Tuesday 27 December 2016

JVO Blog: Why Chanukah Isn't About What You Think It's About

Jewish Values Online (jewishvaluesonline.org) is a website that asks the Jewish view on a variety of issues, some specifically Jewish and some from the world around us -- and then presents answers from each of the denominations of Judaism. Nishmablog's Blogmaster Rabbi Wolpoe and Nishma's Founding Director, Rabbi Hecht, both serve as Orthodox members of their Panel of Scholars. Nishmablog, over the years, has also featured the responses on JVO by one of our two Nishma Scholars who are on this panel. 

Recently, the Jewish Values Online website has offered a new service -- a blog which presents comments on various topics within Judaism and the Jewish world. See
http://www.jewishvaluesonline.org/jvoblog/index?aid=0. Rabbi Hecht is also a blogger on this blog.

His latest post 

Why Chanukah Isn't About What You Think It's About
is now available at http://jewishvaluescenter.org/jvoblog/chanukah 

A link is also up on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/JewishValuesOnline/

Monday 26 December 2016

Wednesday 21 December 2016

Huffington Post: Beyond Freedom Of Speech: The Responsibility To Hear And Be Heard

Building on my previous Huffington Post blog -- Circling The Wagons -- if one believes in a value in the variance of opinions, the result must be a further obligation in how we speak and how we hear.

I develop this idea further in my latest Huffington Post blot -- Beyond Freedom Of Speech: The Responsibility To Hear And Be Heard -- at http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/rabbi-ben-hecht/beyond-freedom-of-speech-_b_13748860.html.

Feel free to comment here or there.

Rabbi Ben Hecht

Friday 16 December 2016

Why does Israel continue to build settlements in the West Bank? How is this NOT the biggest obstacle to peace?

From RRW
While Israel can make a strong legal argument for expanding settlements, on a pragmatic level, it may backfire. Israel may be losing the battle of perceptions.

I plan to investigate this matter further before arriving at any conclusions‎.


Thursday 15 December 2016

Praying for Aleppo

The following email was recently sent out by Rabbi Mark Dratch, Executive Vice President of the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA), to the entire membership. I thought of it as most significant and asked for permission to re-produce it on our blog for public notice. Yasher koach.

* * * * *
Dear        ,

For your consideration, below is an email sent yesterday by our chaver, Shaul Robinson, to his community, Lincoln Square Synagogue (Manhattan).

Mark Dratch


Dear Friends,
As we watch helplessly from afar, a humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding in Syria and in particular the city of Aleppo. Today's New York Times describes "A Complete Meltdown of Humanity’: Aleppo Civilians Gunned Down as They Flee".
The words 'Never Again" feel painfully hollow as we witness murder and massacres proceeding with no one to come to the aid of the wretched victims.
While we all feel powerless and diminished by the knowledge that such evil can be done without check, I am writing to ask you all to please Daven and recite Tehillim for the innocent victims of this barbarity. 
Two years ago the Bnai Akiva youth movement in Israel approached Rav Yuval Cherlow, a leading Rosh Yeshiva for guidance on how to pray for the People of Syria. Rav Cherlow suggested that Psalm 37 and Psalm 120 would be particularly appropriate for the occasion. Both psalms speak of the plight of the innocent righteous when evil men plot against them.

Rabbi Cherlow also wrote his own prayer for the Syrian people. He passed it along to the young volunteers, and told them they could share it with others.

The texts of these prayers and Psalms are reproduced below. We will be reciting them in Shul this Shabbat (as we have done in the past) but I am writing to urge you to please recite these prayers as often as you can, wherever you are.

