Sunday, March 30, 2008

I don't care for the refreshing pina-colada drink you have in your hand. For your spot in the sun. For the fact that you're listening to the faraway sounds of nature and what it's nurtured.
For all that, I don't care.

You are content and secure. For that, I care.


Friday, March 28, 2008

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

"We don't see things as they are, we see things as we are."

That's the quote we were talkin about, Es. Or like my teacher would often say, "You view the world as you view yourself."

And then Anais Nin (though I am loath to quote her) has another line which fits PERFECTLY with the theory that Scraps presented us with-"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."
"Going to the library before a surgery is like eating a donut while standing on the scale."

[Mion D. Skuffery]
Seven Decades Later, Memories Fresh of Soviet Orphanage Escape

Soviet officials snapped this picture of a group of Jewish students who were arrested for attending an underground school in Berdichev, Ukraine.

Eight young students sat around the table celebrating the anniversary of the passing of the first Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi. In between singing stirring melodies, they ate bread, herring and hot potatoes, in the "Tailors' Synagogue" in Berdichev, Ukraine.

Velvel Averbuch, 84, a resident of the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, N.Y., remembers the evening well.

A sign of the times, the doors were barred shut from the inside with heavy planks of wood. The youngsters had pushed some heavy benches in front of them, planning for the worst. Their two teachers' voices echoed from the walls of the relatively empty synagogue, inspiring them to keep learning Torah and be meticulous in their daily studies.

Most of the group on that 1938 night came from cities across the Soviet Union. Constant harassment by Communist authorities forced them from their homes, lest their parents continue to be hounded for not sending the children to government schools. The students came to Berdichev of their own accord in order to study in the Tomchei Tmimim Lubavitch underground Jewish school system. Some had traveled from city to city, spending a brief amount of time in each underground school in order to elude the watchful eyes of the Soviets.

Berdichev, with a dozen active synagogues, was relatively better than other locales. Still, before meetings such as this, the students regularly practiced their excuses should they ever be discovered. Chasidic gatherings were strictly illegal, and its attendees were sure to be found out as foreigners.

A Late Night Discovery
Rabbi Moshe Rubinson, left, and some of the students of an underground Jewish school banned by Soviet authorities.

As the evening moved on and a spirit of camaraderie filled the room, the sound of heavy hands on the door outside sent the students scrambling. As planned, the two teachers jumped from their seats and hid in a side room containing piles of firewood. After a few pushes from the outside, the door gave way. In walked the local police.

"We are partying here," exclaimed the students.

The investigators weren't buying it. After a search, they found the elders.

"One-by-one they called us to the side," says Averbuch, one of only two living today who took part in that gathering. They "interrogated each one of us separately."

A policeman lifted up Averbuch's kasket, revealing his yarmulke.

"What is this?" asked the official.

"It is for the cold."

Next, the man lifted up Averbuch's shirt and tugged at his four-cornered garment bearing tzitzit, the fringes commanded by the Torah.

"My father, prior to his passing, asked me to wear this everyday," explained the child.

None of the excuses worked. When they completed their interrogations, the police marched the children to the local station, the teachers in tow. One officer guided the group in the front, while another guarded it from behind.

Picture in the Cold

The next morning, the students were hauled away on truck to the local headquarters of the KGB. Workers there confiscated their tefillin and sheared away their tzitzit. A smirking officer explained that they didn't allow any strings in jail because they were worried about the prisoners committing suicide.

In the freezing cold, the students were ordered to line up for a group picture.

For the following months, the students endured twice daily interrogations designed to extract information proving the existence of organized Jewish learning in Soviet realms. According to Averbuch, the KGB knew everything about each one of the students, but wanted to have documented confessions.

It was a tortuous month. No one would eat the soup, fearing that it was made with non-kosher meat. The hard piece of bread rationed out to each of them was difficult to consume.

But even under the worst conditions, they adhered to Jewish law as best they could. They washed their hands when they woke in the morning, and again before eating bread, despite the fact that they only received a meager daily allotment of water.

The worst came when the authorities brought out one of the teachers.

"At one point, they brought our beloved teacher, Rabbi Moshe Rubinson, into the interrogation room together with me," relates Averbuch.

"Who taught you Torah," asked the officer.

