Friday, April 27, 2012

Bloggers Boycott Best Buy

Seems like BestBuy is being boycotted by many bloggers. Apparently they are platinum sponsors of CAIR. If the information on these blogs is correct, it seems that they haven't backed down from their sponsorship. I am surprised that they have not caved in to pressure to cease supporting those who are anti-West. In any event, until this is straightened out, or they go out of business, please shop elsewhere.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Partially Posting Perspectives' Points

Klal Perspectives Spring 2012 link It is refreshing to see quality writing and good ideas presented in a free online periodical. The most recent issue deals primarily with how we can restore some of the pride of being Jewish that our Bubbes and Zaides had. There is not much more that I can add, as there are many contributions. The underlying theme I see is that we need to get youngsters more involved. Whereas in the Alte Heim youth were able to absorb their Judaism by osmosis, that seems to no longer be the case. Some suggest teaching more Hashkofo and less texts, others suggest getting youngsters involved in Shul/NCSY/Camps etc. Whatever might work, there are many suggestions and reading the journal in it's entirety is worthwhile. I've mined several quotes for the lazy, so as to pique their interest. See this earlier post Klal Kindles Kosher Kaleidoscope. *****************************************************************
“When my grandfather would go away for Shabbos, he would say, ‘I am going away for the heilige (holy) Shabbos.’ My father would say, ‘I’m going away for Shabbos.’ Now, years later, I say, ‘I’m going away for the weekend.’”
Radio host Dennis Prager likes to chide his audiences, whatever their beliefs. He has told Reform crowds, “I’ve been in many Jewish homes. I’ve noticed that Reform Jews often adorn their homes with much Judaica. I’ve seen many a painting of dancing Chassidic Jews on their walls. I’ve also been to the homes of many Orthodox Jews. I have never seen paintings on their wall of dancing Reform Jews.”
Again, we have nothing but anecdotal evidence to work with. But a good friend of mine who is a Chabad shaliach reports that in close to thirty families of shluchim in his locale, there are less than a handful of off-the-derech kids. Of all the shluchim in California a few years ago, 67% had kids who were becoming shluchim themselves. Working for a goal and purpose that goes beyond what is required can bond a person with HKBH, can establish a deep sense of connection.
The second is in the context of the broader Jewish community. American Jewry is blessed with exceptional religious freedom and opportunity, particularly when considered in the context of others in time and place. Torah can be learned while driving, commuting on a train or sitting at a computer. Shabbos observance is relatively easy, as is keeping kosher, with cholov Yisroel and yoshon readily available in most communities. Sukkahs can be constructed in less than an hour with pre-fab kits and rolled out schach, pre-filled, disposable, oil capsules can be inserted into our Chanukah menorahs and more kosher for Passover products appear on the shelves every year. But this ease and convenience comes at a price. Accessibility and opportunity are accompanied by widespread apathy. Many suffer a lack of enthusiasm for what we have and who we are as Torah Jews. Perhaps it is the ease of access itself that allows for religious practice without much depth or connection. A reduced investment of time and energy may very well translate into a weaker attachment. While the community surely does not seek a return to a life in which religious observance is a struggle, the passion that often accompanies the...
As Rabbi Joseph Baer Soloveitchik, zt”l, pungently commented, “The problem with American Jews is that they don’t want to daven; they want to have davened.”

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Arena Asifa Against Arpanet

Many blogs have been gloating against what they perceive to be a backtrack of the powers that be with regard to internet usage.

Years ago, when the Arpanet project gradually expanded into the World Wide Web, Rabbonim began to get flooded with complaints of addiction and improper usage of this wonderful tool. Some children who became addicted left the fold, and some parents had their Shalom Bayis affected.

Now it is true that there have always been attractions to youth and adults that could affect their Yiras Shamayim, yet not to the extent that the internet affords.

Some bloggers have debated whether the new Asifa on May 20 at Citi Field is because of ease to access indecent imagery or because of ease of challenge to rabbinic authority or because of Apikorsus infidelity.

While originally the Rabbonim wanted an outright ban, they have come to realize that is impractical. Years ago, access to the internet was done primarily via a large computer in a central location in one's house, whereas nowadays wifi is available everywhere, and devices that fit in the pocket can access all the above mentioned categories.

So I would not necessarily label this a backtrack. The last decade has seen the proliferation of mobile internet-ready devices, hence a re-thought position is rightfully in order.

With internet available on every corner, the only way we can secure our Yiras Shamayim and Shmiras Einayim is via a filter. Granted that many can be bypassed, but there exists no foolproof method. Educating the populace about safe-surfing is a noble cause indeed.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Must-see Modern Miracle Message

Amazing message. Amazing footage. Amazing song. Amazing Jews.

Chag Kasher V'Sameach!

Text courtesy of the JPost:
Note: This text is not the text of the video.

