Friday, December 18, 2009

Parsha Mekeitz, Chanucha, Halacha and Good Shabbos Story

More prayers needed: Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu Shlita took a turn for the worst last week. Mordechai Tzemach ben Mazel.

The next time you send out a list for Mishabaracks, would you please include my friend's parents, they are both in Tel Hashomer hospital (Tel Aviv?) - Chanan ben Mazal Rachel (chest pains) (this week only) and Rivka bat Shirin Rachel (pancreatic cancer). A non-smoker with Lung Cancer: Chana bat Simcha. Also for this week only Fruma bas Rachel

Recovered People: Yulia aka Julie bas Naomi Sarah and Bracha Zehava bas Baila Leah have B”H recovered.


The original Bnei Yisrael continued the Noahide tradition of having the tribes and people coming from the father. Esav – Eliphaz – Amalek or Moav makes Ruth a Moaviah and only after the Bnei Yisrael become a separate nations does the Jewishness go through the mother. Recently I corresponded with a woman raised Protestant who is Jewish and her children are Jewish and this week a Roman Catholic woman with the same story. There are many hidden Jews still out there. This does not mean that either woman has stopped going to church but I have the feeling that I have not begun to find the tip of the iceberg yet.

In 5766 I brought down this commentary: Every Rabbi commenting on Mikeitz asks the following question: Why didn’t Yosef send a message to his father after he became ruler of Egypt. Out of the 22 years that he was away from Yacov, the first 11 he worked as a slave/servant of Potiphar and then he was two years in jail. Now as a leader, what happened to his memory of dear ole dad? We know that the reason he fled from Mrs. Potiphar was that the face, truth and purity of Yacov appeared before Yosef. So what about the other 9 years? I can only guess that Yosef knew of the Cherem (edict of excommunication) that the brothers had placed upon anybody who revealed to Yacov the truth of what happened to Yosef. There is a possibility that Shimon & Levi might intercept and kill the messenger to Yacov. It could be that Yosef did have some restrictions placed upon him by Pharaoh as we saw with the funeral of Yacov. Whatever it was, Yacov did not receive communications from Yosef for 22 years.

Rabbi Pinchas Winston (Perceptions, Copyright © 2005 by Rabbi Pinchas Winston and google or Project Genesis.)Thus, when the brothers threw Yosef into the pit back in Shechem, they threw him into an even deeper spiritual pit when they took him out and sold him down to Egypt. And, it was obviously not something Yosef saw coming, and therefore, it had not been something for which he could have consciously prepared himself for.

Yet, all of that was part of the prophecy Avraham Avinu had of the future exile of the Jewish people. And, though Yosef told his brothers that he
had been sent down to Egypt ahead of them to save them from famine, which was true, the deeper and more profound reason for his being sent down to Egypt, and in as an abrupt manner as had been the case, was to save us at the end of history.

The story of Yosef is the story of Moshiach Ben Yosef, and what he has to be to do his job at any particular point in history, but specifically at
the end of it. The brothers were made to be jealous and to hate their brother, for this is part of what Moshiach Ben Yosef will have to endure
in his role as Savior #1. They were made to misunderstand his intentions and abilities, because this will be true of Moshiach Ben Yosef, whoever he will be, at the End-of-Days.

Likewise, like Yosef HaTzaddik, Moshiach Ben Yosef will be "sold" by his own, and like Yosef, ultimately this will not benefit those who sell him,
but will only benefit Moshiach Ben Yosef. It will put him in a better position to lead the nation as he is destined to do. It will also put him
in a position to sanctify the Name of G-d while so many of his brothers continue to profane the Name of G-d. Indeed, the prophet Yechezkel warned that G-d will be "forced" to bring the Final Redemption just to end the profanation of His Name. Moshiach Ben Yosef will do that.

And, the most remarkable thing will be, that Moshiach Ben Yosef will become what he will need to be, just like Yosef HaTzaddik before him, in
the last place you'd expect him to be able to do so - in Egypt, or rather, Mitzrayim. In Yosef's time, they were one and same thing, but in the
generation of Moshiach Ben Yosef they are not. Mitzrayim will be another nation, or perhaps even several nations, that live by the same rules that the Mitzrayim of Yosef's time lived by.

And, from amidst the counter - Torah philosophy, and perhaps for reasons known only to G-d, Moshiach Ben Yosef will not only strive in such a
society, but thrive in it. From amidst the darkness, he will be the light that will grow ever stronger in intensity until it conquers all impurity,
paving the way for Moshiach Ben Dovid to provide the final stability to Creation.

Like G-d Himself, Who shone light onto the chaos that preceded Creation to order it into a beautiful and elegant universe, Moshiach Ben Yosef will be that light at the End-of-Days, once again turning tohu into order, leading the path to the paradise it is destined to become.

What happened to Yosef’s Torah during the 22 years, first as a slave and then as a leader? During this time, his 11 brothers were learning Torah with Yacov Avinu. (Note the Torah here is not only the creation story, mussar, halacha, but also the fundamentals of Kabbala.) Yosef was a very busy man. Sure he could recall, reflect and review his learning in the jail similar to Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai in the cave. Rabbi Winston comes and brings down the following:

According to the Arizal, he got that miracle:

You can also understand what Chazal wrote, based upon the end of the posuk, "(He appointed it as a testimony to Yosef when He went out over the land of Egypt) when I heard a language unknown to me" (Tehillim 81:6): That night, Gavriel came and taught him seventy languages (Sotah 36b). What actually happened was that, Chanoch or Mattatron
known as Enoch by the non-Jews, the minister over the Seventy Nations, who knows the seventy languages, entered him b'ibur. When, that night, the Neshamah of Mattatron entered him, immediately he knew the seventy languages. (Shaar HaGilgulim, Ch. 31)

This week we see sort of what looks like a confrontation between the Moshiach Ben Yosef and Moshiach Ben Dovid in the meeting between Yosef and Yehuda. Yosef at this point is on top and Yehuda is ready to do anything to save Benyamin. When Yehuda sees that it is not him that Yosef wants to make a slave but Benyamin at all cost, he sees that Mishpat (Justice) and Tzedek (Righteousness) is not on the side of Yosef so he is willing to fight. Suddenly the redemption and reconciliation comes like a scorpion out of nowhere in the blink of an eye. Rabbi Winston Shlita writes about this concerning the future redemption.

"If the redemption is not far off, then why hasn't Moshiach revealed himself yet? If he's Moshiach, wouldn't he know it by now? Wouldn't we
suspect it of him already?"

Appointing Moshiach is not like voting in a President of a country. Presidents rarely come out of nowhere, no matter how qualified they are.
Usually they have a political career trailing behind them, and eventually they have to run in the primaries and first become leader of their party.
By the time they take office, we know quite well who they are and how they got there.

Moshiach, on the other hand, can be unknown until the last moment to everyone, except for Heaven. And, even after G-d revealed to Moshe
Rabbeinu a year before the redemption that he was the man for the job, he refused to accept the tap on the shoulder until compelled to by G-d
Himself. And until Yosef was whisked out from jail to interpret Pharaoh's dreams and then miraculously made viceroy over Egypt, he probably had little faith in the direction his career was heading.

A politician has to be trained to become President. There are so many things to know and have experienced, and there are few short cuts.
Politicians plus short cut usually equals scandal, or failure, or both.

And, although Moshiach will probably have had to pay his dues in terms of character refinement and Torah advancement, he won't be just any leader. Whether we are talking about Moshiach Ben Yosef or Moshiach Ben Dovid, he will already have been born with a special soul, one suited to the task he is destined to fulfill. The task that each comes to fulfill is so primordial, their souls will be likewise.

However, just look at the world today, and try to imagine what it would take to transform it into one in keeping with the Torah's version of
perfected Creation. It's like trying to mount a wagon being pulled wildly by a team of horses running in the wrong direction. Take control of the
horses, slow down the wagon, and change its direction - a daunting task of unbelievable proportions for any Torah leader, especially when the world doesn't listen to any of them.

But that's okay: when it comes to the Final Redemption, Heaven will spare no expense. There are some very powerful souls down here, but they pale compared to the souls of Moshiach Ben Yosef and Moshiach Ben Dovid, which "sit" in waiting while the vessel (the appropriate body) is prepared to receive them. The preparation to become that vessel can take a lifetime, as it did for Moshe Rabbeinu, or less, as was the case with Yosef HaTzaddik. However, when the moment is right and the soul descends to enter the body of the chosen recipient, the transformation will be instantaneous.

Everything they will need to know, they will instantly know.

Everything they will need to have experienced, they will instantly have experienced.

That is why redemption can feel years away, but in fact, it will come at a moment's notice.

May it be so in our time.

41:1 And it came to pass at the end of two full years, that Pharaoh dreamed: and, behold, he stood by the river. It is obvious that a King’s dream is not like that of a simple man as it concerns the affairs of State.

2 And, behold, there came up out of the river seven kine, well-favored and fat-fleshed; and they fed in the reed-grass. 3 And, behold, seven other kine came up after them out of the river, ill favored and lean-fleshed; and stood by the other kine upon the brink of the river. 4 And the ill-favored and lean-fleshed kine did eat up the seven well-favored and fat kine. So Pharaoh awoke. 5 And he slept and dreamed a second time: and, behold, seven ears of corn came up upon one stalk, rank and good. 6 And, behold, seven ears, thin and blasted with the east wind, sprung up after them. 7 And the thin ears swallowed up the seven rank and full ears. And Pharaoh awoke, and, behold, it was a dream.

In Talmud Berachos around Daf 55 and 56 there is a talk of morning dreams and dreams that repeat themselves similar to the one I had before the Yom Kippur War which came in two dreams and I mentioned it a few years ago around the Chagim.

8 And it came to pass in the morning that his spirit was troubled; and he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt, and all the wise men thereof; and Pharaoh told them his dream; but there was none that could interpret them unto Pharaoh. 9 Then spoke the chief butler unto Pharaoh, saying: 'I make mention of my faults this day: 10 Pharaoh was wroth with his servants, and put me in the ward of the house of the captain of the guard, me and the chief baker. 11 And we dreamed a dream in one night, I and he; we dreamed each man according to the interpretation of his dream. 12 And there was with us there a young man, a Hebrew, servant to the captain of the guard; and we told him, and he interpreted to us our dreams; to each man according to his dream he did interpret. 13 And it came to pass, as he interpreted to us, so it was: I was restored unto mine office, and he was hanged.'

Watch the events here. Yosef is in a Dungeon in Egypt, he is elevated to appear before Pharaoh even though a slave, foreigner or youth could not be prime minister. However, Pharaoh was a god and gods can change laws of countries. Also Yosef now as 30 years old and less of a youth but that still would not elevate him from down in the Dungeon to being even a free man. Yet as we see below, Yosef is elevated to 2nd in command in all of Egypt. This is how it will be when the Moshiach comes. Yisrael will be rescued from the dumps when people like me will become very disillusioned with the coming of the Moshiach as much as I talk about it. So you can imagine the non-observant Jew at this time.

