For the inspired, the curious, or the just-plain-bored, my Rosh Hashanah machshavah shiur entitled Plan A and Plan B is available for free download. In the old days, I was able to give many shiurim, but my current day job doesn’t allow for it. We do make an exception before yomim tovim, and the Yomim Noraim offering took place earlier today.
It is about an hour long, and includes longer thoughts from R Goldvicht, R Kook, and yibadel lechaim, R Pinchos Friedman. There are also shorter pieces from diverse sources, and one tear-jerker of a story, lifted from R. Lau’s autobiography. The longer thoughts are on the deeper side, and require some background.
We don’t practice milah any more than we avoid a BLT because of a fear of contracting trichinosis. (This despite what the Rambam writes in the third chelek of the Moreh. See R Samson Raphael Hirsch’s critique in The Nineteen Letters.) Yet we are all part of the battle to ensure that circumcision will not be banned anywhere. We should equip ourselves with the weapons effective in countering those intent on doing just that. This includes a study published in The Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, and summarized in an article in today’s USA Today.
Europeans continue to convince themselves that circumcision confers no benefits – neither medical nor social/cultural/psychosocial – and therefore should be banned as a form of parental abuse of children. Self-termed “intactivists” in the US rail at the horror of it all.
Meanwhile, as the rate of circumcision of newborns declines, there is now data measuring the medical costs to society as the benefits of circumcision are denied to more and more children.
It is not clear whether the blindness of those who insist that it has been proven that there are no medical benefits in circumcision (one of the pillars of … Read More >>
Once again, we invite readers to share ideas on preparing for the Yemai HaDin, by telling us what special preparatory learning they will be going during Elul. This worked very well last year.
We are going to solicit two different responses: 1) What you are learning for general hisorerus and inspiration, and 2) What works you are using to make the davening of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.
We hope that this will contribute to the teshuva of the rabbim.
My choices, at least for starters, are 1) Chovos HaLevavos, Sha’ar Cheshbon HaNefesh, and 2) the kuntrus on biur tefilla in the back of Sifsei Chaim
From WNYC New York, an outlet that covered the Siyum, and did it very well:
By Yossi Huttler
nowhere to be found only in yeshiva shel ma’alah where neshamos’ unfinished corners are completed by the Teacher of teachers who fills in the unknowable of this world
hidden like the end of the very first word in Sefer Vayikra reminding us how little we are ever to know b’olom hazeh
Yossi Huttler is the author of LaKol Z’man: A Poetical Journey Through the Jewish Year. His poems and essays have appeared in the Jerusalem Post, the Jewish Observer, the Forward, Jewish Action and Midstream
By Yossi Huttler
a pillow less or pillow-less a stone mai’avenei hamakom head rest for one’s temples can you really sleep like every other night of the year
Yossi Huttler is the author of LaKol Z’man: A Poetical Journey Through the Jewish Year. His poems and essays have appeared in the Jerusalem Post, the Jewish Observer, the Forward, Jewish Action and Midstream. This poem first appeared on Forward.com
Courtesy of Aish.com
Let us daven that all who are called banim la-Makom should be ready!
[Hat-tip to Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Los Angeles]
Many of our readers, I’ve been told, turn to Cross-Currents for a balanced view on issues. They look here for commentary faithful to Torah values, free of extremism, and admitting to nuance.
If we succeed at times in living up to this expectation, much of the credit belongs to a remarkable individual who taught all of the above, and was responsible for much of the Torah weltanschauung of an inordinate number of mechanchim and Torah personalities of our generation. Two of the senior writers on Cross-Currents – Rabbi Rosenblum and myself – owe so much to Rav Bulman.
It is hard to believe that we have missed him for an entire decade. His memory is eternally fresh in the minds of so many whose thinking he shaped. Sunday evening, the yahrzait will be commemorated by a leyl iyun in Sanhedria Murchevet. We hope that those in Yershalayim can join.
There is no joy in Berkeley. Mighty Israel has struck out!
As if Israel were not already in enough trouble with leftists, she had to really get under their skin. Leftists in Israel teach a generation of young Israelis to hate Israel; that Israel had no right to statehood; even (as in Shlomo Sand) that modern Jews are not related to the ones of ancient times, whose real descendants are the Palestinians.