May the Almighty hear the prayers of all Humanity in this moment of wickedness, and may all Mankind merit to see Redemption and Peace, speedily and in our days.
Rabbi Shaul Robinson
Rav Cherlow's Prayer For The People of Syria
נוסח התפילה המלא שחיבר הרב יובל שרלו:
ריבונו של עולם, העושה שלום במרומיו,
אף שלא הוסמכנו לתקן תפילות - אין אנו יכולים עוד להביט אל הטבח הנעשה בעולמך ולא להתפלל על כך; אף שאנו יודעים כי שני הצדדים במלחמה הם שופכי דמים פראיים - אין אנו מסוגלים לשתוק בשעה שנפגעים רבים שהם מחוץ למעגל הלחימה.
אנו פונים אליך בתפילה כי תעורר ברוצחים את האנושיות הפשוטה ואת מידת הרחמים, את ההכרה כי
כולנו נבראנו בצלם א-לוהים וכי גם למידת האכזריות יש גבולות, ותופיע בעולם את מה שכתבת בתורתך "שופך דם האדם באדם דמו יישפך, כי בצלם א-לוהים עשה את האדם".
שלח בנו גם את התבונה לדעת מה לעשות בשעה הקשה הזו, בו שוב מתגלה הצד האפל שביצרם הרע של בני אדם, ואין אנו יודעים מה מוטל עלינו מול מציאות מרה זו; שלח בנו את היכולת לפעול ככל יכולתנו כדי למנוע שפיכות דמים בעולם, ובמיוחד בארץ הקדושה והרחבה, עליה כתבת בתורתך "וְלֹא תַחֲנִיפוּ אֶת הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר אַתֶּם בָּהּ כִּי הַדָּם הוּא יַחֲנִיף אֶת הָאָרֶץ, וְלָאָרֶץ לֹא יְכֻפַּר לַדָּם אֲשֶׁר שֻׁפַּךְ בָּהּ כִּי אִם בְּדַם שֹׁפְכוֹ".
עושה שלום במרומיו, הוא יעשה שלום עלינו, ועל כל ישראל, ואמרו אמן.
Master of the universe, who makes peace on high, we are not accustomed to new formal prayers, we can no longer look at the slaughter taking place in Your world and fail to pray about it. Though we know that both sides in the war are guilty of wanton bloodshed, we are unable to keep silent when so many who are beyond the circle of conflict have fallen victim.

We beseech You in prayer to arouse in the killers their basic humanity and evoke mercy in their hearts, that they may recognize that we are all created in the image of God, and that there are limits even to human cruelty. May You bring to pass what is written in Your Torah: "He who sheds the blood of man, by man his blood shall be shed, for in God's image was man created."

Grant us the wisdom to know how to act in this hour of distress, when the dark face of humanity's evil inclination is once again fully exposed and we are unsure how to stand against it. Enable us to act with all our energies to prevent bloodshed in Your world, above all in the Holy Land and its environs, as it is written in Your Torah: "You shall not pollute the land where you are for blood pollutes the land; and the land will not expiate the blood shed upon it, but with the blood of he that shed it."

