Monday, August 11, 2008

Tisha B'Av special, Stories, News

Dr. Russell Hendel of wrote me that for once there was happy news regarding the slow and steady recovery of Baruch Matityahu ben Sarah Gittel that shows that prayers do get answered. Unfortunately the prayers for Rivka bas Leba Eidel came too little too late. As for Rachel bas Chana, she has been released from the hospital but there is still a danger until the infection is healed.

Kashrus Clarification: Strauss Symphonia Cheese with Peppers from Israel uses Heter Hamechira is kosher but not for Shemita and not recommended for use until the production date is after the end of Chanucha 5769 or day 365 of this year aka Dec. 30th. Plain Strauss cheese may be Chalav Yisrael if marked so by a Haredi Heckshir and one can.

HASHEM works sometimes hidden miracles: On May 1, 1915, Jerome Kern was supposed to accompany Charles Frohman to London on board the RMS Lusitania, but overslept after being kept up late playing requests at a party. Frohman died in the sinking of the ship. Jerome went on to produce lovely tunes and melodies that still warm the hearts of thousands today.

Question: Do we pray for righteous and G-D fearing non-Jews? Of course but with the exception of people who have saved Jewish lives or exposed Nazis we do so in private. We can and it is a merit to say a Psalm for non-Jews who are true friends. Just as we bury a non-Jew in a different section of a cemetery than a Jew, we pray for the well being and recovery of our Gentile friends separately (Not in a usual general prayer which ends for the healing “with the ill people of Yisrael” but in a separate prayer usually by a Psalm. The Gemara and Midrash praise Dama ben Nethina a Gentile who lived in Ashkelon at the time of the Temple. The following Document is in Hebrew and English:

Another nice story: Fox News had a special international feature on a Campbell family in the States. One young high school or college girl needed a kidney and her parents were unable to donate. An eighteen year old cousin heard about it and volunteered to donate a kidney. This is a wonderful example of Love thy Neighbor and the family is not Jewish.

Each year that the Temple is not rebuilt, our generation has to take responsibility for it. With Israeli leaders whom they are, mafia killings in Israel, rampant homosexual behavior in public and blatant brazen people who fight against Torah and Mitzvos it is of no surprise. It is up to us to DO SOMETHING. Why don’t you do something to bring about the Moshiach. It is not an easy task. Rabbi Amnon Yitzchak, Yad L’Achim, Gesher, Arachim, Rabbis like myself and layman are not enough to bring our non-religious brothers about to love HASHEM. We need your help too in convincing a non-religious Jew to love his fellow Jews and love G-D. The task is not easy and it takes a tremendous amount of energy.


Note: Do to a minor illness on my own part this week and a lot of Rabbinical duties behind the scenes, I was unable to produce a quality Drasha on Devarim. I don’t like to just write words to make a dead line. Next week ble Neder.

When Tisha B’Av falls after Shabbos

A little thought from Dr. Conservative Rabbi Rosansky that was written as a poem but I like the ending: And my heart is saddened By what I see about me. I am torn; I don’t know why. And yet, I know why. It is a slow sadness. Not unlike watching a handful of sand Slowly washing away in the sea.

The tingle and the crash and the thunder; The fire and splendor of your spirit — I feel numbed and deaf to them; Muted somehow,. Your soul, alas, Has dimmed.

I want to cry Chazak, Chazak v’titchazki! Arise O’Israel: Arise!

We do not learn Torah on Shabbos afternoon other than those sections dealing with the destruction of the Temple like parts of Gittin and Yirmiyahu of the Shulchan Aruch on the laws of mourning.

We do not have a public 3rd meal for Shabbos. We act as on Erev Yom Tov and do not pray in Mincha the Tzidkata Tzedek Prayer.

Maariv Prayer for Motzei Shabbos are like that when a Yom Tov falls during the week. The only exception is that we also say the Kinos of Tisha B’Av.

Many Schuls start a few minutes late so that people can arrive with non-leather shoes on and perhaps with child size chairs to sit lower.

We say the Havdallah prayer blessing over a candle only and Motzei Tisha B’Av we say over a cup of wine even though the Ashkenazim don’t eat meat until Hatzos HaYom on the 10th of Av. (Hatzos HaYom or ½ the sun lit day and is calculated by the time of sunrise to sunset in your area.)

No work should be done until after Hatzos HaYom.

I have not mentioned the things forbidden on Tisha B’Av as we repeat them from year to year with the exception that Melacha can be done such as driving to and from Schul, switching on and off lights and after Hatzos regular work.

Finally, those who are ill that might fast on Yom Kippur in their situation may after consulting a Rav be able to eat. These include people taking antibiotics that need to be taken with food. Those suffering internal pain that is not life threatening but putting them completely out of commission without food. Those who have certain Orthopedic problems can put on shoes or at least one shoe of the bad food if they cannot walk on the painful foot with canvas sneakers. Each case on an individual level.

From Bear Stearns To Bava Metzia By Andrew Neff

The title of this article is “From Bear Stearns to Bava Metzia” but it’s really about some life lessons I’ve picked up over the last few months since my company – that I was with for 20 years and that was in business for 86 years – disappeared in the midst of a financial crisis and panic – making me a “Bear Stearns refugee” but more importantly a “kollel boy”.

I am used to presenting to a financial crowd, so I will use my standard approach in my 25 years on Wall Street and start with my conclusions, and then work back to the beginning. This is the opposite style of most Torah commentaries, but I’m still new at this Kollel life. My conclusions? G-d runs the world. Your prayers are answered so think carefully about what you pray for. Think about your legacy. Every benefit has a cost and every cost has a benefit. Handling tests – it’s easier than you think.

Lesson #1: G-d runs the world

When Bear Stearns collapsed, it shocked the world. It was not the normal course of events. Companies that are in business for 86 years without so much as a losing quarter (except for the last one) don’t go out of business and they don’t go out of business overnight. I have been amazed at the level of fascination with our demise and the circumstances surrounding our last days.

Many people have asked me if I knew or sensed what was happening. Actually, it was just the opposite. We knew we were having a bad year, but we were in cyclical business. We’ve had good years and bad years. In fact, my area – equities – was having a good year and the firm was profitable again – highlighting (we thought) the strength of the business model. Besides, we weren’t going out of business…

But we went out of business. Whose fault was it? Was it our new CEO? Our ex-CEO? The shorts? The press?

I developed a different perspective. Let me digress with a reference to tehillim. The backdrop for the third perek of tehillim is rather unusual. Dovid Hamelech thanks Hashem during the rebellion of Avshalom. As I heard from Rav Yissocher Frand, the normal course of events is not for a son to rebel against the father. Usually it is a political opponent or an aide. But these circumstances – the rebellion by his son Avshalom – were extremely unusual. To Dovid, that was a sign that this rebellion was outside nature, outside teva and that Hashem was watching over him and was involved in Dovid’s life and that G-d runs the world.

What happened to Bear Stearns was outside teva.

Until the demise of Bear Stearns, I knew what my schedule was going to be – more or less – for the next year or so. I was working on projects through the year 2010. I was firmly in control and I knew what the future would be. But it wasn’t to be. I learned that I was not in control. For many of us, we went through – l’havdil (if you can compare) – many of the signs associated with shiva. We were in denial, we were angry, we were depressed. Finally, we began to accept our situation.

I, too, went through these stages. I was in denial. I was angry. I was depressed. Because I was not in control. I’m passed that now but I was only able to get beyond it because I came to realize Who is in control of the world. The events at Bear Stearns are all part of His plan. You can be angry with His plan but it doesn’t change His plan. At one level, it’s like going to a museum and getting angry at the exhibits. But that is a rather silly reaction because it doesn’t change the exhibits so you may as well enjoy the museum.

Lesson #2 – Your prayers are answered so think carefully about what you pray for.

We are relative newcomers to Teaneck. We moved here about three years ago. I think the most important force one faces in life is peer pressure – for better or worse – so you have to focus carefully on what the peer pressures are where you live and work. In Teaneck, there is peer pressure to learn. Everyone does it. Every shul competes to have the best learning. The batei medrash (halls of study) are thriving and the shiurim attract crowds. That is one of the main reasons that we moved here.

I had often thought about taking some time off for learning. While my children are “frum from birth,” Nancy and I are balei teshvot – I have done many things, but I essentially see myself as a bit of an idiot savant, that is, I have “done the daf” for over 10 years and attended multiple shiurim, but I had never learned the basics: tefilla, gemara without English on the other side, Chumash with Rashi and other meforshim.

I thought about taking a sabbatical. But I would only do it with these two conditions: I could not take off after a good year, since I needed just one more good year. And I could not take off after a bad year since I really needed a good year to take off. Outside of these two mutually exclusive conditions, I would take time off to learn.

I had started talking to Rabbi Eliyahu Roberts, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Gedola of Teaneck, several months ago. He and I had started learning gemara about once a week – on laws of taking interest – but I realized it was not enough to get me to where I wanted to be. So we began to talk about learning at the yeshiva with some of the boys one or two mornings a week. I think we started to talk about this last November or so. But – when it came down to it – I could never find the time.

Hashem found the time for me. He cleared my entire schedule. Hashem opened up all of my mornings. Arranged a sabbatical year for me, so to speak.

As I mentioned a moment ago, I saw what happened to Bear Stearns as an “act of G-d.” As we learn though, we never know what G-d’s plan is and I certainly don’t know why Bear Stearns went out of business. But I knew that the message – whatever it is – is that something is supposed to change. It’s not business as usual. Ironically, I had a position if I wanted it at the new firm. In fact, the person who did what I did at JP Morgan coincidentally resigned the day Bear went out of business – for entirely unrelated reasons. So I could have glided from one spot to the next – from one vine to the next – with nary a glitch. But the emails we get from Hashem aren’t always so clear. That is where prayer comes in.

But Hashem does answer prayers. Sometimes it is murky and unclear and sometimes it is a smack on the side of the head. So that is how I ended up learning two hours a day at Yeshiva Gedola of Teaneck with my excellent chavrusas (study partners). Being in kollel is not as odd as you think. While there is a generational difference, we recently had a grandchild, so I can talk strollers and pediatricians. Just not about diaper changing. I leave that to the next generation...

Lesson #3 – Think about your legacy.

I was on Wall Street for 25 years including 20 years at Bear Stearns. I had some great calls and made people a lot of money (and may have lost people a lot of money at times as well). I was on the Institutional Investor All-Star team for 16 years, the Wall Street Journal All-Star team for nine years. But that is not what I will be remembered for from my years at Bear Stearns. The frum world remembers me for running the Bear Stearns minyan – thanks to an email from one of the participants.

