Friday, September 8, 2017

Parsha Ki Savo, Hurricane Irma story and many stories, Elul

Devorah bas Sara is no longer suffering from a serious disease please remove her from

From an older prayer list: “Just got the final results from Micro/Molecular lab, my sister, Penina Bas Zisia’s leukemia has disappeared & my stem cells’ transplant was a success!  I would like to thank you all for the prayers & concern you have had for my sister’s health, may we all merit to witness many miracles together, G-d bless you all!  Hillel Winstock, Prayers do work.

Note: There may be a problem with producing a Blogspot for Rosh Hashanah and Parsha Beresheis because of Yom Tov outside of Israel. I received a notice from Torah Tidbits of the OU about their weekly publication that will be on vacation due to the High Holidays and Sukkos. I may produce a Beresheis – Noach double Parsha instead.

Parsha Ki Savo

According to the Art Scroll, I should have written Ki Seitzei for last week’s Parsha but traveling made that impossible. I used the modern Hebrew Teitzei which Chabad uses.

We finished last week’s Parsha with the Mitzvah of blotting out Amalek in every generation. That was Mitzvah 605. Thus we have 8 Mitzvos to go and so we have finished most of the Mitzvos in the Torah. One Mitzvah that we have not covered is the confession we make over the Bikurim from Chag Shavuos to Sukkos. 

26:1 And it shall be, when thou art come in unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance, and dost possess it, and dwell therein; 2 that thou shalt take of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which thou shalt bring in from thy land that the LORD thy God giveth thee; and thou shalt put it in a basket and shalt go unto the place which the LORD thy God shall choose to cause His name to dwell there. 3 And thou shalt come unto the priest that shall be in those days, and say unto him: 'I profess this day unto the LORD thy God, that I am come unto the land which the LORD swore unto our fathers to give us.' 4 And the priest shall take the basket out of thy hand, and set it down before the altar of the LORD thy God. 5 And thou shalt speak and say before the LORD thy God: 'A wandering Aramean was my father, and he went down into Egypt, and sojourned there, few in number; and he became there a nation, great, mighty, and populous. 6 And the Egyptians dealt ill with us, and afflicted us, and laid upon us hard bondage. 7 And we cried unto the LORD, the God of our fathers, and the LORD heard our voice, and saw our affliction, and our toil, and our oppression. 8 And the LORD brought us forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with great terribleness, and with signs, and with wonders. 9 And He hath brought us into this place, and hath given us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey.

A good land but we must be in constant prayer to HASHEM for it and observe HIS Commandments for our blessings.

…12 When thou hast made an end of tithing all the tithe of thine increase in the third year, which is the year of tithing, and hast given it unto the Levite, to the stranger, to the fatherless, and to the widow, that they may eat within thy gates, and be satisfied,

Maaser Ani (Poor man’s tithe).

13 then thou shalt say before the LORD thy God: 'I have put away the hallowed things out of my house, and also have given them unto the Levite, and unto the stranger, to the fatherless, and to the widow, according to all Thy commandment which Thou hast commanded me; I have not transgressed any of Thy commandments, neither have I forgotten them.

Any of the commandments refers to those of the land such as the tithes of Teruma and Ma’aseh, Shmita, Yovel when applicable. Rashi mentions this. It is not any of the commandments as the 1917 translation says which would be not returning a pledged item to a poor man or paying a worker late for some reason which are forbidden but it might have been done by accident or in agreement.

14 I have not eaten thereof in my mourning, neither have I put away thereof, being unclean, nor given thereof for the dead; I have hearkened to the voice of the LORD my God, I have done according to all that Thou hast commanded me. 15 Look forth from Thy holy habitation, from heaven, and bless Thy people Israel, and the land which Thou hast given us, as Thou didst swear unto our fathers, a land flowing with milk and honey.'

The first fruits are from my property with no known roots into the neighbor and only from the land flowing with milk and honey and not from outside of Israel.

27:1 And Moses and the elders of Israel commanded the people, saying: 'Keep all the commandment which I command you this day.

Do not ignore even a minor one.

2 And it shall be on the day when ye shall pass over the Jordan unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, that thou shalt set thee up great stones, and plaster them with plaster. 3 And thou shalt write upon them all the words of this law, when thou art passed over; that thou may go in unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, a land flowing with milk and honey, as the LORD, the God of thy fathers, hath promised thee. 4 And it shall be when ye are passed over the Jordan, that ye shall set up these stones, which I command you this day, in mount Eval, and thou shalt plaster them with plaster. 5 And there shalt thou build an altar unto the LORD thy God, an altar of stones; thou shalt lift up no iron tool upon them.

