Friday, April 19, 2013

Parshiyos Acharei Mos - Kedoshim, stories galore

Prayers: Shraga Shlomo ben Sara, Benyamin ben Ganendel

Last week I sent out the request to pray for Rabbi Yacov Chai but in a short time his soul came to rest: Rabbi Yaakov Yosef dies at 66,7340,L-4367368,00.html

On the lighter side before starting the Drasha from Chaim B. An Emergency Call Centre worker in London has been dismissed from her job, much to the dismay of colleagues who are reportedly unhappy with her treatment by the management.
It seems a male caller dialed the emergency number from a mobile phone stating, "I am depressed and lying here on a railway track. I am waiting for the train to come so I can finally meet Allah."
Apparently "remain calm and stay on the line" was not considered to be an appropriate or correct response...

Parshiyos Acharei Mos – Kedushim

We are told by the Sages of old that there is no chronological order in the Torah literally nothing is early and nothing is late. What appears to me is that when Moshe told the Cohanim about the Korbanos he also instructed them and the nation about purity as one who ate the Korban had to be Tahor. It could well be that these instructions were given either during the first seven days of dedication of the Mishkan or on the eight day prior to the two deaths. In any event we return to our narrative now. As we start this week’s double Parsha we are taught holiness in our relationships and other laws related to acting holy. We will continue on with the laws of whom a Cohain may marry and the laws of Pessach Sheni coming up followed by the laws of the first fruits Shmita and warnings about what will happen if we follow the Mitzvos or don’t follow them. There is a long reading separation in time between Acharei Mos and Chukkas where the purification for contact with the dead is taught so this falls under the above mentioned rule regarding time.

Up until now the Torah has dealt with a few sections which we find in Oral Torah. Seder Zemanim regarding the holidays from Shemos, Seder Nezekim from Shemos, Seder Kodshim from Shemos and Vayikra, Seder Taharos from Vayikra last week and now Seder Nashim in our double Parsha with the laws of family relations. Of course the Sedarim are dispersed throughout the Torah but Seder Zerayim is at the end of Vayikra regarding Shmita and in a lot of Devarim.  

Our Parsha starts out after the death of the two sons of Aaron and begins with a warning not to go into Kodesh HaKadoshim (The Holy of Holies) except on Yom Kippur. This is followed by the Korbanos for the Yom Kippur Service which takes up chapter 16. Chapter 17 has again the mistranslation of slaughter as killing. The King James Version could not understand ritual slaughter vs. killing an animal, for they chop off the head of the animal instead of how we slaughter the animal. The Jewish Publication Society did not change too much in the translation and more or less except for extreme cases was a rubber stamp. However, I am offended when I read kill instead of slaughter. I kill an animal with an axe, bow and arrow or gun and I ritually slaughter with an especially sharp and straight edge knife. 17:3 What man so ever there be of the house of Israel, that kills an ox, or lamb, or goat, in the camp, or that kills it without the camp, 4 and hath not brought it unto the door of the tent of meeting, to present it as an offering unto the LORD before the tabernacle of the LORD, blood shall be imputed unto that man; he hath shed blood; and that man shall be cut off from among his people. 5 To the end that the children of Israel may bring their sacrifices, which they sacrifice in the open field, even that they may bring them unto the LORD, unto the door of the tent of meeting, unto the priest, and sacrifice them for sacrifices of peace-offerings unto the LORD. Whenever we see kill in regards to animals we should change the name to slaughter if we do it.

At this point our Parsha turns to the laws of Modesty and although we will have in Emor Pessach Shayne and the counting of the Omer, the Torah deals mainly with relaxations in holiness. WE ARE A HOLY PEOPLE AND HASHEM YISBORACH IS HOLY! There is a Medrash that when the Torah was given there was a lot of crying. In Egypt, the land where the Pharaohs intermarried with their own children read about Ptolemy and Cleopatra, etc. certain folks had married aunts, two sisters, etc. now it was time to get a highert standard of morals and holiness.  

18: 1 And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying: 2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them: I am the LORD your God. 3 After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do; and after the doings of the land of Canaan, whither I bring you, shall ye not do; neither shall ye walk in their statutes. 4 Mine ordinances shall ye do, and My statutes shall ye keep, to walk therein: I am the LORD your God. 5 Ye shall therefore keep My statutes, and Mine ordinances, which if a man do, he shall live by them: I am the LORD.

Egypt was full of gods, cults and Tuma. The people had become corrupt in one way or another from this and had to be warned to avoid all this.

6 None of you shall approach to any that is near of kin to him, to uncover their nakedness. I am the LORD.

This is a clear cut statement and should be viewed in the way one looks at the Pshat. Rashi brings down two Chiddushim here: 1) Women are treated as equals in this Halacha. 2) One receives a reward for observing this. This refraining from doing wrong also brings a reward to it. (Example – a Jew is in Little Rock, AR and hears a non-Jew describing how Pizza Hut has awesome Buffalo Wings but despite the fact that there is no Kosher Facility in the area and he is hungry – he abstains and goes on to buy an apple, banana and pear instead; he will be rewarded.)

No man shall come near: Heb. תִקְרְבוּ לֹא. [This comes] to admonish the female as [it does] the male. Therefore, it is stated in the plural form. — [Torath Kohanim 18:136] I am the Lord: faithful to pay a reward [not only for fulfilling positive commandments but also to the one who saves himself from sinning]. — [Torath Kohanim 18:145]

7 The nakedness of thy father, and the nakedness of thy mother, shalt thou not uncover: she is thy mother; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness.

the nakedness of your father: This [refers to] your father’s wife. [But how do we know this?] Perhaps it is only to be interpreted literally [as an admonition against relations with one’s father, in addition to the general admonition against pederasty]. [The answer is:] It says here, “The nakedness of your father,” and it says further, “has uncovered his father’s nakedness” (Lev. 20:11). Just as in the latter verse, Scripture is speaking of his father’s wife [as that verse begins with, “And a man who cohabits with his father’s wife”], here, too, [Scripture is speaking of] his father’s wife. - [Sanh. 54a] or the nakedness of your mother: [It comes] to include [in the prohibition,] his mother who is not his father’s wife. — [Sanh. 54a]

8 The nakedness of thy father's wife shalt thou not uncover: it is thy father's nakedness.

The nakedness of your father’s wife: [This admonition is repeated] to include [in the prohibition, one’s father’s wife, even] after the death [of one’s father]. — [Sanh. 54a]

9 The nakedness of thy sister, the daughter of thy father, or the daughter of thy mother, whether born at home, or born abroad, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover.

After the parents comes the siblings and children in the Torah and the reasons are the similar to the reasons for the parents so I can only add that half-sisters or brothers are included and step children and grandchildren.

10 The nakedness of thy son's daughter, or of thy daughter's daughter, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover; for theirs is your own nakedness. 11 The nakedness of thy father's wife's daughter, begotten of thy father, she is thy sister, thou shalt not uncover her nakedness.

This does not include a woman with a son or daughter marrying a man with a daughter or son from a previous marriage meeting and marrying. If they grew up together it leaves us with a bad taste unless the marriage of centuries ago which occurred in the teen years that the fellow has reached puberty and the gal too and are married off before any hanky-panky could occur.

12 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy father's sister: she is thy father's near kinswoman. 13 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy mother's sister; for she is thy mother's near kinswoman. 14 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy father's brother, thou shalt not approach to his wife: she is your aunt. 15 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy daughter-in-law: she is thy son' wife; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness.

Originally in Levirate Marriages called Yebum in Hebrew this was permissible but nowadays would need special dispensation as 1) even with a brother we don’t usually do Yebum but if done we do not separate them. 2) The father is not considered today.

16 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy brother's wife: it is thy brother's nakedness. 17 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of a woman and her daughter; thou shalt not take her son's daughter, or her daughter's daughter, to uncover her nakedness: they are near kinswomen; it is lewdness. 18 And thou shalt not take a woman to her sister, to be a rival to her, to uncover her nakedness, beside the other in her lifetime.

We saw this with Yacov with a horrible competition and driving poor Yacov up a wall as we say. However, if the sister passed away and the aunt now wants to take care of the children it is permissible and from the child’s standpoint preferable. I had a non-Jewish neighbor aunt Mary who took care of my friend Bobby during our years of growing up.

19 And thou shalt not approach unto a woman to uncover her nakedness, as long as she is impure by her uncleanness.

This is Taharos HaMishpacha and even one’s wife or Pilegesh (aka a common-in-law mistress/wife) is forbidden. In days of the Tanach, such a Pilegesh woman was of lower social status or character and was legally bound to the man in loyalty and received his financial support. 

20 And thou shalt not lie carnally with thy neighbor’s wife, to defile thyself with her. 21 And thou shalt not give any of thy seed to set them apart to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD.

Up until now we were talking about relationship and marital status. At this point we deviate and mention fertility cult status.

22 Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind; it is abomination.

Each year I remind my old readers and a new reader(s) that in the Torah only 6 times does the word abomination exist. Twice in our double Parsha and once again with homosexual behavior in Devarim, twice the word is used in connection to idolatry and one time elsewhere with cheating or robbing others in a deceptive way. Such a powerful use of language is not used with incest, bestiality but with homosexuality which is so repulsive before HASHEM.

23 And thou shalt not lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith; neither shall any woman stand before a beast, to lie down thereto; it is perversion. 24 Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things; for in all these the nations are defiled, which I cast out from before you. 25 And the land was defiled, therefore I did visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land vomited out her inhabitants. 26 Ye therefore shall keep My statutes and Mine ordinances, and shall not do any of these abominations; neither the home-born, nor the stranger that sojourneth among you-- 27 for all these abominations have the men of the land done, that were before you, and the land is defiled-- 28 that the land vomit not you out also, when ye defile it, as it vomited out the nation that was before you.

And let the land not vomit you out: This can be compared to a prince who was fed obnoxious food, which could not stay in his intestines; so he vomited it out. Likewise, the Land of Israel cannot retain transgressors [and thus, it vomits them out]. — [Torath Kohanim 20:123] The Targum rendersוְלֹאתָקִיא, as: וְלֹא תְרוֹקֵן as:, denoting “emptying out” (רִקּוּן), i.e., the Land empties itself of the transgressors.

29 For whosoever shall do any of these abominations, even the souls that do them shall be cut off from among their people.

The people doing so: הַנְּפָשׁוֹת הָעֹשׂת. [Since the verse begins, “anyone who does,” it should have used the singular form here. By using the plural, “the people doing so,”] it means both the male and female [involved in the act]. — [B.K. 32a]

30 Therefore shall ye keep My charge, that ye do not any of these abominable customs, which were done before you, and that ye defile not yourselves therein: I am the LORD your God.

