Thursday 31 January 2013

Beyond Chesed

The following is an article, by Nishma's Rabbi Hecht, recently published in 
Empowering News and Views
Disability Information and Torah Perspectives for Everyone
 the email Newsletter of Yad HaChazakah - JDEC.

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Beyond Chesed [acts of loving-kindness]
By Rabbi Benjamin Hecht, Rabbinic Adviser, Yad HaChazakah.

[In the following article, Rabbi Hecht looks at the act of helping. When we help another person, what should be our intent and our objective? How does the giver's intent or the way he or she carries out an act of chesed affect the giver and receiver and the outcomes of the chesed? You may comment on our Facebook and/or Twitter pages - or send your comment to Rabbi Hecht's article now follows.]

Image-Rabbi Benjamin HechtIn my article The Evil of Chesed, Nishma Update 5757-1 (available at, I discuss the often overlooked, potentially strong negative side of chesed. Within a Torah world view that highly values balance,[1] chesed  -- while ethically demanded and absolutely necessary in a multitude of circumstances -- can also present a powerful challenge to the maintenance of this desired balance. It is thus not enough to act for the benefit of, for example, an individual with a disability. The further call of Torah is also to do so in a manner that also fulfills, to the extent possible, this ultimate goal of balance.

In a monetary transaction, balance is achieved when the two parties in a transaction feel that they have received equal value, albeit different items. Chesed is not of this nature for it reflects a situation when one gives more while the other benefits more. Indeed, this is also the very reason why chesed is so valuable. G-d is the very model of chesed for He gives to human beings without any desire, need or, even, actuality of benefit; the transaction is totally asymmetrical. Chesed is, thus, very important to us for through this behavior of giving without compensation, or even consideration thereof, we attempt to emulate Hashem. We must still, however, proceed with caution.

From the perspective of the one receiving, there is still a problem with such a singular and insular focus on chesed. To simply be on the
receiving end would seem to reflect a lack; there is a weakness in just being a receiver. By being a giver focused only on giving, one, sadly, can also thereby participate in relegating the other into being solely a taker. The opportunity for Divine emulation, with the resultant dignity, is thereby lost for this latter individual. Does G-d want us to effect this type of imbalance? It would seem to be improper to reach our own goal of Divine emulation at the expense of another’s Divine dignity. This is something that must be addressed.
Indeed it is addressed, even in regard to the Divine relationship that G-d has with humanity. The question is asked: Why did G-d, the Essence of Chesed Whose sole motivation was to give the good, not just place us immediately in the ideal World-to-Come? The answer, found as a fundamental Torah principle throughout Jewish Thought, is that He created this world first in order to offer us the opportunity t
o earn this Future Reward, to not be just takers. The emulation of Divinity, which must be an inherent part of this Paradise, demands self-achievement, sufficiency and ability. As Mishlei 15:27 states: “The one who hates gifts shall live.” There is, thus, value in limiting our receipt of chesed and G-d has thus also given us the opportunity to achieve this as well. It is in the same vein that we must also be aware in our performance of chesed that we are not destroying the development and/or expression of this value of self in the one who benefits from our acts of chesed. Our goal must not only be to give but also to create the possibility, for the other, to ‘earn’ as well.

Returning to the example of the individual
Image-Helping Another Person Get Into Gear with a disability whom we may wish to help, it is, thus, also important for us to do whatever we can to consider the autonomy of this individual and assist in the development and actualization of the abilities of this person. Sometimes, it may actually be easier to just do the act of uncomplicated chesed and simply help the person. Still we must recognize that the more difficult path of assisting others to be able to help themselves, and be as fully-functioning as possible within society, is always the higher goal.[2]  The prospect of becoming more G-d-like by striving to be totally giving can also be a misleading attraction[3] of which we must be aware. Our ultimate objective must be the goal of balance, of doing whatever we can, not to just help but, to assist an individual in being an equal participant in the transactions of a significant life.