May God who makes peace on high, make peace upon us and upon all Israel, and let us say Amen.
Psalm 37
  לְדָוִד:  אַל-תִּתְחַר בַּמְּרֵעִים;    אַל-תְּקַנֵּא, בְּעֹשֵׂי עַוְלָה.
ב  כִּי כֶחָצִיר, מְהֵרָה יִמָּלוּ;    וּכְיֶרֶק דֶּשֶׁא, יִבּוֹלוּן.
ג  בְּטַח בַּיהוָה, וַעֲשֵׂה-טוֹב;    שְׁכָן-אֶרֶץ, וּרְעֵה אֱמוּנָה.
ד  וְהִתְעַנַּג עַל-יְהוָה;    וְיִתֶּן-לְךָ, מִשְׁאֲלֹת לִבֶּךָ.
ה  גּוֹל עַל-יְהוָה דַּרְכֶּךָ;    וּבְטַח עָלָיו, וְהוּא יַעֲשֶׂה.
ו  וְהוֹצִיא כָאוֹר צִדְקֶךָ;    וּמִשְׁפָּטֶךָ, כַּצָּהֳרָיִם.
ז  דּוֹם, לַיהוָה--    וְהִתְחוֹלֵל-לוֹ:
אַל-תִּתְחַר, בְּמַצְלִיחַ דַּרְכּוֹ;    בְּאִישׁ, עֹשֶׂה מְזִמּוֹת.
ח  הֶרֶף מֵאַף, וַעֲזֹב חֵמָה;    אַל-תִּתְחַר, אַךְ-לְהָרֵעַ.
ט  כִּי-מְרֵעִים, יִכָּרֵתוּן;    וְקֹוֵי יְהוָה, הֵמָּה יִירְשׁוּ-אָרֶץ.
י  וְעוֹד מְעַט, וְאֵין רָשָׁע;    וְהִתְבּוֹנַנְתָּ עַל-מְקוֹמוֹ וְאֵינֶנּוּ.
יא  וַעֲנָוִים יִירְשׁוּ-אָרֶץ;    וְהִתְעַנְּגוּ, עַל-רֹב שָׁלוֹם.
יב  זֹמֵם רָשָׁע, לַצַּדִּיק;    וְחֹרֵק עָלָיו שִׁנָּיו.
יג  אֲדֹנָי יִשְׂחַק-לוֹ:    כִּי-רָאָה, כִּי-יָבֹא יוֹמוֹ.
יד  חֶרֶב, פָּתְחוּ רְשָׁעִים--    וְדָרְכוּ קַשְׁתָּם:
לְהַפִּיל, עָנִי וְאֶבְיוֹן;    לִטְבוֹחַ, יִשְׁרֵי-דָרֶךְ.
טו  חַרְבָּם, תָּבוֹא בְלִבָּם;    וְקַשְּׁתוֹתָם, תִּשָּׁבַרְנָה.
טז  טוֹב-מְעַט, לַצַּדִּיק--    מֵהֲמוֹן, רְשָׁעִים רַבִּים.
יז  כִּי זְרוֹעוֹת רְשָׁעִים, תִּשָּׁבַרְנָה;    וְסוֹמֵךְ צַדִּיקִים יְהוָה.
יח  יוֹדֵעַ יְהוָה, יְמֵי תְמִימִם;    וְנַחֲלָתָם, לְעוֹלָם תִּהְיֶה.
יט  לֹא-יֵבֹשׁוּ, בְּעֵת רָעָה;    וּבִימֵי רְעָבוֹן יִשְׂבָּעוּ.
כ  כִּי רְשָׁעִים, יֹאבֵדוּ, וְאֹיְבֵי יְהוָה, כִּיקַר כָּרִים;    כָּלוּ בֶעָשָׁן כָּלוּ.
כא  לֹוֶה רָשָׁע, וְלֹא יְשַׁלֵּם;    וְצַדִּיק, חוֹנֵן וְנוֹתֵן.
כב  כִּי מְבֹרָכָיו, יִירְשׁוּ אָרֶץ;    וּמְקֻלָּלָיו, יִכָּרֵתוּ.
כג  מֵיְהוָה, מִצְעֲדֵי-גֶבֶר כּוֹנָנוּ;    וְדַרְכּוֹ יֶחְפָּץ.
כד  כִּי-יִפֹּל לֹא-יוּטָל:    כִּי-יְהוָה, סוֹמֵךְ יָדוֹ.
כה  נַעַר, הָיִיתִי--    גַּם-זָקַנְתִּי:
וְלֹא-רָאִיתִי, צַדִּיק נֶעֱזָב;    וְזַרְעוֹ, מְבַקֶּשׁ-לָחֶם.
כו  כָּל-הַיּוֹם, חוֹנֵן וּמַלְוֶה;    וְזַרְעוֹ, לִבְרָכָה.
כז  סוּר מֵרָע, וַעֲשֵׂה-טוֹב;    וּשְׁכֹן לְעוֹלָם.
כח  כִּי יְהוָה, אֹהֵב מִשְׁפָּט,    וְלֹא-יַעֲזֹב אֶת-חֲסִידָיו, לְעוֹלָם נִשְׁמָרוּ;
וְזֶרַע רְשָׁעִים    נִכְרָת.
כט  צַדִּיקִים יִירְשׁוּ-אָרֶץ;    וְיִשְׁכְּנוּ לָעַד עָלֶיהָ.
ל  פִּי-צַדִּיק, יֶהְגֶּה חָכְמָה;    וּלְשׁוֹנוֹ, תְּדַבֵּר מִשְׁפָּט.
לא  תּוֹרַת אֱלֹהָיו בְּלִבּוֹ;    לֹא תִמְעַד אֲשֻׁרָיו.
לב  צוֹפֶה רָשָׁע, לַצַּדִּיק;    וּמְבַקֵּשׁ, לַהֲמִיתוֹ.
לג  יְהוָה, לֹא-יַעַזְבֶנּוּ בְיָדוֹ;    וְלֹא יַרְשִׁיעֶנּוּ, בְּהִשָּׁפְטוֹ.
לד  קַוֵּה אֶל-יְהוָה, וּשְׁמֹר דַּרְכּוֹ,    וִירוֹמִמְךָ, לָרֶשֶׁת אָרֶץ;
בְּהִכָּרֵת רְשָׁעִים    תִּרְאֶה.
לה  רָאִיתִי, רָשָׁע עָרִיץ;    וּמִתְעָרֶה, כְּאֶזְרָח רַעֲנָן.
לו  וַיַּעֲבֹר, וְהִנֵּה אֵינֶנּוּ;    וָאֲבַקְשֵׁהוּ, וְלֹא נִמְצָא.
לז  שְׁמָר-תָּם, וּרְאֵה יָשָׁר:    כִּי-אַחֲרִית לְאִישׁ שָׁלוֹם.
לח  וּפֹשְׁעִים, נִשְׁמְדוּ יַחְדָּו;    אַחֲרִית רְשָׁעִים נִכְרָתָה.
לט  וּתְשׁוּעַת צַדִּיקִים, מֵיְהוָה;    מָעוּזָּם, בְּעֵת צָרָה.
מ  וַיַּעְזְרֵם יְהוָה, וַיְפַלְּטֵם:    יְפַלְּטֵם מֵרְשָׁעִים, וְיוֹשִׁיעֵם--כִּי-חָסוּ בוֹ.
1 [A Psalm] of David. Fret not thyself because of evil-doers, neither be thou envious against them that work unrighteousness.
2 For they shall soon wither like the grass, and fade as the green herb.
3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land, and cherish faithfulness.
4 So shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and He shall give thee the petitions of thy heart.
5 Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in Him, and He will bring it to pass.
6 And He will make thy righteousness to go forth as the light, and thy right as the noonday.
7 Resign thyself unto the LORD, and wait patiently for Him; {N}
fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.
8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; fret not thyself, it tendeth only to evil-doing.
9 For evil-doers shall be cut off; but those that wait for the LORD, they shall inherit the land.
