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Post  Admin on Wed 08 Nov 2017, 9:52 pm

They hid a number of Jews in the Paris apartment, at great risk to their lives.
by Dr. Yvette Alt Miller
Charles Aznavour, 92, is a towering figure in French music. For generations, his magnificent voice and sensitive singing have made him one of the most popular French entertainers of all time.
Some of Aznavour’s many fans might be forgiven for thinking the singer is Jewish. He has appeared in French films over the years playing Jewish characters, and his version of the Yiddish song La Yiddishe Mama has been one of his enduring hits. His haunting 2011 song J’ai Connu, “I Knew”, is told from the perspective of a Jew imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp. Aznavour has performed repeatedly in Israel, most recently in October 2017.
On this most recent visit to the Jewish state, Mr. Aznavour met with Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin who bestowed on Mr. Aznavour and his sister Aida the Raoul Wallenberg Medal, given by the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation, in recognition of the Aznavour family for saving the lives of several Jews and others during World War II.
Aznavour receiving the Raoul Wallenberg Medal by President Reuven Rivlin in Israel.
Aznavour, the son of parents who fled the Armenian Genocide in Turkey of 1915-1918 to find safety in Paris, has previously said little about his parents’ heroic wartime activities.
That changed in 2016. Aznavour worked with Israeli researcher Dr. Yair Auron to write a Hebrew language book published in Israel that details the ways his family saved the lives of several people in wartime France. The book, titled Matzilim Tzadikim V’Lohamim, or “Righteous Saviors and Fighters” in English, will be translated into French and Armenian, too.
“We grew up together in the Les Marais district” in Paris, Aznavour recalls, where many immigrants mingled together, including both Jews and Armenian refugees. “They were our neighbors and friends.” By the time World War II broke out, a then-teenage Charles Aznavour lived with his parents Michael and Knar Aznavour and his sister Aida at 22 Rue de Navarin, in Paris’ 9th Arrondissement. That small, three-room apartment would become a safe haven, Aznavour explained, for Jews and others who were hunted by the Nazis.
A portrait photograph of the Aznavour family in the 1920s. Charles' father, Mischa (center), is next to his wife, Knar.
The first person the Aznavour family sheltered was a Romanian Jew who lived in Germany. That Jew, whose name the singer no longer remembers, was accused of subversion and had been sentenced to death. He’d escaped to France disguised as a German soldier, but had been discovered and he was being hunted by the Gestapo. A friend alerted Michael Aznavour of the situation and the family took him in.
Aida Aznavour recalls in the book, “We understood that the Jews were going to be the victims of brutality. We looked upon the Jews with sadness and sorrow.” Having escaped persecution in Armenia, “we knew what genocide was.”
It was clear that if the Nazis found this man in our house, they’d kill us right away.
She recalls that her parents never hesitated to shelter Jews, “even though it was clear that if the Nazis found this man in our house, they’d kill us right away. We told him that our home was his home, and we treated him warmly, like a good friend who had to extend his stay. For a few days, he even slept in the same bed as Charles.”
Later, a female acquaintance of the Aznavours asked them to hide her Jewish husband, whose name Charles and Aida recall was Simon. Simon had been rounded up with other Parisian Jews and sent to the Drancy concentration camp, but he had escaped. The Aznavours took him in, and later on, Charles and Aida recall, they sheltered a third Jew in their tiny apartment, as well.
As the occupation of Paris continued, the Aznavour family also sheltered Armenian soldiers who’d been forcibly drafted into the German army and had deserted rather than fight for the Nazi regime. At times, there were up to eleven refugees hiding in the family apartment, sleeping on the floor at night.
Michael and Knar Aznavour helped the refugees obtain false papers, and Charles and Aida offered aid as well. It was the teenagers’ job to burn the Nazi uniforms of the Armenian deserters and dispose of the ashes far from home, the siblings recall.
The Aznavour family was close with another Armenian couple living in Paris, Melinee and Missak Manouchian, who helped found and run an underground resistance movement in Paris called L’Affiche Rouge (The Red Poster). Charles Aznavour explains that though his parents were not formally members of the group, they helped members of the organization and even hid Melinee and Missak Manouchian for several months while they were hunted by the Gestapo, after their other friends refused to risk their lives to help.
Charles Aznavour explains, “My parents knew the danger was there every day, but my sister and I only grasped it later. We were ‘crazy’ young people. We were living out our youth and we followed in our parents’ footsteps. Only after the war did we realize how great the risk really was.”

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Post  Admin on Thu 26 Oct 2017, 5:36 pm

The 6 High Performance Habits that Make People Extraordinary
All successful people share six common, consistent habits regardless of their area of expertise. Everyone can emulate them.
by Sara Debbie Gutfreund
When we look at highly successful people, we often fall into the trap of thinking that they possess superior talent, intelligence or resources that we don’t have access to. After a decade of researching and interviewing high performers, Brendon Burchard discovered that all successful people share six common, consistent habits regardless of their area of expertise; it is these habits that ultimately differentiate them from others. In his new book, High Performance Habits, Burchard describes the following habits that all of us can emulate to help us reach the next stage of growth in our lives.

Seek clarity. We need to figure out who we want to be, how we want to interact with others, what we want and what will bring us the most meaning in our lives. Every time we begin a new project we should ask ourselves: What kind of person do I want to be while I’m doing this? How should I treat others? What are my intentions and objectives? What can I focus on that will bring me a sense of connection and fulfillment? High performers continue asking themselves these questions every day; they develop a consistent routine of self-monitoring to make sure that their goals are always clear to them.

Generate energy. In order to perform at a high level day after day we need to take care of our mental stamina (through frequent and intentional breaks), physical energy (through diet and exercise) and positive emotions (through controlling our thoughts). High performers know that they need to consciously generate energy so that they can maintain focus, effort and well-being. They know that they need to take care of themselves to stay on their A game.

Raise necessity. We need to find and access the reasons why we absolutely must perform well. This necessity should be based on a mix of our internal standards (ie. our identities, beliefs, values and expectations for excellence) and external demands. (ie. social obligations, competition, public commitments, deadlines). We need to know our why and nurture the drive to transform our goals into absolute necessities.

Increase productivity. We need to focus on prolific quality output in the area where we want to have the most impact. In order to do this, high performers minimize distractions and say no to opportunities that don’t help their quality output in their specific area of expertise.

Develop influence. Success is rarely achieved in isolation; we need to develop influence with those around us. It’s crucial to have others around us that believe in and support our ambitions. High performers intentionally develop positive support networks because they know their achievements would be limited without the help of others.

Demonstrate courage. We need to stand up for ourselves and others even when we are faced with fear, change, doubt and threat. High performers consistently express their ideas and take action every day. Ultimately, courage is not one bold action; it is a trait that we can choose to develop and use on a daily basis.

The Mishna teaches, “Anyone whose good deeds are greater than his wisdom, his wisdom will endure. And anyone whose wisdom is greater than his good deeds, his wisdom will not endure” (Ethics of the Fathers, 3:12). Ultimately it’s our actions and habits that help us move forward in our lives. Once we have the clarity about what is truly important in our lives, we can overcome impasses by implementing these six habits that other successful people have used to achieve their goals.


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Post  Admin on Thu 26 Oct 2017, 10:51 am

When My Son Clinically Died
He had fallen into a pond and was found blue and lifeless. Then the miracles started to happen.
by Yoshie Moshe Falber
Sitting in the huge sukkah with our neighbors, enjoying our festive Yom Tov meal as my almost two-year-old son Elchonon played in the large garden with other children, little did we know that my wife and I were about to experience the greatest nightmare of our lives, and our greatest miracle.
In the middle of the meal a man’s scream suddenly pierced the air. “Help! Help! Help!!” I scrambled to find the source of the commotion and saw my neighbor holding my soaking wet son who was blue and lifeless. He had fallen into a small koi-pond near the garden and drowned. I grabbed him and assisted one of the other guests in administering CPR. Within two minutes, United Hatzalah first-responders arrived, trying to revive Elchonon who wasn’t breathing and had no pulse.
Within two minutes, United Hatzalah first-responders arrived, trying to revive Elchonon who wasn’t breathing and had no pulse.
We were able to get some of the water out of his lungs before being whisked away in the ambulance where the professionals provided much needed oxygen. With all the tools at their disposal they frantically tried to resuscitate him and get him breathing. He was not responding.
There was deafening silence in the back of the ambulance. Then came the sweetest sound I have ever heard: a screeching, shrieking toddler. We sighed with relief.
In a dizzying whir we arrived at the hospital where my beloved Elchonon was eventually stabilized in critical condition. He began to breathe on his own but he required oxygen and was not responsive. He had experienced hypothermia and his hands were locked into a spasm resembling someone with severe retardation, a possible indication of nerve damage or brain damage. The doctors told me that it may take a month before he begins to respond.
Somehow I remained calm and drew strength from some unknown source. I would not (and could not) believe the dim prospects offered by some of the doctors.

My wife and I with our son
Once we were transferred from the emergency room into the ICU my wife asked me, teary-eyed, “Yoshi, what is going to be?”
“He is going to be 100 percent fine.” I refused to let go of hope despite the horrific circumstances. The visitors began pouring in with the cookies, cakes, toys, positivity and love. We were informed that the shuls in our neighborhood had called for a special gathering of the community to recite the Book of Psalms. They, too, did not give up hope.
Our hospital room was kept to arctic levels to keep Elchonon’s body temperature down to prevent further brain damage. My wife and I alternated sitting in a chair and holding our son in our arms for hours on end. I spoke to God in that chair from the deepest places in my heart. I whispered to my son, “Fight little guy, fight!” and I thought I saw a little nod. I kept telling him that when he gets better he’ll go play with his friend Dovie and Mordechai, and I would give him cookies and candies and cola, all the treats he wanted. I told him that there was so much I wanted to show him and teach him. I told him we loved him and that Grandma just bought him a new toy.
He began to move his eyes a bit. The doctor came in and told us that the oxygen levels in in blood had dramatically improved and she saw how Elchonon’s pupils were responding but it was too early to say anything for sure.
I asked Elchonon if he wanted his pacifier and he grasped at it with his clenched hands, unable to grab hold of it. But at least he began to respond.

By midnight I told my wife to go home for the night because she needed her strength and we were told we would need to be there for weeks. She insisted that I go.
Around 2:00 AM she called to tell me that Elchonon tried to get up on all fours as if to crawl. We cried, and I went fitfully to sleep in an empty house, the future uncertain.
I was shocked when I returned the next morning. Elchonon’s hands had eased into their natural position and he was looking around! My wife told me that he tried to say “Mama” and seemed to want to walk. He was even interacting with some of the other children on the floor but she was too nervous to let him go.
She went home to get some much needed rest after a sleepless night. The doctors gave me permission to take Elchonon in his stroller to the hospital sukkah. Off we went and Elchonon was actually trying to climb out! I was astounded by his terrible-two energy and let him slowly come out of his stroller, holding him as he stood on his own two feet.

Then he suddenly took off running!
He went straight for the toys in the children’s ward and started playing with puzzles with the other children. I had to pick my jaw up from the floor. Not wanting to push too much I buckled him into the stroller and headed for the sukkah with a book, thinking he would nap and I would get to learn a little bit. He insisted on walking into the sukkah himself.
The doctors were shocked by all of his amazing activity but I needed to hear my son talk.
I didn't imagine I would be chasing him around so soon, but I was terribly concerned that he wasn’t yet talking. The nurses and doctors were shocked by all of his amazing activity but I needed to hear my son say something – Mommy, Daddy, bottle, paci – anything.

In the sukkah I tucked him back into the stroller and tons of visitors started arriving with more cookies, teddy bears and toys. I told them about Elchonon’s amazing progress and my desperate need to hear him speak. Suddenly Elchonon jumped up and grabbed a cookie and ate it – the first solid food he had eaten since the accident the day before. He gobbled it down and grunted as if to ask for another one.
Holding my son in the hospital.
I told him, “Elchonon Aharon, you can only have another cookie if you ask. So say 'cookie'.”
He said, “Cookie”!
Then he said it again. He pointed to a pomegranate on the table and said “Apple” – which was good enough for me. And from that point on he didn’t stop talking, jumping, dancing and playing. Our Elchonon was back!
I immediately called my wife and word got out to the hundreds of people who were hoping and praying. We were told how people all across Israel were doing amazing things in the merit of our son’s complete recovery. Jews from every possible background came together in unity.
Four days after the drowning we were discharged from the hospital with a perfect bill of health. The doctors told us that they could not understand what they were witnessing. It was an outright miracle. The community of first-responders were stunned, crying tears of joy and relief. Our phones were ringing off the hook from all over the world. Our neighborhood, French Hill, became like one big family, all of our hearts united in distress and now in jubilant celebration.
Elchonon on stage.

We were invited to a benefit concert for United Hatzalah with some of the best singers in the Jewish music world. I was asked to share our story with the thousands of people there. As I thanked God and all of His heroes for saving our son, the audience broke out in laughter -- Elchonon started performing somersaults on stage and dancing. And that was the headline in the Jerusalem Post the next day: “Miracle baby who dies on Sukkot dances on-stage five days later”.
Holding my son at the United Hatzalah concert.
Experiencing the clinical death of our only son and then his miraculous recovery has left my wife and I emotionally shell-shocked. Words fail to express the depth of gratitude we have to the Almighty for being the recipients of such an outright miracle. The unity and outpouring of love we saw from thousands of people make us feel more connected than ever to the Jewish people. We are eternally grateful to the first-responders and the doctors for all their heroic efforts of in saving our son.
And the gift of seeing our son run ahead and then look back as if to say, “Hurry up already, Daddy!” makes me well up with tears and say out loud, “Thank You.”

