Saturday 27 December 2014

Mussar: Replace Blame With Compassion

Rabbi Zelig Pliskin wrote:

A basic Torah principle is that when correcting someone, we need to do so with a sense of love and compassion. When you speak in a blaming manner, the message you give is not a loving one.

If there is a specific person you tend to speak to in a blaming manner, be resolved to speak more pleasantly.

(For a series of probing questions on this topic, see Rabbi Pliskin's "Gateway to Self Knowledge," pp.135-7)

Kol Tuv,

Monday 22 December 2014

Kapittel 30, the Psalm of Hanukkah

This is Kapittel 30 as arranged by choral master Oscar Julius. Many years ago, my voice coach took me to meet him privately in person.

I have sung this as a member of several choruses. We usually sang more than just the refrain and the soloist usually did the 2nd strophe and the big solo peace.

It can be sung with or without the piano accompaniment.

Mizmor Shir by Oscar Julius YouTube Home of The Neimah Singers

Share this video
Kol Tuv,

Friday 19 December 2014

Mussar: Parshat Mikketz, Ka'asher Patar Lanu

See Torah Temimah Mikkets 41:13

A person should always interpret a dream in a positive [good] way.

Similarly: a person should interpret actions and events in a Positive way, whenever possible to do so

Kol Tuv,

Monday 15 December 2014

Must the Shul Menorah Burn for 30 Minutes?

Is the Shul Menorah, that has been lit before Ma'ariv with a B'rachah, required to burn the entire 30 minutes?

What if no one can stay there, does safety permit extinguishing it before the 30 minutes are over?

It may be extinguished.
Source: Rivevot Ephraim 5:29.

Courtesy of -
Rabbi Ari N. Enkin

Addendum see:
nitei gavriel

rav harpenes

Kol Tuv,

Thursday 11 December 2014

Will Neo-Chassidus Revive Modern Orthdoxy?

Rekindling the Flame: Neo-Chassidus Brings the Inner Light of Torah to Modern Orthodoxy

by JA Mag | December 1, 2014 in Jewish Culture
«There are many out there who may have been shown or taught a version of Yiddishkeit that is dry, that is cold," agrees Josh Weinberg, a YU musmach who considers himself a neo-Chassid, and is one of many who look to Rabbi Weinberger for inspiration. "They may practice Judaism in their communities [due to societal pressure], but inside, there's a lot of apathy and [it's done by] rote. Chances are they were never exposed to this deeper and joyous side of religious observance," says Josh, who lives in Riverdale, New York, and works as a photographer and videographer for NCSY.»

Kol Tuv,

Sunday 7 December 2014

New Series on Koshertube Highlighting the Complexity of Torah Ethics -- Introduction to Shaarei Yosher, Part 1

As presented in the Nishma Update for November, much of our study within Nishma this year will be on Jewish Ethics. By the term 'Ethics', we mean the matters within life that touch upon the general human concepts of right and wrong. In our study, we wish to look at how Torah touches upon this subject, on the general idea of good and evil and on the details of this subject that are the focus of humanity in general.

In this regard, while we have touched upon these themes within our printed materials in the last few months, we have also devoted a good number of our shiurim on this as well. Many of these shiurim can be found on Koshertube. You can specifically find many of my shiurim on this topic at

At this time, though, I wish to make you aware of a new series of shiurim which I will be giving, using the Introduction to Rav Shimon Schkopf's Shaarei Yosher, on the development of ethical concepts within Torah thought,. We will show how ethical principles are developed and how we then further respond to conflicts in the principles. The result is the honest presentation that Torah ethics, by definition, are complex for life is complex. It is God's demand of us to recognize this complexity and incorporate it properly in our lives-- with the use of our minds as directed by Torah. For the first in this series, please see

We hope you follow this series and we welcome you to share your ideas on the shiurim as we post about them on Nishmablog.

Rabbi Ben Hecht

Saturday 6 December 2014

Mussar: Just Apologize

Rabbi Zelig Pliskin wrote:

Just Apologize

Sincerely apologizing is the best way to overcome the resentment and negative feelings of someone who is angry with you. However, at times it can be very difficult to apologize. When you tell yourself, "Just apologize," it can become easier.

If you really did something wrong, you have an obligation to apologize. At times, it's wisest to apologize even if you aren't really at fault. Your apology can create harmony. Have the strength and courage to "just apologize." Your sincere apology will totally calm some people.

Even if you need to apologize a number of times and find the right things to say each time, your initial apology is still the first step forward.

(from Rabbi Zelig Pliskin's book: "Conversations With Yourself", p.135)

Kol Tuv,

Thursday 4 December 2014

Please Daven for Victim

Please daven for Chaim Eitan Ben Sarah. Literally fighting for his life. One of victims of Shul incident.

Kol Tuv,

Wednesday 3 December 2014

Anti-Semtic Attack Spurs Aliyah

«Cazeneuve was "severely critical" of the attack, and the Créteil prosecutor opened an investigation pointing to the apparent antisemetic nature of the attack.

Creteil Mayor, Laurent Cathala, charged that the "aggression is anti-Semitic, it is indisputable."
In comment on the synagogue attack, President François Hollande said "France wants all the Jews of France to feel perfectly safe and quiet."
Albert Elharrar, president of the Jewish community in Créteil, is still in shock.

"I have been in contact with the Créteil police commissioner since 11 pm Saturday night," he said. "Unfortunately, it is always the Jewish community that is targeted."

According to Elharrar, the two brothers, Créteil residents, were praying quietly. The little brother was able to defend himself, but the older one was taken down by brass knuckles to the eye.»
«In June, Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky announced that French aliyah (emigration to Israel) will surpass 5,000 individuals by the end of 2014, an all-time record and a full 1 percent of the 500,000-person French Jewish community. Never before has such a large proportion of a Western Jewish community made aliyah in a single year. »
Paris Jewish Community in Shock Over Rape, Home Invasion 'Because You Are Jews' | Jewish & Israel News

Kol Tuv,

Tuesday 2 December 2014

R Steven Pruzansky: The Jewish Ethic of Personal Responsibility

« Mazal tov to Rav Steven Pruzansky on the publication of his new book -
"Tzadka Mimeni:
The Jewish Ethic of Personal Responsibility" (Gefen).
[Please find link below]

Tzadka Mimeni, in the format of essays on each Torah portion, extracts from the Torah itself applications of the Jewish ethic of personal responsibility in areas as diverse as dating, marriage, parenting, family life, employment, divine service, military service, acts of kindness, repentance, ownership of private property, wealth, Torah study, mitzvot, modesty, justice, gratitude, Jewish national life, holiness and more, offering a profound vision for modern man and his search for meaning and happiness. »

Volume One - on Breisheet and Shemot - is now available.