"I was not connected to any learning of Torah," responded the child. "Therefore, I have no teacher."

The officer then turned to Rubinson.

"Who taught Torah to the young lads," he asked again.

At that point, the rabbi admitted to the crime of teaching Jewish students about their heritage and took full responsibility for the underground school.

Averbuch, who loved his teacher so much that he had resolved to stay in prison, come what may, blurted out: "You are a liar."

Rubinson's confession was all the KGB needed. A recent discovery of his file by Rabbi Shlomo Wilhelm, a Chabad-Lubavitch emissary in Zhitomer, Ukraine, confirms that the educator took all the blame. Even more, his testimony only implicated others who had already died by that point.

Rubinson and the other teacher were imprisoned for a year. He escaped from the Soviet Union in the late 1940s.

Velvel Averbuch, 84, one of two living today who participated in a secret Chasidic gathering in Berdichev, Ukraine. (Photo: Y. Belinko)

The "Orphanage" and the Escape

For Averbuch and the other students, the journey was more circuitous.

After their month in prison was over, the six youngest were sent to the Home for Education for Orphans, despite the fact that their parents were alive. Similar institutions dotted Eastern Europe back then, fulfilling the Soviet policy of attempting through education what torture and starvation could not: the ultimate rejection of their Jewish identities.

But the children proved resistant. After a couple of months, they held a Shabbat prayer service, infusing their prayers with fervor and the chanting of Chasidic melodies. Upon discovering the service, the home's administrators threatened to transfer them.

"You act as if you are still in Jewish religious school," remarked one of the staff.

Still, the students persisted, eventually befriending some of the home's workers so that they could leave the grounds under the pretext of play. One day, two of the students received permission to play in the snow, but took the opportunity to go into the city and get a pair of tefillin. One after the other, each child secretly donned tefillin.

Over the next three weeks, they obtained Jewish holy books and learned from them in secrecy. On one trip to the city, two students met Rabbi Michoel Teitelbaum, who worked in the underground system, who told them of a plan to smuggle them out of the school and from there to other cities.

The plan called for them to meet Teitelbaum the following Shabbat. As discussed, they asked for permission to go play. Leaving in groups of two, the boys kept walking and regrouped at a planned meeting place. Teitelbaum later gave them train tickets.

The escape - its anniversary occurred last week - was successful, and most of the students eventually arrived in Georgia, where it was relatively easier to live an open Jewish life. Years later, some made it out of the Soviet Union all together.

"When I relay the events that happened 70 years ago," says Averbuch, who just married off three of his grandchildren in Israel, "I think to myself, what would have been with us had the Chasidim forgotten about us once we were arrested?

"I thank G-d for [the] kindness that He did for me and my friends."

By Dovid Zaklikowski & Zalman Ruderman

Monday, March 24, 2008

"Trust your fellow with all but your heart. It will be returned broken."

-Mion D. Sizhin
A maiden
she flows
when she passes
A glimpse of white
of purity
of peace
She glows
On the Out
But in the In
She's dull
but worse-
she's blinded
by the shine
of her captors
Lust, Jealousy, Power
have given her life
while killing her soul
And she walks
in a free trap
head up high
ears don't hear
the plans of Them.
Until she stops
Pause, she must
to think, to look
She looks
and sees
finally sees.
And does odd.
Doesn't lock them in
or out
She honeys them
(aft a yell and stick)
and cocoons them into
her personal ____.

I'll hate
that's what I'll do
Just hate
everything I see
everything I know
everything around
I'll hate
without reason
equal hate to all
about all
hate the people
hate the system
hate the feelings
hate the facts
I'll burn (with anger)
I'll kill (the joy)
I'll rampage and riot
I'll hate em all to death.
That's my goal.
No thoughts of satisfaction
just my rage(?)-
I'll hate.
Life. Live. Love. Lone. Long. Song. Sing. Ring. Rang. Bang. Bane. Bone. Lone. Back to lone. Always back to lone.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Fast thoughtsssss

Pun intended, of course.
(Reminds me of "His first book. That he has written." LOLLL! That book is a MUST-READ!)