Just a bit of history. When Bear Stearns was at 245 Park Avenue, there was a minyan in the stairwell – owing to its legacy as an Olympia & York building. That changed when we moved to a new building at 383 Madison. With tighter security, there was no common area for the minyan so we stopped meeting. A few months after disbanding, a summer intern from YU asked me if I could get a minyan going. In the new building I was able to get the conference room next to my office and we were off and running.

In fact, word got around and we started attracting outsiders from nearby firms. Then – after a few weeks – I got a call from Human Resources at Bear. I heard you have a minyan at Bear, he said.

Sure, do you want to attend? No, but there is a problem. There were issues around security with outsiders coming to a “secure” floor. What can we do, I asked.
I left it in their hands and in Hashem’s hands.

It turns out that there is a law that requires a company to provide its employees with reasonable accommodation to prayer. So while the company did not want an official “Bear Stearns minyan,” they agreed to give me a room every day for prayer – for the “Andy Neff meeting” and to which I could invite some of my friends to enable me to have a minyan. Hence the minyan, where we regularly had 20-30 people and, on a fast day when we had a sefer Torah, we would have more than 100 people.

Here is the final irony. Bear Stearns is gone. But the minyan – which started at 245 Park – lives on. Roughly one third of the attendees were from JP Morgan, which owned three buildings adjacent to our headquarters, so we simply transferred the management of the minyan over to JPMorgan. A perfect plan for how to make Bear Stearns go away without interfering with the ongoing minyan.

Lesson #4 – Every cost has a benefit and every benefit has a cost

Wall Street is a great place to have a career – especially from a financial standpoint. Moreover, there is the prestige associated with Wall Street and the power, etc. What’s wrong with that?

In Pirkei Avos, perek dalet, first mishnah, Ben Zoma asks: who is wise – the person who learns from everyone else. Who is strong – the person who controls himself. Who is rich? The person who is happy with what he has. Who is honored? The person who honors other people. What is it that ties all these comments together? What ties them together is that each of the middos – wisdom, strength, wealth, honor – can only come from you – no one else can really provide it for you because if you depend on others for these attributes, then they all go away when the external forces, the people go away.

There is a cost to being on Wall Street – and probably in other high-powered positions. You lose track of priorities. You live with such stress all the time that you don’t know what it is like not to have stress. The analogy I use is of a scuba diver who lives from oxygen tank to oxygen tank not realizing that all the oxygen in the world is available to home five feet above on the surface.

There is a gemara in Pesachim – and again in Bava Basra – that says Olam hafuch rai’si that in Olam Haba we see that the world to come is inverted from this world. That was a hard gemara for me to understand until I left the high-powered world. In that world, what you think is important loses its importance. The things I feared losing the most were the small things: a secretary, car services, etc. The thing I had given up most easily was time – time with family, quality and quantity time. And that I realize has the most value.

I’m not saying that effort is not required and that you shouldn’t devote time to your work – just that there are ways to do it without stress. And – much of it seems so unimportant in retrospect. And also, as we saw in the comments on Bnai Reuven and Bnai Gad, you need to keep your priorities straight.

Lesson #5 – Handling tests – it’s easier than you think.

At one level, I believe that I am fortunate to have this test at this stage in my life. We learn that Hashem never gives us a test that we cannot handle. To me, conversely, that says that I was not ready to handle this test until now. I feel thankful that I have matured to a level that I can handle something like this.

Moreover, for many of us, our careers are our lives or close to it after our families. The loss of a career is devastating at many levels – some of which I have noted already. And financial turmoil is another nightmare. But the positive for me is learning that I can deal with it. It’s a new reality, but I am ready for the next reality.

Many ask what is the key to a Jewish community. To some, it is the kosher pizza restaurant. To others, it is a lot of shuls. But what really makes the community whole is the Torah it propagates. Being able to bring Torah to the world is a valuable asset – and I am skilled at identifying undervalued assets.

Andrew Neff was a leading securities analyst on Wall Street including the last 20 years at Bear Stearns, recognized by Institutional Investor and the Wall Street Journal as an All-Star. He now learns in the Yeshiva Gedola of Teaneck in the morning.

This story you can read on Tisha B’Av from:

The amazing story of survival in the sewers of Lvov. By Rabbi Shmuel Burstein It was the end of May, 1943 and Jewish Lvov was burning. Once home to Poland’s third largest Jewish community, Lvov’s 100,000 Jews numbered less than 8,000. “They are killing the Jewish police! This is the end!” came a cry from the ghetto. Huge buildings, entire blocks were on fire. Jews ran in all directions. Hundreds made a dash for the sewers, hoping to avoid detection by vicious German dogs and their inhuman masters. Jewish children were rounded up and tossed into awaiting trucks like sacks of raw potatoes. Watching helplessly at the fate of their children, some women threw themselves down from several stories high. Little Krystyna Chiger beheld all of this in fear and terror.

For months, a small group of Jews were preparing for this moment. Yaakov Berestycki understood the fate of Lvov’s already martyred Jews would soon be his own. Daily, he and a few others clawed away at a concrete floor with spoons and forks and small tools from the apartment of a Jew named Weiss to gain entry into the sewers. Ignacy Chiger was their leader. Weeks before the ghetto’s destruction they broke through and lowered themselves into the sewers of Lvov. As they searched for a place that might be their ‘home,’ they were discovered by three Polish sewer workers. The three Poles could have easily handed them over to the Nazis for a reward of badly needed food. With no options before them, Weiss and Chiger explained what they had done. A cherubic-looking Pole named Leopold Socha was amused. He followed the diggers and raised himself up through the floor of the ghetto apartment. He beheld a defiant Jewish mother, Paulina Chiger, clutching two children closely to her chest. Deeply moved by the frightened youngsters, he broke out in a magnificent smile.

Leopold Socha was not merely any sewer worker; he was Chief Supervisor of all of Lvov’s sewers. He knew the best places to hide and how to lead prowling German inspectors in a direction away from clandestine Jews. For Krystyna, her brother Pavel and the rest, the escape into the sewers was a nightmare. Accompanied by screams and shrieking in a stone and lime chamber that trapped all sound, the Jews entered a world of cold darkness. The deafening sound of the river waters terrified Krystyna. Her subterranean world was inhabited by rats that made no secret of their presence, and she could not see where she was going.

Lvov’s labyrinth underground system was actually a complicated work of art, designed by early 20th century Italian engineers. As it wove its way beneath the city’s major landmarks and streets, the 20-foot wide Peltew River roared, charging mightily. It snatched all those who got too close, including Krystyna’s beloved Uncle Kuba. Another Jew who descended that terrible day in May 1943 was a resourceful, spirited Jew named Mundek Margolies. His name was on several deportation lists. Each time he somehow managed to escape. While in the ghetto he grew fond of Klara Keller. Mundek convinced her to take a chance with life by coming with him into the sewers, leaving her sister, Mania, behind.

Socha promised Chiger that he would protect 20 Jews – for a price. The Chigers provided the lion’s share of the money, having stashed some cash and valuables away before the war. Socha brought whatever food he could each day, as well as news from a place called Earth. He gave them pages of newspapers and took their clothes home to clean each week. On Passover he provided potatoes.

Over time the 20 hidden Jews shrank to ten. Some died. After living under inhuman conditions for several months, some left out of sheer madness. A newborn baby was smothered by its mother to save the lives of the others who trembled at the sound of his pitiful cries.

This small group of Jews struggled to maintain some semblance of Jewish life in their underground hiding place. Yaakov Berestycki, a chassid, found a relatively clean place to put on tefillin each morning. Paulina Chiger asked Socha if he could bring her some candles. She wished to bring light of Shabbat into the sewers. Socha loved those who loved God as much as he did and he was excited by the challenge. Every Friday, Socha was paid by Ignacy and Paulina later lit her candles.

Socha spoke to the children. He played with them and tried to raise the spirits of all ‘his’ Jews. He took Krystyna to a place where she could see light drifting into the sewers as she sat upon his shoulders. Mundek Margolies made daring forays into the destroyed ghetto to bring anything left behind that would make the lives of his friends more bearable. He had resolved to marry Klara after the war. They eventually learned that Klara’s sister, Mania, was sent to Janowska concentration camp. Klara blamed herself for abandoning her.

In the hellish world of concentration camps Janowska was particularly horrific. People were left overnight to see how quickly they could freeze to death in icing vats of water. Each morning nooses were prepared in the large square. Jews were “invited” to “volunteer” to be hanged. Tragically, there was no shortage of daily volunteers. Despite all this, Mundek determined to sneak himself into Janowska to rescue Mania and other Jews he could convince to follow him into the sewers.

It was insane. It was impossible. But angels can fly. Mundek changed identities with a Jewish slave he spied out from a work detail on one of his courageous flights outside the sewer. He smuggled himself into Janowska with the work detail at evening. A little over a day later he located Mania behind a fence. Mania told him she simply could not live in a sewer and wrote a note to Klara, begging that she not blame herself. She blessed Klara with life.

Mundek met other Jews, urging them to leave. They thanked him and blessed him. But they were weak and terrified. The angel returned to the sewers, alone. After several months the Chigers’ money ran out. They met with Socha and he told them such an enormous risk required compensation; that Wrobleski and Kowalow, his two Polish friends, could not be expected to assist him otherwise. They wished each other goodbye and good luck.

The following day a familiar shuffling of footsteps was heard. It was Socha! He became so committed to preserving their lives he saw no alternative but to use his own money. But he was concerned that his buddies, upon learning that the money was his, would back out of the rescue. So he asked Chiger to pretend he had found extra money and that is was really Jewish money being paid to Wrobleski and Kowalow.

One day Socha revealed to the Jews his motive for rescue. He had been a convicted felon, spent considerable time in jail before the war. This mission was his way to show that he was a changed man and return to God. Protective wings sheltered the hidden Jews. They survived discovery by a Pole who opened up a manhole cover and shouted: “It’s true! There are Jews in the sewers!” (Socha moved them to a safer location.) They survived the planting of mines only days before the Germans fled Lvov, as the Russian army neared. Socha and Kowalow shouted with all the authority men in overalls could muster before well-dressed German soldiers. They warned that gas pipes lay directly below the ground they were digging for the mines. The Germans would blow up the whole street, themselves included.