10 And yet a little while, and the wicked is no more; yea, thou shalt look well at his place, and he is not.
11 But the humble shall inherit the land, and delight themselves in the abundance of peace.
12 The wicked plotteth against the righteous, and gnasheth at him with his teeth.
13 The Lord doth laugh at him; for He seeth that his day is coming.
14 The wicked have drawn out the sword, and have bent their bow; {N}
to cast down the poor and needy, to slay such as are upright in the way;
15 Their sword shall enter into their own heart, and their bows shall be broken.
16 Better is a little that the righteous hath than the abundance of many wicked.
17 For the arms of the wicked shall be broken; but the LORD upholdeth the righteous.
18 The LORD knoweth the days of them that are wholehearted; and their inheritance shall be for ever.
19 They shall not be ashamed in the time of evil; and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied.
20 For the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the LORD shall be as the fat of lambs--they shall pass away in smoke, they shall pass away.
21 The wicked borroweth, and payeth not; but the righteous dealeth graciously, and giveth.
22 For such as are blessed of Him shall inherit the land; and they that are cursed of Him shall be cut off.
23 It is of the LORD that a man's goings are established; and He delighted in his way.
24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the LORD upholdeth his hand.
25 I have been young, and now am old; {N}
yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.
26 All the day long he dealeth graciously, and lendeth; and his seed is blessed.
27 Depart from evil, and do good; and dwell for evermore.
28 For the LORD loveth justice, and forsaketh not His saints; they are preserved for ever; {N}
but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off.
29 The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein for ever.
30 The mouth of the righteous uttereth wisdom, and his tongue speaketh justice.
31 The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps slide.
32 The wicked watcheth the righteous, and seeketh to slay him.
33 The LORD will not leave him in his hand, nor suffer him to be condemned when he is judged.
34 Wait for the LORD, and keep His way, and He will exalt thee to inherit the land; {N}
when the wicked are cut off, thou shalt see it.
35 I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a leafy tree in its native soil.
36 But one passed by, and, lo, he was not; yea, I sought him, but he could not be found.
37 Mark the man of integrity, and behold the upright; for there is a future for the man of peace.
38 But transgressors shall be destroyed together; the future of the wicked shall be cut off.
39 But the salvation of the righteous is of the LORD; He is their stronghold in the time of trouble.
40 And the LORD helpeth them, and delivereth them; He delivereth them from the wicked, and saveth them, because they have taken refuge in Him. {P}
Psalm 120
  שִׁיר, הַמַּעֲלוֹת:
אֶל-יְהוָה, בַּצָּרָתָה לִּי--    קָרָאתִי, וַיַּעֲנֵנִי.
ב  יְהוָה--הַצִּילָה נַפְשִׁי, מִשְּׂפַת-שֶׁקֶר:    מִלָּשׁוֹן רְמִיָּה.
ג  מַה-יִּתֵּן לְךָ, וּמַה-יֹּסִיף לָךְ--    לָשׁוֹן רְמִיָּה.
ד  חִצֵּי גִבּוֹר שְׁנוּנִים;    עִם, גַּחֲלֵי רְתָמִים.
ה  אוֹיָה-לִי, כִּי-גַרְתִּי מֶשֶׁךְ;    שָׁכַנְתִּי, עִם-אָהֳלֵי קֵדָר.
ו  רַבַּת, שָׁכְנָה-לָּהּ נַפְשִׁי--    עִם, שׂוֹנֵא שָׁלוֹם.
ז  אֲנִי-שָׁלוֹם, וְכִי אֲדַבֵּר;    הֵמָּה, לַמִּלְחָמָה.
1 A Song of Ascents. {N}
In my distress I called unto the LORD, and He answered me.
2 O LORD, deliver my soul from lying lips, from a deceitful tongue.
3 What shall be given unto thee, and what shall be done more unto thee, thou deceitful tongue?
4 Sharp arrows of the mighty, with coals of broom.
5 Woe is me, that I sojourn with Meshech, that I dwell beside the tents of Kedar!
6 My soul hath full long had her dwelling with him that hateth peace.
7 I am all peace; but when I speak, they are for war. {P}

