web analytics
April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘work’

A Masterwork Completed – 84 Years Later

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

How long does it take to write and publish a book? One recently released work took some eighty-four years to see the light of day in Jerusalem. But with its publication the Torah world has been blessed with a new, vowelized edition of the Torah Temimah, complete with the supra-commentary Meshivat Nefesh – a work begun in the 1920s by a prolific rabbi among whose works was a weekly column several decades later in The Jewish Press.

Our story begins in 1921 in London, then moves to Los Angeles, Pinsk, Brooklyn, and, finally, Yerushalayim. A 25-year-old yeshiva bachur from London named Yaakov Moshe Feldman encounters a copy of the Torah Temimah and is immediately enthralled. Torah Temimah is an encyclopedic edition of the Chumash with relevant Talmudic and Midrashic passages cited on each verse and a brilliant commentary explaining and interpreting each passage.

It was authored by Rav Baruch HaLevy Epstein of Pinsk; his father, the author of the famed Aruch HaShulchan, wrote about Torah Temimah: “Anyone who delves into it will marvel and wonder how this great work could ever have come about, if not for special grace shown from Above.”

The work quickly became popular and to this day is frequently consulted in homes, synagogues and yeshivot throughout the world.

The young bachur, soon to become Rabbi Moses J. Feldman, learned in London’s Eitz Chaim Yeshiva, where his chavruta was Rabbi Yitzchak HaLevi Herzog, who later would serve as chief rabbi of Israel.

The bachur was in close contact with various leading rabbis even at his young age. He spent much time in the London home of HaRav A. I. Kook, another future chief rabbi of the Holy Land, who was stranded for five years in Great Britain when World War I prevented his return to Eretz Yisrael.

Rabbi Feldman (RYM) went on to become a leading rabbi in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles, which was then the largest Jewish community west of Chicago.

In late 1928, RYM wrote to Rav Epstein of the great importance he ascribed to Torah Temimah and proposed to compile an index for the work. Rav Epstein “in his great humility, responded immediately” in two postcards, RYM related. In one, Rav Epstein stated he would be “grateful” for such a work, and asked to see a sample. In the second, written two months later, he praised what he saw and concluded with a blessing for success in whatever manner RYM would choose to carry out the work.

In reviewing the Torah Temimah, RYM noted that it was replete with technical and other errors, mainly bibliographical, due to the author’s having worked mainly from his memory (encyclopedic as it was widely acknowledged to be). RYM realized a complete critical review of the work was required, in addition to expanding many of the scholarly points raised by Rav Epstein.

In 1933, RYM sent several samples of what was to become the Meshivat Nefesh to a renowned Torah scholar, Rabbi Shmuel Yitzchak Hilman. Author of the Ohr HaYashar on the Yerushalmi, Rav Hilman founded the Ohel Torah yeshiva in Jerusalem, whose students included Rabbis Shlomo Zalman Auerbach and Yosef Shalom Elyashiv.

Rav Hilman praised the Meshivat Nefesh samples he saw – but there it stopped; the work barely progressed for the next five decades. This was largely because RYM was busy with various responsibilities, including his monumental four-volume work Areshet Sefatenu (with two additional volumes still in manuscript). The title page describes it as a “Concordance, Interpretive Anthology, Dictionary of Biblical Quotations and Idioms, Source Book of Hebrew Prayer and Proverb.”

Finally, toward the end of his life, RYM got to work once again on Meshivat Nefesh, completing its last pages while on his deathbed. Two of his sons – Rabbi Dr. David M. Feldman, longtime beloved rabbi in Brooklyn and Teaneck and prolific author specializing in medical ethics, and the late attorney Eliot B. Feldman – lost no time in publishing Meshivat Nefesh in 1982.

As they wrote in the preface, RYM “completed the sacred task just prior to his death, on the 8th day of Pesach 1981…. [and was] delighted to have fulfilled his promise to the author of the Torah Temimah. He has, as well, fulfilled admirably his unspoken pledge, to the scholar and student, to render this monumental work whole in substance and accessible in form. Torat Hashem Temimah Meshivat Nafesh.”

US Pediatrician Group Says: Give Morning-After-Pill Prescriptions to Underage Patients

Monday, November 26th, 2012

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) on Monday urged American pediatricians to provide prescriptions for post-intercourse contraception to underage patients, as well as making them aware of the ability to take medications to prevent pregnancy even after engaging in sex.

The AAP policy statement would enable girls to get “morning after” pills immediately with their prescriptions.  US policy does not allow girls under the age of 17 to buy the pills over-the-counter – the pills are available to women of age with proof of age.

The pills work by preventing ovulation, not by preventing the implantation of a fertilized egg or otherwise causing the body to abort a growing embryo.