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Post  Admin on Mon 16 Oct 2017, 7:44 pm

Forgiving Mengele
Is it right to forgive an unrepentant mass murderer?
by Rabbi Benjamin Blech
I would never criticize Holocaust survivors. Even if I disagreed with them I would choose silence over disapproval.
Their pain trumps my judgment. Their anguish overrides my feelings.
I don’t dare speak ill of Eva Mozes Kor whose story went viral last month. And what a story it was! Eva, now 83, survived the hell of Auschwitz and the notorious Nazi doctor Josef Mengele who carried out excruciatingly horrible “medical experiments” on inmates who had the dubious distinction of being twins. To hear what she endured is almost too painful for words.
Eva’s twin, Miriam, eventually succumbed to her torture. But Eva, still alive, came to an almost unbelievable decision. It is the reason for her video’s astounding popularity.
Titled “The Power to Live and Forgive” Eva has chosen finally to forgive her tormentor, the man commonly referred to as “the Angel of death at Auschwitz”.
“I imagined Mengele was in the room with me,” she recounts. “I picked up a dictionary and wrote down 20 nasty words which I read clear and loud to that make-believe Mengele in the room. And at the end I said, ‘In spite of all that, I forgive you.’ Made me feel good.”
As a personal decision for her, I can only feel pleased that she has found a measure of self-healing. If that is a source of comfort to her I must respect her wishes. What I cannot accept however is the verdict of the millions of viewers which suggests that Eva has now become the personification of the ideal victim of Nazi barbarism – a saintly soul by virtue of her willingness to forget and forgive, a perfect role model for all other survivors or students of all too recent modern history.
For a select few forgiveness in this situation may be their best choice for personal healing and psychological survival. But it is neither theologically sound nor morally acceptable.
Forgiving people who don't personally atone for their sins makes a statement: Repentance isn't really necessary.
Mengele died as an unrepentant sinner. He never showed any remorse, shame or regret. No apologies were ever uttered for his actions, no sincere attempt to atone for his crimes ever attempted. To forgive evil without demanding its admission of guilt is to condone it and to grant it a legitimacy which empowers it rather than helps to create the conditions for its rejection.
Forgiving people who don't personally atone for their sins makes a statement: Repentance isn't really necessary. Can anything be more immoral than encouraging evil by refraining from any condemnation of those who committed it?
The positive reaction to Eva’s video is in sync with contemporary models of correct psychological behavior as well as “religiously approved” righteous actions. The day after the Columbine High School massacre, a group of students announced that they forgave the killers. A short while after the Oklahoma bombing, some people put out a call to forgive Timothy McVeigh. And, on September 12th, immediately after the tragedy of 9/11, on several American campuses colleges groups pleaded for forgiveness for the terrorists responsible for the horrific events of the previous day.
These were deeply misguided gestures of compassion that carried potentially tragic consequences. Evil unchallenged is evil pardoned. To forgive and forget, as Arthur Schopenhauer so well put it, "means to throw valuable experience out the window." And without the benefit of experience's lessons we are almost certain to be doomed to repeat them. That's why to forgive those who remain unrepentant before dying is to become an accomplice to future crimes.
Recent articles have taken note of the contemporary phenomenon of “forgiveness shaming.” Forgiving, no matter what the original offense, has achieved such moral glorification that people who refuse to join in the chorus of “I love you no matter what you did to me” have become the ones who need to justify their stance or face communal shaming for their rigid “intolerance.”
Jeanne Safer, a prominent psychoanalyst and psychotherapist wrote about a colleague who was exposed to disturbing behavior and bullying from her brother who never apologized for his actions. “Contrary to the conventional wisdom, refusing to forgive or have further contact with an unrepentant, abusive relative is therapeutic. While it's commonly believed that forgiveness promotes mental health and alleviates depression, doing the opposite can express a person's very right to live.”
Elizabeth Bernstein wrote in The Wall Street Journal, "At first it may help the person who has been hurt to let go of anger, resentment and desire for revenge. But forgiving also may encourage the transgressor to do it again. Experts say reaching true forgiveness is a journey that may take years. And it is at times best not to forgive."
Jeffrie Murphy, a professor of law, philosophy and religious studies at Arizona State University, who has written about the issue for years, warned against assuming that forgiveness was always the right answer and that someone who failed to offer forgiveness was “not a good person or a mentally healthy person.”
More and more voices are being heard that forgiveness has to be earned, and to “forgive in order to heal” without receiving any expression of remorse can be destructive.
Some things are unforgivable. Unrepentant murderers are unforgivable. Genocide is unforgivable. The Holocaust is unforgivable. And the Angel of death, Dr. Mengele of Auschwitz, dare never be forgiven – even though I forgive Eva Kor for choosing that option for herself while almost all of her fellow victims reject it.


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Post  Admin on Fri 13 Oct 2017, 8:56 pm

Why do we have two holidays for the Torah -- Shavuot and Simchat Torah?
by Rabbi Benyamin Buxbaum
If the holiday of Shavuot celebrates the receiving of the Torah, why was Simchat Torah -- immediately following Sukkot -- chosen as the day to end and begin the annual Torah reading cycle?
Furthermore, why do we have two holidays for the Torah -- Shavuot and Simchat Torah? They are also celebrated so differently. On Shavuot, we stay up all night learning Torah. And on Simchat Torah, we dance.
The need for these two holidays has been explained in a parable that has been handed down from generation to generation.
Once a king issued a proclamation. Any one of his subjects was welcome to try for the hand of his daughter. On one condition: The potential suitor was not allowed to meet or see his daughter before the marriage.

The proclamation caused quite a stir. Soon the local inns were buzzing with speculation and rumors. "I hear she is a real shrew," said one. "I heard she is a deaf-mute," said another. "I know for a fact that she is a total imbecile," intoned a third.

Round and round the rumors flew. Finally, a simple wholehearted Jew spoke up. "I am willing to marry her. How bad can she be? After all, she is the king's daughter and we all know how great our king is."
Word quickly spread and the suitor was led to the palace. As it turned out, he was the only one who volunteered. The king accepted the match and the wedding date was set.

After the lavish wedding, the groom escorted his bride to their new home. She removed her heavy veil, and he was astounded at her beauty. Remembering the rumors of her reputed faults, the groom decided to thoroughly test her. He engaged her in conversation, tested her in character and refinement and found himself pleasantly surprised. In every way, she excelled beyond his greatest hopes and dreams. Overjoyed, he held a lavish party to celebrate his good fortune.

The King in the parable is God. When He wanted to give the Torah, He offered it to each nation in turn. All the nations refused, each one claiming some fault in the Torah they would not be able to live with. When God offered it to the Jews, they said 'Naaseh VeNishma' -- "we will do, and then we will understand" (Exodus 24:7). The Jewish people accepted the Torah without having seen it, as they were grateful for all God had done for them.

Though the Jewish people fully accepted the Torah, they feared a loss. They assumed that the numerous obligations in the Torah would deprive them of their pleasures and freedom. Similarly, the groom in the parable married the king's daughter fearing he would be disappointed in other areas. But as the Jews learned the Torah and applied it's teaching to their lives, they were pleasantly surprised. Not only did they not have to give up anything, they found the Torah maximized their pleasure in every way.

Therefore at the conclusion of reading the Torah, when we have again delved into its teachings for a full year, we make a party on Simchat Torah.
On Shavuot, we stay up and learn all night to show our readiness and anticipation to receive the Torah. Because it is an intellectual appreciation, we stay up all night learning Torah. On Simchat Torah, however, we dance -- expressing the emotional joy of the body. We are showing that even our bodies have gained tremendously by keeping the Torah.

Ask anyone who has increased their Torah observance and they will tell you the same. At first, each feared, according to his or her nature, that some aspect of the Torah would be restrictive. Be it keeping Shabbat, kosher, family purity or laws of proper speech, each encountered an area that tested their resolve. However, they kept the Torah knowing it was the most meaningful thing to do. And as they grew in their Judaism, they found their lives enhanced in every way.
It is with this renewed appreciation that we approach Simchat Torah. We are filled with gratitude and awe for the great gift that God has bestowed on us with love.
((based on Otzar haShavous quoting Rav Avraham and the Dubno Magid)

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Post  Admin on Thu 28 Sep 2017, 10:34 pm

Don’t Let Your Mistakes Define You
Like the professional athlete, you’ve got to get back into the game and play to win.
by Emuna Braverman
I was watching some football highlights last week and pondering what it means to be a professional athlete. I watched Kareem Hunt of the Kansas City Chiefs fumble the ball at the beginning of the game and then go on to catch two touchdown passes and rush for 148 yards, scoring yet another touchdown with his running game. It wasn’t his prowess I was marveling at; it was his ability to move past that fumble to become quite literally the star of the game. I think that’s the quality that distinguishes a professional from an amateur.

Like figure skaters who fall and then immediately get up and continue their routine, like baseball players who strike out in one inning and hit a home run in the next, the professional is someone who doesn’t let his mistakes define him. He doesn’t let them get him down or feel discouraged or, worst of all, give up. He keeps going, he gets back in the game and he gives it his all.

We can all learn from watching these athletes. (I knew I could justify my obsession with football somehow!) Because they are demonstrating a crucial life skill. Life can be (okay, is!) challenging. Sometimes it feels like it’s just one test after another. Some days we want to just lie in bed and pull up the covers. But the professional at the game of life won’t allow that to happen. The professional picks him or herself up and just keeps going. The professional throws himself immediately back into the game – not grudgingly, but with full energy and enthusiasm.

That is our test. That is our opportunity. At this time of year, as we think of the mistakes we made in the past and the ones we’d like to rectify for the future, it can be overwhelming. The task can seem daunting and the likelihood of success minimal. But we are professionals here; we can’t afford not to be. So despite our mistakes and flaws, we need to get back up on that horse and try again.

The Talmud teaches that a righteous person falls seven times. It’s not the falling that’s determinative; it’s the standing up again. The days may be difficult and draining but if we get up the next morning and put one foot in front of the other, we are winning the game. If we add in a smile, we are the MVP.
The professional athlete appreciates how high the stakes are in winning or losing the game, yet they are nothing compared to the stakes in the game of life that we are all playing. We can’t give up. We can’t allow ourselves to despair. We need to keep pushing forward, we need to bring our best game, we need to stay focused on the end goal.
Because in the game of life where it really counts, we’re playing for keeps.

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Post  Admin on Tue 12 Sep 2017, 9:25 pm

Spiritual Deficiency Syndrome and What You Can Do About It
Take this important annual spiritual checkup before Rosh Hashanah.
by Sara Debbie Gutfreund

Are you suffering from what Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski calls Spiritual Deficiency Syndrome?
In his book, Happiness and the Human Spirit: The Spirituality of Becoming the Best You Can Be, he writes:

Recognize that you have a body and a spirit. If your body lacks something-let’s say iron – you develop iron deficiency anemia. You’ll go to the doctor, and he’ll prescribe supplements. If he gives you extra vitamin A or niacin, it won’t help. It has to be iron. It’s the same with spiritual deficiency syndrome. If you try to cure it by amassing wealth, going for a cruise, taking a drink, taking another drink, you’ll feel better for a while. But you won’t be happy.

One of the beauties of being human is that we can realize we’ve made a mistake. Once we realize that we’ve been undermining our own spirituality, we see that we’ve been using the wrong things to fill the void.”
What are the signs of spiritual deficiency syndrome and what can we do to treat it?

1. Boredom. Pascal once said, “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” Feeling bored isn’t just a result of having nothing to do; we are afraid to face the silence both within ourselves and the world. The silence that asks us to face ourselves and the hard questions that life raises. Instead of struggling with the answers we turn on Netflix or our ever-present phones and fill the silence with noise and distraction.
To help overcome this spiritual block take a few moments and write down your answers to the following questions:
If I wasn’t afraid, I would…
Who was I created to be?

2. Lack of empathy. A significant symptom of spiritual deficiency syndrome is being wrapped up in our own problems to the extent that we cannot see or feel one another’s pain; this means that we are not relating to the infinite light that resides within each of us when we encounter others. Being able to give and listen to others is not only what makes us spiritual; it is ultimately what makes us human. There is no greater spiritual exercise that getting out of ourselves and giving to others.
Sometimes our own daily challenges make it hard for us to see the bigger picture, but thinking about these questions can help us gain more perspective:
Who do I know that may be struggling with loneliness, pain or grief? How can I help that person?
What are three ways I would help make the world a better place today if I had unlimited resources?

3. Preoccupation with the physical. We often attempt to fill our inner spiritual voids with more and more things that we don’t actually need, which ultimately deepen the emptiness we feel within. We may try to alleviate that emptiness with overeating, surfing the internet and binge watching movies, but the temporary relief is always followed by disappointment because we are not feeding our souls what they really need.

Spiritual Deficiency Syndrome is in some ways a gift. It’s our soul telling us that it’s hungry and needs to be fed, not with empty calories but with genuine meaning and purpose that fills our inner core.
Rosh Hashanah is the time to get clarity about what really matters to us. As the new year begins we have the opportunity to examine who we really are and who we ultimately want to become.
Think about: What is the legacy that I hope to leave behind? If I died today what will I regret not saying or doing?
Each of us has an infinite core filled with light that we yearn to pour into the world around us. When we ignore that light, we will feel the emptiness and try desperately to fill it. This year fill the soul with what it really needs: purpose, connection and meaning.