Ok, so I tell him "Tis a shame your daughter didn't dress up." I don't think he even felt the wind. (Thanks chan for that line)

Other fun/ny costume news--
*MD's hub calls out "MC" to me.
*The prince (post explanation coming eventually) gives me a LOOK.
*AM bounces in(literally) with a long beard, a hat, and brandishing a cane!
*Sam takes a picture of me with his camera phone. lollllll. That instantly reminded me of the guy in Greece. Must find that picture n post it.
Ah, here it is-
Man, that was one of those moments that are too funny and strange and though it's happening to you, you nearly don't believe it. Hehe. I was just sittin on the nice little Delfian ledge, trying to concentrate on my Chitas, lazily registering out of the corner of my eye that this fellow was industriously sweeping the unsweepable road....and then suddenly he sprints over, furiously rummages through his apron, and pulls out a disposable camera. Lemme repeat that: the guy who has no home, licks jam and olive oil off the insides of garbage cans (it's Greece we're talking about. hello, get with the p-r-o-g-r-a-m), and spends his days fraternizing with the Yevanim in his little village PULLS OUT A DISPOSABLE CAMERA! Ha! And he didn't stop there--he forced us to write down our addresses so he can send us the photos. Ahem, I'm still waiting.

So, one year Purim I heard one of the Megillah readings in my little beit knesset by Kever Yishai V'Rut. And it was my best n funniest reading ever. First of all, the Mechitzah kept falling. No, that's not the funny part. The funny part is that the men kept noticing and yelling at us to fix it while us women were either occupied with looking in our megillot or wiping away the tears of laughter. (Interesting how I switch back n forth between the Ashkenazic and Sephardic pronunciations. Lemme go eat some carrots. :D) So nu, why were we laughing so much? Well, the Baal Koreh was hysterical, presumably because of the liquid adeloyodas intake. (I think there are some Halachos that feel cued right about now). He read the megillah in a fashion of "B'chol dor v'dor, chayav odom liros es atzmo...". When he bellowed "מי בחצר !?!?" we all jumped (as did the flimsy cloth mechitzah being held by two listeners on each side). He changed his tone constantly. He would pause teasingly before each Haman and start singing a niggun while the crowd would "nu nu" him anxiously. Oy oy oy, twas so funny.

--Sweetbitter reasons educed--
"The thing to do is not to think, but do." [Mion D. Phens]

So it occurred to me today that it was pretty nifty of me to have celebrated a danish purim. The junk food conjunction (wow, awesome phrase right there) just goes so spledidly. So supremely. (That and premium ties.) Baruch Hashem.

So I read this-"The Jew, Esther was intimating to the King, may be very different, but it is this "otherness" that has the power to inspire all of the nations of the world to live and love deeper, to encounter their individual path to G-d.- and liked it. There's more where that came from in this Purim Essay entitled "Can Jews Ever Integrate?"

And while we're on the topic of Chassidus, take this: "One who has all the answers is less than a fool. A fool at least asks a question." Kinda the wrong holiday but ya...

Oh, and again, nothing to do with the holiday, but I've been wanting to share this sentiment for a while, so here goes. "Now that I've become budweiser, I can sincerely say L'chaim." Oysh it's so brilliant, I wish someone would ask me why.

Oh my, I haven't posted any pictures for quite some lines already, lemme go find something.

There we go, I was nearly forgettin that it's purim in dem velt...!
It's also nacht in dem velt. Tzeit tzoo gein shluffen. Bonne nuit. (that was for you, scraps)

Wow, I really included a lot of people in my post just now. If you're reading this, then you should be able to find some line or quote or joke that is shayach to you. Ahhh! I'm too considerate!! (DON'T tell that to driver picking me up from the airport. We mustn't overload him with my talents.)
And that brings me back to my original reference of the "husband of she who is the only one who can continuously look him in the eye and tell him he's not funny" who dedicated a paragraph to those he did not dedicate to.

Yalla, moshiach now.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Doron: A Modern-Day Hillel

Doron Mahareta (left) of blessed and saintly memory HY"D was one of the eight Yeshiva students that were massacred last week in Yeshivat Mercaz HaRav in Jerusalem.