According to a Reuters report, a 2010 report on seven studies of emergency contraception concluded that teens were not more likely to engage in sexual activity or decrease their use of standard contraceptive devices if emergency contraception medications were made available to them.

Fractured Epics: Joel Silverstein Paintings

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

The Columbia/Barnard Kraft Center for Jewish Student Life 606 West 115th Street, NYC December 4 – January 13, 2013 Opening Reception: Wdensday, December 12th: 6-8pm

Joel Silverstein is a comrade-in-arms. We share many ideas about the creation and nature of contemporary Jewish Art, as well as a commitment to the growing Jewish Art community, exemplified by the Jewish Art Salon of which we are both founding members and curators. This exhibition of his recent work at the Kraft Center for Jewish Student Life at Columbia/Barnard gives us the crucial opportunity to examine the complex richness of his artwork.

His ideas about Jewish Art are inherently radical as he expressed in 2006: “It is our assertion that Jewish thought is a precursive factor in the formation of Modernism and postmodernism… [postulating] the relationship of artistic creativity to Jewish thought [and maintaining that] Jewish thought is demonstrated to predate and augment the advent of modern aesthetics.”

His belief in “the Jewish Sublime” flies in the face of most Jewish intellectuals denial that Jewish contemporary art exists at all. Nevertheless Silverstein persists in his beliefs; writing, curating and creating works of art that reflect a vibrant synthesis of his Brooklyn Jewish upbringing, Torah narratives and postmodern visual sensibility without succumbing to a postmodern emotional emptiness.

I Saw the Miracle of the Snakes (2012) Acrylic and collage on canvas by Joel Silverstein
Courtesy the artist

At first glance his biblical work is obsessed with miracles: the miracle of the plagues, the snakes, the Golem coming alive, even the miracle of Superman who flies.

RM: What is it about the miraculous that appeals to you?

JS: In a secular way, I can’t stand the limits that contemporary cultures put on us: if the miraculous is not possible and everything is material, i.e. materialistic, then I don’t think I can live with that, I can’t accept that. So then I need to invent the miraculous, even if it doesn’t exist, but I feel it does. I feel it is the kind of thing you have to seek in order to find it. It is necessary in fighting the limits our rationalistic culture imposes.

I believe in God but I’m not a fundamentalist; my belief in something greater than myself and the imagination merge. And that’s where I really groove to Jewish texts; the Hebrew Bible, commentaries and more contemporary commentaries… i.e. the point where postmodern discourse, writing, the idea of religion and God, and the idea of the imagination all merge.

I don’t need to feel the imagination is merely the imagination. I don’t need to categorize it because the miraculous is beyond categorization. That is very important. The fact that I interpret something that happened to me in a vision with the Hebrew Bible, with a memory, a memory of my parents who have died, with something I’m looking for, with my relationship with my family, with all those things are the raw material of my artwork.

What about the “magic of time” that seems to permeate many of your works?

In the study of literary myth there is the simultaneity of time. But also in Torah study, time doesn’t exist. So they are more than similar.

You have said that seeing Ceil B. DeMille’s “Ten Commandments” as a child was a theophany. A Theophany?

This colored my visual life a lot. In Judaism there were no traditional visions of Moses and at that age that hit me hard. The DeMille Exodus narrative made a big impact on me. Charlton Heston looked like the Michelangelo sculpture. Visualizing the whole back story and the way DeMille went to Egypt to film in Egypt fleshed out the biblical in a way that brought the narrative alive.

High Priest (Arnie) (2012) Acrylic and collage on canvas by Joel Silverstein
Courtesy the artist

The surface of almost all your artwork is distressed, rough, and broken up. Why?

I have a personal love of surface. Its just my personality, an existential dread. To try to make meaning out a chaotic surface. I love early Byzantine and early Italian altarpiece painting…now so troubled after 500 years. But it is also the modern expressionist tradition I am drawn to, i.e. anxiety as a form of modernity. Additionally it expresses the existential experience of living in the now, and trying to come to some kind of idea that is centered on something greater than yourself. It also makes the work feel modern in a modernist way, not postmodern. Part of the problem of the modern world, the postmodern denial of feeling, emotional deadness and materiality is something I want my work to fight against.

Hamas Already Repairing Gaza’s Smuggling Tunnels, Preparing for Next War

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

Reuters reported on Friday that the Rafah smuggling tunnels, pummeled by the IAF over 8 days, in an area described as resembling a moonscape, are already being rebuilt.

“As you can see there is complete destruction, the tunnels are all destroyed because of the missiles. We will rebuild them and bring in food, flour lentils and sugar and building material such as cement and metal so that the people can break the siege on Gaza,” Mohamad Omar told Reuters on Friday while his friends were busy clearing up their camp.

A Rafah tunnel that has been bombarded by the IAF will be re-dug this week.

A Rafah tunnel that has been bombarded by the IAF will be re-dug this week.

