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יום שישי, דצמבר 15, 2006

Bridging the Gap Between our Heads and Hearts.

"Hatarbut hazot lo lanu
ki b’libeinu eish"

~Adi Ran

I’m sure most people can identify with the following situation: you walk into a clothes store on a simple mission: to find a plain white T-shirt. As you browse the store, a preying salesperson latches her eyes on you and asks, “Do you need any help?” You regretfully reply, “Yes,” since you’re not exactly sure where their shirts are kept. She feasts with glee as she realizes her opportunity has come, and replies “come this way.” She points to a rack of shirts, slightly above your price range, but no matter- you need a shirt. Miss Sally Saleswoman hovers in your space while you zone out the goods, glancing excessively in your direction. Fast forward twenty minutes: you stand in hand with a new belt, slightly out of your style range, a pair of shoes, slightly out of your price range, and a fancy skirt, definitely out of your size range. Some how you have managed to be persuaded that “they look stunning on you,” and “their prices are rock-bottom, seeing as it’s the beginning/middle/end of the season.” You stand there feeling about the size of a pea, wondering whether or not those shoes really look as snazzy as she says. Your head tells you that you came for a white shirt, and wait a minute; you couldn’t even find a decent one your size! Your heart tells you “oh, this salesperson is so nice, and she really thinks this skirt, a size 4, looks good on me!” You know from the beginning that you came for one reason: a white shirt. Yet you continue to convince yourself that you really need these things, and that your life will simply cease to exist if you don’t buy them. The salesperson assures you of such fate too. Under the pressure, you drop the items by the check-out counter and pull out a credit card.

A few months go bye, the skirt stands in your closet collecting dust, as you insist you will wear it the moment it fits,( you asked your sister what she thought, and she told you the truth). The shoes have been worn once, but you swore never to touch them again- because if anything would happen to them, oy vey, they were so expensive! You start to wish that you had listened a moment longer to your head when it was saying “darling, you came in the pursuit of a white shirt, don’t lose your focus!” Yet, some people don’t ever realize the battle they’ve lost, and continue to give in to their desires in all sorts of important, life changing situations.

Today’s world is a world of instant gratification, of fast-food and remote controls, of “instant, just add water’s” and “get rich quick” ideas, and it’s easy to lose sight and possession of the ability to stop and think. It’s easy for us to shut off our minds, and just give into the “saleswoman”. It is easy to leave the work for someone else, to take the easy route out and forget about our goals. It’s easy to give in, to seek the modern culture, the technological culture, and just forfeit our ancient war against Hellenism.

We say on Chanukah “"And (we thank You) for the miracles, and for the salvation, and for the mighty deeds, and for the victories, and for the battles which You performed for our forefathers in those days, at this time." What was it “in those days” that we are fighting “at this time?” The ideology of the Greeks was beauty and fame, strength and agility, power and influence, but lacked all which Judaism stands for. It imposed upon our people a deep spiritual conflict: to take the easy route, to assimilate into the uncomplicated world of physicality and materialism, or to stand strong and fight the tidal waves of desire, and plant your feet into something solid and truthful.
The Maccabees fought the Greeks with what they had: a small army, inefficient weaponry, and an amount of faith in G-d deeper than the deepest wells of any philosopher in all of Greece. They refused to take the easy way out and surrender to the seemingly “larger power.” They fought to the last minute with every ounce of faith and belief in their bodies. And in the end, they won, transferring to us the spark of hope that we can overcome or desires, the easy way out, the “automatic” and “material.”

“The largest distance is between your head and your heart.” Sometimes taking what you know, and putting it into action is the war that we must make. It is easy to give in to the nagging saleswoman, and buy the life that we never wanted in the first place. It is easy to succumb to the seemingly sweet call of the Western culture as we know it. But in our head, deep down in our subconscious, we all know that fighting for our worth, rooting ourselves in something that’s deeper than skin deep, will not only benefit our conscious, but our quality of life. To stand up for what we believe in is the sweetest thing a Jew, a human being, can know.

Adi Ran, in his song “Atah Kadosh” wrote "Hatarbut hazot lo lanu ki b’libeinu eish," which when translated means “this culture isn’t ours, because in our hearts there’s fire.” Matityahu and the Maccabees ensured the passing of that fire in our hearts; they gave us the hope and motivation to keep to our roots of truth, and to brave the temptations of our modern society. These are the battles that were fought “in those days, at this time,” and these are wars we will continue to launch.