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Post  Admin on Wed 06 Sep 2017, 10:04 am
Think for Yourself: Good Advice Not Just for Harvard Students

Real learning begins when we leave the echo chamber.
by Emuna Braverman
I was heartened to read the letter written by a number of prominent professors from Harvard, Yale and Princeton last week encouraging students to think for themselves.
In the first test that God gives Abraham, He tells him to leave everything behind – his family, his community, his country of birth – and go to the place that the Almighty will show him. Abraham is challenged to achieve independence, to figure out who he is and what he believes, not to be perpetually subject to the groupthink that concerns these professors. God was essentially telling Abraham the same advice as the professors: “Think for yourself.”

It is not a new idea but such an important one and a notion that has gotten lost in the world of micro aggressions and safe spaces. What makes our children so fragile, so unable to cope with different ideas, so threatened by notions opposed to their own? Jean Twenge, the psychology professor from San Diego State University suggests that in a world where most communication is done via smart phone, words matter more and are therefore more frightening and powerful.
I am skeptical of that explanation. Words have always mattered. Words have always been powerful. But, in the United States anyway, we have relied on the market and not the law to regulate them. We have relied on the good will and common sense of the people. This is what seems to be lost and, despite some of my frustrations with what occurs on college campuses today, I don’t blame the students.

I blame us, their parents, their professors, their administrators. Because, unlike those few who signed last week’s letter, we have not behaved like grown-ups. Besides coddling our children, we have embraced our own fear. It is not our children who are unfriending people on Facebook due to different political beliefs. It is not our children who can’t have a civil conversation with someone with an alternate political viewpoint. It is not our children who call the other side evil and hurl accusations back and forth. It is not our children who refuse to try to understand Americans whose life experiences and political viewpoints vary from ours.

It is us. We’re the ones who bear this responsibility. We’re the ones who’ve taught our children to be frightened of the other, who have promoted an “us versus them” mentality, who don’t have enough belief in the power of education and the good will of others. We’re created this atmosphere of mistrust and intolerance and we need to fix it.
If we want our children to get both a good college education along with good preparation for life we need to teach them how to accept and understand people and ideas that are different, even opposed to theirs. We don’t have to believe the ideas but we need to understand them and the people who espouse them.
Instead of feeling threatened by new ideas, we need to teach our children to be excited.

A world of love and tolerance is not built by surrounding us only with people who think the way we do, the “echo chamber” that the professors refer to. It is created when we sit in dialogue with those who ideas radically differ from ours and we listen with patience, calm, attentiveness, reason and understanding. Our politicians need to learn this. Our teachers need to learn this. We all need to learn this.

If we surround ourselves with only people like ourselves we are the ones who lose. We lose the opportunity to be enriched by the knowledge, wisdom and experience of others. And our children lose – because they have no tools to cope with and/or evaluate original or different ideas.

If people judge us as part of a community and not as individuals, we frequently get offended. We should be wary of doing the same. Start reading newspapers you disagree with and open yourself up to learning something you didn’t know. Start having coffee with individuals from the “other” party and be prepared to be surprised when you discover the similarities between the two of you or the reasonableness of their position.
It requires courage to think for yourself. Instead of feeling threatened by new ideas, we need to teach our children to be excited. That’s where the learning is, that’s where the growth is, that’s where the education truly is.


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Post  Admin on Sat 29 Jul 2017, 1:16 am
The Meaning of Some Common Jewish Last NamesThe Meaning of Some Common Jewish Last Names
Some of these will surprise you.
by Dr. Yvette Alt Miller 

Last names are a relatively new phenomenon.  In ancient times, many people were known by their first name only.  Jews often added the names of their fathers or their mothers to their names, and still do today in religious situations, being called by their name “ben” (son of) or “bat” (daughter of) their parent’s name.  Jews descended from the priestly groups of Cohens and Levis sometimes note this status in their name; indeed, variations of “Cohen” and “Levi” are the most common Jewish last names today.
Within the Jewish community, widespread adoption of last names was first seen after the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492, when many Jewish families adopted the names of their family’s hometowns as a surname.  Baruch Spinoza evoked the name of Espinosa, a town in Spain from where his ancestors hailed.  Many other Jews gained place-based surnames two hundred years later, when the Austro-Hungarian Emperor Joseph II decreed that his subjects adopt last names; the custom was seen at the time as modern.  

Here is a list of some common Jewish last names and their meanings. Some of these might surprise you!
Abrams: from the Biblical patriarch Abraham, who moved from what is today Iraq to Israel
Abramson: a patronymic name (from one’s father) meaning son of Abraham
Becker: Germanic name for baker, refers to an ancestor who was a Jewish baker
Blau: meaning blue, this name reflects the popularity of colors as surnames among German-speaking Jews
Blum: from the Jewish woman’s name Bluma, meaning “flower” in Yiddish
Cantor: one who sings in a synagogue (Chazzan in Hebrew)
Cohen: from the priestly caste who served in the Jewish Temple in ancient times
Cooperman: Cooper is a form of the Yiddish nickname Yankel, meaning Jacob
Diamond: this name reflects the popularity of using beautiful gems as surnames among German-speaking Jews
Ehrlich: a name bestowed in the Austro-Hungarian Empire meaning “honest”
Eisen: meaning “iron”, it was a popular choice for Austrian Jews
Elkayim: this Middle Eastern Jewish name refers to a family profession and means tentmaker
Fingerhut: from the Yiddish word for “thimble”, this name refers to an ancestor who was a tailor
Fishman: this name means fish-seller, and refers to a family’s profession
Gelb: Like Geller, this name means yellow in Yiddish, and was often given to people with light hair
Geller: Yiddish for yellow, this name was often given to people with lighter or reddish hair
Gold: many German-speaking Jews adopted the names of precious metals, like gold, as names
Goldberg: this name refers to the towns of Goldberg in Germany and/or in Poland, both once home to Jewish communities.  The name means “golden town”.
Goldman: a popular choice among Austrian Jews for its beautiful connotation “gold” and “man”
Goldschmidt: this Germanic name refers to an ancestor who worked as a goldsmith
Green: adopting colors as surnames was popular among Austro-Hungarian Jews
Greenberg: referring to the towns of Grunberg in Germany and Poland, both once home to Jewish communities
Hakimi: this Persian surname is derived from the Arabic “Hakim” meaning wise
Horowitz: referring to the town of Horovice in the Czech Republic, once home to a Jewish community
Kaplan: a Germanic form of Cohen, the priestly workers who served in the Temple in Jerusalem
Katz: acronym of “Kohen Tzedek”, or “righteous Cohen”, one who served in the Temple in Jerusalem
Kauffman: a form of the Yiddish nickname Yankel (meaning Jacob) plus the German for man
Koppelman: derived from Koppel, a Yiddish nickname for Jacob, plus the German suffix “man”
Koval: this Slavic name refers to an ancestor who was a blacksmith
Kravitz: this name recalls an ancestor’s occupation, and is a Slavic version of the word tailor
Leib: meaning lion, this name refers to the Jewish name Yehuda, who was compared to a lion (Gen. 49:9)
Levi/Levy: of the Tribe of Levi, descendants of Moses’ brother Aaron; members worked in the Temple
Levin: derived from Levi – members of the Tribe of Levi who served in the Temple in Jerusalem
Lieberman: a nickname adopted by some Jewish families, meaning “dear man”
Maggid: from the Hebrew for teaching, refers to an ancestor who was a scholar and teacher
Margolis: meaning “pearl” in Hebrew, it often reflects a mother’s first name
Maze: an acronym – “M’zera Aharon Hakohen” – from the seed of Aaron the High Priest
Melamed: from the Hebrew for teacher, referring to an ancestor who was a teacher
Mizrahi: meaning “Easterner” in Hebrew, this name refers to families from the Middle East
Nudel: meaning needle, this name reflects an ancestor’s occupation as tailor
Perlman: husband of Perl (a common Jewish woman’s name in Eastern Europe)
Portnoy: this name refers to an occupation – it means “tailor” in Russian
Rabin: from the Hebrew word Rabbi, this name could refer to a rabbinic ancestor
Rabinowitz: a Slavic name meaning “son of Rabbi”
Rivkin: a matronymic (deriving from one’s mother) name, from Rebecca
Rivlin: derived from the name Rebecca, the Jewish matriarch who married Isaac
Roth: meaning red, this name reflects the popularity of colors as surnames among German-speaking Jews
Rothschild: this prominent family’s name pre-dates the forced adoption of surnames, and refers to the “red sign” (the meaning of the name) that graced the family’s home
Sas: an acronym of “sofer stam,” a writer of religious texts
Sasson: a matronymic name (derived from one’s mother) meaning Shoshana, “rose” in Hebrew
Sebag: this name refers to the profession of a long-ago ancestor, it means dyer
Schechter: from the Hebrew for butcher, one who slaughters animals according to Jewish law
Schneider: a Germanic name meaning tailor, reflecting one’s ancestor’s profession as tailor
Schreiber - from the Hebrew “sofer”, a writer of religious texts
Schwartz: this means black – many German speaking Jews adopted colors as surnames
Segal: a common name for members of the tribe of Levi, Segal is an acronym – “Segan Lekehunah”, or “second to the Cohen”, referring to working in the ancient Temple in Jerusalem
Shapiro: referring to the town of Speyer, in Germany, once home to a Jewish community
Singer: referring to an ancestor who sang in a synagogue as a cantor
Shamash: reflecting an ancestor’s occupation, this means one who worked in a synagogue
Shulman: “shul” means synagogue in Yiddish – this name was adopted by some caretakers of synagogues as a surname
Soros: from the Hebrew name Sarah, meaning “princess”
Stern: meaning “star”, many Austrian Jews thought this a beautiful name to choose
Weiss: meaning white, this name reflects the practice of adopting colors as surnames among German-speaking Jews
Weinberg: referring to any of various places in Europe which once were home to thriving Jewish communities, including the region of Mt. Weinberg in Westphalia, Germany, or towns named Weinberg in Germany, the Czech Republic or Poland
Wexler: Germanic form of moneychanger, one of the occupations to which Jews were restricted.

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Post  Admin on Tue 20 Jun 2017, 8:50 pm

The Nazi and the Jew-Doctor
What drove this tortured soul to seek out a Jewish psychologist?
by Rabbi Dr. David Fox 
He was not an imposing man, short, tidily groomed. I did not sense anything intimidating about him as he faced me in the office. But his eyes were striking – cold, metallic grey, locked upon mine with an unwavering gaze as he spit out his reason for making the appointment.

His wife had become paralyzed following an accident and could not speak, move or respond to anyone. She lay in bed, staring. No communication, no relationship. His reason for seeing me? “Because all of my friends say I should just dump her and move on, but in my heart I needed to ask a… Jew-doctor.”
He said it casually without a smirk or taunt. He went on.
“I might as well tell you that you may have a hard time working with me. I am a member of the American Nazi Party. I have also been a Klansman.” This was said without a sinister air, with no sense of menace. He wanted me to know from the start that I might I feel uneasy working with someone who, well, considered me a “Jew-doctor.”
I detest the Jews as a group… but that’s not to say that I don’t recognize that some of you people are good at what you do.

I was prepared to offer him respectful support. But, within my mind, I was eager to learn why his heart had prompted him to seek out a Jewish psychologist. “I want you to know doctor that I detest the Jews as a group, just like I oppose all other aliens who don’t belong in our country. But that’s not to say that I don’t recognize that some of you people are good at what you do. You make good accountants. You are great lawyers, doctors too. What I want from you is to tell me what you people would do if you were in my shoes.”

I still did not get it. This man was a racist, detested “my people”, but chose me to find out what a Jew would do if faced with his predicament. How could I possibly prescribe to him “the Jewish solution” if this man would have been content with “the Final Solution”? How would it matter to him if a solitary (Jewish) opinion might conflict with the recommendation of his bigoted peers who advised him to leave his non-functioning wife? Was this a matter of him needing to appease his soul, doing due diligence by seeking a second opinion from me, or was this a matter of conscience, if indeed he had one? He had already shared with me some of the criminal activities which he had been part of in his vigilante escapades. Was he having pangs of guilt, but only about deserting his wife of many years? Was it love that kept him bound to her, or was there some deeper dynamic banging at the basement door of his mind?

As the weeks went by, he began to loosen up. He had begun to trust me enough to share his emotional torment, in small pieces. The cold stare was still very present, but so were the occasional tear drops which dampened those steely eyes.

His marriage was once good. She was a stable kind woman, seldom questioning him about his political views or pressing for details about his under-the-radar dealings. They had a love, clearly, and he appreciated her. Now she was confined to permanent bed-rest to live out her years, unresponsive forever. Should he stick with her, resigned to eternal loneliness, or respect his needs as a man and “cut his losses” and find another wife? His dilemma was a psychological one that had some moral undertones.
One day, he referenced her accident. It was a nonchalant remark, yet the first mention of the catalyst for his psychological struggles. “You see, doc, my wife’s accident may not have been a true accident.” I looked at him, stayed quiet, but with the most sincerely patient visage I could muster. He continued. “We had a little fight that day and she left in a huff. She sped off in the car and was probably careless because she was crying and mad at me.”