The Jewish Ethic of Personal Responsibility Vol I (Bereishit, Shmot)-Gefen Publishing House

Kol Tuv,

Monday 1 December 2014

S'char Va'Onesh, Bava Kama 50a

It seems from this passage that HKBH does not simply waive a person's liability, even when He is indeed long-suffering

מסכת בבא קמא פרק ה
דף נ,א גמרא
מלמד שהקדוש ברוך הוא מדקדק עם סביביו אפילו כחוט השערה ר' נחוניא אמר מהכא (תהילים פט) אל נערץ בסוד קדושים רבה ונורא על כל סביביו

אמר ר' חנינא כל האומר הקב"ה ותרן הוא יותרו חייו שנאמר (דברים לב) הצור תמים פעלו כי כל דרכיו משפט

א"ר חנא ואיתימא ר' שמואל בר נחמני מאי דכתיב
<דף נ,ב גמרא>  (שמות לד) ארך אפים ולא כתיב ארך אף ארך אפים לצדיקים ולרשעים:

Best Regards,

Sunday 30 November 2014

When being anti-Israel betrays itself as antiSemitism‏

Nishma Board Member Paul Appleby wrote the following to the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) in response to their reporting on Israel. I have bolded certain lines I found of specific significance.

Rabbi Ben Hecht

* * * * *

Guest Blogger: Paul Appleby
Definition of anti-Semitism: 
1. Hostility toward or prejudice against Jews.
2. Discrimination against Jews.
3. An attitude or policy of hatred toward Jews.

Replace the word Jews with Israel and that's when criticism of Israel is anti-Semitism.

When people are quick to blame the Jews and Israel, with no need for more facts, that's anti-Semitism.

This happens mostly when people don't look at events in their full context, current and/or historical. When people don't know all the facts, but consistently and wilfully accuse one side in a dispute.

Specifically when that one side is Israel, and the dispute is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, criticism of Israel is anti-Semitism.

And even when the truth becomes known, it is ignored in favour of the now exposed lie. Such was the case with regards to the French TV channel fabricated video of the death of a Palestinian boy; and the case of the fabricated massacre in Jenin. That's anti-Semitism.

Hatred of Israel is the modern extension of classic anti-semitism.

"It's the fault of the Jews", has become "it's the fault of Israel", the Jewish state, homeland of the Jewish people, the Jewish nation. 

Classic: Jews control the banks and the media.
Modern: The Israeli lobby controls American foreign policy.

Classic: The Jews are the cause all the problems in the world.
Modern: Israel is the cause of all the problems in the Middle East, and by extension the reason for Islamic extremism and terrorism everywhere.

Classic: The Jews killed God and should suffer.
Modern: Israel is a cancer.

Classic: Jews are evil.
Modern: Israel's response to Palestinian "militants" (read terrorists) is not at all proportional.

Classic: Jews are weak, and went to the slaughter like sheep during the Holocaust.
Modern: Israel is a militaristic, power hungry, colonialist state.

Classic: Jews used the blood of Christian children to make Passover matzah.
Modern: Israel and the settlers in the West Bank are committing genocide against the Palestinians.

Classic: Jews have no right to live in this place or that place. and it was right to expel them. "No Jews Allowed".
Modern: Jews have no right to live in the West Bank or in East Jerusalem. In fact they should return to Poland or the U.S. or where ever they came from.

Add the following falsehoods in this light:
- The Palestinians are suffering through no fault of their own, but solely because of Israel's occupation and the settlements.
- When oil prices spike, it's because of Israel's treatment of the Palestinians.

There are so many more parallels.

Finally, being Jewish, or a Jewish-Israeli, or the child of Holocaust survivors, doesn't make anyone any less anti-Semitic, if their views, their words and their actions say otherwise.

After all, can't a Jew also be anti-Semitic? Why not? There are self-hating Jews. There anti-Israel Jewish-Israelis. There are anti-American Americans.

It is baseless and hypocritical for someone to say "I'm Jewish! How can I be an anti-Semite?

Criticize Israel all you like. But just be sure of your emotions, your motives, and the facts.

Friday 28 November 2014

Ethics of the Mind

From the archives of Nishma's Online Library at, we have chosen an article that relates to the week's parsha, both to direct you to this dvar Torah but also for the purposes of initiating some discussion. It is also specifically applicable to the ethical challenge facing us in the world today whereby people are arriving at ethical conclusions only through their emotions and not with the thought necessary in arriving at proper ethical conclusions

This week's parsha is Vayeitzei and we invite you to look at the Insight entitled "Ethics of the Mind" at

Thursday 27 November 2014

Orthodox Jews Against Discrimination and Racism -- on Facebook

I recently found out about this group on Facebook and think that it is worthwhile for people to check it out. A major issue in Israel, especially these days, concerns how the nation is going to treat its Arab citizenship and this group really shows the challenge that this involves -- especially in meeting the ideals of Torah. The group also touches upon, in this regard, how we treat each other.

To find out more about the group, please go to;postID=2436747232705834417

It was on this site that I also found the following
for which I wish to thank Aishdas' R. Micha Berger (a friend of Nishma as well).

Rabbi Ben Hecht

Wednesday 26 November 2014

Are we Headed for a Post Ideological World?

«Francis said that ideologies are "rigid." "When a Christian becomes a disciple of the ideology, he has lost the faith: he is no longer a disciple of Jesus, he is a disciple of this attitude of thought," Francis said, according to Radio Vatican.

Francis added: "The faith becomes ideology and ideology frightens, ideology chases away the people, distances, distances the people and distances of the Church of the people. But it is a serious illness, this of ideological Christians. It is an illness, but it is not new."

