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...