The Rafah border crossing with Egypt, like the crossings to Israel remained closed to traffic most of the day Friday.

Local workmen said the IAF attacks destroyed more than two-thirds of the cross-border tunnels which are used to bring in cement, fuel, food, and the rockets and mortar shells used against Israeli civilian enclaves only a few miles away.

“We are trying to fix the tunnel in order to return to our normal life which we need the tunnel for work. It costs a lot but what can we do, we have to fix it. For example this tunnel of ours which has been hit it will cost no less that 40 thousand dollars to fix,” Mohamad Aladwan said.

According to Reuters, none of the tunnel workers interviewed said they had handled military materiel, and all of them said they were dedicated to bringing through only harmless consumer goods and medical supplies.

Boys And Reading: Is There Any Hope?

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

In a recent New York Times article, Robert Lipsyte, a sports author, posed the following question: “Boys and Reading: Is There Any Hope?” For years, I have been dealing with this question in my office. In fact, the U.S. Department of Education’s reading tests for the last thirty years show boys scoring worse than girls in every age group, every year.

A few months ago, a boy who I will call Mordechai came to my office with his mother. Mordechai was struggling with kriyah and English reading and his mother wanted to know if there was something deeper going on.

After a thorough evaluation, I was able to rule many things out. Mordechai did not have dyslexia, attention deficit disorder (ADHD), or sensory processing disorder (SPD). What Mordechai was exhibiting was not a difficulty with reading, but rather a reluctance to read. He simply saw no value in the enterprise and was therefore not interested in learning the skill. Even as a second grader, he had decided what his priorities were: sports and math. Sports was not only physical, but social as well and math factored into his everyday life in a way he felt reading did not.

Now, came the tricky part. How can you get someone to learn something if they have decided that they do not want to? After all, as Robert Lipsyte points out, “boys’ aversion to reading, let alone to novels, has been worsening for years.” First, we should discuss why it is that boys feel that reading has little significance in their lives:

Fiction vs. non-fiction. Many English teachers, who also happen to be female, teach reading through works of fiction. Unfortunately, studies show that boys tend to relate better to non-fiction. Thus, during the formative reading years, children are exposed to reading materials that are better suited to one gender over the other.

Role models. Boys will often see their mothers reading on Shabbos afternoon or in the evenings, but many rarely see their fathers engaged in a book. This is not because their fathers do not read. Rather, frequently, this is because their fathers will be learning in shul or with a chavrusah – experiences that boys do not have until they are beyond the elementary stages of reading.

Biology. On the whole, boys develop fine motor skills (such as hand-eye coordination) slightly later than girls. This can create difficulty with reading and writing at a young age.

Limited selection. Teachers don’t always know what is out there for boys that will engage them on to interact with a text with empathy and sincerity. Schools tend to work with books that are classics because they will encounter less resistance from parents. However, this sometimes means that books that boys might find engaging never make it into the classroom.

Filling The Reading Gap

Why do we care so much about reading? Why is it important to get our boys reading to their greatest potential? The most basic reason is that reading is the most important skill that people have in order to enhance their intelligence. Through reading, people improve their vocabularies and memories, become better writers, and even relieve stress. On a more practical level, literacy levels are correlated with financial success. In sum, we need to ensure that our boys are reading because their lives will be more fulfilling, relaxed and comfortable.

Therefore, how can we help boys learn to read? Below are some time-tested solutions:

Instruction tailored to boys’ learning style. Teachers should create lessons that have clear, structured instruction with short bursts of intense work. When teachers set specific goals and praise students for their success, the boys will be more likely to push themselves in the future. In addition, hands-on learning models that are coupled with a sense of humor are great tools for getting boys involved in reading.

Role models. Young boys need to see male role models who are reading. Remember, any text is reading – including fathers studying Gemara at the dining room table after lunch on Shabbos or reading the newspaper on a weekday morning. The idea is that boys see their fathers reading and understand that this is an activity valued by both male and female role models.

Evacuating Jewish Homes and Yishai Live With Nachum Segal

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

(((CLICK BELOW TO HEAR AUDIO)))

Yishai presents an interview with Gilead Mooseek, a resident of Kiryat Malachi.  Mooseek, who had to evacuate his home in Kiryat Malachi, discusses firsthand what it is like to be forced from your home and also what it is like to work in an environment where many co-workers are Arabs.  At 13:00 Yishai presents an interview that he gave earlier this week to Nachum Segal on his show JM in the AM.  Yisahi talks with Segal about Iron Dome, the call up of IDF reserve soldiers, and whether a peace deal between Israel and Hamas would even work.  Don’t miss this segment!

