their culture to be. Rather, it generally forms as immense collective energy is thrown into career and/or family building. But when you have it all and it seems to come easy, couples often lose their way and life becomes a quick, steady path of self-indulgence.

The individuals no longer truly “need” the other to live happily. Instead, they just like being together. Yet, a couple needs to feel that life without the other is quite impossible. If a spouse does not feel a need to have the other in his or her life on a daily basis, that is a short step away from separation. After all, once separated, what have you truly lost? If you have been living your goals and dreams largely through your own strength and ability, then being married has become the spice instead of the main course.

The beauty of a Torah marriage is in the need for the other person in order to develop the very soul of both spouses. We cannot survive and grow as Hashem intended unless we work to make our marriage meaningful in and of itself. The marriage must be identified by the action it is taking as a collective force to better our world.

For your couplehood, make sure that you are spending regular consistent time with your spouse. Be sure that you are able to chat about the day and talk about things other than the stresses of life. Remind each other what you are building together and if you don’t know what that is – figure it out immediately.

Rabbi M. Gary Neuman is a New York Times best selling author and psychotherapist. He has appeared on Oprah, The Today Show, Dateline and GMA. For more information about Rabbi Neuman and his work go to www.mgaryneuman.com and follow him on facebook and twitter @mgaryneuman.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/marriage-relationships/why-do-celebrity-marriages-fail/2012/07/22/

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