Last night, I, R' Lazer Brody, paid a shiva (condolence) call to Doron's family. Every single type of Jew was sitting together, from Ethiopians to Polish Chassidim, from knit kippot to Yerushalmi white kippot, from jeans and sandals to long black frocks. Too bad that it takes a martyr of Doron's magnitude to unite everyone.

One of the rabbis from Mercaz HaRav told me the most amazing story you'll ever hear about Doron's dedication to learning Torah, a story that competes with the Gemara's account of Hillel's near freezing on the roof of Shmaya and Avtalion's Yeshiva (see tractate Yoma, 35b).

Doron wanted to learn Torah in Mercaz HaRav, one of the best of Israel's yeshivas. But, since his early schooling was in Ethiopia, he lacked a strong background in Gemara. The Yeshiva rejected him. He wasn't discouraged. He asked, "If you won't let me learn Torah, will you let me wash the dishes in the mess hall?" For a year and a half, Doron washed dishes. But, he spent every spare minute in the study hall. He inquired what the yeshiva boys were learning, and spent most of the nights and all of his Shabbatot with his head in the Gemara learning what they learned. One day, the "dish washer" asked the Rosh Yeshiva to test him. The Rosh Yeshiva politely smiled and tried to gently dismiss Doron, but Doron wouldn't budge. He forced the Rosh Yeshiva into a Torah discussion; the next day, he was no longer a dish washer but a full-fledged "yeshiva bachur".

On weekends, when Doron would come home to visit his family in Ashdod, he'd spend the entire Shabbat either in the Melitzer Shul or the neighboring Gerrer shtiebel learning Shulchan Aruch and its commentaries. Three weeks ago, he finished the entire Shulchan Aruch and principle commentaries. Doron achieved in his tender 26 years what others don't attain in 88 years. He truly was an unblemished sacrifice, who gave his life for all of us.

The next time you want to close the Gemara to watch TV, think of Doron. The next time your son doesn't want to do his Torah homework, tell him about the price that tzaddikim like Hillel the Elder and Doron Mahareta paid to learn Torah. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if Doron wasn't a reincarnation of Hillel. May his holy soul beg mercy for the grieving nation he left behind, amen.

Monday, March 17, 2008

You can't say ''It's nice to see you'' at a Chai Lifeline party. It's not nice to see people here. It's actually very sad.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Bereaved Families to March on Terrorist's Jerusalem Home

Posters have gone up announcing a march that will take place today (Sunday) - beginning at 5 PM at the Armon HaNetziv promenade in Jerusalem - on the house of the terrorist that murdered eight yeshiva students .

Organizers say that bereaved families, from the most recent attack as well as the thousands of victims since the Oslo Accords, will be taking part in the march and invite the masses to march on the Arab neighborhood with the aim of “destroying the home of the murderer and expelling his family and supporters.”

Friday, March 14, 2008

Parshas Zochor

Having just read this, this and this about the yeshiva massacre, my only 'Parshas Zochor' thoughts are on the murderers.

But earlier this week, I learned what the Rebbe said about Amalek.
How "אשר קרך בדרך" refers to three things. 1) קר = coldness 2) מקרי = coincidence 3) קרי = type of tumah.

Amalek chills ya out, cuts out the hype of divine miracles and then leads ye to sin.


Now, one may think that the command to "Remember Amalek" is in order to avoid reaching that last step (of sin). But actually, the coldness itself is the problem. (the end vs the means)

See, every Jew has a piece of G-d within him. A G-d that is described as a "Consuming Fire". Thus, we all harbor a flame inside of us. A flame that ought to keep you and your service warm and vibrant.

Said the 5th Chabad Rebbe: "Between coldness and heresy stands an extremely thin wall."

What The Torah Is:

People think the Torah is all about laws and customs and quaint stories, with a mystical side as well.
In truth, the Torah is entirely spiritual. But when you cannot perceive the spiritual, all you see are laws and quaint stories.

You cannot separate the mystical from the practical. Each thing has both a body and a soul, and they act as one. Neither can contradict the other, and in each the other can be found.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

tis my own brothers we're talkin about

On Thursday evening, March 6, a terrorist burst into Jerusalem's Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva and went on a killing spree in the school's library. In 10 minutes he'd fired 600 bullets, killing 8 students and wounding 11 more. OneFamily field workers have been to the hospitals to visit the young men wounded in the attack and their families. We ask that you please pray for each of them that they may have a speedy and full recovery.

Naftali ben Gila: 15-year-old Naftali was shot in the stomach and in his legs. He lost a lot of blood during the attack and is still in intensive care. He is from Sderot, where his father is in charge of several schools.
Eliyahu ben Yehudit: Eliyahu is a 27-year-old father of two and a teacher at Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva. He was shot in a main artery in his arm, and faces several operations in the coming week.
Yehuda Hillel ben Miriam: Yehuda jumped out of a 2nd story window in the Yeshiva to escape from the terrorist. He broke several vertebrae in his back during the fall.
Yishai ben Tzipora: Yishai jumped out of a 2nd story window in the Yeshiva to escape from the terrorist. He broke several vertebrae in his back and suffered a broken foot as well, during the fall.
Shimon Yicheil ben Tirza: Shimon Yichiel was shot in the shoulder and the bullet pierced his lung. He is still in intensive care, but conscious.
Nadav Shmuel ben Hadassah: Nadav was shot repeatedly in legs by the terrorist. He just underwent a big operation and is awaiting another one.
Shimon Ya’ahav ben Ruti: Shimon was shot in legs and is in stable condition, but suffering severe emotional trauma.

Neriah Cohen z"l

A staffer from the Jerusalem-based Nefesh B'Nefesh organization related the following:

"Every morning I take the 35 bus line to work. It's a quick ride and usually takes no more than 12 minutes. The third stop after I get on by the shuk [Machaneh Yehuda outdoor market] is directly in front of Yeshivat Merkaz HaRav. This morning, I found myself a bit anxious, unsure of what I was going to see as we passed by. As I looked around, I saw death notices pasted all over the street, and flowers that had been brought lined the entrance to the Yeshiva. When the bus pulled up to the stop, the driver shut off the engine and stood. With tears in his eyes, he told everyone on the bus that one of the boys killed on Thursday night was his nephew. He asked if we would mind if he spoke for a few minutes in memory of his nephew and the other boys who were killed. After seeing head nods all over the bus he began to speak.
"With a clear and proud voice, he spoke beautifully about his nephew and said that he was a person who was constantly on the lookout for how to help out anyone in need. He was always searching for a way to make things better. He loved learning, and had a passion for working out the intricacies of the Gemara. He was excited to join the army in a few years, and wanted to eventually work in informal education.

"As he continued to speak, I noticed that the elderly woman sitting next to me was crying. I looked into my bag, reached for a tissue and passed it to her. She looked at me and told me that she too had lost someone she knew in the attack. Her neighbors' child was another one of the boys killed. As she held my hand tightly, she stood up and asked if she too could say a few words in memory of her neighbor. She spoke of a young man filled with a zest for life. Every Friday he would visit her with a few flowers for Shabbat and a short dvar torah [Torah thought] that he had learned that week in Yeshiva. This past Shabbat, she had no flowers...

"...The eight boys who were killed will continue to impact us all individually and as a nation. Each one of us has the ability to make a profound impact on our world. This coming Wednesday morning, I will be at Ben Gurion Airport at 7 AM with Nefesh B'Nefesh welcoming 40 new olim [immigrants] to Israel . We will not be deterred. We cannot give up. We will continue to live our lives and hope and work for change, understanding and peace." (sab: which can only be realized through the fulfillment of the Torah's directives)

*credit goes to some anonymous who linked to this A7 article on dovid's blog


a person who receives support, advantage, or the like, from another or others without giving any useful or proper return, as one who lives on the hospitality of others. (

"An ignorant person cannot be a chassid"

Ha! We were just discussin it last night--outraged and saddened--and then walla, twas today's hayom yom.
I finally got around to going through pictures to compare and contrast similar shots to see which ones are fit for 'My Israel'. I see that I have two photos of the same memorial by some trempiada; one from close-up and one from farther back. Deciding that the close-up was more personal n special than the other, I kept it and deleted the other one. Glancing at my selection, I decided to reread what exactly was written on this memorial that I took a photo of.