Signs of the Mizbayach exist in excavations but the plastered stones must have been removed by the Romans or some other occupier of the holy land of Eretz Yisrael.

6 Thou shalt build the altar of the LORD thy God of unhewn stones; and thou shalt offer burnt-offerings thereon unto the LORD thy God. 7 And thou shalt sacrifice peace-offerings, and shalt eat there; and thou shalt rejoice before the LORD thy God. 8 And thou shalt write upon the stones all the words of this law very plainly.'

Remember Parsha Re’eh? These are the blessings and the curses in the discourse. Soon the lecture of Moshe will end.

9 And Moses and the priests the Levites spoke unto all Israel, saying: 'Keep silence, and hear, O Israel; this day you have become a people unto the LORD your God.

Pay attention and listen carefully. You are no ordinary people. You are the people unto HASHEM and are different from all other nations.

10 Thou shall therefore hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and do His commandments and His statutes, which I command thee this day.'

You are no longer the children of Noach and Righteous with 7 Mitzvos. You are a people that will end up with 613 Mitzvos and in the future 7 more from the Rabbis. Your behavior standards are different. You cannot marry two sisters or a woman and her aunt. You are held to a different standard. If you have a gentile slave woman, she is forbidden to you not like the behavior of the Nations of the World. If you capture a beautiful woman in war, you may take her home, but you have to refrain and treat her decently. Now let us get on the blessing and the curse which I mentioned to you at the start of this Drasha in Parsha Re’eh.

11 And Moses charged the people the same day, saying: 12 'These shall stand upon mount Gerizim to bless the people, when ye are passed over the Jordan: Simeon, and Levi, and Judah, and Issachar, and Joseph, and Benjamin;

Despite Zimri and the recent spiritual weakening of Shevet Shimon, the brother Shimon was very strict in his observance and he and Levi were zealous because of Dina. Judah stood up to Yosef as the assistant of Pharaoh and his tribe plunged up to their nostrils in the sea as it split. Yissachar were great Torah learners when they could learn and Yacov specially had trained Yosef and Benyamin. (This are my thoughts and I did not read this from commentaries)

13 and these shall stand upon mount Ebal for the curse: Reuben, Gad, and Asher, and Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali.

Reuven was unfortunately not a true leader which he should have been and the incident of moving his father’s bed was horrible. Zevulun would rather earn and pay Yissachar to learn so he had a lesser portion. The other four Tribes were sons of Yacov but from the two concubines and their status was lessened.

14 And the Levites shall speak, and say unto all the men of Israel with a loud voice:

The Tribe of Levi, being spiritual, was to stand in the middle and call out the blessings and the curses.

15 Cursed be the man that makes a graven or molten image, an abomination unto the LORD, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and sets it up in secret. And all the people shall answer and say: Amen.

A normal person who was spiritual weak would follow Avoda Zara but in private for he knew he would be killed by a public display. The people became lax during the end of the first Temple Period. It seems to be that way all over. Start out pure and deeply religious. Generations go by, wealth is gathered. People become spiritual weak and lazy. Everything comes to them on a silver plate. Look at ancient Israel starting out as poor slaves then pioneering a land of milk and honey. Finally collecting wealth. Becoming bored in their luxuries going into the cults and sexual practices which their forefathers would never dream of. Look at the United States. Puritans came over, Quakers, etc. now it has deteriorated to free sex, same sex marriages, drugs and on the leftist agenda bestiality and pedophilia. I have heard of what the original people of Rome were like and then the emperors and the nobles with their feasts and vomiting and orgies until all their tables were filled with filth. America still has a chance to stop this trend.

16 Cursed be he that dishonors his father or his mother. And all the people shall say: Amen.

See how the Torah views dishonoring the name of one’s parents it is like Avoda Zara. If one has nothing nice to say about a parent don’t say it. One cannot judge the situation and education of the parent. I have heard of a child who complained that he had to go out and take tomatoes which were thrown away by vendors. He never told his father that he was hungry and his father worked hundreds of hours overtime to put food on the table and never knew. When he grew up he blamed his father who knew nothing that the mother did not give enough food to the children.

17 Cursed be he that removes his neighbor's landmark. And all the people shall say: Amen. 18 Cursed be he that makes the blind to go astray in the way. And all the people shall say: Amen. 19 Cursed be he that perverts the justice due to the stranger, fatherless, and widow. And all the people shall say: Amen. 20 Cursed be he that lies with his father's wife; because he hath uncovered his father's skirt. And all the people shall say: Amen.