To each person there are his points of battle and to each his spots of weakness. The warmth of the Chanukah candles can strengthen our hearts, give us the courage to stand up for our beliefs, and bridge the gap between our heads and hearts. And as long as we fight, G-d will be by our sides performing miracles.

Chag Sameach

יום חמישי, ספטמבר 21, 2006

Fulfill Your Destiny

"Watch your thoughts; they become your words.

Watch your words; they become your actions.

Watch your actions; they become your habits.

Watch your habits; they become your character.

Watch your character--it becomes your destiny."


With the new year rapidly approaching, it is important to consider the above poem. What are your thoughts? Where have they lead? Is it your destiny? Is it where you know you should be, or is it where you have regrettedly ended up?

HaRav Kook writes in his "Orot Hatshuvah," that in order to do real tshuvah, a person must return to their roots in every possible sense. Physically, mentally, spiritually, and entirely. Trace your identity back to your actions. Trace those actions back to habits, those habits back to words, and those back to thoughts. You will find that if you admit to yourself that you are indeed in need of teshuvah- that mere thought has the ability to change your very destiny!

May each of one Hashem's children merit to a year of success in Torah, warmth from loved ones, and healthy spiritual and physical living!

With love,


יום שני, ספטמבר 18, 2006

The Heart of a Jew

It all began with Avraham Avinu. Every spiritual gene that he possessed has been passed down through a direct blood-connection straight down to us. One of Avraham's most known and respected characteristic traits was his ability to welcome any wandering soul into his home for food and shelter.

His spititual power is still found within us today! In times of trouble and need, his grandchildren are out there risking their all in order to save each other!

My school, Ulpanah Tzviah of Maaleh Adumim, has done so much for the people of the North that it is only decent to show them some gratitude for all of their Hacnhasat Orchim.

יום שני, ספטמבר 04, 2006



Two Visions

By Simon Jacobson

When you go out to wage war upon your enemies, G-d will deliver them in your hands – opening of this week’s Torah portion

Why is there is such a disagreement between intelligent people about the strategy for peace in Israel and about the war on terror perpetrated by Muslim extremists?

One side argues that we need to sit down with both parties and hammer out a deal. They argue the need for diplomacy, negotiations and concessions on both sides. A second school of thought adamantly disagrees and feels that we need to show strength, even it requires military action, and it would be a disaster to take the path of appeasement or compromise.

[There is of course a third category of people who simply would prefer to ignore the entire issue. For obvious reasons, this column is not addressing this attitude].

What lies at the root of these differences? If both sides are committed to peace and co-existence, why are their positions so diametrically opposed?

Some argue that the disagreement (which many feel is generally the difference between much of Europe and the United States, or to a greater extent the split between the West and the Russians and Chinese) is rooted in self-interest: European – and to a stronger degree: Russian and Chinese – oil interests are economically entwined with Iran and other Middle Eastern countries. The United States sees its self interest served by confronting Iran and other extremist regimes in the Middle East. Some add, that America’s enormous power allows it the confidence to take on any global challenge, presently, Iran. Europe on the other hand does not wield such power, so they inevitably take on a more conciliatory and compromising stance. (See Two Faces of Esau).

Others chalk it up to plain anti-Semitism. Some of those advocating that Israel not use force (or “disproportionate” force, whatever that means) are just masking in “humanitarian” terms their antipathy to Israel and their belief that Israel is an “occupier” of Palestinian land. The argument goes (though rarely explicitly stated), that had Israel not existed in the first place we wouldn’t have all our problems with the Muslim world. On the other side, the American Christian Right, for instance, are fiercely pro-Israel and anti any concessions of land to the Arab world.

All these reasons may be valid, but there is something deeper.

May I submit that perhaps the root difference lies in two contrary perspectives on the nature of man and consequentially, two opposite visions of the world’s future.

Some believe that the human being is at heart an animal, albeit an evolved intelligent one, but nevertheless at the core humans are driven by the narcissistic survival drive (“survival of the fittest”). Allow the “id” out of the box and humans can perpetrate terrible atrocities against each other. Their intelligence, when distorted, can turn them into barbarians, far worse than the most aggressive natural predator. (see at length Psychology Today).