Friday 9 December 2016

Mark Twain and the Jews

From RRW

Mark Twain had a mixed record re: Jews. In the end he became an admirer

Twain spent many years in CT including about 20 in Hartford.

Tuesday 6 December 2016

Emergency Fire Fund - 2

From RRW
 Here is a worthy cause:

 אחרי שריפה שהשתוללה בדולב באולפנת דולב מנסים להמשיך הלאה בכל הכוח. הבנות שנמצאות באופנת דולב חוו קשיים רבים, ושם זהו ביתן, העוטף והמקדם אותן לעולם.
 בשביל השיקום מהשריפה מתחילים בצרכים האישיים שלהן -
 תיקי בית ספר, ציוד אישי, נעליים, וכן פעילות להקלה מהטראומה שעברו.
 בואו תצטרפו, תתרמו ותשתפו!
 ניתן גם לשתף את הפוסט בפייסבוק, כדי שכל מי שרוצה יראה ויצטרף!
 Rabbi Ilan Acoca

Kerry Knocks Israel on Settlements - WSJ

From RRW

Monday 5 December 2016

Emergency Fire Fund - 1

From RRW

We are posting funds aimed at helping to heal the fire emergency in Israel

We are getting scattered information so we may need several posts to cover this more thoroughly

Acheinu Kol Beit Yisroel...

Tuesday 29 November 2016

United with Israel: The Ethic of Nations: Balancing the National with the Universal

Modern day ethics generally grew out of a perspective which focused on the individual without a consideration of an ethical value in sub-groupings within humanity – groupings such as nations or even families. The result is an ethical muddle. In regard to this, please see my latest post in the United with Israel blog at https://unitedwithisrael.org/the-ethic-of-nations-balancing-the-national-with-the-universal/.

I am sure this will also be up on the UWI Facebook page in the near future. Please feel free to comment here or on one of the UWI sites.

Rabbi Ben Hecht

Tuesday 22 November 2016

Huffington Post: Circling The Wagons

We live in a time when differences of opinion seem to be voiced so primarily in a voice of dogmatism. I am right and you are simply wrong is the tone of the day. How different this is from the way of Beit Hillel who always quoted Beit Shammai first.

I develop this idea further in my latest Huffington Post blot -- Circling The Wagons -- at http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/rabbi-ben-hecht/circling-the-wagons_b_13139518.html

Feel free to comment here or there.

Rabbi Ben Hecht

Thursday 17 November 2016

"Filling the spiritual void with politics - doesn't work,"

From RRW
Arutz Sheva
Matthew M. Hausman, J.D.,  11/13/2016

Progressive Jews wear their partisan allegiances on their sleeves during election season, often taking positions that are so inconsistent with tradition as to cast doubt on whether their values are Jewish at all, or merely secular political dogmas.  The most fundamental priorities for those claiming loyalty to tradition should be respect for ancestral values and commitment to religious, cultural and national survival.  Instead, progressives espouse views that are hostile to Jewish continuity and often display greater affinity for left-wing anti-Semites, Islamic radicals, and revisionist narratives that deny Jewish history.  

