Friday, 30 November 2012

Rav Dov Fischer on The UN Vote

«We Jews created this Authority.  Look how much HKB"H has intervened to stop us from giving up Judea and Samaria.  Rabin tried to give it up — he was murdered (an unspeakably horrible thing that was horribly unforgivable).  Peres stepped in and immediately inherited 95% popularity, so called for early elections, announcing he would negotiate giving up Yesha after he would get a new lopsided Knesset.  So HKB"H hardened the Arab hearts, and they started bus bombings like crazy.  Peres could not stop the bombings, his popularity plummeted, and even terrified liberals voted in Bibi so they could ride on buses again.  Bibi was wildly popular, and then he signed the Wye Accords that compromised Hebron.  HKB"H overnight drive down his popularity, and Ehud Barak was elected.  Barak was wildly popular, and HKB"H allowed him to cede South Lebanon prematurely and unilaterally, but Barak next started negotiating with Arafat in Clinton's house to give over Judea and Samaria, and even East Jerusalem, and even Har HaBayit . . . and HKB"H hardened Arafat's heart, and he miraculously rejected everything for which he had been fighting since he rose to lead the PLO and Fatah in 1964.  A horrible Intifada ensued with horrible images like the Arab with the hands of blood in Ramallah, and Barak was driven out by a landslide for Sharon.  Sharon came in wildly popular, and HKB"H allowed him to cede Gush Katif and Gaza prematurely and unilaterally, but Sharon next started focusing "Kadimah" to cede Judea and Samaria unilaterally.  He first sustained a mini-stroke, perhaps a makah of warning, perhaps yisurim shel ahavah because of his z'khuyot from the 1973 War and before.  Perhaps.  Who among us possibly can know?. He recovered and immediately returned to his prioritized focus on ceding Yesha, and he sustained a wallop of a stroke that removed him from the scene.  Not to kill him, perhaps because of z'khuyot remaining for his past acts for Eretz Yisrael — much as Omri HaMelekh merited kingship because he acquired one hill in Samaria — so the stroke did not kill him, just sidelined him for good.  Maybe it was just bad medical care and excessive blood thinners caused by the best team of physicians in one of the most advanced medical societies.  Maybe it was just bad luck, bad personal health practices.  Who among us can know?  In came Ehud Olmert.  Initially, wildly popular — until he started trying to cede Judea and Samaria.  Then, unexpectedly, the kidnapings started, and he ended up getting prodded into a war in South Lebanon against Hezbollah, even as he proved utterly unlearned in matters of war, even as he also had the least qualified Israeli Defense Minister in the country's history, Amir Peretz, a union leader who temporarily led the Labor Party.  Between Olmert and Peretz, they failed to enter South Lebanon for too long, perhaps born of Peretz's hesitation to cross picket lines, and sustained tons of rocket attacks in the north. When a rocket finally reached Haifa, they were cooked, even as Olmert suddenly came under fire for financial defalcations.  Full cycle back to Bibi.  Under Bibi, who talks the talks but does not walk the walk because he does not understand the meaning of Am S'gulah, we end up with a pseudo-war with Hamas, with Hamas rockets flying into Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, effectively forestalling any future prospect of any Israeli government ceding Judea and Samaria.»
The UN Votes for An Observer
http://www.rabbidov.com/observerstatus.htm


Shalom and Best Regards,
RRW

Thursday, 29 November 2012

'If the Jews didn't exist, we would have to invent them'.

Hitler's 'Final Solution' to the 'Jewish Question' was the elimination of the Jewish race from the European continent. During the Holocaust six million Jews were murdered.

Hitler once remarked 'If the Jews didn't exist, we would have to invent them'. This is one of his most revealing comments on Nazism. Nothing creates more unity than a common enemy. The hatred of the Jews was the backbone of Hitler's power.


BBC - History - World Wars: Audio: Hitler and the Jews
http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/worldwars/genocide/hitler_audio.shtml

-----------------------------------------

And Stalin had Trotsky

There is apparently a deep need in the human psyche to identify and to demonize a "scapegoat", often in order to rally and to focus the energy of the masses, especially so that they ignore common cause and "brotherhood"


Shalom and Best Regards,
RRW

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Proposed Pre-Talmud Preparation Plan

Without addressing the debate of who should learn the Talmud and who should not - here is an outline of a pre-Talmud curriculum.

1. Tanach
A. Humash and Rashi
B. Selections from Nach

2. Halachah + Mitzvot
A. Kitsur Shuchan Aruch or its equivalent
B. Mitzvot - Either the Rambam's ShM or Sefer HaChinuch

3. Mishnayot

4. Hashkafah - Selections from EG Sefer Madda, Kuzari, Horeb, etc.

5. Ivrit
A. Tanachi
B. Rabbinic

6. Midrash or Aggadah. EG Tanhumah or Ein Yaakov

Shalom and Best Regards,
RRW

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

JVO: Wills

Jewish Values Online (jewishvaluesonline.org) is a website that asks the Jewish view on a variety of issues, some specifically Jewish and some from the world around us -- and then presents answers from each of the dominations of Judaism. Nishmablog's Blogmaster Rabbi Wolpoe and Nishma's Founding Director, Rabbi Hecht, both serve as Orthodox members of their Panel of Scholars.

This post continues our series on the Nishmablog that features responses on JVO by one of our two Nishma Scholars who are on this panel. This week's presentation is to one of the questions to which Rabbi Wolpoe responded.

* * * * *
Question: Is a Jewish parent required or obliged by Jewish law or Jewish values to leave anything to their children in their will?


This Begs another question. Is there such a thing as a WILL in Jewish Law?
1.  Most WILL's from great rabbis were ethical wills, a mini-book of ethics. EG Iggeret haRamban [Nachmanides] and Iggeret haGRA [Vilna Gaon] come to mind.
2. The probating of a Jewish estate is covered in the Torah [Parshat Pinchas] and throughout the Talmud [EG Bava Batra and K'tubbot]. The presumption is no will, just debts and obligations, EG the K'tubah, etc.
3. The Talmud has a concept where a man who is dying [sh'chiv meira] may "WILL" property. In order to afford him peace of mind, his verbal orders are given the force of a a written contract.  These come close to a WILL, but I think they're a bit different.
4. Just like with "Selling Hameitz" there are circumventions.  A WILL can override the Halachic divisions if/when it can be so construed to take effect before passing on. Then it is not quite a will, but a form of gift-giving. As such, a parent can give his/her property as he/she sees fit - because  the parent is technically gifting prior to passing.
5. I'm not familiar with the literature on this point, but the common wisdom is to never cut the children out,  unless there are extreme or extraordinary circumstances. Perhaps in the case of a criminal, a psychopath or a self-destructive type.  Most children should NOT be left out of the WILL.
6. How to make best use of what the family gets is tough to outline here.  IMHO Education - especially Jewish Education - should come first.  Thus, tuition for the grandchildren's Jewish/Hebrew education would typically be my top priority.  Of course, each case must be tailored as necessary.
7. The Talmud gives a guideline of allotting 10-20% towards charity. This makes sense, and can be implemented as scholarships, etc.  For example,  an estate whose net worth is $1 million might see $100k towards various charities, $100k for scholarships for the grandchildren, and $800k divided amongst the children and other worthy family members as appropriate.

No Representation Without Taxation

"You know, there's this old American dictum: no taxation without representation. What is sometimes overlooked is that the converse is also true: no representation without taxation. And with our revenues, they didn't need taxes; therefore, they didn't need assemblies to levy taxes. And they were made independent of public opinion in their own countries with this untold wealth accruing from oil revenues. This greatly strengthened the power of autocratic governments, far greater than it had ever been in the past. Now if traditional Islamic government is authoritarian, but it is not dictatorial or despotic, it is governed under certain rules and so on.