The logical conclusion of this perspective – which may be coined the Darwinian-Freudian model – is that the world will never change much. We will forever be plagued by war, violence and narrow-minded hatred. Despite moment of respite, people will inevitably gravitate back to their innate animal-like natures, always pitted against each other. Given, there are many good and noble people, but a large part (the majority?) of the world’s population are selfish, petty and discriminate against each other.

According to this view, history is the greatest witness to the fact that people have always been at war with each other. People have done terrible things to each other. Thus it was and thus it will be. The only difference between one war and another is the time, place and the name of the empires and countries involved.

This school of thought argues that there will always be nations and cultures that will be dictatorial, autocratic and ruled not by democracy, but by a minority in power. Some regions will always be ruled by religious forces. Most of the Arab/Muslim countries fall into this category.

This world view dictates that the best strategy is to tolerate the powers that be, as long as they don’t cross certain lines (or even if they do). Even if we disagree with the totalitarian policies of these countries it is better to live with the known evil – which lends a certain level of stability – rather than upset the balance and then have to deal with the unpredictable and unstable unknown. Case in point: Iraq.

The argument goes: Since we don’t really believe that we can ever wipe away evil and ever put a stop to the unending, inherent greedy grab for power and control, we must make the best with what we have, to ensure a relatively stable world.

Of course, once in a while, when a Hitler emerges who refuses to maintain the status quo and demonstrates his real wishes to annihilate the free world, it becomes clear that there is no choice but to wage total war with the demand for unconditional surrender and the overthrow of the existing destructive regime.

But as long as it does not come to a blatant attack as perpetrated by the Nazis, we have to make the best with existing circumstances.

According to this rather somber – or some would call: resigned – world view, diplomacy, the U.N. and politics plays an important role of maintaining the fragile balance. (Of course those that feel this way will call themselves “realistic,” not fatalistic).

[Another variation of this way of thinking holds that a strong military is necessary to serve as a deterrent to the self-interest, which can lead to cruelty, innate in human nature].

Then there is a diametric opposite view of the human being and vision of the future. One that believes that we are fundamentally good people, driven to achieve heightened states of consciousness and discover harmony. Survival is a definite part of the human experience, but transcendence is ultimately more dominant.

Thus, the firm belief is that we will achieve global peace, and we will create a world in which war and injustice is entirely eliminated. This view, therefore, feels that everything possible must be done to help bring about a new era of universal peace and global co-existence, even if it means confronting and overturning existing regimes and causing short term unrest. The temporary pain is worth it because of the long term good that it will achieve.

Is it possible that some of those advocating appeasement simply do not believe that the world can ever fundamentally change for the better? Do they possibly not have confidence in the power of the human spirit to prevail over the material ego; that the power of love can prevail over the love of power? Is it conceivable that today’s disagreements about the attitude to the Muslim world and its war against Israel are rooted in these two different world visions?

Some will argue that one can embrace the second school of thought – the firm belief in a utopian future – and still not need to go to war against the totalitarian regimes. The best approach, they argue, to affect change in the Middle East regimes, is through peaceful dialogue, diplomacy, political and cultural exchange, not through aggression. On the contrary, the thinking goes: Since we believe in the inherent goodness of man, our ultimate solution will be achieved through peaceful interventions, not through war.

The problem is what is to be done when Muslim fundamentalists brazenly attack innocent people – whether they are in Israel, India, Spain, New York or Great Britain?

Can you just negotiate with a Hitler who declares his intention of annihilating you? Can diplomacy work with a group which explicitly calls for your destruction?

What this really comes down to is finding the unique combination, the delicate balance, between a profound belief in the magnificence of the human spirit and a beautiful future, and a sober recognition of human frailty and that we are not quite there yet.

It requires the humble wisdom of knowing when to go to battle against destructive forces, while retaining conviction in the goodness of man. Indeed, because of the love of beauty and faith in the greatest possibilities, we sadly have to at times do what it takes to fight when mans’ most base elements emerge. No different than, say, a loving parent who must discipline a delinquent child out of love and confidence in the child’s potential goodness.