Unbalanced criticism of Israel and disrespect for tradition are not authentic Jewish perspectives, but instead betray discomfort with Jewish identity and history.  It seems the further removed they become from normative belief and practice, the more progressive Jews seek to fill the spiritual void with secular philosophies and political ideals.  In many ways, left-wing politics is just as incompatible with Jewish tradition as so-called Jews for Jesus.  Both embrace positions that contravene tradition, and both take advantage of ignorance to promote alien ideologies as authentically Jewish. 

The agendas of progressive groups like J Street and the New Israel Fund (NIF) are inconsistent with Israel’s continuity as a Jewish state.  Though such organizations may claim affinity for Jewish values, they validate causes and programs that delegitimize Israel and undercut Jewish cultural integrity... 

Tuesday 8 November 2016

Sunday 6 November 2016


From RRW

"The Dogma of Political Correctness Has replaced Actual Morality"

5 Towns Jewish News
November 4th
P. 13

Thursday 3 November 2016

Hilary and the Ultra Orthodox

From RRW

Viewpoint #1
Rabbi Genack: VOTE FOR HILLARY – “She Understands Our Values” | Matzav.com

Viewpoint #2
Hillary Denies She Traded Clemency in Exchange for Votes

Tuesday 1 November 2016

Voting in the Upcoming U.S. Elections

The following is from a message that was sent out to Young Israel members from Bob Levi, Chairman of the Board, National Council of Young Israel. I thought it was worth sharing - RBH
...I would like to magnify the importance of voting by pointing out that participation in elections is not only a civic responsibility, but also a halachic obligation for Orthodox Jews. This point must have resonance with our co-religionists who are deeply disappointed in the candidates and, therefore, are considering sitting out this election.

I would respectfully suggest that we follow a path consistent with Halacha, as articulated by Rav Yosef Soloveitchik TZ’L and Rav Moshe Feinstein TZ’L. In 1940, Rav Soloveitchik wrote “only a political system can guide people” within the marketplace of political and legislative ideas. The Rav concluded that a Jew “fulfills G-d’s will in working for the public good” and, as a consequence, we must vote in elections.  Also, the words of Rav Feinstein are decisive when he wrote in October 1984:  “A fundamental principle of Judaism is hakaras ha-tov – recognizing benefits afforded us and giving expression to our appreciation. Therefore, it is incumbent upon each Jewish citizen to participate in the democratic system which guards the freedoms we enjoy.”

Furthermore, on a practical level, elected officials are attentive to Jewish voting turnout. As a result, our ability to influence legislative decisions impacting our community is linked to engagement in the electoral process. So, I urge each and every Young Israel Branch member and supporter of the Young Israel movement to vote in this year’s election.


Bob Levi
Chairman of the Board
National Council of Young Israel

Monday 31 October 2016

The Rothschild Conspiracy

From RRW

"There is no longer any such thing as a monolithic House of Rothschild with connections to any significant number of all the scores of today's independent Rothschild business ventures. The closest thing is Rothschilds Continuation Holdings AG, a Swiss company that manages interests in many Rothschild-founded institutions. There are no longer any Rothschild family members on its board (the last having retired in 2011), though about eight Rothschilds are believed to own stakes in it (like many holding companies, it's privately held, so its records are not public). Its other owners include Rabobank and Hong Kong based Jardine Matheson Holdings. The Rothschild funds it manages now focus on mergers and acquisitions. Make no mistake, it's a large and successful company; but with billions in assets, it's a relatively small fish in the sea of world financial institutions with trillions in assets, including Deutsche Bank, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, HSBC Holdings, BNP Paribas, Japan Post Bank, Crédit Agricole Group, Barclays PLC, Industrial & Commercial Bank of China, Royal Bank of Scotland Group, JP Morgan Chase & Co., and many others.Anyone trying to point the finger at the scattered Rothschilds as "controlling" world banks has an awfully tall order. That little factoid is about 100 years out of date.‎"

Thursday 20 October 2016

Teki'ah At Ne'ilah - Tur O"Ch 622-623

From RRW

Q1: What is the earliest source for blowing‎ at the end of Ne'ilah?
Q2: What does the Te'kiah accomplish?
Q3: When is it sounded‎?
Q4: Which notes ares sounded?