A minor article in the newspaper of Friday Sept. 8th or 16 Elul 5777nwas about a step-father who’s step daughter fell in love with him Gave him two children and the Rabbis refused to marry them but they married in the Czech Republic. Just the reverse of this curse.

21 Cursed be he that lies with any manner of beast. And all the people shall say: Amen. 22 Cursed be he that lies with his sister, the daughter of his father, or the daughter of his mother. And all the people shall say: Amen. 23 Cursed be he that lies with his mother-in-law. And all the people shall say: Amen. 24 Cursed be he that smites his neighbor in secret. And all the people shall say: Amen. 25 Cursed be he that taketh a bribe to slay an innocent person. And all the people shall say: Amen. 26 Cursed be he that confirms not the words of this law to do them. And all the people shall say: Amen.'

Below is a partial list of what happens if you observe and next to no list of the punishments but enough to wake one up.

28:1 And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all His commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all the nations of the earth. 2 And all these blessings shall come upon thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God. 3 Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field. 4 Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy land, and the fruit of thy cattle, the increase of thy kine, and the young of thy flock. 5 Blessed shall be thy basket and thy kneading-trough. 6 Blessed shalt thou be when thou come in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou go out. 7 The LORD will cause thine enemies that rise up against thee to be smitten before thee; they shall come out against thee one way, and shall flee before thee seven ways. 8 The LORD will command the blessing with thee in thy barns, and in all that thou put thy hand unto; and He will bless thee in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee. 9 The LORD will establish thee for a holy people unto Himself, as He hath sworn unto thee; if thou shalt keep the commandments of the LORD thy God, and walk in His ways. 10 And all the peoples of the earth shall see that the name of the LORD is called upon thee; and they shall be afraid of thee. 11 And the LORD will make thee over-abundant for good, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy land, in the land which the LORD swore unto thy fathers to give thee.

So logically with promises like this from our creator, wouldn’t we want to run to observe the Mitzvos?

… 15 But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all His commandments and His statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee. … 26 And thy carcasses shall be food unto all fowls of the air, and unto the beasts of the earth, and there shall be none to frighten them away. … 62 And ye shall be left few in number, whereas ye were as the stars of heaven for multitude; because thou didst not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God. … 69 These are the words of the covenant which the LORD commanded Moses to make with the children of Israel in the land of Moab, beside the covenant which He made with them in Horev.

29:1 And Moses called unto all Israel, and said unto them: Ye have seen all that the LORD did before your eyes in the land of Egypt unto Pharaoh, and unto all his servants, and unto all his land; … 8 Observe therefore the words of this covenant, and do them, that ye may make all that ye do to prosper.

The real conclusion of all the blessings and curses is in this last sentence of the Parsha.

Hurricane Irma Story thanks to Zavit

Zavit sent me a What’s App this morning. In the Caribbean Island the hurricane hit with 185 mph winds or 296 kph which if you think about it is a bit less than 1/3600 the speed of light. Enough wind to knock a freight train down! Most of the buildings were destroyed on the Island. The Chabad had no windows but a glass door which was covered with plywood for the storm. However, the force just huffed and puffed and blew the door in.

The people moved the children into the Mikvah room as they tried to push a large freezer by the door which left the wind making an awful noise. When the storm passed the Chabad emergency generator was working. The picture of the Rebbe had fallen off the wall upright and everything behind the picture in the room was undamaged.

Stan from Texas wrote me of his financial loss and that everything in his house, a new refrigerator, dish washer, washer-dryer etc. were all ruined and the mold had everything stinking. Tragedy all over.

The Divorce Solution by Rabbi Yerachmiel Tilles

In 1740, the Baal Shem Tov came to visit the city of Slutsk. Many of the local inhabitants came to greet him. Among them was the aged scholar, Rabbi Uri Nosson Nata, who as a youth was known as the ilui of Karinik, near Brisk.

His son, Shlomo, who had initially been educated at home by his father, left home at the age of fourteen to seek the scholarly environment of Yeshivas - first in Vilna, then in Jorodna, and then in Cracow. There he had met a prominent scholar, Rabbi Menachem Aryeh, who was one of the hidden righteous. Reb Menachem accepted him as his disciple in the study of chassidut on condition that their connection is kept secret.

At the age of twenty-two, Shlomo returned to his childhood home in Slutsk. His father was overjoyed with his progress in learning, and arranged a marriage with the daughter of the leaseholder of an inn, Reb Eliyahu Moshe, who lived in a nearby village.

Aabout a half a year after their marriage, however, the young wife tragically, lost her sanity. Since she was not in a mental state to legally accept a bill of divorce, Reb Shlomo was unable to remarry.

During the Baal Shem Tov's visit to Slutsk, Shlomo's father, Uri Noson Nata, described their sad situation to him and asked for his advice and blessing. Soon thereafter, the unfortunate young woman's father, Eliyahu Moshe, also approached the Baal Shem Tov and asked for his advice and a blessing for her recovery.

Later the same day, the Baal Shem Tov invited both fathers to meet with him together. He politely asked if either of them bore a grudge against the other. The bridegroom's father, Reb Uri Nosson Nata, had nothing but praise for his mechutan (relative by marriage), the bride's father. He extolled that despite the pressure of business, the innkeeper fixed times for the study of Torah, maintained a hospitable house that was open to all comers, supported Talmudic scholars generously, and maintained his son-in-law in the most respectable manner.
Since Shlomo had been mentioned, his father-in-law, Eliyahu Moshe, now spoke most highly of his noble character. He was clearly proud of his son-in-law who, in addition to his assiduous study schedule, always found time on weekdays to conduct study circles for the simple farming folk who lived round about, teaching them Chumash with Rashi's commentary, and the moral lessons of Ayn Yaakov; and on Shabbos he would read for them from the Midrash and the Ethics of the Fathers. While teaching, he imbued them with a brotherly love for each other, explaining to them that no man's profit ever came at the expense of that which Divine Providence had destined for another. In a word, he was well loved by the villagers from all around, and they all were praying that his young wife would be restored to complete health, and that he would return to teach them as in happier times.

The Baal Shem Tov listened carefully to both fathers, and then said: "With G·d's help, I will be able to help the young woman return to complete health and restore her mind to its original clarity - but only on one condition: That when this happens the young couple not live together, and when several days have passed, and she is in a fit state according to the Torah Law to accept a Get (rabbinically sanctioned document of divorce), she accepts it from her husband with a willing heart."

The two fathers were stunned! Rabbi Uri Nosson Nata proposed various legal objections to such a divorce, and Reb Eliyahu Moshe argued that his daughter would be grieved by such a procedure, since she respected her husband highly. He was certain that his son-in-law would likewise be distressed. He himself was prepared to contribute an enormous sum to charity - in the merit of which he begged the Baal Shem Tov to pray for her recovery, but to allow the young couple to rejoin each other in the love and harmony to which they were accustomed. The Baal Shem Tov answered unequivocally - that if they did not agree to the condition that he had stipulated, he would not be able to help them.

A few days later, they called on the Baal Shem Tov together with the young husband, and told him that they accepted his condition - though of course they could not guarantee that his stricken wife would agree. Upon hearing their reply, the Baal Shem Tov instructed Reb Eliyahu Moshe to immediately go home and tell his sick, ailing daughter that the Baal Shem Tov had come to Slutsk and had requested for her to come to speak with him about an important matter.
Hearing that, the two fathers looked at each other in amazement.
"But Rebbe, for the last six years," Eliyahu Moshe protested, "she has not uttered a syllable! She just sits between the stove and the wall, and can barely be fed. In a word, my poor daughter is utterly out of her mind. How can I possibly explain to her your request?"

The Baal Shem Tov did not reply.

Making his way homeward with a heavy heart, Eliyahu Moshe remarked to his mechutan that if the Baal Shem Tov had seen the state in which his daughter was to be found, he would not have spoken as he had. Uri Nosson Nata, in turn, sighed in sympathy from the depths of his heart for everyone suffering from this matter.

Not so his son, Shlomo. Before his marriage, when he had been a disciple of Rabbi Menachem Aryeh, he had been introduced to teachings of the Baal Shem Tov. Now that he had met him in person, and had heard his teachings, he became attached to him with all his heart. He therefore told his father-in-law that he thought they should follow the instructions of the Baal Shem Tov implicitly. Reb Uri Nosson Nata added that since they had already accepted the far more difficult condition of their daughter being crazy, they should certainly proceed to carry out the instruction that they attempt to speak to the young woman.

Opening the door to his house, Reb Eliyahu Moshe found his daughter sitting in her accustomed corner behind the stove. He told his wife all that the Baal Shem Tov had said, adding that he was widely reputed as a miracle worker.
To their amazement, their daughter suddenly rose from her. She approached her mother and father quietly, and in a voice they had not heard for six years, asked who was this person who worked wonders. They told her that the man about whom they were speaking was called the Baal Shem Tov, a renowned tzadik. She answered that before hearing any more, she first wanted to immerse herself in a mikveh for purification.

After going to the mikveh, the young woman began eating, speaking and sleeping as if completely normal, though she felt very weak. On the third day, she had a high fever and in her delirium spoke about the Baal Shem Tov. When her father heard her crying and asking to be taken to the wonder-worker, he was suddenly reminded of what the surprising sudden turn of events made him forget - that the Baal Shem Tov had asked to see her. He told her of the Baal Shem Tov's request and she was visibly happy to receive the message. On the very next day, accompanied her parents, she made the journey to Slutsk.

Reb Shlomo soon heard of his wife's recovery, for his father-in-law had sent a special messenger with the news. He now began to speak with his father about the principles of Chassidus taught by the Baal Shem Tov. He explained the emphasis which the Baal Shem Tov gave to the mystical teachings of the Kabbalah; the workings of Divine Providence not only for man, but regarding all created things, even the inanimate; the intrinsic holiness and worth of even the simplest fellow Jew; the importance and obligation of Ahavas Yisrael; serving G·D with a joyful heart; and so on.

The aged scholar pondered these matters all day and throughout the following night. On the next day, he set out to tell the Baal Shem Tov what his son had told him of his teachings, and added that he desired to become his disciple. At the same meeting, he told the Baal Shem Tov of the good news that had just reached his son. The Baal Shem Tov replied that on that same day the young woman was again unwell, but that when her father would carry out his mission she would recover and come to see him.

When the young woman and her parents arrived at Slutsk, she and her husband entered the room of the Baal Shem Tov. He told them that they would have to divorce. With bitter tears, the unfortunate young woman told the Baal Shem Tov how highly she respected her husband for his refined character. If, however he decreed that they should divorce, he must surely know that she was unworthy of such a righteous husband, and felt it her duty to comply. Shlomo, likewise moved, told the Baal Shem Tov that his wife exemplified all the noble attributes by which the Sages define a good wife. If, however, the Baal Shem Tov ordered that they divorce, he too would be obey.

The Baal Shem Tov arranged to see them in four days; he would then arrange the legalities required by Jewish Law.

For the next three days the young couple and their parents fasted and prayed. On the fourth day, with heavy hearts, they made their way to the tzadik. They found a Rav, a scribe and two witnesses already waiting. The Baal Shem Tov asked them if they agreed wholeheartedly to the divorce. They answered that they believed that whatever the Baal Shem Tov told them would be for the best, and since they loved each other, each of them was willing to proceed with the divorce -- for the benefit of the other.

The Baal Shem Tov retired to another room and stayed there for some time.

When he returned he related the following: "Six years ago a threat of terrible suffering hung over your lives because of accusations of the Heavenly prosecuting angel. The Heavenly court's verdict was that you should both undergo the troubles that you have experienced these last six years. But now that you have shown great faith in my words, to the extent that you were both willing to proceed with a divorce, this very faith has freed you from the decree of the Heavenly court. The charge against you has been annulled. Live on happily together as man and wife. You have my blessing that your home be filled with sons, daughters and many grandchildren, and that you both live to a ripe old age."

The young couple remained in Slutsk for three years. They then lived in several major Jewish communities, until they moved to Liozna as chasidim of Rabbi Shneur-Zalman, the founder of the Chabad dynasty. In 1796 they settled in Eretz Yisrael, where they lived for fifteen years until Shlomo passed away at age 99.
Source: Edited and supplemented by Yerachmiel Tilles from the adaption by Tzvi-Meir Cohn on his website // of a story in A Treasury of Chassidic Tales by S. Y. Zevin, as translated by Uri Kaploun.

Biographical note
Rabbi Yisrael ben Eliezer [of blessed memory: 18 Elul 5458 - 6 Sivan 5520 (Aug. 1698 - May 1760 C.E.)], the Baal Shem Tov ["Master of the Good Name"-often referred to as "the Besht" for short], a unique and seminal figure in Jewish history, revealed his identity as an exceptionally holy person, on his 36th birthday, 18 Elul 5494 (1734 C.E.), and made the until-then underground Chasidic movement public. He wrote no books, although many works claim to contain his teachings. One available in English is the excellent annotated translation of Tzava'at Harivash, published by Kehos.
Connection: Seasonal-Chai (18th) Elul is the anniversary of the birthday of the Baal Shem Tov in 1698, and of Rabbi Shneur-Zalman of Chabad (also mentioned at the end of the above story) in 1745.

A wedding 9/11 and a ticket to a Yeshiva.

The inner workings of a young man about to leave everything to go to a Yeshiva in
Eretz Yisrael. By Noah Dinerstein

I still had some packing to do for my flight to Israel on Monday morning. To the dismay of my parents, I had decided to go to yeshiva. Two days prior was my good friend’s wedding. The wedding could not have been planned in a more majestic, nostalgic, picturesque summer escape. We celebrated at Camp Gorham in the Adirondacks where I spent seven radiant years.
The groom and I spent summers there together perfecting the silent sneak out, strengthening our modest muscles on the climbing wall, belting out our pre-pubescent cracking voices in the talent show, and staring at the stars on nights so clear we could compete on how many we spotted shooting across the sky. They we’re the most free and formative years of my life.
The wedding ceremony took place at the sacred spot where campers and staff members would gather around the “Final Campfire” overlooking the lake. We’d share our most cherished summer moments and dedications for all to hear. There were tears and songs and a lot of laughter echoing over the lake. The only man-made structure in sight was an enormous wooden cross. This was a YMCA camp after all.
That year, back in 2011, a mixed marriage under a cross didn’t mean that much to me. I grew up reform celebrating only the most famous of holidays. Kosher was something we used as a synonym for “cool,” not something we ate. I didn’t really notice the cross or the lack of kippahs or even the missing Rabbi…all I saw were two giddy friends sealing their commitment in the most wonderful place on earth under the most starry of nights.
From a distance the reception hall glowed and as we all approached, the music matched our ecstatic and bouncy moods. The dining hall where we used to scream I’ve Been Working On The Railroad at the top of my lungs was transformed into a glamorous affair where we screamed Twist and Shout instead. The cocktails flowed, the men loosened their ties and wiped their brows, their wives kicked off their shoes, and the bride and groom twirled. It was…happy.
At some point I took a cigar break with the groomsmen on the grand porch outside. My mom, who was at the wedding with my father, followed me out to catch her breath herself. But she found a look in my eye that only she could spot and pulled me to the railing overlooking my vast childhood playground. We stood silent taking in the expanse – the basketball courts and tennis courts, the kayaks and fields and the quiet lake in front us. Then she said what was already in the air between us.
“Y’know, today is Saturday… if you leave for yeshiva you will come back keeping Shabbat… you wouldn't be able to be here with us having such a good time like I know you’re having.”
I would normally have become defensive at a comment like that, defending my choice to leave for yeshiva and learn Torah like my life depended on it. My face would have become blushed and my voice raised and I would have handed her a verbal grocery list of why going to yeshiva is the right move for an under-informed reform Jew like me. But that night I finally allowed myself a bit of vulnerability.
“I know Mom. You’re right. And I don't know if I’m making the right decision. If there’s a lifestyle that wouldn't let me be at celebrations like this….I don't know if I want anything to do with it…”
She sensed that lightning doesn’t strike the same spot twice and if she would have said another word I may not take it as calmly. We went back inside and had a blast dancing the night away.
The rest of the night was a blur of live music, dancing, stretch bus limos, after parties, and slurred toasts. I fell asleep with a guitar and Doritos by my side, and a big goofy grin on my face.
The next morning my parents checked on me and took off early for home. It was an hour and a half drive and I was in no shape to go with them at 7AM. I hit the morning-after brunch and we all felt the weight of the hangover in our heads and the pit of regret in our stomachs.
We said our goodbyes, hugged again and looked forward to the next one. I got in my car and decided between the two radio stations that you can get in the dirt roads of the Adirondacks: Talk Radio or Country. I chose Talk. It was white noise as the clarity set in that I would cancel my ticket to Israel tomorrow. I wouldn’t go to yeshiva. I wouldn't throw my life away, my childhood friends, my memories of camp, catered food and parties and weddings and toasts and even morning-after regret. I wouldn’t fly to a region of conflict to go learn about Judaism for 16 hours a day. I wouldn’t give up my weekends forever so I could sit and talk about the heaviest of topics for 24 hours every week for the rest of my life.
And I wouldn't forget how my mom and dad watched me tearing up the dance floor and working that wedding like a cruise ship director and their beaming expression that said, “That’s our boy.”
In the midst of this part daydream part rude awakening I noticed a bad feeling. I couldn't tell where it was coming from but it was making me very uneasy. I searched for it and found it in the white noise. I turned up the radio and realized it wasn’t white noise at all. It was the sound of reporting of fire, a plane crash, panic, and death. A man’s voice came through that he saw something…he’s not sure….he can’t be sure if it was terrorism. Then a woman reporting that papers were falling from the sky and her voice drowned out by screaming. It sounded just like 9/11. Wait. It was 9/11. It was September 11th, 2011. It was the 10th anniversary of September 11th.
The only radio channel that came through clearly was the recounting, minute by minute, of NPR’s 2001 live broadcast of September 11th. This was their way to honor the anniversary. Listening to the confusion of the broadcaster as the first tower was hit and billowing smoke seemed unfair. I felt like shouting into the radio, “It wasn't a prop plane! It wasn’t an accident! It was terrorism! It was evil!” Ten years later, knowing the cause and culprit, hindsight seemed like cruel punishment to these stunned news analysts. I drove slowly and listened.
My hands kept twitching to change the station but I never could complete the task. I finally accepted that I was going to listen to the sounds of 9/11 for the entire drive home.
I didn’t need to be reminded how that clear fall day turned into a living nightmare for so many innocent, hardworking Americans. What I needed to be reminded of was family. During the 10th anniversary special, I listened to final voicemails to wives from airplanes on their way down, heard about calls from the 90th floor of the North Tower to brothers and sisters and messages of desperate love sent home to children as floors became engulfed in flames. Nearly every survivor or victim died or lived for their family. I was 14 when it happened. Now I was 24 experiencing a much more powerful thought. Family is everything.
The radio show had another, darker theme, a theme that resonated with me even more on that drive: Death. There is life and then there is death. So painfully simple. So very cliché. Everybody dies. I don’t want to die. I remember thinking that. I thought about it in the forefront of my mind. I thought about it so much the words began to fade and even disappear and it just became a….force. I don't want to die. Eventually, on the last turns of the trip I didn’t need to think it or say it aloud. It just became a part of who I was. I don’t want to die.
I pulled into my driveway. My parents were inside, most likely reading the mail they missed from the long weekend or taking an early afternoon nap. I turned off the engine and the radio went silent. I didn’t need – I didn’t want – to hear anymore. The sun was out but it wasn’t too hot. I rolled my window down and felt the fresh air.
My mantra was still with me but transforming slightly as I enjoyed my brief moment to myself before joining my parents. Everybody dies but not everybody lives. My weekend was fun. It was full of pleasure. It was full of sound and music and laughter. It was a party and a great one at that. It was fun – a lot of fun – and I needed a lot more. A new clarity set in. I walked inside and finished packing.