Leftist Jews in the US go to church conventions, like that of the Presbyterian Church (USA) last week, to implore, beg, passionately declaim that Christians should punish Israel through boycott, divestment and sanctions. (More on that in a future piece. I was there to witness it.) They do this in the name of Torah, which they don’t even believe in.
Aren’t we in enough trouble with liberals? Why did Israel allow her scientists to this? (And a group, no less, with the liberal sounding name of Tikun Olam?) Couldn’t they follow the lead of the Arabs, whose scientists have enhanced the world with all kinds of useful consumer items, like suicide bomber belts?
But, no, they have to strike at a core value of the Left, … Read More >>
Groundless hatred cost us the beis ha-mikdosh, and cast us into a galus we have still not extricated ourselves from. This short YouTube, part of a film competition in Israel, might help get some of us into the mood to make some positive changes, especially in regard to making summary judgments about people.
Hat-tip to Menachem Lipkin
My musical tastes favor Mahler over MBD, anytime. So why do I love this new tune and its video treatment so much? Probably because it succeeds in taking something as somber as debilitating childhood illness, and turning it into a paean to community chesed. (Oh yes, did I mention that the chesed organization it extols is Kids of Courage, co-founded by my son Ari? Whatever.)
[Hat tip to Dr. Martha Simon, Los Angeles/Yerushalayim]
It’s not often that I agree with anything from the Forward’s JJ Goldberg. This quote, though, clearly qualifies to be one of the exceptions:
Looking at recent population figures in the world’s two largest Jewish communities, it’s not entirely fanciful to wonder if the modern Jewish experience of the past two centuries — the culture that produced Einstein and Freud, Gershwin and Chagall, Kafka, Buber, Ayn Rand, Jonas Salk, Betty Friedan and Bob Dylan, not to mention the sovereign Jewish state of Israel — isn’t turning out to be a historical blip.
The above is part of his column on the radical pro-Orthodox shift in NY’s Jewish population, a topic which deserves much more attention than this brief entry.
Finding out that your fault is shared by others can be a joyous discovery. I have felt guilty for years parading out favorite divrei Torah again and again. It’s not like there is any shortage of new insights that should be rolling off my tongue. I’ve learned that some really important people also have their favorites, and can be counted on serving them up each year. So I will go easier on myself for insisting that it just isn’t Chanukah for me without an opportunity to spin the Bnei Yissaschar’s dreidel, and Pesach would just not feel right without an audience for the Maharal on the korban Pesach and Rav Kook on Ha Lachma Anya.
Of course I am timidly working up to my confession: Shavuos just hasn’t happened for me without a chance to sing the praises of Nachlas Yosef on Rus. I can’t even try to speak dispassionately about it. I just don’t know anything like it on Rus, and I didn’t really contain the passion when I spoke this morning at the Iranian Yachad Kollel in Beverly Hills. (Rus, nothing. I don’t know of any mechaber who so beautifully integrates Chazal in a complex running, thematic … Read More >>
From the feedback we’ve been getting, the current edition of Klal Perspectives dealing with connectedness has touched many people. Besides the runaway success of Rabbi Moshe Weinberger’s contribution, two other factors have been played a role in the popularity of the Spring 2012 issue. Firstly, the topic seems to have resonated with many people who were ready to confront the uncomfortable realization that their relationship with HKBH was not as rich as they wanted. Secondly, between the different authors, the issue offered a plethora of suggestions, appealing to all kinds of different backgrounds and needs.
Several authors spoke of people possessing inadequate understanding of the whys and wherefores of Yiddishkeit. There are too many bright people who realize at some point that their comprehension of what a Torah life is all about conceptually still operates on a grade school level. When they were younger, they did not have any questions; decades later, they go through the motions, but have no idea about where to find answers.
Some authors suggested that for some people, the most satisfying way to gain a sophisticated appreciation of the inner workings of Yiddishkeit is to study the great classics of Jewish philosophy and … Read More >>
In the wake of President Obama’s sharing of his personal feeling that the millennia-old institution of marriage should be redefined in contemporary America, National Jewish Democratic Council chair Marc R. Stanley declared his admiration for the president’s demonstration of “the values of tikkun olam.”
A political group is entitled to its opinion, no less than a president is to his. But to imply that a religious value like “tikkun olam” – and by association, Judaism – is somehow implicated in a position like the one the president articulated, is outrageous, offensive and wrong.
We hereby state, clearly and without qualification, that the Torah forbids homosexual acts, and sanctions only the union of a man and a woman in matrimony.