And you shall observe My charge: This [clause come] to admonish the courts regarding the matter. — [Torath Kohanim 18:151] and you shall not become defiled by them. I am the Lord, your God: But if you do become defiled,“ [says God,] ”I am not your God, and you will be cut off from Me. What benefit will I have from you? Moreover, you will deserve annihilation.“ Therefore, it says, ”I am the Lord, your God." - [Torath Kohanim 18:151]

Fences of Holiness written by the Rabbi of all the Modiin Illit and Southwest Benyamin Rabbi Zev Leff Shlita

"Do not imitate the practice of the land of Egypt in which you dwelled; and do not imitate the practice of the land of Canaan to which I bring you, and do not follow their traditions." (Leviticus 18:3)
The common theme running through the parshiyot of Acharei Mot, Kedoshim and Emor is the holiness of the Jewish people and the need for its preservation and protection.
In Acharei Mot, we are enjoined not to behave in the depraved manner of the Egyptians and Canaanites (Leviticus 18:3). The question is asked: Why did the Torah command us only with respect to the extreme depravity of the Egyptians and Canaanites? Part of the answer lies in the verse that concludes this parsha and sums it up:
"And you shall guard My observances." (Leviticus 18:30)
The Sages (Talmud - Yevamot 21a) derive from this verse the need to make fences around the Torah.
Those fences include general rabbinic decrees designed to distance one from transgressing Torah law, and the specific protective measures each individual must implement in his own life to protect himself in areas of personal vulnerability. The Torah is not merely exhorting us against leading immorally depraved lives, but is warning us that if we do not implement safety measures to prevent us from such depravity, we will sink to the lowest level, that of the Canaanites and Egyptians.
Rabbinic Laws
Often we hear those who do not understand the true nature of rabbinic legislation complain that the Sages made observance much more difficult, complicating our lives with extra prohibitions and restrictions. The following analogy demonstrates the fallacy of this argument:
A group of people are situated on a mountaintop which ends in a sheer cliff and a drop of several thousand feet. One civic-minded member of the group erects, on his own initiative, a safety fence to prevent anyone from venturing too close to the edge of the cliff and falling off inadvertently. Would anyone complain that the fence limited his freedom of movement by making it less likely that he plummet off the mountain to his death?
One who appreciates the seriousness of transgressing a Torah law - the devastating effects of such transgressions on one's soul, one's eternal life, and the world in general - surely feels more secure knowing that safety fences have been erected to make it more difficult for him to inadvertently transgress.
Thus, the first function of rabbinic "fences" is to prevent one from transgressing Torah prohibitions inadvertently. For instance, the prohibition on handling certain objects associated with prohibited activities on Shabbat. The danger of inadvertently striking a match on Shabbat is drastically reduced if one never touches matches. Similarly, the rabbinic prohibition on trapping any animal on Shabbat reduces the chance of confusing animals that we are permitted to capture and those which we may not according to Torah law.
Nevertheless, there are rabbinic prohibitions that seem excessively far-fetched as protective enactments. Sometimes this is because we lack the Sages' sensitivity to the potency of forces that may drive one to sin.
A congregant once asked me about allowing a sick old uncle to stay in an apartment usually occupied by his two teenage daughters. When I told him that his daughters could not remain there alone with their great uncle due to the prohibition of yichud (members of the opposite gender being alone together), he complained at the seeming absurdity of worrying in this case.
I was reminded of a story involving Rabbi Elya Lopian. A young student sought his permission to attend a relative's wedding. Rabbi Lopian inquired if the women would be dressed modestly. The student replied that there would be non-religious people there, but, thank God, he had reached a level where immodest dress no longer made an impression.
Rabbi Lopian gave him permission to attend the wedding, but only after he agreed to contact one of Rabbi Lopian's friends. The young man took the phone number and returned a few hours later to tell Rabbi Lopian that he must have made a mistake because the number was a doctor's office.
"No," Rabbi Lopian told him, "there was no mistake. I am a man in my late 80's, blind in one eye, and these things still affect me. But if they don't affect you, then I fear something is physically wrong with you and I would like you to go see a doctor."
God created us with extremely strong and potent physical desires, all of them intended to be used for important and holy purposes. But if not channeled properly, these desires can lead to the greatest impurity and defilement.
Recognizing how potent these drives are, necessitates extreme caution and strong protective measures. Complaining of the stringency of the Sages' protections is like complaining about the protective lead-lined clothing one wears in a nuclear plant. If one understands how dangerous the radioactivity is, such protective measures are not viewed as excessive.
The Sages had a much surer sense than us of the power of these natural desires. I doubt there is any communal rabbi who does not know from his personal experience of people who were confident of their ability to restrain themselves without observing rabbinic-proscriptions, and whose confidence proved badly misplaced.
Social Constructs
Other times, rabbinic rules work indirectly by instilling attitudes that reduce temptations to sin. The Sages, for instance, prohibited drinking wine touched by a non-Jew, or eating food cooked by a non-Jew, as a fence against intermarriage. On the surface, it seems ludicrous that drinking wine in the confines of one's home that has been touched by a non-Jew, or eating food cooked by a gentile and bought in a store, could in any way make it more likely that one would marry a non-Jew.
That response, however, fails to comprehend the purpose of the rabbinic enactment, which is not designed to protect one against intermarriage with any particular non-Jew, but rather to create an all-pervasive attitude that is in itself a protective measure. The prohibition against eating food cooked by non-Jews and from drinking wine touched by non-Jews has effectively created an attitude of an absolute chasm between Jew and non-Jew. The mere knowledge that the food cooked by a non-Jew is forbidden engenders a feeling of separateness that makes the thought of intermarriage even more remote.
Similarly, the rabbinic strictures regarding chametz on Pesach have created a mind-set which makes it extremely unlikely that we will have any contact with chametz, though it is not something from which we naturally separate ourselves.
Holy Nation
There is yet another aspect to rabbinic legislation. The Torah commands us to be a nation of priests, a holy nation. An aura of holiness must surround us, not just an absence of external sin. True, being alone with the old sick uncle may not lead to immorality, but allowing a situation where immorality is even remotely possible is not "holiness." Holiness demands removing oneself totally from any taint of anything that can be associated with immodesty. Rabbinic fences enclose us in an environment that reflects holiness and cordons off all that opens into unhappiness.
Thus, the observance of Rabbinic prohibitions reflects our holiness even more than observance of Torah prohibitions. Rabbeinu Yonah (Avot 1:1) writes:
It is very great and praiseworthy to make a fence to the Torah's mitzvot, so that one who fears and respects God's word will not stumble into transgressing the mitzvah. One who observes the rabbinic laws that form the fences around the Torah shows more fear of God than one who fulfills the mitzvah itself. Performance of the mitzvah does not imply fear and respect as much as observance of the fences by one who is careful not even to come close to inadvertent transgression.
Thus rabbinic fences, besides protecting us from inadvertent transgressions, create an attitude of fear of God and an environment of holiness that enhances the performance of each and every mitzvah

19: 1 And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying:

We now continue in our theme of being holy but take a break from modesty holiness until chapter 20 and holiness in dealing with parents, avoiding idols, not mixing two types of animals together or fruits, caring for the blind and deaf, not to be vengeful, holy in boundaries – weights and measures, etc. I will only cover a few of the 51 commands in this Parsha.

2 Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them: Ye shall be holy; for I the LORD your God am holy.

Speak to the entire congregation of the children of Israel: [This] teaches us that this passage was stated in the assembly [of the entire congregation of Israel] because most of the fundamental teachings of the Torah are dependent on it [i.e., they are encapsulated in this passage]. — [Torath Kohanim 19:1; Vayikra Rabbah 24:5] You shall be holy: Separate yourselves from sexual immorality and from sin, for wherever one finds a barrier against sexual immorality, one finds holiness, [for example:], “[They (the kohanim) shall not take in marriage] a woman who is a prostitute or one who was profaned…I, the Lord, Who sanctifies you [am holy]” (Lev. 21:7-8); and, “he shall not profane his offspring…I am the Lord, Who sanctifies him” (Lev. 21:15); and, “They shall be holy…[They shall not take in marriage] a woman who is a prostitute or one who was profaned” (Lev. 21:6-7). - [Vayikra Rabbah 24:4-6; and see also Sefer Hazikkaron]

I am holy therefore emulate ME by being holy too.

3 Ye shall fear every man his mother, and his father, and ye shall keep My Sabbaths: I am the LORD your God.

Every man shall fear his mother and father: Every one of you shall fear his father and his mother. This is its simple meaning. Its Midrashic explanation, however, [is as follows]. Since the verse literally means, “Every man shall fear…,”] we know only [that this law applies to] a man; how do we know [that it applies to] a woman [as well]? When Scripture says, תִּירָאוּ [you shall fear, using the plural form], two are included [in the verse, namely, men and women]. But if this is so, why does the verse say, “Every man…?” Because a man has the ability to fulfill this [commandment without restriction, since he is independent and thus obliged to fear his parents], whereas a woman is [sometimes] under the authority of others [namely her husband. — [Kid. 30b; Torath Kohanim 19:3] [Every man] shall fear his mother and his father: Here, Scripture mentions the mother before the father, because He is privy to the fact that a child fears his father more than his mother [and therefore, by mentioning the mother first, Scripture emphasizes the duty of fearing her also. However,] in the case of honoring [one’s parents], Scripture mentions the father before the mother, because He is privy to the fact that a child honors his mother more than his father, since she wins his favor by [speaking kind and loving] words. [Therefore, by mentioning the father first in the context of honor, Scripture emphasizes the duty of honoring him also]. — [Kid. 31a] and you shall observe My Sabbaths: Scripture juxtaposes [the commandment of] observing the Sabbath with [that] of fearing one’s father [and mother], in order to state [the following principle]: “Although I have admonished you regarding the fear of your father, nevertheless, if he tells you to desecrate the Sabbath, do not listen to him.” And this is also the case with all the [other] commandments. — [B.M. 32a] [This is indicated by:] I am the Lord, your God: [where “your” is in the plural form, meaning to say,] both you and your father are obligated to honor Me! Therefore, do not listen to him to negate My commands. — [B.M. 32a] Now, what constitutes “fear”? One must not sit in his place, speak in his stead [when it is his father’s turn to speak] or contradict him. And what constitutes “honor”? One must give [the father and mother] food and drink, clothe them and put on their shoes, and accompany them when they enter or leave. — [Torath Kohanim 19:3; Kid. 31b]

In Shemos when the Decalogue is given we are told to observe the Shabbos and honor our parents. Here it is implied that we honor our parents both in this world and the next by observing the Shabbos. And why do we do this – for HASHEM Yisborach.

4 Turn ye not unto the idols, nor make to yourselves molten gods: I am the LORD your God.

You should not turn to strange gods whether an idol or a monotheistic god which came from a stone in the desert or even make a god. What about a prop for a play – I would refrain from this Pasuk even from paper or a drawing. I get disturbed when an actress in Habima put on a cross for being a nun.

5 And when ye offer a sacrifice of peace-offerings unto the LORD, ye shall offer it that ye may be accepted.

One has to have Kavana for an offering in its name, with a proper knife, correct time limit for eating and place where it can be eating. For a Korban of this nature the place can be anywhere in Yerushalayim for eating within the set time limit.

When you slaughter…: This passage is stated only to teach us that the offerings must be slaughtered with the intent that they be eaten within this time, for if [you think that this passage comes to] fix a time limit for eating them, [this cannot be so, for] it has already been stated, “And if his sacrifice is a vow or a voluntary donation [it may be eaten]….” (Lev. 7:16). - [Torath Kohanim 19:10] you shall slaughter it for your acceptance: The very outset of your slaughtering [the offering] must be with the intent that [it is for the purpose of causing] contentment [to God, as it were,] for your acceptance [by Him]. For if you think an invalidating thought regarding it, [says God,] the sacrifice will not gain your acceptance before Me. for your acceptance: Heb., apaisement in French, appeasement. [Note that the spelling in Mikraoth Gedoloth matches the Italian appaciamento, more closely than the French. In Old French, it is spelled apayement according to Greenberg, or apaiemant according to Gukovitzki, and this form appears in many editions of Rashi.] This is according to its simple meaning. Our Rabbis, however, learned from here, that if someone was involved in another activity (מִתְעסֵּק) and accidentally slaughtered [e.g., if he threw a knife, and in its path it slaughtered an animal] designated for a holy sacrifice, it is invalid, because [in the context of sacrifices] one must intend to slaughter. — [Chul. 13a]

6 It shall be eaten the same day ye offer it, and on the morrow; and if aught remain until the third day, it shall be burnt with fire.

This is the time and place mentioned above: It may be eaten on the day you slaughter it: When you slaughter it, you must slaughter it with the intent that you will eat it within this time limit, which I have already fixed for you [regarding that particular sacrifice]."

7 And if it be eaten at all on the third day, it is a vile thing; it shall not be accepted. 8 But every one that eats it shall bear his iniquity, because he hath profaned the holy thing of the LORD; and that soul shall be cut off from his people.