[1] See Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Hilchot De’ot 1:4 which marks the golden mean as the proper human path.
[2] This corresponds with Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Matanot Ani’im 10:7.
[3] We can often be misled by the attraction of what we believe to be the proper spiritual path but is actually a form of hedonistic (perceived-to-be-spiritual) pleasure. See my Spiritual Hedonism Nishma Introspection 5760-1 (available at

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For further information about Yad HaChazakah-\JDEC, please see their website at

PartnerShip Minyanim

R Barry Freundel:

«R. Farber posits that there are two different functions for the Shaliach Tsibbur: 1) The classic function to say certain prayers out loud either on behalf of the congregation as a whole, e.g. Kaddish and Barkhu, or on behalf of individuals who do not know how to recite the prayer on his or her own,… 2) to set the pace and melodies of the prayers. He then assumes different rules for the individuals who perform these two different functions.

But R. Farber presents no sources for this dichotomy in halakha or for women being allowed to fill role #2. »

Hirhurim - Torah Musings » Partnership Minyanim II

Best Regards,

Wednesday 30 January 2013

7 DVD Special on the Holocaust from ALDEN FILMS

ALDEN FILMS announces a new 7-DVD special on the Holocaust:

Clarksburg, NJ — .... A Remembrance of History's Lowest Point is an inspection of .... The Holocaust was the  inevitable result of the culmination of 19 centuries of Antisemitism. What began  as a hatred of a religion became a new type of hatred never seen before–imputing a cosmic evil to all Jews, whether living, or dead. The Holocaust collection traces both the victims and the perpetrators in history's most demonic epoch.
For a limited time, we're including two bonus DVDs — WHAT FIRE CAN'T BURN, a tale of a childhood lost to Thereseinstadt, and BETWEEN BERLIN AND JERUSALEM, an interpretation of present-day attitudes to Jews and Israel in post-Holocaust Germany.
Featured DVDs include:
AMBULANCE — the classic trigger film of the Holocaust, depicting the use of disguised ambulances as killing vans of Jewish children
CHILDREN OF THE EXODUS — the uplifting film of child survivors of the Holocaust who miraculously sailed to Israel on the actual ship Exodus 1947
EICHMANN: THE NAZI FUGITIVE — the architect of the Holocaust and his eventual capture
LEGACY OF ANNE FRANK — one Jewish girl's testament to hope during the Holocaust, featuring Otto Frank and Miep Gies
MEMORANDUM — the survivors of Bergen Belsen concentration camp return to the scene of their torment
POLAND/KOLBUSZOWA — a look back at the world of the Shtetl, which was destroyed by the Holocaust
SIGHET, SIGHET — Elie Wiesel's haunting return to his hometown in Hungary, where the town's Jews were rounded up and sent to Auschwitz, never to return
The complete set of A Remembrance of History's Lowest Point (7 DVDs, plus 2 bonus DVDs) is $99.95, plus $10.00 for shipping and handling. Individual DVDs are $24.95 each. For orders and previews, call 800-832-0980, 732-462-3522; Fax 732-294-0330; e-mail; or write to ALDEN FILMS, P.O. Box 449, Clarksburg, NJ 08510.

Best Regards,

Tuesday 29 January 2013

JVO: Christmas Things

Jewish Values Online ( 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: What should I do if my child is in school and the teachers are making him do a bunch of Christmas things like decorating the tree and making ornaments? Do I let him participate? We are a Jewish family and I am concerned. I don't want him to be forced to do Christian religious things, but I also don't want him to feel isolated and left out.

Theologically this presents several issues, including:
1. What is the status of Christianity in Jewish Law?
2.  In today's world what is the status of Christmas? Is it a religious holiday or a secular holiday?
A quick review of Tractate "Avodah Zarah" aka Akum etc. reveals that a primary concern is to bend over backwards so as to NOT observe Pagan Holidays.  A lot of ink is spilled on this which leads me to the next topic, because I plan to skirt the first 2. --smile--
3. What about assimilation?  Have more Jews been lost here in North America to assimilation than in Europe did to persecution?
Clearly, Hanukkah was THE paradigm protesting the enforced assimilation of Jews towards the popular culture or its time, namely Hellenism. It would be ironic if Hanukkah were to be "undone" by enforced assimilation here in the USA!
I'm not sure of the First Amendment issues but free practice would mean that those who choose to Observe Christmas have every right to do so, and those who refuse to Observe Christmas equally have that right, too.
Bottom Line as I see it any concession on this matter is a concession in favor of assimilation and at the expense of minority rights.
Try to get excused from this and instead offer to do volunteer work on Christmas, EG at Hospitals.