Francis' comments on "ideological Christians" come a month after he criticized the Catholic Church's obsession with gays, abortion and birth control.»
Pope Francis: 'Ideological Christians' Are a 'Serious Illness' | Alternet

Kol Tuv,

Tuesday 25 November 2014

Jewish Tribune: On knowing your audience

In the halachic debate over Jewish access to the Temple Mount, the language of debate is often inappropriate -- especially as the world listens. The fact is that it is often more than just inappropriate.

Further on this, please go to

Rabbi Ben Hecht

Christians United for Israel Takes on Presbyterian Church USA's Divestment Vote

Christians United for Israel Takes on Presbyterian Church USA's Divestment Vote; Elicits 26,000 Responses in Support of Israel in 1 Day | Jewish & Israel News
«The [Presbyterian] vote was publicly supported by David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard and frequently unsuccessful U.S. political candidate, drawing ridicule of the organization which said the vote was not based on anti-Semitism. On his website, Duke said: "Bravo to the Presbyterian Church for standing up to Jewish racism and supremacism!"»

Kol Tuv,

Monday 24 November 2014

Outreach Books - Torah Musings

«I recently made a list of good outreach books for a friend. Let me present it here with a little elaboration:

Books that try to convince and respond to challenges»:

Kol Tuv,

New Scandal Envelops UNRWA as Employees Praise Jerusalem Synagogue Atrocity

New Scandal Envelops UNRWA as Employees Praise Jerusalem Synagogue Atrocity | Jewish & Israel News

Kol Tuv,

Sunday 23 November 2014

Huffington Post: Why We Shouldn't Call ISIS "Pure Evil"

We must be careful in the language we use in battling groups like ISIS. It is important that we make a point, not simply express our emotions and, even, disgust. I expressed my thoughts further on this in my latest Huffington Post blog: Why We Shouldn't Call ISIS "Pure Evil"

My original title for the post, btw, was 'Words' but it was changed by the editors. (I leave it to you to decide which title is better. I actually commented on the Huffington site because I had a problem with their title)

Please feel free to comment here or there.

Rabbi Ben Hecht

Israel Antiquities Authority App

The Jewish Standard:

The Israel Antiquities Authority has released an app to help children learn about archaeology.

"Become an archeologist!" the app's description reads. "Use your iPhone or iPad as a tool to tap, dig, and explore Israel's past. Discover the Dead Sea Scrolls in an ancient cave, and piece them together to reveal their meaning! Dig up the 2,000 year old Lod Mosaic, then uncover its story in a fast-paced quiz game! You'll need skills, creativity, and smarts to become a great archaeologist and unlock all the rewards."

The games in the App are designed around real discoveries and archaeological artifacts and were developed in collaboration with the IAA's team of pre-eminent archaeologists, scholars and researchers. As they play, kids get a feel for what archaeologists do as they experience the excitement of discovery and the creativity and skills involved in solving mysteries from the distant past.

The Dead Sea Scrolls are among the oldest biblical manuscripts and are considered the greatest manuscript discovery of the 20th century.

The Lod Mosaic is one of the largest, best preserved Roman mosaics ever found and is currently touring the world with stops at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Louvre, Waddeson Manor and the Hermitage.

The free app is available right now in iOS (for iPhones, iPods and iPads) and an Android version is next.

via JTA News

Kol Tuv,

Thursday 20 November 2014

The Senseless Killing of Innocent Jews in Israel

Guest Blogger
R Pini Dunner:

Dear Members and Friends
Once again, and with a heavy heart, I find myself writing an email about the senseless killing of innocent Jews in Israel. This time the brutality and barbarity of the act, and its place of perpetration, defy our ability to absorb it, never mind react to it. Four Jews davening in shul, hacked, stabbed and shot to death by ruthless murderers, whose hatred enabled them to enter a sacred place and kill, kill, kill. Puddles of blood in a shul, with the dead and injured lying on the ground still in their tallit and tefillin, is a scene that we associate with the darkest periods of Jewish history, not with an era of Jewish prosperity and freedom in our own country.
The fact that Jews can be attacked by terrorists while praying in a synagogue, in an act planned by a terrorist group, and then widely celebrated by Palestinians across Israel, must force us to question whether it will ever be possible to find common ground with these people in any kind of 'peace' agreement. And for the news media to declare that Arabs are being provoked by 'settlement building' and Jews demanding the right to pray on Temple Mount, is beyond sickening. It is like saying that because someone built a non-permitted building near one's house it is then legitimate to go on a killing rampage in a church because one has been 'provoked'. If you don't like settlements, use peaceful methods of protest. If you feel that Jews ought not to have the right to pray on Temple Mount, use peaceful methods of protest. Killing is murder. Killing people with knives and meat cleavers and axes makes you a savage. It seems that 'savages' is becoming the most apt definition of the Palestinians. And by the way, I am not suggesting that praying on Temple Mount is the right thing to do - there is no doubt that it is halachically problematic. But to deny Jews the right to go there and pray, and to declare that the holiest site of Judaism must remain Judenrein, is simply unacceptable. It should be our choice, not the choice of Muslim bigotry.
But that is a discussion for another day. Today we must simply mourn and grieve the 4 wonderful men who lost their lives this morning, while praying in shul. Rabbi Moshe Twersky, formerly of Boston; Rabbi Aryeh Kupinsky and Rabbi Kalman Zev Levine, both originally from the US; and Rabbi Avraham Goldberg, originally from Liverpool, and later London. All of them had emigrated to Israel. Their deaths leave 26 orphans.
There were also a number of men who were very seriously injured in this morning's attack. Here are their Hebrew names - please pray for them:
Shmuel Yerucham ben Baila
Chaim Yechiel Ben Malka
Avraham Shmuel Ben Shaina
Eitan ben Sarah
Aryeh ben Bracha
Finally, one of the rabbis killed this morning was Rabbi Moshe Twersky, son of the late Rabbi Isadore Twersky, who was the son-in-law of Rabbi J.B. Soloveichik, Rosh Yeshiva of RIETS at Yeshiva University, and the leading light of Modern Orthodoxy in the twentieth century. I feel, therefore, that it is apt to reproduce the following quote from Rabbi Soloveichik, written in the 1960s. It is particularly pertinent because the Rav was not a man who was considered extreme or reactionary:
"The fifth knock of the Beloved is perhaps the most important. For the first time in the annals of exile, Divine Providence has amazed our enemies with the astounding discovery that Jewish blood is not cheap! God did not seek honor and recognition. He wanted Pharoah, Moses' contemporary, to know that he must pay a high price for his edict that "Every male child born shall be cast into the river" (Exodus 1:22), His present desire is that the blood of Jewish children who were slain as they recited the eighteen benedictions of the daily [Amidah] prayer shall also be avenged. When God smote the Egyptians, He sought to demonstrate that there will always be accountability for the spilling of Jewish blood. At present, it is necessary not only to convince the dictator of Egypt [Nasser], but the self-righteous Nehru, the Foreign Office in London, and the sanctimonious members of the United Nations that Jewish blood is not cheap... A people that cannot defend its freedom and tranquility is neither free nor independent."
My friends – this morning our brothers, including Rabbi Soloveichik's grandson, were slain while reciting the eighteen benedictions of the daily Amidah prayer. Jewish blood is not cheap. In the same way that Israel exchanges 1000's of prisoners for one captured soldier, so too Israel must let the world know that when innocents are slaughtered it will make no compromises in ensuring the safety and security of its civilians, and of every Jew. We expect no less. God expects no less.
May the injured be healed, may the dead be avenged, and may we soon see the ultimate redemption of Moshiach, and the rebuilding of the Third Temple. Amen.
Rabbi Pini Dunner