One who does such a thing and not burning the remainder but eating it will have his soul cut off from the people.

9 And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corner of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleaning of thy harvest. 10 And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather the fallen fruit of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and for the stranger: I am the LORD your God.

We see Boaz actively applying this and even leaving over a bit more for Ruth to give to Naomi.

11 Ye shall not steal; neither shall ye deal falsely, nor lie one to another.

There are 3 types of stealing mentioned on different occasions in the Torah. The first in the Decalogue is stealing a human for bondage. The second is a sneak thief or embezzler and the third is a highway robber or bank robber and a dangerous character. Lying is stealing ones money in a Beis Din or destroying a reputation and deceiving the other person.

12 And ye shall not swear by My name falsely, so that thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD.

You shall not swear falsely by My Name: Why is this stated? Since Scripture says, “You shall not take the Name of the Lord (יהוה), your God in vain” (Exod. 20:7), one might think that a person is liable only regarding the special Name [of God יהוה]. How do we know that included [also in this prohibition] are the כִּנּוּיִין [i.e., all the ancillary Names that represent various attributes of God, thus adopting the status of a “Name of God”]? Because Scripture says here, “You shall not swear falsely by My Name”- [meaning,] any Name that I have. — [Torath Kohanim 19:27]

Lying and cheating are easy to do but if one swears false testimony brings death into the world.

13 Thou shalt not oppress thy neighbor, nor rob him; the wages of a hired servant shall not abide with thee all night until the morning.

You shall not oppress: Heb. לֹא תַעֲשֹׁק. This refers to one who withholds a hired worker’s wages. — [Torath Kohanim 19:29] You shall not oppress: Heb. לֹא תַעֲשֹׁק. This refers to one who withholds a hired worker’s wages. — [Torath Kohanim 19:29]  until morning: The verse is speaking about a worker hired for a day, whose departure [from his work] is at sunset. Therefore, the time for him to collect his wages is the entire night [and the employer has till dawn to pay him]. But elsewhere, Scripture says, “[You shall give him his wage on his day and not let the sun set over it,” (Deut. 24:15) [which seems to contradict our verse. However, that verse] is speaking about a worker hired for the night, the completion of whose work is at the break of dawn. Therefore, the time for him to collect his wages is the entire day because the Torah gave the employer time, namely, an עוֹנָה [a twelve-hour period] to seek money [to pay his workers]. — [B.M. 110b]

14 Thou shalt not curse the deaf, nor put a stumbling-block before the blind, but thou shalt fear thy God: I am the LORD.

See below the article that Daniel sent me on the deaf-blind people. We live in an age where we can help them and give them a life. Making fun of them and bullying is disgusting.

You shall not curse a deaf person: [From this verse] I know only that [one may not curse] a deaf person. But from where do I know that this [prohibition] includes [cursing] any person [even if he is not deaf]? Therefore, Scripture says, “You shall not curse…among your people.” But if this is so [that this law is not exclusive to deaf people], why does it say here, “a deaf person?” (Exod. 22:27). [The answer is that] just as a deaf person is special insofar as he is alive, likewise, [one is prohibited from cursing] anyone who is alive. This excludes [cursing] a dead person, for he is not alive. — [Torath Kohanim 19:35] You shall not place a stumbling block before a blind person: Before a person who is “blind” regarding a matter, you shall not give advice that is improper for him. [For instance,] do not say to someone,“ Sell your field and buy a donkey [with the proceeds], ”while [in truth,] you plan to cheat him since you yourself will take it from him [by lending him money and taking the donkey as collateral. He will not be able to take the field because a previous creditor has a lien on it.] - [Torath Kohanim 19:34] and you shall fear your God: [Why is this mentioned here?] Because this matter [of misadvising someone] is not discernible by people, whether this person had good or evil intentions, and he can avoid [being recriminated by his victim afterwards] by saying, “I meant well!” Therefore, concerning this, it says, “and you shall fear your God,” Who knows your thoughts! Likewise, concerning anything known to the one who does it, but to which no one else is privy, Scripture says, “and you shall fear your God.” - [Torath Kohanim 19:34]

15 Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment; thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor favor the person of the mighty; but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbor.

You shall commit no injustice in judgment: This verse teaches us that a judge who corrupts the law is called unjust, hated and disgusting, fit to be destroyed, and an abomination. For an unjust person is called an abomination, as the verse says, “For whoever does these things, whoever perpetrates such injustice, is an abomination to the Lord…” (Deut. 25: 16); and an abomination, is called a חֵרֶם, [something doomed to destruction], and a disgusting thing, as the verse says (Deut. 7:26), “Nor should you bring an abomination into your house, lest you be destroyed (חֵרֶם) like it, but you shall utterly detest it (שַׁקֵּץ תְּשַׁקְּצֶנּוּ) ” [and an abomination is called hated, as it is said, “for every abomination to the Lord which He hates”] (Deut. 12:31). You shall not favor a poor person: [This means] that you shall not say, “This man is poor, and the rich man is obligated to provide him with sustenance; therefore, I will acquit him in judgment, and he will thus be sustained respectably.”- [Torath Kohanim 19:37] I guess they should raise my taxes for able-body people to get food stamps on the same children two or three times. Or show respect to the great: [This means] that you shall not say, “This man is rich, the son of prominent people; how can I embarrass him and behold his shame? That would surely be a punishable act!” Therefore, Scripture says here, “or respect a great man.” - [Torath Kohanim 19:38] Bank Leumi will come after me if I owe them less than a Shekel in change but a billionaire they were willing to forego on 150,000,000 NIS of a loan. Judge your fellow with righteousness: [This is to be understood] according to its apparent meaning. Another explanation is: Judge your fellow favorably [i.e., give him the benefit of the doubt].

Below is part of Lashon HaRa warnings and being a good neighbor and laws of mixtures, forbidding divination, cutting of the beard, modesty and righteous measures, avoiding withcraft and treating of strangers.
16 Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people; neither shalt thou stand idly by the blood of thy neighbor: I am the LORD. 17 Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thy heart; thou shalt surely rebuke thy neighbor, and not bear sin because of him. 18 Thou shalt not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the LORD. 19 Ye shall keep My statutes. Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind; thou shalt not sow thy field with two kinds of seed; neither shall there come upon thee a garment of two kinds of stuff mingled together. 20 And whosoever lies carnally with a woman, that is a bondmaid, designated for a man, and not at all redeemed, nor was freedom given her; there shall be inquisition; they shall not be put to death, because she was not free. 21 And he shall bring his forfeit unto the LORD, unto the door of the tent of meeting, even a ram for a guilt-offering. 22 And the priest shall make atonement for him with the ram of the guilt-offering before the LORD for his sin which he hath sinned; and he shall be forgiven for his sin which he hath sinned. 23 And when ye shall come into the land, and shall have planted all manner of trees for food, then ye shall count the fruit thereof as forbidden; three years shall it be as forbidden unto you; it shall not be eaten. 24 And in the fourth year all the fruit thereof shall be holy, for giving praise unto the LORD. 25 But in the fifth year may ye eat of the fruit thereof, that it may yield unto you more richly the increase thereof: I am the LORD your God. 26 Ye shall not eat with the blood; neither shall ye practise divination nor soothsaying. 27 Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard. 28 Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor imprint any marks upon you: I am the LORD. 29 Profane not thy daughter, to make her a harlot, lest the land fall into harlotry, and the land become full of lewdness. 30 Ye shall keep My sabbaths, and reverence My sanctuary: I am the LORD. 31 Turn ye not unto the ghosts, nor unto familiar spirits; seek them not out, to be defiled by them: I am the LORD your God. 32 Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honor the face of the old man, and thou shalt fear thy God: I am the LORD. 33 And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not do him wrong. 34 The stranger that sojourned with you shall be unto you as the home-born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God. 35 Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment, in meteyard, in weight, or in measure. 36 Just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin, shall ye have: I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt. 37 And ye shall observe all My statutes, and all Mine ordinances, and do them: I am the LORD.

We return in chapter 20 to the idolatry and superstition of Molech which is perhaps something similar to our red strings today but the red strings are considered by many to be OK. I agree with the Rambam on all this superstition and fears which a good dose of Mitzvos and Charity protect us from.

20: 1 And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying: 2 Moreover, thou shalt say to the children of Israel: Whosoever he be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn in Israel, that giveth of his seed unto Molech; he shall surely be put to death; the people of the land shall stone him with stones. 3 I also will set My face against that man, and will cut him off from among his people, because he hath given of his seed unto Molech, to defile My sanctuary, and to profane My holy name. 4 And if the people of the land do at all hide their eyes from that man, when he gives of his seed unto Molech, and put him not to death; 5 then I will set My face against that man, and against his family, and will cut him off, and all that go astray after him, to go astray after Molech, from among their people. 6 And the soul that turns unto the ghosts, and unto the familiar spirits, to go astray after them, I will even set My face against that soul, and will cut him off from among his people.

This includes séances and Ouija boards etc. or perhaps this is one of the things mentioned at the end of the last chapter and continued here.

7 Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy; for I am the LORD your God.

Wake up folks this is where we should be!

8 And keep ye My statutes, and do them: I am the LORD who sanctify you. 9 For whatsoever man there be that curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death; he hath cursed his father or his mother; his blood shall be upon him.

Below we return to the laws of immodesty.

10 And the man that commits adultery with another man's wife, even he that commits adultery with his neighbor’s wife, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death. 11 And the man that lies with his father's wife--he hath uncovered his father's nakedness--both of them shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them. 12 And if a man lie with his daughter-in-law, both of them shall surely be put to death; they have wrought corruption; their blood shall be upon them. 13 And if a man lie with mankind, as with womankind, both of them have committed abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

A few times this year my memory getting weaker quoted a Pasuk above this is a repeated warning of the abomination mentioned in 18:22. An act of this nature deserves death. In my humble opinion if a person undergoes an operation to be a woman it does not matter for he was created in this incarnation a man. However, if this male-woman was to seduce a man and he would have relations with such a creature, he would only be liable for a Korban Chatas if he learned of this and if not would not deserve death or Kares seeing that he was deceived. However, if he willingly and knowledgeable acted in such a way a different Din would apply to him and as an individual I can only think of my own opinion.

14 And if a man take with his wife also her mother, it is wickedness: they shall be burnt with fire, both he and they; that there be no wickedness among you.

Wicked, perverse, disgusting and although per Talmud Sanhedrin the Yetzer HaRa for this is neutralized, still these acts occur.

15 And if a man lie with a beast, he shall surely be put to death; and ye shall slay the beast. 16 And if a woman approach unto any beast, and lie down thereto, thou shalt kill the woman, and the beast: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

My friend David Isaac told me of an incident in Burma where the wife of a government official was found dead in the stall of an animal having been disemboweled. One has to be really sick to do these things.

17 And if a man shall take his sister, his father's daughter, or his mother's daughter, and see her nakedness, and she see his nakedness: it is a shameful thing; and they shall be cut off in the sight of the children of their people: he hath uncovered his sister's nakedness; he shall bear his iniquity. 18 And if a man shall lie with a woman having her sickness, and shall uncover her nakedness--he hath made naked her fountain, and she hath uncovered the fountain of her blood--both of them shall be cut off from among their people. 19 And thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy mother's sister, nor of thy father's sister; for he hath made naked his near kin; they shall bear their iniquity. 20 And if a man shall lie with his uncle's wife--he hath uncovered his uncle's nakedness--they shall bear their sin; they shall die childless. 21 And if a man shall take his brother's wife, it is impurity: he hath uncovered his brother's nakedness; they shall be childless. 22 Ye shall therefore keep all My statutes, and all Mine ordinances, and do them, that the land, whither I bring you to dwell therein, vomit you not out. 23 And ye shall not walk in the customs of the nation, which I am casting out before you; for they did all these things, and therefore I abhorred them. 24 But I have said unto you: 'Ye shall inherit their land, and I will give it unto you to possess it, a land flowing with milk and honey.' I am the LORD your God, who have set you apart from the peoples. 25 Ye shall therefore separate between the clean beast and the unclean, and between the unclean fowl and the clean; and ye shall not make your souls detestable by beast, or by fowl, or by anything wherewith the ground teems, which I have set apart for you to hold unclean. 26 And ye shall be holy unto Me; for I the LORD am holy, and have set you apart from the peoples, that ye should be Mine. 27 A man also or a woman that divines by a ghost or a familiar spirit, shall surely be put to death; they shall stone them with stones; their blood shall be upon them.