14 Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they brought him hastily out of the dungeon. And he shaved himself, and changed his raiment, and came in unto Pharaoh. 15 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph: 'I have dreamed a dream, and there is none that can interpret it; and I have heard say of thee, that when you hear a dream thou canst interpret it.' 16 And Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying: 'It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh an answer of peace.' 17 And Pharaoh spoke unto Joseph: 'In my dream, behold, I stood upon the brink of the river ... 24 And the thin ears swallowed up the seven good ears. And I told it unto the magicians; but there was none that could declare it to me.' 25 And Joseph said unto Pharaoh: 'The dream of Pharaoh is one; what God is about to do He hath declared unto Pharaoh. 26 The seven good kine are seven years; and the seven good ears are seven years: the dream is one. 27 And the seven lean and ill-favored kine that came up after them are seven years, and also the seven empty ears blasted with the east wind; they shall be seven years of famine. 28 That is the thing which I spoke unto Pharaoh: what God is about to do He hath shown unto Pharaoh. 29 Behold, there come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt. 30 And there shall arise after them seven years of famine; and all the plenty shall be forgotten in the land of Egypt; and the famine shall consume the land; 31 and the plenty shall not be known in the land by reason of that famine which follows; for it shall be very grievous. 32 And for that the dream was doubled unto Pharaoh twice, it is because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass. 33 Now therefore let Pharaoh look out a man discreet and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt. 34 Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint overseers over the land, and take up the fifth part of the land of Egypt in the seven years of plenty. 35 And let them gather all the food of these good years that come, and lay up corn under the hand of Pharaoh for food in the cities, and let them keep it. 36 And the food shall be for a store to the land against the seven years of famine, which shall be in the land of Egypt; that the land perish not through the famine.' 37 And the thing was good in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of all his servants. 38 And Pharaoh said unto his servants: 'Can we find such a one as this, a man in whom the spirit of God is?' 39 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph: 'Forasmuch as God hath shown thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou. 40 Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled; only in the throne will I be greater than thou.' 41 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph: 'See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt.' 42 And Pharaoh took off his signet ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph's hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck. 43 And he made him to ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried before him: 'Abrech'; and he set him over all the land of Egypt. 44 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph: 'I am Pharaoh, and without thee shall no man lift up his hand or his foot in all the land of Egypt.' 45 And Pharaoh called Joseph's name Zaphenath-paneah; and he gave him to wife Osnat the daughter of Poti-phera priest of On.

5757: Yosef supposedly married the daughter of Dina who was adopted by Poti-phara. The commentaries do not explain why Dina would give up her daughter to a non-Yisraeli for adoption or how Osnat got down to Egypt. I find this Medrash very difficult to stomach for my own logic. I will be happy if a reader could come up with an explanation for me other than an attempt to make Osnat Kosher from the start instead of converted by Yosef.

And Joseph went out over the land of Egypt.-- 46 And Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh king of Egypt.--And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh, and went throughout all the land of Egypt. 47 And in the seven years of plenty the earth brought forth in heaps. 48 And he gathered up all the food of the seven years which were in the land of Egypt, and laid up the food in the cities; the food of the field, which was round about every city, laid he up in the same. 49 And Joseph laid up corn as the sand of the sea, very much, until they left off numbering; for it was without number. 50 And unto Joseph were born two sons before the year of famine came, whom Osnat the daughter of Poti-phera priest of On bore unto him. 51 And Joseph called the name of the first-born Manasseh: 'for God hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father's house.' 52 And the name of the second called he Ephraim: 'for God hath made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.' 53 And the seven years of plenty, that was in the land of Egypt, came to an end. 54 And the seven years of famine began to come, according as Joseph had said; and there was famine in all lands; but in all the land of Egypt there was bread. 55 And when all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread; and Pharaoh said unto all the Egyptians: 'Go unto Joseph; what he says to you, do.' 56 And the famine was over all the face of the earth; and Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold unto the Egyptians; and the famine was sore in the land of Egypt. 57 And all countries came into Egypt to Joseph to buy corn; because the famine was sore in all the earth.

Corn in English is Gain. The American corn is called maize in English.

Again this year I received another Dvar Torah from Rabbi Pinchas Winston on the Redemption of Yosef and our own Redemption:

When will the redemption come? I mean, enough is enough already. It is so frustrating how we have gone from losing 6,000,000 of our people in the Holocaust, to re-building our nation over the course of the next 70 years, thank God, and after being away from our land for 2,000 years returning there, and in spite of several terrible wars, becoming a leader in so many areas of life, only to be pressured into dismantling so much of what we have accomplished. What a pain in the historical neck!

I mean, for a while there everything looked so redemption-like. Now it often feels as if we are slipping back into the depths of exile once again, God forbid. We seem like a pendulum that has reached the top of its swing, and is now getting pulled back down by gravity. The energy of momentum can only override gravity for so long. Hey, did the chance for redemption come and go, God forbid, and we missed it because we were too distracted by other, more worldly things? I sure hope not.

That's the way it sure seemed to Yosef in his time. One day his life was just perfect, and the next thing he knew he was being kidnapped and sold into slavery by his own brothers! Overnight, he was thrown into the depths of exile, only to be redeemed shortly thereafter by Pharaoh's chief butcher, Potiphar, who made him the head of his household. Things were certainly looking up once again.

But, again, disaster struck. Of all the households over which to become head, his happened to have a mistress who wanted him, putting his life back into peril once again. As a result, everyday he came to work his life and future were at risk, and it wasn't as if he could simply quit his job and look for another one.

As to be predicted, his situation deteriorated once again. His previous redemption led to further exile after he rejected his master's wife's advances, and was forced to bear the brunt of her false accusations. No stranger to incarceration, he found himself back in jail another time, once again falsely accused, once again in a pit as a result.

Then, all of a sudden, redemption seemed to knock on Yosef's door once more, after Divine Providence had Pharaoh's chief baker and cup bearer thrown into the same jail as Yosef. They dreamed dreams that disturbed them, but which seemed to lack interpretation by everyone except for Yosef, giving him an opportunity to enter their lives, and perhaps, for one of them to become his ticket to freedom.

But, apparently, it was not to be. Though everything had worked according to plan-the baker was executed and the wine steward was returned to his post as Yosef had foreseen-he was not recalled. There was no mention of his deed or his innocence before Pharaoh, and though the wine steward returned to his previous life, Yosef remained in his present one. Days become months, and months became years, until two of them, with little hope for freedom, had passed.

Then, all of a sudden, there was a knock on the door, and faster than Yosef had been put into jail, he was removed from it. Not only was he freed, but he was pampered until he was fit to stand before the king of Egypt, who, within a short while, made him Vice President of Egypt. The transformation from being powerless to powerful happened so quickly that he must have thought he was dreaming again.

All of a sudden, it all made sense. Not every piece of a puzzle is crucial for seeing the bigger picture, but some are so important that without them, it is as if nothing had been done to assemble the puzzle until they arrived. That had certainly been the case in Yosef's life, until the most important piece of his puzzle finally showed up, 12 years after his world had begun to fall apart: mikeitz.

History works kind of like DNA. Most people do not look everyday in the mirror for gray hairs, or aging features. Rather, one day, while looking in the mirror, they may happen to notice them. They just sort of spring up, all of a sudden, and very often, ahead of schedule, as far as we are concerned. But not as far as our body clocks are concerned. Amazingly, from conception, when we are still too small to be seen even through most microParashas scopes, our body clocks start ticking with instructions that will be fulfilled throughout our physical lives, including at what age our hair should turn gray, or our faces should wrinkle, etc. It always happens right on schedule, our DNA schedule, though early for us, because we do not desire to become old, and certainly not to become feeble and die.

Personally, I still think young. I was always athletic, and barely gained a pound of weight, no matter what I ate, for about 20 straight years. Then, around the age of 30, things started to change. My metabolism, which was always about average, began to slow down. I remember standing around one day with some colleagues of mine as we all bemoaned the fact that our eating habits were becoming more apparent by the month in the form of extra weight.

So, I started to exercise once again, and sure enough, most of the weight came off over a few weeks. However, I began to notice that if I did not keep up my exercising, the weight came right back, especially if I ate well over Shabbos, week after week. It was pressure I had never to live with before, and it was becoming a little frustrating.

Ten years later, the situation did not improve, but got worse as my metabolism slowed down even more, and gray hair began to appear. YIKES! I have never been overly concerned about my appearance, not more than the halachah and Mussar says men should be, but gray hair meant something: I was getting old!

Furthermore, no longer did exercise do very much to take off the extra weight. And, though I could work myself up to a pretty good exercise schedule, I usually paid for it some time later on, like the next morning getting out of bed. Not only was I losing hair, but I was losing flexibility as well, and things began to hurt, like my back, for example.

The old gray mare, she aint what she used to be, aint what she used to be, etc.

All of this comes to me as a surprise, until I recall my age. Unlike with most journeys in life, this one did not come with a pre-printed schedule of events to tell me where to be and by what time. The journey of life seems to be a secret to everyone except to God; the best we can do is approximate what will happen to us and by when, but you can be sure that when it comes to bodily changes and aging, there will always bound to be surprises.

As Yosef found out, that is true inside the body, and outside the body as well. Every event that occurred to him from the moment he was conceived until the last one he breathed on earth, was carefully orchestrated by Heaven, to occur at a precise time, to have a precise affect on Yosef, the world around him, and all the generations to follow him. It's just that no one ever gave him the schedule to follow, for that would have been a violation of the laws of free-will.

And, each time his life turned a corner, it was a keitz, a predestined moment in time by which his life was meant to turn a corner. He might have thought to keep walking straight, so-to-speak, and that is why the event caught him by surprise or seemed abrupt. But, had he seen the script of his life, he would have been ready to turn that corner in concert with history and Divine Providence. He would have ready for each keitz.

Of course, we rarely are. This is because, for the sake of free-will, we are not shown the scripts of our lives, and therefore, we tend to be impacted upon rather than be impactful. The average person works very hard to maintain status quos, and then has to do a lot of fancy footwork to recover from situations that upset them. If they don't, then they end up living out of sync with reality, and there are plenty of people walking around doing that.

This is not the Torah way. The Torah way teaches that the only status quo there is in history is the will of God, and His masterful plan for Creation, of which we are just one of billions of parts. Whither goes the will of God, goes man as well, and history after him. Knowing this makes all the difference in the world, and the next one as well, for the will of God is extremely dynamic, and we have to be as well.

Let me give you an example. Recently, someone of relative prominence where he used to live decided to make aliyah. As to be expected, even though it was known that such a decision was destined to happen one day, when it was finally announced, it seemed to come earlier than most people had expected, so it caught the attention of many.

This led to a local interview, during which the person expressed his opinions about the importance of making aliyah, and of not remaining in the Diaspora too much longer, especially given the direction of the current American government. In retrospect, some comments might not have been appropriate for such a wide audience, but the gist of the message was that the exile is coming to an end, and we Jews had better watch out and be ready to leave.

BOOM! As you can imagine, the person's comments were not warmly welcomed by much of the community he was leaving behind, and the reaction was swift and furious. If anyone took the person's comments to heart in a positive way, they were not the ones responding, because the feedback was quite negative, including from rabbis who addressed the issue from their pulpits, basically condemning the comments.

In reviewing the entire episode, I can't help but to relate to the person's comments, and to be nervous about the reaction. Personally, I might have been a little more diplomatic about how I would have said the same thing, but the basic content is what I believe in. But, the reaction? All I hear are people who are really saying:

"Look, if you want to make aliyah and reject the United States as your home, then that is your problem. But don't make it seem as if you are doing it for reasons that affect us too, as if by not following in your footsteps or worrying about the future, we are endangering ourselves and our families! We have a status quo to protect!"