Guilt can do magnificent things to the mind. It can bring a person to his knees with regret, and it can propel a person into emotional and existential agony. The fights and arguments which we have with our dear ones, especially when followed by tragedy, can lock us into spasms of remorse and self-blame. Was he staying with her for penance, serving a life sentence with the woman he had fought with, which had led her to this living death?

The man went on, divulging a blend of woeful pain over what had become of his wife, but with sparks of anger at her. I gently pushed him to look at the sadness along with that hostility. He seemed to be hurting, yet was also resentful of his wife. We are all at time saddened by another’s hardships, yet vaguely aware that their predicament makes our own lives difficult. It is a hard tug of war between staying compassionate while also feeling anger when our own happiness is compromised by their inability to care for us.

She told me that she had been hiding something from me for 30 years.
“It was that last talk we had, before she took off in the car. “ This time, the moist eyes had turned to sobbing, tears lining his taught cheeks. The angry grimace still grasped his face, but he was crying. “She told me… that she had been hiding something from me for 30 years. My wife… came from a Jew mother.” He wept openly now, sad, bitter and yet there was something else going on. “That was the worst shame anyone could cause me. And I told her that. Then she ran out to her car.”
“When I heard she was in that car crash, part of me was sorrowful, but part of me felt she had it coming. She had lied to me all along. How did I ever get stuck with a Jew for a wife? Such shame she caused me. I hoped she would die then and there, but she didn’t.”

He breathed in deeply, seeming to loosen up and melt into the chair. Then he looked at me with pleading eyes, as if begging to share a conspiratorial wish. In a soft whisper, he said, “So since my wife survived, she deserves for me to do what a Jew would do for a Jew. And that’s why I knew that I needed to get me a Jew-doctor. Can you help me, now, doc? Please can you help me?”
Sometimes, the twists and turns of a tortured conscience lead to the gateways of the soul.
Reprinted from Jewish Life magazine,, download the free Jewish Life app on iOS and Android

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Post  Admin on Fri 02 Jun 2017, 7:33 pm

AISH  - Page 13 MtSiani25
Tuning In to the Sinai Frequency
Was God’s revelation a thing of the past or is it a voice speaking to us today?
by Rabbi Efrem Goldberg 
"Mosquito tone" is a 17 KHz sine wave that teenagers use on their cell phone to alert them when they've got a text message so the teachers can't hear it. Studies say that most adults can't hear much above the 13-14KHz range, but teenagers can. Our ability to hear high frequencies falls as we age.
I found the mosquito tone online and played it. I heard nothing but my kids in the other room started screaming, “What is that? Turn it off!”

Adults have now struck back using the teenagers’ technology against them. Inventor Howard Stapleton has created the Mosquito teen repellent (I kid you not). He says only a few people over age 30 can hear the Mosquito's sound. Stores and parks in England and Japan have begun to use it to keep teenagers from loitering. The repellent continually plays a high frequency. Adults can’t hear it and teenagers can’t stand it.
The most seminal moment in human history occurred when God addressed millions of people at Mount Sinai in an act of supreme revelation. Indeed, this moment was unprecedented, unparalleled and unrepeated. The Torah says, “These words that God spoke to all your assembly in the mountain out of the midst of the fire, the cloud and the thick darkness, with a great voice which was not heard again… [v’lo yasaf]” (Deut. 5:19)

The simple meaning of the words, v’lo yasaf as explained by the Ibn Ezra and other commentaries, is that the voice and experience were “not to be repeated.” This was a onetime only deal, an exceptional and transcendent moment in human history, never to be replicated.
On the one hand, the uniqueness of this event is significant and special. We eternally reflect back and recognize that the moment is inimitable and unique, distinct and singular. On the other hand, its uniqueness forces us to consider the fact that no matter how we live and whatever choices we may make we can never experience revelation like Mount Sinai again. This generates a sense of disenfranchisement and deflates our spiritual ambition. If God only spoke once and we missed it, how do we connect today? How do we access the affirmation that only God’s voice can provide as to His existence and our charge in the world?

Commentators were troubled by this dilemma and offer another layer of interpretation of the phrase v’lo yasaf. Onkelus, the famous convert who lived in the period of the Tannaim from 35 – 120, translates v’lo yasaf not as never repeated, but rather as v’lo p’sak, God’s voice never ended or ceased. The Ramban brings a few sentences as evidence that the Hebrew root – yud, samech,
Do we view the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai as part of the past, or does God voice speak to us today? The choice is yours
So, which is it? Does v’lo yasaf mean God’s voice never repeated or does it mean God’s voice never ceased?
I believe the answer is up to each and every one of us. We each have a critical choice to make. Do we view the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai as part of the past, a historical event and previous occurrence, or does God voice speak to us today?

Each year on Shavuot we recall the Sinai experience and challenge ourselves with the question of which interpretation best reflects our life. Are we going to choose the reading that says the voice of God is no longer heard, or are we going to continue to listen carefully for the reverberation of God’s message in our lives? Are the events of Mount Sinai representative of an ongoing, developing relationship with God, or are they an isolated event?
In truth, God’s voice is all around us. Like the mosquito tone, a frequency is playing, the only question is if we can hear it.

Each time we open a book and challenge ourselves by learning Torah, expanding and broadening our wisdom, understanding and insight, God’s voice is reverberating. Each prayer in which we are not only physically present but spiritually invested, God’s voice is reverberating. Each magnificent sunrise or sunset that we pause to take in, God’s voice is reverberating. Each act of kindness we share with others God’s voice is reverberating.
There is no doubt that God’s great and mighty voice is all around us. Shavuot demands of us to consider: are we tuned into the Sinai frequency or do we simply go through the motions, and view God’s voice as something of the past?
The choice is yours to make.

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Post  Admin on Thu 25 May 2017, 12:58 pm
Talking to Our Children after Attack at Ariana Grande Concert
by Dr. Yvette Alt Miller
Terror just hit home. Here’s how you can help your children.

“Ariana Grande!” my daughter cried, “I like her – we all do!” As a group of horrified girls looked at their phones, I gazed at them. We were at a school event and my daughter, along with a dozen other teenage girls, were aghast.
They’d just heard the horrible news. Late Monday night, as young concert-goers started streaming out of an Ariana Grande concert in the British city of Manchester, disaster struck. A deadly explosion – some early reports suggest a suicide bomber might have detonated the bomb – tore through a rotunda area outside of Manchester Arena.
The bomb seems to have been designed for maximum destruction; as the powerful explosion tore through the area, nails shot out of the bomb, wounding scores of people. At least 22 people have been killed and 50 were injured, many gravely. Eye-witnesses reported seeing body parts strewn on the ground. As panicked concertgoers fled the arena, there was a stampede, potentially injuring even more young victims
One girl had friends in Manchester and wanted to text them. “The people there are like us!” my daughter cried, and I nodded, too emotional to speak. After each new terrorist attack, we try to reassure our children, try to sooth their fears and calm their anxiety at the specter of such evil in the world. With the attack at the Ariana Grande concert, we parents find ourselves in a more difficult position than ever before. Our children now realize that they were targets, that a concert given by a singer hugely popular with teens was the site of carnage. The horror of terrorism is hitting close to home.
How do we comfort our children after an attack like this? Here are three ways to speak to our kids in the aftermath of the attack.

1. Emphasize good in the world
One way to empower children is to show them ways that people refused to be cowed. Even as they came face to face with evil, many people caught up in the Manchester attack selflessly tried to help others.
One mother who’d been at the concert with her 13-year-old daughter told BBC News that there were “a lot of children in the building tonight. I was trying to offer my support to a number of girls who were there on their own who were hysterical. They were around my daughter’s age if not younger.”
Outside the concert hall, many people across the entire city of Manchester mobilized to help the concertgoers. Manchester closed its main Victoria Railway Station and a number of roads. Up to 21,000 traumatized concert-goers were stranded in the city with no way to get home. Taxis offered free rides and ordinary citizens offered to ferry people home. On Twitter, offers to help were trending. One typical Tweet said, “We have a spare double bed and two sofas available if anybody needs a place tonight. Salford area, 5 min taxi from arena”.
Showing our children that even in the most dire of situations there are people who try to help can give them hope. It can also help them realize that even when we cannot control the situation in which we find ourselves, we can choose how we respond.

2. Channel kids’ impulses for good
When terror strikes, it’s natural to want to do something to help. A powerful message we can send our kids is that even if we’re far away and don’t seem to be immediately connected to the attack is that, we are indeed connected and that our actions are not only welcome but vitally necessary.
When my daughter and I first heard about the attack, we prayed right there in our car for the victims. It was a powerful way to feel useful and to also remind ourselves that we are part of a wider whole, that when other people are attacked, we all are harmed.

A traditional Jewish response is to commit to study or to perform additional mitzvot in memory of people who have died and in the merit of people who are sick or injured for a speedy recovery. Doing so helps us bring more goodness and light into the world, especially at times like this when it can feel like the darkness of a terror attack is overwhelming.
3. Don’t be afraid to call the attack evil
In the aftermath of terror attacks, the media and other individuals often try to imagine the grievance or motive behind it, making it somehow rational, that perhaps there is some kernel of merit in the terrorists’ grievances.
Seeking to understand terror attacks and refraining from condemning the attack with every fiber of our being sends a confusing message to our kids. It blurs the lines between good and evil and creates moral obfuscation. Kids need to feel that despite violence and horror, they live in an ordered world where there are clear rights and wrongs. In response to witnessing unadulterated evil, families need to strength in the illumination of good while grieving with their children, and work on bringing more of that light to the world.

There is nothing more horrific than the thought of children being targeted in a terror attack. As we learn more of this attack and the victims, we each can help our kids feel protected, loved and empowered. We can help them to regard themselves as part of a wider group of people who, even in the face of unspeakable evil, refuse to be defeated, and instead try to help

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Post  Admin on Thu 18 May 2017, 10:19 pm
My Journal during The Six Day War
by Rabbi Emanuel Feldman
The dramatic journal of an American family in Israel during the Six Day War.
family in Israel during the Six Day War.
by Rabbi Emanuel Feldman 
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman was living in Israel with his young family during The Six Day War while on sabbatical from his rabbinic duties at Beth Jacob Synagogue in Atlanta, GA. While in Israel he was a visiting professor at Bar Ilan University. This excerpt is taken from his journal of the Six Day War, The 28th of Iyar (Feldheim), which was originally released in 1968 and has been re-printed in commemoration of the upcoming 50th anniversary of the Six Day War.
This entry describes the breakout of the war.
Tuesday, June 6, 1967/ 27 Iyar
Sheinfeld was partly right about those Arab pilots. From 11 P.M. to 4 A.M. there are no alerts. But at four, just at daybreak, we are shaken from a deep sleep by that terrifying scream. I groan, and run in to wake the boys, but they are already dressed and cheerfully getting ready to go down to the shelter.
The shelter is filled with the same people, but everyone is in fine mood today, animated, friendly, alive. Israelis by nature are very reserved, almost aloof, but some of our neighbors – even the ladies – who scarcely nodded to us for the past ten months are suddenly friendly.
The news on the radio now is incredible: Israel is claiming the destruction of 375 Arab planes. 375! Incredible, astounding, unbelievable. It cannot be. Undoubtedly this is just an exaggerated war claim. And yet the Israeli Army is not known to make idle claims. 375 planes? Is it possible?
Jerusalem is still being heavily shelled and our troops have invaded the Old City. Good. There is news that we have captured Latrun and Nabi Samuel and are moving to surround the Old City. And El Arish in the Sinai has been captured and we are moving on Aza. So things are not going badly.

Estelle wonders what we will do for food today. We are out of milk, there is just a little bread, and the stores will undoubtedly not be open. As for the milkman, we are lucky if he shows up in normal times. But we will manage.
All is quiet. We hear no sound of anti-aircraft guns, no explosions. The all-clear sounds at five A.M. and the men decide to go to Itchkovitch for Shacharis (morning services). There is already a large crowd there, overflowing into the street, and everyone is whispering excitedly about the 375 planes. The prevailing opinion is that we have won some important air battles, but that the Air Force has stretched the truth this time in its claims. I pick up BBC on my radio and the announcer is saying, “There are conflicting claims on both sides. Israel claims to have destroyed over 300 Arab planes, while the Arabs are claiming that they have shot down over 200 Israeli aircraft.”

An interesting occurrence during Shacharis: we are davening out on the sidewalk in typical Itchkovitch fashion, and the Kohanim are about to begin their Priestly Blessing. At that moment the air-raid alert sounds again. We all look at one another, no one moves, and without a word or a motion we agree intuitively that we will continue davening and not run to a shelter in the middle of prayer. And so, as the siren continues to wail, the Kohanim take their customary position up front, raise their prayer shawls over their heads, cover their faces, stretch forth their arms, the chazan intones, “Kohanim,” and, as if in musical harmony with the alarm, they recite Birkat Kohanim, “Yevarechecha – May God bless you and keep you. May 

God turn His countenance upon you and be gracious unto you. May God turn His face unto you and give you – ” and just as they are about to utter the last word of the blessing – “Shalom, peace” – the all-clear sounds and they chant Shalom in counterpoint to the siren.
It is just before 6 A.M. We are back in the shelter waiting for the next all-clear when we hear the clip-clop of a horse and the clinking of glass. We dash out of the shelter and there, resplendent with his white bottles, is our milkman.