A1: I'm still not certain, but it seems to be post Talmudic

Several reasons are "proferred" in B"Y
A. Related to Yoveil - Mordechai
B. So as to co-incide with silluk haschinah. - Hagahot Maimoniyyot
‎C. Tosafot - to indicate it's nightfall. Arguably a good reason to blow after night "mamash" and perhaps to delay until after Arvit

Several options are mentioned:
A. ‎Yeish Nohagin Miyydad after Ne'ila
B. Some before "sheimos"

Opionions differ
A Tashrat
B. Te'ki'ah
Bottom line, there is not a rigid consensus at the end of the Rishonim as to how this‎ works.
EG The Bach‎ does favor as close to Ne'ilah possible, but this appears to be a preference not an absolute because he characterizes it as "adif t'fei"

Friday 14 October 2016

Ha'azinu: "He Measured the Seas in the Hollow of His Hand"

With the reading of Ha'azinu, we encounter the artistic and poetic within Torah. It is with specifically this in mind that we direct you to the following article on our website.


Thursday 13 October 2016

On Conflating the Personal Life with the Publlic life

From RRW
JFK And Women: Was John F. Kennedy a Feminist?
Perhaps the biggest lesson here is that questions like “was Kennedy good for women?” are misleadingly simplistic. They unintentionally conflate the personal with the professional, and require more than one word to answer (more like 1,400 words, at current count). Kennedy was good for the women of the nation, bad for the women in his immediate vicinity, and that’s probably about as close to an answer as we’re ever going to get.

Monday 10 October 2016

Putin's Puritan Piety: The Ideological War against the West

Here is how this article from the Gatestone Institute is introduced:
  • Russia is one of the few countries in the Western world in which religion is becoming increasingly important and not less.
  • To establish his authority on the Russian society, President Vladimir Putin has shaped a doctrine mobilizing the entire Russian society against a perceived Western "decadence". He has declared that Russian traditional family values are a bulwark against the West's "so-called tolerance -- genderless and infertile."
  • The first Cold War was a clash between Western democracy and the Soviet dictatorship of the proletariat. The new Cold War is a one between Western liberalism and Russian conservatism.
 What do you think? The full article is at https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/9063/putin-piety-church.

In considering this issue, I would remind one of the position of Rav Moshe Feinstein in response to the question of how to respond to the political question of whether to support the Pro Life position or the Pro Choice one. Rav Moshe contended that, since the Pro Life position could include viewpoints that would bar abortion when halachically mandated, we should support the view that a woman should be able to make her own decision in concert with her religious guide -- essentially a Pro Choice stand. Albeit that this does truly reflect the Torah viewpoint on abortion (a law that, through the Noachide Code, also applies to non-Jews), this position will ensure that a Jewess in such a position will be able to fully practice her religion. This is the overriding value of the concept of Freedom of Religion.

What this development in Russia would seem to raise is the issue of whether any movement towards stricter moral standards, motivated by specific religious aspirations, raises a question for Jews, even as these standards may be more in line with Torah teachings. Of concern is the possibility of the development of further religious impositions that may actually limit our practice of Torah.

We look forward to your comments.

Rabbi Ben Hecht

Friday 7 October 2016

Levush on Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, and Hoshana Rabba

How did it come about that Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, and Hoshana Rabbaare ALL Days of Judgment?

The Levush addresses this very question. He gives a very insightful answer that I would like to share.

The Jewish calendar has a major Lunar component and a minor Solar component. Furthermore,when it comes to the flood of Noah, and perhaps OTHER pre-Sinai events the traditional solar 365 days make a full year

Let's say that in Year 1 [or is that Zero?] God created the Heaven and the earth on Tishre 1 What is the corresponding solar Date? Let's arbitrarily say September 30th.

In Year 2 Tishre 1 is the Lunar Rosh Hashana. let's say it is 10 days earlier and falls on Solar Sept. 20th. When is the SOLAR new year? Why it is again Sept. 30th. This is due to the usual loss of 11 days which has been rounded off to 10 days. Sept. 30th is Yom Kippur in year 2 and the Solar Rosh haShana

In Year 3 Tishre 1 is the Lunar Rosh Hashana. let's say it falls on Sept. 9th in the soalr calendar. What then is Sept. 30th or Solar anniversary? Why, it is Hoshana Rabbah!

What about year 4? We get a 13th month and recycle the cycle.

Thus whilst 1 Tishre is ALWAYS the Lunar New Year, Yom Kippur and Hoshana Rabbah are pinch hit Solar New Years as needed. Thus, they also obtain the status as Days of Judgment!


Tuesday 4 October 2016

Competing Images of Rosh Hashana

What imagery does"b'nei Maron" evoke?

Are we to be compared to sheep being reviewed by the shepherd?
Are we better compared to a Ruler reviewing his loyal troops?