Exodus 23:24,25
Exodus 34:12-17
Leviticus 18:1-5
Deutoronomy 7:1-8
Tractate Avodah Zarah

Shalom and Regards,

Nefesh HaChaim now in English - Details to Follow

The Soul of Life: The Complete Neffesh Ha-chayyim:Amazon:Books

Best Regards,

Monday 28 January 2013

The Late Stan the Man, Leaves Us His Namesake

«Allow me to explain. I am named after my great-grandfather, Shmuel Aryeh Poplack. For some reason, however, my father did not like the name Samuel, the corresponding English name for Shmuel. A sports fan and a bit of an athlete himself, my father instead decided to name me Stanley in honor of Stan Musial.»

Rabbi Sh'muel Goldin, Rabbi in Englewood, NJ and President of the RCA.

The Jewish Week | Connecting the World to Jewish News, Culture, and Opinion

Best Regards,

Sunday 27 January 2013

What Does Judaism Say About Gun Control?

«One of the things we have seen is an intensifying of the gun control debate by well-meaning citizens on both sides of the issue. Frankly this creates a debate within ourselves as well. Many of us appreciate and are torn between both approaches to this vexing issue.

As Jews, our teachings tell us that preserving human life is the greatest human calling, and murder the most depraved attack on man and G*d there can be.

The question is: What does Jewish tradition and law tell us about the best way to preserve human life?»

What Does Judaism Say About Gun Control? - Of Weapons and Wickedness - Issues

Best Regards,

Saturday 26 January 2013

Mussar: ... His lips move along in the grave.

From Derech Emet -

Midrash Rabah, Shir HaShirim, chapter 7, paragraph 16:

Rabbi Yochanan ben Torta taught:

[A deceased Torah scholar whose teachings are being quoted in his name,] his lips move along in the grave.


NOTE 1: This cannot be interpreted literally, because the lips of dead people do not move. Rather, this must mean that the soul of the deceased Torah scholar experiences some kind of benefit or satisfaction when living Jews quote his teachings in his name.

NOTE 2: This concept also appears in the Babylonian Talmud, tractate Yebamot, page 97A, on the first lines of that page; but there the concept is taught in the name of Rabbi Yochanan who taught it in the name of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai; there is no explicit mention there of ben Torta in Yebamot 97A.

NOTE 3: The story of Rabbi Yochanan ben Torta is in the Pesikta Rabati, Parsha 14, commentary on Parshat Chukat

Best Regards,

Friday 25 January 2013

Tov Hashnayim Min ho'Echad

I find that, when learning, a Sefer BOTH with the original Hebrew AND with an English Translation works better than with just either one by itself.

I guess that each language stimulates a different neural pathway, and that the combination of the two complements each other.

Best Regards,

Thursday 24 January 2013

The Conflict of Judaism and Democracy

I saw a recent article on Arutz Sheva, entitled "Op-Ed: Israel's Political Left: Between Judaism and Democracy" (available  at in which the author describes a growing rift, in Israel, between those he terms the leftists who favour Western values, articulated under the catch-all phrase of democracy, and the more traditional population who favour, as the author terms it, Judaism. The fact is that this conflict was actually fully existent at the very inception of the State and is clearly articulated in the, what we must term, contradictory language of Israel's Declaration of Independence. The further problem is, though, that while this tension and rift does clearly exist -- now and then -- this articulation of the problem as a conflict between Democracy and Judaism only adds to the difficulty. On the surface, this would seem to be the challenging stira that can only be solved by choosing one over the other. What must be recognized, though, is that the ultimate answer will only be found in actually not choosing but answering this stira, this contradiction.