Our milkman: how we used to curse him silently every morning, him and his creaking wagon and neighing horse and noisy bottles. How could he be so coarse, so insensitive, so oblivious to the fact that it was still nighttime and we were asleep? And how we used to resent the fact that the bottoms of the bottles were always encrusted with mud and sand. Milkman, all is forgiven: we surround him and chatter gaily and the children jump up and down and embrace him and climb up on his dreary, gray horse.

It occurs to me suddenly that our family in the U.S. must be frantic, and I go over to the Post Office to send a telegram. There is a long line in front of the telegraph clerk. He seems to be discussing the wording of every telegram presented to him. Perhaps there is an emergency limit on the amount of words, or maybe a special censorship has been imposed. As I get closer to him I can hear what he is doing.
“What?” he says. “You are telling them that there is still some danger? Change that. We are not in danger.”
Dutifully the customer makes the appropriate correction.

“Oy,” he says to the next man. “Why do you have to mention about the shelling? The shelling was nothing. You should have seen Europe. Just take that part out.”
“Ah,” he beams at a lady’s text, “this is the kind of telegram to send. Everybody listen. This is a model. ENEMY IS DEFEATED. ALL ARE WELL. GOD HAS REVEALED HIMSELF TO ISRAEL. DO NOT WORRY. That’s what a telegram should be: encouraging, happy. We have to show the outside world that we are the victors.”
So it goes. He edits and deletes and rewrites and censors – a word here, a phrase there. If the outside world this morning is receiving unusually ecstatic messages from a country at war, they have this clerk to thank.
Feldheim Publishers is proud to reissue Rabbi Emanuel Feldman’s bestselling firsthand account of life on the Israeli home front before and during the war.

Rabbi Feldman was on a sabbatical in Israel with his family in the time before and during the Six Day War. His decision to keep a daily account of the tense weeks before the war and during the war itself led to a dramatic, day-by-day journal telling the story of an American family and an entire nation who lived through the frantic and historical days of June 1967. Click here to order.

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Post  Admin on Tue 16 May 2017, 4:35 pm

Three years after its libel against Israel, the medical journal sets things right.
by Dr. Yvette Alt Miller 
The Lancet, one of the world’s most prestigious medical journals, is currently featuring a special edition devoted to Israel’s world-class medical establishment. As well as being an informative issue, this latest issue is also a remarkable act of atonement for a terrible wrong the journal did to the Jewish state three years ago.
This unusual story starts in July 2014 when, after enduring near-constant rocket attacks from Gaza, Israel’s army (the IDF) fought back, destroying missile launchers and other military targets in several weeks of fierce fighting that were dubbed Operation Protective Edge. During the conflict, nearly 5,000 missiles rained down on Israeli towns. 66 Israeli soldiers were killed, as were six Israeli civilians, including children. Israeli forces also discovered a network of terror tunnels leading from Gaza into the Jewish state. Hamas positioned its rocket launchers in civilian areas, including Al-Shifa Hospital. When Israeli forces dropped leaflets warning civilians to flee areas that were identified as military targets, Hamas ordered them to stay. Gazans, unsurprisingly, suffered large numbers of casualties: about 2,127, among both Hamas fighters and civilians.
The letter glorified Hamas, describing it as committed to resolving political conflicts “without arms and harm”.
During the fighting, The Lancet, Britain’s premier medical journal, decided to take the highly unusual step of entering the fray. In their July 30, 2014 edition, they published an “Open letter for the people in Gaza.” The letter, written by five prominent physicians and signed by 19 more, shocked many with its vicious tone and biased perspective.
Dr. Karl Skorecki, a senior staff member at Rambam Hospital in Haifa, was one of many physicians in Israel and across the world who was appalled by the letter’s hateful tone. In an exclusive interview, Dr. Skorecki recalls it as a “one-sided, mean-spirited, ill-based attack that came from a place of hatred… It accused medical professionals in Israel of complicity in inhumane activity. It was demonizing.”
Making no mention of Hamas’ use of human shields, deliberate targeting of civilians, and practice of hiding missile launchers and weapons in schools and medical centers, the letter accused Israel of lying to creating an emergency, of “massacre”, and of harboring the bloodthirsty aim “to terrorize, wound the soul and the body”. The letter bizarrely glorified Hamas, describing it as committed to resolving political conflicts “without arms and harm”. Israel’s Ministry of Health described the letter as “bordering on blood libel”.
In the weeks after The Lancet published this screed, NGO Monitor, a Jerusalem-based watchdog group, revealed that the letter’s authors had links to anti-Semitic groups. Two had shared a video of David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard, railing against Jews and Israel. One author had forwarded a message claiming that Jews and Zionists were behind the Boston marathon bombings; another author travelled to Gaza in a sign of solidarity during the fighting.
Prof. Richard Horton
The Lancet’s editor, Prof. Richard Horton, announced that while he “deeply regretted” the “completely unnecessary polarisation” the letter caused, he stopped short of condemning the letter itself, and kept it up on The Lancet’s website.
Invitation to Israel
Jewish doctors across Britain wrote to The Lancet. In Israel, medical school professors resigned from advisory boards associated with the journal. At Israel’s prestigious Rambam Hospital in Haifa, the staff, too, were outraged, and sent a letter of their own to The Lancet, which went unpublished. Instead of resigning themselves to anger, however, Rambam’s doctors and staff decided to take a different approach.
“Let’s invite him,” suggested Prof. Karl Skorecki, Rambam’s Director of Medical and Research Development, speaking of the editor responsible for publishing the letter. As Prof Rafael Beyar, the Director General of the hospital recalled, the staff liked Prof. Skorecki’s idea. “It seems like he doesn’t known man facts about this region,” the doctors noted. “He needs to see the reality of medical life in Israel.”

Raising Our Kids on Vampires, Satanism and Zombies
What’s capturing your teen’s imagination?
by M. R. (Rhonda) Attar 

Do your kids enjoy fantasy adventures? What’s their vampire IQ? You might be shocked by their prowess.
Books, movies and computer games today are filled with occult, witchcraft, Satanism, paganism, vampires, zombies, Greek mythology…all under the innocuous title of fantasy adventure.

As parents we may be thrilled that our teenager is actually reading, but what values are impressionable minds ultimately absorbing from such content? A treasure trove of fantastic personalities, legends and esoteric mysteries can be found within Jewish tradition, history and Torah, so why aren’t we providing alternatives for our youth based on Jewish content and values?

I created the Elisha Davidson trilogy to inspire the imaginations of our teens to our phenomenal, life-enforcing Jewish heritage.
Because I wanted to inspire the imaginations of our teens to our phenomenal, life-enforcing Jewish heritage rather than steep it in violent occult darkness, I created the Elisha Davidson trilogy.
Do we really want our kids fantasizing through an entire series about gruesome zombies or Greek gods?
When the books on Jewish bookstore shelves don’t capture their imagination, is it any wonder they turn to Vampire Academy, Zombie Apocalypse, Percy Jackson and similar fantasy books that do offer what they crave?
As a career television executive, I’ve launched 10 television channels in as many as 120 countries and subscribe to the industry adage that ‘Content is King’ for successful entertainment. Our Torah heritage is a massive, untapped reservoir of spectacular content, and it is up to us to create the medium that will showcase our captivating content. I believe the Elisha Davidson Trilogy does this. Some reviewers have heralded the Elisha Davidson series as a new genre; others have labeled it the ‘Jewish Harry Potter.’ I’m not particularly enamored by the latter categorization, but I am thrilled to see reviewers, teens and parents alike quickly get the point and turn into avid fans.

The adventures of Elisha Davidson first came to life in my living room before Harry Potter was a household name. For years I hosted a Shabbat afternoon story-telling group for my children and their friends. I would read Torah stories, tales of the Sages and just about anything really interesting and Jewish that I could get my hands on. As time went on I wanted to forge a stronger bond between the kids and the content. I wanted to ignite their imaginations, so I made up my own story about a young boy named Elisha Davidson living in modern-day Jerusalem. His mysterious adventures were interwoven with stories from Torah, Talmud and Medrash. The kids were spellbound and continued coming to the group well into their late teens. I wanted to write the stories down, but as a working mother time eluded me. Fast forward a few years, and a lot of writing, and now thanks to Menorah Books, a years’ worth of Elisha adventures have been published as the Elisha Davidson Trilogy.

The overall plot of Elisha Davidson is fantasy, but instead of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry or the never-ending variations of Transylvania High, the backdrop is Jerusalem’s eternal Old City. Elisha is a 6th grader at North Temple Mount Academy, and the magical and captivating characters surrounding him include Torah legends and personalities. Each page was crafted with meticulous adherence to traditional Jewish sources which are so wondrously compelling in their own right, they naturally fit right in.
Can Torah-sourced content compete with the allure of the Dark Arts? You decide: Elisha discovers a powerful

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Post  Admin on Thu 11 May 2017, 10:38 pm
10 Little Known Facts about Einstein
Including what he considered to be his greatest day.
by Dr. Yvette Alt Miller
Albert Einstein is known for his famous theory of relativity, his iconic formula about the intensity of energy E=mc2, and for being one of the most brilliant scientists of all times.
Many of us know the basic outlines of Einstein’s life: he was born into a Jewish family in Germany in 1879, achieved fame at a young age for his groundbreaking work on particle physics, and fled Nazi Germany in 1933, arriving at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton in the United States where he taught until his death in 1955.
Here are ten less well-known facts about this brilliant physicist which might surprise you.

1. His parents worried that he didn’t talk as a child.
A number of myths flourish about Einstein. It’s often said that he didn’t talk until he was four and that he failed math as a child. It is true that Einstein’s language development was delayed – one nursery school teacher told his parents he’d never amount to much – but by the time he was two years old, Einstein was beginning to learn to speak, much to his family’s relief.
As for failing math, in 1935, a rabbi in Princeton, New Jersey, where Einstein was on the faculty, showed Einstein a newspaper clipping that claimed of him “Greatest Living Mathematician Failed in Mathematics.” Einstein laughed, correcting the column. “Before I was 15 I had mastered differential and integral calculus,” he explained.

2. He was intensely religious as a child.
Einstein’s family wasn’t religiously observant; in fact, growing up in Munich, young Einstein attended a local Catholic school. (He later recalled helping his classmates with their religion homework.) When Einstein was nine years old, however, he developed a love for Judaism. He started keeping kosher, observing Shabbat and even made up prayers that he’d sing on his way to school.
While he didn’t maintain this level of observance into adulthood, Einstein always was proud of being Jewish. In 1933, one month after Hitler was elected Chancellor of Germany, Albert Einstein and his wife Elsa left Germany for good.

3. A visiting medical student sparked his interest in science.
Einstein’s parents continued a long-standing Jewish custom of inviting a poor student for a meal each week. When Einstein was a young child, his family hosted a Jewish medical student named Max Talmud for dinner each Thursday.
It was Max Talmud who first introduced Albert Einstein to science books, of which there were none in his parents’ home. The ten-year old Einstein devoured works by Charles Darwin, raced through the five-volume classic series “The Cosmos – Attempt at a Description of the Physical World” by Alexander von Humboldt, and read the twenty volume popular “Science for the People” series by Aaron Bernstein. Albert’s lifelong love of science was born.

4. He gave away his Nobel Prize money to his ex-wife.
Einstein travelled to Switzerland for college, where he attended the Zurich Polytechnic. The only woman in his physics classes was a young Serbian woman named Mileva Maric. They married in 1903, when Einstein was 23. Their union was unhappy and Albert soon offered Mileva an unusual bargain: if he ever won the Nobel Prize, Albert promised her he’d give her all the prize money. In return, he asked for a divorce. Mileva thought it over for a week, then agreed.
Years later, in 1921, Einstein won the Nobel Prize in physics and turned over the prize money to Mileva.

5. Einstein fought racism.
After fleeing Nazi Germany in 1933 for the United States, Einstein took up the cause of opposing racism in the United States. He became close friends with actor Paul Robeson; together this unlikely duo formed the American Crusade to End Lynching. In 1937, when the famous Black singer Marian Anderson was turned away from a hotel room in Princeton, New Jersey, where the Einsteins lived, Einstein and his wife Elsa invited Ms. Anderson to stay with them. From then on, whenever Marian Anderson passed through Princeton, she stayed with the Einsteins.
In 1946, Einstein issued a challenge to the citizens of his adopted country: “What...can the man of good will do to combat this deeply rooted prejudice? He must have the courage to set an example by word and deed….” Throughout his life, Einstein set an example, counting Black Americans as friends, lecturing at traditionally black colleges, and speaking out against racism.

6. The “greatest day” in his life came in Israel.
In 1921, Einstein and the chemist (and later first president of Israel) Chaim Weizmann travelled to the United States to raise funds for an audacious new plan: the establishment of a new Jewish university in the Land of Israel. “I feel an intense need to do something for this cause,” Einstein wrote to a friend.
Two years later, Einstein visited Jerusalem’s Mount Scopus, where the new university’s main campus was being built. He was invited to speak from “the lectern that has waited for you for two thousand years.” Overcome with emotion, Einstein later wrote “my heart rejoices” as Hebrew University grows.
Albert and Elsa Einstein toured the land of Israel and was mobbed everywhere he spoke. “I consider this the greatest day of my life,” Einstein announced at one venue.

7. He was featured in Nazis’ anti-Semitic propaganda.
After fleeing Germany in 1933, a month after Hitler’s election as Chancellor of Germany, Einstein spoke out against the barbarity of the Nazis.
Nazis circulated a pamphlet in Germany decrying the Einsteins’ flight as an act of ingratitude and deceitfully speaking out against Hitler. The pamphlet ominously finished up by describing Einstein as "unhanged" – hinting that he would be put to death were he ever to set foot back in Germany.