Kol Tuv,

Five dead in Jerusalem synagogue attack

Kol Tuv - Best Regards

Wednesday 19 November 2014

Jewish Tribune: On Being Radicalized

There is a need to respond to this radicalization of individuals in the cause of Moslem fanaticism.

Further on this, please go to

Rabbi Ben Hecht

Tuesday 18 November 2014

From Cong. Beth Aaron in Teaneck

Following this morning's murder of four men as they davened at their synagogue in the Har Nof neighborhood of Jerusalem, Congregation Beth Aaron is joining with other synagogues nationwide to recite Tehillim. 
The Orthodox Union and the RCA have requested that all shuls across North America gather simultaneously to recite Tehillim tonight in spiritual solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Israel.
We will participate following the 9:30 p.m. Maariv tonight, November 18, in the Main Shul. 
If you cannot join us this evening to recite Tehillim, please join the Jewish people spiritually by reciting in private the following chapters of Tehillim at 9:45 p.m.: 20, 44, 83, 88, 121, 125 and 142. 
To read the OU/RCA statement, please go to

Kol Tuv,

The Double Standard of Freedom of Religion

In the wake of the tragic events of today in Israel, I feel that it is again most necessary for us to articulate the hypocrisy and double standard of many of the critics of Israel. Why is it that we are always being called upon to respect the religious sites of others -- even though Israel has a sparkling record in its preservation of religious freedom -- yet an attack in a shul will still be met with expressions of sympathy for the terrorists in that they have to go so far? Can someone not see that if a person is willing to kill people who are simply praying, there is a further statement about the person's very psychology?

Rabbi Ben Hecht

Monday 17 November 2014

Hits on Hatikva

My wife's Aunt just emailed this. I cannot verify its accuracy...

For some of us, this might be the first time we have seen the translation of Hatikva.  

The Israeli ambassador and the Minister of the Diaspora would like our National Hymn, Hatikva to become the most popular video on You Tube by April 16, 2015, the 68th anniversary of Israel 's Independence Day.

  Please view the Video clip, at the website listed below, and then forward it to all your contacts.

The object is to place this video among the top five clips.
Some Arabs are trying to have this video removed from You Tube.

Kol Tuv,

Sunday 16 November 2014

Nishma's Jewish Ethics Study -- on Koshertube

As presented in the most recent Nishma Update, Nishma will be focusing this year on what we might term Jewish Ethics. Much of our presentations in this regard will be through video shiurim on Koshertube.

To see the most recent presentation, Revelational Ethics and Natural Ethics,

please go to


Friday 14 November 2014

A photo is sometimes worth a thousand words.

Please see

This picture was sent to me with the following caption:

This is Rav Tzvi Weber with other mashgichim entering Jordan to take a look (i.e. supervision) at the enterprise established growing produce in Jordan for import to Israel to avoid shmitta issues.

It would seem to me that there is much to discuss.

Take care

Thursday 13 November 2014

Intended Audiences and Unintended Audiences

I found this article, entitled ‘War of the rabbis’ over Temple Mount strife goes from Halacha to politics", on The Journal of Turkish Weekly and found it somewhat disconcerting that this issue was presented on this site. The actual article itself was not the issue for me and in discovering that it was originally from The Jerusalem Post, I was not surprised. The question for me, though, was how this article would be perceived, read and understood by the readers of this Turkish site. How much, when we write, do we have to be concerned by where it will eventually be read? This is really an example of the 'power' of the Internet.

Rabbi Ben Hecht

Wednesday 12 November 2014

Authorship of The Bahir

Midrash Tehillim - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
«Midrash Tehillim (Hebrew: מדרש תהלים) or Midrash to Psalms is a haggadic midrash known since the 11th century, when it was quoted by Nathan of Rome in his Aruk (s.v. סחר), by R. Isaac ben Judah ibn Ghayyat in his Halakot (1b), and by Rashi in his commentary on I Sam. xvii. 49, and on many other passages. This midrash is called also "Agadat Tehillim" (Rashi on Deut. xxxiii. 7 and many other passages), or "Haggadat Tehillim" (Aruk, s.v. סער, and in six other passages). From the 12th century it was called also Shocher Tov (see Midrash Tehillim, ed. S. Buber, Introduction, pp. 35 et seq.), because it begins with the verse
Prov. xi. 27, "שחר טוב יבקש רצון ודרש רעה תבואנו", etc.»

OK Midrash Tehillim was dubbed Shocher Tov due to its opening line.

The names of Parshiyyot in the Torah often reflect their opening lines

The names of Chapters in Shas usually reflect their opening lines.

Sefer Habbaheer's opening line is
"R N'hunya ben Hakkeneh"

Sefer Habbahir is dubbed
Midrash R N'hunya ben Hakkeneh

Does the dubbing of the name reflect
A. Its Opening Line
B. Its Author's Name

Kol Tuv,

Tuesday 11 November 2014

"White House exempts ISIS strikes from civilian casualty guidelines"

a piece on entitled "White House exempts ISIS strikes from civilian casualty guidelines".