This is actually the very theme of a new series of shiurim that, as they are presented, will be available on Koshertube. The latest shiur (second in the series) is now available at Behind the idea of the shiurim is that, given how we, the Jewish People have benefited from these Western Values (Rav Moshe does refer to the U.S. as a medina shel chesed) and there is a concept within Torah of values derived from sechel, thought, which would seem to mirror the concept of natural morality, it is not so simple to just dismiss these values. This is not to say that they triumph over clear Torah values chas v'shalom but they are clearly to be present in our minds as we look at the Torah. Maybe the conflict we perceive is only because we are not fully understanding of the Torah directive? Maybe we have to learn more? Maybe the Torah is informing us of a weakness in this reasoned concept that our minds, left alone, would have missed?

I am not challenging that there is a conflict right now and .have to act pursuant to Torah as we understand it now. The answer may be, though, to work on this understanding.

Rabbi Ben Hecht

The first in my present series of shiurim is available at
On this same theme, I would also recommend another recent shiur of mine on differing value systems within Torah at

Physical Pleasures

«Physical Pleasures can give a person Pleasure and Happiness to some degree, but this cannot compete with the Elevated Pleasure that one can derive when one toils in Wisdom.»
- Chazon Ish

Best Regards,

Wednesday 23 January 2013

Shooting Renews Argument Over Video-Game Violence

«White House adviser David Axelrod tweeted, "But shouldn't we also quit marketing murder as a game?"

And Donald Trump weighed in, tweeting, "Video game violence & glorification must be stopped — it is creating monsters!"»

Washington - Shooting Renews Argument Over Video-Game Violence --

Best Regards,

Tuesday 22 January 2013

JVO: Maccabees

Jewish Values Online ( 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: Can we apply the lessons learned from the Maccabees in the story of Chanukah (to have courage, to stand up and fight, not to bow to outside pressures) to Israel's current struggle for its rights and independence?

The simple answer to this question would seem to be an obvious yes; of course we should learn from the heroes of our past. Upon further consideration, though, the answer may be more complicated that you might first expect. You outline the lessons that we might learn but are these really the lessons – or primary lessons – of the story? The fact is that the lessons that are actually to be learned may really be quite different. The current struggle in Israel is, of course, comparable to any battle in which those who fought demonstrated courage and stood up to fight for what they believed in and in that way we can clearly, of course, also learn from the Maccabees as you properly identify. Yet, in a more specific sense, the story of Chanukah actually reflected, in many ways, a different type of conflict than the one we are presently experiencing in Israel. In that regard, the lessons may be different than you might think.
First of all, in essence the battle of Chanukah actually began as a civil war; the Syrian Greeks only became involved at the request of Hellenists Jews who wished to introduce more Hellenist ideas into Jewish culture. This leads to the second major distinction between the present situation in Israel and the battle of Chanukah. This latter battle was an idealistic one, not nationalistic. While the present conflict in Israel does include some religious overtones, the essence of the battle is one between nations or ethnic groupings. In the case of Chanukah, the essential battle was really within one national identity, the Jews; the conflict was over which ideology should be dominant within the Jewish society. As such, when you present one lesson of Chanukah to be that we should not bow to outside pressure, while this is true, it was a different type of outside pressure to which the Maccabees stood up. The challenge for Israel today may, in part, revolve around the question of how to stand up to outside political and national pressure. The fight of the Maccabees was against a pressure of an outside value system that was influencing Jewish society and while it became a physical war, its essence was in the mind.
There is indeed a further lesson, that we can learn from the Maccabees, that is applicable to modern day Israel but it is not one that directly connects with the present nationalistic struggle tied to conflict with the Arab world. What the Maccabees also stand for is the need to maintain the uniqueness of our Jewish identity, being and meaning. This is not necessarily to say that there is nothing within the outside world from which we can benefit but the need is to declare what is primary. The battle of Chanukah was in regard to what would be primary – Torah or Hellenism? The Hellenists still wanted some traditional Jewish practices but only when they could also pass the sanction of Hellenism. For the Maccabees, Torah was primary and it was any Hellenist ideas that had to pass the test of Torah. This is still an important lesson for Israel today in its greater struggle in its broadest sense of finding its national identity – but it may not be a lesson of which you were thinking.