In modern times, the power of the ruler has been vastly augmented by these huge revenues so that he doesn't need public support or public approval of his taxes. It has also been increased by all kinds of modern devices for surveillance and repression so that any tin pot dictator today wields far greater powers than were ever wielded by Suleyman the Magnificent or Harun al-Rashid or any of the legendary rulers of the Islamic past."
Bernard Lewis Quotes
http://homepage.eircom.net/~odyssey/Quotes/History/Bernard_Lewis.html


Shalom and Best Regards,
RRW

Monday, 26 November 2012

L'shon T'filah and L'shon Mikra

Many of the leading redactors of Liturgy [Siddurim and Machzorim] during the 17th-19th centuries favored l'shon Mikra over l'shon Hazzal.

Is there any basis for promoting this preference?

See EG SA 53:4 and Kitzur SA 16:12 [copied below] that advises the Shatz to regularly read Tanach. Yet there is no corresponding mention of reading EG Mishnah and Midrash.

Sh'ma Minah that reading Tanach is a priority and prerequisite for proper diction for the Sha"tz, which in turn implies that the L'shon Tefilah is closer to L'shon Mikra. Of course it's not proof positive. One might say that Tanachi Hebrew requires more attention. However, imho the more likely implication is to take this at face value.

---

Shloymie: But RRW, what about L'shon Mikra L'chood L'shon Hazzal L'chood?

RRW: Good Question. Quickly and Simply - I see that as a dechiya b'alma to answer questions such as "why not say "Loshevet Bassukkah" instead of "Leisheiv Bassukah"? But it was not originally meant as a global, normative statement. That imho came later and is imho a questionable application of the statement.

Shloymie: How so?

RRW: as noted above - there is no recommendation for a Shatz to master L'shon Hazal


-----------------------------------------

סימן יד – דיני פסוקי דזמרה
 
סעיף יא
השליח צבור צריך שיהיה הגון, ... ואיזה הגון, זה שהוא ריקן מעבירות, ופרקו נאה, פירוש, שלא יצא עליו שם רע אפילו בילדותו, ושהוא עניו ומרוצה לקהל, שיסכימו לתפלתו, ויש לו נעימה וקול ערב שמושך הלב, ורגיל לקרות בתורה נביאים וכתובים, כדי שיהיו הפסוקים שבתפלה סדורים בפיו. .


Shalom and Best Regards,
RRW

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Vegetative patient Scott Routley says ‘I’m not in pain’

Vegetative patient Scott Routley says 'I'm not in pain'
Here is an article describing something quite fascinating that could change how we view people in vegetative states.

By Fergus Walsh
Medical correspondent
«It's the first time an uncommunicative, severely brain-injured patient has been able to give answers clinically relevant to their care.

Scott Routley, 39, was asked questions while having his brain activity scanned in an fMRI machine.

His doctor says the discovery means medical textbooks will need rewriting.

Vegetative patients emerge from a coma into a condition where they have periods awake, with their eyes open, but have no perception of themselves or the outside world.»

Vegetative patient Scott Routley says 'I'm not in pain' | The World of Pastoral and Spiritual care
http://achaplainsjourney.wordpress.com/2012/11/13/vegetative-patient-scott-routley-says-im-not-in-pain/


Shalom and Best Regards,
RRW

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Mussar: Don't Gossip!

From Derech Emet....
Larry Winget said:

Do not listen to people who talk bad about other people.
Do not listen to office gossip.

SOURCE: Shut Up, Stop Whining and Get a Life
(chapter 1, page 7) by Larry Winget, year 2004,
published by John Wiley & Sons Inc, Hoboken, New Jersey

Derech Emet's
MODERATOR COMMENT:

Larry Winget is not Jewish and knows nothing about:
Rambam, Ramban, Rashi, Tosefos. Vilna Gaon or Baal Shem Tov.

Yet he clearly understands that it is wrong to listen to
slander or gossip (in Hebrew: Lashon HaRa and Motzi Shem Ra).

Let this be a reminder for all Jews: to not speak slander or gossip, to not listen to slander or gossip, and to not believe slander or gossip.

Otherwise, how will we defend ourselves on the Day of Judgment [Yom HaDin] when the True Judge shows us that even Gentiles understood the wrongness of listening to rumors, but we who studied Torah did not?

*******************************
Shalom and Best Regards,
RRW

Friday, 23 November 2012

For Dikduk Fans

«I thought that people on this list may be interested in this e-book...»

 
AVAILABLE FOR FREE DOWNLOADING AT:
 
http://halakhah.com/indexrst.html
 
3300 Hebrew Verbs


Shalom and Best Regards,
RRW

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Changing Middle East looks depressingly like what it replaces

I think what hit me most about this article is that I found it on CNN.com -- and then to boot in "Fareed Zakaria GPS". The fact is though that it makes for interesting reading.
See http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/2012/11/21/changing-middle-east-looks-depressingly-like-what-it-replaces/?hpt=hp_t2

Rabbi Ben Hecht

Addressing the International Conference of Chabad Shluchim » Office of the Chief Rabbi

«I never said this in public before. There was a point when I was a little involved – the hanhola [board of directors] in Lubavitch in London asked me just to get involved a little bit – there was a point in the 1970s and 80s, when the Rebbe developed a very interesting campaign – the sheva mitzvos benei noach campaign – to reach out not just to Jews, but also to non Jews.

I realized that in my new position as Chief Rabbi I could do just that. So I started broadcasting on the BBC, on radio, on television, writing for the national press. I wrote books read my non Jews as well as Jews and the effect was absolutely extraordinary. The more I spoke the more they wanted to hear – which certainly proves they weren't Jewish. (Laughter.) The more I wrote the more they wanted to read, and you know what that experience told me – not only the wisdom, the vast foresight of the Rebbe in understanding that the world was ready to hear a Jewish message – but it taught me something else as well. And I want you never to forget these words.

Non Jews respect Jews who respect Judaism.»

Addressing the International Conference of Chabad Shluchim » Office of the Chief Rabbi
http://www.chiefrabbi.org/2011/11/20/chief-rabbis-address-at-the-international-conference-of-chabad-shluchim/#.UJu4Km8fKSo


Shalom and Best Regards,
RRW

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

What's New with Hamas?

The answer:
Mursi instead of Mubarak!

Wall Street Journal
10 Jan., 2009
«Mr. Mubarak has good reason to want to see Hamas humbled: As the Palestinian franchise of his own suppressed Muslim Brotherhood, it poses a direct threat to his rule. The same goes for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Sunni regimes like Saudi Arabia, which see Hamas as another Iranian proxy in the Sunni heartland. Their views, too, are being expressed sotto voce.»

Muslims Against Hamas
http://mobile2.wsj.com/device/article.php?CALL_URL=http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123154855613269959.html?


Shalom and Best Regards,
RRW

Washington Post - Morning Bits

«Unsurprising. "Fifty-seven percent of Americans said Israel's current military campaign in Gaza is justified, while a quarter said it isn't, according to a new CNN/ORC International poll released Monday. Seventy-four percent of Republicans said the action is justified, compared with 59 percent of independents and 41 percent of Democrats." Greater support for Israel among Republicans than Democrats has been going on for some time.»

http://washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/post/morning-bits/2012/11/19/4274e6ec-3296-11e2-bfd5-e202b6d7b501_blog.html

Mobile Link:
http://m.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/post/morning-bits/2012/11/19/4274e6ec-3296-11e2-bfd5-e202b6d7b501_blog.html


Shalom and Best Regards,
RRW

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Mid-East War 2: A Second Comment

The End of War:
An Open Letter to Rabbi Eliyahu Fink
By Rabbi Jeffrey Woolf
«There is a serious flaw in your argument, however. It lies in assuming that ultimately 'people have the capacity to love and care for anyone.' I assume what you mean is that if we all sat down to speak as equals and friends, that differences of opinion would be resolved and war avoided. Your sentiments are certainly representative of the way most people in the West think today. However, your sentiment (and theirs) is seriously flawed. You (and they) have fallen into the logical fallacy that my friend and colleague, Professor Richard Landes, calls 'cognitive egocentrism.' In other words, you project your own mentality, values and "way of seeing the world" onto others. The result is an attitude that is, albeit innocently, disrespectful and paternalist.»

