B”H instead of names of sick people I received the following health advisory form Rabbi A. L.
1. If walking/cycling is good for your health, the postman would be immortal.
2. A whale swims all day, only eats fish, drinks water and is fat.
3. A rabbit runs and hops and only lives 15 years.
4. A tortoise doesn't run, does nothing …yet lives for 450 years.
AND you tell me to exercise!!!
I feel like a fool. It says in Perkei Avos to judge somebody by merit and I tried that even of a man with a political philosophy opposed to mine. He is a 46 year old married man who had the IQ to get into BTHS one would expect better judgement by Weiner so I judged him as a person with brains. I even wrote so in my Inyanay Diyoma last week. This man has mental issues at his age for he is past 16 and 18. He had the Chutzpa to call Glenn Beck immoral a year ago.
I am purposely skipping the work of the Cohanim and Leviim in Chapter 8 and the Golden Menorah and going onwards. Also from chapter 11 into the end of Parsha Balak, we have all the murmurers, spies, Korach and the immodesty tests of the people. We saw this in Perkei Avos Chapter 5 Mishnah 4 - With ten tests our forefathers tested G-d in the desert, as is stated (Numbers 14:22), "They tested Me these ten times, and did not hearken to My voice."
The beginning sentence of this Parsha is covered in the Kabbala as bringing down the light from above to meet the light from below. From this spiritual light becomes the source of blessings from the Beis HaMikdash (Mishkan in our Parsha). We are learning here about the pairs of Torah leaders.
9:1 And the LORD spoke unto Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the first month of the second year after they were come out of the land of Egypt, saying: 2 'Let the children of Israel keep the passover in its appointed season. 3 In the fourteenth day of this month, at dusk, ye shall keep it in its appointed season; according to all the statutes of it, and according to all the ordinances thereof, shall ye keep it.'
Of all the 3 Regalim, Pessach is the most prominent for it is at the start of our freedom and the start of the Jewish Calendar. In Shemos 12 This month is the head of the months. It is not only our main reason for keeping all three Yomim Tovim but like the Shabbos was a day set aside by HASHEM. For exactly 400 years to the day that Yitzchak was born was the time of redemption. For if we start from the time of Adam to Avraham it is a span of 1948 years and Yitzchak was born when Avraham was 100 or 2048 and the Geula from Galus Mitzrayim (Egyptian diaspora) ended in 2448. (Interesting enough when one takes the date of the destruction of the first Temple 3408 and adds the 2300 number mentioned in Sefer Daniel one gets the year 5708 or 1948 of the common era but that is knowledge after the fact.)
4 And Moses spoke unto the children of Israel, that they should keep the passover. 5 And they kept the passover in the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, at dusk, in the wilderness of Sinai; according to all that the LORD commanded Moses, so did the children of Israel.
Pessach was celebrated by all circumcised males and perhaps whole families for all males were circumcised at this time. However one had to be ritually Tahor if Am Yisrael was Tahor.
6 But there were certain men, who were unclean by the dead body of a man, so that they could not keep the passover on that day; and they came before Moses and before Aaron on that day.
Aaron’s sons died on the 8th day and were buried as soon as possible. The Para Aduma could only make someone Tahor by sprinkling on the 3rd and 7th day and as dusk fell and the 8th day started, the person would be Tahor. However, Pessach falls on the night of the 14th and not the 16th. The men felt left out despite the great Mitzva of burying the dead.
7 And those men said unto him: 'We are unclean by the dead body of a man; wherefore are we to be kept back, so as not to bring the offering of the LORD in its appointed season among the children of Israel?' 8 And Moses said unto them: 'Stay ye, that I may hear what the LORD will command concerning you.'
The time frame of our Parsha is that of the Parsha Shemini and now in Bamidbar we return to the finishing of the dedication of the Mishkan. The men here are the same Leviim that buried the two sons of Aaron.
9 And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying: 10 'Speak unto the children of Israel, saying: If any man of you or of your generations shall be unclean by reason of a dead body, or be in a journey afar off, yet he shall keep the passover unto the LORD; 11 in the second month on the fourteenth day at dusk they shall keep it; they shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs;
We see that the bitter herbs is not a custom but a Mitzva in itself.
12 they shall leave none of it unto the morning, nor break a bone thereof; according to all the statute of the passover they shall keep it.
Actually we see that Pessach was eaten until the morning but our Rabbis put a fence around the Torah that one should not get Kares by eating after the time that they said until midnight. Since not everybody had the latest most expensive atomic clock or Swiss watch, it was sufficient to look up at the stars or have a candle that would burn until approximately midnight to know that the time was up. As Rabban Gamliel tells his sons in the first Mishna in Shass Berachos 1:1 placing incense, fats and internal organs for burning on the Mizbayach their Mitzva is until the morning. If so why did Chachamim [Sages] say until midnight? In order to keep one from committing a sin!
13 But the man that is clean, and is not on a journey, and forbears to keep the passover, that soul shall be cut off from his people; because he brought not the offering of the LORD in its appointed season, that man shall bear his sin. 14 And if a stranger shall sojourn among you, and will keep the passover unto the LORD: according to the statute of the passover, and according to the ordinance thereof, so shall he do; ye shall have one statute, both for the stranger, and for him that is born in the land.'
On not observing the Pessach one who can observe the Pessach deserves Kares and this includes a Ger Tzeddek (full convert) to Judaism.
15 And on the day that the tabernacle was reared up the cloud covered the tabernacle, even the tent of the testimony; and at even there was upon the tabernacle as it were the appearance of fire, until morning.
A miracle having the sun shielded in the day and light for millions of people at night on a daily basis.
16 So it was always: the cloud covered it, and the appearance of fire by night. 17 And whenever the cloud was taken up from over the Tent, then after that the children of Israel journeyed; and in the place where the cloud abode, there the children of Israel encamped. 18 At the commandment of the LORD the children of Israel journeyed, and at the commandment of the LORD they encamped: as long as the cloud abode upon the tabernacle they remained encamped. 19 And when the cloud tarried upon the tabernacle many days, then the children of Israel kept the charge of the LORD, and journeyed not. 20 And sometimes the cloud was a few days upon the tabernacle; according to the commandment of the LORD they remained encamped, and according to the commandment of the LORD they journeyed. 21 And sometimes the cloud was from evening until morning; and when the cloud was taken up in the morning, they journeyed; or if it continued by day and by night, when the cloud was taken up, they journeyed. 22 Whether it were two days, or a month, or a year, that the cloud tarried upon the tabernacle, abiding thereon, the children of Israel remained encamped, and journeyed not; but when it was taken up, they journeyed. 23 At the commandment of the LORD they encamped, and at the commandment of the LORD they journeyed; they kept the charge of the LORD, at the commandment of the LORD by the hand of Moses.
Aaron and Moshe taught Torah along with the elders when the cloud tarried.