Honor the Memory of Martin Luther King

Guest Blogger
Rav Dov Fischer

January 21, 2012 - Martin Luther King Day

I honor the memory of Martin Luther King today.  He stood with Israel.  He supported freedom for Soviet jewry.  He demonstrated gratitude for the role played by Jews in the American Civil Rights movement.
In a world that today sees prominent Black figures ranging a spectrum from Obama to Jesse Jackson to Al Sharpton to Louis Farrakhan, we Jews have felt the loss of King more than have most non-Black communities, mostly to our detriment.
He deserves our respect and our acknowledgement.  I continue to believe that Yeshiva Day Schools [in the USA] should treat this day as they do Presidents Day, given that the secular society has made it a national holiday and that most states have adopted it as a holiday as well.

Best Regards,

Monday 21 January 2013

Two Views in the News: Yale, the Soloveichiks, and Y'shua

Yale, the Soloveichiks, and Y'shua

The Soloveitchik Who Loved Jesus

A Yale president's forebear was an enigmatic and pro-Christian member of the famed rabbinic dynasty
By Shaul Magid


Haym Soloveitchik's Demolition of Talya Fishman's Thesis 
in Algemeiner--12/14/12

I have to go back 50 years to when I first met Haym Soloveitchik, the brilliant son of the magisterial and phenomenal late Rabbi JB Soloveitchik....


I don't know the details but I've longed held that Christians don't always "get" what's being said

EG I come to fulfill the commandments

In Hebrew - bossi l'kayeim hammitzvot. Any Jew would understand fulfill to mean
To OBSERVE the Mitzvos

But Christians [mis]-undertstand it as Y'shua doing it on behalf of everyone else. A radical shift to "vicarious" observance.

imho such misunderstandings abound re: the Tanach and NT. However, whether clarifying such misperceptions would accomplish a rapprochement is beyond the scope of this post.

Best Regards,

Sunday 20 January 2013

Gun Control and the Holocaust

How the left lost on gun control  - Daily News

Richard Cohen and other Liberals pooh-pooh the idea that Gun Rights might have saved Jewish Lives in Germany during the Nazi era.

My Grade 8 American History teacher though, made that very same point to us circa 1965. My take mirrors his. Storm Troopers could have been intimidated. Meyer Lansky succeeded with just a few dozen Jewish Thugs with Baseball Bats against the pro-Nazi American Bund in upstate New York.

It's difficult to be certain. But I'm willing to bet that it couldn't have been any worse, and may have been a lot better.

Best Regards,

Saturday 19 January 2013

Mussar: Yir'at Hashem

Tanach [Bible], Mishlei [Proverbs], Chapter 1, Verse 7:

The fear of HASHEM is the beginning of wisdom.


Mishlei was written by King Solomon more than 30 centuries ago.
King Solomon [Shlomoh HaMelech] was the wisest man who ever lived.


Two of the Best Mussar S'farim are:

Pirkei Avot 

Best Regards,

Friday 18 January 2013

Orly Noy, Persian Literature, in Hebrew

«The resulting Hebrew translations are major feats of not just literary and cultural merit, but of political value as well. It was a challenge, Noy says, "to get the Israeli reader to see how much [Iranians and Israelis] actually have in common, what happens when great ideologies and great thoughts and hopes and revolutions become violent and lose their humanity." Through this literature, Noy is aiming to undercut ideology—in both her native and adoptive countries— and restore what humanity has been lost. »

Persian Literature, in Hebrew | Jewniverse

Best Regards,

Thursday 17 January 2013

NY Senator Chuck Schumer Announces Support for Chuck Hagel

«Hagel also clarified that he does not support any negotiations with Hamas or Hezbollah until they give up terror and recognize Israel's right to exist. The conversation also touched on Hagel's controversial remarks about the "Jewish lobby." Hagel, according to Schumer's statement, expressed his regret for using the term.»
Chuck Schumer Announces Support for Chuck Hagel – The Jewish Daily Forward

Best Regards,

Wednesday 16 January 2013

God Has Reasons for Everything and We Continue to Love Him

«Therefore, when we see people in pain, our obligation is not to seek a reason, but to obey God's commandment of chesed ("lovingkindness"). We do God's will by comforting the mourner, visiting the sick, and clothing and feeding the poor. Though pain and sadness is always a proper time for self-examination and personal improvement, it is not the time to attempt to find a cause for the pain of those who suffer. It is the time to try to relieve their pain — both through chesed and through prayer.»
God Has Reasons for Everything and We Continue to Love Him | Jewish Exponent

Best Regards,

Tuesday 15 January 2013

Judge won't block New York City circumcision law

Judge won't block New York City circumcision law
Thu, Jan 10 23:03 PM EST
By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A Manhattan federal judge refused to block a New York City regulation requiring people who perform circumcisions and use their mouths to draw away blood from the wound on a baby's penis to first obtain written consent from the parents.