The Orthodox Jewish constituency represented by Agudath Israel of America, as well as countless other Jews who respect the Jewish religious tradition, remain staunch in their opposition to redefining marriage.
First it was the BBC telling the truth about Israel’s humane efforts against terrorism, and the desires of Gazans to continue to fight the “occupation” of Jerusalem, Haifa and Tel Aviv.
For those who have been following the case of George Zimmerman, who claimed to have shot an African-American teenager in self-defense, was believed, and then was charged following protests and a media willing to charge him with racism (despite Zimmerman, who is Hispanic (and, despite the name, not Jewish) serving as a mentor to two African-American children), something similar happened last week. ABC News first joined the media’s conviction of Zimmerman in abstentia, scanning grainy security camera footage and hastily pronouncing that there were no signs of injury on the back of George Zimmerman’s head, casting doubt on his story. Last week, however, ABC not only released an exclusive photograph claiming to show the bloodied back of Zimmerman’s head, but also pointed out that the image, taken with a cell phone, included encapsulated information showing that it was taken near Zimmerman’s location 3 minutes after the shooting was heard on 911 tapes. In other words, his claim of self-defense appears quite likely to have been true all … Read More >>
What’s wrong with this picture? Plenty. And not what some people think.
JTA ran an article about a couple that moved from the States, and found their niche of service. They provide Shabbos hospitality to soldiers who do not have homes that welcome them when they get a weekend off. Last year, they served some 3000 Shabbos meals.
Scott and Teresa Johnson, however, are not Jewish. They are evangelical Christians, and do not hide it. That makes their sacrifice even more significant. (I believe that it is more than likely that the journalist got it all wrong in making the assumption that evangelicals support Israel because they wish to see all Jews gathered there for conversion before the second coming. While there are evangelicals who believe that, they are not the majority, and not even close. The majority support Israel and the Jewish people because they take Hashem’s brachah to Avrohom (“I will bless those who bless you.”) very seriously.)
So while I am not discomfited by the actions or motivations of the Johnsons who deserve accolades rather than criticism, I can’t be comfortable with their providing a service we ought to be providing ourselves. Indeed, … Read More >>
Since the BBC, like most British media outlets, isn’t highly regarded for balanced coverage of Israel, I felt it worth pointing out a notable exception. “Gaza-Israel clashes: The view from each side“, although nearly a month old, reflects a level of accuracy and fairness we’ve seen rarely, in a far longer time.
In typical BBC fashion, “the view from each side” includes not a word from anyone in Israel. But they do quote the residents of Gaza a little too accurately when the citizens, untrained in propaganda, wander away from the pre-packaged Palestinian narrative.
A four-storey house had been completely destroyed. Its roof had collapsed inwards; tables and chairs, bedclothes and children’s toys spilled out of its squashed floors like shopping from a torn plastic bag…
On first inspection it looked like one of Israel’s missiles must have gone astray, a case of collateral damage.
But on closer questioning the picture changes.
“I have already lost one son to the struggle for liberation,” the man told me. “I have two more, and I am willing to sacrifice them too.”
One of his sons is in the al-Qasam brigades, he says, the other in Islamic Jihad…
I asked another … Read More >>
While most of us are busy looking for Chametz, others are looking for something very different and nefarious. Yakov Horowitz posted some sobering and sane advice for parents about the prevalence of child molestation around Pesach. One rov who sent this message on to his shul received three responses from members who said they had been abused o Pesach. His words of warning also include some stats on the number of molesters from the Orthodox community now doing time, and a list of resources on addressing the problem.
Last week, I gave two shiurim that may be of interest to those who get desperate enough. I’m making them available through this post.
The first was part of a series of shiurim with serious content for women, given before every Yom Tov, and graciously hosted in the Beverly Hills area. Thanks to Mara Kochba, who is responsible not only for rallying the troops, but for twisting my arm to give it. The shiur is a potpourri of material from various seforim, all keyed to the Haggadah. Running time is about an hour.
The second was my contribution to a panel on “The Mystery of the Afikoman.” Rabbi Ruvein Wolf of Maayon Yisroel puts small groups of presenters together several times a year to not only explore different topics, but treat the audience to a diversity of opinions and approaches. I chose the incredibly elegant comments of Rav Kook in Olas Rayah, and strung them together in what I hope was an organized presentation. The original is gorgeous beyond words for anyone who can manage it; I hope I preserved a sheminis she-b’sheminis of its beauty. Running time is about 15 minutes.