It was a lie. And it saved the subterranean Jews. They survived the melting snows and heavy spring rains in the winter of 1944. The water filled their small basin and rose above their necks. Krystyna screamed to Yaakov, the chassid, “Pray, Yaakov! Pray to God to save us!” Yaakov prayed and the water receded. Sixty years later she said, “It was a miracle.”

The long awaited day of liberation came. In July 1944, after 14 months underground, Socha lifted the manhole cover, telling the Jews they were free! Like creatures from another planet, hunched over from a hideout with low ceilings, ten ragged, thin and filthy survivors found themselves surrounded by Poles who gaped in wonder: “Jews really did live in the sewers!” After months of darkness, their eyes were blinded by the sunshine. Everything seemed red, “bathed in the color of blood.” Socha brought them indoors, to dark rooms where their eyes could adjust to light.

Months after liberation, Socha and his daughter were riding their bicycles in the street. A truck came careening in the direction of Socha’s little girl. He steered quickly to knock her out of the way. Once again he saved a life – his daughter’s – but Socha was killed, his blood dripping into the sewer. ‘His’ Jews, dispersed around Poland and Europe, returned to pay their last respects.

Krystyna still cannot cry. In the sewer she learned to suffer quietly. Her body swallows her tears. She dreads the sound of rushing water and moments of darkness. But she is a healer – a medical professional with an office in New York and has raised a Jewish family. Her brother Pavel served in the IDF and also raised a new generation. Ignacy and Paulina lived out their lives in Israel where Paulina continued bringing the light of Shabbat into her home.

Yaakov moved to Paris where he, too, raised a Jewish family and lived a full life. All those in the sewer, but for Krystyna, have since passed to a world with angels on high.

Mundek and Klara married shortly after the war. After moving to London from Poland, they established together a flourishing kosher catering business, still run by the family. He danced in the very center at every celebration he catered, grabbing his clients by the hand and beaming a broad smile, for his Jewish world was revived. Every Jewish simcha was his simcha. The world of darkness he once knew was now filled with light.

Different Approaches to avoiding Sin from Perkei Avos

Rebbe [Yehuda haNasi] said: What is the proper path a person should choose for himself? Whatever brings glory to himself [before G-d], and grants him glory before others. Be careful with a minor mitzvah (commandment) as with a major one, for you do not know the reward for the mitzvos. Consider the loss incurred for performing a mitzvah compared to its reward, and the 'reward' received for sinning compared to the loss. Consider three things and you will not come to sin: Know what is above you: an eye that sees and an ear that hears, and all your deeds are recorded in the Book."

Rebbe’s approach is a practical and logical approach and it works for the scientific and engineering types. It is the exacting precision of HASHEM. We have to remember that the ways of HASHEM are straight and just. What does one do when something like the following happens? As sometimes HASHEM’s hidden ways make it hard to see being the terrible side of things whether a nuclear annihilation of one and his family from some crazed lunatic in Iran or a cancer patient has pain that is almost unbearable even with all the medications. What if the cancer has spread all up and down his spine. The man isn't walking at all now and has to be lifted into his wheelchair. Do we see HASHEM rewarding the suffering person in the next world for withstanding the test? We must not take a disheartening approach but understand that the person is righteous enough to suffer in this world so as to enter the next world without the purging of the soul. Rabbi Yohanan in tractate Berachos lost 10 children and was ill too. He said that he could no longer bear the suffering and its reward. Here we have the Gadol HaDor suffering so what are we to say about the common man who is less particular about Mitzvos. Rebbe himself suffered terrible stomach cramps and pains that the servants had to feed the animals when he sat at the toilet to cover-up his screaming. Yet Rebbe knew that one must treat the smallest and simplest of Mitzvos as if they were on the level of Shabbos and honoring parents. If you downloaded the story about the man who washed graves of dirt you will see what a noise it made in the highest heavens during his Judgement.

Rebbe lived 1800 years before security cameras, tape recorders or voice commands being recorded on the computer but the message was clear. Ones life is recorded and played back to him in an instant or two when he passes away. He sees his relatives and if they are smiling chances are he is going to have a good judgement and if they are crying he may be up the creek without a paddle. The only way one can obtain this is to try to do as many mitzvos as possible daily and to study again and again the verses and commentaries.


Akavia ben (son of) Mehalalel said, consider three things and you will not come to sin. Know from where you have come, to where you are heading, and before Whom you will give justification and accounting. From where have you come: from a putrid drop (of semen); to where are you heading: to a place of dirt, worms and maggots; and before Whom will you give justification and accounting: before the King of kings, the Holy One blessed be He.

Rabbi Akavia lived in the time of Hillel and Shammai and was almost made the Nasi and Av Beit Din instead of them. His approach was more philosophical and intellectual. One must humble himself to remember that he came from a stinky drop of scum. Is he better than the scum of the earth? With this in mind a man becomes very humble. He must be humble because after 120 years on this planet, from being a big shot he will not turn into anything better than fodder for worms.

Fear of Judgement by the Heavenly Court will keep him away from sin if nothing else. With such a theory and philosophy one could then put it into practice.

Our perspective should be as Rabbi Dayan Rosenfeld writes: you can find more of all Perkei Avos by checking out the Torah Org. by substituting chapters and Mishnayos numbers.

This mishna places our lives in the proper perspective. We must see ourselves as finite and corporeal beings, composed of flesh derived from the dust of the earth. Further, our flesh will one day return to its source and leave us with nothing other than our souls and accomplishments to accompany us as we stand before our Creator. It's worthwhile examining each of Akavia's point individually; the combined imagery is potent indeed.

Our origins should perhaps be the most humbling aspect of our self-awareness. We all come from the same quite "ordinary" beginnings. Pagan kings of old used to claim descent from the heavenly bodies. And (at the risk of generating yet another flurry of e-mails...), other religions claim their leader spawned from something "holier" than mere marital relations. We make no such claims. For man should see himself (at least his physical form) as something not so qualitatively different from any beast of the field. Even the greatest Torah scholar once leaked out of his diaper, spat up on his mother's good dress, played ball indoors and broke his parents' expensive vase, and got yelled at by his mother. We all began as purely physical, helpless and demanding creatures. What we make of ourselves after is our own choosing. But the humbling memory of our all-too-human pasts must accompany us all the while.

Rebbe and Rabbi Akavia had the same goal in mind but a different approach. David HaMelech said, “From all my teachers, I have learned.” So too we must learn from these Rabbanim as sometimes we are in a practical mood to move our physical being and sometimes we want something deeper to convince our very souls.

Rabbi Chaim Brovender: Reflections of Tisha B'Av

Our sages have taught us that one who grieves over the destruction of Jerusalem shall merit seeing its rebuilding. Join Rabbi Brovender mourning over the exile, and studying about the meaning of the day, and may we all merit to see the rebuilding of Jerusalem.

On Tisha B'Av, this Sunday, August 10th, join Rabbi Brovender live, online at for an examination of Kinot (the lamentation poems recited on the Ninth of Av). This special event is cost free.

Rabbi Brovender will explain the themes of various Kinot, with a close examination of the text and ideas. What was the historical background of the Kinot? Who are the authors of the Kinot? What themes in the Kinot resonate in modern times?

During Tisha B'Av there will be two separate sessions learning the Kinot:

10:30am Israel time / 8:30am London time / 5:30pm Melbourne

5:30pm Israel time / 3:30pm London time / 10:30am New York time / 7:30am Los Angeles

All texts and materials will be provided online by WebYeshiva.


For Students with WebYeshiva accounts, login as normal and select the class.

For Guests to WebYeshiva:
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Step #2: Click on the link "Kinot with Rabbi Chaim Brovender"
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Step #4: On the top left hand box, entitled "Next class", please enter your first and last name in the "Name" form field and click "Join Now". This option will only appear 15 minutes before the commencement of the shiur.
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Step #7: Enjoy your shiur!

Note: The Archived Kinot will be available following each class (usually within a few hours of the shiur). You can view these archives regardless of whether or not you were able to attend the shiur.

Rabbi Hanina Ben Dosa from the Wikipedia

Hanina Ben Dosa (1st century) was a scholar and miracle-worker, and the pupil of Johanan ben Zakkai (Berakhot, 34b).

While he is reckoned among the Tannaim and is quoted in connection with a school and its disciples, no halachot and but few aggadot are preserved as from him (Baraita of R. Eliezer xxix., xxxi.; Midr. Mishle x. 2). His popularity, however, which he enjoyed throughout his life, and which rendered him immortal among the mystics, rests not on his scholarship, but on his saintliness and thaumaturgic powers. From the several maxims attributed to him it may be seen that he was a member of the ancient Hasidim: “Whosoever’s fear of sin precedes his learning, his learning will endure; but where learning precedes fear of sin, learning will not endure”; “Where a man’s works are greater than his learning, his learning will stand; but where his learning is greater than his works, his learning will not stand”; “Whosoever earns the good-will of humanity is loved of God; but whoso is not beloved of man is not beloved of God” (Avoth, iii. 9, 10; Avot of Rabbi Natan, xxii. 1 [ed. Schechter, p. 35a]). There are, also, other teachings which betray his Hasidic schooling. Hanina, like all the ancient Hasidim, prayed much, and by his prayers he is said to have effected many miracles.

It is related that when the son of Johanan ben Zakkai was very sick, the father solicited the prayers of Hanina. Hanina readily complied, and the child recovered. The overjoyed father could not refrain from expressing his admiration for his wonderful pupil, stating that he himself might have prayed the whole day without doing any good. His wife, astonished at such self-abasement on the part of her famous husband, inquired, “Is Hanina greater than thou?” To this he replied, “There is this difference between us: he is like the body-servant of a king, having at all times free access to the august presence, without even having to await permission to reach his ears; while I, like a lord before a king, must await an opportune moment” (Berakhot, 34b). Similarly, at the solicitation of Gamaliel II, Hanina entreated mercy for that patriarch’s son, and at the conclusion of his prayers assured Gamaliel’s messengers that the patient’s fever had left him. This assurance created doubt in the minds of the messengers, who promptly asked, “Art thou a prophet?” To this he replied, “I am neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet; but experience has taught me that whenever my prayer flows freely it is granted; otherwise, it is rejected.” The messengers thereupon noted down Hanina’s declaration, and the exact time when it was made; on reaching the patriarch’s residence they found that Hanina had spoken truly (ibidem; compare Berakhot, v. 5 and Yerushalmi Berakhot, v. 9d).