The opening of this week’s Torah portion captures the subtle balance: When you go out to wage war upon your enemies, G-d will deliver them in your hands. The two operative phrases are “go out” and “upon,” seemingly superfluous terms. The Torah is telling us that “war,” even when necessary, is not the natural state of affairs. The inherent nature of existence is good. But at times, when you must battle forces that conceal that goodness, you “go out” – outside of your inherent nature – to wage battle. And therefore you always remain “upon” – above and more powerful – than “your enemies.” Even when you fight your adversary, you never become defined by it. Even as you wage war you always remain above it.

Diplomacy is fine – if it isn’t a smokescreen masking a philosophy of resignation and fear. A peaceful approach must come from a position of strength, coupled with the courage to go to war if necessary – in the firm belief that we can and will build a better world.

The month of Elul, in which now find ourselves, offers us this option: The absolute belief in the human spirit, the power of infinite hope, as reflected in Moses’ relentless efforts to achieve reconciliation following betrayal (as discussed in last’s week’s article).

Elul offers us a vision of the future – of a world which diverse nations will live in complete peace, without hate, war and discrimination. An absolute certainty that we can create such a world, and we will do whatever it takes to achieve it.

If necessary, we will not shrink away from battling the forces that want to destroy the foundations of civilization – the Divine dignity of each and every person, regardless of background. Of course, this commitment includes every possible effort to help inspire, through discussion and diplomacy, all countries, cultures and religions of the world to revolutionize their educations systems so that they not teach hate, destruction and deification of martyrdom through killing innocent people.

But, diplomacy cannot compromise the protection of the innocent. Discussions are only possible when we are not under the gun. As long as there are looming threats of terror everything must be done to eliminate the enemy. Yet, we must never forget that our war is not merely against others and their distorted ideology; it is a war for an ideology. It is not merely a defensive battle, but a proactive, offensive one: To build a world the way G-d intended – a world in which all G-d’s creatures live in complete harmony.

A universe in which there will be no more evil and destruction, because it will be “filled with Divine knowledge as the waters cover the sea.”

יום שלישי, אוגוסט 15, 2006

"The United States of Allah"

I read one of the most disturbing articles on JPOST.COM ( not like it was their fault that palestinians are so pig-headed, yet it was still disturbing).

"Rizkah said the war united Arabs and Muslims around the world "because now they are looking forward to achieving freedom and dignity." He added: "If anything, this war has shattered the myth of the invincible [Israeli] army and [shown] that the Israelis are unable to confront the strong determination and will of Muslim fighters.""

The problem is that because we have lost our presteige and fear in the eyes of the Arab nations, they will readily launch hundreds of more terrorist attacks and whatnot( just read the article).

Again, I shall compare our situation to a body infected with cancer. Because the cancer cells transform the body's healthy cells into cancerous cells- and wage a war against each other- it wears out the body. Then imagine a normally defeatable, round-of-the-mill virus comes along and hatches itself in that cancer-infected body! The body's immune system is so tired and defeated that it has no defense against the puny virus! In the end, its that meak litte virus that could end up being the cause of death for the poor cancer-wracked body!

We have been fighting ourselves dangerously for the past couple years. Its culmination came into affect when we attacked each other during the evacuation of Gush-Katif. Little kippot-srugot children have been instilled with an automatic fear and hatred towards chayalim, or soldiers. We were brother agaisnt brother out there, and that has weakened our nation's immune system!

In a dog-eat cat world, well we assume that is the way it would be- or else one species would die out. In a dog-eat dog world, well its been used so much, that you assume from the beginning that its normal. But when it comes to a brother-eat-brother world, thats when we need to pause and look at the direction we are headed towards. Do we really want to trench in the hate coated darkness of sinat chinam?

Now the Arabs have caught us with our trousers down. We were not unprepared for the war in the sense that militarily everything is up to its best. But psychologically ans spiritually, our nation is restless! Ehud Olmert, our new Prime Minister, had had plans to evacuate more places throughout Israel, in order to comply with American demands, of course. But his plans for another hitnatkut, or hitkansut as theyre calling it now, were pushed to the wayside as the demands for sincere focus were upped as Hizbullah rained Ketyushas on our faces. Yet his armies nor his government could be totally prepared because of the cancer we have been fighting in this Israeli body.

Our immune system is down!

If you read on in the article, it says, "
Emboldened by what they perceive as the Hizbullah "victory" over Israel, several writers and commentators in the Arab world have begun openly discussing the possibility of destroying Israel. "

Now the normally feeble virus can attack our sickly body because its focus is slotted elsewhere. They have plans to do G-d-only-knows-what to us and our country because they precieve a weakness amongst us: sinat chinam.