The End of War: An Open Letter to Rabbi Eliyahu Fink | Jeffrey Woolf | Ops & Blogs | The Times of Israel
http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/the-end-of-war-an-open-letter-to-rabbi-eliyahu-fink/


Shalom and Best Regards,
RRW

The Mid-East War

 A Comment from Menachem Pritsker to
War Baffles Me | Pacific Jewish Center | Rabbi
http://finkorswim.com/2012/11/15/war-baffles-me/

Do you have any idea what's going on here?

First of all, the idea that there are naive 18 years olds fighting the wars of an older generation is just plain false. I'm 30, and I'm one of the younger guys in my unit. Most of the army is in fact made up of reserve units like mine.

Second, you're treating this war as if it's some far off Vietnam, where we only hear about it in news reports (as you are). This is a war that's being experienced by everyone in the country! You think there's a corner somewhere in this country where the there's a gan yeladim without a contingency plan in place in case there's an air raid siren?

The "18 year olds" who are off to fight this war are just as worried about their mothers at home as their mothers are worried for them. If I get called back up, and I pray I wont (having just gotten home last week from a month of miluim), I'll be marching off with the intent to kill the people who are trying to kill me and my family. Nothing more, nothing less.


Shalom and Best Regards,
RRW

Monday, 19 November 2012

How should we pronounce "ibn" as in "ibn Ezra"?

«Before I outline the problem, let's lay out some assumptions and facts.

First, there is no doubt that the Hebrew אבן, sometimes written as ן'י, used as part of the name of many Spanish Jews and their descendants is the Arabic word ابن, son of. The usage is equivalent to the Hebrew בן, although it need not always refer to the person's father. It often refers to a grandfather or other ancestor, which is also an accepted, expanded use of בן. Furthermore, in Arabic the word is pronounced ibn, subject to an important qualification. The qualification is that it appears that the Spanish Arabs did not pronounce it ibn, but rather pronounced it aben (please note, incidentally, that the vowel shift here is the same as that between two of the possible pronunciation of the word רבי). The following entry is from E.J. Brill's first encyclopaedia of Islam, 1913-1936, Volume 1: ...»
On the Main Line: How should we pronounce "ibn" as in "ibn Ezra"?
http://onthemainline.blogspot.com/2010/01/how-should-we-pronounce-ibn-as-in-ibn.html?m=1


Shalom and Best Regards,
RRW

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Can Reform Judaism Get Its Mojo Back?

«In 1969 Rabbi Richard Levy, later to become president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, wrote that the American Reform synagogue has "defaulted" on all three of its traditional functions: building community, nurturing study, and engaging in meaningful worship.  Since he wrote, the default has only deepened.  If it is not addressed now, there may be no future opportunity for repair.»

Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features » Can Reform Judaism Get Its Mojo Back?
http://www.jewishideasdaily.com/5332/features/can-reform-judaism-get-its-mojo-back/


Shalom and Best Regards,
RRW

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Mussar: Enlightening Words to Live By

Words to Live By
from Rav Kook Z"L:

על-כן הצדיקים הטהורים אינם קובלים על החושך, אלא מוסיפים אור; אינם קובלים על הרשעה, אלא מוסיפים צדק; אינם קובלים על הכפירה, אלא מוסיפים אמונה; אינם קובלים על הבערות, אלא מוסיפים חכמה.

Therefore, the pure righteous do not complain of the dark, but increase the light; they do not complain of evil, but increase justice; they do not complain of heresy, but increase faith; they do not complain of ignorance, but increase wisdom. (From "Arpilei Tohar", p. 27–28)


Courtesy of
Joel Zeff  ישעיהו זף 
And Re-posted with his kind persmission


Echoed by:
"Better to Light One Candle than to Curse the Darkness"


Shalom and Best Regards,
RRW

Friday, 16 November 2012

Goin' to the Kiddush

This song was inspired by The Dixie Cups' famous hit, "Goin to the Chapel"

Goin' to the kiddush and we're
gonna eat cholent
Goin' to the kiddush and we're 
gonna eat cookies
Gee I really love meat and we're
gonna eat fruit and cake
Goin' to the shul for kiddush.

Shabbos is here
The sky is blue (hopefully)
The chazzan will sing
as if he knew
Saturday's the day
for cake and cholent too
and we'll never be hungry anymore.

Because we're
Goin' to the kiddush and we're
gonna eat cholent
Goin' to the kiddush and we're 
gonna eat cookies
Gee I really love meat and we're
gonna eat fruit and cake
Goin' to the shul for kiddush.

Tzibbur will sing
The sun will shine (hopefully)
I'll have cake, cookies and wine.
We'll eat until 
the end of time
and we'll never be hungry anymore.

Because we're 
Goin' to the kiddush and we're
gonna eat cholent
Goin' to the kiddush and we're 
gonna eat cookies
Gee I really love meat and we're
gonna eat fruit and cake
Goin' to the shul for kiddush.

------------
~ This song was inspired by The Dixie Cups' most famous hit in 1964, "Goin' to the Chapel"


Shalom and Best Regards,
RRW

Thursday, 15 November 2012

More On Storm Sandy - the RCA Response

Posted with permission


The response of RCA members and their communities to the victims of Hurricane Sandy has been and continues to be gratifying.
 
----------------------------------
 
We received the following from our chaver Jonathan Muskat of Oceanside, NY:
 
The building of the Young Israel of Oceanside was heavily damaged. We lost three Torah scrolls and thousands of sefarim. All of our youth program furniture and toys were destroyed. Insurance proceeds will not cover all of our losses. Additionally, we will need to financially help a number of families who have been devastated by the hurricane. We have therefore set up an emergency Young Israel hurricane relief fund. If members of your community would like to make a donation or if you would like to make a donation from your charity fund, you may either go to our website www://yioceanside.org
and make your donation online or send your checks directly to the Young Israel of Oceanside, 150 Waukena Avenue, Oceanside, NY 11572.
Please make your checks out to the Young Israel of Oceanside and mark your envelope Hurricane Emergency Fund. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Rabbi Jonathan Muskat at 516-670-2699. Thank you for caring.
 
 -------------------------------------------------
 
The RCA Health Care Chaplains, under the chairmanship of our chaver Zev Shostak, are prepared to visit communities to offer counseling and support.  Anyone interested in pursuing this meaningful service should contact Rabbi Shostak at 914-603-1964 or at zschostak@gmail.com

 
Shalom and Best Regards,
RRW

P. Toldot - Alay Kil'latcha B'nee

As per p'shat Rivkah took the onus of any punishment due Yaakov upon herself ...

Al pee Remez ALAY may be understood as Roshei Teivot for:
Ayin - Eisav
Lamed - Lavan
Yud - Yosef

The three main "crises" of Yaakov's career. Yaakov's "curse" would consist of difficulties associated with these three individuals.

I wish to acknowledge my source, the late R Yehudah Hilewitz Z"L, a fellow RIETS musmach who passed away at a relatively young age. May his memory serve as a Blessing for his Family and for all Israel.