Hanina never permitted anything to turn him from his devotions. Once, while thus engaged, a lizard bit him, but he did not interrupt his prayers. To his disciples’ anxious inquiries he answered that he had been so preoccupied in prayer as not even to feel the bite. When the people found the reptile, dead, they exclaimed, “Woe to the man whom a lizard bites, and woe to the lizard that bites R. Hanina ben Dosa!” His wonderful escape is accounted for by the assertion that the result of a lizard’s bite depends upon which reaches water first, the man or the lizard; if the former, the latter dies; if the latter, the former dies. In Hanina’s case a spring miraculously opened under his very feet (Yerushalmi Berakhot, v. 9a). The Babylonian Gemara (Berakhot, 33a) has a different version of this miracle. RABBI HANINA REPLIED IT IS NOT THE ADDER THAT KILLS BUT THE SIN THAT KILLS – RP

Hanina’s prayers were efficacious in other directions also. While traveling he was caught in a shower and prayed “Master of the universe, the whole world is pleased, while Hanina alone is annoyed.” The rain immediately ceased. Arriving home, he altered his prayer: “Master of the universe, shall all the world be grieved while Hanina enjoys his comfort?” Thereupon copious showers descended. With reference to his rain-governing powers it was said, “Beside Ben Dosa’s prayers those of the high priest himself are of no avail” (Ta’anit, 24b). When, one Sabbath eve, his daughter filled the lamp with vinegar instead of oil, and then sadly told him of her mistake, he remarked, “He who hath endowed oil with the power of burning may endow vinegar with the same power”; and the lamp burned on throughout the whole of the next day (Ta’anit, 25a).

Notwithstanding his wonder-working powers, Hanina was very poor. Indeed, it became proverbial that, while the whole world was provided for through Hanina’s great merits, he himself sustained life from one Sabbath eve to another on a basket of carob-beans. For some time the outside world had been kept in ignorance of his privations; his wife did all that was possible to maintain an appearance of comfort, and though she had no flour with which to make dough, she would put fuel into the oven every Friday and cause columns of smoke to rise, thus making her neighbors believe that, like them, she was baking the Sabbath meals. In time, however, one woman’s suspicion was aroused, and she determined to surprise Hanina’s wife and discover the truth. But a miracle prevented exposure. When the woman appeared at Hanina’s house and looked into the smoking oven it was full of loaves. In spite of the miracle, Hanina’s wife induced him to collect from heaven an advance portion of his future lot. Hanina complied with her request, and, in answer to his prayer, a golden table-leg was miraculously sent him. Husband and wife were happy; but that night the wife had a vision of heaven in which she saw the saints feasting at three-legged tables while her husband’s table had only two legs. She awoke full of regret at the importunity which had deprived his table of a leg, and insisted that he pray for the withdrawal of the treasure. This he did, and the golden leg disappeared. Of this miracle the Talmud says: “It was greater than the former, since heaven gives, but never takes” (Ta’anit, 24b et seq.).

By a miracle Hanina was once prevented from partaking of untithed food. One eve of Sabbath he sat down to his frugal meal, when suddenly the table receded from him. After thinking a while he recollected that he had borrowed some spices from a neighbor and that he had not separated the required tithe (see aber). He thereupon adjusted the matter, and the table returned to him (Yerushalmi Demai, i. 22a). It is stated that Hanina’s donkey would not eat untithed food. Thieves had stolen the animal and confined it in their yard, furnishing it with the necessary provender; but the donkey would neither eat nor drink. As this continued for several days, the thieves concluded to free the animal, lest it starve to death and render their premises noisome. On its release it went straight home, none the worse for its long fast (Avot of Rabbi Natan, viii. 8 [ed. Schechter, p. 19b]; cf Yerushalmi Demai, i. 21d; Shabbat, 112b).

Once Hanina was greatly grieved at not being able, with other pious people, to present something to the Temple. In his despondency he walked out of town, and, seeing a huge rock, he vowed to carry it to Jerusalem as a gift to the Holy City. He smoothed and polished it, and then looked around for help to transport it. Five laborers appeared, and offered to carry the rock to its destined place for one hundred gold pieces. Hanina, who did not possess half that amount, turned away in despair. Soon, however, other laborers appeared and demanded only five “sela’im,” but they stipulated that Hanina himself should aid in the transportation. The agreement concluded, they all seized the rock, and in an instant stood before Jerusalem. When Hanina turned to pay the laborers they were nowhere to be found. He repaired to the Sanhedrin to inquire what disposition he should make of the uncollected wages. The Sanhedrin heard his tale and concluded that the laborers were ministering angels, not human laborers, and that Hanina was therefore at liberty to apply the money to his own use. He, however, presented it to the Temple (Cant. R. i. 1; Eccl. R. i.).

Thus was Hanina’s life a succession of miracles (see Pesachim, 112b; Bava Kamma, 50a). A comparatively late mishnah remarks, “With the death of Hanina ben Dosa wonder-workers (anshe ma’aseh) ceased to exist” (Sotah, ix. 15). His general character was likewise extolled. A contemporary rabbi, Eleazar of Modi’im, lecturing on Exodus xviii. 21, cited Hanina ben Dosa and his colleagues as illustrations of the scope of the expression “men of truth” (Mek., Yitro, Amalek, 1). Two centuries later a haggadist, commenting on Isaiah iii. 3, said, “By the term ‘honorable man’ is meant one through whose merits Heaven respects [is favorable to] his generation; such a one was Hanina ben Dosa” (Hagigah, 14a). Nor was Hanina’s wife soon forgotten; long after her death, legend relates, a party of seafarers espied a work-basket studded with diamonds and pearls. A diver attempted to seize it, but was deterred by a “bat kol” which said that the precious basket was designed for the wife of Hanina ben Dosa, who would eventually fill it with blue wool (tekelet; Numbers, xv. 38) for the saints of the future (Bava Batra, 74a).

Hanina lived at ‘Arab, in Galilee, whither he was first attracted by the fame of Johanan ben Zakkai (Berakhot, 34b). There he served as an example of Sabbath observance (Yerushalmi Berakhot, iv. 7c), and there he and his wife were buried.

Can be played on the 10th of Av in the afternoon – Yosef Rosenblatt a Yiddishe Mama:

Inyanay Diyoma

I heard about a Taliban Documentary of Abdullah a 5 or 6 year old boy. He and his friends are trained to carry ammunitions and guns across the Pakistan Afghan border. His group attacked an American patrol and in the fire fight Abdullah was killed. So we go back to square one except that it was a self defense night skirmish and nobody knew Abdullah was there or not on the American side.

New unmanned Israeli Navy Ship that can spot if fisher, terrorist or smugglers:

US and Israeli Defense meeting should have had this last week but I did not know of it:

This is not about Israel but so cute – Elio sent me this one in two million shot this is taking HEY BRO to a whole new level:


“The cascade of trouble would be significant. No electricity would mean out-of-control water, natural gas or fuel flows through distribution systems. Some explosions likely would happen, fires could ignite. But no emergency services could be contacted for help, and if they already were on scene, it’s unlikely water would be ready. Even worse, when such fires burn themselves out, and repairs are begun, supplies could neither be ordered nor delivered because of communications and fuel disruptions, and the critical workers needed for repairs might not be able to get to the location.”

The above paragraph from your newsletter (Yasher koach!) implicitly tells why amateur radio is still an essential service, and why the government recognizes this. If the cell towers and satellite dishes cease functioning, hundreds of guys with portable point-to-point radios that run off battery/auto/genny power will come out of the woodwork and set up ad hoc networks. Check for examples of this. – Chaim S.

Every Electronic Warfare Designer knows his CCC or Communications Command Control and that is a paramount task in any battlefield situation. ATT NYC took this into account in the late 60’s but the phones were dial up then and I don’t know how it works with modern telephones. The IDF uses old phones in the army as late as the time I left. They also had US voice scramblers for regiment commanders or battalion commanders and upwards.

Do you have a 401K IRA or a SEP account? One of the economical proposals being battered around is raising long term capitol gains taxes from 5% today to 28%.

New taxes don’t effect the rich only. Place a wind field profit tax on the oil companies and you’ll be hit at the pump where you make $25,000 a year or $250,000 a year. Only the later will feel it less than you.

Airline Companies are stupid. US Air is charging $2.50 for a cup of coffee instead of raising their fares and Delta Airlines is going to charge $50 each way for a second suitcase. Come on and give me a break. I want service when I fly and the flights to be safe and on time. I’m willing to pay a fair and reasonable price. Now with the price of fuel going down the airlines should stop the nonsense and treat everybody like first class customers and just have us pay for reasonable service.

Olympic Politics: Why Palestine but not Tibet? By Steven Shamrak.

(This article was published by Australian newspaper “The Age” just several days after the opening ceremony of the Athens Olympic Games, 4 years ago. It seems that the deep-seated hypocrisy of the IOC has not changed as 4 athletes, representatives of the fake Palestinian people, are coming to Beijing! The people of Tibet do have legal and historical right for independence, but they are not represented in Beijing!)

Only fools and hypocrites would argue that sport and politics do not mix. From the beginning any sports event had a political connotation. Participants almost always represented their villages, cities, tribes, ethnic and religious groups, kingdoms or countries.

It was a warm moment of hope this weekend when I saw the athletes of both Koreas walking as one team during the opening ceremony of the Athens Olympic Games. Even when countries are divided by a physical and ideological border their leaders made a bold gesture of unity. Then there was Afghanistan and Iraq, both sincerely welcomed back after gaining their freedom from political and religious tyrannies.

I was surprised when I saw the Taiwanese team walk out under the banner of Chinese Taipei and Hong Kong came out as a separate political entity. Obviously, the Chinese Government is playing some political games. And, the International Olympic Committee and Taiwan, in the spirit of the Olympic Games, clearly did not want to irritate a powerful member and neighbor.

Out of many legitimate political causes that the IOC could promote as a part of the Olympic Games I would like, for instance, to see the representatives of Kurdistan, the nation of 35 million people, whose land is divided between five or six countries.

There are many other forgotten people and countries that would benefit from Olympic participation: Tibet, Kashmir, the Basques and Chechens are only some of the nations and countries who are still illegitimately occupied by others. They are in real need of international moral support.

To support them however, means confrontation with countries like China, Russia, India, Pakistan and others. And, we are told, that the Olympic Games are not about confrontation. They are about peace. If this is so, why out of all causes the IOC choose and had been given legitimacy to the most illegitimate and ugly one?

It was sad to see in the Olympic stadium two athletes of fictitious people, from the never existed state of Palestine. It seems that the IOC’s sensitivity and intention of harmony and peace applies to all people and nations except Jews and Israel. I do accept the notion that politics has always played a part in sport. But this is ugly politics – and it makes sport unattractive and dirty!

Arabs don’t have a monopoly on lunatic fanaticism:

Highlighting what may be a growing trend in fanaticism, a 28-year-old resident of Jerusalem’s Ramot neighborhood has been arrested for attacking a woman as part of his activity in the “tznius patrol” or modesty police. Elhanan Buzaglo appeared in Jerusalem District Court on Sunday to answer charges stemming from a June 2008 home invasion in which a young woman was reportedly beaten by a group of ultra-Orthodox young men.

The woman had apparently been seen in the company of married men from the community. Details of the investigation, which began a month and a half ago, reveal that members of the tznius patrol entered the woman’s home and demanded that she move out, telling her that residents of the neighborhood had complained about her.

After the woman refused to do so, Buzaglo and two other men from the patrol allegedly attacked her. In addition, a third member of the patrol is suspected of stealing two cell phones from the woman’s apartment during the fray. Buzaglo was arrested after his fingerprints were identified inside the woman’s apartment, while a number of separate complaints from other women have been made about him as well.

Ranging from verbal harassment to an incident in which Buzaglo allegedly attempted to run a girl over with a car, there are at least 10 possible charges facing him. Buzaglo’s attorney, Ariel Atari, maintained his client’s innocence, saying Buzaglo isn’t even a member of the patrol.

“My client has no relation to the modesty police,” Atari told The Jerusalem Post on Monday. “Because he wears hassidic clothing, the police are trying to pin every instance of haredi violence on him. The fact that his fingerprints were taken from the scene of one of these alleged incidents is the only relation my client has to any of the cases. They have not yet proven anything concrete.”

Speaking about Buzaglo’s case, Jerusalem City Council opposition head Nir Barkat told the Post: “We have to uproot this despicable phenomenon of violence. I call upon the police to deal with this issue and guarantee the personal safety of the residents of Jerusalem.” The use of violence by modesty patrols in ultra-orthodox areas, however, is not a new occurrence.

Also in June, a 14-year-old girl in Betar Illit had acid spilled on her face and body, causing light burns. That incident was attributed to a similar modesty patrol in the town. In a graver incident that took place in November 2006, Miriam Shear, an orthodox woman from Canada, was allegedly beaten on the floor of an Egged bus when she refused to give up her seat as she rode to the Western Wall.

That episode underscored recent cases of ultra-orthodox men requesting “mehadrin” or kosher bus lines in which the sexes are separated – women in back and men up front. While the bus that Shear rode on was not a mehadrin line, she was reportedly told to move to the back of the bus by an ultra-orthodox man and was spit on, kicked and punched by a group of men when she refused.

The Egged driver in that case has repeatedly denied that violence took place on his bus, but an eyewitness on board who confirmed that an unprovoked “severe beating” took place has substantiated Shear’s account.

“I had heard a lot of rumors about [modesty police], but I didn’t really believe they existed,” said an orthodox Jerusalem resident who wished to remain anonymous. “Then a relative of mine told me that she was walking out of a store with a dress she had just purchased and a woman came up and sprayed it with white spray paint, ruining it. My relative is religious,” the man continued, “But I guess the clothes she had decided to buy were not modest enough for the other woman.”

We give them free US Degrees and then they terrorize us:,2933,397584,00.html

Warning to Syria and Iran about Lebanon:,7340,L-3578218,00.html and part 2,7340,L-3578399,00.html

The man who knew too much in Syria:,7340,L-3578616,00.html

Jonathan Pollard

Tsila: Israeli agent, Jonathan Pollard, who is completing his 23rd year of a life sentence in the United States for his service to Israel, on Monday, filed a lawsuit in Tel-Aviv District Court seeking Declaratory Relief. Pollard’s lawsuit aims to set the record, once and for all, that he and his wife, Esther, have never received any money whatsoever from the State of Israel, from the day of his arrest to the present. In his lawsuit Pollard states from the outset, that neither he nor his wife are interested in receiving money from the State – that his sole purpose in bring suit against the Government of Israel is to put an end to the lies it disseminates, lies which have been severely undermining the public struggle for his release.

In an unprecedented move Pollard turns to the Tel Aviv District Court today in order to refute the state's allegations, according to which, Jonathan and his wife Esther have been getting money from Israel for years. Pollard demonstrates in his lawsuit that the Government is lying to the media, to the public and the to the Courts when it states, repeatedly and in every public venue imaginable, that it supports him and his wife, that it makes resources available to them and that it provides them with funds. Pollard states unequivocally and offers proof that neither he nor his wife has ever received a cent from the Government of Israel.

Pollard’s lawsuit demonstrates that the false statements and claims of the State about the issue of money are intended to obscure from public scrutiny the fact that the State has not made the most minimal effort to secure his release from prison; and that they are also intended to blacken his reputation and that of his wife, Esther Pollard, in the eyes of the public, by portraying them as people whose sole motivation is a desire to elicit monetary support from the State– which is patently false. In defaming him this way, Pollard states, the State of Israel is effectively preventing him from galvanizing public support to help secure his release from prison.

Pollard is represented by attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, director of "Shurat HaDin – Israel Law Center", and attorney Roy Kohavi.

According to the lawsuit, Pollard has done everything he possibly could to get the State of Israel to stop lying, by claiming that it helps him financially or in any other way. He has turned to the Supreme Court, which refused to help on the grounds that the issue is political. He has turned to the State Comptroller, who told his attorney that he is not empowered to investigate this issue, that his mandate from the Knesset limits him only to expressing an opinion, not to investigating. Again in order to try to stop the lies, Pollard (via his attorney) turned to the State and asked for a detailed accounting of the funds they claim they are providing to him and his wife. The requests for information made to the Prime Minister's office were declined based on bizarre excuses such as "the individual’s right to privacy", "sensitivity issues", and "for fear it will harm Pollard's own good and Israel's efforts to assist him".

The lawsuit maintains that Pollard and his wife, Esther, have been abandoned by the State. It points out that they live in grave distress, both financially and in general. All of their expenses are funded by what little money Pollard's wife, Esther, has, and with the support of a few close friends. The lawsuit reveals, for the first time, a letter from then-Prime Minister and Defense Minister Ehud Barak to MK Rechavam Ze´evi, which states unequivocally that the State of Israel does NOT give any money to Pollard and does not have a bank account for him.

According to Pollard's attorney, attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, "the State is throwing sand in the public's eyes and is shamelessly lying to the court when it claims it financially supports Pollard and his wife. The state cannot go on deceiving the public by making it believe that it does anything for Pollard. Not only did the State abandon Pollard for 23 years, it also has the audacity to lie about it. If the State ever gave one shekel to Pollard or his wife – let it prove it! We know the truth, and it will come to light in the courtroom."

According to Esther Pollard, "This week, it is Jonathan’s 54th birthday. Had the State of Israel made the slightest effort, Jonathan would be here, celebrating his birthday at home in Jerusalem. Instead, he is ?celebrating´ by being forced to sue the State of Israel to try to stop the campaign of lies it is waging against him.?

(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)

Help fight Iran’s Nuclear Proliferation: I used The Israel Project's website to write to my local newspapers about Iran. They provided me with talking points for addressing my letter to the editor and automatically filled in the email address of the newspaper. Please take a moment and send a letter to your local newspapers and help spread the truth about a nuclear Iran. Visit to send a letter to your newspaper.



Our World: Capital punishment for capital crimes Caroline B. Glick , THE JERUSALEM POST Aug. 4, 2008

Six years ago last week, a bomb went off in the Frank Sinatra Cafeteria at Hebrew University's Mt. Scopus campus. Seven students were murdered. The attack was the work of a Hamas cell from the Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan.

The Silwan cell was one of the most prolific and murderous cells Israel has seen. In addition to the massacre at Hebrew University, its four members carried out the massacre at Moment Cafe in Jerusalem in which 12 were murdered; the Sheffield billiards club bombing in Rishon Lezion, which left 16 dead; and the bombing of railroad tracks in Lod. The cell's most horrendous attack, however, is generally downplayed.

In May 2002, the group planted a bomb in a fuel tanker and detonated it as the tanker stood on line to refuel at the Pi Glilot fuel depot. Miraculously, the cell had attached their bomb to a diesel tanker. Since diesel fuel is not as flammable as regular gasoline, the blast was insufficiently strong to blow up the fuel depot as they had planned. Had
they managed to attach their bomb to a gasoline tanker, the blast would likely have resulted in a fireball that could have killed thousands.

Pi Glilot fuel depot is located in one of the most densely populated areas of the country. It is adjacent to North Tel Aviv, Ramat Hasharon and the Glilot junction which, when the bomb went off, was filled with bumper-to-bumper traffic. Given the magnitude of its foreseeable and sought for carnage, the attack on Pi Glilot constituted an act of genocide.

For their activities, three members of the cell were convicted of 35 counts of murder and several counts of attempted murder (210 people were wounded in their attacks). They received 35 consecutive life sentences and additional decades for their non-lethal attacks. The fourth member was convicted of assisting murder and was sentenced to 60 years in prison.

THE CRIMES of the Silwan cell bear recalling today as the lame duck Olmert-Livni- Barak government continues its negotiations with Hamas toward the release of IDF Sgt. Gilad Schalit, whom the terror regime and its terror partners have held hostage since June 2006. Hamas is demanding that in a three-stage swap, Israel release a thousand terrorists for Schalit. Hamas has made clear that it demands senior terrorists and convicted murderers including Fatah terror master Marwan Barghouti, PFLP commander Ahmed Sa'adat and an unknown number of additional murderers.

In late June, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's hostage negotiator Ofer Dekel provided Hamas the names of 450 terrorists that Israel is willing to release in the first stage of the deal. Although their identities were not revealed to the public, it can be assumed that among them are convicted murderers. Olmert recently told the government that Israel will have to redefine what it means by terrorists "with blood on their hands" in order to relax the criteria for releasing murderers and attempted murderers in exchange for
Schalit. Moreover, several ministers are actively lobbying for Barghouti's release.

To date, no one has publicly raised the prospect of releasing murderers like the Silwan cell members. But this is no cause for relief. Even if they are not released in a deal to free Schalit, there is no reason to assume that they will die in prison.

In 2004, Israel refused to release baby-murdering Samir Kuntar in exchange for the bodies of soldiers Adi Avitan, Benny Avraham and Omar Sawayid, and for drug dealer and Hizbullah agent Elhanan Tannenbaum. Instead, Israel released Hizbullah commanders Mustafa Dirani and Abdul Karim Obeid - men who were supposed to only be released in exchange for IAF navigator Ron Arad who was kidnapped in 1986. Once Dirani and Obeid were released, Israel had no one left except Kuntar to release in exchange for the mutilated corpses of IDF reservists Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser last month. So too, if Israel releases a thousand mid-level terrorist murderers as well as Barghouti and Sa'adat for Schalit, it will have set the stage for the release of mass murderers in the next go-round.

ALL OF this raises the issue that polite Israeli society insists on sweeping under the rug: Israel's repeated willingness to release terrorists for live and dead hostages makes clear the need to implement the death penalty against terrorist murderers.

The criminal code permits the death penalty to be used in cases of treason, murder, crimes against humanity, genocide and crimes against the Jewish people. The problem is not the laws on the books; the problem is the state prosecution' s refusal to use them. Regardless of the nature of their crimes, the State Attorney's Office refuses to request that judges sentence terrorists to death.

After the members of the Silwan cell were arrested in the fall of 2002 and the enormity of their crimes was made known, there was a relatively concerted public campaign to lobby then attorney-general and current Supreme Court Justice Elyakim Rubinstein to request the death penalty for the cell members. But he never considered it.

The fact that another irresponsible government would be liable to one day release them in exchange for hostages seems not to have bothered him. Then, too, Rubinstein seems not to have been bothered by the fact that these men, and thousands like them continue to constitute a grave danger. In prison they are free to plot and order the carrying out of still more attacks. Several murderous attacks have been ordered by prisoners who communicate their orders through their lawyers, their family members and even on the telephone. Moreover, while in prison they are free to draft their fellow prisoners into their genocidal ranks. Since many of these fellow prisoners were convicted of lesser crimes, they will be released to kill still more Israelis after being radicalized in prison by the likes of the Silwan gang.

IT IS not surprising that none of these facts played into Rubinstein's calculations when he opted not to ask the judges to sentence the Silwan gang to death. Quite simply, the rarified intellectual and moral universe that he, his successor Menahem Mazuz and their fellow prosecutors inhabit is not the intellectual and moral universe that most Israelis live in. The prosecutors live in a world in which morality is an abstract issue, best adjudicated by professors, judges and themselves in the name of enlightened

The country's professoriate, which enjoys an intimate relationship with its legal fraternity, long ago dropped any semblance of propriety in its enthusiastic embrace of anti-Zionist causes. Their top-to-bottom moral derangement was clearly on display last week when a day before the sixth anniversary of the Hebrew University massacre, the university's president, Menahem Magidor, joined his fellow university presidents in signing a letter to Defense Minister Ehud Barak demanding that the Defense Ministry stop barring Palestinian students who constitute security risks from studying in Israeli universities.

The university presidents wrote the letter in support of a petition to the High Court of Justice by the anti-Zionist NGO Gisha which is demanding the court bar the security services from preventing Palestinian students from studying in Israeli universities or prevent them from studying subjects like nuclear physics that could facilitate the pan-Islamic war effort against the Jewish state. Gisha's petition was signed by some 450 senior and junior faculty members from all Israeli universities.

Ironically, the university presidents issued their missive 10 days after the Shin Beit (Israel Security Agency) announced it had arrested six Israeli Arabs suspected of membership in al-Qaida. Two of them were students at Hebrew University. One of the students is accused of planning to assassinate US President George W. Bush by downing his helicopter during his visit in May.

In light of the legal and intellectual elites' pathological refusal to recognize the murderous character of Palestinian terrorists and Israel's duty to defend its citizens from murder, it would make sense for the Knesset to circumscribe their authority to adjudicate morality from the bench and the lectern. The Knesset could amend the criminal code to require the death penalty in cases of terrorist murder.

Unfortunately, such an effort by the Knesset would likely not suffice to force their hand. Either the prosecutors would indict the terrorists on lesser charges or the judges would declare the amendments unconstitutional, or both.

The Supreme Court's refusal to simply acknowledge Israel's duty to defend its citizens was made clear by its handling of the anti-Zionist Left's 2001 petition to bar the IDF from conducting targeted killings of terrorists. Although the measure is perfectly legal, the court took five and a half years to issue its ruling that the IDF is in fact legally entitled by customary international law to target terrorists. Why there was even a question that the IDF has the right to target illegal combatants engaged in an illegal terror war is unclear. Yet even in its self-evident ruling, the Court invented limitations on the tactic to demonstrate its concern for the well-being of terrorist mass-murderers.

The recidivism rates of terrorists released in hostage swaps alone make clear that hostages-for- terrorists swaps endanger Israeli citizens. And in light of the moral depravity of our intellectual and legal elites, it is clear that legislative action alone cannot remedy the current situation in which even the most monstrous terrorists can safely assume that they will one day be released. The public must involve itself in the issue.

THE FIRST step in a campaign calling for a mandatory death penalty for terrorist murderers would be to conduct a poll on the issue. To date, no major polling institution has conducted a poll of public opinion on the death penalty.

Beyond that, student activists should band together to oppose their professors' call for the Defense Ministry to stop conducting security checks of potential students. A new student organization, "Im Tirtzu," was formed last year to combat the anti-Zionist claptrap disguised as academic research being propagated by their professors. It is already organizing such a campaign and its efforts should be supported.

Finally, the public must make clear, through demonstrations and e-mail campaigns to political leaders and to the mass media, that it demands both an end to the hostages for terrorists swaps and the death penalty for convicted terrorist murderers. It is now, as our politicians gear up for elections, that they are most prone to listen to us.

It is hard for private citizens to take a public stand. But between our governmental instability, the weakness of our political leaders and the perfidy of our elites, it has fallen to us to make our demand for security and responsible leadership clear. Until we can be certain that murderers like Kuntar and the Silwan gang will never harm us again, we will not be able to sleep soundly in our beds. that are the best of their class. – sent by a number of people on different forums.

Israel’s famed basketball coach passes away – he led the first international sports victory:

U.S. INTEL: IRAN PLANS NUCLEAR STRIKES ON U.S. by Kenneth Timmerman forwarded with comments by Emanuel A. Winston, Middle East Analyst & Commentator

Several years ago I had proposed that Israel send a message to all her hostile neighbors to the effect that, IF Israel were to be attacked in a saturation missile attack, conventional or including NBC (Nuclear, Biological and/or Chemical) weapons, Israel would retaliate against ALL Muslim and/or Arab countries with a nuclear counter-strike. Therefore, it would be extremely prudent for all Muslim Arab countries to act as Israel’s protector and insure that no one of them (such as Iran) would be able to launch a first strike with impunity.

Each Arab Islamic nation has spies in each other’s country simply because they do not trust each other. That alone ought to teach us Westerners ...... Therefore, it would be in the Arab Muslim countries’ best interest to inform Israel or America what they know as to what is being planned by any rogue state. Clearly, it is past time to destroy Iran’s burgeoning nuclear capacity before it matures to a level where an attack scenario can be implemented.

China, Russia, North Korea and Pakistan should be made to share the pain as they have all acted as enablers of Iran’s nuclear capability. They should all be warned that they too would be targeted for a nuclear counter-strike IF Iran targeted Israel or America.



U.S. Intel: Iran Plans Nuclear Strike on U.S. By: Kenneth R. Timmerman NEWSMAX.COM Tuesday, July 29, 2008 9:00 AM

Iran has carried out missile tests for what could be a plan for a nuclear strike on the United States, the head of a national security panel has warned. In testimony before the House Armed Services Committee and in remarks to a private conference on missile defense over the weekend hosted by the Claremont Institute, Dr. William Graham warned that the U.S. intelligence community "doesn’t have a story" to explain the recent Iranian tests. One group of tests that troubled Graham, the former White House science adviser under President Ronald Reagan, were successful efforts to launch a Scud missile from a platform in the Caspian Sea.

"They’ve got [test] ranges in Iran which are more than long enough to handle Scud launches and even Shahab-3 launches," Dr. Graham said. "Why would they be launching from the surface of the Caspian Sea? They obviously have not explained that to us." Another troubling group of tests involved Shahab-3 launches where the Iranians "detonated the warhead near apogee, not over the target area where the thing would eventually land, but at altitude," Graham said. "Why would they do that?"

Graham chairs the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack, a blue-ribbon panel established by Congress in 2001.
The commission examined the Iranian tests "and without too much effort connected the dots," even though the U.S. intelligence community previously had failed to do so, Graham said. "The only plausible explanation we can find is that the Iranians are figuring out how to launch a missile from a ship and get it up to altitude and then detonate it," he said. "And that’s exactly what you would do if you had a nuclear weapon on a Scud or a Shahab-3 or other missile, and you wanted to explode it over the United States."

The commission warned in a report issued in April that the United States was at risk of a sneak nuclear attack by a rogue nation or a terrorist group designed to take out our nation’s critical infrastructure. "If even a crude nuclear weapon were detonated anywhere between 40 kilometers to 400 kilometers above the earth, in a split-second it would generate an electro-magnetic pulse [EMP] that would cripple military and civilian communications, power, transportation, water, food, and other infrastructure," the report warned.

While not causing immediate civilian casualties, the near-term impact on U.S. society would dwarf the damage of a direct nuclear strike on a U.S. city. "The first indication [of such an attack] would be that the power would go out, and some, but not all, the telecommunications would go out. We would not physically feel anything in our bodies," Graham said. As electric power, water and gas delivery systems failed, there would be "truly massive traffic jams," Graham added, since modern automobiles and signaling systems all depend on sophisticated electronics that would be disabled by the EMP wave.

"So you would be walking. You wouldn’t be driving at that point," Graham said. "And it wouldn’t do any good to call the maintenance or repair people because they wouldn’t be able to get there, even if you could get through to them." The food distribution system also would grind to a halt as cold-storage warehouses stockpiling perishables went offline. Even warehouses equipped with backup diesel generators would fail, because "we wouldn’t be able to pump the fuel into the trucks and get the trucks to the warehouses," Graham said. The United States "would quickly revert to an early 19th century type of country." except that we would have 10 times as many people with ten times fewer resources, he said.

"Most of the things we depend upon would be gone, and we would literally be depending on our own assets and those we could reach by walking to them," Graham said.
America would begin to resemble the 2002 TV series, "Jeremiah," which depicts a world bereft of law, infrastructure, and memory. In the TV series, an unspecified virus wipes out the entire adult population of the planet. In an EMP attack, the casualties would be caused by our almost total dependence on technology for everything from food and water, to hospital care.

Within a week or two of the attack, people would start dying, Graham says. "People in hospitals would be dying faster than that, because they depend on power to stay alive. But then it would go to water, food, civil authority, emergency services. And we would end up with a country with many, many people not surviving the event."

Asked just how many Americans would die if Iran were to launch the EMP attack it appears to be preparing, Graham gave a chilling reply. "You have to go back into the 1800s to look at the size of population" that could survive in a nation deprived of mechanized agriculture, transportation, power, water, and communication. "I’d have to say that 70 to 90 percent of the population would not be sustainable after this kind of attack," he said. America would be reduced to a core of around 30 million people — about the number that existed in the decades after America’s independence from Great Britain.

The modern electronic economy would shut down, and America would most likely revert to "an earlier economy based on barter," the EMP commission’s report on Critical National Infrastructure concluded earlier this year. In his recent congressional testimony, Graham revealed that Iranian military journals, translated by the CIA at his commission’s request, "explicitly discuss a nuclear EMP attack that would gravely harm the United States."

Furthermore, if Iran launched its attack from a cargo ship plying the commercial sea lanes off the East coast — a scenario that appears to have been tested during the Caspian Sea tests — U.S. investigators might never determine who was behind the attack. Because of the limits of nuclear forensic technology, it could take months. And to disguise their traces, the Iranians could simply decide to sink the ship that had been used to launch it, Graham said.

Several participants in last weekend’s conference in Dearborn, Mich., hosted by the conservative Claremont Institute argued that Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was thinking about an EMP attack when he opined that "a world without America is conceivable." In May 2007, then Undersecretary of State John Rood told Congress that the U.S. intelligence community estimates that Iran could develop an ICBM capable of hitting the continental United States by 2015.

But Iran could put a Scud missile on board a cargo ship and launch from the commercial sea lanes off America’s coasts well before then. The only thing Iran is lacking for an effective EMP attack is a nuclear warhead, and no one knows with any certainty when that will occur. The latest U.S. intelligence estimate states that Iran could acquire the fissile material for a nuclear weapon as early as 2009, or as late as 2015, or possibly later.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld first detailed the "Scud-in-a-bucket" threat during a briefing in Huntsville, Ala., on Aug. 18, 2004. While not explicitly naming Iran, Rumsfeld revealed that "one of the nations in the Middle East had launched a ballistic missile from a cargo vessel. They had taken a short-range, probably Scud missile, put it on a transporter-erector launcher, lowered it in, taken the vessel out into the water, peeled back the top, erected it, fired it, lowered it, and covered it up. And the ship that they used was using a radar and electronic equipment that was no different than 50, 60, 100 other ships operating in the immediate area."

Iran’s first test of a ship-launched Scud missile occurred in spring 1998, and was mentioned several months later in veiled terms by the Commission to Assess the Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States, a blue-ribbon panel also known as the Rumsfeld Commission.

I was the first reporter to mention the Iran sea-launched missile test in an article appearing in the Washington Times in May 1999. Intelligence reports on the launch were "well known to the White House but have not been disseminated to the appropriate congressional committees," I wrote. Such a missile "could be used in a devastating stealth attack against the United States or Israel for which the United States has no known or planned defense."

Few experts believe that Iran can be deterred from launching such an attack by the threat of massive retaliation against Iran. They point to a December 2001 statement by former Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani, who mulled the possibility of Israeli retaliation after an Iranian nuclear strike. "The use of an atomic bomb against Israel would destroy Israel completely, while [the same] against the Islamic only would cause damages. Such a scenario is not inconceivable," Rafsanjani said at the time.

Rep. Trent Franks, R, Ariz., plans to introduce legislation next week that would require the Pentagon to lay the groundwork for an eventual military strike against Iran, to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and EMP capability. "An EMP attack on America would send us back to the horse and buggy era — without the horse and buggy," he told the Claremont Institute conference on Saturday. "If you’re a terrorist, this is your ultimate goal, your ultimate asymmetric weapon."

Noting Iran’s recent sea-launched and mid-flight warhead detonation tests, Rep. Franks concluded, "They could do it — either directly or anonymously by putting some freighter out there on the ocean." The only possible deterrent against Iran is the prospect of failure, Dr. Graham and other experts agreed. And the only way the United States could credibly threaten an Iranian missile strike would be to deploy effective national missile defenses.

"It’s well known that people don’t go on a diet until they’ve had a heart attack," said Claremont Institute president Brian T. Kennedy. "And we as a nation are having a heart attack" when it comes to the threat of an EMP attack from Iran. "As of today, we have no defense against such an attack. We need space-based missile defenses to protect against an EMP attack," he told Newsmax. Rep. Franks said he remains surprised at how partisan the subject of space-based missile defenses remain. "Nuclear missiles don’t discriminate on party lines when they land," he said.

Arizona Republican Sen. Jon Kyl, a long-standing champion of missile defense, told the Claremont conference on Friday that Sen. Obama has opposed missile defense tooth and nail and as president would cut funding for these programs dramatically. "Senator Obama has been quoted as saying, ‘I don’t agree with a missile defense system,’ and that we can cut $10 billion of the research out — never mind, as I say, that the entire budget is $9.6 billion, or $9.3 billion," Kyl said.

Like Franks, Kyl believes that the only way to eventually deter Iran from launching an EMP attack on the United States is to deploy robust missile defense systems, including space-based interceptors. The United States "needs a missile defense that is so strong, in all the different phases we need to defend against . . . that countries will decide it’s not worth coming up against us," Kyl said.

"That’s one of the things that defeated the Soviet Union. That’s one of the ways we can deal with these rogue states . . . and also the way that we can keep countries that are not enemies today, but are potential enemies, from developing capabilities to challenge us. "

Natan Sharansky goes on American television, warns US Jews against voting for Obama, who represents a 'risk to Israel' Arutz Sheva Daily Israel Report

Wednesday, Aug. 06 '08, 5 Av 5768 SHARANSKY BACKS MCCAIN, CALLS OBAMA A 'RISK' TO ISRAEL by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu

Former Prisoner of Zion Natan Sharansky has termed Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama a "risk" to Israel if he is elected president. The former minister in the Sharon government, who also is a personal friend of American President George W. Bush, told Shalom TV that he prefers Republican presidential candidate
Senator John McCain.

Shalom TV is an American Jewish cable network that reaches 18 million homes.

"In the case of McCain, we know exactly where his policy is," said Sharansky. "I know, personally, McCain for 20 years. He is a person of principle, and he is also a person who has absolutely a great record of supporting Israel. Getting to Obama, there is no record. Nobody can know for sure what will be. It can happen to be good. It can happen to be very bad. It's a risk."

The interview with Sharansky on Shalom TV can be seen here. Sen. Obama, who last month completed a high-profile two-day visit in Israel, said "all the right things which Israelis wanted to hear," Sharansky commented. However, he added that unlike Sen. McCain, the young first-time Senator has no proven record. Sen. Obama has been fighting a negative image on Israel, partly due to an e-mail campaign against him that accused him of being a Muslim disguised as a Christian. Critics also often point out that Sen. Obama's middle name is Hussein. He countered by telling a Jewish synagogue in Florida that his first name in Hebrew means "blessed."

Obama won enthusiastic applause several weeks ago in a rousing speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), who heard him announce the Jerusalem should be the united and eternal capital of Israel.

Following the AIPAC speech, fierce Arab protests forced him to backtrack within 24 hours, and he clarified his statement by saying that Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) must decide the future status of the city. He later said that the call for an "undivided" Jerusalem was his way of objecting to a barbed-wire barrier in the middle of the city, similar to the one that existed when eastern Jerusalem was under Jordanian occupation between 1949 and 1967. - Herm

Jews in the News: The media reported this week that John McCain's campaign has asked Rep. Eric Cantor (VA-7), the lone Jewish Republican in the House, to present papers for vice-presidential vetting.

"[Eric Cantor] is an appealing and articulate leader for Jewish Republicans and all Republicans. As the GOP continues to make inroads in the Jewish community, it is a wonderful moment to introduce this rising star to a wider audience," said Suzanne Kurtz, the RJC spokeswoman.

I might not be skinny but I try (maybe not hard enough chomp): The Skinny on Elliptical Machines

When you're looking for a break from you usual treadmill routing, you might want to try an elliptical machine. They have some nice features: Most machines have a lot of variables built in, and many have movable handles that you can use to work your upper body. Obviously, if the machine you're using has the option for maximizing your session by working the upper body, use it.

When working out on an elliptical machine, it's important to increase resistance. Otherwise, gravity will be doing all the work for you. You can target different leg muscles by varying the ramp incline. If the ramp is inclined and you're pedaling forward, you're working the back leg muscles: the hamstrings, glutes, and calves. If the ramp is at a lower incline and you pedal backward, you're training the front leg muscles: the quads and dorsiflexors.

Elliptical workouts are especially good for people with knee problems — they will find the elliptical machine to be a great cardio alternative to running because it is much easier on the joints. Also those suffering from Plantar Fasciitis can only use the bicycle or the elliptical machine and not the treadmill.