Could someone please explain to me why this did not get more of response from the Jewish community, considering the criticism that was leveled against Israel in the war in Gaza?
 When I saw this piece, I could not believe it. It's so easy to take a stand when the results don't affect you and the outcome is not personally relevant.

Rabbi Ben Hecht

Being Radicalized

To Mark Remembrance Day
Sadly, it just seems much of the news is now filled with stories of what has been termed ‘radicalization’ – an acceptance by otherwise apparently moderate individuals of fanatical Islam. This, what appears to be a global phenomenon, perhaps reached an apex for us in the death of two Canadian soldiers who were recently killed by such individuals. In that Canadians, on November 11, will mark Remembrance Day -- when we recall and acknowledge the debt we owe to our military who have sacrificed in our defense -- the timing is most moving. Our hearts indeed are heavy.
  The question has emerged, though: what leads such individuals to embrace such a system? When we read about the brutality inflicted upon others by such groups as ISIS, we cannot even imagine how any person could treat a fellow human being in such a manner – especially in the name of some type of idealistic goodness. How could it then even be possible that others, when they hear such stories, are not only not repulsed by such behavior but are even attracted to such causes? It seems simply beyond explanation.
Yet, we are still driven to find some cause, some clarification – especially if this will help us in dealing with such occurrences. There are those, though, who simply see each case as a reflection of some personal mental illness; each incident having its own individual explanation. Within this perspective, there would be no point in attempting to find a common theme for there is none. Others, though, still believe that there may be some common ailment that leads certain individuals to embrace such fanaticism. Regardless of the reason, it is still truly devastating to hear of individuals from around the world joining such entities as ISIS, embracing fanatical Islam.
There was one particular news item, however, that particularly caught my attention. CNN reported that the first suspected member of ISIS to stand trial in Germany played, as a youth, for Makkabi Frankfurt, Germany's largest Jewish sports club. Upon questioning from the media about this, team president, Alon Meyer, responded: "This was a guy who used to play with Jewish players every week, he was comfortable there and he seemed so happy.” He added: "His old teammates were very shocked -- they didn't know how to react...They couldn't believe it.” The team always felt that it was in the best interests of the Jewish community to open its doors to invite everyone to play. They never imagined such a result.
In response to this event, certain members of the Jewish community began to question this policy. Perhaps, the club should be only for Jewish players, perhaps we should only take care of ourselves? Mr. Meyer has rejected this suggestion. "We have opened ourselves up to everybody and that is how we live," he explains. The fact that someone who once played for Makkabi Frankfort became radicalized, in Mr. Meyer’s eyes, should not veer the team away from its goal of integration. If a correct choice was made and the community was acting correctly, that is what it must continue to do.
I do not necessarily agree with this Jewish club’s policy of integration. There are strong reasons for why Jewish clubs should, perhaps, only be for Jews. That, though, is not the issue here. The contention here was that because of the radicalization of this one individual, who as a youth played for Makkabi Frankfort, the club should change its policy. In this regard, I agree with Mr. Meyer. We cannot allow the radicalization of individuals to force us to behave in a manner with which we otherwise disagree. Whether Makkabi Frankfort should include non-Jewish players on their teams is one issue. The fact that one such player became radicalized, however, should not be a factor in that decision.
Obviously, terrorism will call upon us, in the goal of protecting individuals from this horror, to behave somewhat differently. The point is, though, that we cannot allow terrorism to cause us to deviate in the expression of our values. In a similar vein, it was with patriotic pride that I read about the resumption of the honour guard at the National War Memorial within days of the murder of Cpl. Cirillo. Of course, all must be done to protect such honor guards on duty but to abandon the practice of displaying such honour cannot be an alternative. To have forsaken the honour guard would mean that terrorism could claim a victory – and this is something we can never permit.
There are those who are becoming radicalized, adopting a value system which we find abhorrent. We must ensure that they also do not cause us to surrender our values.

Monday 10 November 2014

Eretz Hemda on Shmitta

Rav Reuven Tradburks:
«Just a reminder of a note from Rav Carmel from Eretz Hemda.  Eretz Hemda is offering a wonderful weekly e-mail shiur, in depth, on inyanei shmitta.  I am attaching the first shiur.  
To sign up send an email to

Kol Tuv,

Jewish Community, Family, Nurturing, and Connection

«Jessica Orbach said her mother-in-law was "passionate about, and devoted to, yeshiva education." An elementary school art teacher, who dedicated much of her time to the Yeshiva of Flatbush when her children were growing up, Orbach was "deeply religious and traditional, living a life of love of Judaism. She served Hashem, her community and her family with utter joy."

Jessica told JLBC that Yocheved was a typical Jewish mother who loved feeding people and loved to nurture and care for others. As president of the Ladies Auxillary of Yeshiva of Flatbush, she instituted "Pizza Day" where she and her husband would heat up and hand out pizza. They sponsored the project for 10 years after being informed that many children couldn't afford the pizza. It is now being called the Yocheved Orbach Pizza Project in her memory.»
Yocheved Orbach Moriah


Chessed for the community is a big component in "what makes Jews tick".

Kol Tuv,

Sunday 9 November 2014

A "Broad Range of Anti-Semites" Perhaps?

Top international law professor blasts U.N.'s Schabas for "self-evident" appearance of bias

« View from Geneva
«Schabas insisted, however, that he had consulted with a "broad range of people" who confirmed his objectivity and impartiality.» 

Kol Tuv,

R Arie Folger: My Thoughts on the Israeli Conversion Law

My thoughts on the Israeli conversion law:
«...Rabbi David Stav, in turn, heavily criticized the chief rabbis, adding that, "The person running the chief rabbinate today is Arye Deri. He decides who is a Jew and who is not, who is a rabbi and who is not." Stav further threatened that the bill could pass and new conversion courts could effectively operate without the chief rabbis' cooperation. This may be his strongest attack on the Chief Rabbinate of Israel to date; it is an outright declaration of war. ...»


Also see R Folger's Original Blog Post:

Kol Tuv,

Saturday 8 November 2014

Mussar: Learn to Let Go of Grudges

Yalkut Meam Loez commentary on Kohelet [Ecclesiastes],
chapter 10, verse 4:
Do not be like the people who perpetually wander from one synagogue to another
because they suffered an insult.
The Yalkut Meam Loez commentary on Kohelet was written by Rabbi Shmuel Yerushalmi, following the death of Rabbi Yaakov Culiin 1732 CE in Constantinople.
Kol Tuv,

Friday 7 November 2014

UN's Double Standard on Israel

Proofessor Christina Cerna: "Impartiality is not a requirement sought by the Council for the appointment of experts when it comes to Israel."