Recently the Daf Yomi Eruvin 17 B and at the end of 18 A covered the Mitzvah of buying the dead who had no relatives or who died on the battlefield on the spot:

 Beyond Abnormal: Last week I saw a post from Esther of a photo of a Bar Mitzvah for a Dog! Although I own a dog, the Talmud has many sayings about dogs regarding loyalty and not disturbing folks when we left Egypt plus more. Dogs are considered an unclean animal as much as I love my pet. In the picture a Reform woman wearing a Tallis and holding a Sefer Torah without a head covering about to place it on a table with a cake there – Talmud Bavli Shabbos Chapter 1 tells how it came about that food should not be placed near a Sefer Torah. In addition the animal brought in the hands of a man towards the Sefer. Sorry that this was not a Purim joke and I am suddenly ill.

Chapter 2:

1. Rabbi [Judah HaNassi]* would say: Which is the right path for man to choose for himself? Whatever is harmonious for the one who does it, and harmonious for mankind.
Be as careful with a minor mitzvah as with a major one, for you do not know the rewards of the mitzvot. Consider the cost of a mitzvah against its rewards, and the rewards of a transgression against its cost.
Contemplate three things, and you will not come to the hands of transgression: Know what is above from you: a seeing eye, a listening ear, and all your deeds being inscribed in a book.
2. Rabban Gamliel the son of Rabbi Judah HaNassi would say: Beautiful is the study of Torah with the way of the world, for the toil of them both causes sin to be forgotten. Ultimately, all Torah study that is not accompanied with work is destined to cease and to cause sin.
Those who work for the community should do so for the sake of Heaven; for then merit of their ancestors shall aid them, and their righteousness shall endure forever. And you, [says G-d,] I shall credit you with great reward as if you have achieved it.
3. Be careful with the government, for they befriend a person only for their own needs. They appear to be friends when it is beneficial to them, but they do not stand by a person at the time of his distress.
4. He would also say: Make that His will should be your will, so that He should make your will to be as His will. Nullify your will before His will, so that He should nullify the will of others before your will.
Hillel would say: Do not separate yourself from the community. Do not believe in yourself until the day you die. Do not judge your fellow until you have stood in his place. Do not say something that is not readily understood in the belief that it will ultimately be understood [or: Do not say something that ought not to be heard even in the strictest confidence, for ultimately it will be heard]. And do not say "When I free myself of my concerns, I will study,'' for perhaps you will never free yourself.
5. He would also say: A boor cannot be sin-fearing, an ignoramus cannot be pious, a bashful one cannot learn, a short-tempered person cannot teach, nor does anyone who does much business grow wise. In a place where there are no men, strive to be a man.
6. He also saw a skull floating upon the water. Said he to it: Because you drowned others, you were drowned; and those who drowned you, will themselves be drowned.
7. He would also say: One who increases flesh, increases worms; one who increases possessions, increases worry; one who increases wives, increases witchcraft; one who increases maidservants, increases promiscuity; one who increases man-servants, increases thievery; one who increases Torah, increases life; one who increases study, increases wisdom; one who increases counsel, increases understanding; one who increases charity, increases peace. One who acquires a good name, acquired it for himself; one who acquires the words of Torah, has acquired life in the World to Come.
8. Rabban Yochanan the son of Zakkai received the tradition from Hillel and Shammai. He would say: If you have learned much Torah, do not take credit for yourself---it is for this that you have been formed.
9. Rabban Yochanan the son of Zakkai had five disciples: Rabbi Eliezer the son of Hurkenus, Rabbi Joshua the son of Chananya, Rabbi Yossei the Kohen, Rabbi Shimon the son of Nethanel, and Rabbi Elazar the son of Arach. He would recount their praises: Rabbi Eliezer the son of Hurkenus is a cemented cistern that loses not a drop; Rabbi Joshua the son of Chananya---fortunate is she who gave birth to him; Rabbi Yossei the Kohen---a chassid (pious one); Rabbi Shimon the son of Nethanel fears sin; Rabbi Elazar ben Arach is as an ever-increasing wellspring.
[Rabbi Yochanan] used to say: If all the sages of Israel were to be in one cup of a balance-scale, and Eliezer the son of Hurkenus were in the other, he would outweigh them all. Abba Shaul said in his name: If all the sages of Israel were to be in one cup of a balance-scale, Eliezer the son of Hurkenus included, and Elazar the son of Arach were in the other, he would outweigh them all.
10. [Rabbi Yochanan] said to them: Go and see which is the best trait for a person to acquire. Said Rabbi Eliezer: A good eye. Said Rabbi Joshua: A good friend. Said Rabbi Yossei: A good neighbor. Said Rabbi Shimon: To see what is born [out of ones actions]. Said Rabbi Elazar: A good heart. Said He to them: I prefer the words of Elazar the son of Arach to yours, for his words include all of yours.
He said to them: Go and see which is the worst trait, the one that a person should most distance himself from. Said Rabbi Eliezer: An evil eye. Said Rabbi Joshua: An evil friend. Said Rabbi Yossei: An evil neighbor. Said Rabbi Shimon: To borrow and not to repay; for one who borrows from man is as one who borrows from the Almighty, as is stated, ``The wicked man borrows and does not repay; but the righteous one is benevolent and gives'' (Psalms 37:21). Said Rabbi Elazar: An evil heart. Said He to them: I prefer the word of Elazar the son of Arach to yours, for his words include all of yours.
They would each say three things:
Rabbi Eliezer would say: The honor of your fellow should be as precious to you as your own, and do not be easy to anger. Repent one day before your death.** Warm yourself by the fire of the sages, but be beware lest you be burned by its embers; for their bite is the bite of a fox, their sting is the sting of a scorpion, their hiss is the hiss a serpent, and all their words are like fiery coals.
11. Rabbi Joshua would say: An evil eye, the evil inclination, and the hatred of one's fellows, drive a person from the world.
12. Rabbi Yossei would say: The property of your fellow should be as precious to you as your own. Perfect yourself for the study of Torah, for it is not an inheritance to you. And all your deeds should be for the sake of Heaven.
13. Rabbi Shimon would say: Be meticulous with the reading of the Shma and with prayer. When you pray, do not make your prayers routine, but [an entreaty of] mercy and a supplication before the Almighty, as is stated ``For He is benevolent and merciful, slow to anger and abundant in loving kindness, and relenting of the evil decree'' (Joel 2:13). And do not be wicked in your own eyes.
14. Rabbi Elazar would say: Be diligent in the study of Torah. Know what to answer a heretic. And know before whom you toil, and who is your employer who will repay you the reward of your labors.
15. Rabbi Tarfon would say: The day is short, the work is much, the workers are lazy, the reward is great, and the Master is pressing.
16. He would also say: It is not incumbent upon you to finish the task, but neither are you free to absolve yourself from it. If you have learned much Torah, you will be greatly rewarded, and your employer is trustworthy to pay you the reward of your labors. And know, that the reward of the righteous is in the World to Come.

* Rabbi Judah HaNassi, compiler of the Mishnah, is referred to in the Talmud as ``Rabbi.''
** "Rabbi Eliezer would say: Repent one day before your death. Asked his disciples: Does a man know on which day he will die? Said he to them: So being the case, he should repent today, for perhaps tomorrow he will die; hence, all his days are passed in a state of repentance. Indeed, so said Solomon in his wisdom (Ecclesiastes 9:8): 'At all times, your clothes should be white, and oil should not lack from your head'" (Talmud, Shabbat 153a).

Chapter 3:

1. Akavia the son of Mahalalel would say: Reflect upon three things and you will not come to the hands of transgression. Know from where you came, where you are going, and before whom you are destined to give a judgement and accounting. From where you came--from a putrid drop; where you are going--to a place of dust, maggots and worms; and before whom you are destined to give a judgement and accounting--before the supreme King of Kings, the Holy One, blessed be He.
2. Rabbi Chanina, deputy to the kohanim, would say: Pray for the integrity of the government; for were it not for the fear of its authority, a man would swallow his neighbor alive.
Rabbi Chanina son of Tradyon would say: Two who sit and no words of Torah pass between them, this is a session of scorners, as is stated, "And in a session of scorners he did not sit" (Psalms 1:1). But two who sit and exchange words of Torah, the Divine Presence rests amongst them, as is stated, "Then the G-d-fearing conversed with one another, and G-d listened and heard; and it was inscribed before Him in a book of remembrance for those who fear G-d and give thought to His name" (Malachi 3:16). From this, I know only concerning two individuals; how do I know that even a single individual who sits and occupies himself with the Torah, G-d designates reward for him? From the verse, "He sits alone in meditative stillness; indeed, he receives [reward] for it" (Lamentations 3:28).
3. Rabbi Shimon would say: Three who eat at one table and do not speak words of Torah, it is as if they have eaten of idolatrous sacrifices; as is stated, "Indeed, all tables are filled with vomit and filth, devoid of the Omnipresent" (Isaiah 28:8). But three who eat at one table and speak words of Torah, it is as if they have eaten at G-d's table, as is stated, "And he said to me: This is the table that is before G-d" (Ezekiel 41:22).
4. Rabbi Chanina the son of Chachina'i would say: One who stays awake at night, or travels alone on the road, and turns his heart to idleness, has forfeited his life.
5. Rabbi Nechunia the son of Hakanah would say: One who accepts upon himself the yoke of Torah is exempted from the yoke of government duties and the yoke of worldly cares; but one who casts off the yoke of Torah is saddled with the yoke of government duties and the yoke of worldly cares.
6. Rabbi Chalafta the son of Dosa of the village of Chanania would say: Ten who sit together and occupy themselves with Torah, the Divine Presence rests amongst them, as is stated: "The Almighty stands in the congregation of G-d" (Psalms 82:1). And from where do we know that such is also the case with five? From the verse, "He established his band on earth" (Amos 9:6). And three? From the verse, "He renders judgement in the midst of the tribunal" (Psalms 82:1). And two? From the verse, "Then the G-d-fearing conversed with one another, and G-d listened and heard" (Malachi 3:16). And from where do we know that such is the case even with a single individual? From the verse, "Every place where I have My name mentioned, I shall come to you and bless you" (Exodus 20:21).
7. Rabbi Elazar of Bartosa would say: Give Him what is His, for you, and whatever is yours, are His. As David says: "For everything comes from You, and from Your own hand we give to You" (I Chronicles 29:14).
Rabbi Yaakov would say: One who walks along a road and studies, and interrupts his studying to say, "How beautiful is this tree!", "How beautiful is this ploughed field!"---the Torah considers it as if he had forfeited his life.
8. Rabbi Dusta'i the son of Rabbi Yannai would say in the name of Rabbi Meir: Anyone who forgets even a single word of this learning, the Torah considers it as if he had forfeited his life. As is stated, "Just be careful, and verily guard your soul, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen" (Deuteronomy 4:9). One might think that this applies also to one who [has forgotten because] his studies proved too difficult for him; but the verse goes on to tell us "and lest they be removed from your heart, throughout the days of your life." Hence, one does not forfeit his life unless he deliberately removes them from his heart.
9. Rabbi Chanina the son of Dosa would say: One whose fear of sin takes precedence to his wisdom, his wisdom endures. But one whose wisdom takes precedence to his fear of sin, his wisdom does not endure.
10. He would also say: One whose deeds exceed his wisdom, his wisdom endures. But one whose wisdom exceeds his deeds, his wisdom does not endure.
He would also say: One who is pleasing to his fellow men, is pleasing to G-d. But one who is not pleasing to his fellow men, is not pleasing to G-d.
Rabbi Dosa the son of Hurkinas would say: Morning sleep, noontime wine, children's talk and sitting at the meeting places of the ignoramus, drive a person from the world.
11. Rabbi Elazar of Modi'in would say: One who profanes the kodoshim ("holy things" consecrated for the service of G-d in the Holy Temple), degrades the Festivals, humiliates his friend in public, abrogates the covenant of our father Abraham (i.e., circumcision), or who interprets the Torah contrary to its true intent---although he may possess Torah knowledge and good deeds, he has no share in the World to Come.
12. Rabbi Ishmael would say: Be yielding to a leader, affable to the black-haired, and receive every man with joy.
13. Rabbi Akiva would say: Jesting and frivolity accustom a person to promiscuity. Tradition is a safety fence to Torah, tithing a safety fence to wealth, vows a safety fence for abstinence; a safety fence for wisdom is silence.
14. He would also say: Beloved is man, for he was created in the image [of G-d]; it is a sign of even greater love that it has been made known to him that he was created in the image, as it is says, "For in the image of G-d, He made man" (Genesis 9:6). Beloved are Israel, for they are called children of G-d; it is a sign of even greater love that it has been made known to them that they are called children of G-d, as it is stated: "You are children of the L-rd your G-d" (Deuteronomy 14:1). Beloved are Israel, for they were given a precious article; it is a sign of even greater love that it has been made known to them that they were given a precious article, as it is stated: "I have given you a good purchase; My Torah, do not forsake it" (Proverbs 4:2).
15. All is foreseen, and freedom of choice is granted. The world is judged with goodness, but in accordance with the amount of man's positive deeds.
16. He would also say: Everything is placed in pledge, and a net is spread over all the living. The store is open, the storekeeper extends credit, the account-book lies open, the hand writes, and all who wish to borrow may come and borrow. The collection-officers make their rounds every day and exact payment from man, with his knowledge and without his knowledge. Their case is well founded, the judgement is a judgement of truth, and ultimately, all is prepared for the feast.
17. Rabbi Eliezer the son of Azariah would say: If there is no Torah, there is no common decency; if there is no common decency, there is no Torah. If there is no wisdom, there is no fear of G-d; if there is no fear of G-d, there is no wisdom. If there is no applied knowledge, there is no analytical knowledge; if there is no analytical knowledge, there is no applied knowledge. If there is no flour, there is no Torah; if there is no Torah, there is no flour.
He would also say: One whose wisdom is greater than his deeds, what is he comparable to? To a tree with many branches and few roots; comes a storm and uproots it, and turns it on its face. As is stated, "He shall be as a lone tree in a wasteland, and shall not see when good comes; he shall dwell parched in the desert, a salt land, uninhabited" (Jeremiah 17:6). But one whose deeds are greater than his wisdom, to what is he compared? To a tree with many roots and few branches, whom all the storms in the world cannot budge from its place. As is stated: "He shall be as a tree planted upon water, who spreads his roots by the river; who fears not when comes heat, whose leaf is ever lush; who worries not in a year of drought, and ceases not to yield fruit" (ibid., v. 8).
18. Rabbi Eliezer [the son of] Chisma would say: the laws of kinin (bird offerings) and the laws of menstrual periods---these, these are the meat of Halachah (Torah law). The calculations of solar seasons and gematria are the condiments of wisdom.