Best Regards,

Monday 14 January 2013

Urgent: Please Say Psalm 121 for Brian Aharon Ben Leah


The young 17 years old victim of the  murderer from Toulouse fell back into
a coma.

Please read psalm  121

His name is: Brian Aharon Ben Leah

Please forward this message to 18  people (18 is the numerical value for HAI, which
means LIFE .


En francais
Le jeune blessé de 17 ans de OZAR HATHORA  est retombé dans le coma



ENVOYER CETTE DEMANDE A 18 PERSONNES(18 est la  valeur numérique de h'ai qui
veut dire la vie en hebreu ne brisez pas la  chaine


Never doubt that a small group of  thoughtful, committed people can change
the world. Indeed, it  is the only thing that ever has.

Best Regards,

Jack Lew: Treasury’s First Orthodox Jewish Chief

Treasury's First Orthodox Chief
Jack Lew, Obama's pick for Treasury secretary, is the highest-ranking Orthodox Jew in U.S. government history
By Yair Rosenberg

January 10, 2013 7:00 AM|

Best Regards,

Sunday 13 January 2013

Black is Beautiful

As I write this on 11 January..

Over the past few weeks I've been learning Hillchot Tefillin as part of my Mishnah B'rurah Yomit cycle

And so last Motze'ei Shabbat I asked my friend R M.Y. To help me blacken my Tefillin Shel Rosh, because it had some "white spots".

RMY brought his "blacker" and remarked re: the white spots - "those are body salts. Take a damp cloth and wipe them off". I did and they came right off. RMY: "you lost the shine, but it's now perfectly black..."

A few days later - I got a link to a speach by DR. ML KIng Jr. He "generalized" by saying that in the dictionary and literature Black is evil and White is pure. Then he added "Black is Beautiful."

Link to Speech


A few nights ago I saw RMY at Maariv. I mentioned the King Speech and that regarding Tefillin, Black is indeed Beautiful!

Best Regards,

Friday 11 January 2013

Hollywood, FL - Orthodox Jewish Parents Fight To Keep Their Teenage Daughter On Life Support --

Please say Tehillim for Danielle Chaya bas Aviva

«For its part, the hospital has denied any attempts to remove Danielle from life support. In a statement, the hospital said patient confidentiality prevented them from discussing the case, but did say, "As an institution that values deeper caring, we do our utmost to respect religious and cultural beliefs."»

Best Regards,

Chicago Op-Ed on the Middle East

Guest Blogger
R Phil Lefkowitz
Below is an op-ed I sent out to the local press in Chicago yesterday.
Phil Lefkowitz

Building Homes for Jewish Civilians in Jerusalem
By Rabbi Philip Lefkowitz
Agudas Achim North Shore Congregation

On December 13, 1985, the General Assembly of the United Nations issued its "Declaration On The Human Rights of Individuals Who Are Not Nationals Of the Country In Which They Live" It states that aliens have "the right to own property alone as well as in association with others, subject to domestic law".and "...shall enjoy the right to liberty of movement and freedom to choose their residence within the borders of the State." Is there anyone who seriously questions that Jews living in Jerusalem, in their ancient and present capital shouldn't have the minimal rights of aliens?
Statistics regarding the population of Jerusalem during the rule of the Ottoman Empire clearly demonstrate that there is an ever growing Jewish population in Jerusalem. The natural growth of population requires more housing for the Jewish residents of Jerusalem; a natural occurrence in any society. Jews covet residence in the City of David. Thrice daily in their prayers. Jews implore G-d to establish His kingdom in Jerusalem – "and to your City Jerusalem return in mercy..." Prime Ministers of Israel have always stated that the E1 section of Jerusalem is not part of any negotiation, a fact recognized by the Clinton administration.
Unlike Arab nations in the area, Israel offers citizenship to all – Muslim, Christian and Jew. Muslims, citizens of Israel, are elected to its government, occupying seats in Israel's parliament, the Kenesset. Contrast this with several Arab states which by law forbid a Jew to reside within their borders.
As has been amply demonstrated by the recent terrorist attacks from Gaza on the citizenry of Israel , "land for peace" has gone up in the smoke of bombs landing amidst the civilian populations of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem..
Until the Arab states and their supporters. accord Jews the minimal rights of an alien in accordance with the resolutions of the United Nations, there can be no peace in the Middle East.

