Thursday, June 29, 2006

The HomeLand, The HeartLand... The HolyLand

And now, a message from Jameel

I would like to call your attention to a new intiative for the JBlogosphere:
JBloggers Stand with Israel. The message is apolitical -- you can stand with
Israel because this is the land of the Jews, because of political Zionism,
because of Eretz Yisrael, because it's the sole democracy in the Middle East, or
even if you just like my blog.

If you have a blog, go ahead and put up this
graphic
...

Sunday, June 25, 2006

JO and Evolution

The Jewish Observer just put out an issue dealing with Creationism vs. Evolution. It included articles detailing the history of the debate, current opinions on it, and "Evolution and Torah?". Aside from the fact that they really do not know what they are talking about on a scientific level, and also that they don't address macro vs. microevolution (nor are they likely to know what those terms mean), I just found it kind of funny. This has nothing to do with them! JO's target audience does not have children in publi schools. This really has no effect on them. Not to mention the fact that they are quite a few years late on this one... Though sometimes I enjoy and gain from the JO, this time I felt it was a waste of paper and a waste of time.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

American all the way

Your Linguistic Profile::
55% General American English
30% Yankee
5% Dixie
5% Upper Midwestern
0% Midwestern

Sfashkenaz? Ashkefard?

I was at a wedding last week, and and interesting question came up: AShkenazim fast n the day of their wedding, and Sephardim don't, so if an Ashkenaz girl is marrying a Sephardi boy, does she fast?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Random Musings

Last night, I had a difficult situation to deal with, and when I retreated to my room, I was still thinking about it. I spoke with a friend of mine, and while I was still on the phone with her, I started thinking about how blessed I really am. I have so much good in my life. I have so many people who love me so much, and care about me and want the best for me, and are behind me 100%, people who would go to the end of the world for me. Forget the bad stuff in my life - I can't figure out why G-D is so good to me! I don't deserve any of the amazing things and people in my life. I deserve the pain I am going through, if not more. But how did I merit such good treatment? Why does G-D love me so much? And a scarier thought - by having all this good now, could I be using up zchusim I may need later on? Is there a limit to the Divine goodness one can receive? Is it like money - can I run out of "goodness credit"?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Scary

Watch this, and remember that this is happening in America, not Germany, in 2006, not 1936...





(The subtitles are in Hebrew, but the film is English.)

Not Guilty?

So Rove isn't being charged at all in this whole CIA leak mess. Though I hate to buy into the whole Democrat/liberal conspiracy theory, this does seem kind of convenient...

Friday, June 09, 2006

Lelawala



Most people have been to Niagara Falls at least once. It's a great place to go with family, friends, for graduation trips, etc. Go, see the falls, do all the touristy things. Take pictures everywhere. Then go home. What do you remember from your trip? The fun experiences. Getting sprayed on the Maid of the Mist. seeing the colorful lights on the Falls, and maybe the fireworks. The time when Sarah tripped and fell on her face in front of the Chinese couple who then started snapping pictures of "the American".

What about the incredible thing you saw? The sheer power of this creation of G-D? The fact that the entire bottom of this huge river just drops out, leaving it looking like someone punched a hole in the rock? The fact that 600,000 gallons go over the Canadian portion of the falls alone, every second?

One of the things I did while in Niagara Falls (the city), was go see an IMAX called “Niagara: Miracles, Myths and Magic.” The film tells the story of Lelawala, a young Native American girl who is forced to marry the oldest man in the village. She rebels, and has to leave the village. She runs through the forest, gets into a canoe, and moves out into the river. She has a serene look on her face as she calmly paddles her way over Niagara Falls. The film says that some believe she "became one with the spirits". It the shows her misty figure standing, hands raised, on a rock right next to the falls. Later on in the film, when a young boy is recued after having miraculously survived a plunge over the falls, it flashes to Lelawala, standing with her hands in the air, implying that she saved him.

Now, besides for being total kfira and avoda zara, this is not exactly a believable story. But at least someone found some real meaning in their understanding of the falls. Of course we know that it wasn't Lelawala who saved this boy. But when we look at the falls, shouldn't we be saying, "mah rabu maasecha Hashem," instead of "Oh. Nice. It's so beautiful" ? I'm not trying to say that we should be like thoes who believe in Lelawala. But they do have their priorities in order...

If it's your first time at the Falls, you make the bracha "Oseh Maaseh Beraishis" b'shem v'malchus. This is major. There is incredible power here. A friend of mine, while looking at the Falls, said "How can anyone look at this and not believe in G-D?" How, indeed? Sure, we believe it. But when we look at it, is that what we are thinking about? Our vacations take precedence.