People!!! sinat chinam is STILL a problem!! And until we can get our act together, and unite as one- we are hopeless!

Yet, this month long saga between us and Lebanon has brought out a mighty power in the Jewish nation: giving. Today I helped back boxes for soldiers ( could be religious soldier, could be chilonim, but I don't care). All the things were bought with money donated by a Jewish man in America. He donated 120,000 DOLLARS ( multiply that by 4.5 and that's how mush that is in shekels) in order to provide the chayalim and chayalot with little necessities like shampoo and underwear! I packed boxes with fellow jews, some I know, some I've never met: but the important thing is that we were doing it together, we were doing it for a united cause!

My school, Ulpanah Tzviah of Maaleh Adumim is hosting about 18 families in their facilities, and there are scores of people from the community who are volunteering to entertain them and cater food for them.

So we should learn what the Arabs seemed to have caught onto by agreeing that "
in the wake of the Israel-Hizbullah war, the best thing for the Palestinians at this stage is to be united."

If they can unite, should'nt it seem more than natural that we can too?!

And yet while they unite in the heightened goals of war, destruction, and world domination, Jews from all over the world must unite in freedom, peace, and nationly love. When we commit ourselves to one another, and are free of biases and baseless hatreds, then we can be saved from the impending mostrosity of "The United States of Allah"

יום ראשון, אוגוסט 13, 2006

Can't Let the Bastards Win!

This blog is a response I wrote to an e-mail I recieved a few days ago. First I'll publish the person's e-mail( in blue), followed by my response( in red). ( All names have been excluded)

Let's face it – things are tough. There's a major war going on in which friends and family members are involved. People are getting killed and maimed. Being on the other side of the world from these earth-shattering events, I'm at the mercy of the various pundits and media outlets that, as we all know, put their none too positive spin on things. Terrorist entities are turned into charitable organizations and legitimate political parties, and we here in the free world – for that's where we are, even in this post–Cold War era – are told that there's no way that we can win against them. (If these pundits and journalists had been the norm during the Second World War, the commonly accepted greeting by the end of the war would probably have been an outstretched arm, palm down – and I would probably not be here to write this.) On top of this, there are constant plots to attack us, as events such as those in the United Kingdom yesterday continue to prove. Fortunately, the plot was foiled, but the result was still diverted flights and cancelled or rescheduled travel plans – though ironically, yesterday was probably the safest day to fly in the US, with all the heightened security measures in place. The expression "You're letting the terrorists win" has become something of a cliché, even a joke, in the US since 9-11. But after living in Israel, and seeing how the people there manage despite all the efforts to attack and eradicate them, it's a forgone conclusion that the expression is true. The terrorists seek to create mega-spectacles of death and destruction; forget any political goals, it all too often seems like they're after death and destruction for their own sake. But they want to cause so much more than killing and destroying. They also aim to disrupt of our social, political, and economic ways of life, using these spectacles as devices to instill fear and trepidation – hence the terms "terror" and "terrorism." On the personal front, I am torn between keeping abreast of every development in the Middle East and just shutting it out. On the one hand, my family is in Israel. My parents, my daughter, my siblings, my extended family, and indeed – the whole Jewish nation, to which I belong. Everything that happens there affects me here, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. On the other hand, that effect is precisely what makes me want to shut it out. What is the point of going on about my business – my creative life, involving music, writing, photography, whatever else – when there are people fighting and dying? (I'm not in the position to do what would seem obvious to some – to drop everything and go to Israel and volunteer in some way. Believe me, the thought has occurred to me. But like many caring people making a living, it just isn't feasible right now.) Then I came to the conclusion: If I stop doing these things, the very things that keep me going, then the terrorists would have won. They'd have won their immoral victory against me by disrupting my way of life. And they'd have accomplished that without firing as much as a single bullet in my direction (though I'm sure they'd love to do that, given the chance). A number of years ago, during the suicide-homicide terror bombing campaign called the "intifada," I pondered exactly these same issues. From one side came the psychological effects of the terror war, sent via media from Israel to my abode on the Jersey Shore. From the other side, my conscience was nagging at me – how can I just go on doing 'my thing' when other 'things' are as desperate as they are? And in classic singer-songwriterly fashion, I resolved the dilemma with some lyrics. How can I go on singing love songs When things are much more bitter than sweet How can I keep rocking and rolling along While heads are rolling in the street My people get killed Their blood is spilled And I can’t do much more Than pray for our enemies’ defeat. chorus But you’d grant your enemies their victory If you just quit and pack it in To stop your singing, writing, and playing Isn’t just defeat, it’s a sin Don’t let them have their victory Don’t just give up or give in Stand up strong and sing your song You can’t let the bastards win You can’t let the bastards win … How can I write about my soul in exile life While mothers and babies are murdered How can I escape this stress and strife My resolve is undermined further The innocents slaughtered Their blood flows like water And I can’t be much more Than a frustrated observer. repeat chorus How can I play upbeat music While everything is on the way down How can I excuse it When wailing is the prevailing sound My people bury their dead They travel the roads with dread And I can’t do much more Than watching my nation go to ground. repeat chorus That's right, people. Keep doing what you're doing. Do what you're good at. Use your talents to make the world a better place, in whatever capacity you can. Perform random and deliberate acts of charity and kindness. Do not let fear and terror dominate your lives. Every such act is a blow to all the agents of the cult of death who seek to impose their evil will on us.