That may be. But what about the keitzin? If you are so committed to maintaining the status quo of exile, and insist on running history your own way, then how will you not snap when God makes history turn the corner, and quickly. Isn't that what happened in Spain in 1492, in Europe in 1942, and just about everywhere else in-between? Will we ever learn not to dig in too deep in golus?

I think that is one of the reasons why Yosef was put through all that he went through, and his father, Ya'akov as well. It was to make precisely this point. When it comes to the will of God, and how He exercises it through out history, you have to be what we say in Hebrew: gamish-flexible. Exile is exile, no matter how comfortable it can become. Live it as if it can end at any time, and in the worst of ways. It's the only way to safely navigate those historical changes of direction, and to be impactful, as opposed to only being impacted upon.

42:1 Now Jacob saw that there was corn in Egypt, and Jacob said unto his sons: 'Why do ye look one upon another?' 2 And he said: 'Behold, I have heard that there is corn in Egypt. Get you down thither, and buy for us from thence; that we may live, and not die.'

Do something about it. If one does not like the policies of the Israeli or American governments then work out a change through democratic processes. Convince the people about you to do something. Fire them up and possibly run for office. It is apparent that while I was traveling to visit my children and during the last two weeks, the quality of my Dvar Torah has gone down a little. Just like it says in Perkei Avos “In a place where there is no man be a man!” I have been putting out feelers to possibly make a run for Congressman in the 20th Congressional District of Florida. It entails like Yosef leaving Eretz Yisrael during the bid and taking away from some of my Torah time. However, I was speaking Motzei Shabbos with Rabbi Yacov Lustig Shlita and he said, “So people can make a bigger impact on Am Yisrael not learning but supporting the nation in times of need like Yosef did in Egypt as we see in the \following Pasukim. I have not made up my mind because as usual in life things are not black and white but grey and I am in need of solving other problems before making a run. Yes sometimes a person has to be like Yosef to sacrifice his chief joy (Yerushalayim) and his fruit trees in Eretz Yisrael or in my case also the myrtle branches which I smell on Shabbos in order to remember the words “Shomor V’Zachor “ to observe and remember the Shabbos.

3 And Joseph's ten brethren went down to buy corn from Egypt. 4 But Benjamin, Joseph's brother, Jacob sent not with his brethren; for he said: 'Lest peradventure harm befall him.' 5 And the sons of Israel came to buy among those that came; for the famine was in the land of Canaan. 6 And Joseph was the governor over the land; he it was that sold to all the people of the land. And Joseph's brethren came, and bowed down to him with their faces to the earth.

Yosef is now somewhere between 38 and 39 and perhaps with a shaved head and certainly not looking like an Orthodox Bnei Yisrael. He has some symbol perhaps around his neck and no where near the 17 year old teen full of Chutzpa whom they knew. The brain is tricky and they were expecting to look for a slave not the prime minister of the country.

Rabbi Aaron Kotler ZTZAL on Chanucha as told me by Rabbi Yacov Lustig Shlita

When Rabbi Aaron Kotler came to the United States, he wanted to open up only a Yeshiva Kodesh without any secular learning. The Rabbis told him that he would never succeed as “This was America and not Europe”. However Rabbi Kotler thought outside of the American box and within HASHEM’s box. He said regarding the Chanucha Candles something similar to “We have not right to use the candles but to view them only” and in the end G-D took up his case and out of the many American Jews, he received enough money to buy some land and open up a Yeshiva/Kollel with a handful of Jews who later became the Rabbis and Teachers of America. The Lakewood Yeshiva became THE Yeshiva of the USA. Today over 5,000 young men learn there which most likely is larger than the famous Torah Academies of Sura and Pumpaditha of Bavel which produced the Talmud. These are the men that build Am Yisrael and Eretz Yisrael and they are the people who really cause the rains to come to Eretz Yisrael to fill up the Kenneret. Don’t forget to support your local Synagogue and Yeshiva.


The Maharal: His Approach, His Innovations and His Position as a Teacher of Posterity By Yehoshua Hartman, Translated by Yocheved Lavon

The Maharal says of himself that his objective, in all of his numerous works, is purely to explain the aggadot of Chazal. This objective, to demonstrate the depth of our Sages’ thinking, underlies all of Maharal’s works.

Thus, Maharal writes:
. . . The truth of the Sages’ words has been clarified for you, and in their words is nothing but Divine wisdom, very elevated . . . for our intention is to show the common people a small portion of the dignity and splendor of the Sages (Be’er
HaGolah, Be’er HaSheni; see comments 262 and 266).

But perhaps the quintessence of this idea is expressed towards the end of Be’er HaShelishi, where, having explained a dictum of the Sages, the Maharal gives ardent expression to his wonder at the Sages’ wisdom:

And now, if you comprehend the words that have been explained here, and you understand for yourself that not everything can be written down, your heart will marvel at this sight, how they interpreted Scripture in such great depth, and did so with truth and extreme precision . . . and every wise and understanding man will wonder at how closely their words embrace the peshat, with such astonishing depth. And a man to whom these words of wisdom are alien will wonder at their distance from the meaning of the text, and their words will not seem fitting to him. . . . Similarly with all the words of derash found in the Talmud and all the rest of the midrashim there is not one of them, great or small, whose words lack the depth of Scripture in accord with its true meaning; when one delves into the meaning of Scripture one finds it. For this is why it is called “derashah,” because it is a process of demanding, with extremely insistent interrogation, until the deep level of Scripture is reached.

Indeed, we find much pain expressed in Maharal’s works over his generation’s failure to show proper respect for the words of our Sages.

An Approach to Studying Maharal
In only one place does Maharal tell us what sources he draws upon for his elucidations of the Sages’ words. At the beginning of Be’er HaChamishi, he writes:

We shall find some points of interest in their words that might seem far-fetched; they are indecipherable in their context, but their secret is clearly revealed elsewhere—for example, the Midrash on Sefer HaZohar, or the Midrash HaBahir by Rabbi Nechunya ben Hakanah, and other books of wisdom that are kept hidden in the libraries of the wise. And these works reveal concealed aspects of Torah that the Sages spoke of in hints.

Only in one place does he mention his teachers (albeit without naming them), and that is in his sermon for Shabbat HaGadol, where he explains the Blessing of the Kohanim. And finally, in only one place do we find Maharal addressing his reader directly, and instructing him in the proper way of approaching his works (Be’er HaGolah, at the beginning of Be’er HaRevi’i):

I prostrate myself with arms and legs stretched out before the reader, and ask two gracious favors: one, that if he should read these words and find that they do not enter his heart, he should go back, read them again, and contemplate them some more, for these things will only enter the reader’s heart through much study. So it is with all words of truth and rectitude; they seem distant when one first begins to ponder them, but eventually they are revealed, and they shine bright as the noonday sun. My second request is that if, after all this, these words still do not enter his heart, let it be as if they had never been said at all. And although an explanation has been stated and it has not entered the heart of the one who has studied it, let it not be said that there is then no reasonable explanation, and that, God forbid, some lack in the words of the Sages is to blame. For in that case, my purpose would come to ruin, causing the reader to think badly of the Sages’ words . . . and therefore I ask and plead that he grant me this, that if after consideration he still does not accept these ideas, he should let them go, and let them be as if they had not been said at all, and let the Sages’ words be like a sealed book to him, just as they were before these things were said.

A Classic Disagreement
Maharal thus became a “Geviha ben Pesisa,” a spokesman for the Sages, and, as a result, he came to disagree fiercely with one of the great Rishonim who had a different approach, namely, Ibn Ezra. In the introduction to his commentary on the Torah, Ibn Ezra explains that he does not intend to incorporate midrashim of the Sages that are not in line with his way of interpreting Scripture. This led Maharal, in a number of instances, to disagree sharply with Ibn Ezra. One classic example of this:

In Otiot d’Rabbi Akiva, the Sages say that when the Holy One, blessed be He, was about to create the world, the twenty-two letters of the Alef Bet came and stood before Him. Each one requested, “Create the world with me.” Eventually the letter bet came forward and said, “Master of the Universe, is it Your will to create Your world with me? For with me those who come to the world offer praise before You every day, as is said, ‘Baruch Hashem l’olam, amen v’amen’; ‘Barchu Hashem melachav,’ and so forth.” The Holy One, blessed be He, immediately accepted this argument . . . and with her, He created the world, as is said, “Bereishit bara.”

The simple explanation of the midrash is that since “baruch” starts with the letter bet, this letter indicates blessing. Ibn Ezra, however, objects to this. Maharal quotes him as follows:

Harav Avraham ben Ezra of blessed memory forcefully questioned this midrash, saying, “How could [Hashem] begin [Creation] with bet because it contains blessing, when ‘bohu,’ ‘buka’ . . . and many other words denoting quite the opposite of blessing also start with bet?”

To this claim, Maharal retorts:
Begging his honor’s pardon, it seems as though he did not understand these words of the Sages, [which mean to say that] bet itself is the blessing, for it is the beginning of increase, which is the essence of blessing. And the most decisive sign . . . [of this] is that its numerical value is two, the first plural number. . . . For the root of the word berachah is berech, all of whose letters represent the concept of two: bet in units, kaf in tens, and reish in hundreds, and thus bet itself is a sign of blessing.

It emerges, therefore, that the word “berachah” is not the reason for the importance of the letter bet, but rather the word indicates the importance of the letter due to the word’s special composition. Maharal’s explanation is an uplifting example of his advocacy for the preciousness of the Sages’ every word.

Four Basic Principles of the Maharal
1. Asking Simple Questions
Maharal poses simple, straightforward questions in his commentaries. Indeed, often when one studies them, one wonders why he didn’t ask them himself.

For example, in Gevurot Hashem (chap. 60), we find:

One must ask the following: we have seen that Hashem, may He be blessed, gave a command concerning the Pesach offering “because He passed over” [the homes of Children of Israel in the plague of the firstborn]. And yet we have seen that none of the plagues struck Israel, so why should this plague have come upon Israel any more than the others? To strengthen our question even more, they [the Sages] said that when a Jew and an Egyptian drank [from the same water source], one would drink blood and the other, water.

Throughout his writings, Maharal poses such questions.

2. Viewing Events from a Divine Standpoint
The Torah tells us, “And a man went forth from the house of Levi, and took a daughter of Levi. And the woman became pregnant, and she bore a son . . .” (Shemot 2:1-2). Why aren’t the names of Moshe Rabbeinu’s parents mentioned?

According to the Gur Aryeh on Shemot 1:19:

One will see that Scripture does not mention Yocheved, Miriam and Aharon by name until after the birth of Moshe, for in the subsequent passage (below, 2:1) it says, “And a man went forth from the house of Levi, and took a daughter of Levi.” [The Torah] did not want to mention the father and mother of Moshe by name until Moshe’s birth, to tell you that Moshe was prepared for the redemption from the Six Days of Creation—ancestry was not the essential thing in his case, and if a name had been given to his father before [mentioning] his birth, it would have implied that his parentage was the essential thing, and that for himself [i.e., Amram] and his unique identity, the Holy One blessed be He gave him Moshe, like any father who, as an individual, is the direct cause of the son. Accordingly, [the Torah] did not mention [Amram’s] name, for in the case of Moshe’s birth, the father was not the particular cause, only in terms of the natural order, whereby any father brings a child into the world, but there was no cause peculiar to him in this case. In the case of all other children, if this man were not the father, this son would not come into the world, but this is not true of Moshe, for although Amram was better prepared for Moshe, in any event it was necessary that Moshe come into the world. . . and if it had not been Amram, it would have been someone else, for Moshe had already been formed during the Six Days of Creation.”

Thus the birth of Moshe Rabbeinu was a Divine event, unlike the birth of other children born of woman, and this is indicated by the omission of his parents’ names.

As a general principle, Maharal held that nature itself is an expression of the Divine will. Consequently, death does not occur because a person’s health gradually deteriorates until he dies. On the contrary, since death has been decreed on man, his powers must deteriorate as he approaches death.

In Be’er HaShishi, he writes:

The Sages did not speak from the point of view of natural cause, for natural cause is a petty thing that is the business of scientists or physicians, not of Sages. Rather, they spoke of the cause that compels nature . . . for everything has a natural cause that compels it, and behind that natural cause is a Divine cause, the cause of the cause, and of this the Sages spoke. There is a natural cause for the form of man and the number of his organs, and without a doubt there is a natural operative behind this. Nonetheless, this natural cause has a Divine cause, of which the Torah says (Bereishit 1:27), “God created man in His image, in the image of God He created him.”

Maharal also explains his understanding of nature in Tiferet Yisrael (8: 133):

Therefore, anyone who attributes a reason for mitzvot based on the workings of nature, saying [for instance] that the Torah prohibited pork because it engenders a bad set of conditions in the body (and this is certainly true), or who attributes [a similar reason] to the prohibition of cheilev [forbidden fats], and blood, and all the more so crawling creatures and unclean birds—and reasons based on nature have been attributed to all these mitzvot, as if the Torah were a book of medicine or natural science—God forbid that one should say such a thing. If it were as they say, [then what do we make of] the first chapter of Chullin (17) where it says, “And houses full of all good things . . .” (Devarim 6:11)—Rabbi Yirmiyah said in the name of Rav that he permitted kotlei d’chaziri [desiccated pork] to them [to Bnei Yisrael upon their entry to Eretz Yisrael]. And if the prohibition were based on a bad set of bodily conditions, then where has the prohibition gone? And if cheilev has a bad physical composition, then why is the cheilev of a ben pakua [fetus] permitted? . . . And although it is true that all these things have a bad physical composition, and this will surely give rise to bad effects as well, nevertheless this is not the essential purpose of the mitzvah; it merely shows that these things are not suitable for man according to the order that Hashem arranged, and therefore the Torah banned them in some cases and not in others. . . . This is the meaning of the Sages’ statement (Torat Kohanim Kedoshim) that a person should not say, “I can’t abide pork; I can’t abide such-and-such,” but rather, “I might very well desire it, but what can I do, since my Father in Heaven has decreed upon me [that I may not have it].” With this statement they taught that one should not say the Torah is based on nature, for if it were based on nature, there would be no room in it for Divine reward for something natural; this is why one should say, by nature I might desire this thing, but Hashem in His wisdom decreed that it is not suitable for man with his unique human soul.

3. The Sages’ Words Cannot Be Expressed Differently
In Be’er HaRishon, Maharal writes: When the Sages interpret the Torah, one should not think that their words did not necessarily have to be expressed just so, and that they are subject to alteration. Their words are necessarily as they are, and are not to be budged.

Here is an example of this idea:

The Torah says (Bereishit 8:8-12) [Noah] sent out the dove to see if the waters had receded from the surface of the earth. And the dove did not find a resting spot for her foot, and she returned to him, to the ark, for there was water over all the land, and he stretched out his hand and took her, and brought her to him, to the ark. And he waited another seven days, and again he sent the dove out from the ark. And the dove came to him towards evening, and behold, he had plucked (taraf) an olive leaf in her beak (befihah). . . .

In the passage, the word taraf, “plucked,” is written in the masculine form, while befihah, “in her beak,” is in the feminine form. Commenting on this anomaly, Rashi states, “I say that it was a male, and this is why it is referred to sometimes in the masculine form and sometimes in the feminine, for every dove mentioned in Scripture is written in the feminine gender. . . .” Rashi goes on to quote several pesukim from Tanach where yonim, doves, are linked with feminine verbs.

Ramban disagrees: “And all this is incorrect in my view, for shifting the mention of doves from feminine to masculine in just one place seems pointless; if all doves are spoken of in the feminine form, why is it different here?

In Gur Aryeh, Maharal addresses this difficulty:

“I say it was a male . . .” (Rashi). And if you should say, if so, then it should all be written in the masculine form, or all in the feminine form; what is different here, that all the rest of the passage is in the feminine, and this one word taraf is in the masculine? It would seem to me that Noah sent out a male because the male brings sustenance to the female, and therefore it says, “and behold, he had plucked (taraf) an olive leaf”—and had not eaten it, as it is the way of the male to acquire food and bring it to the female . . . and so it is written, that the male hunts food for the female, as is written (Nachum 2:13), “The lion hunted enough for his cubs and strangled for his lionesses . . .” from which we understand that it is the way of the male to bring food for the female. This is why [Noah] sent a male, and not a female. Likewise with the raven, he sent the male, not the female, for the same reason, and Ramban’s problem is now solved.

4. The Sages’ Words Are Not to Be Interpreted by Umdena
In his introduction to Derech Chaim, Maharal writes:

For there is no doubt that the words of the Sages are very deep, and their words were not said in a process of assumed meaning and deduction, as some people think and interpret their words. Rather, every one of their statements contains very deep wisdom, and, accordingly, interpreting their words also requires understanding and much consideration. . . .

In Gur Aryeh on Bereishit, 28:11, Maharal says:

Furthermore, know that if you seek words of wisdom like a buried treasure, then you will find a store of precious articles that they have hidden away. But the simpleton thinks they are exclusively words of derashah and that they only said what they did as a manner of expounding. And you should not think so; think rather that every one of their words is at the root of the Torah.

This principle of Maharal’s is so fundamental to his whole approach that we ought to examine it at length.

Absence of Umdena: The Most Salient Characteristic of the Maharal’s Approach
What idea did Maharal emphasize repeatedly?

The central point of his approach: interpreting the words of the Sages must be done in a similar manner to the way the Sages themselves formulated their statements. And since their words are very deep, and were not derived through an ordinary process of evaluation, they should be interpreted in a similar manner, with understanding and deep contemplation, and not through axioms. This principle is mentioned many times in Maharal’s works.

In Derech Chaim, he states it even more emphatically than in his other works. In Chapter 1, note 43, he writes: This is the meaning of the Sages’ words, without a doubt, and not the way people interpret [them] through umdena [accepting what seems obvious] and through logical deduction, for the things we have said are words of wisdom.

Just what is Maharal excluding when he states so emphatically that the Sages’ words are not to be interpreted by way of umdena and deductive reasoning?

It seems that in every instance where Maharal repudiated reliance on an umdena, he was contrasting the concept of umdena with the concept of chachmah (translated here as wisdom). Although umdena is close to a certainty, it is not within the scope of compelling chachmah, for it does not apprehend the meaning in a manner that is intrinsic and unalterable, but in a manner that is external and negotiable. Only chachmah apprehends the meaning through the Sages’ esoteric understanding, in such a way that no other interpretation can be applied. As Maharal writes in Derech Chaim (3:18):

“A matter [of doubt] like this is not called intelligence and wisdom . . . and properly, every wisdom should be certain, but that which is in doubt does not enter the category of wisdom. And it is fitting to speak only of things that are necessarily [true], not of things that are [merely] possible, which do not enter the category of wisdom.” Therefore, one should not interpret the words of the Sages through assessment and reasoning, for with this approach one does not fathom the inner kernel of their words, even though the umdena is close to a certainty.

Here is the core of the matter: the difference between chachmah and umdena is that even though both are respectable applications of the human intellect, chachmah is built on roots that preceded it; chachmah is a stem rising directly from the root. Umdena, on the other hand (as well as sevarah, deductive reasoning), belongs to the realm of here and now; it does not stem from an esoteric body of ancient wisdom. It emerges that Maharal’s approach is drawn from esoteric wisdom, unlike the approach of other commentaries.

Maharal expresses these ideas in several places. He contrasts umdena not only with chachmah, but with chachmah eliyonah, “sublime wisdom,” specifically. As he writes in Netzach Yisrael, at the end of chapter 7:

In these words you will find testimony concerning divrei chachamim, that all their words are words of wisdom . . . and if you contemplate very deeply, you will find that all these words are truth, and they emerge from esoteric wisdom.

Now, we have already determined that in Maharal’s approach, the method of interpreting the Sages’ words must be suited to the nature of the words themselves, and therefore, if the Sages’ words emerge from sublime esoteric wisdom, then his commentary on their words also stems from this hidden inner core.

An example of this is found in Derech Chaim (chap. 2). Mishnah 8 quotes the statements of five disciples of Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai in answer to the question, “What is the good path that a person should choose?” Then, in mishnah 9, they speak of bad ways that a person should avoid. In this mishnah, four of the five Sages say just the opposite of what they had said in mishnah 8 (a “bad eye” as opposed to a “good eye,” a bad friend as opposed to a good friend, and so on). The exception is Rabbi Shimon ben Netanel, who uses the phrase in mishnah 8 “one who foresees the consequences,” and in mishnah 9 says, “one who borrows and does not repay.” There is no obvious parallel between Rabbi Shimon’s two answers; one would have expected him to say, “one who fails to foresee the consequences” in reply to the second question. Here, in one of the few instances in which Maharal briefly mentions Rambam, he writes:

And Rambam of blessed memory explains Rabbi Shimon’s answer, “one who borrows and does not repay,” as an example of not foreseeing the consequences, for [the lender] will bar his door to [the borrower], and refuse to give him any more loans. But how far-fetched this interpretation is, for it only strengthens the supposition that [Rabbi Shimon] should have said “one who does not foresee the consequences,” and this would have included all cases of failure to foresee the consequences of anything one does, parallel to the important trait of foreseeing the consequences that he mentioned before.

Maharal goes on to explain why Rabbi Shimon ben Netanel specifically names the trait of borrowing and not repaying, and hints that one who delves deeply into this matter “will find a secret of holy ones.” While Rambam’s explanation does not make it clear why the Tanna chose this illustration of a delinquent borrower rather than simply saying “one who fails to foresee the consequences,” according to Maharal’s explanation, Rabbi Shimon’s answer absolutely must be what it is, and he could not possibly have offered any other illustration.

We have merely touched upon the holy fundamentals that were bequeathed to us by the giant of the generations, our teacher, the Maharal of Prague. Not for nothing was his name sanctified in Israel and all who mention him do so with holy trepidation. One who plummets his holy works and who meditates on them constantly will find himself saying “Blessed is He who selected them and their Mishnah.” Today, just 400 years since Maharal’s departure from this world do we see how his Torah quenches the thirst of those who yearn to penetrate the depths of the words of the Sages, and through the Torah of the Maharal is fulfilled the blessing of “the great voice (of Sinai) that never ceases.”

Rabbi Yehoshua Hartman is currently head of the beit midrash program at Hasmonean High School in London. He has been a teacher in many institutions throughout his career. A student of Rabbi Yitzchak Hutner, he is in the process of editing the complete works of the Maharal of Prague. He has already completed twenty-six volumes and will publish approximately ten more.

Halachos and Mitzvos from Danny Shoemann Shlita

This was lost in my inbox when I had no access to the internet: One may not scratch or otherwise injure oneself "in honor" of an idol, nor as a sign of grief over the death of a beloved one. This is forbidden whether done by hand or with an instrument. Included in this Mitzva is the prohibition of dividing oneself into groups with different Minchagim, in the same location. Applies to everybody, always ,everywhere - Pasuk: "Lo Thisgodedu" (Devorim 14:1) which can mean "Do not scratch" and "do not create groups" Source: The Chafetz-Chaim's Sefer HaMitzvos HaKatzar; Negative Mitzvah 28

One may not take another's life. This prohibition includes hastening somebody's demise, including touching somebody in their death throes. A murderer is killed by Bet Din by the sword. Applies to everybody, everywhere, always - Verse: "Do not murder" (6th of the 10 commandments)
Source: The Chafetz-Chaim's Sefer HaMitzvos HaKatzar; Negative Mitzvah 32

One may not kidnap a Jewish person. If one sells the abductee, one has also transgressed "do not sell him as a slave" (Vayikra 25:42). One is put to death by strangulation by Bet Din for kidnapping only if one abducts somebody, brings them into ones property, makes them work for one and then sells them.
Applies to everybody, everywhere, always - Verse: "Do not steal" (7th of the 10 commandments) Source: The Chafetz-Chaim's Sefer HaMitzvos HaKatzar; Negative Mitzvah 33

One may not take another's possessions without his permission, even if one plans on paying him later. This applies to possessions belonging to adults or kids, Jews and non-Jews. Even taking another's possessions as a joke or prank is forbidden. One who transgresses has a Mitzva of returning double the amount they stole (Shemos 22:8) unless it was an ox or a sheep for which one has to pay back 5 or 4 times the amount stolen. Applies to everybody, everywhere, always -
Pasuk: "Do not steal" (Vayikra 19:11) Source: The Chafetz-Chaim's Sefer HaMitzvos HaKatzar; Negative Mitzvah 34 Note the source is not the stealing in the 10 commandments as that is stealing a person to sell into slavery and stealing is broken up into a heist or robbery and a burglary by stealth – embezzlement or a Ponzi Scheme.

One is forbidden from taking another person's possessions from them against their will, by force. One who transgresses has a Mitzva of returning the robbery. (Vayikra 5:23) Applies to everybody, everywhere, always Verse: "Do not rob" (Vayikra 19:13)
Source: The Chafetz-Chaim's Sefer HaMitzvos HaKatzar; Negative Mitzvah 35

It's a Mitzva to be in awe of the Bet Hamikdash - the Holy Temple. Our synagogues are considered to be miniature temples. One may not make merry in them. Idol chatter is also forbidden. One may not sleep in them. It's a Mitzva to treat them with awe and respect. Applies to everybody, always, everywhere - Pasuk: "and fear my sanctuary" (Vayikra 19:30) Source: The Chafetz-Chaim's Sefer HaMitzvos HaKatzar; Positive Mitzvah 18

If one is in ones hometown, one needs to go home to light the Chanukah Menorah. If one is traveling, and ones wife is lighting the Chanukah Menorah at home, then one should light without the Brachot. If possible one should try hear the Brachot from somebody else. Bachelors and others living away from home, who don't have a spouse lighting for them at home, preferably should light for themselves with the Brachot. Alternately they can chip in with somebody else's Menorah lighting, by giving him a Peruta (a few pennies). Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 139:19

The lights on the Chanukah Menorah must be at least 3 Tefachim (24 cm - 10") above the floor. The Chanukah Menorah must be no higher than 20 Amos (~10 m.) from the floor. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 139:8 (The reason for the height was explained last week regarding the Shechina of HASHEM did not rest on the Keruvim in the Beis HaMikdash but 10 Tefachim above). For new readers vocabulary: Shechina is the motherly nurturing spirit of the L-RD that rests upon deserving people and in the Beis HaMikdash (Temple) and Keruvim are known as Cherubim in English.

The follow was lost in my inbox overload: One may remove mud from clothes on Shabbat with a knife or ones nails, provided the mud is not dry. One may not removed dry mud from clothes on Shabbat, since the mud will crumble, and that resembles the Torah prohibition of grinding. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 80:38

Since both men and women were included in the miracle of Chanukah, they both need to light the Chanukah Menorah. At least one person per household must light. The custom is for everybody to light, including children under Bar Mitzva. However, married couples share one Chanukah Menorah that either the husband or wife lights. Even blind people should light, if they live by themselves. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 139:16

The Chanukah Menorah has to be lit in the correct place. If the need arises, one can then move it. If the Menorah was lit too high, too low or in a location where the wind will extinguish it, and was subsequently moved, one has not fulfilled ones obligation. One needs to extinguish it and light it again, but without the Brachot.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 139:13

Tomorrow (Thursday) and Friday is Rosh Chodesh Tevet. Rosh Chodesh Tevet is the only time the full-Hallel is said on Rosh Chodesh. (Usually on Rosh Chodesh we leave out 2 half-paragraphs.) We then take out 2 Sifrei Torah. First we call up 3 people to the Torah for Rosh Chodesh and then - in the second Sefer Torah - a fourth person for Chanukah. We then daven Mussaf for Rosh Chodesh, with Al Hanisim. Don't forget Ya'aleh Veyavo and Al Hanisim in the Amida and Birkat Hamazon. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 139:24

On the last day of Chanukah (Shabbat this year) we first read the Parsha (Miketz) and then - in the the 2nd Sefer Torah - from "the 8th day" to the end of Parshat Naso and the beginning of the next one (Beha'alotcha). Reminder: The correct order for Friday afternoon is:
- Daven "early" Mincha
- Light the Chanukah Menorah. One can light as early as 75 Halachic minutes before sunset.
- Light Shabbat candles at the regular time.

The Chanukah Menorah needs be stay lit until 30 minutes after dark. One needs longer candles or more oil than during the week, since it needs to burn for 70 minutes or longer. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 139:17, 24
The Haftorah this week is the "second" Chanuka one (ויעש חירום from Melachim-1 7:40)
Chodesh Tov and Shabbat Shalom, - Danny
Thursday, 6th day of Chanukah, 1st day Rosh Chodesh Tevet 5770
See other laws of Chanukah at

Dayan Azriel Rosenfeld in his Halachic Over View at the Torah Organization wrote the following:

Spending Car Repair Money


Someone else's car hit my car, and he said he would pay to have it repaired. I went to a body repair shop, and I was told that it would cost $450 to have it fixed. Can I take the money, and not have it fixed, and use the money for something else?


There are two principles that apply here. The first is that in general, when a person damages a car, he's supposed to pay for the amount that the damaged car has decreased in value. It could be that the decrease in value would be much less than $450. Perhaps your car was old, and the dent the other person made decreased the value by only $100, or perhaps only $50, or by nothing at all.

The second method of calculating damages is based on a ruling of the Shach. This states that if a car can be fixed, and in fact the damaged party is ready to fix it, then the damager is required to pay for fixing the object, which may be more than the car's decrease in value.

We use the second ruling if the person uses the money to fix the damages. However, if the damaged party takes the money which is given for fixing the car - which happens to be more than the actual decrease in value of the car - and doesn't actually fix it, then he's taking money that is not his. This is because if he doesn't intend to use the money for fixing the car, then the damager only owes for the decrease in the car's value.

If the money to cover the loss will come from insurance, then the din (Jewish law) is different. Insurance firms generally pay the amount required for fixing the object, and not for the objects decrease in value. It is thus permissible to take this amount from the insurance company, even if you don't intend to use it for fixing it, because these are the insurance company's rules for determining about how much money will be paid, and the money is intended for the one who suffered the damages.


How does one determine objectively the decrease in value of the car with the damage?


A used car salesman can usually make such a determination.


What if you tell the person who hit the car that you don't intend to fix the car, and say, "I don't think you're obligated to pay for the whole damage." And he responds, "I want to pay you the whole $450 to fix the car anyway."


If he wants to pay, you're not obligated to argue with him. Some people like to do more than they're required to do.


So if he insists, then I can take the money?


It's not considered as though he's giving you a charity or a donation. It's accepted in America to do this sort of thing. But you cannot ask for this higher sum unless you want to fix the car. This is a rule that people aren't aware of.


One morning the Monsey bus was making a turn at 14th Street when a woman who had the right of way was crossing the street. The bus hit the woman to some extent. She apparently wasn't that hurt, but she came onto the bus, saying that she was a non-Orthodox Jew, and was a student at Cardozo Law school a few blocks away. She was angry, claiming that she could have been killed. She asked the people on the bus: "Did anyone see what happened to me?" No one responded. She said: "It's nice to know that my people are here for me when I need them", and she stormed off the bus. If any passenger had seen what happened to her, were they obligated to speak up and say so when she asked? Is the fact that she may have used that person as a witness in a secular court, rather than a Jewish court, a factor?

This year, please help us to the best of your ability. To donate on line, visit our support page, or go directly to our online secure donation form. To take advantage of our Duties of the Heart book offer go to our Book Sale page.

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Rabbi Yaakov Menken
Director menken -at-

Sephardic Jews surrounding the Indians aka Native Americans

The Jews of China had to reconvert:

The miracle on the Hudson revisited with love:|main|dl5|link6|

Terrorist on a Plane

Passenger on Cell Phone Delays Air Tran Flight - Terrorism forwarded without commentary by Emanuel A. Winston, Middle East Analyst & Commentator

I received this from Canada about ten minutes ago and... [1:15 CST] It looks like troubles are growing. Shmuel

To: Sam Sent: Wednesday, December 09, 2009 8:17 PM

Subject: Fwd: Passenger on Cell Phone Delays Air Tran Flight - Terrorism Tranflight from Atlanta to Houston with more ... AirTran spokesman Christopher White told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Flight 297, a Boeing Airways says a ...,2933,575558,00.html

Joan Sharon sent this: Read this and Weep, then Shudder, then Get MAD!!!!!!!!!

 I, Gene Hackemack, received this email from my good friend Tedd Petruna, a diver at the NBL facility [Neutral Buoyancy Lab], at NASA Houston, whom I used to work with. Tedd happened to be on this same Flt.297. Atlanta to Houston.

In my opinion, the Muslims are all getting very brave now, since they have one of their own in the White Tedd's story below.

Semper Fi Gene Hackemack

PS....can you imagine, our own news media now are so politically correct that they are afraid to report that these were all Muslims...unbelievable. Thank God for people like Tedd Petruna.

----- Original Message -----

From: Petruna, Tedd J.

To: undisclosed-recipients Sent: Friday, November 27, 2009 11:32 AM

Subject: Long story short....

One week ago, I went to Ohio on business and to see my father. On Tuesday, November the 17th, I returned home. If you read the papers the 18th you may have seen a blurb where a Air Tran flight was cancelled from Atlanta to Houston due to a man who refused to get off of his cell phone before takeoff. It was on Fox.

This was NOT what happened.

I was in 1st class coming home. 11 Muslim men got on the plane in full attire. 2 sat in 1st class and the rest peppered themselves throughout the plane all the way to the back. As the plane taxied to the runway the stewardesses gave the safety spiel we are all so familiar with. At that time, one of the men got on his cell and called one of his companions in the back and proceeded to talk on the phone in Arabic very loudly and very aggressively. This took the 1st stewardess out of the picture for she repeatedly told the man that cell phones were not permitted at the time. He ignored her as if she was not there.

The 2nd man who answered the phone did the same and this took out the 2nd stewardess.

In the back of the plane at this time, 2 younger Muslims, one in the back, isle, and one in front of him, window, began to show footage of a porno they had taped the night before, and were very loud about it. Now….they are only permitted to do this prior to Jihad. If a Muslim man goes into a strip club, he has to view the woman via mirror with his back to her. (Don’t ask me….I don’t make the rules, but I’ve studied)

The 3rd stewardess informed them that they were not to have electronic devices on at this time. To which one of the men said "shut up infidel dog!" She went to take the camcorder and he began to scream in her face in Arabic. At that exact moment, all 11 of them got up and started to walk the cabin. This is where I had had enough! I got up and started to the back where I heard a voice behind me from another Texan twice my size say "I got your back." I grabbed the man who had been on the phone by the arm and said "you WILL go sit down or you will be thrown from this plane!" As I "led" him around me to take his seat, the fellow Texan grabbed him by the back of his neck and his waist and headed out with him.

I then grabbed the 2nd man and said, "You WILL do the same!" He protested but adrenaline was flowing now and he was going to go. As I escorted him forward the plane doors open and 3 TSA agents and 4 police officers entered. I and my new Texan friend were told to cease and desist for they had this under control. I was happy to oblige actually. There was some commotion in the back, but within moments, all 11 were escorted off the plane. They then unloaded their luggage.

We talked about the occurrence and were in disbelief that it had happen, when suddenly, the door open again and on walked all 11!! Stone faced, eyes front and robotic (the only way I can describe it). The stewardess from the back had been in tears and when she saw this, she was having NONE of it! Being that I was up front, I heard and saw the whole ordeal. She told the TSA agent there was NO WAY she was staying on the plane with these men. The agent told her they had searched them and were going to go through their luggage with a fine tooth comb and that they were allowed to proceed to Houston. The captain and co-captain came out and told the agent "we and our crew will not fly this plane!" After a word or two, the entire crew, luggage in tow, left the plane. 5 minutes later, the cabin door opened again and a whole new crew walked on.

Again…..this is where I had had enough!!! I got up and asked "What the hell is going on!?!?" I was told to take my seat. They were sorry for the delay and I would be home shortly. I said "I’m getting off this plane". The stewardess sternly told me that she could not allow me to get off. (now I’m mad!)

I said "I am a grown man who bought this ticket, who’s time is mine with a family at home and I am going through that door, or I’m going through that door with you under my arm!! But I am going through that door!!" And I heard a voice behind me say "so am I".

Then everyone behind us started to get up and say the same. Within 2 minutes, I was walking off that plane where I was met with more agents who asked me to write a statement. I had 5 hours to kill at this point so why the hell not. Due to the amount of people who got off that flight, it was cancelled. I was supposed to be in Houston at 6pm. I got here at 12:30am.

Look up the date. Flight 297 Atlanta to Houston.

If this wasn’t a dry run, I don’t know what one is. The terrorists wanted to see how TSA would handle it, how the crew would handle it, and how the passengers would handle it.

I’m telling this to you because I want you to know….

The threat is real. I saw it with my own eyes….

-Tedd Petruna

A CAUTIONARY TALE: REBUTTAL OF AirTran DENIAL & CHARGES OF HOAX OR "URBAN LEGEND" with 4 forwards by Emanuel A. Winston, MidEast Analyst & Commentator

Dear Friends, This is long but very illuminating. We received 9 responses on Dec. 9th to the eye-witness report of Tedd Petruna sent by Glenn Hackemack that "it was an urban legend" & "Snopes said it was a hoax". For that reason, we probed more deeply and revealed the following 4 separate stories. Suggest you print them out and read them over Shabbat and Chanukah. They are very worthwhile, "kdai meod" in Hebrew. All the best, The Winstons

Flight 297 on November 17th has many stories. Some say the first story that was published on the Internet, the letter by Tedd Petruna sent out by his friend Gene Hackemack created a firestorm. Many said it was a hoax or an Urban Legend. If you call it names, the story is then discredited. But, what if it is true? More people have start writing what they saw.


That is possible but, there are some elements that put the AirTran, the various Media sources and the Snopes contradiction in doubt.

1. I don’t really believe the self-serving denials that AirTran spokesman, Christopher White told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

2. AirTran told the Media, therefore, the Media’s stories are also suspect.

3. Snopes is basically a well-meaning research team of husband and wife but, does that make them correct all the time?

4. The first eye-witness, Tedd J. Petruna, (JSC-DX12)[RAYTHEON TECHNICAL SERVICES COMPANY] has a impressive "bona fides" and has a believable story. If AirTran wants to cover-up the stupidity and lack of security of and by its staff, and fool the Media, that’s easy to do. But, why would Snopes back them up? It does require some more investigation, but I am suspicious.

5. FoxNews is usually believable but, they took their story from AP (Associated Press) which is owned by 1,500 U.S. daily newspapers, was founded in 1846, is today the largest source of independent news and information. What makes their assertion correct?

6. AirTrans revealed that the TSA Federal Aviation Administration Transportation Security Administration would not handle the incident and was not on board.

7. The Snopes article gives full credence to an AP news account and a fuller article by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution quoting a woman passenger Nancy Deveikis of Marietta, who sat behind the man (Petruna). Deveikis said it wasn’t a phone at all but a camera. [Today’s cell-phones are also cameras - both still and camcorder.] Not recognizing this little icon of today’s technology, shows that she is either ignorant or not credible. Deveikis did say the man [with the camera/phone] was flying with others who were scattered around the plane.

8. Air Tran made a big denial out of the fact that Mr. Petruna was not on the plane. He has his original boarding pass and flight schedule. However, he left the plane after AirTran brought the 10 or 11 Muslim passengers back on - as did the first Flight Crew. So, no he wasn't "on" the (first) plane, #297 when it finally flew.

9. Therefore, basically all the denials stem from AirTrans' own Press Release - putting Snopes, 'et al' in dubious territory.

None of the news accounts of the Flight 297 say that members of the group were screaming insults but, the witnesses did. Another quoted witness was a Chaplain Robinson who missed the first take-off of #297 but was outspoken in favor and support of the incident as Mr. Petruna described it. Chaplain Robinson joined the plane before its second take-off. See his story below.

But, either AirTrans’ statement or the news reports said: "12 men of Middle Eastern appearance stood up and began dancing and singing in an Arabic dialect. They refused to be seated,..." etc.

See four stories below:

1. Flight 297 Passenger: Incident Bigger Than AirTran Claims Posted December 7, 2009 6:13 pm EST by

ATLANTA -- Rumors continued to circulate Monday via e-mail and the Internet about what exactly happened on an AirTran flight at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in November.

At the time, AirTran told Channel 2 Action News that an unruly passenger on a cell phone forced the pilot to take the plane back to the gate. Monday, a passenger said the situation went well beyond that.

"It was extremely intense. I’ve never experienced anything like that," said passenger Brent Brown.

Brown runs a security consultant company and is a frequent flier. But even for him, he said the events of Flight 297 were disturbing and frightening. As the Houston-bound flight taxied to the runway, several in a group of about a dozen men of Middle Eastern descent started walking the aisles and using their cell phones, Brown said.

RAW VIDEO: Flight 297 Passenger Talks About AirTran Incident [WINSTON: I wasn't able to download or view the video but, it does appear.]
Flight 297 Passenger: Incident Bigger Than AirTran Claims

Brown said he could tell from the flight attendants' actions that the situation was more than just a single passenger misbehaving.

"This was a big step ahead of that. You could tell that they were distressed and that they were getting very much uncooperative people in the back," said Brown. "So when the pilot turned the plane around, not only was I not surprised I was proud that he had made that effort to secure the cabin."

Back at the gate, Brown said the situation did not improve. He said he was sitting toward the front and he never saw law enforcement enter the plane. He also said that no one informed passengers of what was going on.

"They weren't speaking to us. And they didn't speak to us at all for at least an hour. Our only interaction was with the crew that was already upset at the way they were obviously being handled," said Brown.

Within days, the incident went viral on the Internet which prompted news coverage. Internet rumor control sites seemingly couldn’t make heads or tails of the incident. AirTran responded by posting an article that called most of the claims an "urban myth."

"And then after the fact, when (AirTran) apparently issued a statement that says, in effect, that this was a customer service issue or someone was on the phone...they're dead wrong," said Brown.

The crew, including the pilots, decided not to continue with the flight. Brown said AirTran put about 10 of the 12-man group back on the plane with a new crew. Most of the original passengers chose not to re-board and instead got on a different flight.

Because of privacy laws, the airline would not identify any of the men involved in the November incident.

An AirTran spokesman called the incident "isolated" and said the airline considers the case closed. Copyright 2009 by All rights reserved.

2. Canada Free Press “Planned and choreographed” incident similar to USAir Flight 300 Security incident aboard AirTran Flight 297 suggests terror “Dry Run”
By Doug Hagmann, founder of the Northeast Intelligence Network & can be reached at <>
On November 17, an incident took place aboard AirTran Flight 297 scheduled to fly from Atlanta Hartsfield Airport to Houston that the media does not want to cover and everyone from the airline to the TSA and other government agencies want to keep very quiet.
The reasons, I have been told, is fear of predatory lawsuits, negative publicity from accusations of religious profiling, and the obligatory subjugation to mindless mandatory Muslim sensitivity training that make a mockery of our American system of values. Interestingly, one airline official told me “we don’t want to become another flight 300,” which is a reference to a very similar scenario that took place aboard US Airways Flight 300 exactly three years ago.
I was first contacted about this incident two days after it happened by a passenger who was aboard AirTran Flight 297. Based on the allegations made by this passenger, we conducted additional research, interviews and investigation, all of which takes time to insure accuracy, and are now able to release our report of the incident that took place aboard that aircraft. Be prepared to be shocked, angered, and perhaps saddened by our national and corporate acquiescence to mafia-type tactics by Islamists who are engaged in a full frontal assault, and laughing about it.
Unsurprisingly, the facts we developed during the course of our investigation are inconsistent with those being reported in the media, despite the media having the responsibility to report the truth.


A group of thirteen men dressed in traditional Muslim attire were among 73 passengers who boarded AirTran Flight 297 on Tuesday, 17 November 2009, a routine flight scheduled to depart Atlanta Hartsfield Airport, gate C-16 at 4:43 PM ET to Houston Hobby Airport. Reports developed by this investigator found two witnesses who observed direct interaction among all of these Muslim men at the terminal.
As the passengers boarded the aircraft, two of the Muslim men took seats in first class, while the remaining eleven were seated throughout the remaining rows of the aircraft. Most had carry-on bags that they stowed in the overhead compartments above their seats.
As the aircraft began to taxi to the runway, a female flight attendant was beginning to issue the normal passenger advisories over the PA system. Almost on cue at the time passengers were told to turn off all electronic devices, one of the Muslim men seated in the front of the plane began to use his cell phone in a manner that was described by a flight attendant and passenger “as deliberate and obvious.” He was talking loudly in Arabic, nearly at the level of the flight attendant. Some reports suggest that this man actually called another Muslim passenger, although this has not been immediately confirmed. It is possible, however, as another passenger reported that a Muslim man seated toward the rear of the plane answered his cellular phone at the same time the man in the front began using his.

At this point, the flight attendant in the front of the plane approached the Muslim man using his telephone and instructed him to immediately turn it off. A second female flight attendant did the same at the rear of the aircraft. Concurrent with this cellular activity, two other Muslim men seated adjacent near the middle of the aircraft began operating what one passenger described as a palm type camcorder, ostensibly to view previously taken footage. It is possible, according to one flight attendant interviewed by this investigator, however, that the camcorder was being used for recording purposes. Whatever its use, a third flight attendant, aware of the incidents taking place in the front and rear of the aircraft, approached the two men for the purpose of securing the camcorder. At least two passengers reported that the men became abusive to the flight attendant and initially refused to comply with her request.
It was at this time that most of the passengers began to notice the multiple incidents involving over a dozen men dressed in Islamic attire. Next, as if previously rehearsed, at least ten of the 13 Muslim men aboard the aircraft began to leave their seats at the same time. At least one passenger stated she observed one of the Muslim passengers using his cell phone to take photos of other passengers on the aircraft, while one other Muslim passenger sang loudly in Arabic. According to information provided to this investigator from one of the flight crew who was alerted to an onboard emergency, the aircraft was now being taxied back to the terminal. The TSA, FAA and FBI were notified.


Once back at the terminal, the thirteen men were escorted from the aircraft by TSA and security officials. According to a report from an airline security official, their baggage was also removed and searched, the search finding nothing of apparent danger. According to a law enforcement official interviewed by telephone by this investigator on Monday, investigation revealed that all of the Muslim passengers are acquainted with each other and are associated with (or have ties to) a large Islamic center that has been the subject of investigative interest.
According to one aircraft passenger I interviewed, what happened next was “unbelievable” and caused a great deal of upset among the aircraft passengers and flight crew (some who opted off the flight in anger, fear, or admittedly, a mixture of both emotions).
After a lengthy delay while officials dealt with these Muslim passengers, ten (one uncorroborated report suggests 11) of the Muslim passengers were permitted to re-board the same aircraft to complete their flight. Some passengers and flight crew, traumatized by the blatant actions of the Muslim passengers, refused to travel with the Muslims who caused this orchestrated disturbance. FLIGHT CONTINUES
According to flight logs and information from one of the flight crew who continued with the flight, AirTran 297 ultimately departed Atlanta and arrived in Houston later that evening. The flight, however, was not without its curious incidents by the very same Muslim men who caused the initial delay and disturbance.
During the flight, one passenger interviewed by this investigator described the behavior of two of the Muslim passengers as less overt but still suspicious in nature. Without apparent legitimate purpose, one Muslim passenger moved a stowed bag from one part of the aircraft to another, well away from his seated position. Another spoke loudly in Arabic, with all appearing to interact in one form or another.
Ultimately, the flight landed safely and despite the early incidents in Atlanta, the Muslim passengers appeared able to leave freely from the terminal.


As initially stated, proper and accurate investigation takes time to corroborate eyewitness accounts, which are often unreliable, contra-dictive and in cases like this, colored by emotion. Having interviewed a total of seven-(7) individuals directly involved in this incident over the last several days, including two law enforcement officers who handled the after action reports, the situation pertaining to the initial 13 and remaining 10 or 11 Muslim men allowed to continue their travels was far greater than an incident involving the unauthorized use of a cell phone that resulted in a minor flight delay, as reported by the mainstream media.
According to one airline security official, “This was a deliberate, well planned attempt to disrupt a domestic flight that was organized in advance of the boarding of these [Muslim] passengers. The purpose of their actions appeared to be multi-faceted, not the least of which was an attempt to change their status from passengers to victims of religious profiling. The situation was handled in a manner that we believe might have avoided an incident like USAir had in 2006, where everyone from the passengers who reported suspicious behavior to the airline was subjected to legal action by the Muslim passengers.”
While litigation might have been avoided, passengers and flight crew remain traumatized, and our air travel system was unnecessarily disrupted during one of the busiest air travel weeks in the U.S. The agenda of the Islamists behind this incident is clear, yet no one in the media seems to have the desire to expose these ideological cretins for what they are.

3. Air Tran Flight 297 Incident by Chaplain Dr. Keith A. Robinson
Copyright 2009
Air Tran Airways Flight 297 was scheduled to leave Atlanta at 4:43PM in route to Houston Hobby Airport. Because of my position as Corps Commander of the Houston Regional Community Chaplain Corps, I frequently wear my Chaplain jacket as I travel. Like some sort of heavenly magnet, the Chaplain jacket invites discussion with a wide variety of people who are struggling with issues in need of a comforting ear. My connecting flight was late and the door to the jet way closed prior to my boarding. So, even though I was rescheduled on a much later flight far from C-16 I settled down with a newspaper and only 1/4th of my remaining cell phone battery.
While waiting at the distant gate, I noticed on the scheduling monitors that Flight 297 had returned to gate C-16 and was scheduled to leave at 5:45PM. I hurried back to gate C-16 in hopes of boarding my original flight after it strangely returned to the gate.
Upon arriving at the gate I noticed that there was a look of solemn concern on the faces of the gate attendants. I asked if I could get on flight 297 when they returned to the gate. Their faces indicated a distinct level of stress that let everyone in the seating area knew that there was a problem on board. When I approached them a few moments later I said, “I am a Chaplain. Is there some way that I can be of help?” They said, “No.” Obviously, an event had occurred that they would not talk about.
Over the next thirty minutes officials from Air Tran started arriving at the gate, flashing their badges and going down to the plane. After 6-7 officials exited the door, suddenly it flew open and 12-15 people from the flight hurried off the plane. Anger and fear was etched on their faces as they jerked their carry-on and tore into their computer bags to schedule another flight out of Atlanta.
One gentleman confronted the gate agent demanding his luggage be removed from the flight. As I spoke to him he related that when Flight 297 left the concourse the first time it began taxiing to take off when approximately 12 men of Middle Eastern appearance stood up and began dancing and singing in an Arabic dialect. They refused to be seated when directed to do so by the flight attendants. Then, the singing stopped and some of the men took out their cell phones and began taking pictures of the other individual passengers. Again, the men were ordered to be seated by the flight crew and refused while continuing to take their pictures. Next, the de-boarded passenger related that a few of the men gestured with imaginary guns as their fingers, indicating with their triggering action that they would shoot the people on the plane.
The flight crew declared an emergency and the plane returned to the concourse. The 12 men were taken to another area of the airport and questioned. It is my understanding that their luggage was removed and checked. Then, ten of the men were allowed to get back on the plane. That’s when the 12-15 passengers decided that they wanted to get off that plane and take other flights. This ordeal had gone on approximately 2 hours to this point.
With much concern I was allowed to go down the jet way to the plane. There I encountered a man claiming that he was from Homeland Security to assess the situation. I related to the Homeland Security man about the claims of the photos and the shooting hand gestures related by the first man to exit the plane and I told him that I was a Senior Chaplain familiar with Critical Incident Response and would wait to help him should the passengers need my help. He said, “Thanks.”
The flight crew hurriedly walked past me leaving the plane with their baggage. The flight attendants were emotionally shaken, red faced, in tears and were sobbing. A new flight crew was ordered for the flight. All remaining passengers awaited their next crew, unsure of the ultimate destiny of this flight.
When I boarded the plane the air was tense and filled with emotion. Many of the passengers were obviously upset and at wits end. Often passengers would look back then forward to assess any change in the suspicious activities of the 10 hostile Middle Eastern passengers. Although my seat was 22D I moved to the back of the plane to gain a better view of any actions that might take place in front of me. Some of the Middle Eastern men were in the Business Class area and the remainder was seated in the back of the plane. They spoke only Arabic and I did not understand what they were saying although a strange burst of laughter would erupt as they spoke.
I struggled to see if these men were merely tragically toying with the emotions of the other American passengers or if they intended to do more. I calmed the new flight attendants and told them where I would be seated if they or any of the other passengers needed me.
I asked the flight attendant if she did or did not know whether we had an Air Marshal on the plane. She said that they were never told when one was on board. I prayed for the peace to handle whatever might happen on the flight but kept my eyes peeled forward for any suspicious movements.
One of the other passengers in mid-plane grew restless and began to show signs of rising agitation. He got up from his chair looked back and then to the front of the plane and paced back and forth between three to four rows. I prayed that he would not become violent with some of the men but then he quickly sat down and remained quiet until the end of the flight.
One hour into the flight thankfully nothing had happened. The outer skin of Flight 297’s body must have radiated with prayers ascending into heaven from the passengers…and the one Chaplain at the back of the plane. Each of the Middle Eastern men remained quiet but frequently went into the overhead compartments to retrieve what appeared to be electronic devices and other packages from their backpacks. I was thankful when the men in the back of the plane appeared to nod off into a harmless sleep.
One of the 10 men from Business Class came back to retrieve a box marked as a Mac Notebook. He brought it to the front of the plane and put it in third compartment on the left of the plane. There must have been four or five airline pilots in uniform on board making connecting flights through Hobby Airport in Houston. One of the pilot passengers moved the Mac Notebook box to another overhead area without anyone observing the new distant hiding place for his package.
Finally, the pilot announced that we were only 285 miles from Houston and under an hour of time to go. Still nothing happened. The flight attendants appeared to be calming down but the heads of passengers periodically bobbed forward and back, still watching for activity from the men.
Obviously, in Atlanta the officials from Air Tran had been placed in a difficult ethnic position that directly resulted from the inappropriate, threatening actions of these 12 Middle Eastern men. And, obviously vacillating between appropriately removing these men permanently off the plane and sequestering them for the threats they made toward these passengers on the flight…or taking the “politically correct” action of taking them off, questioning them and then putting most of them back on the plane…Air Tran took the easy way out and put most of them back on board. As in most dilemma situations both parties are never equally affected by the resulting action. By putting 10 of the men back on the plane, Air Tran decided that it was better to emotionally traumatize each and every one of the remaining passengers on Air Tran Flight 297 for the remainder of the flight. They had a chance to remove the offenders…but didn’t.