Elul the end of the year.

I have toyed with stopping and working on editing together all my Torah Work with the Linear Chumash and Rashi. Perhaps this story in Elul from Shlomo D. is scary enough to shock me into doing it. I left my life in the USA in 2004 and came to Israel with a determination to write a multi volume work that would be the crowning achievement of my life. The essence of the project was to describe different ways to understand personal growth.
I thought my approach would be unique in two ways. Firstly, "psychology" would be only one of five frameworks in a comprehensive treatment of the subject. Secondly, I would present a new definition of psychology and argue that EVERYBODY IS A PSYCHOLOGIST. What's more, everybody could learn to be a better psychologist.
I pursued this goal for a number of years, and completed about 80-85% of the first book and about 40% of the second. I had outlines of 3 more volumes in the series.
What was the upshot of all of this? I felt frustrated that I couldn't do as good a job as I wanted to do, and put it aside, planning to come back to it after substantial time passed to read it with fresh eyes and decide how to go forward. When I reviewed what I had written I decided that it wasn't as good as I wanted it to be, and that I couldn't achieve what I wanted without better editorial help than I had been able to obtain.
More to the point I recognized that age related cognitive impairment had reached a level that permanently limited what I would be able to accomplish. It is in this context, that the following excerpt from an essay on the life and work of the great Hebrew poet Hayim Bialik by Hillel Halkin struck me as personally relevant. I recognize my own predicament in the marvelous late poem by Bialik.
"Bialik kept writing poetry," wrote Halkin, "although less and less of it, until 1911; then at the age of thirty-eight, he stopped almost entirely. The last poem he wrote before that moment expressed his awareness and fear of impending poetic sterility:
"Trailing on a fence, a small branch sleeps—
And so sleep I.
Its fruit is gone. What matters then the trunk,
What matters then the tree?
"The fruit is gone and who recalls the flower?
Left is the leaf—
And soon the storm will bring that, too,
To grief.
"And after that will come dread nights
With no sleep at all.
Alone in darkness I will bash
My head against the wall.
"And when spring comes again
Still will I droop,
A naked rod, with neither bud nor bloom,
Nor leaf, nor fruit."
Many of us have goals and desires and sometimes we achieve very little of what we want to do.