Dear ______, As much as i enjoyed reading your article that you e-mailed me, i must say that i would like to disagree with some of your points. Not only do the terrorists mean to " disrupt of our social, political, and economic ways of life," but they mean to destroy our spiritual way of life too. It says in the Torah that " Esav soneh et yaakov." This is a CLEAR example of what we see today with our Muslim neighbors. Why did esav HATE yaakov? Because he had a better way of life? No, esav was a hunter- he had plenty of food and wealth.He was a "player," he had women, money, excitement- everything that social and economic benefits give us today. So, then, what was the reason that Esav despised yaakov to the point of where he wished to KILL him? It was because Yitzchak blessed yaakov not only with physical things, but with the power of spirituality, morality, and connection to G-d. So nowadays, when we bring "esav soneh et yaakov" to modern terms ( aka us and the arabs), it means much more than monetary and tangible items. It is more than our social way of life. It is more than our political way of life, and it is definately more than our economic way of life. There are many proofs: one, Israeli government has endowed the misgein palestinians with PLENTY of arms and monetary helps. We have given them job opprotunities that their own BROTHERS wouldnt give to them! And even more painful, but true- we have even given up LAND that is rightfully OURS to them. However, it seems that the physical things ( our money, armaments, jobs, and land)is not what theyre after. They're after what yaakov has, and what esav has genetically endowed that they wouldn't: our spirituality. I only give you this background because my point of disagreement to your article is this: while it must be devastating to be sitting in Chu"l and watch this happen... it is even more devastating having this happen without YOU here. As much as we " can't let the bastards win" by letting them get under our creative skins( to stop our everyday life)- that is not what they're strictly after. ______, they want to obliterate us, and the only way that Hashem will hear our prayers is not if we sit in America and write songs about our pain! We have to get on the bandwagon and SHOW Him that we ARE deserving of His salvation, and that even more so: that we need it. Esav's nations are after our spirituality for a reason- because they know its the truth! They know that Hashem will bring us out of exile one day, and on that day " Hashem Elokeinu, Hashem Echad!" They know that to have that though, we need to show our true strength. So their goal isnt to make us scared about driving to the Netanya Beach, because we fear Ketyushas will fall out of the sky and obliterate us. Their goal is to make people's neshamot so scared that they turn from G-d's face, and hide. Many people after the Hitnatkut of Gush Katif felt this way- and in that respect, the Arabs won. Many people doubted their own country and government( wouldnt you if your fellow Jew was as cold-hearted as an icicle an evicted you out of YOUR house?) They felt a loss of connection to G-d, they felt estranged and alone. And the arabs won! To beat the bastards at their own game we need to show them what they're scared of: our spirituality and connection to Hashem! We need to flex our spiritual muscles and make them run away with their tails between their legs, and the only way of doing it is by BEING IN ISRAEL. To show them that not only are we making an economic, social, and political sacrifice- we are polishing our spirituality too. And on that day, the day we unite in Israel to show the arabs, the world, HASHEM that we believe, that is the day that Hashem will lift us forevermore out of this mess. I dont know if you read my second blog on, but i was saying that "there will always be another time." Its in the human psyche to push things off, things that in reality we are scared to face up to. In simple terms: procrastination. There will always be another reason why NOT to move here, hey afterall its not as comfy-cozy here. The economy is in a flux, the politics are nearing barbaric, and the social life can be intimidating with the extremely large mix of international cultures. It starts out, " i will move to Israel when i have more money" ( an infamous excuse) but there is never an end to MORE money, because just like there is an infinate amount of numbers, there are an infinate number of ways you can get more money! Or it will turn into," I'll wait 'til after school" but after school turns into finding a job with your accredidations, and finding a job turns into buying a house, and buying a house turns into making it a home, and that turns into another "turns into," until youre 119 and theyre singing you happy birthday to you ( have a nice day!), and youre thinking " wow my life was great! Though i feel like im missing something. OH YEAH! Moving to Israel...whooops, kinda missed THAT boat!" I believe that in order to ensure that those bastards lose, we need to get our act together and show them why they should. We have the power to go both ways- to cringe and hide at the sound of their spiritual threat, or strenthen and unite and establish Israel to be our true home. Israel is always, ALWAYS, just need to open your ears. much love, Bracha

