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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The 20th of Kislev: #JewishFamilyDay

The 20th of Kislev has been declared "Jewish Family Day". This is a day when we will all work together to strengthen the traditional Jewish family. Without a doubt the integrity of the Jewish family, its devotion to God, Torah and Mitzvot, and its dedication to passing these values on to the next generation have been crucial factors in the survival of the People of Israel from biblical times until this very day.

Why the 20th of Kislev? This is the day, "...the ninth month, on the twentieth day of the month", that the Jews returning from the Babylonian exile after the destruction of the First Temple took upon themselves to strengthen the Jewish family, as recorded in chapter 10 of the book of Ezra:

1 Now while Ezra prayed, and made confession, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God, there was gathered together unto him out of Israel a very great congregation of men and women and children; for the people wept very sore. {S} 2 And Shecaniah the son of Jehiel, one of the sons of Elam, answered and said unto Ezra: 'We have broken faith with our God, and have married foreign women of the peoples of the land; yet now there is hope for Israel concerning this thing. 3 Now therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all the wives, and such as are born of them, according to the counsel of the LORD, and of those that tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law. 4 Arise; for the matter belongeth unto thee, and we are with thee; be of good courage, and do it.' {P}

5 Then arose Ezra, and made the chiefs of the priests, the Levites, and all Israel, to swear that they would do according to this word. So they swore. 6 Then Ezra rose up from before the house of God, and went into the chamber of Jehohanan the son of Eliashib; and when he came thither, he did eat no bread, nor drink water; for he mourned because of the faithlessness of them of the captivity. {S} 7 And they made proclamation throughout Judah and Jerusalem unto all the children of the captivity, that they should gather themselves together unto Jerusalem; 8 and that whosoever came not within three days, according to the counsel of the princes and the elders, all his substance should be forfeited, and himself separated from the congregation of the captivity. {S} 9 Then all the men of Judah and Benjamin gathered themselves together unto Jerusalem within the three days; it was the ninth month, on the twentieth day of the month; and all the people sat in the broad place before the house of God, trembling because of this matter, and for the great rain. {P}

10 And Ezra the priest stood up, and said unto them: 'Ye have broken faith, and have married foreign women, to increase the guilt of Israel. 11 Now therefore make confession unto the LORD, the God of your fathers, and do His pleasure; and separate yourselves from the peoples of the land, and from the foreign women.' 12 Then all the congregation answered and said with a loud voice: 'As thou hast said, so it is for us to do. 13 But the people are many, and it is a time of much rain, and we are not able to stand without, neither is this a work of one day or two; for we have greatly transgressed in this matter. 14 Let now our princes of all the congregation stand, and let all them that are in our cities that have married foreign women come at appointed times, and with them the elders of every city, and the judges thereof, until the fierce wrath of our God be turned from us, as touching this matter.' {P}

15 Only Jonathan the son of Asahel and Jahzeiah the son of Tikvah stood up against this matter; and Meshullam and Shabbethai the Levite helped them. 16 And the children of the captivity did so. And Ezra the priest, with certain heads of fathers' houses, after their fathers' houses, and all of them by their names, were separated; and they sat down in the first day of the tenth month to examine the matter. 17 And they were finished with all the men that had married foreign women by the first day of the first month. {P}

So this year, on the 20th of Kislev(this year it comes out on the 8th of December), we will take a stand against intermarriage. We will do everything we can to strengthen the Jewish family. Happy #JewishFamilyDay!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Gratitude is the Key to Happiness

Here is a nice video from Prager U:

This is a very fundamental theme in Judaism. We Jews say "thank You" to God all day long!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Interview With the Chief Rabbis

Dan Margalit interviews Rabbi Avraham Shapira zt"l and Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu zt"l. How I miss these great and humble rabbis!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Weiner, Prison and Teshuvah

It's final. Anthony Weiner a.k.a. Carlos Danger is going to prison:
He lost his seat in Congress, his audacious bid to resurrect his career as mayor of New York City, and his high-profile marriage. And he undermined Hillary Clinton’s shot at the presidency in the closing days of the tumultuous 2016 campaign.

On Monday, Anthony D. Weiner, sobbing as the judge spoke, learned the final, personal cost of his seemingly uncontrollable habit of exchanging lewd texts and pictures with women and girls: 21 months in prison.

Upon hearing this, especially now during the "Ten Days of Repentance", I could not help of thinking about the famous Midrash in Kohelet Rabba 7:32, brought down by Rabbeinu Yonah in his book "Shaarei Teshuvah":
Our sages tell of a band of robbers who were thrown in prison by the king where they languished for a while till they dug an escape hatch and fled. One of them, though, decided not to escape. And when the jail keeper arrived and turned one way and caught sight of the escape hatch, then the other way and noticed the remaining prisoner, he said to him, “Fool! There’s an escape hatch right before your eyes and you’re not using it?”
Way back in 2011 I suggested that Mr. Weiner leverage this scandal to return to who he really is. It is such a shame that he did not take my advice!

However, all is not lost. The gates of repentance are still open. Imagine if Anthony Weiner spends his 21 months in prison immersed in Torah study! Imagine what progress he can make in becoming the Jew he was meant to be!

Let us all learn from Anthony Weiner's tragic fall from grace to clean up our own acts. We all have something that needs fixing. The tunnel leading out of prison is wide open. Will we be wise enough to use it?

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Immersing Yourself in Judaism

Here are some words of wisdom, and from Forward.com of all places:
If the Orthodox experience has taught us anything, it is that complete immersion succeeds. Like the immersion in the mikveh, in which every centimeter of the body must touch water, so, too, our commitment requires totality. It is an immersion in our books; immersion in prayer services as punctuation marks for time; immersion in a 25-hour Shabbat experience without smart phones and the internet; immersion in round-the-clock Jewish education, at all costs.
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