Here was killed in a terrorist attack
Chayelet (female soldier) Chofit Ayash.
Hay Adar, 5756
February 25, 1996.
20 years old
May G-d Avenge her blood

"Behold the Guardian of Israel neither Sleeps nor Slumbers"

Right, I remembered that.
Then I looked back to check the date and I gasped out loud.
Today is the fifth of Adar.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

more merkaz news:

Yesterday, writes David Wilder, the so-called education minister, Yuli Tamir visited the yeshiva. When leaving she was verbally attacked by people there. Bravo. She deserved everything said to her, including 'murderer.' As 'education minister' Tamir has allowed 'nakba' (the Arab word for catastrophe, which they use to describe the 1948 War of Independence), to be taught in Israeli schools as a legitimate part of the curriculum. This is nothing less than incitement, inciting Arabs against Jews and the state of Israel. Such incitement can only lead to bloodshed. Jewish blood being shed.

Yuli Tamir, one of the founders of Shalom Achshav, (Peace Now), is the antithesis of everything Mercaz HaRav has ever stood for. Thank G-d she was chased away.

The yeshiva refused to allow Olmert to visit and pay his respects or condolences. This too is an act to be praised.

Olmert was one of the initiators of the expulsion from Gush Katif. He has publicly declared his willingness to expel tens and hundreds of thousands of Jews from their homes in Judea and Samaria, while abandoning our land to our enemies, allowing them to continue attacking our civilian population.

Despite continuing attacks on Israelis, Olmert stubbornly insists on continuing negotiations with the enemy, in an attempt to rid ourselves of our land. He plans on holding negotiations even during the week of the 'shiva' – the seven days of mourning for the yeshiva's murdered eight young students. He is ready to abandon Hebron and divide Jerusalem, leaving the holiest sites in the world in the hands of our enemy.

How could Mercaz HaRav allow such a defiled person to walk in its holy midst, who, while offering 'condolences' is preparing the ground for more Israelis to be killed?

This morning, when speaking on Israel radio, Rabbi Chaim Steiner, when asked why the Yeshiva was politicizing the death and mourning of its students, (referring to the decision to refuse Olmert's visit), he answered, 'this is not politics. We are people of Torah and 'yirat-shamayim' (G-d fearing.) In other words, there are issues which transcend such mundane subjects as politics. There is G-d. There is Torah. Those who study Torah, the word of G-d, those who fear and revere G-d, those who make ideas and ideals a way of life, have the ability to discern who and what surround them. Eretz Yisrael is transformed from earth to a spiritual value, far exceeding the obscure standards of life significant to the Levys, Tamirs, and Olmerts of this world. Refusing to shake hands with Olmert is not politics – it is Torah!!!


Now, let me make it clear that this does not mean that I agree with Wilder's every word. I am merely sharing his views.

Next. Students of the Yeshiva are privately putting together a book in memory of the eight murdered students. This book, which will be entitled ‘United’, will include words of wisdom from some of the most prominent rabbis in the world on the subject of Unity. It will also include a memorial dedicated to each of the holy victims.
Click here to donate and to find out more.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Top (L-R): Avraham David Moses, 16 (Efrat), Ro'i Roth, 18 (Elkanah), Neria Cohen, 15 (Yerushalayim), Yonatan Yitzhak Eldar, 16 (Shilo);
Bottom (L-R): Yochai Lifshitz, 18 (Yerushalayim), Segev Pniel Avichayil, 15 (N'vei Daniel), Yehonadav Chaim Hirschfeld, 19 (Kochav HaShachar), Doron Meherete, 26 (Ashdod).

Achitov's younger brother was one of the 8 killed.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

משחק ביתי

"Home Game" documents the story of graduating 12th graders, from the Israeli village of Netzer Hazani, during their last vacation before adulthood.

Their yearly summers of beach, ball and fun usually focused on the annual youth final four basketball competition. Yet their 2005 summer vacation turned into something else entirely because the Israeli government began to implement its plan to remove them from their homes in Gush Katif, Gaza, as part of the Middle East peace process.

Instead of just competing on the basketball court they were also forced to compete on their 'home' court as well.