Thursday 10 January 2013

Middah k'neged Middah

Link provided courtesy of our Chaveir, R David Willig.

«11) We reward people for not working with welfare, food stamps and countless other government programs; then we're surprised to have so many takers demanding that everyone else pay their way.»

20 Ways America Has Begun to Reap What It Has Sown - John Hawkins - Page 1

Best Regards,

Wednesday 9 January 2013

Tablet Magazine I Booster Shot for Jewish Values

«Last week, we got an email, two printed letters, and a phone call from Josie's public school, all informing us that unless she got a tetanus booster in the next six days, she would not be allowed to attend classes. I called the school in a panic: Josie had just turned 11 and hadn't had her annual checkup yet. Too bad, I was told. Rules are rules. No shot, no school. I quickly called the pediatrician's office, and they assured me that there were a couple of hours every day in which I could bring Josie in to see a nurse, and they'd provide all the paperwork I needed to prove my child was not a tetanus-laden disease vector. And so it came to pass»

Best Regards,

Tuesday 8 January 2013

Rachel's Tomb - Why Are You Crying

"Why are you crying, Mommy?"

I could only shake my head at my 3-year-old's question. Had I tried to speak, the silent tears would have turned into heartrending sobs. Besides, what could I have answered? Was I crying for our biblical mother Rachel who had died in childbirth so many years ago? Were my tears for my neighbor, Raquela, who had left behind her seven children and, in my eyes, was a symbol of all Jewish women today? Or were my tears for myself as part of the Jewish people who were still waiting, after such a long time, for "the children to return to their borders"?

Tears At Rachel's Tomb

Best Regards,

Monday 7 January 2013

YUHS Allegations

«A mediator who was giving a lecture, told the audience of her shortest, but successful, mediation. A contractor was owed $3000.. At the mediation, the protocol was followed where the person with the claim begins the discussion. The contractor explained why he was owed the money in question. It was a thorough but compact presentation. When he finished his discussion, he reached for his coat and prepared to leave. The mediator reminded him that the process was nowhere near completion; she had not even heard the other side! To this, the contractor replied: "I just wanted him to hear my version of the story. Now that I have told him what I wanted to say, he can keep the money in question." With this the contractor left the office. The mediator was trying to make a point that I have also heard from a friend who is a psychiatrist. We all have stories to tell. Until we get to tell that story, we may well feel embittered and "out of sorts". Getting someone to listen»
From R Mendy Rosenthal's Blog

Thoughts on Jewish Marriage and Relationships | Shalom Bayit

Best Regards,

Sunday 6 January 2013

Medicinal Marijuana

«If a doctor is not compassionate, he's probably not worth his weight in tongue depressors. And his bedside manner probably leaves something to be desired. But he still has a sacred obligation to heal, a requirement that our Sages derived from various Torah passages, including "You shall love your neighbor as you love yourself (Leviticus 19:18), "You shall not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor" (Leviticus 19:16) and another one mandating the healing of someone injured in a quarrel (Exodus 21:18-19). Meanwhile, one of our greatest thinkers -- the 12th and 13th century philosopher, Sage and, yes, physician Maimonides -- drew a parallel between the binding obligation to return lost property (Deuteronomy 22:2) and an equally binding obligation to restore lost health. »
Jewish Law - Commentary/Opinion - Medicinal Marijuana

Best Regards,

Saturday 5 January 2013

Mussar: Ivdu Es Hashem b'Simchah

From our Choveir, R Grafstein originally from Toronto..