Are we to be "Bent over and subservient"?
"Erect and dignified"?

More later

Friday 30 September 2016

Rabbi Lord Sacks on Anti-Semitism

From RRW

The Mutating Virus - Understanding Antisemitism

Published on Sep 28, 2016 "The hate that begins with Jews never ends with Jews."
On 27th September 2016, Rabbi Sacks delivered a keynote address entitled 'The Mutating Virus: Understanding Antisemitism' in the European Parliament. The speech opened a conference on the future of Jewish communities in Europe hosted by Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament. To read a transcript of the speech, please click here:http://bit.ly/2dCyUyq‎.‎

Tuesday 27 September 2016

Brand new program makes Choshen Mishpat accessible to everyone!

From RRW

Absolutely FREE!
Audio shiurim, English synopsis, case studies, and actual source material provided for each Sif. 

An unprecedented learning experience!

Monday 26 September 2016

JVO Blog: Repenting for What You Thought Was Right

Jewish Values Online (jewishvaluesonline.org) is a website that asks the Jewish view on a variety of issues, some specifically Jewish and some from the world around us -- and then presents answers from each of the denominations of Judaism. Nishmablog's Blogmaster Rabbi Wolpoe and Nishma's Founding Director, Rabbi Hecht, both serve as Orthodox members of their Panel of Scholars. Nishmablog, over the years, has also featured the responses on JVO by one of our two Nishma Scholars who are on this panel. 

Recently, the Jewish Values Online website has offered a new service -- a blog which presents comments on various topics within Judaism and the Jewish world. See
http://www.jewishvaluesonline.org/jvoblog/index?aid=0. Rabbi Hecht is also a blogger on this blog.

His latest post:

Repenting for What You Thought Was Right
is now available at http://jewishvaluescenter.org/jvoblog/repenting
Please feel free to comment here or there.

A link is also up on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/JewishValuesOnline/

Sunday 25 September 2016

Results of poll on: The Hardest Part of Teshuva

first posted on September 15, 2010

In our last poll, we inquired:

Poll: The Hardest Part of Teshuva

The Rambam describes. in Hilchot Teshuva 1:1, four parts to the vidui process:

1) recognition of the sin;
2) remorse over this transgression;
3) commitment to not sin in the same manner again;
4) a vidui pronouncement to this effect.
Which part of this process do you find to be the most difficult?

Your Responses (total 6)
Choice 1 - 00% (0) Choice 2 - 17% (1)
Choice 3 - 67% (4)
Choice 4 - 17% (1)

Rabbi Hecht
The results, in a certain way, are really not surprising. It can be expected that for most people, the commitment not to sin would be defined as the most difficult part of teshuva -- and for obvious reasons. The other two positive responses, though, may make us think.
A difficulty expressed in regard to remorse should not be dismissed so easily. Many, while practicing a more halachic lifestyle later in life, speak of their misdeeds in the past in an almost fond way. Rambam is informing us that it is not enough for one to simply state that it is time for the partying to be over and now it is time to settle down -- but, oh how fun these partying days were. Teshuva demands remorse and the regret that one ever did this partying.
A difficulty presented in regard to vidui, I actually find most interesting. It would seem to be just a simple statement -- why would that be so hard? Perhaps, the respondent was speaking in terms of mitzvot bein adam l'chaveiro and the difficulty in explaining to another that a sin was committed against this person. That indeed is most difficult -- but that is not really the vidui to which Rambam is referring. Yet, this vidui may still be most difficult for many -- as one often finds it challenging to actually articulate one's sin. A statement concretizes it, and this may be why this respondent found the vidui most difficult.
The key lesson of this poll, though, may be in the fact that no one responded that the recognition of sin was the most difficult part of teshuva. This, perhaps, should be contrasted to the two cases presented from the Tanach as the models of teshuva -- Yehuda and Dovid. Both did not recognize that they sinned and had to be informed, taught, about the reality of their misdeed -- Yehuda by Tamar and Dovid by Natan. Their teshuva was tied to their recognition. This may point to the fact that the most difficult, the hardest part of teshuva may be in the very recognition of sin. How can we do teshuva if we don't even know that teshuva is required? And what may be significant about the fact that no one chose this choice is the very fact that people do not even recognize this challenge and the fact that we may be doing something wrong without even knowing about it. The result is that teshuva must include a continuous look at ourselves and our thought processes and whether we may be accepting of certain perceptions that are really blocking us from seeing the real truth.