Life & Bicycles

11 Reasons Why Life is like riding a bicycle:

1. You need balance: if you lean too far to one side or the other, you'll fall off!

The Rambam writes (Hilchos De'os 1:4), regarding "all Midos," that a person should follow the golden "path of the middle" and not lean towards one extreme or the other.

Therefore in life, or while riding a bike, it is important that one always pays attention to where he is leaning!

2. You fall off, but in order to progress- you need to get back up!

There is a song that came out when i was in 3rd grade by Chumbawumba with lyrics like so, " i get knocked down, but i get up again, you're never gonna keep me down."

The point is, its notfalling down that determines your worth- its if you get back up or not.

3. In the beginning you stumble and fall, but with more experience you can really get far!

In life we start out completely oblivious, and therefore we fall. We don't know how to use our intelligence and logic. However, as each one of us gets more experience we can use our knowledge and really make something wonderful out of ourselves!

4. If you look at the ground while you ride, instead of up ahead- you will lose your balance and crash.

In life, if we shuffle our feet and consume ourselves in our own little bubble- we not only damage our connection with the world... we damage the connection to ourself. We need to look up, to see whats around us, to connect to our environment, and then we can flourish.

5. It's innate.

Both riding a bicycle and living life comes to us in the same way- it's innate. It seems like every person on earth learns to/ or has the ability to learn to ride a bike.

In life, no one goes around not knowing how to live. Each person has their own personal theory, but the general idea is that we all get it.

6. when it throws you a curve, go with it!

When you ride a bike, and a turn is coming up- you lean with the curve. You dont fight it and go the other way.

Life sometimes throws you curves too, but in order to remain on top you need to go with them. If a tragedy happens, accept its pain, but go with G-d's larger plan for ultimate good!

7.It helps you get to where you need to go.

Some people believe that life is a joy ride, and that they're on it for the good ole jollies. Some people ride bikes around and around because they just feel like it. both people dont realize they have places to get to.

But in truth both life, and bicycles, are meant to bring you to the places you need to get to, and if you use them correctly you can really get far!

8. it doesn't move on its own.

Life and bicycles need people to operate them. Without a person behind the handlebar it just won't go anywhere!

9. when you get really good, you can do wheelies!

After you've been riding a bike for so long, you can start doing the special stuff.

Life is like that also, once you get the hang of who you are and where its taking you- you can pop some big miracles too!

10. It gives you muscles.

Life toughens you up like riding a bike does. Especially if you ride up hills.

The thing about riding hills on bikes is this: although going down is thrilling and exciting, riding back up, although hard, is what brings you the muscles.

the "free rides" in life are fun and enjoyable, but when it comes to building character its those big hills that do the job!

11.You can't do it forever.

Some people wish they could live forever. Some people believe it.

But just like riding a bike, your body wears out after a while, and you need to go home.

The important thing is that you enjoy the ride, and you get to where you need to go!

~ This is dedicated to my cousin who I taught to ride a bike last night.

יום שישי, אוגוסט 11, 2006

Just One Shabbos and we'll All be Free!