«Rav Yehudah HaChassid, Yehudah ben Shmuel, emphasized that the precondition for prayer to be answered is:

Our tefilloth must be fueled by its utterance filled with:
enthusiasm and joy for the greatness and holiness of G*D.»

Adding "Enthusiasm" to what you do changes everything. With the right amount, it adds a kedushah factor.

Shalom and Best Regards,

Friday 4 January 2013

Al-Jazeera buys Current TV from Al Gore

«The former vice president confirmed the sale Wednesday, saying in a statement that Al-Jazeera shares Current TV's mission "to give voice to those who are not typically heard; to speak truth to power; to provide independent and diverse points of view; and to tell the stories that no one else is telling."»

Best Regards,

Thursday 3 January 2013

R AJ Heschel on Tikkun Olam

Guest Blogger
R Saul Berman
Tikkun Olam:

Before his untimely passing at the age of 65 on December 23, 1972, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel shared with me the following Derasha.

He said that American Jewry was a community committed to three fragmented p'sukim.
a. They believe in "Shalach et Ami, the liberation of Soviet Jewry," without understanding that liberty without "veya'avduni" - without bringing the liberated persons to avodat hashem is not a great achievement.
b. They believe in "vese'esof galuyoseinu" without understanding that the creation of the State of Israel and the ingathering of the exiles without "lishmor chukecha, ...uleavdecha belevav shalem" - without striving for the spiritual life of Mitzvot, is not a full achievement.
c. They believe in "letaken Olam" without understanding that that repair of the total society without "bemalchut Shakai" - without shaping the community toward the embodiment of the Kingdom of God, is not an adequate achievement.

But at the same time, he said, fragmenting those pesukim in the opposite direction is also an inadequate fulfillment of the ratzon of Hashem. Therefore:
to achieve avodat Hashem without being concerned with the liberation of the enslaved;
to achieve the life of Mitzvot without the ingathering in Israel;
and to achieve the Kingdom of God in isolation from the the repair of the entire society (Letaken Olam) -
they also are failures in the wholeness to which we need to aspire.

Saul J. Berman»

Although R AJ Heschel was descendended from Hassidism I see this attitude as Hirschian.
Namely that OT1H one must never sacrifice Traditional Judaism on the Altar of Liberal Reform
Yet OTOH one ought not sacrifice our concern for society as a whole by locking the gates to the ghetto and shutting out the outside world.

This is part of Torah im Derech Eretz, that neither aspect is designed to compromise the other.

Best Regards,

Wednesday 2 January 2013

Will the Hareidi Hold on the Rabbanut be Broken?

«"Avigdor Lieberman was very interested in promoting Tzohar," said one person with close knowledge of the proposed deal, "to make sure that they had a strong capability of taking the Ashkenazi chief rabbinate" in the June 2013 elections for the position. And the strongman of the Israeli right was willing to bring his considerable influence to bear to ensure they had the votes in the 150-member conclave that will choose the next two chief rabbis of Israel.

Last week, this underground movement broke into the open. Yisrael Beiteinu MK David Rotem, the powerful chairman of the Knesset's Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee, publicly announced his party's intentions to push for a non-ultra-Orthodox chief rabbi. "I grew up when the chief rabbinate was a national-religious institution, and I'm not in favor of the fact that Haredi rabbis have taken it over," he said with typical bluntness. ..»
Tablet Magazine


Is the Hareidi-Dati split primarily over Strictness in Halachah?


Is it over Openness vs. Insularity?

Or to put it another way - can we have Rabbinic Leaders who are both very strict in Halachic approach, and yet who are socially "Cosmopolitan"?

Best Regards,

Tuesday 1 January 2013

News on Tatoos and the Jews

Misconception: A Jew with a tattoo may not be buried in a Jewish cemetery.

Fact: This belief has no basis in Jewish law. Just as a Jew who violated other Torah laws may be buried in a Jewish cemetery, so too may one who violated the prohibition against being tattooed.

Background: This misconception is widespread amongst American Jews. References to it are often found in general American culture; for example, it was mentioned on the TV show The Nanny...
Tzarich Iyun: Jews with Tattoos | Rabbi Dr. Ari Zivotofsky | Orthodox Union

Best Regards,