Understanding Historic Times

We live in historic times. Just think about what has happened in Jewish history during the last seventy years alone. We often struggle to make sense of it all. There is too much information and not enough perspective. Our understanding is often fragmented as we lurch from one headline to the next, one crisis to the next, without seeing the bigger picture.

Contrast this to Seder night when we don’t just recount the isolated historical facts of the Exodus but tell a whole, coherent story in the manner in which G-d has shown us. The Pesach Hagadah is structured in such a way that in retelling the events and re-experiencing the great miracles which G-d performed for our ancestors in Egypt, we are actually putting the various fragments together to form a larger, integrated and congruent whole.

As we go through the Hagadah we see the exodus from Egypt not as an isolated event but as an event which occurred in the context of our people’s history, going all the way back to our Forefathers and –mothers. We recount not only the experience of the Exodus but how we got to Egypt in the first place, the destiny of our people and the events following our redemption - the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, and entering the land of Israel. We look at the full sweep of history, not just at the individual events being recounted at that moment. In the world of the Hagadah we feel past, present and future merging into a coherent and congruent story of who we are and what our Divine mission and purpose is.

Through this G-d teaches us an important lesson, and that is that we need to look at things from a broader perspective and to contextualise the events of history in order to make sense of them. Often we get pulled into the vortex of a particular event’s intensity, to the point where we are unable to see the larger picture. But one of the great teachings of Judaism is that nothing in this world is random; no event is an isolated occurrence and everything is part of the Divine sweep of history. We need to piece the fragments together so that they cohere in a meaningful way which reflects G-d’s master plan.

In our own times as well we need to understand world events in the context of Jewish destiny and from a Torah perspective. This imperative led me to produce a short, six-minute video message (, which looks at the miraculous sweep of Jewish history, from ancient Egypt to modern-day Iran, all underpinned with the immortal words of the Pesach Hagadah, Vehi she’amda. This short video, interwoven with the inspiring music of Yaakov Shwekey and fascinating film footage, seeks to provide a framework for understanding our destiny and the events of our times.

The video has been made in the spirit of the Hagadah, which teaches us to rise above the fragments of daily events and to see the bigger picture, to see ourselves as part of the unfolding story of Jewish destiny as guided by G-d. We must see events not as random headlines but as part of a meaningful story of who we are, which in turn gives us clarity as to our purpose and Divine mission.

One of the central symbols of our Pesach redemption is the eagle. “You saw with your own eyes what I did to Egypt; I carried you on the wings of eagles, and brought you to Me” (Shemot 19:4). The eagle symbolizes transcendence. It flies higher than any other bird, scans vast areas and sees everything. Flying on the wings of eagles enables us to rise above the turbulence of daily affairs and to see the bigger picture. Too often we find ourselves caught in the quagmire of daily complications, staggering from event to the next, from one peace summit to the next war, to yet another United Nations Resolution, instead of seeing the bigger picture of where we have come from and where we are headed. Especially in our interactions with the nations of the world, we need to come with the broad perspective of our history. There is no doubt that the modern Zionist enterprise achieved great things; but if we tell the world that Zionism started just over one hundred years ago in Basel, Switzerland, distorted perceptions and accusations of colonialism will emerge. If we do not proudly proclaim the truth, that Jerusalem was the capital of the Jewish State long before Washington, Paris or London even existed, there will be always be confusion. For our own clarity of purpose and sense of mission we need to realize that we are an ancient people, whose moral vision in rooted in our Torah, given to us by G-d at Mount Sinai more than 3300 years ago.

We are indeed living in historic and dramatic times. We need to step back for a moment, view things from a broader perspective and understand that everything we are going through is part of something much larger. It is only from the commanding heights of the transcendent eagle that we can see things from a broader perspective and find optimism and gratitude to G-d when we consider the miracle of our very existence after so many enemies have sought – and still seek - our destruction. This transcendent vision also imbues us with inspiration for our Divine mission to continue our legacy as an ancient, holy and eternal people From this perspective will emerge the insight, faith and courage we need in order to rise, with G-d’s help, to the challenges and opportunities of our times.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Vacillating Vigil Vindicates Voting

When one is young we are taught the Value of each Vote. Many a pundit has declared that your vote doesn't count. Yet the recent special election in Brooklyn has basically disproven that wisdom. According to some, just one vote now separates the Victor from the Victim in the Storobin/Fidler contest.

Brooklyn Daily.

Politicos said another recount would be the most likely outcome — and marveled at the unusually close results.

“This is the closest race that I’ve seen in 25 years,” said Sheepshead Bay Democratic District Leader Michael Geller. “This is going to drag on for a while.”

Councilman Mike Nelson (D–Sheepshead Bay) agreed.

“This is a major surprise,” he said. “It’s the best example that every vote counts.”

So as the Vile Vagrants Verify Victory, as Vitriol Vanquishes Venerated Verdict, as Vast Volumes Virtually Vanish, as Viscious Vibrations Vacates Vantages - Valiant Visionaries Vil Vin!
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