Mar 31, 2016

Why Not?

Netanyahu to U.S. Senator: IDF and Israeli Police Do Not Execute “Bloodthirsty Terrorists”

My question is, why not?
Isn't that what should happen to terrorists who, by definition, are bloodthirsty?
Why is Israel proud of not executing evil people?
Once upon a time they kidnapped and executed Eichmann who had no blood on his hands from personally killing anyone.
Now, they consider it moral not to kill those who attempt or actually kill us, and do their best to protect our enemies at the expense of their fellow Jews.

Mar 28, 2016

Attitudes Toward Simchas

Time and again we read and hear (or at least I do) that it's our perspective and not the external event that makes a difference.

I find it interesting that when it comes to attending weddings and other simchas, I have heard:

1) moans and groans about attending, attending seen as a chore, an obligation


2) someone recently say what a lift they get from attending a simcha.

When I heard the latter it made me think, wow, what a different perspective.  It pulls down the one and raises up the other.

Then there are those who survived the Holocaust or are closely related or identified with that tragic era who see every Jewish simcha as something extraordinary and a major celebration.

It is a blessing to see a simcha through simcha-eyes!

I myself have felt both 1 and 2 but then again, as I once heard in a talk, when we hear about a simcha, our natural tendency is to focus on ourselves (what will I wear, etc.) when it really should be about them and sharing in the simcha and being happy for the other.

Mar 27, 2016


In a letter to the editor of Ami magazine, someone writes as follows:

"There are many other instances where people try to protect family members by acting in secrecy, with the result that their loved ones feel tremendously betrayed.  This happens very often when the siblings of childless couples do not tell them when they are expecting a child in order to 'protect' them.  These couples discover the information from outsiders and feel betrayed that they weren't told."

A number of things bother me about this paragraph.

One, of the three definitions in Merriam Webster, the one definition that remotely fits here is: to hurt (someone who trusts you, such as a friend or relative) by not giving help or by doing something morally wrong.  Not providing pregnancy information is not a betrayal.

Two, if those who feel hurt that they were not informed know that the reason they were not informed was to protect them, it would seem that they should feel grateful to those who care about them.

Third, if childless couples feel hurt when not informed about impending simchas, that should happen only once.  After that one time, they should make it clear that they would love to be informed of pregnancies so in case anyone wants to keep that information from them for their benefit, they will know that this is not what the childless couple wants.

Can we (frum society) get a grip?
Can we quit being hyper-sensitive and thinking people are betraying us when they mean well?
Can we let people know our likes and dislikes so they can please us, rather than "mortally wound" us with their well-meaning decisions?

Mar 25, 2016

Hyperfocus on Shabbos

This is a thought I read in this book, A New Shabbos Soul Boruch Leff.  He says R' Shimshon Pincus z'l points out that in the traditional Shabbos zemiros, almost all of them describe what we do on Shabbos and have as the main refrain, "Shabbos HaYom L'Hashem" or "Shabbos, Shabbos," or something similar.
By way of contrast, the songs of Pesach do not contain words like "Pesach, Pesach" and do not describe what we do on Pesach.  On Yomim Tovim we sing about the themes of the Yom Tov - on Pesach about the exodus, on Rosh Hashana about Hashem's malchus, on Succos about simcha. Why is Shabbos different?
R' Pincus says that on Pesach, the mitzvah of matza, for example, is to eat it, not to remember and concentrate on it (though of course kavana is all important). The same is true for shofar on Rosh Hashana and dalet minim on Succos.  But on Shabbos we have the mitzvah of "zachor," to remember and focus on Shabbos throughout the day.  The more we mention Shabbos, the more the mitzvah of zachor we are fulfilling.
On Shabbos we must be focused on Shabbos and not be distracted from a constant awareness that it is Shabbos.
On Shabbos, we are supposed to eat with Shabbos in mind, sleep with Shabbos in mind, walk with Shabbos in mind, and talk with Shabbos in mind. 
Shabbos, like tefillin, is an os - a sign, of connection between Hashem and the Jewish people.  When wearing tefillin, a man is supposed to be constantly aware that he is wearing tefillin, and on Shabbos, we need to be constantly aware that it is Shabbos.
Good Shabbos!