Last week I brought down the story of the 4 American Volunteers for the IAF. I personally met a Landsman who knew all the original pilots who at the time was in FL.

The Arab-Israeli War had started.  I went to the South African Zionist Federation in Cape Town to meet Sammy Levin, who at the time was in charge of the organization for recruiting volunteers to serve in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).  When I told him what I had come for, he said that the Federation was only interested in volunteers who had previous military experience, so when I told him that I had both infantry as well as air force experience as a pilot, all he wanted to know was how soon I would be able to leave for Israel.  Two weeks later I was on my way, landing at Herzlia airfield.

Prior to my departure for Israel, the volunteers used to go by whatever means of transport was available.  Some really had it rough.  For example, the "Drom Afrika I," a fishing vessel, took a few guys to Israel as crew members.  The owners intended to use the vessel for starting up a fishing business in Israel.  Some of the guys flew light civil aircraft – Fairchilds, Rapides and Bonanzas –across the whole length of Africa to Israel.  It was amazing that they succeeded in reaching their destination.

I was very lucky.  A small airline under the name of PAAC (Pan African Air Charter) which operated three Dakota passenger aircraft was established by two South African Jewish businessmen, Keyser and Cowan.  Some of the aircraft had bucket seats lined lengthwise in the main fuselage.  Others had the regular passenger configuration which accommodated about 19 passengers.  However, the latter seating arrangement was not too popular with the Israel Air Force as it was inconvenient to have to take out the seats when the IAF "borrowed" the planes for bombing purposes.  On stopovers in Israel, the crew would take a few days off for rest and recreation, and the aircraft, ostensibly being serviced, were then used as night bombers and for transporting military and civilian supplies to settlement which had been cut off by the Egyptian Army.

We took off in a PAAC Dakota from Palmietfontein, the international airport close to Johannesburg. We flew to Italy, where we spent the night in a small hotel in Rome.

Early the following morning we set course for Haifa.  Everything was going very smoothly until we received a message that Haifa was bristling with United Nations personnel.  We got the feeling that the U.N. had been tipped-off about our arrival, so Captain Nobby Clark altered course for the Herzlia airfield where we landed on 16th August.

At Herzlia (101 Squadron’s base) I got the most wonderful surprise I could have wished for.  As I stepped off the plane, the first two guys I saw were Syd Cohen and Arnold Ruch, both of whom I knew very well. They had already been with the squadron for a few months.  In fact, during World War II, Syd and I had flown in No. 4 Squadron in the SAAF, and Arnold was stationed at the same base in No. 40 Photo-Reconnaissance Squadron.  Anyway, what a welcome, and I immediately felt at home.  The next person I met was Ezer Weizman, and I quickly became one of the family.  The pilots came from South Africa, America, England, Canada and Israel. There was also a Russian by the name of Richard Brown (the name on his passport), and last but not least, Abie Nathan, a Jew from India and a former pilot in the Royal Indian Air Force.  (What a pity that the United Nations couldn't get on as well as our squadron’s United Nations).

At that stage the air force was equipped with a small number of aircraft which included Avia S-199s (modified ME 109s), B-17s, C-46s, DC-3s and light civil aircraft.

If I remember rightly, the IAF had acquired a total of 25 Avia S-199s from Czechoslovakia which had to be disassembled and crated in Czechoslovakia, and then transported to Israel in C-54 and C-46 transport aircraft.  These were Israel’s first fighter aircraft and were delivered over a period of about six months. The transport flights took off from Zatec in Czechoslovakia, about 80 to 100 kms from Prague, and landed at Tel Nof airbase in Israel.

In the initial stage of the war, the Egyptians and Syrians had air superiority and were able to attack Israel with impunity, but with the arrival of the Avia S-199s and then the Spitfires, the IAF gained the upper hand.

101 squadron’s commanding officer was an Israeli by the name of Modi Alon who had received his training in the RAF.  Modi was a born leader and commanded the respect of all concerned.  The squadron had about 20 experienced fighter pilots at any one time, as well as excellent ground crews and support personnel.

I had been in the squadron for about a month when I received a message to report to Air Force Headquarters in Jaffa.  I was introduced to Sam Pomerance with whom I subsequently became very friendly. Sam was an American Machalnik, an outstanding pilot as well as an aeronautical engineer.

At a later stage in the war, the Israeli government bought 50 war surplus Spitfires from the Czechoslovakian government. Sam and I were assigned to get the Spitfires to Israel as soon as possible.  We had already been booked on Swissair for the next day on flights to Zurich and Prague. The Israeli Embassy in Prague organized hotel accommodation for the night, and early next morning we were on our way to Uberske Hradiste in Moravia, which was about 80 kms southeast of Prague.  The airfield where we would be working was at Zatec, just a short ride from the village.  Needless to say, Sam and I didn't waste any time.  The Spitfires seemed to be in pretty good condition, but they needed a complete engine and airframe service.  Under normal flying conditions, the Spitfires had a range of only about one-and-a-half hours, but in order to fly the planes to Israel via Yugoslavia, we had to devise a plan to keep the planes airborne for at least six hours in order to cover a distance of 1200 miles (1,900 kms) on the flight from Yugoslavia to Israel.

Sam and I discussed possible options.  The first thing we had to do was to lighten the plane considerably.  Out came the armor-plating, guns and cannons, camera and oxygen bottles (which restricted the pilots to a maximum flying height of 10,000 to 12,000 feet).  The next thing was to remove the radio which was situated just behind the pilot's seat, and to fill the space with a special 79-gallon petrol tank.  We then managed to fit a 62.5- gallon cigar-shaped tank on the bomb racks under each wing, and a 90-gallon long-range tank under the belly.  A breather pipe was fitted to each of the wing tanks, and a small booster pump would pump the fuel through to the long-range tank under the belly which was fitted with a fuel gauge.  The extra tank that had replaced the radio also had a fuel line leading down to the long-range tank.  All these fuel modifications had increased the fuel capacity from a normal 85 gallons to 379 gallons (606 liters).

Sam was responsible for the engineering modifications. A ground crew completed servicing and prepared the aircraft for testing, and I had to test-fly each machine.  Needless to say, I wasn't satisfied unless every machine was 100 percent – not only that the planes were flying well, but also that all the extra fuel tanks were working perfectly.  I must say that everyone involved in the operation, including the manager of the air base, the American flight engineer Norman Novak, Bob Dawn a master technician as well as the Czech ground staff, gave us all-out support.   They were all right behind us and praised our mission.

On 22nd September, when the first six aircraft were ready for the flight known as “Operation Velvetta," I and four South African pilots – Syd Cohen, Boris Senior, Arnold Ruch and Tuxie Blau, together with Modi Alon (an Israeli who was O.C. 101 Squadron) – were flown out to Czechoslovakia to fly the six Spitfires back to Israel.  By now we had managed to get permission from Yugoslavia to land at Niksic, for which we were very happy and relieved, as this would enable us to top up with fuel for the long leg to Israel over the Mediterranean Sea.

The six pilots for the first flight were Syd Cohen, Sam Pomerance (the leader), Modi Alon, Boris Senior, Tuxie Blau and me.  Although Arnold Ruch was a very experienced pilot, Boris wanted Tuxie Blau to take Spitfire No. 6, so Arnold went back to Israel in the "mother ship."  On 24th September we took off from Zatec in Czechoslovakia for Niksic in Yugoslavia.  The weather was bad. We flew over Hungary and eventually Niksic airfield came into view. Here we had our first disaster, as Tuxie forgot to lower his undercart for landing.  He sustained only slight injuries, but the plane had to be abandoned until a later date when it was disassembled and flown back to Israel in a C-54.

We certainly had known far more sophisticated airfields than Niksic which was just an open field with no runways, a number of tents, a small river flowing through the field, and an American Airacobra fighter that had been shot down in World War II lying upside down in the stream with its wings being used as a bridge.  We were forced to stay at Niksic for four days, as our Yugoslav friends of yesterday suddenly became cooler to us.  Russia was getting second thoughts about helping Israel.  The base, such as it was, was under the charge of the Yugoslav Red Army, whose guards were not permitted to fraternize with the men from Israel.  However, all facilities were made available to us while repair work was being done on the DC4 navigator "mother ship."  In the meantime we removed the Yugoslav markings that had been painted on the planes with water paint, replacing them with the Magen David.  During this short period in Yugoslavia, if our guys didn't feel the chill of being virtually under open arrest, it was due mainly to the irrepressible humor of Syd Cohen and Arnold Ruch.

During the four-day waiting period we discussed which were the longest hops ever undertaken by Spitfires.  We also had time to rehearse a very thorough briefing for the flight to Israel.  After departure on 27th September from Niksic in Yugoslavia on the 1,200 miles (1,900 kilometers) leg to Israel, the route would be over Albania, with a change of course after passing Turkey, and just to the right of Rhodes Island.  At the time there was a civil war going on in Greece and that country had to be avoided. Another C-46 carried dinghies and other rescue equipment and Israeli naval patrols were supposed to be cruising in the Mediterranean waters, but we never saw them.  The DC-4 "mother ship" led the formation, with the Spitfires maintaining visual contact.  Not having radios, the only way we could maintain a semblance of contact was by using (yes, don't laugh) walkie-talkies.  They certainly left a lot to be desired, but they did serve a purpose. Cyril Steinberg, our navigator on the DC-4, did a wonderful job of keeping us filled-in on our position.

When we were flying between the islands of Rhodes and Cyprus, Modi Alon called Cyril to say his long-range tanks were empty and he had gone onto the main tank.  It didn't take Cyril long to work out his position, and to realize that Modi could not make Israel with the fuel he had left.  So Modi was instructed to turn back and land on Rhodes.  "Shalom," came over the air from the departing Modi.  A few minutes later a similar dismaying report came from Boris Senior, and he was also instructed to land on Rhodes.

So now, from the original six starters, we were down to three.  I kept trying to figure out what went wrong with the fuel system on these two planes.  I had noticed that the fuel gauge on my long-range tank was not going down and so I presumed the fuel gauge was faulty.  I decided just to keep flying until my engine cut, and then start up again on the main tank, switch on the wing tank booster pump, and go back to the long-range tank. Eventually, I saw the long- range tank reading had gone down quite appreciably, and so I waited until the engine cut.  I tried to pump the wing tank’s fuel to the slipper tank and was amazed to see how little fuel came across.  When I eventually went on to the main tank, we only had about one hour of flying-time before reaching Israel.  A happy, but yet a sad thought passed through my mind.  We had succeeded in our mission, but we had lost 50 percent of our planes in the operation.

And now we were over Israel.  Our "mother ship" said her "goodbyes" and headed for Ekron (Tel Nof), and the three Spitfires nosed their way to Ramat David air base in the north.  We had made the trip in just over six hours.  Sam landed first, followed by Syd, and then I came in.  Amidst great excitement, a welcoming ceremony had been prepared. Leading personalities of the new nation and its armed forces were present.  When we managed to get out of our cockpits after sitting tightly strapped-in for so many hours, we could hardly stand up straight, but we still had to join in the celebration which included the usual Israeli dancing.

Syd, Sam and I then had a "postmortem" to determine what had gone wrong with the fuel system, which caused the loss of two planes.  Considering the fact that all three of us came up with the same fuel gauge problem, we came to the conclusion that the trouble lay in the wing tanks. By a process of elimination we put the blame on the breather pipe.  The angled-cut-away end of the pipe was facing forward and the pressure of the wind was apparently strong enough to force the fuel through to the long-range tank and thus keeping it full. When Boris and Modi didn't believe the fuel gauges and switched on the wing booster pump, and with the long-range belly tank appearing to be full, they were simply pumping the fuel overboard.  I actually landed with forty-five gallons still in my main tank.  However, now we knew what we had to look out for in Operation Veletta ll.  We also found that the inspection of our parachutes had to be far more thorough.  The chutes had not been checked in Czechoslovakia, and the harnesses of some of them had been eaten through by rats.

During ”Operation Yoav” in mid-October, the most interesting operation in which I participated was the attack on El-Arish airfield, the most forward Egyptian air base from which air attacks were made on Israel.  Flying fully bombed-up Spitfires, Syd Cohen, Rudy Augarten, and I took off from Ramat David airfield.  Flying at deck level over the sea, we turned inland at El-Arish.  Here we really went to town.  First we bombed the runways, putting them out of commission, then we strafed the planes that were on the tarmac, and from almost ground level we continued to fire into the hangars.  One thing for sure, El-Arish air base was put out of action for quite some time. Following the damage which we had inflicted, the army went in and finished the job.

Following “Operation Yoav,” Sam and I were flown back to Czechoslovakia to prepare 12 more Spitfires for a flight to Israel.

Before going any further, I must mention that right from the beginning of Velvetta I, Sam and I had a non-Jewish American mechanic by the name of Bob Dawn.  Bob hailed from Little Rock, Arkansas, and was really worth his weight in gold.  Not only was Bob very good company, he also happened to be an outstanding technician.

When we arrived back at Zatec we wasted no time.  A few Spitfires were ready for testing, so I got on with the job of test-flying them and getting rid of "bugs."  This time round it was much easier, as we now knew what to expect.  Like in Velvetta I, anything of weight including the radio had to be removed.  Eventually, when all 12 planes were ready, Israel sent over ten more pilots.  Arnold Ruch and I were the only South Africans in this group.  The other pilots included two young Israelis, Moti Fine (Hod), and Danny Shapiro (both of whom had only recently checked out on Spitfires), and five Americans - George Lichter, Bill Pomerance, Aaron Finkel, Caesar Dangott and  Bill Schroeder; and two Canadians, John McElroy and Lee Sinclair; and another Israeli, Sandy Jacobs.

To our dismay, the Yugoslavs once again refused our request to be allowed to use Niksic, which put the fate of Veletta ll in the balance.  Several Israelis in the technical and engineering team believed that without Niksic the flight would be suicidal.  Their concerns were not only related to the perils of distance, but also to the winter conditions with its snow and winds.  Nevertheless, Sam and I were adamant that we could get through.  Fortunately, the issue was settled when the Yugoslavs finally agreed to open the airfield once again.

The weather was now beginning to get bad.  In fact, on 18th December when the first flight of six planes led by Sam took off, it was already snowing quite heavily and getting progressively worse. With no oxygen, it was imperative to watch our altitude very carefully.  Then tragedy struck.  On route to Niksic, Sam Pomerance lost the formation in cloud over Yugoslavia.  We assume that he tried to climb above the weather and that he blacked out through lack of oxygen and flew into a mountain.  The crash was confirmed by the Yugoslav authorities.  Bill Pomerance had to make a forced landing on a beach near Zatec, and John McElroy returned to Zatec with an engine problem.

On 19th December, six Spitfires led by me took off to Yugoslavia and then on to Israel.  Six more aircraft left Zatec on 20th December, four more on 23rd December, and the last batch of six planes left on 26th December.

Because of my experience, I took the worst plane in our flight of six aircraft.  She behaved reasonably well in the beginning, but when we were over the sea, I had the most uncomfortable flight of my life.  The violent vibrations of the whole instrument panel mystified me, and in case I had to bail out, the icy waters of the Mediterranean sent shivers down my spine, but I drew comfort from the fact that I had never heard of a Merlin engine letting anyone down, and thank heavens that mine also proved to be reliable.  All the same, I was deeply thankful when my wheels hit the tarmac at Ramat David.  Nine of us landed in quick succession, but one Spitfire was damaged on landing.  I discovered that the cause of my uncomfortable flight was due to two dud cylinders in my engine.

I now had the sad task of breaking the news of Sam’s death to Elsie, his widow, a task made all the more difficult because of the fact that in Czechoslovakia I had been very close to the couple.  Elsie was a really down-to-earth non-Jewish woman, who embellished life with a rich sense of humor.  When I told her the sad news, she just stood shocked, and after recovering her composure she said, "If Sam had to go, I am glad it was this way – for a cause in which he believed so passionately."

After a brief stay in Israel, I returned to Zatec in Czechoslovakia, where Bob Dawn had been preparing the remaining Spitfires.  Once again I did all the test-flying, and when the aircraft had been fully serviced and test-flown, they were crated and shipped to Israel (Velvetta III).  During my stays in Czechoslovakia a middle-aged Czech acted as my interpreter.  He hated the Communist regime and pleaded with me to allow him to be “crated” with one of the planes.  As much as I would have liked to have helped him, I had to refuse as he would never have survived the trip to Israel by sea.

I would like to mention that Czechoslovakia was a Communist-run country, but from the information I had received at the time, only about 10 percent of the country was behind the Communist Government, and the other 90 percent was governed by fear.  Bob Dawn had married a Czech girl, and we managed to smuggle her out of the country as a nurse on a refugee train.

On my arrival back in Israel I couldn't wait to get back to the squadron.  All the time that I had been in Czechoslovakia preparing the Spitfires for the Velvetta Operations, the guys in the squadron had been having all the fun and games, but I did manage to get back in time to get involved at the tail end of the War of Independence.

In March 1949 the command of 101 Squadron was handed-over by Syd Cohen to Ezer Weizman, and I was appointed operations officer of the squadron, an honor which I had never expected.

About mid-1951 I learned that my father was ill, and so I decided to return to Cape Town.  It took 22 years before I was able to visit Israel again.

OU Presents First-Ever Shabbaton for Jewish Deafblind Community Batya Graber - Thanks to Daniel F.

Friday evening, as the sun sets, it dispels the aggravations of the week and brings with it shalva and kedusha; that is, an easiness of mind and holiness. The chazzan (cantor) leads Lecha Dodi, while Shalom Aleichem and Aishes Chayil are sung at home. The glow of Shabbat candles. Would welcoming the Sabbath be as embraceable if we were unable to physically experience it with all five senses? The first-ever Deafblind Shabbaton Experience, which was organized by the Orthodox Union in late April at the Pearlstone Retreat in Reisterstown (Baltimore), MD, proved it most certainly could be, and it most certainly was.

Although scattered throughout North America there are several organizations that service Jewish deaf or Jewish blind, there are none for Jewish Deafblind people. As an effort to reach out to this overlooked community, Our Way, the outreach program for Jewish deaf of the National Jewish Council for Disabilities, an agency of the Orthodox Union, received funding from the Center for Jewish Education in Baltimore with a JEEP (Jewish Education Enhancement Project) grant to make the Shabbaton possible. This was a huge occasion, a hopeful beginning of further acknowledging the abilities and needs of this part of the Jewish community. Committee member Bets Wohl of Washington, D.C. is deafblind herself and was able to influence many of the participants to come.

Three deafblind women and five deafblind men, ages 18 through their 60s came together from across America to participate in the Shabbaton. Each participant was provided with their own SSPs (Support Service Provider) to provide the visual and auditory information necessary to fully participate. “It wasn’t a younger person’s Shabbaton,” shared Rabbi Eliezer Lederfeind (first row, second from left), Director of Our Way, “Age made no difference of any kind.”

Each participant was provided with his or her own SSPs (Support Service Provider) to provide the visual and auditory help necessary to fully participate. “There were eight Helen Kellers” declared Rabbi Eliezer Lederfeind, Director of Our Way, “Each one was different, and each has a different life.” Rabbi Lederfeind noted that most of these people were originally sighted but lost their vision through Usher’s Syndrome -- a genetic condition in which the person is genetically deaf and has a gene for Retinitis Pigmentosa, an eye condition that starts with night blindness, then tunnel vision, and deteriorates to the degree that the person may become blind.

Not everyone was completely deaf or completely blind. According to Dr. Sheryl Cooper of Baltimore, co-coordinator of the event, “Some of the participants were able to function quite independently, while others needed many SSPs rotating to support them.” All materials were provided in large print or Braille (including prayer books).

Deafblind people communicate in a variety of manners. Fingerspelling, in which words are spelled out letter by letter and tactile signing, in which complete words are represented into their palms are two of the many ways, along with a variety of assistive learning devices and technology that produces Braille. Steven Frank (L) of Rockville, MD is shown in conversation with Jeff Bohrman of Columbus, OH – both of whom are totally deafblind.

The excitement of Shabbat could be felt from the beginning. “It was a treat for them to be together with other Jewish deafblind and feel part of a group” said Dr. Cooper. Friday night, the women lit Shabbat candles with assistance; for one of the participants, Dorothy Walt of Seattle, it was her first time having full access to light Shabbat candles. Rabbi David Kastor, of Baltimore, who is deaf but sighted, led a workshop on Jewish artifacts that a person can feel, such as a mezuzah case and parchment, and the strings on tzitzit to better understand their significance. Havdallah services were led by Rabbi Fred Friedman, of Baltimore, who is also deaf but sighted. Rabbi Friedman would sign the English translations of the tefillot (prayers) for the interpreters to understand before transferring the words into the hands of the person whom they assisted.

A series of presenters (some of whom were deaf, some of whom were hearing and sighted) led discussions on various aspects of Judaism. Topics ranged from Foundations of Judaism, Parsha of the Week, and Shavuot, to How to Pray. The participants also brought many of their own questions to engage in deeper level discussions with their peers and guides. Baila Weiss (L), of New York, NY who is deafblind, has her back to the presenter (who is not shown) in order that her SSP, Joyce Dworsky-Srour of Silver Spring, MD is able to follow. Ironically, Joyce is shown with her eyes closed to be able to focus on the words of the presenter and to block out other distractions. According to Dr. Sheryl Cooper, “Joyce was signing, while Baila was feeling the shapes, locations, and movements of Joyce’s signing to ascertain the meaning.” To Joyce’s right is deafblind Steven Frank of Rockville, MD.

Saturday night, participants and SSPs enjoyed rolling out their own dough and forming their own challahs. The volunteers came from two backgrounds: those who were professionally trained to work with the deaf, thus, this was their first time working with those deafblind; but they were Jewish and were able to communicate the appropriate terminology. There were also volunteers who were skilled in working with the deafblind but were not Jewish, thus, they had the challenge of a cultural barrier to overcome. “The volunteers picked up each area that they lacked more beautifully than imagined,” said Sheryl Cooper. Eager to help, SSPs drove in from Richmond and flew in from Las Vegas to join the solid support system that already exists in Baltimore.

Participants make challah Saturday night. According to Rabbi Lederfeind, “Everything I have learned about programs for the deaf is completely irrelevant here. The deafblind community is really amazing. It’s the challenge of being isolated even in a room of 500 people. The ability of these people to overcome their disabilities shows the power of the neshama--the soul. It shows how people can grow.”

Wrapping up the Shabbaton on Sunday morning brought an empowering moment to the men, as Friday night had given to the women. Three men were assisted in the mitzvah of putting on tefillin. “They were so excited that it really made them feel Jewish. They had never had this real tactile connection to Judaism,” said Dr. Cooper. “One of the men, who has a Ph.D. in pharmacology, had never had the opportunity to put on tefillin before.”

“Every person was really a star,” expressed Rabbi Lederfeind. Putting on tefillin are: (first photo) Jeff Bohrman of Columbus, OH with SSP Stephen Frank of Baltimore; (second photo) Steven Frank of Rockville, MD with Rabbi Fred Friedman of Baltimore.

This time I believe this was not a credible threat but a Meshugina:

Landmark breakthrough up to life in prison for not granting a Jewish Divorce:,7340,L-4367814,00.html

Some will go to the army, some will flee the country and others will go to jail. I served, my son served but not all are capable of serving a few more Gilad Shalits who don’t shoot and the country is gone. I am not saying that the Rabbis are correct either because it can’t be that 80 to 90% are great Yeshiva learners. However, the top 10 to 20% should be exempt just as Aviv Gefen, Bar Rafaeli and other non-religious avoided the army. Only 50% of the eligible force is drafted each year so it is all political.,7340,L-4368013,00.html

For those who served in the military not since Eisenhower was President has a military revision on defense in case of a nuclear attack taken place:

From Gad: A wave of pogroms, with at least tacit government blessing, occur across Russian territories on Adar 6 with a degree of violence and death unseen in centuries, ostensibly due to Jewish participation in the assassination of Czar Alexander.

Combined with the newly implemented technological innovation, the railroad and its unprecedented mobility, more than two million Russian Jews depart for America, the UK and Germany/France/Pays Bas. The Russian Jewish population drops by an estimated 50% within twenty year time; the American Jewish population increases more than ten fold by the 1900 census. 

The American Jewish community achieves critical mass overnight. More than six million Jews -- half the world Jewish population -- will depart their homeland of centuries and be saved in the UK, Canada, USA, Israel and Los Americas less than a generation before Europe self-destructs. Almost all from families that had never travelled 100 miles in the centuries preceding the iron horse.

April 7, 2013

In May 1943, President Franklin Roosevelt met with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill at the White House. It was 17 months after Pearl Harbor and a little more than a year before D-Day. The two Allied leaders reviewed the war effort to date and exchanged thoughts on their plans for the postwar era. At one point in the discussion, FDR offered what he called "the best way to settle the Jewish question."
Vice President Henry Wallace, who noted the conversation in his diary, said Roosevelt spoke approvingly of a plan (recommended by geographer and Johns Hopkins University President Isaiah Bowman) "to spread the Jews thin all over the world." The diary entry adds: "The president said he had tried this out in [Meriwether] County, Georgia [where Roosevelt lived in the 1920s] and at Hyde Park on the basis of adding four or five Jewish families at each place. He claimed that the local population would have no objection if there were no more than that."
Roosevelt's "best way" remark is condescending and distasteful, and coming from anyone else it would probably be regarded as anti-Semitism. But more than that, FDR's support for "spreading the Jews thin" may hold the key to understanding a subject that has been at the center of controversy for decades: the American government's tepid response to the Holocaust.
Here's the paradox. The U.S. immigration system severely limited the number of German Jews admitted during the Nazi years to about 26,000 annually — but even that quota was less than 25% filled during most of the Hitler era, because the Roosevelt administration piled on so many extra requirements for would-be immigrants. For example, starting in 1941, merely leaving behind a close relative in Europe would be enough to disqualify an applicant — on the absurd assumption that the Nazis could threaten the relative and thereby force the immigrant into spying for Hitler.
Why did the administration actively seek to discourage and disqualify Jewish refugees from coming to the United States? Why didn't the president quietly tell his State Department (which administered the immigration system) to fill the quotas for Germany and Axis-occupied countries to the legal limit? That alone could have saved 190,000 lives. It would not have required a fight with Congress or the anti-immigration forces; it would have involved minimal political risk to the president.
Every president's policy decisions are shaped by a variety of factors, some political, some personal. In Roosevelt's case, a pattern of private remarks about Jews, some of which I recently discovered at the Central Zionist Archives in Jerusalem and from other sources, may be significant.
In 1923, as a member of the Harvard board of directors, Roosevelt decided there were too many Jewish students at the college and helped institute a quota to limit the number admitted. In 1938, he privately suggested that Jews in Poland were dominating the economy and were therefore to blame for provoking anti-Semitism there. In 1941, he remarked at a Cabinet meeting that there were too many Jews among federal employees in Oregon. In 1943, he told government officials in Allied-liberated North Africa that the number of local Jews in various professions "should be definitely limited" so as to "eliminate the specific and understandable complaints which the Germans bore towards the Jews in Germany."
There is evidence of other troubling private remarks by FDR too, including dismissing pleas for Jewish refugees as "Jewish wailing" and "sob stuff"; expressing (to a senator ) his pride that "there is no Jewish blood in our veins"; and characterizing a tax maneuver by a Jewish newspaper publisher as "a dirty Jewish trick." But the most common theme in Roosevelt's private statements about Jews has to do with his perception that they were "overcrowding" many professions and exercising undue influence.
This attitude dovetails with what is known about FDR's views regarding immigrants in general and Asian immigrants in particular. In one 1920 interview, he complained about immigrants "crowding" into the cities and said "the remedy for this should be the distribution of aliens in various parts of the country." In a series of articles for the Macon (Ga.) Daily Telegraph and for Asia magazine in the 1920s, he warned against granting citizenship to "non-assimilable immigrants" and opposed Japanese immigration on the grounds that "mingling Asiatic blood with European or American blood produces, in nine cases out of ten, the most unfortunate results." He recommended that future immigration should be limited to those who had "blood of the right sort."
FDR's decision to imprison thousands of Japanese Americans in internment camps during World War II was consistent with his perception of Asians as having innate racial characteristics that made them untrustworthy. Likewise, he apparently viewed with disdain what he seemed to regard as the innate characteristics of Jews. Admitting significant numbers of Jewish or Asian immigrants did not fit comfortably in FDR's vision of America.
Other U.S. presidents have made their share of unfriendly remarks about Jews. A diary kept by Harry Truman included statements such as "The Jews, I find, are very, very selfish." Richard Nixon's denunciations of Jews as "very aggressive and obnoxious" were belatedly revealed in tapes of Oval Office conversations.
But the revelation of Franklin Roosevelt's sentiments will probably shock many people. After all, he led America in the war against Hitler. Moreover, Roosevelt's public persona is anchored in his image as a liberal humanitarian, his claim to care about "the forgotten man," the downtrodden, the mistreated. But none of that can change the record of his response to the Holocaust.
The observance of Holocaust Memorial Day begins Sunday night. It is the annual occasion to reflect on the Nazi genocide and the world's response to it. In the case of the United States, it is sobering to consider that partly because of Roosevelt's private prejudices, innocent people who could have been saved were instead abandoned.
Rafael Medoff is the founding director of the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies in Washington. His latest book is "FDR and the Holocaust: A Breach of Faith." Medoff will speak Sunday at the Holocaust Memorial Day service at the Alpert Jewish Community Center in Long Beach.
A loss of a comrade in arms:,7340,L-4367758,00.html

From Don K.

From Sheldon a WWII story of a Bear who was a soldier:

Inyanay Diyoma

At work once over my head I almost saw an air force jet collision during an exercise they were literally a few meters apart as one cut in front of his friend and jumped over him.,7340,L-4367219,00.html

I wonder if he saw Israel’s victory over Islam?

From Gabrielle The tooth fairy and 5 elves created the PA:

The Syrian Border: 1),7340,L-4367361,00.html (2)

Ed-Op from a military correspondent:,7340,L-4360382,00.html

This happened a couple minutes’ drive from my second son:

Don’t believe the hype on gun control that to Margarita:!

Why is George Soros and Jay Street going out for the Muslim Brotherhood?

Iran’s main ally in South America:

Film From Debbie K. F. Homicide Bombers hit the States it was just a matter of time with open borders and Muslims coming from Canada and Mexico in uninspected: After the initial explosion reports had two more devices were neutralized in Boston and one in at the JFK Library not far from Boston initial Fox News and Israel Radio however the official version is that there were no more bombs! Surprise – Surprise the person of interest is a student living in Revere with a visa from the Saudi Arabia – Catherine Heritage Fox News. The bottom line is: According to a report by CBS News, the man was initially tackled by a bystander while running from the scene of the explosions. The bystander told police he grabbed the Saudi because he thought he was acting suspiciously. THURSDAY UPDATE: The original person of interest is being deported so as not to face arrest and trial: The Arab was released but comes according to Israel from the Saudi-Yemen linked area:                                     Campus Cop shot dead in Cambridge MA and car thieves according to Fox shoot out with police and have explosive devises in Watertown, MA note MA has strict gun control so does it help? Barbara M. reported that the suspect has been caught. * A man in handcuffs was being questioned by the FBI in the back of an ambulance. * The Cambridge bomb squad arrived in Watertown shortly after 1:30 a.m. Suspects darker than your average Bostonian but blend in to a Middle-East color: Boston Globe on FB: BREAKING: An official with knowledge of the investigation said a Marathon bombing suspect is in custody. BREAKING NEWS: POLICE SEARCH FOR SUSPECT AFTER GUNFIGHT OUTSIDE BOSTON; EXPLOSIVES REPORTEDLY DETONATED FBI tells Fox News one person in custody and authorities are reportedly still searching for another suspect who may have been involved in the shooting death of an MIT police officer, as local reports say the suspects threw and detonated explosives during a car chase with police. New photo of suspect 2 here:

Rabbis upset over bombing:

Israel is condemned by the UN on education and other things while Gaza educates in terror bombing 101 etc. Here is a story of a destruction of a heritage site:

Iran is threatening to level Haifa and Tel Aviv if attacked and Chief of Staff responds:

ESP – the Premonition that saved:

How to avoid drowning in a submerged vehicle.