Yishai Fleisher on Twitter: @YishaiFleisher
Yishai on Facebook

A Famed Political Pundit’s Musical Side: An Interview with Charles Krauthammer

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

Charles Krauthammer is widely regarded as one of the most influential political commentators in America today. A contributing editor to The Weekly Standard and The New Republic, Krauthammer is also a nightly commentator on Fox News’s Special Report with Bret Baier and a weekly panelist on PBS’s Inside Washington. Close to 250 newspapers carry his weekly column, which earned him a Pulitzer Prize in 1987.

In addition to his political prowess, Krauthammer maintains a love for Jewish music. Several years ago, he and his wife Robyn founded Pro Musica Hebraica, devoted to “bringing Jewish music to the concert hall.”

On December 2, the organization will hold a concert of cantorial masterpieces at the Eldridge Street Synagogue. The Jewish Press recently spoke with Krauthammer about the concert, among other topics.

The Jewish Press: What led you to found Pro Musica Hebraica?

Krauthammer: About eight years ago, my wife and I decided there was an area of Jewish culture that had been fairly widely neglected, and that was the presentation of great Jewish music in a classical setting. We wanted to do something to bring it out to the world.

Is the classical music Pro Musica Hebraica presents really Jewish music or just music that happens to have been composed by Jews?

The idea is to bring Jewish experience, feeling, and history – “Jewish soul,” if you like – as expressed through classical music.

So it doesn’t matter who the author is. One of our concerts a few years ago was baroque Jewish music from 17th- and 18th-century Italy and Holland. It included the famous Sephardic Jewish composer Salamone Rossi, but it also had a selection by a Jesuit priest who was a philo-Semite and who set Psalms to baroque music. He was so much of a Hebraist that he actually wrote the music from right to left when he was transcribing it.

So we don’t care about the origin of the composer although, of course, most of the music is by Jews self-consciously reflecting their own heritage, past, and memories.

Why has this music been neglected?

Well, I’ll give you one example. One of the major schools of this music was called the St. Petersburg school. Founded in 1908, this school consisted of students of Rimsky Korsakov. They were in the Russian conservatories, and their teacher basically said to them, “Why are you trying to compose Russian music? You’re Jews, compose the music of your own people.”

So they sent ethnographic expeditions into the shtetl, listened to the music, and transcribed it. That was their inspiration for composing classical music with Jewish themes – the same way that Bartok, for example, produced classical Hungarian music from Hungarian folk themes.

This school thrived for 10 years. They put on concerts all over Russia, but then the Russian revolution came in 1917, and they were all scattered to all corners of the world. Their music was largely forgotten, but we brought it back with Itzhak Perlman on the 100th anniversary of its founding to an amazing critical review in the Washington Post and tremendous public response.

This upcoming concert on December 2, though, will feature chazzanut.

Yes, it’s our first venture away from classical music towards more traditional liturgical music. It’s also our first time in New York; we’re usually in the Kennedy Center in Washington. Cantor Netanel Hershtik of The Hampton Synagogue, who is just exquisite, is performing, and the venue will be the Eldridge Street Synagogue, which is celebrating its 125th anniversary.

Cantor Netanel Hershtik

One theme that runs through this concert is redemption. It’s a theme that’s so prevalent in the liturgy that you can’t go three pages in the siddur without coming across it. I think it’s very important, particularly for those who may not be religious or aren’t even Jewish, to understand that the idea of return, restoration – the idea of Zion – is not a modern creation but a theme going back to “Im eshkacheich Yerushalayim,” which was written 2,500 years ago….

One of the reasons I wanted to do this was because when I was growing up we would spend our summer in Long Beach where, once a year, Moshe Koussevitzky would perform at one of the synagogues at the far end of Long Beach. My father would take my brother and me, and we would walk for about an hour to hear him. I have never forgotten that. It was the most moving music or religious presence.

Palestinians: We Rejected Israel’s 90-Day Ceasefire Offer

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

Sources in the Hamas and Islamic Jihad leadership have told the newspaper Al-Hayat that Israel offered them a cease-fire for 90 days, during which it would examine their goodwill efforts prior to a discussion of Palestinian demands. But the Palestinians said they refused the offer, and stuck by their three points: a mutual ceasefire, an end to targeted assassinations and the opening all the entrances into Gaza as soon as the ceasefire takes effect. Those entrances include the Gaza port, which is blockaded by the Israeli navy.

The rejection came after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in Jerusalem. that “in the days ahead the United States will work with our partners here in Israel and across the region toward an outcome that bolsters security for the people of Israel, improves conditions for the people of Gaza and moves toward a comprehensive peace for all people of the region.”

All those nice things will have to wait. Or, as Prime Minister Netanyahu told Clinton: “If there is a possibility of achieving a long-term solution to this problem with diplomatic means, we prefer that, but if not, I’m sure you understand that Israel will have to take whatever action is necessary to defend its people.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/palestinians-we-rejected-israels-90-day-ceasefire-offer/2012/11/21/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: