Friday, February 20, 2009

Parsha Mishpatim, stories, news

Noach Eliezer Avraham ben Simcha Miriam needs some Psalms on Shabbos only and hopefully the toddler will be out of any danger next week.

Parsha Mishpatim Part I

Rabbi Yacov Lustig Shlita of Cincinnati, OH opened up his Drasha with the following idea. Why does the Torah start first with Mishpatim and only after that the building and use of the Mishkan (Tabernacle)? The reason is to learn first how to be a good human being as we say a real Mensch. Once you are humane between yourself and your neighbor then in mundane affairs then you can become holy to build the Mishkan.

The Parsha can be stated that here are so many Mitzvos between human beings. Starting with the lowly slave, damages caused by animals, and even if one hit his parents what happens to him. Of course at this point the Bible is not to be taken literally “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth” but according to traditional interpretation of Oral Torah. The Sadducees (Tzudukim) and not Jews fall into the trap of literal interpretation and in the later case not knowing the original language make mistake after mistake in interpretation of simple laws. In fact up until the labor unions were organized, workers had no rights. Yet 3300 years ago in the Sinai Desert, an Israeli bondman or non-Jewish slave had rights. They would get the pillow if the master only had one, they would be freed if the master injured them. Who ever heard of workers compensation even today with the white slavery trade still in existence. Everything was in accordance to the principle of restitution for damages among neighbors. If a maiden was seduced or raped (heaven forbid), compensation was given to the father. In addition, the Rabbis added pain, embarrassment, healing, etc. The culprit had more than just a jail sentence; he could have a life sentence without being able to divorce her.

This year I want to revise what I wrote a few years ago about slavery in Judaism. (Remember that the Torah with the exception of the Tribe of Levi were friend slaves.) There were no Simon Lagrees apprehending run away slaves. If the slave ran away the master was thought to be at fault. Slaves were not chattel. It is true that an Eved Evri could marry a female Canaanite slave and then upon his release earn enough money to free her and their children as full fledged Jews. In fact the Canaanite slave whether male or female would be sent to the Mikvah upon capture and upon release would be a full fledged Yisraelite. A male Maumzer (stigmatized birth through Kares relationships example a married woman with one other than her husband, incest, etc. but not that of a Niddah or a non-married female) could theoretically sell himself into slavery (like contract work) and after being freed or staying until the Yovel (Jubilee) Year be released with some sort of severance for himself which would allow him to pay for the freedom of his wife and non-Maumzer children now.

The master had obligations to his slaves; he had to feed and cloth them and provide them with shelter. Thus in good economic times the slave was not taken care of but in economic down turns or famine, the slave had to be fed before the master. I mentioned this to my Schul neighbor, David Cohen (one of four whom I know and one of three who read this), and he raised some interesting questions. A poor man selling himself or his daughter into slavery would have some income.

Now a female Jewish slave was more of a maid servant/agriculture worker than the slaves of Egypt or Rome. Sometimes it was worth it for a man to send a yearly slave labor wages home to support his family. We thought of many economic advantages of the slave. He essentially had his food, clothing and shelter paid for like an old socialist Kibbutz worker of yesteryear and had some small compensation upon leaving after Shemita or the Yovel.

Our Parsha mentions what happens if the master is violent and the freeing of the slave who lost an eye or two due to the master’s fault. However, David asked me what would be if the slave was a left thumb character and caused his own loss of an eye, tooth or what-not through his own clumsiness. Or further than that, if something happened to the slave the master could always free him and let charities take care of the humble slave. The answer is that as advanced as the Torah was for its time, it was not up to our modern way of thinking disability insurance. The master always had the option of being compassionate to his slave. Tabi the slave of Rabban Gamliel was always praised by his master as being a Talmud Chacham and is mentioned in the Mishnayos in Berachos, Sukkos and a few other places.

21:1 Now these are the ordinances which thou shall set before them. 2 If thou buy a Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve; and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing. 3 If he come in by himself, he shall go out by himself; if he be married, then his wife shall go out with him. 4 If his master give him a wife, and she bear him sons or daughters; the wife and her children shall be her master’s and he shall go out by himself.

We see that a Jewish slave can bring his Israeli wife with himself into slavery and be freed with her. The non-Jewish slave girl does not go free after six years and that is why I wrote above about being freed by her husband through sale.

If he comes [in] alone. Heb. בְּגַפּוֹ, meaning that he was not married, as the Targum renders: אִם בִּלְחוֹדוֹהִי. The expression בְּגַפּוֹ means “with his skirt,” [i.e., the skirt of his cloak, meaning] that he came only as he was, alone within his clothing, in the skirt of his garment. he shall go out alone. [This] tells [us] that if he was not married at first, his master may not give him a Canaanite maidservant from whom to beget slaves. — [From Kid. 20a] [ if he is a married man. [Lit., if he is someone’s husband, meaning] an Israelite [woman]. — [From Mechilta] his wife shall go out with him. Now who brought her in that she should go out? Rather, the text informs us that whoever purchases a Hebrew slave is [also] responsible for supporting his wife and his children. [From Mechilta, Kid. 22a]

5 But if the servant shall plainly say: I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free; 6 then his master shall bring him unto God, and shall bring him to the door, or unto the door-post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl; and he shall serve him for ever.

4. If his master gives him a wife. From here we deduce that his master has the option to give him [the slave] a Canaanite maidservant [in order] to beget slaves from her. Or, perhaps this means only an Israelite woman? Therefore, Scripture says: “The woman and her children shall belong to her master.” Thus, He is speaking only about a Canaanite woman, for a Hebrew woman she, too, goes free after six [years], and even before six [years], when she develops signs [of puberty], she goes free, as it is said: “your brother, a Hebrew man or a Hebrew woman [that one shall serve you for six years]” (Deut. 15:12). [This] teaches [us] that a Hebrew [maidservant] also goes free after six [years]. — [From Mechilta, Kid. 14b]
5. my wife. [This refers to] the maidservant.
6. to the judges. Heb. אֶל-הָאֱלֹהִים, to the court to consult his sellers, for they sold him [the slave] to him [to his master]. — [From Mechilta] to the door or to the doorpost. I might think that the doorpost is [a] qualified [place] on which to bore [the servant’s ear]. Therefore, Scripture says: “and you shall thrust it into his ear and into the door” (Deut. 15:17), [meaning] “into the door,” but not “into the doorpost.” What then does or to the doorpost mean? [The text is] comparing the door to the doorpost. Just as the doorpost is upright [i.e., attached to the house; otherwise it is not called a doorpost], so is the door upright. [A detached door may not be used for the ritual of ear boring.]-[From Mechilta, Kid. 22b] and his master shall bore his ear. [I.e.,] the right [ear]. Or perhaps it means the left one? Therefore, the Torah states אֹזֶן “ear,” here and אֹזֶן [elsewhere] for [the purpose of making] a גְזֵרָה שָׁוָה, [which means two places having similar wording, which indicates that the rulings pertaining to one situation also apply to the other]. It is stated here: “and his master shall bore his ear,” and it is stated regarding the mezora [person with the disease of zara’ath]: “the cartilage of the right ear of the one who is becoming pure” (Lev. 14:14). Just as there the right [ear] is specified, here too the right [ear] is meant. Now, why was the ear chosen to be bored out of all the organs of the body? Rabban Jochanan ben Zakkai said: The ear that heard on Mount Sinai, “You shall not steal” (Exod. 20:13) and [then] went and stole, shall be bored. And if [the text is referring to] one who sold himself [into servitude, the reason is that] the ear that heard, “For the children of Israel are slaves to Me” (Lev. 25:55) and [then] went and acquired a master for himself, [this ear] shall be bored. Rabbi Shimon used to interpret this verse [in a beautiful manner] like a bundle of pearls [or a great amount of perfume in this way:]-why were the door and the doorpost singled out from all the fixtures in the house? The Holy One, blessed is He, said: The door and the doorpost were witnesses in Egypt when I passed over the lintel and the two doorposts, and I said, “For the children of Israel are slaves to Me; they are My slaves,” but [they are] not slaves to slaves, and [yet] this one went and acquired for himself a master-[his ear] shall be bored before them [for everyone to see]. — [From Kid. 22b] and he shall serve him forever. Heb. לְעֹלָם, until the Jubilee year [the fiftieth year of the cycle]. Or perhaps it means literally forever, as its apparent meaning? Therefore, the Torah states [in reference to the Jubilee year]: “and each man to his family you shall return” (Lev. 25:10). [This] informs [us] that fifty years are called עֹלָם. But [this does] not [mean] that he must serve him [his master] the entire fifty years, but he must serve him until the Jubilee year, regardless of whether it is near or far off. — [From Mechilta, Kid. 15a]

I worked 26 years for IAI and some of my friends over 40. I don’t see much difference between this and the Israeli slave in relative economic terms. Just as the slave can run away or be freed by the masters so can one leave work or be terminated by a modern company.

To be continued…

Leaving the Church and Cynthia behind from the OU

One of my conversion rabbis, Haskel Lookstein, recently made headlines for walking into a church. The timing strikes me as a little crazy because I can’t stop thinking about a certain question I asked my other conversion rabbi, Elie Weinstock, and the ramifications of the answer he gave me. When I was converting to Judaism, I asked Rabbi Weinstock if I could walk into a church again. I wasn’t planning on returning for services but I had my sights set on visiting the Sistine Chapel someday. It was also an answer that bothered many of my Christian friends, particularly my friend, Cynthia.

Cynthia was a first-generation Italian-American Catholic, the kind of hardcore Catholic that went to church on other days besides Sunday. She was the big sister I had always wanted. She went with me to look at apartments in college so I wouldn’t fall prey to strange roommates or swindling realtors. And it was Cynthia who gave me $800 once as a Christmas present because I wanted to visit my father in the Dominican Republic, who I hadn’t seen in nearly ten years. Cynthia told me the experience would change my life and my relationship with my father forever. She was right, of course, like big sisters often are.

I loved Cynthia. I saw a bit of myself in her. I wanted to be as generous as she always was. I wanted to be as good a person as Cynthia was. She was faithful. She attended church often, even helped in the rectory, I think. Unlike most of my friends, Cynthia refused to have sex before marriage. I looked up to her, even though we were both about 5’3.”

Like all good Catholic girls, Cynthia wanted to get married in a big Roman Catholic Church. I didn’t. But I wasn’t a good Catholic girl. I’d dreamt of being married in a synagogue without ever having set foot in one. I’d hungered to be Jewish before I’d even known what Jewish was. At eight years old, in Sunday school, I had quickly learned that I saw G-d differently than other Catholics did. The idea of Jesus confused me but the story of Moses drew me in. I didn’t know that one story came from the New Testament and the other came from the Torah. I just made it a point to watch “The Ten Commandments” religiously every Easter and I gritted my teeth through church.

But would I go back to church to see her get married, Cynthia wanted to know. So even though the idea of setting foot in a church again made me uncomfortable, I asked my rabbi about it. He spouted off phrases like “functioning churches” and “the pain and suffering the church has caused the Jewish people.” He spoke of idols like the big crosses that had always made me cringe. The answer, basically, was “no.” I took that to include attending the wedding ceremonies of my family and friends, even Cynthia. And secretly, I was glad. Now that I had found my place in the world, I didn’t want to look back. The church was my past, Judaism was my present and future.

But telling Cynthia I wouldn’t attend her big church wedding, even one that was very much imaginary at the time, was another thing. Cynthia had been incredibly supportive of my conversion. She had asked me only gentle questions about it. She had told me that if I really believed in what I was doing, it was the right thing for me. There were never any recriminations from Cynthia—none of the unreturned phone calls there had been from other Christian friends after the confession: “I’m converting to Judaism.” Cynthia still returned my calls and she never asked why I didn’t, couldn’t, believe in Jesus. Our friendship soared high above our religious differences.

Then I told Cynthia I would never set foot in a “functioning” church again. I uttered the words in a calm, soothing voice, the kind you’d use with a child, not a nearly thirty-year-old woman. She didn’t understand. Her voice was shrill, high and taut with tension.

“You won’t come to my wedding?” Cynthia asked. “But why?”

I tried to explain, the words like peanut butter stuck to the roof of my mouth, I couldn’t get them out right, I stumbled over them. My sister later told me I should have said, “This is one of the things my new religion asks of me and I can’t turn my back on it.” I don’t think that would have ameliorated Cynthia’s hurt. She said at church that they always prayed for the Jewish people. She couldn’t understand why my religion asked me to never walk into a church, not even for one-time events and I couldn’t understand why it wasn’t enough that I would attend the reception I couldn’t eat at…if it wasn’t in a church.

I remember the fear that enveloped my chest like fingers with long nails piercing and squeezing my heart. I was afraid that if I hung up on Cynthia, I would never hear from her again. On the phone, I emailed my rabbi, hoping that there was some other way he could say “this church thing” in a way that wouldn’t hurt Cynthia. I remember signing onto a Jewish website and reading the answer to some question like “Why can’t Jews go to church?” and then reading the answer aloud to Cynthia in a shaky voice, bereft of soothing tones, a voice that cracked with fear.

I remember thinking that Cynthia wasn’t listening. I pictured her as a child, crying in the corner, her ears covered up with her hands. There were no words that would make it better. Our friendship was being tested and I would soon learn whether or not our religious differences could really separate us. She told me again and again that she would go to my hypothetical wedding in a synagogue and that it injured her that I wouldn’t be there for her wedding. It felt like we were playing tennis, volleying the same ball, the same words, back at each other over and over again. The conversation lasted hours but we weren’t getting anywhere. There was no place to go.

In the happy ending of this story, we would have both swallowed our pain to maintain our friendship and “that church thing” would have become the elephant always in the room with us. We would have never spoken of it again. We would have glanced at each other more warily until we finally came to trust each other again. Maybe I would have given in and said, “For you, I’ll set foot in a church again, but only for you.” But I didn’t say it. When we finally hung up the phone, I trembled slightly, trying to battle against the fear that threatened to unhinge me. We would move past this, I told myself. But there was doubt. I counted on my fingers the body count left over from my decision to convert, the friends I had offended, insulted and hurt, the number felt high. Too high. I tried to reassure myself that those had been lesser friendships, not true friendships like the one Cynthia and I shared.

I emailed Cynthia. I apologized profusely for causing her pain. I told her how much I loved her and I detailed how much she meant to me. I left messages with her mother and father, who fondly remembered feeding me, and I listened deeply for signs in their voices that might help me gauge whether Cynthia was ignoring my calls. They said she just wasn’t home. Eventually, I stopped bothering them. She never called. She never wrote. I never heard from Cynthia again. She never made it to my big synagogue wedding; I never found out if I would have caved for her big church wedding.

Three years later, when my in-laws took me and my husband to Rome for a big family vacation, I knew the first place I wanted to go. It was the only exception I had been willing to make early in my conversion. I had always known that if someday it were possible, I would go to the Sistine Chapel and stand below Michelangelo’s rendition of Adam and G-d. I tried not to think of Cynthia when I finally stood under the ceiling and I told myself that the Sistine Chapel was not a functioning church.

The next step on the tour, though, was St. Peter’s Basilica. Its claim to fame according to my guidebook was a statue of St. Peter and the Virgin Mary, the 1972 story of the man who yelled “I am Jesus Christ!” before smashing the Virgin’s nose and fingers on the statue, and an infamous crypt. The Basilica also held relics that included St. Veronica’s handkerchief bearing Christ’s face and finally, “a fragment of the True Cross.” There was no way I was setting foot in that church. Instead, I sat in front on the steps while my family filed in to “look at the art.” I eyed a mass schedule that told me the Basilica was very much a functioning church and I could think of nothing but Cynthia.

When my husband and his family exited the church, my husband looked stunned. Everyone, including the Jewish tour guide, had gotten caught up in the middle of Mass. They’d had to sit through parts of the service before they were allowed to leave. My husband was sheepish but I felt ever more certain of my convictions to sit out that part of the tour. Cynthia had been too great a loss. Walking into St. Peter’s Basilica would have felt like a desecration of my long lost friendship with Cynthia and the oath I had taken before her.

As we left St. Peter’s Basilica, I looked back once. I was looking back on my past as a Catholic; I was looking back at it as the wife of a future rabbi. I was looking back at Cynthia, too, feeling my heart clench just as painfully as the last day we had spoken to each other. And then finally, I turned, looked ahead and put one foot in front of the other. I knew there was no going back.

Aliza Hausman, a Latina Orthodox Jewish convert, freelance writer, blogger and educator. Currently working on a memoir, she lives in New York with her husband who is pursuing rabbinical ordination.

Hey Stupid Cupid Stop Picking On Me – Read this from the OU

My dearest daughter:

Last night we had a problem. Not a horrible problem, not something that was your fault, and yet I know our reaction caught you by surprise. I think you still don’t understand why we thought there was a problem in the first place. So now I owe it to you to sit down and explain exactly what the issue was and why we reacted the way we did.

You came home with a book your friend lent to you, looking forward to a good exciting read. The novel certainly looked dramatic: the back cover promised a page-turning thriller love story about a girl kidnapped and rescued. The art work on the cover depicted prominently the face of a beautiful blonde teenage girl, flanked by the brooding, dark face of the kidnapper and the clear-eyed, strong-jawed face of her hero.

What a shock when you found out that your father and I didn’t want you to read it! I think it was the first time we ever told you not to read something—we, who have always encouraged reading. What could be wrong with an intriguing adventure story that coincidentally has a hefty dose of romance? Haven’t we already censored all the bad stuff by banishing television from our home? And you were all the more surprised because the book came from your friend who is a nice girl from a “frum,” TV-free family, whose parents nevertheless obviously let her read the Harlequin-style novel.

The answer to your question is that the book, and many others of its ilk, communicate ways not only of acting but of thinking that are directly opposed to the kind of mindset we want you as a bat Yisrael to develop. We don’t need you reading teenage romances in the same way we don’t want you to watch television or go to movies: because kashrut is not only about what goes into your mouth. It’s also about what goes into your eyes, your ears, and your brain.

When it comes to things you put in your mouth, it’s easy to identify what is not kosher: a cheeseburger; a pork chop; pepperoni pizza. The rules are clearly spelled out in black and white. It’s much harder to identify ideas that aren’t kosher. Ideas are not physical objects you can look at, and ideas are more complex and subtle than a piece of meat or a bottle of wine. A non-kosher idea can be woven in amidst other ideas and slip in unnoticed, which makes it all the more dangerous: you can’t even identify your enemy. A book or movie that seems so innocent, so “pareve,” may contain major or minor themes that are quite at odds with our Jewish values, and we barely notice their presence because we get so absorbed into the story and entertained by the music, jokes and drama. (How many sitcoms, even wholesome ones of a previous generation, have the children responding to adults disrespectfully, but couched in such a cute and funny way there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with it?)

There’s nothing anti-romance in Torah, and there’s no denial that men and women become deeply attracted to each other. The Torah world has no problem with men and women falling in love with each other.

What it does have a problem with, however, is the romance novel, Hollywood-movie version of love. The way “love” and romance operate in the non-Jewish world of today, both in the media and in real life, contain many aspects that are very much at odds with the way Torah Jews believe men and women should meet, begin to love each other and build a life together.

Having said that, it’s only fair to spell out for you exactly what it means to “fall in love” in the non-Jewish media. You can’t grow up in America without having some idea of what non-Torah-based love is supposed to be about, but I bet you never sat down and really thought about the premises and assumptions that lie behind the myths and images. So, to identify what goes on when boy meets girl in the popular media…

I. Chance Encounters

The first significant difference between Hollywood and the Torah world is in the way a couple meets. The Hollywood-movie couple always meets by chance. It is spontaneous, without the participation of family or friends. In much of European and American literature, the hero and heroine are solitary individuals unfettered by ties to family or community. They are always completely independent when they make life choices; they don’t call their parents to ask what they think, they don’t call a friend or consult their local clergyman.

That freedom may seem attractive at first glance, with its lack of accountability to parents, friends or teachers. But it has a flip side. It can be very lonely to be on one’s own (ask any single person who lives by him or herself). A person alone cannot benefit from the guidance of other people who care about him or her. We believe that the proper place for a person is within a community; it is through our connections to family and friends that we develop and grow as human beings.

Jewish tradition realizes that when people get married, it is more than the union of two individuals. It is the union of two families, and of two people who come from those families. If the families have no common ground, no shared goals and outlook, then their children will have a harder time getting along with each other and with the extended family. So we make sure that parents are involved from the very beginning in choosing spouses for their children. Who knows you better than your parents?

While many teenagers think their parents don’t understand them in the least, it’s probably less true than they think (the idea of a “generation gap” was never a Jewish one). Most parents always want what is best for their children and what will make them happy. The statistics bear out that those marriages without familial input are less successful. People are very often not the best judges of what is best for them.

Which is why we don’t encourage our young people to “meet by chance.” Chance meetings can lead to inappropriate, unsuccessful relationships, and to behaviors that do not befit a Torah-observant Jewish person. Why tempt fate?

II. Love “at first sight.”

In the movies and books, love is instantaneous and automatic. Love occurs when a man first lays eyes on a woman (or vice versa), and finds him/her so amazingly attractive and compelling that his heart stops and his life is changed forever. This particularly suits us in modern-day America, where we like our gratification instant and ready-made. So it behooves us to have our relationships spring fully formed into life, without having to spend long hours cultivating them.

The expression “love at first sight” is a contradiction in terms. How can you “love” a person you only just met? You can feel attracted to that person; you can think he or she is tremendously good-looking or feel an attraction to the sort of image he or she projects via styles of dress, bearing and expression. You can be impressed by his or her achievements, social standing, and the things other people have told you to get you interested. But you can’t feel love, because love is something that develops over time, through give and take and shared experiences, through getting to know another person and liking and respecting them more the more you get to know them. But you can’t really love what you don’t know and have no relationship with. When the Hollywood hero says, “I love you!” it would be more accurate if he said, “I desire you deeply.”

So why do many people claim to be “in love” after only a few brief encounters with another person? One answer is that they are “in love with love.” It’s so exciting and flattering to have someone you find attractive like you back that it makes people feel they are floating off the ground. They feel wanted, admired, valuable. They are in love with this feeling as much as they are in love with the person they have just met.

Or, it is fair to claim they are in love with an idea, a promise: a glimpse they have upon meeting this person that he or she may have the potential to fulfill all their dreams and desires. The image projected by the new beloved is an image that suggests, truthfully or not, that he is the person who will give you everything you desire in a spouse.

But let the buyer beware! An image can be true, or false, or simply incomplete.

III. Thrill of the Chase/Obstacles Make the Heart Grow Fonder

Any good story needs a conflict or challenge to make it work, and in a love story, the action often revolves around the challenge of a person “in love” trying to get the other person to love them back. The whole focus is on getting the relationship to the starting point of “catching” a mate: the guy has to slay a dragon or otherwise do something impressive that will wow the girl, or the girl has to connive and reinvent herself until the guy finally sits up and takes notice of her. Of course it is assumed that all you have to do is catch the right person, and then you can coast through life without having to put any more effort into the relationship.

Now, any person who has spent any length of time being single will be the first to tell you that finding the right person is no small challenge. Admittedly there are few greater thrills in life than finding someone to love who wants to love you back.

In books and movies, the conquest of another person’s heart often provides the entire suspense and excitement of the plot; once accomplished, the story ends and we close the book. The excitement of liking someone and being liked back is the fuel that allows a relationship to blast off. Just bear in mind that blastoff may be the end of the movie, but it is definitely not the end of the story.

And what would the chase be without obstacles?

One obstacle can be opposites. As if the opposite pull of male and female weren’t enough, the exaggeration of differences between the two parties makes the romance that much more dramatic and exciting. What challenge or intrigue exists in marrying the boy next door, as opposed to some exotic stranger from another context altogether? It is human nature to be intrigued by what is new and different; it is more romantic when the unlikely occurs, and “love” pulls down the barriers between people of different classes, races, nationalities and so forth.

But without wishing to throw too much cold water on such exciting stories, let me say for the record that the sociologists tell us that relationships are more likely to succeed when the partners come from similar backgrounds. It is much easier to make a permanent relationship work when two people share similar values and ways of looking at the world, when they want the same things in life and don’t have to constantly explain themselves to the other. The prince may be madly in love with the poor girl, but he will be embarrassed and disappointed when she does not know how to run a palace or behave in court; the war bride may go home with the American soldier and find she is miserable away from her familiar family, language and food, while he in turn becomes impatient with her poor communication skills and odd ideas.

There is already plenty of potential for misunderstanding in male-female relationships simply by virtue of the fact that men and women have different natures and ways of expressing themselves—the old men are from Mars, women are from Venus problem. Imagine having to also struggle against warring sets of expectations and priorities! Imagine the potential for perceiving things differently and misinterpreting each other’s desires and intentions! Compromise is necessary in every relationship, but a marriage of opposites will require much more compromise than normal, and not everybody is up to this level of challenge.

All the great “love” stories involve overcoming some sort of obstacle to the couple getting together. There the initial dislike that is really a smokescreen for smoldering, unacknowledged attraction (e.g., Pride and Prejudice, or Gone With The Wind), warring families (e.g. Romeo and Juliet), an inconvenient spouse (Jane Eyre), different origins or social class (Pygmalion/ My Fair Lady), a long-buried secret from the past (Rebecca, Jane Eyre again), etc. That’s because it’s human nature to want things we can’t have more than we want things we have easy access to. The challenge is what makes it exciting, what increases the characters’ determination to get together no matter what the cost. The element of challenge also increases the reader’s conviction that this love must really be something special if they are willing to go to such great lengths to obtain it.

If there are no challenges or conflicts, there is no story to tell. So in any compelling love story there must necessarily be walls for the prince to scale to reach the princess, a crazy wife put away in the attic, disapproving parents, a war or revolution to separate the lovers.

But what happens once all the challenges have been overcome and the couple has to get down to the often-tedious business of making a life together? Imagine that Romeo and Juliet simply got married and settled down like a regular couple. Would their passion have continued at the same fever pitch after Romeo submitted to the daily grind of going to work and Juliet had a baby and was exhausted by two A.M. feedings? How about fights between and about the hostile in-laws? How can a couple put all their energy into their passion for each other when sooner or later they have to make a living, care for children, fulfill community obligations? Better to kill off the lovers before all that passion can die its own natural death; better to just leave us with the sweet fantasy of a red-hot love whose fire never diminished.

IV. After They Walk Off Into the Sunset

The real excitement, the real challenge, does not lie in getting yourself down the aisle. Yes, it’s a challenge, often a tough one, to find someone you want, who you feel is the right person to build a life with, and who also wants you back. But the real challenge is making the relationship work once the glass has been smashed under the groom’s heel.

Hollywood doesn’t spend much time on that one. But Jewish literature does. Shalom bayit, peace in the home, is a matter of utmost importance to us, and one which our most distinguished leaders have consecrated many hours to. Think of it this way: if you somehow acquire a fortune, you have a responsibility to manage it wisely, to make sure you don’t lose it and preferably increase your wealth even more over time. But a good spouse is worth much more than a fortune! The value of the ayshet chayil (woman of valor), and surely the ish chayil (man of valor) as well, goes way beyond rubies. Your challenge is to keep all that human richness as fresh and uplifting as the day you acquired it, to make your personal investment produce ever-increasing spiritual and emotional returns within your home.

Back to Your Book

So, my dear daughter, I’m sorry if we seem to be depriving you of an exciting book when we ask you not to read a silly teen romance. We just don’t want you getting too absorbed and enthralled with ways of thinking and behaving that are not for us. Hashem made the world so that girls and boys should feel attracted to each other, and that such feelings should be so powerful that they can see a couple through many long years of living and raising a family together. But we try to govern all our conduct—as individuals, as partners in marriage, as members of a community—with the thought of Hashem and His Torah before us, trusting that if we truly follow those paths, we will not go wrong, and we will not wrong other people. We want to be an “am kadosh”. So, darling, don’t cheapen your mind. Just trust that when the time comes, you will find your very own intended and what you will feel will be a thousand times more exciting and elevated that anything a non-Jewish book can offer you. I can’t wait to share your excitement when the time comes and, God willing, walk you down the aisle with your father to start a great adventure of your own.

Barbara Bensoussan has worked as a college instructor and social worker and written for many Jewish magazines, newspapers and websites. She recently celebrated the release of her first novel, A New Song, from Targum Press and lives in Brooklyn with her husband and six children.

As for love at first sight it does happen with Shidduchim. My son-in-law went out with 21 young women before he met my daughter. His friend wanted to set him up with a friend of his wife but she was the sister of a classmate from grammar school. After all he had visited my apt as a kid in the fifth grade and maybe saw the second grade girl around but thought nothing of it. He refused the meeting. But then after the 21st failure to be impressed, he was shown a picture of my daughter and liked it. They met in Yerushalayim at a hotel during the wedding of a mutual friend of my daughter and the Shadchanit. He fell in love with her at first sight and went for his Dor Yisharim (anti-genetic defects blood testing) the next day. The two had grown up in the same neighborhood – a block and a half away and had similar religious views. Of course being tall, thin and intelligent also helped win my daughter’s heart. But love at first sight can come with background information and similar philosophies.


One may not eat or drink in a Schul. People who learn all day in the Schul may eat there so as not to waste time. If no other location is readily available one may have a Seudat Mitzva (e.g. Brit, Siyum) in a Schul; but levity and drunkenness are forbidden. One may not nap in a Schul unless one learns there all day and leaving for a nap would waste time. One should distance oneself from the Aaron Hakodesh when napping. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 13:4 Note a Beis Medrash has stronger restrictions but since the Talmid Chacham is there many hours in order to preserve his strength one may eat on the side of the Beis Medrash or one may drink some water, coffee or tea with the learning to keep himself alert or his voice strong for words of Torah as is customary today. *In Eretz Yisrael dehydration can lead to giddiness which is the opposite of the purpose of learning.

Various times the Torah gives precedence to the right hand. As a result we usually give precedence to the right. When washing one first washes the right hand then the left. When getting dressed one first puts on the right hand side then the left. When putting on shoes one first puts on the right shoe. Regarding Tefillin the Torah requires us to tie them on the left hand. As a result we give precedence to the left when it comes to tying things. When tying ones shoes one first ties the left one.
Summary: Put on right shoe, then left shoe, then tie the left then tie the right. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 3:4

This week is Shabbat Shekelim and 2 Torah Scrolls are taken out. After the regular Torah Reading - Parshat Mishpatim - we read the beginning of Parshat Ki-Sisa in the second Sefer Torah. This is in memory of the half-shekel that everybody donated yearly to finance the daily sacrifices in the Bet Hamikdash, may we merit to see it rebuilt, speedily in our days. Shabbat is also Shabbat Mevarchim of the upcoming month of Adar. Rosh Chodesh Adar will be on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 140:1 – Danny

Inyanay Diyoma

Renaud sent me two videos the first is really important to pass around the second is how extreme Moslems live off of western welfare and then try to destroy the very society that has compassion on them.

US Administration and the Israeli Elections:

From Renaud:

Non-USA citizens traveling to the US who are eligible for the visa waiver program (e.g. citizens of the UK, Netherlands and France and many other European states) now have to obtain an electronic authorization on line at Shimon

From Brooklyn the hunt for terrorists:

Obama Signs Presidential Determination Allowing Palestinians Loyal to Hamas to Resettle In US

President Barack Obama has signed an executive order presidential determination allowing hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to resettle in the United States. Sure, what can go wrong when we allow hundreds of thousands of people who have been, as Mark Steyn memorably described, "marinated" in a "sick death cult," who voted for Hamas, and 55% of whom support suicide bombings live here and at the American taxpayers' expense:

By executive order, President Barack Obama has ordered the expenditure of $20.3 million in migration assistance to the Palestinian refugees and conflict victims in Gaza.

The "presidential determination" which allows hundreds of thousands of Palestinians with ties to Hamas to resettle in the United States was signed on January 27 and appeared in the Federal Register on February 4. President Obama's decision, according to the Register, was necessitated by "the urgent refugee and migration needs" of the "victims."

Few on Capitol Hill took note that the order provides a free ticket replete with housing and food allowances to individuals who have displayed their overwhelming support of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) in the parliamentary election of January 2006. Let's review some of Barack Obama's most recent actions since he was inaugurated a little more than two weeks ago: His first call to any head of state as president was to Mahmoud Abbas, leader of Fatah party in the Palestinian territory. His first one on one interview with any news organization was with Al Arabia television. He ordered Guantanamo Bay closed and all military trials of detainees halted. He ordered all overseas CIA interrogation centers closed. He withdrew all charges against the masterminds behind the USS Cole and 9/11.

Today we learn that he is allowing hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refuges to move to and live in the US at American taxpayer expense. Anyone else seeing a pattern here? – From the RM list.

OBAMA BACKS ISRAEL UNITY GOVERNMENT HEADED BY NETANYAHU DEBKAfile forwarded with comments by Emanuel A. Winston, Mid East analyst & commentator

How to read the following report: (It’s all in the BAG!)

1. If Obama and his Middle East team of advisors say they will accept Netanyahu and a unity government, they know he is already in the BAG.

2. When PM Ehud Olmert (resigned due to imminent criminal indictments but, still in power), invited Netanyahu to join FM Tzipi Livni and DM Ehud Barak to plan the next truce "Hudna" (temporary truce), be assured he will go along. He is in the BAG!

3. Watch for Netanyahu to accept release of up to 1000 Terrorists, to include Marwan Bargouti who Washington wants to put into power as a replacement for Mahmoud Abbas (aka Abu Mazen) as another Yassir Arafat - Netanyahu is in the BAG!

4. Another request plan to shovel U.S. tax dollars into the black hole of "Palestinian" development which never develops, Netanyahu is expected to go along with because he is in the BAG!

5. Sen. George Mitchell proposes another training period of "Palestinian" – cum - Terrorists called a Security Force. This was done several times before, with the then trained Palestinians like the Tanzim and Al Qaeda Martyrs Brigades and other Terror Organizations joining Hamas, along with U.S. provided weapons - all of which were turned against Israel. Apparently, Netanyahu is in the BAG! On this also.

The U.S. BAG is large and anyone willing to cooperate has a place.

Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres found a space reserved for them. Barak fit nicely; Netanyahu fit when he was Prime Minister for the first time. Even Ariel Sharon squeezed in. Then came Olmert, Livni and Barak. Peres was always there. The U.S. Bag was always kept open for new Jewish recruits willing to go along and jump into the BAG!




US president Barack Obama has bought Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu's program for attacking the Palestinian issue by first building a strong West Bank economy, DEBKAfile's Washington sources report. For its execution, Washington is in favor of Netanyahu forming a unity government in partnership with Kadima's Tzipi Livni and Labor's Ehud Barak.

Messages to this effect reached the three Israeli leaders over the weekend. It was picked up on by the outgoing prime minister Ehud Olmert, who invited Netanyahu to join his next consultation with Livni and Barak on handling the Hamas truce talks in Cairo. Making it a foursome effectively starts the transition between the Jerusalem administrations.

Our sources also reveal that the White House decided after due deliberation to put the Palestinian peace issue on a back burner in the first year of the Obama presidency. Its top priorities must now be the economy and Afghanistan-Pakistan. The president's national security adviser Gen. James Jones argued that anyway, the Palestinians are split between two rival administrations and the potential Palestinian state is fragmented between the Gaza enclave backed by Iran and the and the West Bank which is headed by a weak leader, Mahmoud Abbas. The basic conditions for peace diplomacy are therefore lacking.

Special Middle East envoy George Mitchell was therefore instructed to focus on plans for establishing a firm economy on the West Bank with several hundred million dollars of US aid. Taking the opposite direction from previous Israeli governments, the Likud leader persuaded Washington that giving West Bank Palestinians a sense of prosperity would produce more results than going straight for the tough issues such as settlement evacuation. With a robust economy, the Palestinians have a better chance of building healthy government.

Mitchell was also directed to expedite the creation and training of a Palestinian security force to sustain a pro-Western administration on the West Bank.

With these two elements in place, the Obama administration hopes the future will throw up a Palestinian leader able to take over from Mahmoud Abbas and lead negotiations with Israel for a peace serving both their interests.

SUSPICION: SOME AUSTRALIAN FIRES WERE SET BY JIHADIS by Gil Ronen forwarded with comments by Emanuel A. Winston, Mid East analyst & commentator

The suspicion that Australia’s 31 raging wildfires are a result of Muslim/Jihadist arsonists is not without basis. Setting "Holy Revenge Fires" has a long history. (1)

Some may recall Israel’s experience with Muslim Arabs Palestinians starting "Holy Revenge Fires". They occurred with frequency in the Carmel forests near Haifa, devastating areas that were once planted by volunteers as small pine trees to grow into tall, beautiful forests.

The Jerusalem corridor (Route 1 up the hill from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem) is just beginning to visibly recover from those fires set by Muslim Arab Palestinians to ravage the hard-planted forests which once covered the sparse, craggy hillsides on the road leading up from Shaar Hagai to Jerusalem. At that time, Yitzhak Rabin and his Left Liberal cohorts were quick to "apologize" for any such accusations and denied that the fires, which broke out in several places simultaneously, were the work of Muslim Arab Palestinians.

Half of the Tel Dan Nature Reserve of 481 dunams, which runs alongside the Dan River in the Golan Heights, was torched in the week of July 14, 2008. Many clues led investigators to consider arson. (2)

There is a beautiful valley off the slopes of Mevasserat Zion through which Muslim Arabs from the hostile village of Bidu would herd their goats and go to work. Here again the forests were burnt by arsonists in their "Holy Revenge Fires". Israel has had more than her share of Palestinian Muslim Terrorists using fire. Their battle cry proclaims it: "In Blood and Fire we will redeem you, O Palestine!" Listen to it. They say what they mean and they mean what they say!

I could not help but think of the ravaging wild-fires that spontaneously break out in California and other American forests.(3) Did radical Islamic Terrorists use "Holy Fire" to revenge themselves as they have previously threatened? Probably. The Koran instructs such revenge, killing by any means possible against the hated "infidel" (un-believer in Islam).

While researching this article for dates of such past fires, I Googled "Arson Fires On Route One to Jerusalem". The first of 4,100 such articles to pop up: "Was California Arson by Al Qaeda?" was published by " It sounded strangely familiar so I searched our own files to find that, indeed, we had written this article - which Smooth Stone did not accredit to us. We quoted AP, adding their article to ours. (3)

One Email report from AP (in full below) saying that: AL QAEDA MAY HAVE SET THE FIRES THAT ARE RAGING IN CALIFORNIA. "The FBI alerted law enforcement agencies June 25th that an al-Qaeda terrorist now in detention had talked of masterminding a plot to set a series of devastating forest fires around the western U.S....Many forest law enforcement officers had no idea the warning had been issued." (4)

So, whats the solution? Send them back to their nations of origin where they will not be further offended by the Judeo-Christian practices of any host country into which they have migrated. Burning the forests of America, Europe, Russia, Australia, Israel by fire is only one method of Islamic Jihadi Revenge against those they call "infidels" (unbelievers in Islam).

They have devised dozens, even hundreds of ways to savage their self-declared "infidel" enemies - whether its a 9/11 (Airplanes as bombs in America), 3/11 (4 Madrid commuter trains), 7/11 (London commuter trains and buses), Gas, Biological warfare, Chemical warfare - even Nuclear warfare are all permitted, even honored as a Muslim’s pathway to "Warriors Heaven" in the courtyards of Allah.

For more details, Google: "Australia Wildfires Arson by Muslim Jihadis" for about 92,400 articles. Just the synopses of the first dozen are an ey-opening education.


1. "Suspicion: Some Australian Fires were Set by Jihadis." by Gil Ronen Arutz 7 February 9, 2009

2. "Tel Dan Nature Reserve Torched in Suspected Arson" by Ehud Zion Waldoks Jerusalem Post July 14, 2008

3. "California Arson By Al-Qaeda" by Emanuel A. Winston October 24, 2007

4. "Wildfire Surrounds the Main Road at Stevenson Ranch, Southern California" Phoenix AP approx. June 25, 2005


Arutz Sheva Feb. 11, 2009

( As more than 31 major fires continued to rage in the Australian state of Victoria and the death toll approached 200, there was speculation on Tuesday that some of the blazes may have been set by Islamists waging a "holy war", or jihad.

No official has come out and voiced this suspicion, and most of the fires were attributed to lightning strikes during one of Victoria's hottest days on record. However, investigators have determined that some of the fires were deliberately set by arsonists, prompting Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to say that whoever was responsible for lighting the fires had committed "mass murder".

But bloggers have pointed to a report from September 2008 which warned that Australia had been singled out as a target for a "forest jihad" by a group urging Muslims to deliberately light bushfires as a weapon of terror.

According to the report in The Age five months ago, "U.S. intelligence channels earlier this year identified a website calling on Muslims in Australia, the U.S., Europe and Russia to 'start forest fires,' claiming 'scholars' have justified chopping down and burning the infidels' forests when they do the same to our lands.'"

The website, reportedly run by a group called the Al-Ikhlas Islamic Network, "argues in Arabic that lighting fires is an effective form of terrorism justified in Islamic law under the 'eye for an eye' doctrine."

This Terror Will Haunt Them'
The posting instructs jihadis to remember "forest jihad" in summer months. The article in The Age reported, "It says fires cause economic damage and pollution, tie up security agencies and can take months to extinguish so that 'this terror will haunt them for an extended period of time.'"

"Imagine if, after all the losses caused by such an event, a jihadist organization were to claim responsibility for the forest fires," the website allegedly says. "You can hardly begin to imagine the level of fear that would take hold of people in the United States, in Europe, in Russia and in Australia."

The September report in The Age added that "Australian intelligence agencies are treating the possibility that bushfires could be used as a weapon of terrorism as a serious concern" and that "Attorney-General Robert McClelland said the Federal Government remained 'vigilant against such threats,' warning that anyone caught lighting a fire as a weapon of terror would feel the wrath of anti-terror laws."

The internet posting claimed the idea of forest fires had been attributed to imprisoned Al Qaeda leader Abu Musab Al-Suri. It said Al-Suri had urged terrorists to use sulphuric acid and petrol to start forest fires.

181 Deaths
The fires which began February 8 have so far resulted in at least 181 deaths, and 100 people have been admitted to hospitals across Victoria with burns. At least 20 are in critical condition.

The fires occurred during an exceptional heat wave, on a day when several localities across Victoria experienced their highest temperatures since records began in 1859. The numerous fires are largely the result of lightning strikes but some are suspected to be the result of arson.

These suspicions led police to declare more than half of the state a crime scene.

Forensic teams of investigators are now moving into burned out houses and farms, looking for evidence of how the infernos were started, and who could have lit them.

Prime Minister Rudd suspended parliament and toured the affected region. "What can you say? What can you say?" asked a shaken Rudd. "There are no words to describe it other than mass murder," he said.

Closing in on a Suspect
But police say they are closing in on an arsonist thought responsible for the Churchill-Jeeralang fire in Gippsland and other fires at nearby Boolarra, which killed at least 22 people. Specialist teams used in the aftermath of the Bali bombings have been recruited for the locating and identifying victims of the fires.

Police believe a man who lit fires around Boolarra last month, destroying 29 houses, is the same person responsible for the Churchill blaze. They intend to release an image of a man sought for questioning over the fires.

"We'll soon be in a position to provide face images of people we believe responsible," Morwell Detective Sergeant Brett Kahan said.

© Copyright

Warning from Ruth: WARNING ABOUT Grouply dot com

This is a new site which advertises they can make accessing your groups faster and easier. Most of us are too seasoned to fall for something like this, but I am posting this as CYA.

This is what happens when you join:

"First, when a member joins, it automatically changes their primary email address for the groups, giving them a "at grouply dot com" extension.

This is being done unaware to those who are joining. Secondly, members who join the grouply website are having to give their member ID and password. This opens up a security issue for those members.

Thirdly, once a member joins grouply, it opens access to the files and posts of each group to the grouply website. Grouply staff can then access these files. If they get hacked, then it opens the doors to the groups getting hacked as well. It has also been reported that it's generating a lot of spam already."

In other words, information from a group can be made accessible to everyone, and massive amounts of spam with your email address can be generated.

The following information tells you the steps which needed to be taken if someone has joined

IDENTIFY THEFT AT "grouply dot com":

There is a message going out to different Yahoo Groups advertising and suggesting that you join a new group called GROUPLY. This group claims to help manage all your Yahoo groups and you will get a summary, at the end of the day, telling you what is going on in all your groups.

IF YOU JOIN THIS GROUP, they use your Yahoo ID and password to post "mass mailings" (can be junk, can be porno) and send them to anyone, and since it's YOUR ID they are using, others will think it is coming from you.

For instance, you could get an email CLAIMING that it came from "some-group" Yahoo group and it really is not from this group. I could get an email, with this mass mailing, claiming it came from me, and it wouldn't have been from me.

Again, IF YOU HAVE JOINED THIS GROUP called "GROUPLY" IMMEDIATELY leave Grouply. Then go into your account at: and change your password. Some groups have posted that this will help.

Unsubbing from that group won't make a difference (but I think you will want to) so change your Yahoo Password.

By joining this group you have also exposed all your groups, group members and group leaders to hacking of their emails and group information.

Because of this problem, all members with a email 'grouply dot com' are being removed from the affected groups. This is the only way to protect all the members.

This is how Identity theft gets going. They now have your real email, your yahoo emails, any emails listed in your yahoo group and can mail as you in and out of the yahoo groups.

I hope you understand what is happening and will take precautions to protect your Yahoo ID.

The Yahoo Team

TRUSTING A MUSLIM GOVERNMENT by Emanuel A. Winston, Mid East analyst & commentator

Pakistan, a Muslim government, made common cause with the radical Muslim clerics of the Taliban. The U.S. government and, particularly, the Arabist State Department has not yet grasped the fact that the Democratic West and, particularly America cannot rely upon radical Muslim nations to keep their word, not understanding that agreements with Infidels (us) are simply not binding on Muslims.


Pakistan to whom we have gifted Billions to sustain its economy, more Billions in arms and training - and it all went "POOF!" because thats the way it is among Muslims.

We have given Billions to Iraq and trained their soldiers. Several thousand American soldiers have sacrificed their lives to free the Iraqis first from Saddam and then from the Sunni and Shiite Muslims who murdered their own.

In Pakistan and Iraq tonnage of weapons have gone missing, literally flowing into the hands of the Taliban and other Muslim killer armies like Al Qaeda.

American policy was to gift up to $70 Billion in arms to Egypt making it a military colossus in the Middle East - South.

The State Department under Jimmy Carter lost Iran by bringing in Ayatollah Khomeini. Under the Shah of Iran they were to be our cop, guarding the Gulf Oil States. When we in the West lost Iran, "Foggy Bottom" (aka the U.S. State Department) shifted our loyalties to Egypt to play protector of the Saudi and Gulf Oil fields against Iran, Syria and Iraq.

Egypt is only slightly loyal to the U.S. and will likely one day conquer Saudi Arabia just by crossing the sand and Gulf at Aqaba and walking over the Royal family with the weapons they received - free - from us.

As soon as the ailing President of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak is gone and the Muslim Brotherhood takes over, $70 Billion Dollars in advanced aircraft, missiles and tanks "buys" Egypts new Muslim Government the Oil fields of Saudi Arabia and, maybe continues to roll across to the Gulf Oil States.

So between Iran and Syria in the North and Egypt in the South, Middle East OIl will be in a choke-hold by the Islamists.

I have little doubt that one day America will be fighting the Iraqi Army, just trained and armed by the U.S. Minimally, we be facing a troika of Iran-Syria-Iraq in the North, thanks to the genius of the Arabist State Department pushed by the Multi-National Oil Companies.

As for Israel, she will be pressed to go Nuclear against formidable, well-armed enemies. Some, like Iran, will anxiously want to be martyred in battle so they can enter Muslim Warrior Heaven.

Trusting Muslim nations or those Muslims flooding into the Europe and the U.S. is equal to a death wish by the pathologically sick Western societies.

We Western governments trained, funded and armed Yassir Arafat in his time to be Americas junk-yard dog, loyal to U.S. interests. As it turned out, we increased the abilities of his Terrorists to, not only attack Israel but they also spread U.S. tactics and weapons to other Islamic Terror groups.

All Terror groups interact, trade personnel, safe houses, intelligence and (depending on whos paying) weapons. So, in effect, we in the West were not fighting Global Terror but, we were arming and training their operatives and organizations. Some will recall how we trained Osama Bin Laden, Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan to defeat the Soviet Union. They then turned on us or whatever country to which they migrated. Thats called "Blow-Back" or the result of unintended consequences (in the language of spy trade-craft).

President Obama thinks he can pacify Global Islam by collapsing the War on Terror and sitting down to talk in our so-called dialoguing. I suppose that is how great nations fell to the barbarians as they too thought they could negotiate their demise in a civilized manner.

Obama, a Christian (born and educated as a Muslim) is rushing to unlock the gates of this country in a naive effort to win the hearts and minds of Muslims globally and inside America. I believe he would fit the criteria of what Karl Marx called "useful idiots" who supported Communism. I recall well when George W. Bush said: "I looked into Putins eyes and saw his good soul." That was before Putin cut off Europes gas pipeline during a brutally cold winter?

I wonder how Obama will react when Iran tests its first nuclear explosion. I wonder if, like Bush, he will abandon his country and crawl away, leaving a smoke-screen of articulate explanations.

One thing we can be sure of is that Muslims have a one-track thinking, based on their Koran and Mohammeds "Hadith" (oral teachings) which is to conquer the world and make it one Global Caliphate under Sharia Law for Islam.

Bush and Rice in their reign spoke about the wonderful religion of Islam and the loyalty of Muslims in America. That was after 9/11 and the participation of 15 Saudis and 4 Egyptians in the bombing of the Twin Towers with American passenger planes. The fact is, Islam could be a wonderful religion, if you are a Muslim and follow all their restrictive rules.

For all others and for women, it is a threat of deadly proportions and they cannot be bought by friendly, reasonable phrases, compliments or agreements to do things their way.

Now for M. Wolfberg's Pulling the Plug

Good Shabbos Everyone. In this week's Parsha Yisro, we read the 10 Commandments. Being that the Ten Commandments are the foundation of Jewish belief, let us focus in on one of the Ten Commandments in order to strengthen our observance of the fundamentals of our faith. We will concentrate our discussion this week on the Fifth Commandment: Honor your Father and Mother.
The mitzvah of honoring parents is very dear to Hashem. As the commentator the Chinuch explains, if one is meticulous in honoring his parents, he will come to honor Hashem. (Mitzvah 33) Because, one who appreciates his parents who give him his material needs, will surely come to appreciate and honor the One who gives the Universe its spiritual needs. Because, if Hashem were to "pull the plug", the Universe would cease to exist. Thus the mitzvah of honoring one's parents is dear to Hashem because it is a mitzvah which leads to honoring the Master of the Universe.

The mitzvah of honoring one's parents applies to one's grandparents also. The following amazing true story told in the first person will inspire us all to honor our parents and grandparents properly.
"After sustaining a severe heart attack in 1973, my grandmother sank into a deep coma and was placed on life support systems in the hospital. Her EEG was totally flat, indicating zero brain activity. She was hooked up both to a pacemaker that made her heart beat artificially and a respirator that made her lungs breathe artificially. But technically, as the doctors told me privately, she was basically as good as dead.
"She'll never come out of the coma," they said, "and she's better off this way. If she did, her life would be meaningless. She'd exist in a purely vegetative state."

Even though she was in her mid-seventies and had lived a full life, I refused to believe that my beloved grandmother could simply slip away like this. She was too feisty, too vital to just disappear into a coma. My instincts told me to start talking to her and keep chatting away. I stayed at her bedside day and night, and that's precisely what I did. I spoke to her all the time about my husband and our two small children, about other relatives, about her own life. I told her all the news that was circulating in Australia at the time. Anything and everything was grist for the mill. I also kept urging her to keep clinging to life, not to give up.

"Don't you dare leave us!" I exhorted. "I need you, Mom needs you, your grandchildren need you. They're just beginning to get to know you. It's too soon for you to go!"

It was hard for me to do battle for my grandmother's life, alone as I was. During the time that she fell ill, I was her only relative in Sydney. Her daughter (my mother) was away overseas on a trip, and my only sibling -- a brother -- lived in Israel. My husband was home caring for our children so that I could take my post at her bedside. I stood a solitary vigil, but that was not what placed such tremendous pressure on me. What was enormously difficult was being asked to make decisions alone. The emotional burden was huge.

When four days passed with no signs of life flickering in either my grandmother's eyes or her hands, and no change recorded by the EEG, the doctors advised me to authorize the papers that would turn off the life support systems. I trembled to think that I held the power of consigning my grandmother to an early grave.

"But she's really already dead," the doctors argued. "She's just being kept artificially alive by the pacemaker and the respirator. Keeping her hooked up to these machines is just a waste."

"Well, listen," I said. "It's Thursday afternoon, and in the Jewish religion we bury people right away. My parents are overseas -- practically two days away -- and they would certainly want to be here for the funeral. But we don't do funerals on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath. The earliest we could do the funeral would be on Sunday. So let me call my parents to get ready to fly home, and I'll sign the papers on Sunday."

It was all very cold and calculating, but deep inside, my heart was aching. Meanwhile, I didn't let up. I kept talking up a storm, discussing weighty matters, babbling about the mundane.

"Guess what, Grandma?" I gossiped. "You won't believe who ended up being your roommate here in the hospital! Stringfellow! Your next door neighbor at home, Mrs. Stringfellow, was just brought in with a serious condition. Isn't that a coincidence? She lives next door to you in Sydney and now she's your roommate here in the hospital!"

On Shabbos, I was at my usual post at my grandmother's bedside, getting ready to start a round of tearful goodbyes, when I thought I noticed her eyes blinking. I called a nurse and told her what I had seen.

"It's just your imagination, dearie," the nurse said compassionately. "Why don't you go downstairs for some coffee, and I'll stay with her until you come back?"

But when I returned, the nurse was brimming over with excitement herself. "You know," she said, "I think you may be right. I've been sitting here watching your grandmother, and I could swear I saw her blinking, too."

A few hours later, my grandmother's eyelids flew open. She stared at me and then craned her neck to look at the empty bed on the other side of the room.

"Hey," she yelled, "what happened to Stringfellow?" By the time my mother arrived at the hospital the next day, my grandmother was sitting up in bed, conversing cheerfully with the hospital staff, and looking perfectly normal. My mother glared at me, annoyed, sure I had exaggerated my grandmother's condition. "For this, I had to schlep all the way home?" she asked.

Later, my grandmother told me that while she was in the "coma" she had heard every single word that was said to her and about her. She repeated all the conversations to me, and her retention was remarkable.

"I kept shouting to you," she said, "but somehow you didn't hear me. I kept on trying to tell you, 'Don't bury me yet.'" After she was discharged from the hospital, my grandmother's quality of life remained excellent. She lived on her own as a self-sufficient, independent, and high-spirited lady and continued to live in this manner until her death sixteen years (!!!) after I almost pulled the plug." Good Shabbos Everyone.

Mr. Wolfberg's Stories are sponsored by: In memory of Leah bas R' Dovid In memory of Shosha Malka bas R' Avrohom 21 Cheshvan Refuah Shleimah to Chana Ashayra bas Dodi

Be well and have a peaceful Shabbos,

Rachamim Pauli