Mar 22, 2016

Word Usage

Have you noticed that these days, writing that you were shocked is not enough? You write, "I was beyond shocked."

"Beyond thrilled."

"Beyond disappointed."

I can't help but think, really? What is "beyond shocked" and "beyond thrilled" and "beyond disappointed" like, as opposed to just plain shocked, thrilled, and disappointed?

Have you noticed the new adjective used in the frum world? It appears in articles regularly.  I can't say I have heard it in conversation.


She has solid hashkafos.
He's a solid learner.
They're a solid family.
They have a solid marriage
He is a solid ben Torah
That yeshiva has solid bachurim.
He has a solid chance at ...

I am told this is a term bachurim have been using for years.

Mar 21, 2016

Charity Fund Following Tragedy

There was a recent tragic bus crash in Israel, in which six people were killed and a kalla was seriously injured.  Shortly afterward, I saw a news item here which impressed me.
It says that a charity fund was established to help the family.  That often happens after a tragedy and depending on who was ch'v killed or hurt, I've sometimes wondered why tzedaka is being asked for. Before the tragedy, they weren't making worldwide appeals asking for funds, so why now? In other words, what about the tragedy makes it necessary to ask for money? Sometimes it is not at all clear, and it seems to take advantage of people's feeling bad over what happened and wanting to do something to help. And you feel uncomfortable piping up and asking why money is being raised.
In this case, for the first time, I see an itemized list of additional expenses that the family will have because of the crash.


Mar 20, 2016

Children are People Too

There were two frum women on the train with their toddlers in carriages.  They spoke to another and were seated opposite me so I could hear some of what they were saying.

One said that a person commented to her, "Your daughter's hair color is nice."  She said, "She said it as a compliment but it's not so, her hair is not a nice color."

She was right.  Her daughter's hair was ordinary brown.  But why was she saying this in front of her daughter? Just because her daughter was so young?

It's a mistake for parents to say negative things about their children, whether about their looks, character, abilities, in front of their children.  Even if it's not said in front of their children, they have to think twice before discussing their children's drawbacks, but in front of them?!

Mar 5, 2016

Just Say No

There is a powerful story on here about a drug addict who quit his habit when confronted with the idea, "You don't have to do drugs."
What?! Of course nobody has to do drugs! The point is well stated in the article which you can read; it's that there are things we get involved with and they become our way of doing things and we don't even consider that there could be another way.  This can be applied to all sorts of habits and attitudes we have.
Astonishingly though, the former addict still referred to his condition as a dreaded disease.  What a pity to apply a word like disease to something this individual just walked away from.  Can a person with cancer tell himself, "You don't have to have cancer" and not be sick anymore? Can someone blind due to macular degeneration or someone with cerebral palsy tell themselves they don't have to have these conditions and then be cured? Of course not.  So why use a disease model when it is not taken as a mashal but as the literal truth, and it mostly certainly is not a disease?

Mar 4, 2016

Pestering Rabbis

I was listening to a shiur in which the lecturer proudly enumerated all the gedolim he had gone to visit in Eretz Yisrael when he was there with his son for his son's becoming a bar mitzva.  It was a list of at least ten people which included :
R' Landau
R' Berel Povorsky
the Pinsk-Karlin Rebbe
R' Yaakov Meir Shechter
R' Yitzchok Scheiner
R' Gamliel Rabinowitz
R' Meir Soloveitchik
the Belzer Rebbe
R' Aron Leib Shteinman
and he said he even paid someone to "get him in" to see a certain gadol. 
Now it's a mitzvah to see one's Torah teacher on a Yom Tov, and any time one needs advice or to discuss things, but to go to random rabbis, i.e. these are not your Torah teachers, and to make them into "tourist attractions," is disturbing.  Disturbing to me hearing about it and certainly disturbing to the rabbis being visited.  Why does he think it's okay to take away from their time in order to meet with him?
Oddly enough, later in the talk he referred to being a nudnik who bothered them.  But that didn't stop him from getting those brachos he wanted.  I picture a scorecard with the names of a variety of gedolim on it and a box to check off if a bracha was successfully elicited.
What a contrast to the hero of the book I wrote about here in which he seeks out actual relationships with great people and does so by seeing what he can do for them.