Most people, after continuous exposure to one certain thing, tire of it and find it mundane.
I have been in Israel for over half-a-year, and not once have I tired from an Israeli Shabbat.

Let me narrirate to you something specail and beautiful:

Shabbat, in fact, starts early friday morning- meaning that from the moment you arise on friday, the very air is different. Shabbat is coming. You wake up and thing, " what's different? Oh yeah! Its almost shabbat." To most people "almost" refers relatively close-to in hours, but even though you have an entire day to ready yourself for it, its still " almost shabbat."

You get out of bed, and begin to ready yourself. ( organized people insert your daily morning routine here before the days preperations and activities). You make your bed, sweep the floors, do sponga ( israeli version of mopping- and super fun, too!), clean the bathroom, and any other menial cleaning task you can think of. *pause* Some of you may think, " hey wait a minute, this is how getting ready for Shabbat feels like in any other place in the world... ha! its not different in Israel"... but oh contraire! *un-pause* You take a walk outside to empty the trash, or beat your rugs, or sweep your portch, and you take a deep sniff. " Ahhhh, Shabbat...." you can smell it in the air!! (Even if your standing relatively close to the trash can ;p). You go back inside and continue the normally mundane, yet on this day, even wrapping things in tin-foil seems holy. You know that each thing you are doing is for Shabbat, not only a Shabbat, a Shabbat in Israel!
Cooking is especially delightful as the tastes of delicious home-cooked Shabbat foods waft through the air. Through Israeli air. You turn on the radio to break the silence ( or lack of, if your vacuum is going, or your kids are running around cleaning), and not only do the soundwaves of jewish music pulse your environment, but announcements on when the Shabbat is commencing, and what hours to light the candles at ( not something you generally get in America, we'll unless you live in N.Y. or something. But even then, I bet the announcement is'nt in Hebrew!)

Time speeds along, and before you know it your fulfilling the mitzvah of lighting Shabbat candles. Now most teenage girls here ( unlike in chutz la'aretz) attend friday night serivces at their respective shuls, ( and obviously boys,too). If you are part of a youth group, sometimes your sneif ( the branch, or clubhouse for your youthgroup) will have a friday night davening together. As you walk back from shul, you look around at the view and take a deep sigh, " siiiiiiigh, its finally Shabbat."

The meal is filled with laughter and Torah as the conversations vary from the Torah portion to politics, from happenings during the week to plans for Shabbat. The air is filled with shabbat zemiros, and some more laughter.

Benching on Shabbat is especially meaningful- you read what's written abotu the land, and thanking G-d for His eternal giving, and His production of mircales from the Land, and how He has always been with us, and always will be- with us here, in Israel. You know, i sadly admit, that benching never gained meanning until I moved here and actually felt the connection between what i was saying, and where I was intended to say it.

I go to B'nei Akiva, a youth group, and we have a sneif here in the neighborhood, so every friday night i go to an activity at the sneif at around a quarter to 11. Its usually about some controverial topic, and afterwards I get to see all my friends that I may not have seen in a while.

At around 1 in the morning I return home, feeling completely safe. It's Shabbat, and you can feel it in the air. I can walk in the street ( because my neighborhood is religious) because no cars are driving around. Its so peaceful. You can feel the Shabbos Queen has really settled on the Land.

Saturday comes, and most shuls begin at 8 o'clock. ( my shul in Dallas began at 9, so its a little bit of an adjustment to be able to get there on time). I usually try to go to shul at the beginning with my father, and wait until my friends and family join me. The exciting part is when the person comes to say a d'var Torah- in the language of the Torah! It took a while to actually understand what they were saying, but now that I do, i enjoy it tremendously!

Lunch, rests, seudat shlishit, learning, being with friends... saturday commences like a dream.

When it comes to havdalah you feel so sad because it feels like something tangible is being taken away from you, to be hidden until the next week. You end shabbat with the feeling like you have to build up, and earn the next Shabbat in order for it to come.

Now I understand the song " just one shabbat and we'll all be free." If we could all celebrate a true shabbat, a shabbat in Israel, observing all of It's mitzvot, it would set our souls free! We would be so elevated and on-high that Moshiach would have nothing to do but come!

well, off to do some more of that Shabbat prep.!

just thought I'd give all y'all a taste of what I'm eating- delicious Shabbatot in Israel!

Shabbat Shalom!