What did we do with our Torah and Mitzvah life this past years or past years? Where are we heading? How can we improve ourselves? We must not delay this. Can we learn from our mistakes and other’s mistakes?

In Avos we are told it is not upon us to finish the work. (Bring Moshiach?) But we must try our best to improve the world.

As the year ends we reflect upon our sins and our looseness. Everybody has a weakness or is lax at times. Five more minutes sitting eating watching DVR of Hannity or something when I could be helping others or learning Torah is a problem. A joke of What’s App is fun and it is a relief. People enjoy it and it could open up a Torah Drasha to open up a heart. But too many spoil the Rabbi or the reader.

It is time to open up one’s heart to Teshuva not the day before you die, not the day before Rosh Hashanah but now and forever. Reflect, regret and repair.

Thanks to Valerie C. If we don’t wake up in Elul we will smell smoke Rabbi Lazer Brody.

The Hunt for Mengele now unclassified.

What have the Reform done to Shabbos a short video where the “Rabbi” appears to be without a Yarmulke and the some of the Congregation. Then skiing out of the Shabbos Boundary back to the city. Weird the YouTube and article.
P.S. my wife and I were in Park City UT and this is miles away from any Jewish Community in Salt Lake City and has nothing to do with Chabad of Utah. It is home to the Sundance Film Festival. This came from cousin Ingrid.

From Barbara M. a film of a Kabbalist about Nuclear War and Korea 7 min. recorded in 5755 aka 1994.
This is a better film but less of the Rav.

Soldier with personal weapon is accidently shot due to lack of closed safety.,7340,L-5010950,00.html

Dr. from Ethiopian descent becomes the first Colonel of that immigrant group.,7340,L-5010784,00.html

When a secular Jew sees Chanucha as a civil war and not for religious freedom. Poor blind folk.

Minister pledges to clear up Tel Aviv of illegals.,7340,L-5012768,00.html

A number of probes into the sceptic tank of the Knesset and Washington is much worse. A fish stinks from the head.,7340,L-5012654,00.html

We are hearing a lot about the Israeli Mafia but the US Mafia is alive and well.

Nature Reserve Vulture returned to Israel. His brother died in the fighting in Syria.,7340,L-5013816,00.html

Inyanay Diyoma

Hezballah has a mole in the Lebanese Army:,7340,L-5010668,00.html

Ed-Op by Dr. Martin Sherman Taylor Force Act.

N. Korea Claims to have the H-Bomb.

Political Convicted by the left of the left, hero saves 2 while serving in prison.

US to put in more sanctions against N. Korea.

Richard sent me films of NE of Houston aka Kingwood.
Just over the hill from me a Hamas weapons and cash depot.
Nazis in the British Army.

Ed-Op Hezballah is still alive.,7340,L-5012634,00.html

New unmanned IDF weapons.,7340,L-5012532,00.html

US UN Ambassador Argues that Iran is not complying with agreement.,7340,L-5012593,00.html

Drought effects Israel but we use now sea water but still.

Psalms 121, 130 All of FL under Hurricane Warning as Irma approaches towards Shabbos. Evacuation underway for tourists in the Keys and probably most of S. FL. Soon.

IDF strikes missile production plant for Hezballah in N. Syria.,7340,L-5013284,00.html
Who had the Chutzpa to knock out a N. Korean Chemical Weapons and Missile Plant in N. Syria?

IDF has the largest war games drill along the whole northern front for the first time in 16 years.

Fake Facebook Accounts by Russians to cause disruptions in the elections by advertisements.,7340,L-5013374,00.html Zuckerberg must have read the Talmud in order to become great in this world and very popular sew hatred against the Jews for Arab hate groups are never banned unless Facebook has a law suit but Jews and Jewish Groups get banned faster than a speeding bullet.

Syrian explosives lab in Paris.

8.4 quake in the sea by S. Mexico.,7340,L-5013819,00.html

Ed-Op by Alex Fishman on the big military drill vs. a real war.,7340,L-5013375,00.html

Good Shabbos all we are half way through Elul where the KING OF KINGS is near-by to accept our repentance. A peaceful and pleasant rest to all and pray for the people all over Houston, Florida, Mexico and the enslaved ones in N. Korea.

Rachamim Pauli