Shalom and Best Regards,
RRW

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

113th US Congress has 22 Jews

The Chosen: Jews in the 113th Congress | JTA - Jewish & Israel News

http://www.jta.org/news/article/2012/11/07/3111351/jews-in-the-113th-congress


Shalom and Best Regards,
RRW

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

JVO: Intermarriage

Jewish Values Online (jewishvaluesonline.org) is a website that asks the Jewish view on a variety of issues, some specifically Jewish and some from the world around us -- and then presents answers from each of the dominations of Judaism. Nishmablog's Blogmaster Rabbi Wolpoe and Nishma's Founding Director, Rabbi Hecht, both serve as Orthodox members of their Panel of Scholars.

This post continues the weekly series on the Nishmablog that features responses on JVO by one of our two Nishma Scholars who are on this panel. This week's presentation is to one of the questions to which Rabbi Hecht responded.

* * * * *
Question: We have made decision not to attend weddings between Jew and non-Jew as a statement that we do not approve of intermarriage. But now that our Jewish nephew has married a non-Jew, we felt that we should give him a wedding gift since it was after the fact. We felt that not attending the wedding was enough of a statement. I know that it sounds illogical, but we didn't want our family to think that we are mean people, but rather we were only making a statement before the fact and would not change the situation. Were we wrong in giving a wedding gift after the fact in this situation?


In my first draft of a response to your question, my focus was on the inherent conflict in values that you felt and which I believed motivated you to ask this question – your question not really being whether to inherently give a wedding present or not but rather whether to do so given that you had already decided to make a statement in not going to the wedding. You obviously felt that it was inherently proper to give a present but wondered about the effect of this action on your previous stance. I saw in this desire to give a gift a recognition of the value of tolerance within our society – and from which we Jews have greatly benefited – which calls upon us to respect the right of individuals to make personal decisions of this nature even though we may disagree. So I saw your question in the broader sense of how one can balance a personal value stance on an issue with the value which you also accept of tolerance of another who acts in disagreement with this viewpoint.
While I still believe that this issue is still very much part of your question, upon further reflection I began to recognize that in providing what I believe to be a Torah response to your issue, beyond simply responding to the conflict in values that you experienced, it would be first important to actually also look at the singular issues in themselves. Should one attend an intermarriage? A similar question could be asked in regard to attending a wedding between two Jews where non-kosher food is served or attending a same-sex wedding. At issue is the involvement one should have in an event that inherently includes an expression of a position with which one disagrees. Does my attendance reflect some acceptance of this position? Is it thus proper for me to attend?
The matter of the gift raises similar questions but also touches upon the more private issue of how one is to relate to another’s personal feelings. Your nephew experienced a joyful event, from his perspective, and you wish to share in this joy. On this level, you do not necessarily see this as reflecting a public expression of your stance and thus wish to give a gift. The more inherent question, though, may be whether it is proper to still share in this joy. Is it right, thus, in any such circumstance to give a gift? This individual is still your nephew.
The conflict of values that you are experiencing is still clearly a major part of this issue and there is a challenge in balancing one’s views with tolerance and respect for an opposing viewpoint. The essential question, however, is how the Torah views the entire situation. How are we to view a Jew who acts contrary to our understanding of how a Jew should behave? How are we to act in response to such behaviour? What we may find is that the various value considerations that we must undertake in response to such questions may actually yield what could be perceived to be contradictory behaviour.
Our first obligation is to follow Jewish Law so our initial question may be whether there is any violation of Halacha in attending an intermarriage. I am not speaking at this time in regard to the impression that one would be giving through this attendance but simply whether it is wrong simply to attend in its own right. There is an important distinction between the two. In regard to the latter perspective, we are solely focused on the behaviour itself. In regard to the first perspective, we are focused on the perception of others. If we state that a behaviour is inherently wrong, than the answer that we should not undertake this behaviour is pretty straightforward. If, however, we state that the issue really concerns the perception of others, than the evaluation of this perception is of major significance in regard to answering this question of behaviour.
To illustrate this issue, we could ask whether it is wrong for a person to watch another Jew eat a ham sandwich. We are not discussing in any way assisting this Jew in the consumption of this sandwich; that would involve concerns for the prohibition of lifnei ever and the further Rabbinic edicts to not assist an individual in sinning (see Sefer HaChinuch, Mitzvah 232). Is there a problem with just being a spectator of a sinful action? It seems that there could be – that viewing something negative should be avoided – and there is also a concern for being in the company of sinful people but these are not absolute prohibitions but rather guides that must be considered in the greater context. (We could also ask the question of what exactly is the sin in the actual intermarriage wedding ceremony.) I would contend that you could not really say that it is absolutely forbidden to attend an intermarriage ceremony but that it should be something that someone should refrain from attending. The further question would then be the second part of this issue – the perception of others.
In this regard, there are actually two considerations that must be kept in mind. One is the perception, through attendance, that one is in agreement with what is occurring. This touches upon the issue of ma’arit ayin, of giving an impression about Jewish Law and one’s relationship to it that is negative. If people will assume, through attendance at an intermarriage that one is okay with it than this is a problem. It is a value not only to be observant of Jewish Law but also to be perceived as one who is so committed. So there is a concern in attending an intermarriage that you will be seen as one is believes it to be okay.
There is, however, also a duty of care in regard to other Jews, to assist in ensuring their observance and continued association with the Jewish world. This is found, in its simplest terms, in the command to rebuke other Jews if they act in violation of the law. See Sefer HaChinuch, Mitzvah 239. A more thorough study of this command would show, though, that the command is not simply to rebuke but to take steps that would draw people to observe the law – and, as such, to specifically not rebuke if that will have negative consequences. See, further, Rabbi Moshe Weinberger, Jewish Outreach. In this regard, there could even be an argument to attend an intermarriage if there is a concern that non-attendance would create a rift that would drive the Jewish member of the couple further away from the Jewish community. (This is actually a further concern when it is the woman who is the Jewish partner for at issue would also be any future children of the union.) It is within this perception that we would also be highly concerned with issues such as tolerance and respect for individual decision-making. Showing disrespect to another is clearly a way to drive someone away from having any interest in Torah. The ultimate concern is the long term effect, not solely the short term perception.
In conclusion, what we find is that situations such as these demand true analysis and sensitivity to all the issues involved. In the end, the proper behaviour may be contradictory in its various details – and as such it may be that not attending yet giving a gift was the proper final conclusion in regard to what to do. On one hand, you wish to show your allegiance to the Jewish world. On the other hand, you wish to show your love for your nephew, not just abstractly but to you nephew. Both of these objectives indeed have value and so determining what to do is essentially most complex. 

Online Pre-Nup Book

See: http://theprenup.org/

Shalom and Best Regards,
RRW

Monday, 12 November 2012

P. Chayyei Sarah - "Sh'nei Chayei Sarah"

The word Sh'nei literally means "Years of"

However it is also a homophone for the Hebrew word for "two" [f.]

Thus, we have d'rashot on the question - Just what were the TWO lives of Sarah Immeinu?

1. Perhaps the most popular m'haleich is that Sarah had one life in this world, and a second life in the World to Come - Olam Habba.

I'd like to go even further -

2. Sarah had two Careers
The First was as Avraham Avinu's wife

The Second was as Yitzchok's Avinu's Mother.

One may see how protective Sarah became in P. Vayeira 21:10 re: the expulsion of Hagar and Yishma'el

3. From a Historical Perspective Sarah also had two roles

The First was as a living, breathing human, a Tzadeket in the flesh.

The Second is her LEGACY, after she passed she became Sarah Immeinu, a matriarch and an icon for all future Israelites forever.