10:1 And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying: 2 'Make thee two trumpets of silver; of beaten work shalt thou make them; and they shall be unto thee for the calling of the congregation, and for causing the camps to set forward. 3 And when they shall blow with them, all the congregation shall gather themselves unto thee at the door of the tent of meeting. 4 And if they blow but with one, then the princes, the heads of the thousands of Israel, shall gather themselves unto thee. 5 And when ye blow an alarm, the camps that lie on the east side shall take their journey. 6 And when ye blow an alarm the second time, the camps that lie on the south side shall set forward; they shall blow an alarm for their journeys. 7 But when the assembly is to be gathered together, ye shall blow, but ye shall not sound an alarm. 8 And the sons of Aaron, the priests, shall blow with the trumpets; and they shall be to you for a statute forever throughout your generations. 9 And when ye go to war in your land against the adversary that oppresses you, then ye shall sound an alarm with the trumpets; and ye shall be remembered before the LORD your God, and ye shall be saved from your enemies. 10 Also in the day of your gladness, and in your appointed seasons, and in your new moons, ye shall blow with the trumpets over your burnt-offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace-offerings; and they shall be to you for a memorial before your God: I am the LORD your God.'
A system was devised for warning when Shabbos or Yom Tov candle lighting was, if Israel was under attack or if it was time for a Torah symposium. The Trumpets even offered a greater variety than our Shofar system today. One might think that by having various trumpets of shapes and sizes that one could make notes and play tunes like the US Army Bugles therefore Talmud says two. (Not the Talmud but the Torah but in Hebrew we say Talmud Lomar)
The guardian Angels and their positions over the tribes that I had given last year are different from the Zohar HaKodesh in this week’s Parsha therefore I give them according the Zohar here. It could have been an error on my part, a dispute between one piece of oral Torah in a previous Medrash or Zohar or two different Rabbis with two different traditions. For our intent and purpose we will accept the direct, tribes and angels as given here and I will have to relearn again what I had written in previous years and check my sources.
11 And it came to pass in the second year, in the second month, on the twentieth day of the month, that the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle of the testimony. 12 And the children of Israel set forward by their stages out of the wilderness of Sinai; and the cloud abode in the wilderness of Paran.-- 13 And they took their first journey, according to the commandment of the LORD by the hand of Moses. 14 And in the first place the standard of the camp of the children of Judah set forward according to their hosts; and over his host was Nahshon the son of Amminadab. 15 And over the host of the tribe of the children of Issachar was Nethanel the son of Zuar. 16 And over the host of the tribe of the children of Zebulun was Eliab the son of Helon. 17 And the tabernacle was taken down; and the sons of Gershon and the sons of Merari, who bore the tabernacle, set forward.
The people had seen the Divine Chariot at the Sea which Yechezkel described in Chapter 1. The Standard or Flag of Yehuda was that of a Lion. Amos 3:8 The lion hath roared, who will not fear? The guardian Angel over this section of the camp was Michael. They were encamped in the east. (Writing on my own the reason that Yehuda got the Lion because he had the courage to stand up and admit to Tamar before all that he had made her pregnant and not only this but he fought light a Lion in Schem as described in Sefer Yashar and he was willing to stand up for Benyamin before Pharaoh’s Prime Minister at the risk of his own life.)
18 And the standard of the camp of Reuben set forward according to their hosts; and over his host was Elizur the son of Shedeur. 19 And over the host of the tribe of the children of Simeon was Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai. 20 And over the host of the tribe of the children of Gad was Eliasaph the son of Deuel. 21 And the Kohathites the bearers of the sanctuary set forward, that the tabernacle might be set up against their coming.
The Standard or Flag of Reuven was that of an Eagle. They were located in the south and their guardian angel was Uriel. (Writing on my own for even though Reuven failed to save Yosef from being sold he watched over his brothers like an Eagle over his nest.)
22 And the standard of the camp of the children of Ephraim set forward according to their hosts; and over his host was Elishama the son of Ammihud. 23 And over the host of the tribe of the children of Manasseh was Gamaliel the son of Pedahzur. 24 And over the host of the tribe of the children of Benjamin was Abidan the son of Gideoni.
The Standard or Flag of Ephraim was that of a Man. They were located in the west and their guardian angel was Rafael. (Writing on my own for Yosef withstood the temptation of Potiphar’s lusty wife and for that he was a true man.)
25 And the standard of the camp of the children of Dan, which was the rearward of all the camps, set forward according to their hosts; and over his host was Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai. 26 And over the host of the tribe of the children of Asher was Pagiel the son of Ochran. 27 And over the host of the tribe of the children of Naphtali was Ahira the son of Enan.
The Standard or Flag of Dan was that of an Ox. They were located in the south and their guardian angel was Gavriel. (Writing on my own for Shimshon from Dan was to destroy the Plishtim as an Ox that gores.)
28 Thus were the journeyings of the children of Israel according to their hosts.--And they set forward. 29 And Moses said unto Hobab, the son of Reuel the Midianite, Moses' father-in-law: 'We are journeying unto the place of which the LORD said: I will give it you; come you with us, and we will do thee good; for the LORD hath spoken good concerning Israel.' 30 And he said unto him: 'I will not go; but I will depart to mine own land, and to my kindred.'
This journey took place immediately after the leaving of Mitzrayim. We return to the first weeks after Pessach at this point and before the giving of the Torah. In fact we return to Parshas Yisro time wise. Yisro did not become a Ger Tzeddek but a Ger Toshav aka a Ben Noach. He returned to his people and is the father of the Druze in Israel, Lebanon and Syria. The problem with the Druze is that they are loyal to the power over the area and thus the ones in the Galil are willing to give their lives for Yisrael but the ones on the top of the Golan at Majal Sharms threw stones on their brethren in the police and army and Jewish troops on the Golan.
31 And he said: 'Leave us not, I pray thee; forasmuch as thou know how we are to encamp in the wilderness, and thou shalt be to us instead of eyes. 32 And it shall be, if thou go with us, yea, it shall be, that what good soever the LORD shall do unto us, the same will we do unto thee.'
Yisro was a holy man and a Prophet and had made a great name with his piety.
33 And they set forward from the mount of the LORD three days' journey; and the ark of the covenant of the LORD went before them three days' journey, to seek out a resting-place for them. 34 And the cloud of the LORD was over them by day, when they set forward from the camp.
Yisro did not go with them so they moved in the desert a three day journey from Rafedim in the midst of the southern third of the Sinai Desert to Har Sinai. The next verse is covered in the brackets by two upside down Nuns – the Hebrew letter Nun.
35 And it came to pass, when the ark set forward, that Moses said: 'Rise up, O LORD, and let Your enemies be scattered; and let them that hate Thee flee before Thee.' 36 And when it rested, he said: 'Return, O LORD, unto the ten thousands of the families of Israel.'
We say this everytime we open the Aharon HaKodesh.
11:1 And the people were as murmurers, speaking evil in the ears of the LORD; and when the LORD heard it, His anger was kindled; and the fire of the LORD burnt among them, and devoured in the uttermost part of the camp. 2 And the people cried unto Moses; and Moses prayed unto the LORD, and the fire abated. 3 And the name of that place was called Taberah, because the fire of the LORD burnt among them. 4 And the mixed multitude that was among them fell a lusting;
It was not really a lusting for meat which was the excuse but a lusting for Consanguineous relationships that existed in Egypt contrary even to the laws of the Bnei Noach. Cleopatra and Ptolemy are the epitome of what was rampant in Egypt for centuries.
and the children of Israel also wept on their part, and said: 'Would that we were given flesh to eat! 5 We remember the fish, which we were wont to eat in Egypt for naught; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlic; 6 but now our soul is dried away; there is nothing at all; we have naught save this manna to look to.'
For those of you who have not made Aliyah to Yisrael let me describe my first months in Israel 41 years ago. I was 23 and I came here after giving up a job that supplied me with a sufficient salary to make ends meet and save a little. I had a sailboat, sled, ice skates and other things that I had to give up upon Aliyah. The place, the climate, language and customs were strange to me. I did not miss the anti-Semites or the problems with Kashrus but I did miss the physical luxuries that I had to give up. I could not afford too much chicken, fish and even certain cheeses that I was used to due to the low salary and high cost of living. Everything from the not so creamy cream cheese to the peanut butter tasted different. So even though we look down upon these people in the view of our Sages, we must also see where they are coming from.
-- 7 Now the manna was like coriander seed, and the appearance thereof as the appearance of bdellium. 8 The people went about, and gathered it, and ground it in mills, or beat it in mortars, and seethed it in pots, and made cakes of it; and the taste of it was as the taste of a cake baked with oil. 9 And when the dew fell upon the camp in the night, the manna fell upon it.-- 10 And Moses heard the people weeping, family by family, every man at the door of his tent; and the anger of the LORD was kindled greatly; and Moses was displeased. 11 And Moses said unto the LORD: 'Wherefore hast Thou dealt ill with Thy servant? and wherefore have I not found favor in Thy sight, that Thou lay the burden of all this people upon me?
Being a true servant to HASHEM, Moshe was over whelmed by the complaints against HASHEM.
12 Have I conceived all this people? have I brought them forth, that Thou shouldest say unto me: Carry them in thy bosom, as a nursing-father carrieth the sucking child, unto the land which Thou didst swear unto their fathers? 13 Whence should I have flesh to give unto all this people? for they trouble me with their weeping, saying: Give us flesh, that we may eat. 14 I am not able to bear all this people myself alone, because it is too heavy for me. 15 And if Thou deal thus with me, kill me, I pray Thee, out of hand, if I have found favor in Thy sight; and let me not look upon my wretchedness.'
Moshe was in a bad state of depression from his failure to educate and introduce faith into the people and was spiraling down to a close to a state of hopeless from being over worked. There HASHEM relieves him with the Sanhedrin to ease his burden.
16 And the LORD said unto Moses: 'Gather unto Me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom thou know to be the elders of the people, and officers over them; and bring them unto the tent of meeting, that they may stand there with thee. 17 And I will come down and speak with thee there; and I will take of the spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee, that thou bear it not thyself alone.
The Sanhedrin will act in MY NAME before the people and being elders from each tribe will calm down the people.
18 And say thou unto the people: Sanctify yourselves against to-morrow, and ye shall eat flesh; for ye have wept in the ears of the LORD, saying: Would that we were given flesh to eat! for it was well with us in Egypt; therefore the LORD will give you flesh, and ye shall eat. 19 Ye shall not eat one day, nor two days, nor five days, neither ten days, nor twenty days; 20 but a whole month, until it come out at your nostrils, and it be loathsome unto you; because that ye have rejected the LORD who is among you, and have troubled Him with weeping, saying: Why, now, came we forth out of Egypt?' 21 And Moses said: 'The people, among whom I am, are six hundred thousand men on foot; and yet Thou hast said: I will give them flesh, that they may eat a whole month! 22 If flocks and herds be slain for them, will they suffice them? or if all the fish of the sea be gathered together for them, will they suffice them?'
Everything will not suffice their Yetzer. For although that Reuven and Gad had a tremendous amount of sheep and cattle, the meat was not the flesh that they really yearned for as I mentioned above and Moshe sensed this.
23 And the LORD said unto Moses: 'Is the LORD'S hand waxed short? now shalt thou see whether My word shall come to pass unto thee or not.' 24 And Moses went out, and told the people the words of the LORD; and he gathered seventy men of the elders of the people, and set them round about the Tent. 25 And the LORD came down in the cloud, and spoke unto him, and took of the spirit that was upon him, and put it upon the seventy elders; and it came to pass, that, when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, but they did so no more. 26 But there remained two men in the camp, the name of the one was Eldad, and the name of the other Medad; and the spirit rested upon them; and they were of them that were recorded, but had not gone out unto the Tent; and they prophesied in the camp. 27 And there ran a young man, and told Moses, and said: 'Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.' 28 And Joshua the son of Nun, the minister of Moses from his youth up, answered and said: 'My lord Moses, shut them in.' 29 And Moses said unto him: 'Art thou jealous for my sake? would that all the LORD'S people were prophets, that the LORD would put His spirit upon them!' 30 And Moses withdrew into the camp, he and the elders of Israel. 31 And there went forth a wind from the LORD, and brought across quails from the sea, and let them fall by the camp, about a day's journey on this side, and a day's journey on the other side, round about the camp, and about two cubits above the face of the earth. 32 And the people rose up all that day, and all the night, and all the next day, and gathered the quails; he that gathered least gathered ten heaps; and they spread them all abroad for themselves round about the camp. 33 While the flesh was yet between their teeth, ere it was chewed, the anger of the LORD was kindled against the people, and the LORD smote the people with a very great plague. 34 And the name of that place was called Kibroth-hattaavah, because there they buried the people that lusted. 35 From Kibroth-hattaavah the people journeyed unto Hazeroth; and they abode at Hazeroth.
12:1 And Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses …
Being Cohain HaGadol, Aaron was not infected even though his behavior in listening to Lashon Hara was complicit. Miriam instigated it and she is punished.
9 And the anger of the LORD was kindled against them; and He departed. 10 And when the cloud was removed from over the Tent, behold, Miriam was leprous, as white as snow; and Aaron looked upon Miriam; and, behold, she was leprous. 11 And Aaron said unto Moses: 'Oh my lord, lay not, I pray thee, sin upon us, for that we have done foolishly, and for that we have sinned. 12 Let her not, I pray, be as one dead, of whom the flesh is half consumed when he cometh out of his mother's womb.' 13 And Moses cried unto the LORD, saying: 'Heal her now, O God, I beseech Thee.'
This is the shortest prayer in the Tanach.
14 And the LORD said unto Moses: 'If her father had but spit in her face, should she not hide in shame seven days? let her be shut up without the camp seven days, and after that she shall be brought in again.' 15 And Miriam was shut up without the camp seven days; and the people journeyed not till Miriam was brought in again. 16 And afterward the people journeyed from Hazeroth, and pitched in the wilderness of Paran.
Halacha from Danny Shoemann
One may not fast on Isru Chag and no Tachanun is said on Isru Chag. The Minchag is to eat a bigger meal than usual, to mark the day as Isru Chag. Some do not say Tachanun for the entire week after Shavuot since the Korbanos that one had to bring when coming to the Beis HaMikdash on Yom Tov could be brought for the entire week after Shavuot.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 22:8, 103:14
Perkei Avos Chapter 1 Mishnayos 6 - 11
6. Yossi the son of Yochanan of Jerusalem would say: Let your home be wide open, and let the poor be members of your household. And do not engage in excessive conversation with a woman. This is said even regarding one's own wife--how much more so regarding the wife of another. Hence, the sages said: One who excessively converses with a woman causes evil to himself, neglects the study of Torah, and, in the end, inherits purgatory.
After Shimon HaTzaddik passed on, there essentially was no one man of his caliber to lead Am Yisrael.
7. Joshua the son of Perachiya and Nitai the Arbeli received from them. Joshua the son of Perachiya would say: Assume for yourself a master,
Literally make for yourself a Rabbi but in principle go and follow a Rabbi and teacher. Before Rav Schach and Rav Kanyefski became their status, they went to their Rabbanim for advice or perhaps still consulted others even when great.
acquire for yourself a friend, and judge every man to the side of merit.
Literally purchase for yourself a friend. A friend, wife and companion is bought between words, deeds and giving. When it is all take one loses his friendship quickly. Make sure when you pick a friend it is a person of good quality and character that you do not be led astray by him/her.
8. Nitai the Arbelite would say: Distance yourself from a bad neighbor, do not cleave to a wicked person, and do not abandon belief in retribution.
It is very depressing for good people to see the wicked triumphing and the good being crushed. One may have a neighbor on the other side of the fence who is wicked or callous person. Avoid him like the plague. Get far away from politicians that have been proven to be corrupt or community leaders. Even Rabbis are human and err in some areas and scientists sometimes make the data fit the curve so be wary of their weaknesses. There will be judgement in the end. BELIEVE ME WHEN I SAY THAT I AM WORRIED ABOUT MY OWN FUTURE AS THE WORLD IS ABOUT TO CHANGE ALL I CAN DO IS REPENTANCE, PRAYER AND CHARITY NO MATTER HOW SMALL OR WEAK THAT IT IS AS IT IS MY ONLY HOPE. FOR I MUST IN THE END NOT DEPEND ON PENSION, MY CURRENT HEALTH OR WEALTH BUT I HAVE TO TURN TO HASHEM AND DEPEND ON OUR FATHER IN HEAVEN.
9. Judah the son of Tabbai and Shimon the son of Shetach received from them. Judah the son of Tabbai would say: When sitting in judgement, do not act as a counselor-at-law. When the litigants stand before you, consider them both guilty; and when they leave your courtroom, having accepted the judgement, regard them as equally righteous.
If you see one of the litigants make a mistake then do not counsel him rather speak to the other Judges. Always assume at the start of the trial that both are liars and guilty and then at the end righteous. However, nowadays our Judges are far from the wisdom and thoroughness of Rabbi Yehuda. Rather the Judge today should look at himself like a double edged sword is hanging over his head and that the hole of Gehenna is open before him and that he should be afraid to make an error in Judgement. Ruth 1:1 And it came to pass in the days when the judges judged, Do not read that they Judged but that their Judgements were judged by the people for fairness or unfairness.
10. Shimon the son of Shetach would say: Increasingly cross-examine the witnesses. Be careful with your words, lest they learn from them how to lie.
His son was put to death by the testimony of false witnesses. All this because the cross-examination was not strong enough to see that the witnesses were false.
11. Shmaayah and Avtalyon received from them. Shmaayah would say: Love work, loath mastery over others, and avoid intimacy with the government.
This pair was the teachers of Hillel and Shammai the founders of two schools of holy ways. Hillel was more lenient and the masses could follow him while Shammai was more for the observance of Talmidei Chachamim and too strict for the average Jew. Both were children of Gerim from Sancherev who had attacked Yerushalayim. Imagine Moshiach from a Giores, all our Torah from the children of Gerim including Rabbi Akiva and the translation of Achilles aka Unkoles.
Avtalyon would say: Scholars, be careful with your words. For you may be exiled to a place inhabited by evil elements [who will distort your words to suit their negative purposes]. The disciples who come after you will then drink of these evil waters and be destroyed, and the Name of Heaven will be desecrated.
Make sure when you say words of Torah and commentary that they are true. Either you have heard them from your Rebbe or you have formed an opinion. Do it for the sake of heaven and be careful lest the words get out of context and people will err and you not only will have failed to deliver a continuing Torah but just the opposite. Reform Judaism originally started from Rabbis who were open minded and wanted to live with the times. However, they began to cast off the true path and the unforeseen happened to them. The original would never have had a Kiddush in Schul on Yom Kippur, Women Rabbis and same sex ?marriage?, intermarriage but the current ones think nothing of it and they are boorish in True Torah. In the end they cut their souls off and die in the next world with their Gay Pride displays and life styles. Since most of them do not procreate they will eventually wither as did such movements in Greece and Rome and their fruitless life ends in both this world and the next.
Most annoying thing is to write a few paragraphs and the internet falls making me rewrite the answer. I wrote this and more on a discussion regarding two items related to reincarnation and to the power of Rabbis could they or could they not overcome bad Karma of a past incarnation in the present incarnation.
I was asked a question by a woman named Piper. She wanted to know about where there is proof of reincarnation. I have heard of instances and the Ari Zal mentioned it a lot. In India there are a number of documented cases. However the most documented I know in Israel is of a Druze. The man was a soccer player. He did not throw the game and Druze Mafia members murdered him.
About the same time the man died, a little Druze boy was born in another town. The boy at the age of three began telling his parents that he was so and so the soccer player. He was too young to have read it. The parents decided one day off from work to go to the town where the soccer player had lived. They travelled with their relatives. He gave the parents direction where to drive. When he got the house of the widow he asked the parents to stop the car. He then went up to the widow, hugged her and told her who he was. She looked at him, but then he told her what she wore the first time they met, how she was during the pregnancy of their son and other things that only a husband and wife could know. (a little poetic license here but the gist of the story is true.)
Later that day his son came home. He recognized him, talked to him like a father and asked how were his studies and friends whom he had known from a number of years previously. The son also confirmed it and all the radio, TV and newspapers in Israel carried the story.
The power of the Rabbis (but not every Rabbi or every Beis Din: The Chida (Rabbi David Azulai of the 1700’s) once called a couple into his office. He told the man that he had to divorce the wife. The wife deigned any wrong doing and refused to think of a GET. The Chida read the Parsha of the Sotah. As soon as they left his office her legs and belly swelled and she expired on the spot.
The Chatam Sofer (Rabbi Moshe Sofer 1800’s) once called a man who had converted to a strange religion into his office in order that the wife would get a kosher Divorce. For without a proper divorce the woman would be an Aguna and could not marry and did not live with the renegade husband. He was conceited and refused. The Chatam Sofer repeated (if I recall three times) a woman is set free either by divorce OR BY THE DEATH OF THE HUSBAND. The man left infuriated especially over BY THE DEATH OF THE HUSBAND he went out into the street, had a massive coronary and died on the spot.
There is one little nuisance in quality control that has annoyed me recently. Up until a few months ago, I had bobby-pins from years ago that lasted for a long time holding my Yarmulke to my head. At long last I lost one and started on a new one from some pins that I had bought a few years ago in one of the cheaper marts. Some of the newer ones last a few days or a few weeks but never a month. I have been going through these lower quality pins like water. I guess that I am too poor to buy cheap pins but the question is if all the pins come from the same country and they maybe use the same standard steel springs for making the bobby-pins even if I pay more will I get better quality or go through them like there is no tomorrow?
Look who volunteered for a Kibbutz: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=534626893
Iranian Submarines in the Mediterranean Sea: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4079438,00.html
Arabs in the refugee camps on the Golan are killing Gabril supporters because the group incited their children to make suicidal attacks on the Golan and go through mine fields: http://www.debka.com/article/21002/
That’s the way I like it: http://www.jpost.com/DiplomacyAndPolitics/Article.aspx?id=223986
The snake likes the building freeze. Build baby build: http://www.jpost.com/DiplomacyAndPolitics/Article.aspx?id=224154
This is what Islam likes: http://www.meforum.org/2930/muslim-woman-seeks-to-revive-institution-of-sex
This was on Israel TV: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/07/hitler-letter-jews_n_872705.html?ref=fb&src=sp
Weiner gets a Muslim Psak Din: http://www.metro.us/newyork/local/article/882830--imam-to-rep-weiner-s-wife-stand-by-your-man
A Miami Congresswoman goes to defend Israel: http://www.jpost.com/ArtsAndCulture/Entertainment/Article.aspx?id=224171
Milchem Jihad: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZr_mQCdXxs&feature=share
I smell danger: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4079489,00.html
Syria gets a temporary break thanks to the dopey bombing of Libya: http://www.debka.com/article/21008/
Can a president suspend an act of Congress simply by decree? http://www.nowtheendbegins.com/blog/?p=5273
THE POISONED NECKLACE
Social Network Users Call for Days of Rage in Yemen, Bahrain, Libya and Algeria
Forwarded with major commentary by Emanuel A. Winston, Mid East Analyst & Commentator
The uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt have not been spontaneous but, were planned, funded, organized and armed by the Muslim Brotherhood – probably in sync with a nuclear Iran.
The “Social Networks” have done too good a job. They intend to reach their declared goal of a Global Caliphate for Islam by implementing their own form of “Shock-and-Awe” – a forced project by consecutive and sequential “Days of Rage” in every Muslim country in the encircling ring around the Middle East and North Africa.
They have laid out their plans precisely in “Facebook” with ‘pretty pictures’: DAYS OF RAGE to be held in YEMEN, February 3 and 11; BAHRAIN: February 14; LIBYA: February 17; ALGERIA: February 4 and 17.
We have previously written about these Muslim countries labeling them: “THE POISONED NECKLACE”. Count them left-to-right: Morocco (maybe), for sure: “Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. That numbers 15 or 16 Muslim countries in a row, ready to rumble for a Global Islamic Caliphate.
A total of 57 Muslim countries in the world are likely to join if any or all of these countries are successful in initiating a successful world uprising. Provoking an uprising against their own Arab/Muslim dictators is not that difficult, given their brutal treatment of their own people. The trick is to follow-up a popular uprising by riding in on the back of those rioting in the street, thinking they are going to get freedom, only to find that they have fallen into the hands of predatory Islamist/Jihadists who will rule them with even greater brutality in the name of Allah. The pattern was set by Iran and, so far it’s being repeated perfectly.
When the history of this colossal blunder is written, it will be laid correctly at the feet of an inexperienced man-child president, a pro-Arab State Department and America’s vaunted 16 Intelligence Agencies who either failed to detect the Islamic build-up or were ignored if they tried to alert a president who is appeasing Islam.
What do the countries of the Free West have ready to stop the imminent threat of Islamic Sharia Law to the democratic, freedom of speech, religion, assembly, press and pursuit of happiness?
First, they need to understand what they’re up against. That means that they must commence an urgent, in-depth study of Islam and its well-known M.O. (Modus Operandi).
Second, they must unite in common purpose to defend our way of life and liberty.
Third, they must thoroughly internalize that this is a religious war.
Fourth, they must know that this is literally a fight for life or death.
COMMENTARY BY EMANUEL A. WINSTON
Because this passed already and all the examples from Facebook, I decided to put this is smaller print. RP
As part of widespread calls on Facebook for opposition activity against the Arab leaders, numerous Facebook groups and accounts were created calling for popular intifada throughout the Arab world, including Yemen, Bahrain, Libya, and Algeria. The pages called for non-violent and apolitical demonstrations, with some of them providing precise instructions regarding how to behave during the demonstrations. Following are examples of some of the pages that appeared on the social network:
A day of rage is being planned in Yemen for February 3, 2011. One of the Facebook pages on the topic said: "O, Yemeni people, we will prepare for a non-violent popular demonstration [on February 3]. The demonstration is not affiliated with any political organization or religious sect. We ask that you help us to publicize this page." Another page provided instructions on how to behave during the course of the demonstrations: not to descend into anarchy, to treat police officers respectfully, and to avoid any expressions of political or sectarian affiliation and to chant unified slogans condemning oppression and tyranny. Following are examples of Facebook pages launched in anticipation of the demonstrations planned in Yemen:
A day of rage is being planned in South Yemen for February 11, 2011. Following is a Facebook page launched to support the cause:
Day of Rage in Bahrain on February 14
Demonstrations are being planned in Bahrain for February 14, 2011. One of the Facebook pages launched in support of the cause claimed that the popular uprising slated for this date would demand quick political reforms and improved living conditions for all citizens without discrimination. According to another page, the demonstrators' goals were judicial independence, elections for the Shura Council, representation for all sects in the government ministries, the restoration of seized lands and property, and the release of all political prisoners. Following are some examples of Facebook pages created in anticipation of the demonstrations:
Day of Rage in Libya, February 17
A day of rage is planned in Libya for February 17, 2011, against Libyan leader Mu'ammar Al-Qadhafi. Facebook pages launched in support of the cause called on users to go out into the streets en masse to join in protest demonstrations. A communiqué appeared on various such pages that said: "Together, we will take part in creating a bright future for a free Libya. Our, the youth's, goal, is to live a life of honor, like the people in the oil countries, which respect their citizens and provide them with all the welfare services, such as housing, work and a value for human of life." The communiqué called for the mobilization of as many people as possible to participate in the demonstrations, and asked participants not to resort to violence and to use unified slogans that reflected their Libyan identity, rather than sectarian or party slogans. It likewise explained how to avoid being hit by tear gas, and what to do if hit. Following are examples of the pages launched for the cause:
DOHA, Qatar — Following sympathy demonstrations in front of the Egyptian Embassy in Manama, Bahrain, on Friday, Feb. 4, protesters there have declared a "day of rage" on Feb. 14, nine years to the day after the country declared itself a constitutional monarchy. King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, a Sunni, rules over a Shiite-majority population that has long called for greater political representation -- though certainly without the urgency that has characterized recent opposition rhetoric, which includes a list of 14 demands: "releasing all [political] detainees and compensating them, reforming the judiciary system … banning alcohol and prostitution … [and] halting torture and human rights abuses." Is the revolution coming to the Persian Gulf states?
The Persian Gulf was meant to be immune to the types of social and economic pressures that have been thought to be the catalysts for recent uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. The oil-rich Gulf monarchies, from Kuwait to Oman to Bahrain, have so far remained largely untouched by the wave of political protests sweeping across the region. But in the past few days, that has begun to change. Now, the Arabian monarchs -- historically protected from the need to democratize by their massive oil fortunes and close relations with the West -- are confronting a serious and growing threat to their legitimacy from protesters empowered by the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt.
Bahrain has a long history of subduing its Shiite minority, which has been involved in past attempts to take over power, dating back to the Islamic Front for the Liberation of Bahrain, an Iran-backed Shiite group that attempted a coup in 1981. Last August, possibly cracking down in prelude to the Oct. 23 parliamentary election, the government hundreds of Shiites during anti-government street protests. Many of the detainees that they were tortured while in jail. In the days before the election, government officials blocked the opposition party's website and banned local news coverage of the arrests.
Sheikh Ali Salman, the leader of Al Wefaq, the main Shiite political group, that at least 2,000 voters were blocked from casting ballots in October because of incomplete lists. Al Wefaq has claimed that Bahraini leaders gerrymandered voting districts and created a program to give citizenship to Sunnis from across the Middle East to alter the country's demographic balance.
The government has also clamped down on the press and NGOs, said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch, blocking websites and arresting activists. And 25 Shiites from last fall's round-up are currently being tried under terrorism charges (two in absentia), trials that have only inflamed sentiments on both sides.
The latest protests are being organized by the same Shiite groups that organized the last round of demonstrations in the fall. But they are joined by Islamists, human rights activists, intellectuals, and several Sunni groups, according to Christopher Davidson, an expert on the Persian Gulf region at Durham University in Britain.
In an attempt to address popular grievances, King Hamad this week ordered a hike in food subsidies and reinstated welfare support for low-income families to compensate for inflation, according to the state-run Bahrain News Agency. Opposition groups expect further concessions during a scheduled speech by the king on Feb. 12.
But these efforts may not go far enough to stave off a revolution, Davidson said.
"Bahrain is the most likely of the Gulf monarchies to face a broad opposition-led demonstration," he told me. "[The problem] is not merely a sectarian issue, but rather a widespread concern over an increasing wealth gap between regular Bahrainis and the ruling elite. I believe there is potential for an unseating of the current regime."
In a statement on their , organizers of the Feb. 14 rally accuse the Sunni-lead government of "suppress[ing] the legitimate rights of the people" and call for a new constitution and investigations into "economic, political and social violations." "Events in Tunisia and Egypt convinced the Bahraini [opposition] that change could happen if there is a will," said Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab. "People have realized that they are stronger than they thought."
And Bahrain seems to just be the tip of the spear. Unrest is spreading across the Gulf states, with coordinated anti-government protests also planned in Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
"By the beginning of March, we will have an idea if serious unrest in the Gulf is likely," said Davidson.
In Kuwait, planned protests are being scheduled to coincide with the upcoming 50th anniversary of the country's independence from the British Empire. The Kuwaiti government also appears to be shelling out for domestic peace. In an attempt to stave off discontent, the government recently announced a $5 billion domestic aid package. And just a day after the protests broke out in Egypt, the Kuwaiti parliament approved further legislation to grant each citizen 1,000 Kuwaiti dinars, or $3,580, and subsidize the cost of basic food items over the next 14 months. The payouts will begin Feb. 24 and will be given to all Kuwaitis over 21 years old.
The emir's office claimed that this grant was a one-time deal to celebrate Kuwait's 50th anniversary of independence. But, "given the nature of the gift -- specifically to offset high food costs -- this seems to be too much of a coincidence," Davidson said.
Meanwhile, in another attempt to show good faith, Kuwait Interior Minister Sheikh Jaber al-Khaled al-Sabah resigned this week amid an investigation that a Kuwaiti citizen was tortured to death in police custody.
A cross-faction opposition group called "The Fifth Fence" postponed until March 8 a planned anti-government rally as a result of the minister's resignation. "We still believe that the departure of this government is the only step that fulfils our demands," the group said in a statement promising that demonstrations would continue.
Activists in the United Arab Emirates have also begun to mass in protest of the government's treatment of citizen bloggers and activists.
In July, police arrested four UAE citizens after they attempted to organize a protest against an increase in gas prices, according to a Human Rights Watch released last month. Educated youth in the UAE are angry with the governments' strong-arm tactics to curtail freedom of speech and association, and citizens in the poorer emirates are angry about fewer job opportunities.
Here, the opposition is made up of an educated younger generation, along with Islamists and citizens of poorer emirates such as Ras al Khaimah. Unlike in Bahrain and Kuwait, no large-scale protests have yet been planned. But human rights bloggers and student activists took to Twitter and Facebook to decry the arrest last week of a former teacher, Hasan Muhammad al-Hammadi, who was after coming out in support of Egypt's anti-Mubarak demonstrations in a speech during Friday prayers. UAE officials were outspoken in their support for Hosni Mubarak from the beginning of clashes in Egypt.
If there's a quiet spot in the region right now, it's Qatar, the world's top liquefied natural gas exporter, which experts say is unlikely to experience anything like the agitation going on in Bahrain and Kuwait. Qatar has never suffered rulers as oppressive as those in Bahrain or, certainly, in Egypt. Meanwhile, its GDP is huge and the country is booming, expecting to spend $100 billion over the next five years on infrastructure projects including road and rail networks planned before it was chosen as host of the 2022 soccer World Cup, as well as air-conditioned stadiums. As a result, Qataris see their interests as aligned with the government's.
The same is probably not true for Qatar's neighbors -- as we will learn for certain very, very soon. HALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images
Now for some Good Shabbos Stories – In his shoes and the house that Ruth built.
Good Shabbos Everyone. In our Torah portion this week Nasso, the Torah tells us how Hashem commands Moshe to count the Jews. When commanding Moshe to count the Jews, the Torah uses the word “Nasso." The word “Nasso," can also mean "to uplift." It is therefore possible to understand the verse in the following spiritually uplifting way: Hashem is giving Moshe Rabeinu (our teacher) the power to uplift the Jews. Since the time of Moshe Rabeinu, Hashem has appointed in every generation Tzadikim (the exceedingly righteous) to lead Klal Yisroel. Just as Hashem gave Moshe Rabeinu the power to uplift the Children of Israel, so too does Hashem gave the spiritual leaders of every generation the power to uplift Jews. The following story will inspire us to believe in the power of Tzadikkim.
In a certain area of Jerusalem many years ago, some Jewish stores were open on Shabbos. Rabbis and lay leaders tried to convince the proprietors to close their stores before sunset Friday afternoon. Eventually they were successful with all the storekeepers except one -but no amount of pleading or pressure could get this particular Jewish grocer to close his store. Business was good, and to his mind, profits outweighed any regard he may have had for Shabbos observance.
Reb Aryeh Levin, of blessed memory, heard about the stubborn grocer and was pained that a fellow Jew would willfully desecrate the Shabbos. One Friday afternoon, R' Aryeh dressed early for Shabbos, donned his shtreimel (fur hat worn on Shabbos), and went to the store. It was well before sunset when R' Aryeh entered the shop.
He walked quietly through the store, eyeing the goods on the shelves and watching the brisk flow of customers and purchases. He sat down on a chair near the back of the store and observed the activity.
The owner recognized R' Aryeh but didn't say anything to him, thinking that perhaps the elderly rabbi was resting and would soon be on his way to shul. As sunset drew near, however, the grocer wondered why R' Aryeh made no effort to go. He began to feel a bit uncomfortable at the great rabbi's presence in his store so close to Shabbos. The proprietor was busy with his customers, but every once in a while he would steal a glance at R' Aryeh, who seemed to be sitting there for no apparent reason. Finally the grocer approached R' Aryeh and said, "Rabbi, I see you have been sitting here for a while already. Can I do something for you? Are you feeling all right?"
R' Aryeh stood up and, after exchanging pleasantries, said to the grocer, "I heard that you keep your store open on Shabbos. I know that others have spoken to you about it, but I wanted to come and see for myself how difficult it is for you to close for the holy Shabbos. Now I know without a doubt how hard it is for you to close and give up so much business. Honestly, I feel for you - but what can I say? Shabbos is Shabbos!"
The grocer was silent for a moment, and tears welled up in his eyes. He said, "My dear Rabbi, you are the only one who took the time to come over here to see the situation from my point of view. It means so much to me that you came to my store. Everyone else just criticized me from a distance." Warmly, he shook R' Aryeh's hand and said, "I promise you that I will do what I can to see if I can close the store on Shabbos.” R' Aryeh wished the grocer, "Good Shabbos.”
Within weeks, the store was closed by sunset every Friday afternoon. Only after R' Aryeh was in "the grocer's shoes" did he undertake to reprimand him, and even then he did so only with great sensitivity. No wonder people listened to R' Ariyeh's words. (Along the Maggid’s Journey, R. Pesach Krohn, p.113)
Throughout the millennium, Tzadikim have led the Jewish Nation: the Kohanim Gedolim (high priests), the Prophets, the Kings and the Sages have all served as spiritual conduits to funnel holiness and wisdom from heaven. Our current generation also has its Tzadikim which lead Yisroel. Many of us have the merit to live in close proximity to some of the biggest Tzadikim active today. Hundreds of thousands of Jews flock to Tzadikim yearly for advice on everything from business concerns, medical issues, family issues, marriage proposals, and suggestions on spiritual growth.
It can be very time-consuming to seek the counsel of a Tzadik. In addition, the time we are allotted to speak with the Tzadik may be limited to a few minutes. However, it is well worth the wait. Because, a few minutes with one of the Tzadikei HaDor (the spiritual leaders of the generation) is worth much much more than hours and hours with less qualified people. This is because the words of a Tzadik are the closest thing to divine inspiration that we have today. In other words, the best chance we have to receive heavenly inspired answers to life's issues is by asking Tzadikim.
Therefore, when we go in to ask a Tzadik for advice, it is important to listen very closely to his holy words. As we mentioned, the advice the Tzadik gives is the closest thing to coming directly from Hashem. Why then should we be so foolish as to contradict this heaven-sent advice? By seeking the advice of Tzadikim we are guaranteed to live happier, less worrisome lives. Good Shabbos Everyone.
Good Yom Tov Everyone. On Shavuos we read the inspiring story of Rus (Ruth) the convert to Judaism. Ruth was a convert to Judaism, willingly entering a covenant with Hashem through the acceptance of His Torah. On Shavuos, the Jewish people en masse entered this covenant with Hashem by willingly accepting His Torah. The connection between Shavuos and conversion is not just homiletic; the conversion steps taken by Ruth, as well as by prospective converts until this very day, are akin, and derived from, the steps the Jewish people took at Sinai in the process of receiving the Torah. The following is a modern day "Ruth" story, as told by Michèle Sankar.
"On any journey, it is just as important to know where we have come from as it is knowing where we are going. So let me tell you a bit about my beginnings. My name is Michèle Sankar, and I was born into a religious family… a religious Roman Catholic family. My mother is of Irish-Canadian background, and was raised with a love of the church, Catholic education, and a strong sense of morality.
My father was born in Hungary, and although he left with his family when he was a young teen during the revolution of 1956, he, too, attended Catholic schools all his life. The usual Catholic milestones filled my childhood – baptism as an infant in a Hungarian church in Toronto, First Communion, Saturday morning religion classes, weekly Mass, and so on. Catholicism was a source of pride for me, and I was a devoted and happy Roman Catholic!
When I was two, my family moved to a small village about an hour-and-a-half from Toronto. At that time, the population was 1,200 people – with at least 5 different churches in the village. Not a Catholic one, mind you. You see, the community was very Protestant, so our little, old Catholic church was out on the country side roads, and that's where I went to church, along with a few Italian, Polish, Dutch and Irish families. Despite being in the minority – and the fact that, as Catholics, we were occasionally subjected to some negative comments – I was incredibly proud of my Catholicism.
As a nine-year-old, I marched confidently into to my classroom with a cross of ashes on my forehead after having been to pre-Easter services at church that morning. I loved it all! I even "knew" that I would only marry a Catholic, and would bemoan the fact that there were only two or three boys in my class who would be eligible husbands. As I grew up in a very Christian community, I knew virtually nothing about Jews.
One part of our Sunday church service referred to "our brothers and sisters, the Jews." I asked my Irish mother about Jews at one time, and she smiled and told me that the Jews were very special people with a special connection to G‑d. That stayed with me, and at the age of eight, a Jewish seed was planted. Not once did I hear anything anti-Semitic from my parents, or from any of the churches or Catholic institutions I attended. So the Jewish spark was kindled, but I was Catholic… I was going to marry a Catholic. I had even picked out good Catholic names like Anthony and Maria for my future children.
But somehow, something was pulling me towards Judaism. I have always been an avid reader so I started looking for Jewish-themed books. While our little library wasn't great, it did have some children's books and novels with connections to the Holocaust. I read them all. My parents became friends with a Jewish couple that lived out in the country with their two children. This was my first time to meet "real" Jews! We visited them once when the lady's older father was also visiting. He reached for something, which caused his shirtsleeve to pull up slightly. And there on his forearm, I saw them. Numbers written in bluish-green ink on his arm. It took a moment for me to realize what they were. This was my first real connection with the Holocaust – a man who looked like a regular grandfather, but had clearly lived through a horrific period.
When I was about nine or ten years old, our family was invited to a Passover seder by that same Jewish couple. There were no Jews for 60 miles, so they decided that the next best thing would be to invite their nice Catholic friends. Ours was a family who would understand and appreciate a seder! For many of you, each time you sit at the seder, you're reminded of previous years. You know what the bitter herbs and matzah taste like… you are familiar with the sights, the smells, the story, the songs.
And yet, there was little Catholic Michèle sitting for the first time at a seder table, and it was like déjà-vu for me. I knew and "remembered" those tastes – the crunchy, the bitter, the salty. How could something be so surreal and yet so natural and familiar? I was home. So my Catholic plan for life took a little twist. Catholicism was still good, but I needed Jewish stuff. It was part of me now, and I couldn't dismiss it. Every time I watched TV or a movie, I scanned all the names in the credits, trying to identify which ones were Jewish.
I expanded my reading from Holocaust books to Jewish-kid-growing-up-in-Brooklyn books, including Chaim Potok's novels such as The Chosen. I learned that keeping kosher meant more than not eating pork. When I was eleven, I had the wonderful opportunity to fly to Hungary for the summer, and spent two months in a town with my grandfather's sister. She was a devout Catholic and we went to church every day. Nusi had never married and had no children or grandchildren of her own, but she loved and indulged me the way a grandmother would. Money was scarce in Communist Hungary at the time, but she gave me a gift of a pad of paper and some colored pencil crayons. I can still remember her shock when she looked through my art pad, expecting to see pictures of kittens and flowers, and found instead a series of concentration camp scenes. The figures I drew were all faceless, but in Hungary I felt compelled to create these pieces nonetheless.
We took trips to various cities, yet I just wanted to pass synagogues, to see them from the outside. It was around this time that I started having Holocaust nightmares where I frequently awoke in a cold sweat, having dreamed of running through alleys and forests, hiding when I could.
Naturally, I attributed this to reading so many books about this tragic period in history. I was about twelve, and my parents knew that I was strong in my faith and they were happy with my reading and learning. My dad then told me about another family whose wife was Jewish.
Wow! I knew of two Jews near our community! Imagine my delight when The Jewish Wife lent me a book called The Jewish Catalogue, a comprehensive guide to all things Jewish. Very happily, I began reading about Shabbat, the holidays, koshering meat, and other concepts that were new to me.
As I was nearing the end of grade 8, it was time to face a new chapter in my life. Until this time, I had been in public school, the only option in our town. My parents had both attended Catholic boarding schools, and so this option was presented to me. I was thrilled! There was also a part of me that was interested in becoming a nun, although that meant not marrying my yet-to-be-discovered Catholic husband or having my already-named Catholic children.
And so I spent my four years of high school in a convent boarding school in London, Ontario. They were wonderful years. I went to Catholic Mass twice a week and was part of the religious committee, studying, singing and taking an active role in the community. And yet, I continued to entertain Jewish thoughts. In every textbook, I would scan the index for Jews, Judaism, or Israel, and try to soak up what I could. The only troubling aspect was the occasional nightmare of running through old alleyways, between stone buildings, down secret passageways, until I got to a forest where I kept running. Looking back now, perhaps I wasn't running away, but beginning to run towards something…
At 17, I started my studies at the University of Toronto, which is where I started moving more purposefully toward Judaism. For the first time, I met Jews my age. My dreams of meeting a nice Catholic boy were starting to be replaced by dreams of meeting a nice Jewish boy. I went to church less often. I registered for a Biblical Hebrew course at the university, where we learned the Hebrew alphabet and began reading Genesis in Hebrew.
Finally, in my third year, I realized I needed to make a decision. I had no anger toward the church, and it hadn't disappointed me; my experiences had all been positive. But as great as it was, I felt G‑d was tugging me toward Judaism. There had been signs and clues in my growing years, and I needed to listen. It was time to make my first call. I telephoned a synagogue in Toronto, and asked to speak to the rabbi. This was the first time I spoke these words aloud: "I want to be a Jew." Silence on the other end of the phone. Then the rabbi's voice: "Are you engaged to a Jew?" "No." "Dating a Jew?" "No." "Well, that's usually why people want to convert."
"But I want to convert because I want to be a Jew." He asked about my age and background, and then started to dissuade me. It's really too hard…There's a lot involved…….. Being Catholic is good too, and so on. But I persisted. To discourage me further, he listed many books that I should buy. I bought them, I read them, I called him back. The rabbi agreed to meet and learn with me. It was clear that I had to tell my family. It was one of the most awkward and difficult conversations I have ever had. Oh, there was no screaming or crying… nothing like that. But how do you explain to your parents that you no longer believe in the divinity of the one they think is divine? How do you tell them that you can't eat food the way they prepare it? How do you let them know that December 25 and Easter are meaningless holidays to you, ones which you will no longer be celebrating? And how do you convey to them that this Jewish religion, with its rules and stringencies, is the faith you love and feel so much a part of?
My mother did what any Irish Catholic mother would do in this situation. She went to her parish priest. While she was pouring out this story, he said to her, "Don't worry about Michèle. So many young people drop away altogether from religion. Your daughter went on a faith journey that brought her to Judaism. She still believes in G-d, and He takes care of the Jews. You don't need to worry about Michèle." Imagine that, coming from a priest. And I have to credit my mother, the most religious Catholic I know, for also being the most understanding and supportive.
Well, word got out. And do you know what was interesting? My non-practicing family and friends, the ones who didn't do much church-going, were generally the most judgmental and critical of my decision. My own father, whom I dearly love, could not understand how someone would choose to join such a "restrictive religion." His mother, my Hungarian grandmother, was very upset. She was grateful that her husband did not live to see this day. I couldn't understand why it bothered her – or my dad – so much, when neither of them had been heavy church-goers anyway.
During this time, I met in university – a nice Jewish boy, David – and he joined the learning train with me. I gave up pork, and did not eat dairy and meat together. But shellfish stayed on my menu.
One evening, my mother made delicately breaded scallops – very unkosher. After sitting down to dinner, I put a scallop in my mouth and began to chew. Ugh! Dreadfully bitter. I immediately spat it out, thinking it was a bad scallop. I tried another… same story. Could it have been the oil that was rancid? My mum and step-dad said that theirs were fine. I insisted on trying half of one from my mother's plate. Her half was delicious, she said, yet mine was acrid. At this point, my lips and tongue were starting to feel numb, as if there were a thick coating of Vaseline jelly inside my mouth. That, of course, is one sign of a serious food allergy.
For years I could eat the stuff, and now that I had committed to Judaism, G-d gave me a way to make sure I would never touch shellfish again. Eventually, I bought my own little meat pan and a dairy pot, plus simple plates and cutlery to use in my parents' home. By this time, David and I were enrolled in weekly conversion classes which were to last almost 18 months. Soon I was buying kosher meat for myself, and I quickly came to love the island in time that is Shabbat. Was it difficult? In some ways, yes. But by moving along at a reasonable pace, I was able to make each observance my own, and I saw how it made my life increasingly better.
A few months before the end of the conversion course, David asked me to marry him. I was going to be a bride! Eventually the day for me to go before the Beth Din – to convert – arrived. I answered the rabbi's questions, and finally went for my immersion in the mikvah waters. I tell you, the experience was unsurpassable in its beauty and meaning. The Hebrew date was the 5th of Iyar, and the parshah that week was Tazria/Metzora, which deals with the laws of mikvah. How appropriate! Continued on Shabbos... Good Yom Tov Everyone.
M. Wolfberg is sponsored by: Refuah Shleima to Reb Mordechai Menachem Mendel ben Tziporah Yitta
Refuah Shleima to Tsviah bas Bracha Leah
Have a wonderful Shabbos and a peaceful one,