Georgetown prof: UNHRC 'killed my candidacy' for not being 'partial' like William Schabas

« View from Geneva

Kol Tuv,

Thursday 6 November 2014

Solidarity Mission to Israel

Rabbi Shaul Robinson:
"If you know anyone who is passionate about Israel and wants to take part in a fact finding / solidarity mission, we have space on ours!

it departs Motzei shabbat Nov 21st, please send this link

to anyone you feel may be interested. One of the highlights will be taking part in military ethics training sessions, on army basis, using the same trainers and techniques that the IDF uses...and much more.

many thanks for bringing this to the attention of anyone who may be interested

Best Wishes


Kol Tuv,

What turned Ken Roth into a Swiss reporter « View from Geneva
«With a little help from his 275 staff members, Human Rights Watch director Ken Roth voices moral outrage on his Twitter feed once every hour, 24 times a day, seven days a week.

Yet when a Hamas terrorist today rammed his car into a crowd of Israelis in Jerusalem, and then got out to attack them further with an iron bar, Ken Roth's voice suddenly turned into that of a neutral Swiss reporter.

Here are the standard Roth tweets, criticizing, demanding, condemning...»

Kol Tuv,

Wednesday 5 November 2014

Rav Dov Fischer On Conversion to Judaism

«Jews burn bread crumbs on sidewalks one morning every April.  We do not believe in ghosts, but we open doors for Elijah.  We pay a fortune to rent two sanctuary seats for a service highlighted by someone blowing into part of a ram's head (with inconsistent results) every ten minutes. We throw crumbs into lakes, pray for rain when the weather finally is perfect, move for a week into a squatter's hut.  We shake $60 lemons that must look perfect but have no flavor or use, and we discard them a few days later.  Men wrap leather straps around the arm, women take a handful of dough out of a pile and just burn it.  And we pay a guy five dollars or shekels to ransom a new first-born boy like from Rumpelstiltskin.
That's not all.  There's a night when adults enter synagogue all costumed ridiculously, shaking noisemakers and banging on pots during a profound religious Bible reading in the holy sanctuary — all while demanding that parents keep their children absolutely silent during the reading. Jews do not carry outside on Saturday unless the local telephone poles are wired together, with little upright things nailed to the bases.  Some food labels bear every imaginable kosher symbol, leaving almost no room on the label for the name of the product or its ingredients. Indeed, one rabbi endorses "star-k" but won't comment on "triangle-k" or "tablet-k"; another endorses "circle-k" but nothing about "half-moon-k" or "square-k." (No one has yet trademarked a "crucifix-k.") And that's not all.
If you drop a siddur (prayerbook), you kiss the book in front of everyone.  Drop a chumash (Bible) — kiss it publicly.  Drop a yarmulka — kiss it.  A Torah passes by — kiss it.  But your wife walks into the room — don't touch her in public! Meanwhile, when the books get old — we bury them. (No, we are not planting a library.)  We eat "bread of poverty" that costs $16 a pound.  (Not to mention swinging chickens one morning a year.)»
On Conversion to Judaism - Op-Eds - Arutz Sheva

Kol Tuv,

Tuesday 4 November 2014

A wise Midwestern Veterinarian shares his opinion on Ebola

I would like to thank Jake Muskat for sending me this -- RBH
* * * * *

Lewiston Idaho veterinarian's Letter to the Editor
re: Ebola.
The present Ebola crisis in the world is frightening. I have submitted the following letter to the editor of the Lewiston Morning Tribune:
Editor, Lewiston Morning Tribune:
If I wish to import a horse into the United States from Liberia or any African country other than Morocco, the horse needs to undergo a 60 day quarantine period at a USDA approved quarantine facility prior to mingling with the general population of horses in this country. Africa has a disease called African Horse Sickness that does not exist in the US; this is the way we have kept it out of this country. African Horse Sickness does not cause disease in people, only horses; our government has determined that it would be devastating to the US horse industry if it were to come here.
The United States (and virtually all other countries) require a myriad of tests and often quarantine prior to bringing in a foreign animal.
I can’t legally cross state lines in the United States with a horse or cow without a health certificate signed by a USDA accredited veterinarian stating that the animal has been inspected and found free of infectious disease. In most cases blood tests are also required. In fact I can’t legally cross the Snake River and ride my horse in Idaho without a health certificate and a negative blood test for Equine Infectious Anemia.
I’m not complaining; the United States of America, the States of Idaho and Washington as well as the other 48 states take the health of our livestock very seriously, and we have a very good record at keeping foreign animal diseases out of our country. I am happy to do my part to maintain bio security in our animal population.
If I am a resident of Liberia incubating Ebola, to enter the United States all I need to do is present a valid visa, and lie when asked if I have been exposed to Ebola. Within hours (no quarantine required) I can be walking the streets of any city in the United States.
I feel very fortunate to live in a country that values our animals so highly.
xxxxx, DVM

Making a "Kiddush"* on Thanksgiving**

*Kiddush - Kiddush Hashem
**Thanksgiving - USA style

Guest Blogger:
R Akiva Males
* * * * *
It's time for my yearly 'heads up' that Thanksgiving is around the corner & here is a simple to do program which is sure to:

1) create much needed Kiddush Hashem
2) create important good-will btwn your organization / Jewish community and your fire and police depts.
3) foster good-will among your members who participate
4) guarantee your org some good press coverage
Please click here to read (and watch) about our Shul's annual Thanksgiving fire fighters feast:

Here's a working link to the Jewish Press article that's quoted (it explains how to pull this off rather simply):

The local news outlets will be happy to cover this heart-warming program on Thanksgiving -- plenty of free (and positive) publicity and Kiddush Hashem.
I'm happy to offer any assistance I can.