Shalom and Best Regards,
RRW

Sunday, 11 November 2012

The Poppy

On this day, Nov. 11, Canada marks Remembrance Day, a day the nation remembers the many who fell in the wars that the nation fought. Nov. 11, of course, is the anniversary of the end of the First World War, which for Canadians has special significance in that this was the first war in which Canada fought as an independent nation.

Throughout the country -- indeed throughout it would seem the British Commonwealth -- preparation for the day is marked by the wearing of a 'poppy' -- a cloth rendering of the flower that, for Canadians, is intertwined with this day and World War 1. It was a Canadian who wrote the poem In Flanders Fields which speaks of the graves of soldiers who fell in this war -- these graves being in fields where the poppies grow. The poppy has thus become a sign of remembrance, of the soldiers who have fallen in defense of the country and its values.

This leads to my reason for posting this note on the blog. It has always been my belief that Jews should emphatically ensure that they participate in this memorial and wear a poppy. Once I see the stands of these 'poppies' available a few weeks before Nov. 11, I make sure to get one and to wear it on my outer coat. I think that it is proper for all Canadians to do so -- and if you watch a Raptors game in the days leading up to Nov. 11, you will notice all the coaches wearing one -- but I think that it specifically important for us as Jews to do so. It is our way of being makker tov, of joining in the respect that we have for those who fought for our freedom -- and in me wearing it noticeably as Jew with my kippa, I show the world that I am appreciative of this fact.

There are times that we must see beyond the narrow concept of rejecting all that is outside of us. There are times for us to show that we see what is outside of us and recognize it for its value.

Take care
RBH



Saturday, 10 November 2012

Mussar: Sleeping Lishmah

From Derech Emet Group

Turei Zahab commentary on Shulchan Aruch, chelek Eben HaEzer, Siman 25, near end of paragraph 1:

He who sleeps more in order to strengthen his mind for Torah [study], the Holy One Blessed Be He grants him his portion in Torah, the same as [He does for a] person who reduces his sleep and makes himself suffer [to increase his Torah study], because everything follows after the intentions...

EXPLANATION: This probably refers to going to sleep earlier, not waking up later, which could cause a Jew to miss the correct time to recite Shema.

CHRONOLOGY: Rabbi David HaLevi was born in 1586 and died in 1667.

***********************************************
 
Shalom and Best Regards,
RRW

Friday, 9 November 2012

Far Rockaway, 5 Towns Update

From Rav  Yehuda L. Oppenheimer, re-posted with permission

Shalom and Best Regards,
RRW
-----------------------------------------

Although I already sent money from our Shul Discretionary Fund and have asked from the pulpit last Shabbos that people contribute, we did not receive much of a response, unfortunately.
 I decided that both לשמה and for the ability to do more effective fundraising, I should go myself to some affected areas and see what I could do to help.  Overcoming the fear that I need to preserve the half tank of gasoline that I had left, I went yesterday to the Five Towns.
My first stop (after passing numerous mile long gas lines) was at Yeshiva Sh'or Yoshuv on the border of Far Rockaway and Lawrence.   One was struck ,when entering the very elaborate and fancy building, and knowing of the general affluence of the area, how many people were there in the middle of the day, picking up their laundry from a communal cleaner, getting some canned food, charging their cellphones, (some actually learning in the Beis HaMedrash, and most of all, gratefully taking advantage of the catered breakfast, lunch and supper that had been provided by local caterers (yesterday it was Shick's) and served by local volunteers.  Similar operations have been set up in other locations, including but not limited to Young Israel of Woodmere (I understand that Rav Billet suffered major damage to his home), Young Israel of Long Beach, Chabad of Five Towns, and others.
 Achiezer had a table set up for coordinating volunteers, and I reported ready to be helpful in any way that they could use me.  They tried to call several on their list of requested needs.   This list was compiled from forms that had been distributed with an extensive questionnaire asking what type of help was needed, including: food, clothing, blankets, help with cleaning basements, generators, sump pumps, moving furniture, rides (for those whose cars were totaled), place to stay (Shabbos/weekday) etc etc.   The needs are mind-boggling.
 It was difficult to reach anyone as so many phones are down and cellphones uncharged, but eventually I was sent with three yeshiva fellows to a lakeside home in Woodmere.   Passing many homes with large piles of garbage and discarded items all over, we came to an affluent home, which was obviously previously quite gracious.  I would guesstimate that two weeks ago it would be described as a $4 million home.  In the front yard were endless large piles of wood, refuse, ruined furniture, clothing, etc etc.   Walking inside the home, there were piles everywhere of endless stuff in varying states of salvagability, and a shell-shocked older couple who were being assisted by their grandson.   They had flood insurance on their homeowners policy, as they lived near a lake, but it covered only the actual structure, none of the contents.   The business that they owned nearby, including a new bakery completed only a few months ago, is a total loss.   Although they had managed to find a few construction workers to help, they critically needed help in getting the wet and ruined flooring and sheet-rock out of the basement before rot and mildew set in, which would be much harder and very expensive to clean, if at all possible given the extensive damage.   Hence, the call for help.
 For the next three hours, the four of us knocked down sheet-rock, shoveled debris, and carried bag after bag of garbage out of the house, stripping down the floor to the concrete and discarding the shmutz.   It was hard work, but it felt wonderful to actually be doing something to help another Yid, presumably people who up until now had been givers but now were in a position of having to take.   Baruch Hashem we finished most of the work before it got too dark to do anymore, and returned home exhausted, trying to drive carefully in the snow that had come in the new storm which functioned as a "sucker punch" to these communities while they are down.
 I am writing this not for accolades, but to encourage others to do the same.   If you are in the area, perhaps you can organize a crew of some able volunteers to come down and help.  Not only are all hands on deck needed  but it gives the hard hit people, many of whom are by now suffering for close to two weeks with no power or heat or housing, knowing that they have suffered huge losses, some much needed chizuk.
 If you want to organize a group to go help, you can be in touch with Achiezer at hurricanefund@achiezer.org, or call them at 516-791-4444.
May הקב"ה bless us, help the victims and יאמר לצרותינו די!

 Yehuda L. Oppenheimer











Thursday, 8 November 2012

Important Message from National Council of Young Israels

Forwarded with Permission from the RCA ...

Shalom and Best Regsrds,
RRW

*****

Our community has been hurt and very badly. You have certainly seen the news, videos on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter posts, heard the reports or spoken and been in touch with friends and relatives on the Northeast coast. Perhaps you are even hosting some family, friends or 'new' friends for a few days or a weekend as the community begins to cleanup and heal. The devastation both physically and emotionally is beyond words. The weather has quickly turned cold and the gas lines continue for hours on end. There are moments when it seems that the despair will not end. Individuals, families and communities alike have, in many cases, lost everything they had from clothing to homes to shuls.
Neighborhoods that have been the envy of our collective community have been shattered by Sandy. Some 20 feet from where I write this my neighbor is having the foundation of his home inspected and overhauled. There are no explanations.
Some of our fellow Young Israels took a beating. The Young Israel of Brighton Beach in Brooklyn suffered major water damage which resulted in an electrical fire knocking out their entire system for the foreseeable future. The Young Israel of Oceanside lost three sifrei Torah, thousands of seforim and all of their youth furniture and toys and sustained heavy damage to the main sanctuary. There are many more similar reports.
On the ground many wonderful and inspiring people and families have provided living space, clothing, food, water and gas for those who are in need. Many local organizations, including local Young Israels and not-so-local Young Israels have mobilized crews to cleanup or provide heat and generators for those who are in need. One set of examples is the Young Israels of Woodmere, Long Beach, Wavecrest & Bayswater, among many others in Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island, New Jersey and Connecticut that have been severely damaged by the storm that have nonetheless become storm shelters and resource centers, as they gather food and clothing, provide heat, light, phone chargers, meals and some respite from the damage and devastation. Hundreds of people each day are coming in through their doors to partake of the generosity and benevolence both from the community and from other faith communities as well. The Young Israel of Shomrei Emunah Greater Washington hosted a busload of people for Shabbos and is looking to do so again. The Young Israel of Flatbush offered to host members of Young Israel of North Woodmere for Shabbos as well. The leaders of these Young Israels have been inspiring and have moved many in the area to push forward and to do more for others even as they suffer their own losses.
At the moment it is still far from enough. With bad weather forecast for today and tomorrow we may be in for some additional flooding and damage.