בברכת חג כשר ושמח
The chairman and vice-chairman of Israel’s Media Watch, in a Jerusalem Post Op-Ed, question the failure of Israel’s dominant media outlets to cover “happenings which could appeal to audiences coming from different cultural backgrounds.” They point out that none of the major TV stations (channels 1, 2 or 10), nor Israel HaYom the following morning, bothered to cover the funeral of HaRav Chaim Pinchas Sheinberg zt”l.
It’s not as if the funeral could have been missed. The website of the largest bus company, Egged, reported “disruptions of the bus service due to the funeral procession of 300,000 of his Hassidim.” Neither Rav Sheinberg nor his students were Chassidic, but that’s at least an understandable error, especially given the passing of the Vizhnitzer Rebbe just a week earlier (which was at least mentioned by most media outlets — but, they say, perhaps because “Netanyahu’s office as well as Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin communicated to the press their sorrow and condolences”).
When a haredi reader complained to Israel Hayom, Mr. Gonen Ginat apparently responded that “This is a spiteful, redundant and baseless complaint.” Of course, the fact that the complaint was “redundant” is precisely because it was neither spiteful … Read More >>
from Roberta Chester
Judge Yosef Shapira accepted a settlement on Tuesday between American-Israeli authors Naomi Ragen and Sarah Shapiro, whereby Ragen was ordered to pay Shapiro 233,000 NIS (over $62,500) for copyright infringement, representing an unprecedented amount in a plagiarism case in Israel.
The agreement followed a verdict issued December 11 determining that Ragen, the defendant, committed plagiarism in her novel “Sotah,” and had stolen both text and ideas from Shapiro’s autobiographical memoir of her life as a young orthodox mother, “Growing With My Children.” The court ruled that in writing “Sotah,” the fictional account of a young woman living in Jerusalem’s Haredi community and accused of committing adultery, Ragen had committed “theft, negligence, and a violation of copyright.”
In her defense, Ragen claimed that she “accidentally” copied Shapiro’s work, a claim the court rejected as being “unthinkable, unlikely, and unbelievable.” Following the December verdict, the court recommended that the two sides settle upon an exact amount. In addition, all phrases and sentences which violated Shapiro’s copyright will have to be eliminated from new editions of “Sotah.” [UPDATED: previous version stated in error that the material will not have to be removed.]
Professor Amy Kaplan at the University of Pennsylvania explains to faculty how to inculcate hatred for Israel into the college curriculum — even if the course in question has nothing to do with politics or history. As she makes clear, it is very easy for a professor to not merely “expose young students to new ideas” but to influence as well. This is why students — and their parents — must choose carefully whom they wish to influence their thinking.
Audio courtesy of StandWithUs; video posted by ElderofZion.
These are trying times, to be sure. Without trying very hard, the Orthodox world finds itself united in the way it deals with its heavy hearts and foreboding thoughts. People are all doing the same thing – only differently.
What we are all doing is employing the Kol Yaakov. To be sure, we are doing it in many different ways, but across the Orthodox landscape, we are all turning to tefillah.
So many different concerns weigh heavily upon us: the heart-wrenching events in Toulouse, and images from the levayos; the unusually long list of Torah luminaries who are ill; the mounting danger of war with Iran. Various communities have prioritized them differently, but they have all recognized that we can come closer to the Borei Olam in times of stress, and when that happens, the Shechinah comes moves towards us with a caress of soothing love. The tefillah programs vary as well. The RCA has called for special tehillim and prayer on Shabbos; others have organized Yom Kippur Katan tefillos on Thursday. The common denominator is the call for us to open our hearts and lips in beseeching Divine compassion.
May HKBH take note of what unites Torah Jews … Read More >>
The murderous attack on the Ozar Hatorah school in Toulouse, France this morning is a tragedy that rightly tears the hearts of Jews and people of good will everywhere. More than a tragedy, though, it is an expression of evil, of the Jew-hatred that masquerades as many things but in its essence remains wickedness alone.
Agudath Israel of America joins in the mourning for our four brothers murdered in cold blood today, a teacher and his two children, and an 8-year old child. And we pray for the wounded 17-year-old’s full and quick recovery.
We also call upon the French authorities to leave no stone unturned in the search for the perpetrators of this repulsive act. Evil left to fester will only spread.