Al Qaeda and friends open up an offensive:

Senate helps put pressure on Iran:

Suspect in Boston Bombing using at least one if not two pressure cookers:

Assad is correct about Al Qaeda going after him and Yarden and then Europe. However, he might try some tricks because of the 400,000 Syrians in Yarden.

Regarding the blast at the fertilizer plant in Texas with scores dead and possibly three hundred wounded. Noreen sent this regarding our neighbors celebrating Boston and are probably rejoicing now too:

The Boston bombing becoming clear to the police and FBI.,7340,L-4369183,00.html

The religion of peace at work:,7340,L-4369278,00.html

Israel PM meets with world leaders at Thatcher funeral on WMD’s:

Hezballah is just waiting to explode this:

New terrorist ideas:

Electronic countermeasures to be used against terrorists.

When are we going to hit them?,7340,L-4369608,00.html

Now for M. Wolfberg’s Story “Bad Mouthing” and “You light up my life”

 Good Shabbos Everyone.  Shlomo HaMelech states "Death and life are in the power of the tongue."  (Mishlei - Proverbs 18,21)  This verse is self- explanatory.  The commentator Orchos Tzadikim comments on this verse by saying "There is no limit to the amount of mitzvahs one can do with their mouth."  (Gate of Lashon HaRa 25) The opposite is also true:  there is no limit to the amount of evil one can cause with his mouth.
         The Chofetz Chaim (Reb Yisroel Hacohen, 1838-1933) readily agreed when another prominent rabbi requested his help with a communal matter in another city in Poland. The participation of the renowned Chofetz Chaim was sure to add considerably to the success of the mission because of his high standing in the eyes of all his co-religionists.
         In the course of their trip the two rabbis stopped at a roadside inn to partake of a meal. They were happy to eat at this establishment as a Jewish woman who was well respected for her high standards of kashrus ran it. The two rabbis were seated at a special table and accorded every mark of honor. After they had finished the meal the proprietress came to their table to inquire how they had enjoyed the food.
          The Chofetz Chaim smiled politely and replied: "It was very tasty, and I enjoyed it very much. Thank you."
         The other rabbi answered: "The meal was very good, thank you. Only, if I might say, the soup might have used a bit more salt." Then the owner left the table the Chofetz Chaim turned to his companion, and in an anguished voice said: "Unbelievable! All my life I have avoided speaking or listening to Lashon HaRa (slander about a fellow Jew), and here I am, going on a trip to perform a Mitzva (commandment), and I have been put into a situation of having to hear you speak Lashon HaRa! I deeply regret my involvement in this mission, for it cannot be a true Mitzva. If it were, such a terrible thing would never have happened to me!"
         The other rabbi was shocked and upset by the Chofetz Chaim's reaction. To him it seemed to be a perfectly innocent remark. "What was so terrible about my comment? I only mentioned that a little salt would help the food, which was otherwise very good." The Chofetz Chaim began to explain himself. "You certainly don't understand the power that words possess! Just see what a chain reaction your words have set off: I'm sure that the woman who owns the inn doesn't do her own cooking; she probably employs some poor person to do it, maybe even a widow who depends upon this job for her living.
         "Because of your thoughtless comment the employee will be reprimanded for not adding enough salt to the food. She will try to defend herself before replying that she certainly did put in enough salt, which will be a lie. Then the owner will accuse her of lying, since she will certainly take your word over that of the poor cook. This exchange will lead to an argument and the owner will, in her anger, fire the poor cook, who will then have no income with which to support herself and her family. "And just think how many sins have been caused by one off-handed remark: You spoke Lashon HaRa and caused others to hear it; you caused the owner of the inn to repeat the Lashon HaRa; the poor cook was prompted to tell a lie; the owner caused pain to a poor person; your remark caused an argument. All of these are violations of the Torah!"
         The rabbi, who had listened closely to the Chofetz Chaim's explanation, replied respectfully: "Reb Yisroel Meir, I simply can't help but feel that you are overreacting to the whole incident. My few casual words couldn't have created all that damage. I think that your scenario just isn't realistic."
         The Chofetz Chaim rose from his seat, still in an agitated state, and said: "If you don't believe me, then follow me into the kitchen and you will see with your own eyes what has happened!" The two rabbis quietly entered the kitchen, and a sorry sight met their eyes. The proprietress was standing before an elderly woman and giving her a sharp tongue-lashing; while the woman stood there with tears streaming down her face.
         The shocked rabbi ran up to the cook and begged her to forgive him for all the pain she was suffering. He then turned to the owner of the inn and pleaded with her to forgive him and to forget that he had ever made a comment. He had never intended that it be taken so seriously. The proprietress of the inn, who was really a kind person by nature, had never actually intended to dismiss her elderly employee and was happy to accede to the rabbi's request. She explained that she had merely wanted to impress upon the cook her responsibility to be more careful in the future. She assured the rabbi that the woman's job was secured and he had no grounds for worry. The rabbi turned to the Chofetz Chaim with an understanding look. He had certainly acquired a new profound respect for the awesome power of words.
Good Shabbos Everyone.

 Good Shabbos Everyone.  The verse in this week's portion Acharei states "You shall observe My decrees and My laws... and become alive through them -- I am Hashem." (Vayikra 18:5)  Mitzvahs are spiritual oxygen for a Jew.  In order to survive the rough and tumble life on this earth, we Jews were given mitzvahs.  The following inspirational true story illustrates the power of mitzvahs to bring life to Jews.
         Mrs. Raizel Astulin came out of the Rebbe's office with tears of excitement. It was more than a dream come true. Just a few years ago she was behind the iron curtain with no avenue of escape other than prayer. Russia was closed… forever!
         Or so it seemed. Every year she applied anew for a visa to move to Israel to her family. But every year she, like millions of others, was rejected. But what pained her most of all was that she would never see more than just a picture of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.
         But miraculously it happened! One day she looked in her mailbox to see a letter from the government. It was permission to leave to Israel! It was truly a miracle! And to make it complete, shortly after she got settled in Israel her family bought her a plane ticket to the Rebbe. When she entered the Rebbe's office he asked about her family, about her health, about the situation in Russia asked how she was acclimating to Israel, and then told her that when she returns there she should devote time to teach Jewish women and girls to light Shabbos Candles. 
         But Mrs. Astulin feebly protested that she didn't really even know how to speak Hebrew to which the Rebbe answered. "You do what you have to and if any one makes trouble tell them that you are doing it at my request." Mrs. Astulin, a true Chassid of the Rebbe, wasted no time.
         The first Friday after her return to Israel she took a bus to the nearest nursing home and bravely entered with the plan of going from room to room distributing candles together with a folder explaining why, how and when to light them. She was full of optimism but there definitely was more than a trace of anxiety. After all, she really couldn’t speak the language properly and had never really approached total strangers before to ask them to do commandments. And sure enough, the first room she entered …. It was war!
         It was a sixty year old woman who, as soon as Mrs. Astulin entered the room with a smile and outreached candles, opened fire: "What are you doing here?! What? Candles for Shabbos? Mitzvahs? GET OUT!! All you religious people are parasites! Do you hear me? Parasites! OUT OF MY ROOM!!"
         Mrs. Astulin flinched and wanted to just apologize and leave but suddenly she remembered what the Rebbe said and blurted out. "Listen, the Lubavitcher Rebbe told me to do this and…. " but her limited Hebrew and the shouts of the woman still ringing in her ears tied her tongue.
         Then something happened. The woman calmed down! "Ehh? You said the Rebbe of Lubavitch sent you?"
         "Yes." Mrs. Astulin answered and asked incredulously, "Do you know the Rebbe?" The woman's eyes filled with tears and she answered in Russian. First apologizing for yelling and then she explained.
         "When I was young my parents passed away leaving me and my brother to fend for ourselves. He went to Medical School and graduated with high honors while I turned to other interests. But we were very close because all we had in the world was each other. "But things weren't good in Russia and after a while we decided to leave. My brother, although he was head of a department in a large hospital, was making almost no money and for me Russia was only bad memories.
         "To our joy we got permission to leave but, for the first time, we parted ways. I moved to Israel to settle down but my brother wanted to move to New York where he could make the money he deserved. But, of course, we agreed to write regularly and eventually rejoin. "But things didn't work out as we thought. I managed to get a job and a place to live but my brother couldn't get work. It seems that he overestimated the value of his Russian degrees.
         For months he went from hospital to hospital with the same results; they all told him he needed at least another year of medical school! But he had almost no money; the little he brought went for the first month's rent and now the landlord was hounding him for the two following months that he owed. "I got one last terrible letter from him and then they stopped coming. He wrote that he was totally depressed and trapped. He had no money, no job, no hope and no energy. He couldn't even return to Russia or come to Israel… he had nothing and his debts were piling up.
         I was really worried. I had no way of contacting him and so it went for over a month. NOTHING. But then I got a letter. It was the happiest day in my life! He said he was fine and optimistic. And he told the following story. "After he wrote the previous letter he decided that he would (G-d forbid) end his own life.
         He stayed up the entire night thinking about it and became more and more depressed until the sun rose. It was a cool Friday morning when he walked out of his apartment onto the sidewalk. He walked in a daze for several hours until he found himself walking to a local bridge. He had nothing to live for anymore. No one cared. He had no future. Everything was black all around him. He decided he would (G-d forbid) jump off into oblivion.
         But then someone called out to him' Excuse me sir, are you Jewish?' He tried to just ignore it but such a question coming from nowhere almost made him laugh. Jewish? Where did that come from? He stopped for a moment and that was enough. The young man began to hound him saying 'Nu, if you're Jewish come put on Tefillin.'
         My brother had never put on Tefillin in his life. We were atheists from Communist Russia where only a few people we knew put on Tefillin. But the fellow got my brother talking until he convinced him to do it. He put on Tefillin and then told him what he was about to do and the young man almost fainted.
         'What?" he said "Why do such a crazy thing? You're a human being! And you’re a Jew! It's forbidden to give up."
         Anyway he convinced my brother to put on Tefillin and to come with him to Shabbos in Crown Heights and then somehow arranged him a meeting with the Lubavitcher Rebbe. "Well, I don't know what the Rebbe said there to my brother but he came out of the Rebbe's room a different man. Maybe they even gave him some money or found him a job or something but my brother didn't tell me that. He just said that he spoke to the Lubavitcher Rebbe and everything will be all right. "And he ended the letter saying 'My dear sister, if you have a living brother today it is only in the merit of the Lubavitcher Rebbe'" The woman turned to Mrs. Astulin with tears in her eyes and said. "Now please tell me more about these Shabbos Candles
."   Good Shabbos Everyone. M. Wolfberg is sponsored by:  L'zecher nishmas   Yehoshua Beirach ben Tzv- A'H (Mermelstein)
Dedicatied by the Mermelstein, Stern and Krakowski families
In memory of R' Yaakov ben Naftoly, of blessed memory In Memory of Reb Yitzchok ben Reb Shimon (Friedman) of blessed memory Refuah Shleima to Reb Mordechai Mendel ben Tziporah Yitta Refuah Shleima to Leah bas Tziporah

Have a peaceful and pleasant Shabbos and be well,
Rachamim Pauli