The needs are massive. We are therefore asking you in your respective shul and community to hold Emergency appeal campaigns this Shabbos, November 10th, Parshas Chayei Sara, on behalf of the shuls and communities in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut area that have been impacted by Sandy. There are many and their needs are growing. We are asking that you send donations to our 'Young Israel Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Fund' through our website (click here <
http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?e=001kdAqQCnbhQtzxa9g86_BkGA8Nad08gr4zYnGSM7txKl5iaYn-N_t4IreM83u602n7NvC0CTk74ZnFxlzLpB4invtVu3xsXmGlG2OhaD7NCTNYhWydk0AvbX27gTpmMvrh2t8qJsTNxrc_xrZ0mMmnsOxdi8hl5HdN6AevubbNrfhD1I1PgFuCg
==> ). The funds will be distributed directly to shul leadership who have the best knowledge of the needs of their shuls and members.

One final note. This week's parsha, Chayei Sarah builds on the theme of last week, Hachnasat Orchim and Gemilut Chasadim, and tells the story of a young woman who provides water to an unknown and weary traveler, someone not of her land, language or location. It was an act of truly selfless loving kindness, one which is still inspiring us today. The people impacted by the hurricane are not 'Eliezers' but our family, friends and community. At this time we ask you to help us out and give generously.

Click here to donate <
http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?e=001kdAqQCnbhQtzxa9g86_BkGA8Nad08gr4zYnGSM7txKl5iaYn-N_t4IreM83u602n7NvC0CTk74ZnFxlzLpB4invtVu3xsXmGlG2OhaD7NCTNYhWydk0AvbX27gTpmMvrh2t8qJsTNxrc_xrZ0mMmnsOxdi8hl5HdN6AevubbNrfhD1I1PgFuCg
==> .

Thank you in advance.

B'vracha and wishes for Besorot Tovot,

Bini Maryles
Associate Executive Director, Young Israel 

















Learning Questionaire

If you strongly Agree, assign a 10

If you strongly disagree assign a 0 etc.

EG I like learning first thing in the morning. 3

-----------------------------------------

1. Most of all, I like completing a sefer and making a siyyum

2. I like the Mitzvah of learning Lishmah. What I complete is not relevant; my goal is to spend as much time in learning as possible.

---

3. I want to master a Given Torah Topic, EG Sefer Sh'muel or Hilchot Hanukkah. I want Expertise.

4. I want to be exposed to as much breadth of Torah as possible. Superficial is fine as long as I touch all the various aspects of Torah. I want an encyclopedic approach.

---

5. I want to learn how to be independent. My goal is to master learning skills so as to to be able to learn as much as I can on my own

6. I like shiurim. I don't like reading on my own; I prefer listening to a Maggid Shiur digest the material on my behalf. I learn audibly.

------

7. I want to build complex structures so that each session builds on what we just covered last time. I like continuity and long-term development.

8. I want every learning session to begin brand new. I don't want the stress of jogging my memory each time to recall what's been covered

---

Hachanah vs. Hazarah

9 I love preparing

10 I love reviewing

11 I prefer to prepare w/o needing to review

12 I prefer to review w/o needing to prepare

------


Shalom and Best Regards,
RRW

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

How you can help Hurricane victims!‏

See http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/article.php?p=143733

For Canadians -
A special Fund has been set up with Achiezer, a relief organization in New York in conjunction with Agudas Israel of New York. We are accepting donations here in Toronto on their behalf. ALL funds we collect will go directly to these victims.
Tax deductible donations payable to "Beth Oloth" can be mailed to: Moti Seidenfeld, 535 Glengrove Avenue, Toronto, Ontario M6B 2H3.


Tuesday, 6 November 2012

An Election Reflection

We Torah Jews are conditioned to ritualize our feelings. EG you want "Shalom" build a Sukkas Shalom! Etc.

As I see it in the USA, Voting is a ritual of Democracy. The results etc. matter less than the effort. The action of registering, voting, participating takes lofty ideals into the "olam ho'assiyah". I get a kick out of being able to vote and to exercise our freedom. And I feel a sense of obligation, too; an obligation to be part of the greater whole via tangible action.

So enjoy the victory - or agonize over the defeat - of your favorites; but always enjoy the chance to flex your "freedom" muscles in November.


Shalom and Best Regards,
RRW

Appeal for Seagate

Courtesy of R Yehudah Oppenheimer -

Seagate, which is on a little peninsula near Coney Island in Brooklyn, was decimated.   You can see the damage as described by long time resident, Mordechai Ben David, at

http://jewishmusicreport.com/2012/11/05/mbd-asks-for-your-help-to-rebuild-seagate/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=facebook

There is a link to donate at the bottom.


Shalom and Best Regards,
RRW

Monday, 5 November 2012

Far Rockaway, Five Towns Relief Effort

Update on Relief Efforts
from
Rabbi Yehiel M. Kalish
National Director of Government Affairs
Agudath Israel of America 
*****

Dear Rabbonim, Members of the Board of Trustees and Nationwide Contacts,
 
It is now 5:22am and I can't sleep. Last night working together with a team at Achiezer we heard just the most terrible stories, let me share a few very real emails with you: 
 
"I need a place for a family with 6 kids desperately for 2/3 weeks." This family has no home left. It's gone.
 
"Thanks for the info. Unfortunately Judy's apartment was totally wiped out.  Then her insurance claim was denied because renter's insurance doesn't cover flooding.
 I don't know how insurance companies get away with that."
 
"My grandmother is lost. FEMA came to visit her, dropped off paperwork and left. What does she do now, her home was completely destroyed and she doesn't want to leave."
 
"If anyone has any way to contact folks in Far Rockaway, please contact me. We're trying to find my brother's in-laws. Nobody has been able to reach them since the storm hit." This was sent Friday; we found them cold, scared and unable to communicate with the outside world.
 
"1)My wife's Shaitel Parnassa was totally destroyed. 2)I have  complete /extensive damage in my basement which also reached my 1st floor. 3)Lost a good percentage of my families Sha-bbos / summer clothing 4) lost 7 complete bookcases of my seforim. I was told that my policy does not insure most of the damage.
whatever the Rosh Hayeshiva can do will obviously be greatly appreciated. 
Thank you."
 
"The number of "lives saved" today by Achiezer is unbelievable !!!! Yasher koach"  This was sent the night of the storm.
 
So here is where we are with an update written by Boruch Ber Bender, Founder/President of Achiezer this morning, a few hours ago.
 
Food:
Due to the overwhelming requests received, we have now setup 2 food distribution centers for today.
For the Far Rockaway/Lawrence area there will be fresh meals at Yeshiva Shor Yoshuv, 1 Cedar Lawn Avenue.
There will also now be a Cedarhurst/Woodmere/Hewlett location at the Young Israel of Woodmere, 859 Peninsula Blvd.
Lunch and dinner will be served at both locations, with the meals starting at 12:30 PM. We will have staff on hand at both locations who will be able to answer any questions you may have with regards to any services that are needed. If anyone has any questions regarding our new Five Towns Storm location please call Meir Krengle at 
(917) 873-1643 Or Michael Krengle at (516) 554-3118
 
Shaimos:
There will be a shaimos truck parked at Shor Yoshuv from 12-3 PM today. Any shaimos may be dropped off there free of charge. Additionally we have arranged a shaimos drop off point for the Cedarhurst/Woodmere/Hewlett area also at the Young Israel of Woodmere. There will be a designated spot at the shul for the drop off, and the materials will be picked up by our truck.
 