Good Shabbos Everyone. This Motzei Shabbos (Saturday night through Sunday night) marks the observance of Tisha b' Av, the ninth day of the month of Av, the day on which both of the holy Temples in Jerusalem were destroyed. Tisha b' Av is the saddest day of the year; in recognizing such, the Sages instituted fasting and denied us other comforts on that day in order to focus our attention on mourning for the destruction of the Temple, the Bais HaMikdash.
The primary function of the Bais HaMikdash was to bring sacrifices, which among other things, enabled Jews to atone for their spiritual missteps. Now that we do not have the Bais HaMikdash, it should be speedily rebuilt, the Sages teach us that Torah learning takes the place of sacrifices. (see Menuchos 110a). The MaHaRaL explains that just as the korban - sacrifice had the power to bring a Jew back closer to Hashem, so too does learning Torah has that power. A sin distances a Jew from Hashem; Torah learning brings him closer once again. The following inspirational true story will inspire us to want to learn more Torah.
Under the evil Communist regime (which, ranging from estimates murdered from 55 to about 62 million people between 1917 and 1987!), the Soviet Union was nearly totally devoid of any Yiddishkeit - Judaism. All that remained was a small remnant of the great Torah centers and Jewish communities which once were.
There were just a few precious souls keeping Judaism alive. One such soul was Yuri Zilber, who was a mathematician. With a government position, he was regarded as a loyal, simple servant of Mother Russia. Yet his true servitude was not to Mother Russia. Clandestinely, Yuri was Yitzchok and he spent every free moment delving into the depths of Hashem's holy Torah.
It seems impossible that a well-known academic could get away with living such a double lifestyle, but Yuri/Yitzchok had a secret. A secret that was well hidden. Every morning Yitzchok would tear out one page from a Gemara (Talmud), conceal it in his clothing, and when he had a spare minute, he would steal away some time to learn; at times he even got lost in the page he was studying, risking revealing his true identity.
Amazingly, Yitzchok did this for quite a long time, demonstrating remarkable perseverance. Daf by daf, sheet by sheet, he lovingly tore out each page, reviewed it over and over, and mastered it, noting to himself the topics that were perplexing and difficult, and which he could not resolve.
Ultimately, after tearing out over 2,300 pages of Talmud, he had mastered them all. He had accomplished the impossible! But his mission was not yet complete. In 1973 he achieved what he thought was hopeless — exit visas for his entire family to immigrate to Eretz Yisrael.
The excitement was indescribable. But perhaps more than anything else, Yitzchok looked forward to finally being able to resolve the difficulties that he had encountered in his Gemara studies throughout the years. His family boarded the plane and, with joy in their hearts, took the trip of their lifetime.
The moment the plane landed in Ben Gurion Airport, Yitzchok descended and ran over to the first man with a yarmulka that he saw. With a tattered page of the Tractate Eruvin in hand, Yitzchok grabbed the man by the lapels, "Please explain this Tosafos (Talmudic commentary) to me!"
The stunned man, a security guard, stared at Yitzchok in disbelief. Had this man lost his mind? Yitzchok looked more closely at the guard and immediately realized that not everyone in Eretz Yisrael made the most of the opportunity they had to study Hashem's Torah.
Broken, Yitzchok began to cry. After years of living in a land where religion was forbidden, and intolerance reigned supreme, he was shaken by the fact that every Jew who was free to do so was not constantly immersed in Hashem's Torah.
Soon after Yitzchok and his family arrived in Eretz Yisrael, his son Anatoly, or Avraham as he was now called, came to the Mirrer Yeshivah in Jerusalem. He had come to meet the Rosh Yeshivah, Reb Chaim Shmulevitz.
It was hard to fathom that a mere few days earlier opening a Gemara in public was grounds for imprisonment, torture and even death. And now here he was about to come face to face with the leader of one of the greatest yeshivos in the world.
But Avraham's heart was filled with anxiety, and he did not wear the worry and concern well. The palms of his hands were sweaty and cold and his stomach churned as he stood on the ground floor of the yeshivah outside the door of Reb Chaim's apartment.
The door opened and Reb Chaim invited the 17-year-old Russian boy inside. Reb Chaim's warmth enveloped the young boy. Although Reb Chaim was overjoyed to spend time speaking with the young man, he was taken aback when Avraham requested to be admitted to the yeshivah.
Reb Chaim looked into the young man's eyes and could sense his intense desire to learn and to be a yeshivah bochur. But Reb Chaim explained to him that there were other yeshivos which were better suited for one who was still a novice in learning. He encouraged him warmly and assured him that when the time came he would most certainly accept him into the yeshivah. (Reb Chaim feared perhaps that Avrohom would become despondent should he fail to succeed in such a high caliber yeshivah.)
Avraham listened to each and every word and nodded. When Reb Chaim finished speaking, Avraham looked at the Rosh Yeshivah, this time with tears in his eyes, and insisted that he be given a chance, a chance to prove himself.
Finally, Reb Chaim relented and agreed to test the boy. Reb Chaim felt rather uncomfortable administering the entrance exam to this young man, for he feared that the boy would be embarrassed. They walked together to the bookshelf and Reb Chaim turned to Avraham and asked him on which tractate of the Talmud he wished to be tested. The young man hung his head in shame.
Reb Chaim realized that the boy had obviously not learned much of anything in Russia. With no Hebrew school to attend, what could he have possibly learned? Reb Chaim looked down at the boy, and through his silence sensed the embarrassment the young man felt. Again Reb Chaim asked him, but this time in a softer tone, "You do not have to be ashamed. Is there any Gemara I can test you on?"
The boy looked up and Reb Chaim noticed the tears that now filled his eyes. "I'm ashamed to say that I know only Seders (Orders of the Talmud/Mishna) Nashim and Nezikin, Gemara, Rashi and Tosafos." (A very sizeable amount of Gemara.) Reb Chaim could not move! He was stunned! He just stared at this suddenly mature young man and was overcome by the awesome realization that this boy, under the threat and danger of expulsion to Siberia, had learned more in his seventeen years than most yeshivah boys in liberated countries accomplish during their entire lifetime of learning. Reb Chaim pulled the young man close to him and held him tight — and he gladly accepted him into the yeshivah. (TOUCHED BY A STORY 2, Reb Yechiel Spero, P. 158)
Let us all be inspired by this story to increase our Torah learning as much as possible. We hope to have the Beis HaMikdash rebuilt speedily in our days, at which time we will once again have the sacrifices to atone for our sins. In the meantime, let us apply ourselves in Torah learning, which Sages have promised us as having the power to atone for our misdeeds. Good Shabbos Everyone.

Good Shabbos Everyone. In this week's portion Massei the Torah tells us about the journeys of the Bnai
Yisroel. Why is it so important for the Torah to describe in such great detail the wanderings of the Jewish people? The
commentary Maor Eynayim explains that there is a reason for every place that we must go in life. Namely, we must go to
that certain place to elevate the sparks of holiness, which lay there, waiting to be elevated. We elevate the sparks of
holiness in that place, by serving Hashem in that place. This is especially true in places with little or no Jewish
communities. The following inspiring true story illustrates one Jew's journeys in this world. One of the ways that Jews
interact with others in their journeys is through experiencing Hachnasas Orchim, hosting others, which is a huge mitzvah.
Reb Yechiel Fishel, the son of the Alexander Rebbe, was A blessed with great wealth with which he performed
endless acts of chesed. He owned a huge home where he would house many guests at one time. Some of the guests
were great roshei yeshivah; some were homeless paupers. It mattered not to Reb Yechiel Fishel. He and everyone in his
family were happy to have any type of guest at all.
One time, a middle-aged man by the name of Reb Mordechai was on his way back from a fair in Lodz. It would take
a few days for him to make the journey all the way back to his home. When he heard that there was a great host in
Melintz, he decided to stop off and spend the night there. He walked into the house of Reb Yechiel Fishel and was
amazed to see that there was a big event taking place; the table was set for a feast, with an endless array of delicacies.
What shocked him was that there were paupers partaking of the food. He approached one poor fellow, whose plate
was heaped high with delicacies. "Aren't you ashamed to take food that the host prepared for his fancy gathering tonight?"
Reb Mordechai asked.
The poor man looked up, smiled, and said, "This is the way the food is always served in this house! Always! For
everyone who comes in!" As he slowly adjusted to this new and unbelievable set of circumstances, Reb Mordechai was
shown to a beautiful guest room, one of many in the house. He glanced around the room and was thrilled to find that the
bed looked comfortable, the room was warm and cozy, and the pillows were plump. He had not enjoyed a good night's
sleep in many months and could hardly wait to shut his eyes. He removed his clothing and put his torn and shabby shoes
at the side of his bed. Then he laid his head down on the pillow. Within moments, he was out cold.
The next morning the bright sunlight peeked through the shades in the room. Reb Mordechai smiled as he realized
that he had just enjoyed the best night's sleep he had had in a long time. But when he went to dress, he realized that his
shoes were gone! He couldn't believe it. Someone in this magnificent home had stolen his shoes! As he looked around
the room, he spied another pair of shoes and when he tried them on, he saw that they fit perfectly. Then he realized that
they were his own shoes, but someone had repaired and shined them overnight!
He went downstairs to find another lavish display of food, served by waiters meeting the guests' every need. Reb
Mordechai sat down at the table and told the fellow next to him about the strange incident that had taken place with his
Another guest began to nod; the same thing had happened to him. A third visitor mentioned that his coat had been
torn, and in the morning he had found it repaired and restored. Reb Mordechai had been ready to set out that day and
return home but the excellent accommodations encouraged him to rethink his plan and instead spend another day in the
town to perhaps find some work and make some money.
During the second night in the beautiful house, he decided to keep watch to see what would happen overnight with
his clothing. It was already quite late when Reb Mordechai came back to his room. He got undressed and put his shoes
next to his bed. The house was quiet and he shut his eyes just enough to look like he was sleeping. And then he waited.
Sure enough, a few moments later, a small boy he had seen around the house entered the room. The child, Tzvi
Chanoch, checked Reb Mordechai's shoes and coat and pants to make sure that everything was in good condition. When
he saw that all was in order, he smiled, walked out, and proceeded to the next room. Reb Mordechai waited a few
minutes and then got up to watch from his door to see where the young boy was going.
Sure enough, the child went from room to room to check the guests' clothing. Reb Mordechai wondered to himself:
Who was fixing the clothing and shoes in the middle of the night? He simply had to find out. He followed Tzvi Chanoch
down the steps and kept a safe distance so as not to get "caught." The boy, his arms full of clothes and shoes, headed to
a room at the bottom floor of the mansion. Reb Mordechai kept following.
He could not believe what he saw. It was after 1 a.m., but the room was full of tailors and shoemakers repairing the
garments and shoes that Tzvi Chanoch had brought down. It was dark and quiet outside, but inside this room it was
literally daytime! Careful not to interrupt or get noticed, Reb Mordechai watched in awe as each of the specialists
performed their craft.
After a while, Tzvi Chanoch retrieved the clothing and shoes and began to make his way back upstairs. Reb
Mordechai ran up the stairs and watched again from his room as the possessions were returned to their rightful owners.
Reb Mordechai went to sleep that night amazed at the amazing hachnasas orchim he had witnessed. The boy, Tzvi
Chanoch, grew up to become one of the greatest machnisei orchim of the past 200 years — the great Rav Tzvi Chanoch
HaKohen Levin. (Reb Yechiel Spero A Touch of Warmth p. 166) Good Shabbos Everyone.
Mr. Wolfberg's Stories (not mine) are sponsored by:Hashem should help that Shosha Malka bas Golda be forever free of pain and suffering Refuah Shleimah to Chana Ashayra bas Dodi

Good Shabbos and a fast that will bring about Moshiach,
Rachamim Pauli