8. Einstein shocked other scientists by insisting that God exists.
Einstein insisted that his scientific research and understanding enabled his belief in God, instead of undermining it.
Once, sitting at a Berlin dinner party, Einstein stunned the table with this following statement: “Try and penetrate with our limited means the secrets of nature,” Einstein told the stunned guests, “and you will find that, behind all the discernible laws and connections, there remains something subtle, intangible and inexplicable.”
Years later in Princeton he explained his persistent belief in God in simpler terms. When a sixth grader wrote to the Einstein asking if scientists prayed, he made time to write her back, noting, “Everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit if manifest in the laws of the Universe – a spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble….”

9. There could have been a “President Einstein”.
Of Israel, that is. Einstein was offered the presidency of Israel, a largely ceremonial role as head of government in the Jewish state, twice. Both times, he turned down the honor.
The first time was in 1948, when Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Abba Eban, called Einstein to offer him Israel’s premiership. Einstein smiled and refused, replying, “I know a little bit about nature but hardly anything about human beings.”
He was asked again in 1952. This time Einstein wrote a formal letter, explaining he lacked the experience to help govern, and also that “advancing age” was “making increasing inroads on my strength.”

10. His last words were about the Jewish State.
At the end of his life, Einstein became even more outspoken for Zionist and Israeli causes. At the age of 73, looking back on his life, Einstein declared that “my relationship with Jewry had become my strongest human tie once I achieved complete clarity about our precarious positions among the nations.”
On the morning of Wednesday, April 13, 1955, Einstein met with the Israeli consul to go over a televised speech he was planning to celebrate the 8th anniversary of Israel’s founding. He penned a sentence about the prospects for Israel to make peace with its Arab neighbors, then broke off. Einstein's health faltered, and he died five days later. His speech, the last words he ever wrote, remained unfinished.

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Post  Admin on Mon 01 May 2017, 11:40 pm

And how to make it right.
by Slovie Jungreis-Wolff
Why do so many people struggle with feelings that they’ve made a poor choice in marriage?
In his recent New York Times’ piece, Alain de Botton explains why so many people end up marrying the wrong person. We find it difficult to draw close to others. We mask our idiosyncrasies and appear normal until others get to know us well. One of the first questions we should ask on a date is: “And how are you crazy?”

Getting married involves taking a gamble. We think we know each other sufficiently well by looking at old photos and getting to know friends and family, and feel comfortable enough to commit to a life together. But the truth is we have no idea what is waiting down the road. We are hopeful, committed, but no one really knows how they will act and react under the microscope of marriage.

We are not yet complete. The nuances of our hearts are still being molded and shaped. We are a rough draft in the making. When facing our flaws some of us go into silent mode. Others blame partners and walk away from the relationship. We remain with the perception that we are the ‘right’ ones, and simple to set up life with. It’s everyone else who is wrong.

After falling in the emotional swirl of love, replete with a romantic sunset, deep conversations and buzzing excitement about the future, ordinary life eventually intrudes with a white picket fence, long days in the office and kids who overwhelm us.
Instead of passion we are left with the lingering doubt: Did I make the wrong decision?

Marriage is supposed to be forever even though those initial romantic feelings are not. What happened to the passion? Instead we are left with the lingering doubt: Did I make the wrong decision? Now what?

“The good news,” de Botton writes, “is that it doesn’t matter if we find that we have married the wrong person.” There is no such thing as that perfect person we’ve dreamed about or imagined from the time we were young. None of us are flawless. We don’t need to contemplate divorce when we feel frustrated, angry, disappointed, annoyed, and even incomplete. We have adopted this romanticized version of marriage that has destroyed the truth we must face when living with another. Disney love is meant for theme parks and big screens. That the partner we chose cannot shield us from difficulties, sadness and heartbreak does not create a strike against our life together.
Contemplate what really counts in marriage. It’s the spouse who can best live with our differences who becomes the ‘perfect partner’. A generous heart and forgiving nature are the best ingredients to achieve love. We can right the emotions of imperfection that we fear when our relationship doesn’t work out as we thought it would.

Judaism and Seeking Love

When Abraham sought a wife for his son, Isaac, he sent his right hand man, Eliezer, to search for the girl in his home country. How would Eliezer recognize a woman worthy to become the next matriarch of the Jewish people?
It is not the romance that will sustain the marriage; it is good character.
Eliezer knew that if he would meet a woman who displayed incredible kindness, she would be the proper match. Waiting at the well, Eliezer meets Rebecca. She was not only dignified and gracious, she demonstrated her true character of chesed, deep-rooted kindness. Rebecca offered to draw water for both Eliezer and all his ten camels. She did so without complaining, without hesitation, without expectations. Rebecca was unrestrained in her goodness.
For love to flourish we must give love wholeheartedly. We cannot measure, we cannot hold back waiting to see if our spouse will match our actions. Too many petty arguments snowball when we question our giving versus the amount our spouse gives. We limit ourselves and make our love seem small.

Abraham knew exactly what was needed to bring light into the life of his son. A partner who would mirror his love of kindness that remains our nation’s legacy till today.

When seeking a spouse, let us follow in the wise path of Abraham as he contemplated a match for his son. He knew it is not the romance that will sustain the marriage; it is good character. Good heartedness, a forgiving nature and being kind build the bonds of love.

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Post  Admin on Fri 14 Apr 2017, 10:31 pm

My Catholic Friend’s Question
Curiosity is the beginning of freedom.
by Rabbi Henry Harris
I was 20 years old, living the good life as an exchange student in Madrid, and running late to meet Spanish friends at a club one Friday night.
“Where are you coming from?” one of the girls asked nonchalantly.
“I was at synagogue,” I replied.

At that point in my life, synagogue was not a typical hangout, but as a stranger in a foreign land, I was intrigued by the invite my Catholic house mother made to check out my heritage. (After discovering my Jewish roots, she actually tracked down and gave me the name, address, and phone number of the only active synagogue in Madrid. “Go!” she said, “it’s important to have a connection to your people.”)
I went once, liked the easy connection I felt with Spanish Jews, and chose to go to Shabbat services occasionally before going out Friday nights, which explained why I was late that night to meet friends.

“You’re Jewish?” my Spanish friend asked. “That’s so interesting.”
Then she dropped the question bomb.
“I’ve always wanted to know: what is the difference between Judaism and Christianity?”

In a split second her straightforward question revealed how little I knew about my own roots.
I had considered myself a reasonably literate, curious, and informed person, and in a split second her straightforward question revealed how little I knew about my own roots.
“Well,” I offered lamely, “I know that we don’t believe in Jesus.”
The question – and my ignorance – began to bother me. Clearly, I was missing something.

My Catholic 20-something friend knew she was Catholic, cared about its belief system and history, and was palpably excited to discover more about someone else’s religion. I felt her excitement in identifying with her roots. And I acutely felt my lack of connection. I was embarrassed. How could I not know something as basic as the foundation of my own identity? I realized, I was a Jew who had no idea what Judaism was.

I wanted to find answers. But where?
I began to seek “identity through osmosis:” more time with the Jews of Madrid, more young adults events at the community center, a Passover Seder with a traditional family from Morocco.
In Madrid with my mother
It was fun. It was cultural. It was sometimes exotic.` Yet returning to New York for my senior year at college, I still didn’t know what the essence of Jewish belief was. So I sought out more Jews.

One of my philosophy professors was a former kibbutznik. “You’ve never been to Israel?” he asked. “Get a taste of the Israeli commune. Explore the land. Try out the beaches at Tel Aviv.” Kibbutz, I discovered, qualified for student loan deferments. After graduating, I jumped.

Starting out as a volunteer at an Israeli munitions base, I was startled by what I found: two sets of dishes in the mess hall, mezuzahs on all the doorways, soldiers my age named Shimon and Dav-eed, and an inspiring, against-all-odds story of Jewish return to the land despite thousands of years of exile and massive Arab aggression. The Jews were not just an interesting identity; we were a nation with a way of life and a beautiful story. My Jewish identity was expanding outward – and arousing new questions.
Volunteering on Israel army base

If I loved being Jewish, did I need to move to Israel? If not, how would I express my Jewishness? I was a universalist at heart; was I ready to rule out the majority of the world’s women as marriage partners because they weren’t born Jewish? What about the abundance of hatred and persecution that had dogged the Jews throughout history? Wouldn’t it just make sense that Jews voluntarily assimilate and thereby put an end to anti-Semitism?

Travelling with fellow volunteers from the army base, we spent a weekend in Jerusalem’s Old City. We celebrated Shabbat dinner with a local family. We shmoozed with other Jewish travelers and we were having a blast. They recommended things to do and places to visit, including Aish HaTorah and the Discovery program. Aish HaTorah, they described, was a yeshiva, kind of a university for Jewish studies, but with programs for beginners – like us. Discovery was a compelling seminar that laid out the basics of Jewish belief.

This became my first encounter with a full-bodied, wide-angle, rigorous presentation of the meaning of being Jewish. I saw more clearly the miraculous nature of Jewish history, the depth of Torah wisdom, the joy and vibrancy of Jewish homes. I was beginning to find my answers. I stayed for a summer to learn more. I eventually changed grad school plans for a rabbinic degree.

Today I am fortunate to be an educator of Jewish ideas with a Jewish family of my own.
Studying at Aish HaTorah
And it began with a question in a Spanish bar.
The power of questioning is a central theme of the Passover Seder. The Haggadah starts by raising four questions and is designed to raise more questions throughout the evening. Why not skip all these questions and just get straight to point?
The Maharal of Prague explains that without a question, information remains irrelevant. A question creates a space, a vacuum that yearns to be filled and enables an answer to enter and take root.
For years I had walked around with opinions about Judaism but it had never occurred to me that I didn’t really know what Judaism was (certainly not with the sophistication I aspired to know what Plato, Karl Marx, or the Civil War was). My Catholic friend’s simple question about Judaism and Christianity created an opening for a beautiful journey.

Passover is a time for freedom, a time when the Jewish people unlock new worlds of potential. It begins with curiosity. Perhaps this is why the Talmud’s term for a Torah scholar is talmid chacham, a wise student – someone open to questions. This Passover, may we merit to be open to our own great, unasked questions and the wisdom journey they point to.
Click here to read more inspiring Passover articles.

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Post  Admin on Tue 28 Mar 2017, 9:07 pm

Why Are Jews a Small Nation?
by Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein
Given its tiny numbers, according to the normal laws of history, the Jewish people should have disappeared through persecution or assimilation.
t is remarkable how Israel plays such a central and important role in world affairs. Given its tiny land area and population, Israel should be nothing more than a blip on the world’s radar. Yet it dominates attention everywhere; sometimes positively and sometimes, such as at the United Nations, negatively. Either way, its impact is completely disproportionate to its size.

But this is how it’s always been in Jewish history – we Jews are a tiny people with an enormous impact. And this is how it was always meant to be.
“Not because you are the biggest of the nations did God desire you and choose you but because you are the smallest of the nations,” says the Torah (Deuteronomy 7:7). In this crucial verse two very important things emerge.

First, that the bold prediction that the Jewish people would be amongst the smallest of the nations has been fulfilled. And second, that this goes to the heart of Jewish identity and destiny. Rashi, in his commentary, interprets the verse to mean that the very smallness of the Jewish people is crucial to our link to God. But this is puzzling. Why should smallness be so defining?

One dimension of the answer, perhaps, lies in the message of the miraculous nature of Jewish history. Given such small numbers, the Jewish people should, according to the normal laws of history, have disappeared by now through persecution or assimilation. For such a tiny nation not only to survive but to thrive and have an impact so disproportionate to its numbers makes its very existence a living testimony to God’s existence.

The story of Jewish history has been a story of miracles and wonder; a story of survival against all the odds; and a story of inordinate success against rational predictions. The modern State of Israel is the latest remarkable example of how small numbers have overcome large odds to be world-beaters in so many areas, such as technology, military might, agriculture and medicine. In general, the disproportionate Jewish contribution to all spheres of human endeavor is so remarkable that it is reflective of its supernatural Divine character.

The message carried with pride and conviction by the Jewish people and its small numbers is that this physical world is subject to the authority of the King of all Kings, God Himself, who guides and directs the affairs of mankind; through His Divine intervention time and again Jews have defied all the laws of history. This is a reminder to the world of the existence of one Almighty Creator, who is the Master of the universe and who is interested in the affairs of human beings and is the guiding force of human history. The Jewish mission is to carry this message, and we do so by our very existence.

The Triumph of Quality over Quantity
There is perhaps another message in this unusual phenomenon of the smallness in number of the Jewish people. It is a message of the triumph of quality over quantity, of spiritual over material. It is an eloquent declaration that we should not measure things in this world only in material terms, that the spiritual is much greater than the physical, and that the power of the human soul is greater than that of the human body, and the power of spiritual and intellectual creativity is greater than any force in the physical world. Jewish history preaches this lesson and teaches us the emptiness of the sole pursuit of materialism, the emptiness of a world measured by things alone, the emptiness of a world which is purely physical.