Clothing:
Dozens and dozens of brand new racks of clothing are now available to anyone across the community. They will be distributed with no questions asked, in a dignified manner. We are asking any volunteers that are able to assist with the setup of clothing to please report to Shor Yoshuv today at 10 AM. From 12-3 PM the clothing will be available to anyone who needs.
 
Laundry:
We have received many requests regarding the inability to wash fresh laundry due to the lack of electric.
Through the dedicated work of several individuals we have been able to work out a special service for members of Far Rockaway/ Bayswater, and the Five Towns.
There will be 3 drop off points today, and the laundry should be there by 1 PM. Each family may drop off 2 full bags of laundry (please close bags well) and we will have it returned within 24-36 hours.
 
Bayswater dropoff-Young Israel of Bayswater, 2716 Healy Avenue.
 
Far Rockaway/Lawrence drop off-Yeshiva Shor Yoshuv, 1 Cedar Lawn Avenue.
 
Cedarhurst/Woodmere/Hewlett dropoff-Young Israel of Woodmere, 859 Peninsula Blvd.
 
Special Relief Fund:
As many people know our community has launched an emergency relief fund for those who have been affected financially by Hurricane Sandy. 100% of the funds raised will go directly to members of our community who have been hurt. If anyone requires assistance or information about this fund, you may call our hotline, or email us at hurricanefund@achiezer.org
Cleaning/Pumping:
We will have several crews available today to help clean, shlep, and pump out water-filled basements. If you require such a service you may call our office hotline, or 347-752-1400.
You may also email alongoldberger@gmail.com .
If you are able to volunteer for any of these services we ask you to contact these numbers as well.
 
Shelter:
Numerous people from our community were graciously hosted over the weekend by members of our community, Queens, and Brooklyn.
If you are still in need of shelter/temporary place to stay please call our office, or email us at shelter@achiezer.org
 and arrangements will be made.
 
FEMA:
We understand that there are an endless amount of questions and confusion regarding FEMA claims, insurance filings, and legal questions.
We are in the midst of creating a community task force that will exclusively deal with all of these issues. We are working to gather and make available as much information as possible, and hope to have this vital service available to the community by the beginning of the week.
 
 
Electric:
LIPA representatives have told us that the restoration is fully underway. We know that this information doesn't help for the many of you that are still in the dark, especially with the conflicting timetables constantly being heard. We will work extremely hard to forward as much concrete information that we can possibly find out. We strongly feel that as long as you are able to make living arrangements in areas that have electricity, it is safer for you to continue to do so until power is restored.
 
My dear friend reading this email, so you understand fully, THERE IS NO ELECTRIC in many areas. This has been the case since the storm hit last Monday. People have not had power to be able to clean up and now there is another storm threatening to bring a foot of snow this coming Wednesday. 
 
To date the communities outside of New York have raised close to $100,000 in appeals. We need more. We need a lot more. We have raised over $1.2M here locally but we really need a lot more money to help people who are very, very desperate. The current state leaders are Maryland with $7000+ and Ohio who had a fund raiser last night that raised $25,000 plus online donations of $1200 and then Illinois with $5000. Please work with your community to raise necessary funds and send them to us. 
 
If you will be having a communal meeting or live appeal Rabbi Yaakov Reisman, Rabbi Yaakov Bender, Rabbi Eytan Feiner, Rabbi H. Billet or other community Rabbonim will be happy to speak on the phone with any group or group leader and explain clearly the detailed need here in New York at this time and encourage them to give to this fund. 
 
And if you want your donation/your shul donation to go to Sea Gate or the other areas outside of Bayswater/Far Rockaway/Five Towns, just let me know as we are all working together.
 
Checks can be made payable to either Achiezer, Davis Memorial Fund or The Five Towns Community Relief Fund. Each fund is working together and the distribution committee will be chaired by Elisha Brecher, Esq. a noted and respected askan with years of experience in these matters. 
 
We are also in need of generators and RV's. If you know of anyone who can help with either, please let me know ASAP. This need is urgent, lives are at stake.
 
My cell number is 646-408-1013 if you have any questions or concerns.
 
Thank you,
 
Rabbi Yehiel M. Kalish
National Director of Government Affairs
Agudath Israel of America
 

Shalom and Best Regards,
RRW

Sunday, 4 November 2012

POST HURRICANE SANDY COPING  

I'm passing this along... RRW
---------
Any occurrence that constitutes a significant break in routine coupled with a potential threat to life and limb can evoke traumatic reactions. We have previously communicated regarding the immediate stress and potential trauma of the hurricane itself. The following are suggestions of coping with the lingering impact and effects of this calamitous event.