Only a few weeks before this flight experience one Middle Eastern man killed many soldiers in the name of Allah at Fort Hood, Texas. This experience placed many in America into a 9-12 state of mental preparedness. Most of us realize that there are pockets of radical Islamists right here in America awaiting either an internal or external signal to strike again at Americans…just as they did on 9-11. The realities of these events can’t help but condition our minds for protection.
As a Chaplain I ask myself, would America have been better off if a group of passengers on Air Tran Flight 297 assumed the 9-12 mentality of preparedness and launched a group attack on these men, forcing them into their seats until the plane parked again in its Atlanta International jet way? Were the passengers right to just put up with the obvious intimidation by these men until the flight was over? And, could it be that we actually endorsed the actions of these men by not taking action against them when they made their first imaginary shooting action toward an American on that flight?
How many times would it take for Americans forcefully to stand up for their safety based solely on the aggressive and threatening actions of these men as people threatening Americans, for them to see that Americans won’t tolerate physical or psychological intimidation at all anymore?
Is it inappropriate for Americans to stand together, draw a line in the sand, and say this will not happen to me or any of my American brothers/sisters? Do we not have a duty and responsibility to stand against this type of intimidation?
And this is the most difficult question of all: For those who were passengers that evening on Air Train Flight 297, could it be that we actually planted the seeds for the next intimidation by those who would attack us in our own homeland…by not acting together to stop the intimidation and threats?
As long as there are those who would claim Jihad as the proper way to solve ideological differences between religions, countries and civilizations, “intimidation” and “threats” will continue to be the initial instruments of force used against peace-loving people. As we become sensitized to the successive “intimidation” and “threats” we will become less and less responsive in our own defense. Then, as we find ourselves lulled into believing that the next intimidation or threat is just that…it will be an actual attack on America. We will not have learned from the deaths of all those Americans who died at the Twin Towers in New York or at the Pentagon in Washington DC...[or the Plane which the passengers caused to crash in Pennsylvania - instead of its intended target - probably in Washington - maybe the White House or Congress.]
Even peace loving Americans must awaken to the reality that our enemies intend to wipe us from the face of the earth through Jihad. Intimidation and threats are merely the precursors to the violence which will come. Ideally, all mankind should respect the beliefs, customs and religions of others on this earth. And, God knows that someday we may actually reach that point. But until that time America must set boundaries that protect its people based upon what is right or wrong for America and its people. In order to survive as a nation of people claiming American values and ethics, we must stop political correctness as a way to temporarily appease those who would kill us in a heartbeat. It’s time we deal in reality and speak honestly and accurately about the facts in each situation. Face it, you cannot prevent someone from getting their feelings hurt when you speak the truth.
If America is to survive…and I pray to God that it does, we must enforce boundaries that define us as Americans. If we don’t enforce American values and just bend the truth to make people feel good…very soon America will become impotent before the world.
I believe that God didn’t make a mistake when he brought together the forefathers of America. These men were tested and from the fire of the American Revolution a new country was born. Today we can perpetuate our America or we can remember it as a distant dream that didn’t last.
I, for one, believe that God did not make America as a mistake. And, from that belief in America, the truth must be spoken as it is in reality. When intimidation or threats confront an American citizen or an American ideal, we must stand together and hold the boundary set by our American forefathers. In truth words mean very little. How we act reveals what we really believe.
--- END---
Senior Chaplain Dr. Keith A. Robinson is the Corps Commander for the Houston Regional Community Chaplain’s Corps in Houston, Texas. He can be reached by email at ; by phone at 713-826-3220; and by snail mail at 2042 Baker Trail, Houston, Texas 77094.


Those of you planning on visiting loved ones during the upcoming holidays may want to be extra vigilant at the airport, as the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the very agency which has been in charge of protecting America’s airports since the September 11th terror attacks, has given terrorists worldwide all of the information they need in order to breach security measures currently in place.

Reports of this generous act surfaced yesterday from nearly all media outlets, which described the TSA’s posting of an extremely sensitive document (on the eve of a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing on terrorist travel, no less), which detailed the nation’s airport screening procedures.

The 94-page document provides any potential Jihadist taking the time to read it a how-to manual for bypassing those very same procedures. They would learn about the limitations of x-ray machines and may be pleasantly surprised to find that only 20% of all bags checked in are hand searched for explosives. They would learn how flying in from countries such as Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Libya, Syria, and Sudan, would subject them to extra scrutiny, or that during peak travel times, TSA screeners who check identification can reduce from 100 percent to 25 percent the times they use black lights to authenticate documents.

And to round out TSA’s largesse, as an added bonus Jihadists downloading the document were also provided with sample CIA, Congressional and law enforcement credentials, which they could then duplicate at leisure to be used later!

Speaking of leisure, our enemies had 9 months to study the document, as it was posted in March before being removed this week. Not only that, it was actually posted on the Federal Business Opportunity website, a resource for those seeking federal jobs.

How did this happen?

That’s what Senator Susan Collins (R-Me), wants Janet Napolitano, head of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to explain:

Senator Susan Collins: This shocking breach undercuts the public’s confidence in the security procedures at our airports. On the day before the Senate Homeland Security Committee’s hearing on terrorist travel, it is alarming to learn that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) inadvertently posted its own security manual on the Internet. [DHS needs to explain] how it will remedy the damage that has already been done.

Napolitano, who has shown time and again that she is the wrong person for the job of protecting the nation’s borders from those intent on doing us harm, minimized the damage caused by the posting of the document by claiming it was an "out-of-date" document that had been superseded:

Janet Napolitano: The security of the traveling public has never been put at risk. The document that was posted was an out of date document. I’ve directed that we do a review department-wide of all of our components to make sure that we are being rigorous and very disciplined on what is posted and what is not.

Well, thank goodness for that. We’re all resting much easier now.

Happy traveling!!!

Return of the Jedi and return of the Kassams:,7340,L-3821059,00.html

The return of Amalek:

From Michelle N. – nice terrorist aren’t they? Israel deserves this for letting the Egyptian Born Arab Arafat and his gang of thugs into Israel after Bush I and Kuwait boycotted them.

Now for M. Wolfberg’s Good Shabbos Story – The French Connection

Good Shabbos Everyone. On Chanukah we light candles to celebrate the victory of the Chashmonayim over the Greeks over 2000 years ago. In reality, the kingship which the Chashmonayim established did not last very long, it was quickly eclipsed by the growing Roman Empire. Nevertheless, we celebrate the victory. In a greater sense we celebrate on Chanukah the everlasting victory of the Jewish People over those nations who have sought to destroy us in every generation.
Even the non-Jewish scholars have recognized the everlasting nature of the Jewish people. As the American author and commentator Mark Twain writes in his short essay entitled: Concerning the Jews.
"If the statistics are right, the Jews constitute but one per cent of the human race. It suggests a nebulous dim puff of stardust lost in the blaze of the Milky Way. Properly the Jew ought hardly to be heard of, but he is heard of, has always been heard of. He is as prominent on the planet as any other people, and his commercial importance is extravagantly out of proportion to the smallness of his bulk.
His contributions to the world's list of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine, and abstruse learning are also away out of proportion to the weakness of his numbers. He has made a marvelous fight in the world, in all the ages; and has done it with his hands tied behind him. He could be vain of himself, and be excused for it.
The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed, and made a vast noise, and they are gone; other peoples have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished. The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?"

The following amazing true story, told in the first person by a doctor, illustrates that although we have been persecuted, the Jewish nation has survived all those who sought to destroy us...
"Several years ago, a physician from southern France contacted me. His granddaughter had taken ill with a disease that baffled the physicians there. He called after reading several of my articles on disorders of the autonomic nervous system. His granddaughter's symptoms seemed to match those I had described, and he asked me if I could help. I readily agreed, and for many months, I collaborated with the child's French physicians by telephone and by fax, directing their diagnostic testing. At last we came to a diagnosis, and I prescribed a course of therapy.
During the next several weeks, the child made a seemingly miraculous recovery. Her grandparents expressed their heartfelt thanks and told me to let them know should I ever come to France. In the summer of 1996, I was invited to speak at a large international scientific meeting that was held in Nice, France. I sent word to the physician I had helped years before.
Upon my arrival at the hotel, I received a message to contact him. I called him, and we arranged a night to meet for dinner. On the appointed day we met and then drove north to his home in the beautiful southern French countryside. It was humbling to learn his home was older than the United States.
During the drive he told me that his wife had a terminal illness and was not well, but she insisted upon meeting me. When introduced to her, I saw that despite her severe illness, she was still a woman with a noble bearing.
We sat in a 17th-century salon, sipping cognac and chatting. Our conversation must have seemed odd to the young man and woman who served us because it came out in a free-flowing mixture of English, French, and Spanish. After a time the woman asked,
"My husband tells me you are Jewish, no?" "Yes," I said, "I am a Jew." They asked me to tell them about Judaism, especially the holidays. I did my best to explain and was astounded by how little they knew of Judaism. She seemed to be particularly interested in Chanukah.
Once I had finished answering her questions, she suddenly looked me in the eye and said, "I have something I want to give to you." She disappeared and returned several moments later with a package wrapped in cloth. She sat, her tired eyes looking into mine, and she began to speak slowly.
"When I was a little girl of 8 years, during the Second World War, the authorities came to our village to round up all the Jews. My best friend at that time was a girl of my age named Jeanette. One morning when I came to play, I saw her family being forced at gunpoint into a truck. I ran home and told my mother what had happened and asked where Jeanette was going. 'Don't worry,' she said, 'Jeanette will be back soon.'
"I ran back to Jeanette's house only to find that she was gone and that the other villagers were looting her home of valuables, except for the Judaic items, which were thrown into the street. As I approached, I saw an item from her house lying in the dirt. I picked it up and recognized it as an object that Jeanette and her family would light around December time. In my little girl's mind I said 'I will take this home and keep it for Jeanette, till she comes back,' but she and her family never returned."
She paused and took a slow sip of brandy. "Since that time I have kept it. I hid it from my parents and didn't tell a soul of its existence. Indeed, over the last 50 years the only person who knew of it was my husband. When I found out what really happened to the Jews, and how many of the people I knew had collaborated with the Nazis, I could not bear to look at it. Yet I kept it, hidden, waiting for something, although I wasn't sure what. Now I know what I was waiting for. It was for you, a Jew, who helped cure our granddaughter, and it is to you I entrust this."
Her trembling hands set the package on my lap. I slowly unwrapped the cloth from around it. Inside was a menorah, but one unlike any I had seen before. Made of solid brass, it had eight cups for holding oil and wicks and a ninth cup centered above the others. It had a ring attached to the top, and the woman mentioned that she remembered that Jeanette's family would hang it in the hallway of their home. It looked quite old to me; later, several people told me that it is probably at least 100 years old. As I held it and thought about what it represented, I began to cry.
All I could manage to say was a garbled "merci." As I left, her last words to me were "Il faudra voir la lumiere encore une fois -- it should once again see light."
I later learned that she died less than a month after our meeting. That Chanukah, the menorah once again saw light. And as I and my family lit it, we said a special prayer in honor of those whose memories it represents. We will not let its lights go out again!
The original owners of that menorah were unfortunately taken as sacrifices during the war. However, the Jewish nation has survived and we continue to light the Chanukah lights to symbolize the everlasting nature of this great nation. Good Shabbos and Happy Chanukah Everyone.

Mr. Wolfberg’s Shabbos sponsored by: Refuah Shleima to Mordechai Menachem Mendel ben Tziporah Yitta Refuah Shleima to Tsviah bas Bracha Leah

In memory of Shosha Malka bas R' Avrohom 21 Cheshvan Refuah Shleimah to Chana Ashayra bas Dodi

Again the Chanucha Menorah is lite about 10 minutes before the Shabbos candles and long enough to last 30 minutes after sunset. Have a great Shabbos and a wonderful ending to Chanucha and of course a lovely Tevet with the proper rains in Israel. Be well,

Rachamim Pauli