May 31, 2016

Seat Shadchan

I boarded a crowded train and saw an elderly frum woman get on too.  She held on to a pole near me. She looked too elderly and fragile for that.

I looked over the possibilities and picked a man sitting in front of her who was busy with his phone.  I said, "Sir ..."

No response.

"Excuse me ..."

He looked up.  I gestured to the woman and said, "Maybe you'd give her ..."

He leaped up and said, "Sorry, I wasn't paying attention!"

The elderly woman was thrilled and she thanked me and thanked the man and sat down and opened her siddur.

Would I have done that for a non-Jewish person who looked in need of a seat? I think so.

I am grateful for having been given the opportunity to be a seat shadchan this morning.

May 30, 2016

Saluting Servicemen who Died for their Country

Some Wikipedia information about Memorial Day and Jews in the military to remind us to feel grateful to our fellow Jews and all Americans who fought for our country:

Today is Memorial Day in the United States, a federal holiday for remembering those who died while serving the country's armed forces (not to be confused with Veterans Day.  Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving, while Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans).

Jewish Americans have served in the United States armed forces dating back to before the colonial era, when Jews had served in militias of the Thirteen Colonies. Jewish military personnel have served in all branches of the armed forces and in every major armed conflict to which the United States has been involved. The Jewish Chaplains Council estimated that there are currently 10,000 known Jewish servicemen and servicewomen on active duty.
A number of Jewish American servicemen have gained fame due to their military service, and many have received awards and decorations for distinguished service, valor, or heroism. More than 20 Jewish servicemen were awarded the military's highest award, the Medal of Honor.
Revolutionary War - American Jews served in numbers disproportionate to their small population of the period. Of an estimated population of 3,000, 160 Jews served on the Colonial side
Civil War - Jews were among the supporters of each side of the American Civil War. Some 150,000 Jews lived in the United States at the time of the American Civil War, about 0.5 percent of the population. One academic estimate was that at least 8,000 Jewish soldiers fought for the Union and Confederate during the Civil War. Another estimates that at least 10,000 Jews served, about 7,000 for the Union and 3,000 for the Confederacy, with some 600 Jewish soldiers killed in battle.
During World War II, approximately 500,000 American Jews, out of a total population of 4,770,000 American Jews, served in the various branches of the United States armed services. Roughly 52,000 of these received U.S. military awards.
Korean and Vietnam Wars - Over 150,000 Jewish Americans served in the Korean War. In Vietnam, 30,000 served.

May 29, 2016

Societal Realities

In a recent Family First article about kids at risk and grandparents, it says, "... Grandparents may feel entitled to an opinion; after all, their children didn't go off [the derech]! This thinking is flawed, rejoins the younger generation, because the absence of 1970s children-in-crisis probably had more to do with societal realities than exemplary parenting."

Case dismissed.

No explanation about what "societal realities" are being referred to.

No hard data to back up the statement.

Do the "societal realities" include the fact that babies weren't sent out to babysitters? That most mothers were home to send their children off to school and greet them when they came home and that most either worked part time or not at all?

Are there "societal realities" of the 1970's that we can reclaim in this decade?

I'd like an article on that subject.

May 25, 2016

A Time for Everything

R' Moshe Tuvia Lieff said the following in a shiur this week that both surprised and delighted me.  He said, the highlight of kids' life is Purim.
There are boys who are given an opportunity to have fun, vehicles are rented to take them around to collect money for tzedaka and visit their rebbis' homes.  However, recently there's been a trend by well meaning but misguided people who ask:
How much money do you raise with your group? $200 each? If you sit and learn for 10 hours on Purim, I'll give you $200!
Sounds good, kiymu v'kiblu, give up visiting the rebbi's house and raising money and learning Torah instead.

But, says R' Lieff, I think it's the most ludicrous thing we can do!

Why bother saying selichos on Yom Kippur? Just sit and learn! If learning is the most important thing in life.

Why do we bother saying Kinos till chatzos with explanations and hearing shiurim? Why not just daven the regular way and then sit and learn Kamtza and Bar Kamtza? Because we need to lament the churban!

Because we need to celebrate and dance with the Torah on Simchas Torah!
Learning for several hours on these days is commendable but it's Simchas Torah, it's Purim! This is sucking the marrow out of Yiddishkeit.


May 15, 2016

Time Needed for Creation

There are frum people who find it necessary to distort Torah to fit with scientific theories such as Age of the Universe.  The fact that for thousands of years the Jewish people understood the Six Days of Creation to be six 24 hour periods doesn't stop them from quoting verses, Medrashim and other sources to further their apologetics.  Of course they are aware that the Torah greats of previous generations were well aware of those sources they are quoting.

They wonder:  How could Hashem have created this complex world in only six days?   Even those (not necessarily Jewish) who believe in Intelligent Design maintain that eons were necessary to produce our universe.

The real question is the other way round: Why did Hashem need six days to create the world when He could have done so in an instant?

May 13, 2016

Dishonoring Our Great People

A longstanding peeve of mine was reinforced today as I was listening to a shiur.  The person giving the shiur said, "I was walking on Shmuel Ha'Navi ..."

Shmuel Ha'Navi is the name of a street in Yerushalayim.  There is a section of Yerushalayim where the streets are named for the prophets: Rechov Shmuel Ha'Navi, Rechov Yechezkel, Rechov Eli Ha'Cohen etc.

I have long thought it is wrong to name streets for great people because what ends up happening is, it is not an honor to them, but a dishonor.  Like, "Let's meet for pizza on Shmuel Ha'Navi," or as the person giving the shiur said (though didn't mean it as it sounded), he walked on the prophet.

May 1, 2016

Post-Pesach Gratitude

A continuation of this :

I am grateful that this Pesach turned out so enjoyable with nary a glitch.

I am grateful that we had mostly good weather with some beautiful days, some nice days, pleasant temperatures, minimal rain.

I am grateful the gym was open on Chol Ha'Moed and that I went.
I am grateful that the Yom Tov was relaxing, not pressured.
I am grateful that my neighbor does an end-of-Pesach ne'ilas ha'chag - seudas Moshiach for a beautiful end to Yom Tov.
I am grateful that we are almost finished putting the house back together again after dismantling our Pesach set-up.