*
THE LIKELIHOOD OF A TRAUMATIC OR DESTABILIZING REACTION ON YOUR PART AND THAT OF YOUR CHILDREN WILL PARTIALLY DEPEND ON THE EXTENT TO WHICH THERE HAD BEEN EXPOSURE TO INJURY AND PROPERTY DAMAGE.
*
PAST HISTORY OF TRAUMA, ESPECIALLY RECENT, CAN EXACERBATE THE EXISTENCE OF A STRESS REACTION EVEN IF THE PRIOR EVENT WAS UNRELATED AND DIFFERENT IN NATURE. FOR EXAMPLE, A CHILD WHO RECENTLY EXPERIENCED AN INJURY OR WITNESSED AN VEHICULAR ACCIDENT MAY COMBINE THESE TWO EVENTS AND EXACERBATE THE TRAUMA.
*
EVERYONE INHERENTLY DIFFERS IN THE EXTENT TO WHICH THEY RESPOND TO FRIGHTENING EVENTS AND THOSE WITH A PROCLIVITY TOWARDS ANXIETY AND FRIGHTFUL ANTICIPATION WILL PROBABLY RESPOND MORE PROFOUNDLY TO THESE RECENT DISRUPTIONS AND UPHEAVAL THAN SOMEONE ELSE WHO IS BY NATURE MORE CAVALIER OR DISTRACTED.
*
IT IS NOT UNCOMMON TO HAVE A DORMANT PERIOD BETWEEN THE EVENT AND TRAUMATIC REACTION. THIS IS PARTICULARLY THE CASE WHEN INDIVIDUALS ARE PREOCCUPIED WITH THE CALAMITY AND ITS AFTERMATH AND ONLY BECOME COGNIZANT OF ITS ENORMITY WHEN LIFE RETURNS TO NORMAL AND CALM IS RESTORED. PLEASE DO NOT BE SURPRISED IF YOU AND/OR YOUR CHILD EXPERIENCE TRAUMATIC RESPONSES WEEKS LATER EVEN LONG AFTER YOUR DAILY ROUTINE AND ABODE ARE SETTLED.
*
IT IS ESSENTIAL ESPECIALLY FOR CHILDREN AROUND SIX YEARS AND OLDER THAT ALL CHANGES IN THEIR SURROUNDINGS AND LIFESTYLE ARE ADEQUATELY EXPLAINED AND ANTICIPATED WHEN POSSIBLE. THE RARITY OF SUCH EVENTS SHOULD BE EMPHASIZED AS WELL.
*
CHILDREN UNDER SIX WILL PROBABLY BE MORE RESPONSIVE TO DIFFUSE DEMONSTRATIONS OF SAFETY AND SECURITY SUCH AS HOLDING, SOOTHING REMARKS AND CONCRETE EXPRESSIONS OF AFFECTION.
*
ONCE CALMED AND EVENTS ACCOUNTED FOR, PLEASE KEEP YOUR CHILDREN BUSY WITH RECREATION, EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITIES AND IF POSSIBLE SOCIALIZATION.
*
IF YOUR POWER IS STILL OUT, CONTINUE TO ASSURE YOUR CHILDREN OF THEIR SAFETY AND ITS ULTIMATE RESUMPTION. BE SURE THAT FORMS OF RECREATION, LEARNING AND OTHER CONSUMING ACTIVITIES ARE SUCH THAT CAN BE CONDUCTED WITHOUT ELECTRICITY.
*
IF CULTURALLY APPLICABLE, IT IS MOST DEFINITELY HELPFUL TO ACCOUNT FOR THESE EVENTS AND THEIR AFTERMATH IN A RELIGIOUS OR SPIRITUAL CONTEXT. PRAYER, TORAH STUDY AND GOOD DEEDS CAN BE AMONG THE ACTIVITIES THAT BOTH EMPOWER AND DISTRACT CHILDREN DURING THESE TIMES. IF HIGHLIGHTING G-D'S STRENGTH AND DOMINATION, BE CAREFUL TO SCULPT YOUR COMMENTS IN SUCH A WAY THAT HE IS NOT SEEN BY THE CHILD IN A DESTRUCTIVE OR CRUEL CONTEXT.
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COMMON REACTIONS TO TRAUMA THAT CAN BE OBSERVED IMMEDIATELY OR AT A LATER JUNCTURE INCLUDE FLASHBACKS, STARTLE REACTIONS, AVOIDANCE OF REMINDERS,  IRRITABILITY, SOMATIC COMPLAINTS, SLEEP DISTURBANCE, HOPELESSNESS, DESPAIR AND OTHER SIGNIFICANT CHANGES IN BEHAVIOR AND MOOD.
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IF YOU SEE SUCH CHANGES IN YOUR CHILD, DO INDEED INQUIRE IF THE FRIGHTENING IMAGES AND OCCURRENCES DURING HURRICANE SANDY IS ON HIS OR HER MIND. IF YOU SEE NO SUCH RESPONSES, THERE IS NO NEED NOR IS IT RECOMMENDED TO BRING IT UP OR FISH FOR SUCH CONCERNS.
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KEEP IN MIND THAT CHILDREN, PARTICULARLY YOUNGER, ARE PRONE TO BRING UP WORRIES AND CONCERNS AT THE MOST UNEXPECTED OR EVEN INOPPORTUNE TIMES. IF SUCH CONCERNS ARE SUGGESTIVE OF TRAUMA OR FRIGHTENING MISCONCEPTIONS TRY TO IMMEDIATELY RESPOND EVEN IF THE CONTEXT IS INCONVENIENT AND UNCONDUCIVE.
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SCHOOL AGED CHILDREN (PARTICULARLY BOYS) MAY BE UNDULY INTERESTED IN THE DETAILS AND SCARY ACCOUNTS REVOLVING AROUND THIS CATASTROPHE. THIS IS NOT ATYPICAL FOR THIS AGE AND FACTS SHOULD BE SUCCINCTLY AND CLEARLY CONVEYED. THE RARE AND HAIR-RAISING STORIES SHOULD BE PLACED IN THE CONTEXT OF BOTH SORROW AND THEIR PRONOUNCED UNLIKELIHOOD TO RECUR. UNFOUNDED AND EXAGGERATED RUMORS OR DESCRIPTIONS SHOULD BE CATEGORICALLY AND BRIEFLY CORRECTED.
*
IF A CHILD IS PREOCCUPIED WITH SOME ASPECT OF THE PHYSICAL DESTRUCTION OF THEIR HOME OR NEIGHBORHOOD, IT MAY BE HELPFUL TO CONCRETELY SHOW THEM THE REPARATIVE ACTIVITIES AND ULTIMATE RESTORATION OF THE INTEGRITY OF THEIR HOME AND SURROUNDINGS.
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THE PROLONGED ABSENCE OF ELECTRICAL POWER AND DARKNESS OF THE HOME CAN ALSO HAVE INSIDIOUSLY SLOW EFFECT OF INCREASED IRRITATION, IMPATIENCE AND PETULANCE. IF THIS IS DETECTED, IT MAY BE BEST TO TRY TO GET OUT OF THE HOME, VISIT OTHERS WITH NORMAL LIGHT AND APPLIANCES OR SOME WAY CREATE A BREAK OR EXCURSION FROM THE PERSISTENT DARKNESS AND INCONVENIENCES.
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THERE ARE MANY EFFECTIVE TECHNIQUES TODAY TO ADDRESS POST TRAUMATIC REACTIONS. IF ANYONE IS DISPLAYING ONGOING DISRUPTIVE SYMPTOMS IN THE AFTERMATH OF THIS TRAUMA, THEY CAN BE ASSISTED PROFESSIONALLY AND SHOULD SEEK OUT AN APPROPRIATE REFERRAL.
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CHAI LIFELINE AND MANY OF THE OTHER REPUTABLE AGENCIES AND ORGANIZATIONS IN OUR COMMUNITY ARE READILY AVAILABLE TO ASSIST AND ADVICE THOSE WHO HAVE ANY SUCH CONCERNS. PLEASE FEEL FREE TO AVAIL YOURSELF OF THIS HELP.

Dr. Norman N Blumenthal
Director Bereavement and Crisis Intervention Service
nblumenthal@chailifeline.org
Emergency: 646 763-0627

Rabbi Yaakov Dovid Klar, MSW
Director of Community Outreach
jklar@chailifeline.org
Emergency: 917 710-7857

Zahava Farbman, LMSW
Asssociate Director, Bereavement and Crisis Intervention Services
zfarbman@chailifeline.org
Emergency: 516 993-0430

Chai Lifeline, Project Chai
212 465-1300
212 699 - 6646





Shalom and Best Regards,
RRW
















Saturday, 3 November 2012

Mussar: Mitzvah Lishmah and Kiddush Hashem

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Hilchot Yesodei HaTorah, chapter 5, end of paragraph 10:

Whoever refrains from a sin, or does a mitzvah, not for any worldly reason, [for example]:
fear or seeking honor, but only because the Creator. Blessed Be He commanded it, as exemplified by the righteous Yosef who restrained himself from the wife. of Potifar, that person sanctifies the Name [of G_d].

CHRONOLOGY:
Rambam was born in 1134 CE in Cordoba, Spain. and died in 1204 CE in Egypt.

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Shalom and Best Reagrds,
RRW

Friday, 2 November 2012

Huffington Post: Does Marriage Still Benefit Society?

In my latest blog on Huffington Post-Canada,  I maintain that the modern issue of same-sex marriage goes beyond this particular matter but rather reflects the greater need for secular society to examine its perspective on the concept of marriage in general.

Please see
http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/rabbi-ben-hecht/gay-marriage_b_2042573.html

Please feel free to comment there or here.

Rabbi Ben Hecht
 

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Jewish Tribune: A Child and Decision to Convert (4)

There was a case recently, in England, which was reported as allowing a Jewish ten-year-old girl to convert to Christianity. That was not the actual decision, though. What the case still revealed, however, were not adversities for us from the outside world but, rather, problems and weaknesses in our modern understandings of Jewishness.

In a series of articles in the Jewish Tribune, I further investigate this. For the fourth in the series, please see
http://www.jewishtribune.ca/religion/2012/10/29/a-child-and-decision-to-convert-4

Rabbi Ben Hecht