"Don't stand on your brothers blood"

Sunday, March 9, 2008
11:00am - 12:00pm
Israeli Consulate
42nd St & 2nd Ave
New York, NY

Contact Info-(718) 796 4730

Seriously Wounded Students:
Yonatan Yitzchak ben Avital
Nadav ben Hadassah
Elchanan Yosef ben Zahava
Naftali ben Gila
Shimon Yechiel ben Tirzah
Chaim Yitzchak Shmuel haCohen ben Gittel Zissel
Reuven ben Naomi

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

One of the greatest people in the world got married tonight.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

I think I'll move to Sderot.

"Illana Madmoni, a second-grade teacher at the Kibbutz said that it used to break her heart to have nothing to say to comfort the children durin
g the silence between the Color Red alarm and the impact. “There was fear in their eyes the moment the alarm went off. The void during that alarm, where everyone was silent and they were just hiding there helpless." Then, a teacher came along and choreographed a fun song with therapeutic movements aimed to calm, reassure and even bring joy to the children. "Now they are not only less afraid, but the actions and movement empower them and they feel they have overcome the attack and are moving forward.”"


VOICES FROM SDEROT: a glimpse into the lives of the courageous, soldier-like civilians living in Sderot and the Western Negev.

Despondent? Definitely don't read love emails/texts from Israel.
Killed by Kassam: Roni Yihye, 47, Father of Four

When I read that headline a few days ago, my blood boiled. Not surprisingly. Injustice and stupidity does that to me, and to think that a yid was killed because of that makes my blood boil with even more intensity. I'm not going to write my other thoughts n feelings, only that one of my first thoughts was "I must go back and find that article by R' Aron Moss regarding bad things happening to good people."

Here it is.

Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?
By Aron Moss


Why do bad things happen to good people? Why is this world so unfair? Please don't tell me "We can't understand G‑d's ways." I am sick of hearing that. I want an explanation.

Are you sure you want an explanation? Do you really want to know why the innocent suffer? I think not. You are far better off with the question than with an answer.

You are bothered by the fact that people suffer undeservedly. As you should be. Any person with an ounce of moral sensitivity is outraged by the injustices of our world. Abraham, the first Jew, asked G-d, "Should the Judge of the whole world not act fairly?" Moses asked, "Why have You treated this people badly?" And today we still ask, "Why G‑d, why?"

But what if we found the answer? What if someone came along and gave us a satisfying explanation? What if the mystery were finally solved? What if we asked why, and actually got an answer?

If this ultimate question were answered, then we would be able to make peace with the suffering of innocents. And that is unthinkable. Worse than innocent people suffering is others watching their suffering unmoved. And that's exactly what would happen if we were to understand why innocents suffer. We would no longer be bothered by their cry, we would no longer feel their pain, because we would understand why it is happening.

Imagine you are in a hospital and you hear a woman screaming with pain. Outside her room, her family is standing around chatting, all smiling and happy. You scream at them, "What's wrong with you? Can't you hear how much pain she is in?" They answer, "This is the delivery ward. She is having a baby. Of course we are happy."

When you have an explanation, pain doesn't seem so bad anymore. We can tolerate suffering when we know why it is happening.

And so, if we could make sense of innocent people suffering, if we could rationalise tragedy, then we could live with it. We would be able to hear the cry of sweet children in pain and not be horrified. We would tolerate seeing broken hearts and shattered lives, for we would be able to neatly explain them away. Our question would be answered, and we could move on.

But as long as the pain of innocents remains a burning question, we are bothered by its existence. And as long as we can't explain pain, we must alleviate it. If innocent people suffering does not fit into our worldview, we must eradicate it. Rather than justifying their pain, we need to get rid of it.

So keep asking the question, why do bad things happen to good people. But stop looking for answers. Start formulating a response. Take your righteous anger and turn it into a force for doing good. Redirect your frustration with injustice and unfairness and channel it into a drive to fight injustice and unfairness. Let your outrage propel you into action. When you see innocent people suffering, help them. Combat the pain in the world with goodness. Alleviate suffering wherever you can.

We don't want answers, we don't want explanations, and we don't want closure. We want an end to suffering. And we dare not leave it up to G-d to alleviate suffering. He is waiting for us to do it. That's what we are here for.

Rabbi Aron Moss teaches Kabbalah, Talmud and practical Judaism in Sydney, Australia.
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I was reminded of this post when I read ("We don't want answers" in) the last paragraph. And of this one by the paragraph before.