All the best!
Akiva Males

Kol Tuv,

Monday 3 November 2014

Nishma's Focus on Jewish Ethics

From Nishma Update, November 2014
* * * * *

Jewish Ethics

Many years ago, we raised the question, in INQUIRY: Is There A Distinctive Jewish Ethical Perspective?, Nishma Update 5755-2, of whether there is a uniqueness to Jewish ethics. At the core of the question would be the justifiable perception that ethics – our understanding of what is proper in interpersonal behaviour – would seem to be of a universal nature.. How can we, then, call an ethic ‘Jewish’? Is there, thus, even a Jewish ethic? It would seem that ethics are universal. Are there, then, no uniquely Jewish ethics?

In the article, we laid out some important areas for further investigation in regard to this matter. The distinction in directives between the Torah standard for Jews and the Noachide standard for Non-Jews, for example, immediately raises a question in regard to the universal nature of ethics. Such a distinction in itself, though, does not inherently challenge the concept of a universal base to ethics. The article also raised other debatable issues.

Over the years, we have often returned to this study, further articulating what may be unique to the Torah presentation of ethical concerns and directives. During this time, though, what we have also further observed is a continuing absence of the in depth study of ethics (and its consequences) within many segments of the Torah world. We are not the only ones who have noticed this. The idea has even been presented that this may be the result of the overriding concern for Jewish identity within the community. If ethical behaviour does not distinguish someone as a Jew, it will simply, as such, not be a focus of education and discussion in that it is not seen as necessarily fostering Jewish distinction (such as kashrut). Showing a uniqueness to the Jewish ethical perspective thus may have additional significance. Yet, despite this issue, it is still most important that ethics, even if defined universally, is -- and is constantly recognized as -- essential within Jewishness and within any understanding and application of the Jewish legal system.

Nishma will be devoting much of its investigative and analytic efforts this year to this topic of Jewish ethics. This is not to say that every article we will write and/or every shiur we will present this year will circle this subject but this consideration will be a focus of which we will be conscious. Ethics is not simply a personal, solely intuitive, perspective of right and wrong. Proper ethical conclusions are the result of thought. It is important that such thought be part of our Torah studies.

Islamophobimania from a Muslim's Perspective

The Lawfare Project:

INVITATION - Islamophobimania from a Muslim's Perspective feat. Kasim Hafeez - Nov. 6 @ 9:15am ET

Kasim Hafeez was raised in a British Pakistani Muslim household. Growing up, he was exposed to extreme anti-Western and anti-Semitic ideas, leading him to embrace radical Islam in his teen years. At University, he became further radicalized, believing violence was the only way to really bring about…

Kol Tuv,

Sunday 2 November 2014

Video Violins

The Jewish Standard:

This Israeli violin-maker has taken on the task of repairing the violins of victims of the Holocaust.

Amazing story.

Source: Shachar Peled, i24news English
YouTube link (great channel!):
Kol Tuv,

Who is the Identified Patient in the Human Family? Do any Symtoms Sound Familiar?

«What Is An "Identified Patient"?
The "Identified Patient" or IP, was a term that emerged in the 1950's to describe the actions of sick and dysfunctional families, and their tendency to assign one person in the family as a scapegoat to their problems.  Essentially, the Identified Patient complex is said to be a way families avoid their own internal pain, disappointments and struggles, by pointing the finger at another family member as the cause for all the problems they experience.

If you were the Identified Patient in your family, you were most likely chosen as the "trouble maker" or "problem child" due to your status within the family (e.g. young, naive and abusable, or older, headstrong and threatening), or your differing Soul Age and personality, which drew attention to your contrasting likes, tastes and habits.  Naturally, these things placed a big bulls eye on your head, and were used against you throughout your life.

Symptoms that you were chosen as the Identified Patient of your family include the following:

Your parents were more strict with you than they were with your other siblings.

Your mistakes were blown out of proportion and/or punished disproportionately.

You always carried the feeling that you "didn't fit in" with your family, and you didn't develop strong connections with them.

You were mocked, ridiculed and/or made fun of on a constant basis.
Your family seemed intent on making you feel "deficient" and as though you were always fundamentally lacking.

Whenever you got stronger, more confident or happier, your family seemed intent on bringing you down and/or convincing you that you weren't getting any better.»

Family: How To Overcome The Shame of Being An "Identified Patient"/Black Sheep ⋆ LonerWolf

Kol Tuv,

Friday 31 October 2014

Israel - Without Words

The Jewish Standard:

No, seriously, this video has no words, yet the images alone manage to distill the incredible places and people of the Promised Land into a short clip that will have you checking the prices on plane tickets all afternoon.

Good job, Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs!
Kol Tuv,

Thursday 30 October 2014

Drama of the Ingathering Exiles from Ethiopia

The Jewish Standard:

This captures some of the most emotional moments in the Israeli drama of ingathering exiles, reuniting families and solidifying the Zionist dream - and it was made as an ad for a cell phone carrier.

Am Yisrael Chai

Update on Ethiopian Jewish Aliyah today:

YouTube link:
Kol Tuv,

Hamas admits it is rebuilding terror tunnels

«Hamas's Izz a-Din al-Qassam Brigades has openly stated that it is rebuilding the terror tunnels that were destroyed by the IDF during Operation Protective Edge this summer, according to a reporter from the Gaza-based newspaper Al-Resalah, who witnessed diggers at work during a visit to a tunnel site on Sunday. The repairs to the tunnel had started "during one of the humanitarian cease-fires reached during the war," the commander of the digging team told the reporter. "Hamas did not wait a single moment after the last round of fighting, and began its rearmament in anticipation of another round," a senior Israeli diplomatic source said, Yedioth Ahronoth reported.»
Jewish Ledger | Serving Connecticut's Jewish Communities » Blog Archive » Hamas admits it is rebuilding terror tunnels

Kol Tuv,

Wednesday 29 October 2014

The Media and its Demons


I commented:
«I wonder how the media will spin this into a "Israel Kills Babies in Gaza" story?»

A Rabbinical Colleague responded:

Here it is:

Daven well my friends!

Kol Tuv,

Tuesday 28 October 2014

Breaking NEWS: The RCA Will Appoint 5-6 Women to New GPS Standards Committee
«Rabbi Shmuel Goldin  has been appointed to chair a new RCA committee to review all conversion practices and standardize practices among the Batei Din to ensure proper respect and dignity is afforded to all converts. There will be six men on the committee and five or six women, including converts, rabbis  and mental health professionals. The committee will be tasked with collecting data and will come up with concrete recommendations to prevent any future abuses.» 