The next time you go to Niagara, the beach, anywhere really, step back and look around. Open your eyes. Look at what Hashem created. And think, "If He can do this, He can do anything."





Have a Good Shabbos.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Fading...

[Less than three of the world's fifteen million Jews are religious]...This devastating state of affairs means that on this Shavuot holiday four-fifths our Jewish brothers and sisters... [inadvertently excluded] themselves from celebrating their heritage simply because they are not even aware of the existence of such a Jewish holiday. Lack of a Jewish education enables countless Jews to turn away from their ancestry in search of a more familiar, albeit assimilated life. Ignorance cripples the Jewish people more severely than any persecution the Jews have endured.

In America, the land of personal and religious freedom, ignorance has thoroughly devastated the Jewish people. In 1950, American Jewry numbered at approximately six million...[and was] projected to flourish into twelve million people. Yet, in a mere two generations American Jewry has actually shrunk by one million, and we are currently only five million Jews strong. We are literally fading before our eyes.


Rabbi Tzali Freedman
Regional Director, Central East NCSY



A few years ago I heard a shiur given by Rav Leib (Lawrence) Kelemen. He told us a moving story about his best friend, Alex, who was an officer in Tzahal in the '70s. I don't remember the entire story, but the basic gist of it was that the unit was under fire, and some soldiers were trapped behind enemy lines. Alex risked, and ultimately gave up, his life, by stepping forward to save some of his Jewish brothers. Rav Kelemen, with tears pouring down his face as he recalled his friend, spoke about mesiras nefesh for klal yisrael. Exhorting us to get involved in kiruv, he asked us, "Who will step forward? Who will stand up?"

Everybody present stood up, and I imagine that most had the same thoughts as I, a deep conviction that this is what I want to do, that this is crucial, that I want to dedicate my life to doing kiruv. However, like any inspiration, that faded.

Do I still have the drive to do kiruv?

Yes.

Does it burn within me with the same intensity?

No.



The problem is that I became complacent. I have my friends, my family, my life. Thank G-D, things are good. But I start to forget about others. And I forget just how crucial it is. As much as anyone can play with the numbers and demographics, and say that Orthodox Judaism is growing, and Reform and Conservative are both shrinking, the facts remain the same: the Jewish Nation is shrinking. Most of the loss to Conservative and Reform is not due to their members becoming Orthodox. It's because of intermarriage and conversion.


This is a tap on the shoulder. It's our turn. Get involved. Volunteer in kiruv programs. Invite your neighbors over for a meal. Don't just leave it for Ohr Sameach, Aish, NCSY, "the professionals". Ask around. To paraphrase JFK, the question is no longer 'what can my nation do for me?' - It's time to ask, "what can I do for my nation?"


It's time we stepped forward, stood up.


It's time we reached out.

Mazal Tov!!!!!!!!!

Mazal Tov Persephone on the birth of her babies!!!!!!!


Musing of a random mind: ever think about how strange it is that we ever make eye contact? In an empty room, with so many angles and so much space for our eyes to be looking at, it seems really unlikely that we would ever end up making eye contact with a person on the other side...

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Have a Chag Kasher V'Sameach!

A little bit of pre-Shavuos Torah -


A reason one of my rabbis gave for eating milchigs on Shavuos stems from the methods of obtaining foods. In order to get meat, you have to kill the animal. This can be likened to Din, whereas milk, produced to feed and nourish the animal's young, represents Rachamim. At this time, we ask Hashem for Rachamim, so that we will be able to open our hearts properly to reaccept the Torah, and gain a new appreciation for it.

An interesting opinion on the topic of "kafa aleihem har k'gigis" (the medrash that H' suspended a mountain above Bnei Yisrael and told tem if they don't accept Torah they will die), is that what happened at Har Sinai was that H' removed the veil of nature. There are a lot of things in the "natural" world which blind us to G-D. If we can accept that it is natural for the sun to rise and set every day, we can forget that it is G-D doing this. If we can think that it is natural that we are alive and well, then G-D has less impact on our lives. This of course leads directly to a different focus - instead of focusing on what we can accomplish in this world, we focus on what material gains we can come by. When H' "suspended the mountain", He was really suspending the laws of nature. While this in effect also suspended bechira chofshis (because without the distractions and misconceptions, everyone wants to be close to H', and nobody would ever choose not to), it showed them that they (we) really are nothing without H'.

It is pssible then that the reason we eat milchigs on Shavuos is that we are asking H' that in His Rachamim, He help us see through the veil of nature, so that without all the distractions, we can truly accept the Torah in our hearts.

Have a Chag Kasher V'Sameach