When God created the first human beings, Adam and Eve, He used two substances – the dust of the earth and the spirit of
God; that is body and soul. One of the most central teachings of Judaism and of the Jewish people is that the spirit, the soul, which is in every human being, is immortal and is far greater than the body. This lesson is taught by the pages of Jewish history, which recount how a nation small in physical numbers, but great in the spirit, has achieved so much. The small numbers of a mighty Jewish nation making a huge impact in world history is a reminder of the power of the spirit, of the neshama, the soul, and its importance, and the fact that it lies at the heart of human existence.

It is also a reminder that as human beings we will only be truly uplifted and satisfied, and only find true happiness, when we connect to the neshama, the soul. The Vilna Gaon, in a letter to his family, compares the pursuit of materialism to drinking salt water – the more you drink the thirstier you become. Pursuit of physicality and materialism, while necessary for the human condition, is not sufficient.

As human beings we need to take care of our physical needs. That is how God has created us. But fulfilling those needs is just the beginning and not the end goal, not the purpose of life.
The purpose of life is to connect to God and live with the spiritual power of mitzvot. A life of materialism only is ultimately as deeply unsatisfying as salt water. And people today are thirsty for spiritual connection. They are thirsty for a life of meaning. And Jewish destiny teaches the secret of quenching that thirst.

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Post  Admin on Mon 27 Mar 2017, 9:44 pm
British Museum & Evidence of Israelite Slavery in Egypt
A mud brick with straw, stamped with a royal seal that says “House of Ramses ll,” and other cool artifacts.
by Rabbi Yisroel Roll

The table of archaeological finds below, presented to me by Dr. John H. Taylor, the curator of the Egypt Department of the British Museum in London, reveals a mud brick with straw which is stamped with a royal seal which says: “House of Ramses ll”. The mud brick, seen on the left side of the photo below, is one of 20 held in the basement vaults of the museum, and not exhibited to the public. The brick has been carbon dated to the Israelite period of slavery in Egypt.

Dr. Taylor states that the Israelites did not build the pyramids as is commonly thought. The pyramids were built 100 years after the Israelites left Egypt. What they did build were cities. The Bible states in Exodus 1:11-14, “So they appointed taskmasters over it (the Israelite nation) in order to afflict it with their burdens; it built storage cities for Pharaoh, Pithom and Ramses…They embittered their lives with hard work, with mortar and with bricks…” The Bible further states in Exodus, 5:10, “The taskmasters of the people and its foremen went out and spoke to the people, saying, “So said Pharaoh, I am not giving you straw. Go yourselves and take yourselves straw from whatever you find, for nothing will be reduced from your work.” In the close up photo of the brick below, one can see the straw and the seal which states, “House of Ramses ll”.

Below is a mural of slaves building a structure in Egypt dated from the Israelite period showing a pile of mud bricks similar to the brick displayed on the table above. Dr. John H. Taylor holds curatorial responsibility for ancient Egyptian funerary antiquities, amulets and jewelry. He also provides curatorial supervision for the departmental loans program. These items are sometimes loaned to outside museums and organizations.

Dr. Taylor then showed me a 12-foot iron snake staff found in a pyramid tomb. Shown below, the staff has a cobra head and is wavy and is evidence of the Egyptian magician’s staves mentioned in the Bible in Exodus, 7:11-12, “The magicians of Egypt did so with their incantations. Each one cast down his staff and they became snakes; and the staff of Aaron swallowed their staffs.” The entire snake staff can be seen at the front of the table in the first photo above. The staff is wave like and when placed on the ground and manipulated by a magician can give the illusion of snake like movement. Egyptian magicians were known to be illusionists.

The wicker basket below is dated to the Egyptian period of the Israelites and is evidence of the use of wicker baskets as recorded in the Bible, Exodus 2: 3, “She could not hide him any longer, so she took a wicker basket and smeared it with clay and pitch; she placed the child (Moses) into it and placed it among the reeds at the bank of the River (Nile). “

The copper mirrors at the far right of the first photo above are evidence of the existence of copper mirrors used by Israelite women to beautify themselves and to entice their husbands to produce children despite the dangers of bringing children into the world amidst a slave existence. These copper mirrors are referred to in the Bible in Exodus 38:8, “He (Moses) made the wash basin of copper and its base of copper, from the mirrors of the legions who massed at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting. “ The 11th century French Biblical commentator, Rashi, comments that the Jewish women used these mirrors to beautify themselves in order to entice their husbands to produce children despite the fear of bringing children into a life of slavery. This attests to the greater faith of the Israelite women than that exhibited by the Israelite men, which faith has continued to sustain Jewish continuity.

The organizer of this private tour to the British Museum is London educator and historian, Rabbi Aryeh Forta who organizes monthly private tours of the Jewish artifacts at the British Museum. Also seen on this tour was a 3500 year old matzah with finger imprints of the matzah maker and silver wine bowls from the palace of Achashverosh mentioned in Megillas Esther.
Visit Rabbi Forta’s site at

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Post  Admin on Thu 23 Mar 2017, 11:12 pm

Responding to the Terror Attack in London
As our thoughts and prayers go to the victims and the people of Britain, what can we do in the wake of this barbaric attack?
by Dr. Yvette Alt Miller
On Wednesday afternoon, March 22, 2017, London’s Westminster Bridge was crowded with pedestrians. A grey Hyundai 4x4 suddenly careened off the road and plowed into the crowd on the sidewalk, mowing down whoever was in his way. Three people were killed, plus the terrorist, and over 40 people wounded, many of them seriously.

Among the victims were a group of French students from Saint-Joseph high school in the northern French town of Concarneau who were on a school trip visiting London. Three police officers who were walking across the bridge after a commendation ceremony were also hit. A group of students from Edge Hill University in Ormskirk, Lancashire, in Britain were on a two-day educational trip to Parliament, and were also injured.

Once the terrorist reached the Houses of Parliament, he rammed the buildings’ gates, exited his car and stabbed to death Keith Palmer, a 48-year-old policeman, before being shot by police. Parliament, which was in session, was placed in lockdown.
As Britain reeled from this attack on its government and our hearts go out to its citizens, many of us are wondering what we can do in the wake of this murderous rampage. Here are four ways to respond.

1. Never Excuse Terrorism
The London attack came a year after terror attacks in Brussels, which claimed 32 lives. In the hours after the carnage in London, British authorities took the unusual step of calling it a likely terror attack. Although no official blame had been announced yet, in the hours after the attack ISIS supporters around the world celebrated the attack on Twitter, writing “Allau Akbar” next to pictures of injured victims lying on the ground, sending messages hailing the “blessed London attack” and pictures of the attack with smoke billowing out and the message “Our battle upon your land.”

If the attack does end being perpetrated by a radical Islamist, it will hopefully cause the many Brits who have excused and apologized for Islamist terror when directed against Jews and Israel to rethink their positions. Jeremy Corbyn, leader of Labour, Britain’s main opposition party, is a cofounder of the Stop the War Coalition, which has organized virulent rallies attacking Israel, featuring chants glorifying terrorist organizations: “We are all Hamas now!” and “Victory to Hamas!” rang out in London when Britons protested Israeli military actions in Gaza.
The tragic London attack serves as a crucial reminder that we must stand firm against Islamist terror, wherever it strikes. Justifying or trying to excuse it when it targets Jews encourages terrorism and emboldens those who seek to harm us.

2. In the Face of Terror, Act.
n the minutes after the attack, MP Tobias Ellwood emerged as one of the heroes of the day. The 50 year old Foreign Office minister performed CPR on a wounded policeman and tried to staunch the officer’s stab wounds for 15 minutes until help arrived.
MP Tobias Ellwood
Mr. Ellwood’s brother, Jonathan, was murdered in the Bali terrorist bombings in 2002, in which 202 people, including 27 Britons, were murdered by Islamist terrorists. Britain’s Middle-East Minister, Mr. Ellwood declared in Parliament weeks ago “that it is unacceptable for Israelis going about their business to be subject to some of the brutality and the murder we are seeing. Israel has the right – in fact, I would go further and say it has the obligation – to defend its citizens.”

3. Step up Protection
In the hours after the London terror attack, British police increased patrols in heavily Jewish parts of London. When a suspicious package was seen near the offices of a Jewish newspaper in the British city of Manchester later that day, police evacuated a bus and cordoned off an area to investigate.
This elevated caution isn’t misplaced. In recent months, ISIS has published a terror manual to teach would-be terrorists how to use trucks as weapons to “crush many victims” in attacks like those in Berlin and Nice. In the hours after the attack, ISIS supporters praised the London terrorist as a “soldier”. Given this risk to our safety and way of life, we each have to demand that our communities are given protection, particularly high-risk environments such as Jewish schools and synagogues.

4. Do Good in the Merit of the Victims
When things seem dark, the Jewish response is to search for ways to bring extra light into the world. Lighting Shabbat candles (or, if you already light candles, resolving to light them early) in the merit of those who were killed and injured is one way to fight the forces of evil who perpetrated this attack. Learn Torah or perform an extra good deed as a way of countering violence by bringing more goodness into the world.

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Post  Admin on Sun 19 Mar 2017, 10:25 pm
Remembering Pearl BenischRemembering Pearl Benisch
The Jewish world has lost a towering hero.
by Rabbi Naftali Schiff
Holocaust survivor Pearl Benisch, who has died at 100 years-old, personified a greatness of spirit found among the most remarkable heroes of the 20th century.

Pearl's bestselling autobiography, To Vanquish the Dragon, ranked by Amazon among the top 300 Jewish books, is a stirring personal account of faith and survival against the odds which has informed a generation not only how to survive but how to live. Mrs. Benisch was a protégé of the famed Sarah Schenirer, who revolutionized women’s access to the deep intellectual well of Judaism.
We will soon celebrate Passover and read the famous line in the Haggadah. “In every generation a person is obligated to regard himself as if he had personally left Egypt.”

This is a powerful lesson in Holocaust education, in fact any education of history. We must remember the lessons from important events as if they happened yesterday, and then act upon those lessons as if we had been there ourselves. The idea isn’t merely to remember that our forefathers were once in Egypt, but to ensure the relevance and powerful lessons of historic experiences are never lost from us, our children and grandchildren.

Much of Seder Night is the story of the remarkable endurance of the Jewish people and the eternal quality of our national mission and destiny set in the crucible of the story of the Exodus. Similarly, the Holocaust needs to be transmitted to our children as more than a chapter of history. Rather it is a deep understanding of our national identity and commitment to life in the face of any adversary, the spread of good in the face of any evil and responsibility to the future despite our past persecution.

My close relationship with Pearl Benisch awakened within me a totally new appreciation of what Holocaust survivors can help us unlock. It led me to interview 100 survivors around the world on film and to start the educational organization JRoots. We have taken 10,000 young Jews to concentrations camps in Poland, embarking on journeys to discover the dormant Jewish fighting spirit within us all. JRoots also helped to republish Pearl’s book, read by thousands of people.
The last time I met Pearl Benish was a few weeks ago on her 100th birthday. Unlike many women who look disheartened in the mirror at their withering complexion, Pearl would leap. She celebrated each new wrinkle on her face as a symbol of old age she never dreamed she would achieve.

She is one of a unique group of heroes of the battlefield of life. Pearl is one of a quickly vanishing number of men and women who could have thrown down their values and run the other way. Instead, they stood firm and dreamed again. They rebuilt destroyed homes, gave birth to families and created entire communities.

Miraculously, Pearl Benish was a physical survivor, but even more she was a spiritual survivor who was willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice for her beliefs and who lived each day of her long life dedicated to her Jewish values and knowledge. She clung to her values in the face of the Nazis who obliterated her family and community in Krakow, while being driven her from the ghetto to Auschwitz, during a death march and in the hell of Bergen Belsen. She stayed true to her values in the free world where so many Jews walked away from Judaism. Pearl Benisch would not allow anything to defeat her spirit.

She was a small lady with a towering presence, a walking book of Jewish wisdom who was a force of positive teaching.
We can honor Pearl Benisch’s legacy by not only preserving her personal account but by delving into the values, beliefs and morals that she embodied, to embrace her spiritual legacy that gave her the courage and will to survive and thrive. As a Holocaust survivor, this is her enduring message for generations to come.

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Post  Admin on Fri 17 Mar 2017, 7:11 pm
Iran’s Distortion of Jewish HistoryIran’s Distortion of Jewish History
Iran’s Foreign Minister reminds Jews why it’s important to know Jewish history.
by Rabbi Chaim Willis

Just before Purim, Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu said to a group of young people: “In Persia, they wanted to kill us, but it didn’t work. Today too Persians are trying to destroy us but today too it will not work.”

Javad Zarif, the Foreign Minister of Iran, disagreed with Netanyahu’s interpretation. In a Tweet and a follow-up, he said: “Once again Benyamin Netanyahu not only distorts the realities of today, but also distorts the past – including Jewish scripture….The Book of Esther tells how Xerxes I saved Jews from a plot hatched by Haman the Agagite, which is marked on this very day.”

Of course, we who read the Book of Esther every Purim know that Ahasheurus (the Jewish name for Xerxes) was fully on Haman’s side with regard to destroying the Jews until Esther and Mordechai, the real heroes, turned him around. But we see how Jewish history can be easily misinterpreted by our enemies.

Distorting the Torah is nowhere more evident than in this week’s Torah portion where we read the story of the Golden Calf. Forty days after hearing God at Mount Sinai, the Jews are busy building and dancing around a golden calf. What’s going on? How could they be doing idol worship so soon after they heard God?

According to some Christian scholars, there is a simple answer to that question. The Jews were incapable of doing the right thing! In fact, the Torah was only given to them to demonstrate that, because of original sin, human beings were incapable of keeping it – therefore, they needed the new covenant of Christianity, Judaism Lite.