Kol Tuv,

Chareidism vs. Centrism

Harry Maryles
«..., Rabbi Emanuel Feldman is one of my favorite writers. I tend to agree with him on most issues. At the same time, I find myself often differing with the views of his brother, Ner Israel Rosh HaYeshiva Rav Aharon Feldman. I guess being brothers does not mean thinking alike. ...»
Emes Ve-Emunah: Kipa Versus Yarmulke

Kol Tuv,

Monday 27 October 2014

Jewish Ethics

At Nishma, we will be devoting much of our studies this year on Jewish Ethics with special on their 
In this regard, we invite you to view the following video on Koshertube
Dynamics of Jewish Ethics - Intro
We also invite you to continue to check Koshertube on a regular basis 
for more shiurim on Jewish ethics 

Israel and the House of Commons: A Word of Caution by Douglas Aronin

«... Dismayed as I am by last week's vote, we do need to keep it in perspective.  The motion is not binding on the British government and will have no immediate impact on British foreign policy. Prime Minister David Cameron made it clear in a statement released after the vote that the creation of a Palestinian state should result from negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and Israel and that his government has no intention of preempting those negotiations by recognizing a Palestinian state unilaterally.  He reiterated that position two days later during the Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons.
Despite all the hullaballoo, simple arithmetic makes it clear that fewer than half of the 649 sitting members of the House of Commons took part in the vote.  Prime Minister Cameron and the other senior government ministers did not participate in the debate, nor did most of the senior figures of the opposition Labour Party. ...»
Israel and the House of Commons: A Word of Caution | Douglas Aronin | The Blogs | The Times of Israel

Kol Tuv,

Sunday 26 October 2014

Breslov Campus

Access Rebbe Nachman's great wisdom! See
Dear Friends,
I am delighted to announce the upcoming launch of the first live, online, Breslov- learning program,, 
starting this coming Wednesday, October 29th. The course offerings include a range of relevant, 
intriguing, and authentic Breslov topics, taught by experienced, English-speaking, Breslov teachers
— and all classes are free.
What makes unique is that it is the first exclusively-Breslov, online learning program 
that offers live classes, allowing students and teachers to interact in real-time, using the top-performing 
technology available today. Students will also be able to contact teachers between classes as well as reach 
out to fellow-students. And, they’ll receive special bonuses, such as discounts at the bookstore.
Share the Inspiration
Won’t you join us? Please tell your friends and colleagues about’s free, live classes, 
and be inspired by the powerful, life-changing teachings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov. If you can’t attend 
a live class, be sure to log onto and view the free class archives, which will be posted 
shortly after each live class.
On Wednesday evening, October 29, at 8:00 pm, EST, will begin its inaugural semester 
with Waking Up, the first course in the series Living the Life of a Breslover Chassid with Likutey Halachot, 
taught by me, Yossi Katz. 
I’m looking forward to seeing you there. 
Yossi Katz, Director
P.S. The class schedule for the fall semester of is as follows:   
Sunday Morning
Rebbe Nachman's Story, The Turkey Prince: Discovering Your Authentic Self 
with Yitzchok Bell 10:00 am, Eastern Standard Time
Speaking from the Soul: Discovering the Spiritual Potential of Your Words 
with Yehudis Golshevsky 11:00 am, Eastern Standard Time
Tuesday Evening
An Introduction to Likutey Moharan 
with Chaim Kramer 8:00 pm, Eastern Standard Time  
Wednesday Evening
Waking Up: Likutey Halachot 
with Yossi Katz, 8:00 pm, Eastern Standard Time
Thursday Evening
Feeding the Soul: Eat Right, Feel Great, Embrace your True Self, 
8:00 pm Eastern Standard Time  
Other Times (To Be Announced)
Special Programming: Various Topics  
Copyright © 2014 Breslov Research Institute, All rights reserved.
Our mailing address is:
Breslov Research Institute 44 Saint Nicholas Ave. Lakewood, NJ 08701 

Kol Tuv,

South African BDS Activists Target Woolworths Kosher Food Section With Severed Pigs Head

«#BoycottWoolworths and their dirty food.
BDS South Africa, the campaign which organizes the BDS-related activities of various pro-Palestinian groups, including the South African version of "Israel Apartheid Week," claimed that it did not support the COSAS action. However, the group wasted no time in rationalizing the act, declaring on its website, "we also recognize that this radical action was probably done with the good intention of helping the people of Palestine and as an expression of the increasing frustration against Woolworths by South African young people… Protests are increasing against Woolworths as the company tries to ignore the calls to end its relations with Apartheid Israel."»
South African BDS Activists Target Woolworths Kosher Food Section With Severed Pigs Head | Jewish & Israel News
Kol Tuv,

Saturday 25 October 2014

Mussar: Verify First

Many of us tend to be very trusting with regard to Kashrut. But, there are numerous exhortations within Shas and Poskim to Verify whenever Possible.

I recently ran across this re: Nikkur Haggid. While it is true that "Rov HaMetzuyin Eitzel Nikkur Mumchim Heim" nevertheless it is always best to verify, EG when the original M'nakker is absent.

EG See:
Rema Y"D 65:13
Ba'er Hetev 65:6 quoting Reshal
Bei'ur HaGra 65:32 citing Siman 1 "d'ein som'chin on Harov bid'leita kaman"

Kol Tuv,

Friday 24 October 2014

Calling all Jewish USA Military Chaplains, Past and Present

R Ben Samson:
If you are presently serving in the armed forces as a chaplain, or have served our country, this is for you. 
For the first time, chaplains will be marching in the Veterans Day parade in New York on November 11.
I am proud to to be the initiator of this project and I am hoping that many of you will join me.
I feel it will be a true Kiddush Hashem  that  Orthodox Chaplains who have served our country, will be part of the parade.
We will be seen by the thousands who will see the parade as well as the millions who will be watching it on television.
I hope may of you will join us. If you can come, please let me know by e-mail or call my office.
WE will also be served a breakfast before  the parade.
I look forward to hearing from  you.
Ben Samson

Kol Tuv,

Thursday 23 October 2014

Is Terrorism Really New to Canada?

«This week's terror-related events in Ottawa and Quebec are not the first Canada has faced. Here's a chronology of some of those incidents:...»
A Chronology of Terror-Related Threats and Attacks in Canada - Canada Real Time - WSJ

Kol Tuv,