From a careful reading of the Torah, and the indispensable Midrash, we see that it wasn’t so. The Jewish people thought that Moses was dead. After hearing God at Mount Sinai, they had asked Moses to get the rest of the Torah for them. Now, without Moses, they felt they needed some sort of intermediary to be able to communicate with God. The calf was a replacement for Moses, not a replacement for God. They looked at it as a tangible Kabbalistic symbol to focus their attention, to get what Jews later would get from going to the Temple, or Jews today get from going to the Western Wall.

The Torah tells us that, at our level then, it was a terrible mistake. We didn’t need anything physical; we should have been able to pray to God directly. The need for something physical, even though it wasn’t idol worship, was the start of a road that would lead to idol worship at a later date. That’s why God was prepared to treat their actions so harshly had Moses not prayed and lead them to repentance.

It is important today that we Jews know our history. When we don’t, we can easily be confused by falsifications of our history. No Jew who has gone through the Book of Esther will be taken in by the Iranian Foreign Minister who speaks for a country that wants to make Haman’s dream a reality. But how many Jews are there today who know less about the Purim story than Javad Zarif?

A must-read book for anyone who needs more knowledge about Jewish history is Rabbi Ken Spiro’s A Crash Course in Jewish History. We shouldn’t wait for our enemies to remind us of what we don’t know

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Post  Admin on Tue 07 Mar 2017, 9:26 pm

The Viceroy: Mordechai's Hidden Story by Rabbi David Fohrman
Why was Mordechai really defying Haman, and what can we learn from him?


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Post  Admin on Mon 06 Mar 2017, 11:32 am
13 Facts about Israel & the Middle East13 Facts about Israel & the Middle East
Keeping these facts in mind will help prevent people from falling for Arab propaganda.
by Dr. Shmuel Katz
Anti-Semitism is alive and well, it’s just cloaked in its new garb: anti-Zionism or anti-Israeli occupation. Keeping these facts in mind will help prevent people from falling for Arab propaganda.
1. The Jews have a connection to the land of Israel for more than 3000 years, with continuous Jewish presence in the land of Israel in the majority of this time.
2. Jerusalem was the capital of the Jewish people for thousands of years. And recently, since 1850 the Jews were the ethnic majority of the city, except from 1948 till 1967 when the Jordanians destroyed the Jewish quarter, killed many Jews and expelled the rest. So how can the Jews be accused for occupying your own kitchens and back yards?
3. There was never an independent Arab State in the land of Israel.
4. 80% of the promised Jewish Homeland, as it was delineated in the Balfour declaration and ratified by the League of Nations, was given illegally, by the British Mandate, to the Hashemite Family from Saudi Arabia, to establish a totally New Kingdom of Trans Jordan. Practically, this was the first imposed “two state solution” in the Middle East.
5. In 1929, Arabs massacred 67 Jews in Hebron and expelled the rest, many years before the establishment of the modern state of Israel and before any disputed or occupied land became an issue.
6. In 1947, a new “two state solution,” which was proposed by the UN on the remaining 20% of the promised land, was accepted by the Jews, but was rejected by the neighboring Arab countries. Once Israel was established in 1948 the Arabs started a war to destroy Israel.
7. In 1967 the Arabs initiated another war to destroy the state of Israel, only to be defeated again.
8. On Yom Kippur of 1973 there was another failed attempt to destroy Israel, by force, by Egypt and Syria.
9. Despite the hostilities, generous offers to create a new Arab Palestinian State next to Israel were presented by several Israeli prime ministers, only to be rejected by the Arab leadership who continued their vicious anti-Israeli aggression.
10. They tried to destroy Israel by using indiscriminate terror attacks against innocent civilians.
11. They tried to destroy Israel using a rain of rockets on innocent civilians.
12. The Palestinian Authority is still allowing their children to be taught in school vicious hate and encouraging martyrdom.
13. As their attempts to destroy Israel by force fail, they are pushing a major international effort to delegitimize Israel, using the Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions (BDS) movement as their model.
What can we do? Stay informed and share your knowledge with as many people as you can. Together, we will make the world a better place for all of us and for future generations.

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Post  Admin on Wed 01 Mar 2017, 9:02 pm
Jews and Native Americans: 7 Fascinating FactsJews and Native Americans:
7 Fascinating Facts
Like Julis Meyer, aka Box-Ka-Re-Sha-Hash-Ta-Ka, which means “Curly Haired White Chief Who Speaks with One Tongue.”
by Dr. Yvette Alt Miller
Herman Bendell, Superintendent of Indian Affairs
Would a Jewish Superintendent of Indian Affairs try to convert Native Americans to Judaism? Some feared that Dr. Herman Bendell, a New York doctor whom President Ulysses Grant appointed to be the Arizona Territory’s point man on Indian Affairs, would do just that. The newspaper The Boston Pilot fretted that Dr. Bendell would “undo” the work of Christian missionaries and start spreading Judaism among Arizona’s Native Americans.

In reality, Dr. Bendell’s Judaism was one of the reasons President Grant appointed him; he wanted to include someone who would not prioritize missionary work.
Dr. Herman Bendell as Indian Commissioner, 1871
Dr. Bendell quickly emerged as a champion of Native rights within the government, writing, “I feel it is a duty I owe to the people of the Country and the Indians under my charge to do something to relieve the pressures that surround them.” But after two years, intense opposition to Dr. Bendell’s religious faith made his job impossible. He resigned, returned to Albany, married his childhood sweetheart Wilhelmine Lewi, and practiced medicine.
When he died in 1932, few people realized that Dr. Bendell, longtime New York state ophthalmologist, had once worked to secure Indian rights in pre-state Arizona.

“Curly-Haired White Chief Who Speaks with One Tongue”
Julius Meyer was born in Prussia and moved to Omaha as a teenager in 1866, the year before Omaha was incorporated as a city and Nebraska was admitted to the Union as a State. He joined his older brothers Max, Moritz and Adolph who had founded a cigar store and a jewelry/music store.
Young Julius carved out his own business niche, trading his cigars and jewelry from his brothers’ stores with Native American tribes. He’d travel on horseback deep into Indian-controlled territory, living for weeks with Native American tribes and traders.

Julius mastered several Native American tongues, setting him apart from many European traders. He also treated Native Americans fairly, earning him the sobriquet “Box-Ka-Re-Sha-Hash-Ta-Ka”, meaning “Curly Haired White Chief Who Speaks with One Tongue,” a reference to his curly hair and also his straight, honest way of doing business.

Living with Native Americans for weeks at a time, Julius was also famed for another peculiarity: sticking to Jewish dietary rules. When he was invited to feasts with tribesmen, his hosts knew to serve him hard boiled eggs instead of the non-kosher meat that everyone else enjoyed.

Back in Omaha, Julius set up a popular “Indian Wigwam” store, selling Indian-made items. He died in Omaha’s Hanscom Park in 1909 at the age of 60 in highly mysterious circumstances. Ostensibly a suicide, it was reported at the time that he shot himself first in the temple, then in the chest, with his left hand, although Julius was right-handed. No alternative theory was ever put forward, and he was mourned throughout the American West as a tragic case of suicide.

Jewish Indian Chief
In 1869, Solomon Bibo, a teenager from Prussia, arrived in the tiny New Mexican town of Ceboletta to join two of his older brothers who’d come to the United States some years before. Like most Jews in the American West, the Bibo brothers worked as traders, but they were far from ordinary. Unlike many Europeans at the time, they quickly garnered a reputation for fairness and honesty when dealing with Native Americans.
Solomon Bibo quickly learned Queresan, the language of the local Acoma tribe, and immersed himself in their concerns, championing Acoma rights against Mexican and American ranchers, and against the U.S. Government, which Bibo and the Acoma accused of trying to cheat the Acoma out of their rightfully-owned lands.

In 1877, the U.S. Government offered the Acoma a treaty guaranteeing the tribe 94,000 acres of land, far less they felt they deserved. Determined to protect their remaining lands, in 1884, the Acoma leased their land to Bibo for 30 years, in exchange for an annual payment of $12,000 and assurances that Bibo would protect the land from squatters, ensure that coal on the tribe’s land was mined, and that the tribe would receive the proceeds.

Learning of the agreement, an Indian agent from Santa Fe, Pedro Sanchez, wrote to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, complaining about Bibo, “the rico Israelito” (rich Jew), and tried to get the lease invalidated on the grounds that the tribe as a whole had not agreed to the arrangement. Bibo found himself facing not only the loss of the Acoma lease, but the loss of his trader’s license as well. The Acoma nation quickly mobilized itself, providing a petition with a hundred signatures to the Bureau of Indian Affairs asserting they had confidence in Bibo.

In 1885, Solomon Bibo married Juana Valle, the granddaughter of Martin Valle, the Acoma Chief. He later became Chief of the nation himself, pushing for educational and infrastructure reforms. Juana began to adopt a Jewish lifestyle.

In 1898, Solomon and Jana moved to San Franciso in order to provide their six children with a Jewish education. Solomon died in 1934 and Juana in 1941. Their children said Kaddish for them in San Franciso.
Wolf Kalisher: Ally of Native Americans
Wolf Kalisher was born in Poland in 1826 and moved to Los Angeles, becoming a United States citizen in 1855. After the Civil War, Kalisher partnered with Henry Wartenberg in a tannery, one of the city’s first factories.

Kalisher quickly became an ally of Native Americans, going out of his way to hire Native American workers and championing Native American rights. He also became a pillar the developing LA Jewish community. He and his wife Louise raised their four children in the city, and helped establish one of the city’s first synagogues.

He became particularly close with Manuel Olegario, a leader of the local Temecula tribe, advising and assisting the Chief as he campaigned to protect his tribe’s land in San Diego County. Kalisher Street in Los Angeles memorializes Wolf Kalisher and his efforts on behalf of Native Americans to this day.

Jewish Genetic Link
Israeli cancer scientists have made an unexpected discovery: a group of Native Americans living the in Mesa Verde area of Colorado seem to have some genetic Jewish roots dating to the Jewish expulsion from Spain in 1492.

Researchers at the Sheba medical center near Tel Aviv studied various populations worldwide to identify carriers of the BRCA1 mutation, a genetic mutation that predisposes carriers to breast and ovarian cancer and is found in disproportionately in Jews of Ashkenazi origin. (Approximately 1.5% of Ashkenazi Jews carry the mutation.)

Noting that a group of Native American Colorado families who were descended from immigrants from Mexico carried the mutation, researchers conducted additional genetic testing, and identified a common ancestor: a Jew who came to South America from Europe about 600 years ago, about the time that Jews were forced out of Spain and Christopher Columbus discovered the New World. The mutation among the Native American population is identical to that found among Ashkenazi Jews, offering solid proof of a long-ago Jewish ancestor who came to present-day Mexico and intermarried with Native American tribes.

Supporting the Jewish State
Santos Hawk’s Blood Suarez, an Apache activist in New Jersey, brings fellow Native Americans to pro-Israel events and insists there are strong parallels between Native Americans and Jews. Both groups have lived in exile; Jews show that it is possible for a native people to return to their native land and revive their ancestral language, even after thousands of years. “I admire the people who” take a stand, Suarez explains: “That’s why I admire the people of Israel: They’re people who stand up to defend their homeland.”

Chief Anne Richardson is the first female Chief of the Rappahannock Tribe in Virginia since 1705. She’s also a strong supporter of the Jewish state. In 2013, she and another female Chief, Kathy Cummings-Dickinson of the Lumbee Tribes in North Carolina, visited Israel. Wearing their ceremonial robes, the Chiefs met with an Israeli Government Minister. “We are here to deliver a message to the residents of Israel,” the chiefs explained. “Stand firm and united against the threats and pressure… We want to encourage Israel not to give in to those who try to pressure them to give up parts of the homeland. Surrender to this pressure is not a recipe for peace, but rather war. We stand beside you.”

Celebrating Israeli Independence Day in Louisiana
Watching coverage of Israel’s 60th Independence Day festivities in May 2008 was a revelation for David Sickey, the Vice-Chairman of the Governing Council of the Sovereign Nation of the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana. After learning more about the Jewish State, he realized there were some incredible parallels between Israel and his own nation.

When Sickey presented his idea of fostering relations between the Coushatta nation and Israel, his co-nationalists were enthusiastic: “They took an interest because the Coushatta value sovereignty and nationhood much like the Jewish people, and autonomy is something to be embraced.”

David Sickey, right, visiting Zion Oil & Gas

The Tribe reached out to then Israeli Consul of Houston, Asher Yarden. Consul Yarden visited the tribe for an official ceremony to establish formal ties. “My visit to the Coushatta for the affirmation event was very emotional, and I would even call it a life-changing experience. It was a highlight, if not the highlight, of my 25-year career with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” he explained.

The Coushatta adopted May 14, Israeli Independence Day, as a holiday called “Stakayoop Yanihta Yisrael”, meaning “The Day to Honor Israel”.

A Coushatta delegation visited Israel in 2009 to foster economic ties. The tribe is currently the American distributor of Aya Natural, an Israeli Druze-owned company that produces olive oil-based cosmetics in the north of Israel. Israeli engineers are also aiding Coushatta fish farmers in importing high-tech Israeli fish-farming technology. Sickey said, “Israel is a very dynamic nation, and it makes sense for the tribe to partner with a very robust nation and the only democracy in the region.”


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