Saturday, September 27, 2008

Matan's Story

Arik sat on the edge of the couch across the room. "You know Matan?" He wanted to make sure I was familiar with whom and about what they were talking about when they described "Matan's aura", "the smile of Matan", "Matan's unbelievable influence". I had met Matan, but briefly. "You know what is happened to him?" I did. But I could hear it again. Matan has some story...

"Matan was in the army. He was going to be a soccer player after. He was very much thinking about it and looking forward to that. In the army, he was part of a special unit. He was training for an operation to capture a big terrorist. He was the youngest of the group and he was picked. Many of the older commanders did not like that. Matan, he trained for three months. Three months of model training how to capture the terrorist. Do you know what that means? To practice again and again how to go into the enemy's place, how to get him..it is a lot, a lot. And it was the night before he had to go, or two nights, and he twisted his ankle. He did not tell anyone, Matan, because he knew that if they were to see it, they would not allow him to go. And he very much wanted to go. He trained for three months. So he did not tell anyone. But in the night, when he was putting on his pajamas, his commander was in the bed next to him. And he saw. Matan's leg was like this wide [demonstrates] all blown up. The commander said he has to be having an operation. Matan says maybe he can wait until after the terrorist operation. He trained for so long. The commander says he must to take care of it NOW. So Matan had no choice and he had to have a surgery right away. He was so upset to miss the special operation. And he was worried that he will not be able to play sports after. Very worried. What will he do with his life if there will be no soccer? Heh. When he woke up from the surgery and opened the TV, he saw on the news that there was a landmine and the jeep that he was to be in for the mission to capture the terrorist-with his six best friends-had been blown up. All his friends had died. His best friends. If he had been in the jeep with them, he would have died. The vehicle is made of a substance that cannot be penetrated by regular missile. But this was so strong, it was so many kilos of explosives, that the roof of it was blasted off and thrown twenty meters away. Everyone in the jeep had been killed. All his friends. He did not know how to feel. Should he be sad? But he was alive. Should he be grateful? But his friends died. His best friends. All at once. He had been complaining about not playing soccer, before. Now, all his friends were dead. Matan did not smile for one year and a half. He did not smile and he did not laugh. It is true. He said it to me. But now, now he is always with a smile. He brings the peace to the company. We were just saying now, we were discussing that this year, the group had always no competition. It was always a good feeling with everyone. It is definitely because of Matan. He wants everyone to succeed. He is always wanting the best for the other person. It is no doubt that it is him that brought everyone together. And he always is smiling, Matan. He always has a smile on his face. He is special. He is really a special guy, Matan."

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Death is not after life. It's a continuation of life.

The 4 People Who Killed The Terrorists

  • David Shapira was a passer-by who, along with Yitzhak Dadon, shot the terrorist in the Merkaz HaRav massacre in Jerusalem on the night of March 6.

  • Moshe Plesser, the passer-by who shot the first bulldozer terrorist in Jerusalem on July 2, is David Shapira's brother-in-law.

  • Yakki Asa-el, the passer-by who shot the second bulldozer terrorist in Jerusalem on July 22, was Moshe Plesser's yeshiva high school teacher.

  • And today, we find out that Elad Amar, who shot the terrorist in the attack two nights ago, served in the Paratrooper unit commanded by David Shapira.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Yossi Shimoni Update

[The 'Terror Attack in Jerusalem' post has been updated a few times.]

Dear Friends,

We have been asked by the family to thank all those who give Tzedaka for Yossi Shimoni's health and recovery, with Hashem's help.

Last week his doctors finally gave the OK to fly him to Europe where he is now undergoing special and intense treatment – but we still must pray for a miracle. Although, at this point additional funds earmarked for his actual treatment are not needed, the family has asked that everyone who cares about Yossi Shimoni's health and family should act as follows:

1) The public is asked to give Tzedaka to the needy Jews of Kiryat Arba and Hevron via the Hebron Fund and the Jewish Community of Hebron and to do so with specific intent as a blessing for Yosef Chaim ben Mazal Tov.

2) The Hebron Fund will be distributing tens of thousands of dollars as FOOD COUPONS to a special list of needy families so they can celebrate the upcoming holidays in a proper, festive manner – in the merit of Yossi Shimoni.

3) Everyone – both donors and recipients – are being asked to take the time on Erev Rosh HaShana, right before the holiday begins, to say a special Tefila for Yossi and for Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu.

Donations can be made on our website www.hebronfund.com. Please indicate in comments: Yossi Shimoni Fund.

Shana Tova to one and all!

Yossi Baumol, Executive Director
The Hebron Fund (IRS Tax ID No. 11-2623719)
Ofer O'Chana,
The Gutnick Center - in name of the Shimoni Family



I
want
to
live
in
Israel
with
Moshiach
.

Terror Attack in Jerusalem

This evening at eleven p.m. a terrorist driving a black BMW plowed into a crowd of people on Shivte Yisrael street in Jerusalem, injuring 15, two seriously. The terrorist was shot and killed. I will, iy"h, bring you further information when it becomes available. (M'Naomi Ragen)

UPDATE (by Danny Brothers)

Let's take a look at the various headlines on this attack today here in Jerusalem.


Jerusalem Post (pro-Israel): 15 Wounded In Terror Attack At Busy Jerusalem Intersection
BBC (historically anti-Israel): Jerusalem Terror 'Attack' Hurts 10
CNN (eh..): Jerusalem Driver Plows Into Crowd, Injures At Least 15
MSNBC (uber-liberal): Car Plows Into Soldiers In Jerusalem; 13 Hurt
Reuters (hilariously anti-Israel): Jerusalem Driver Wounds 19 In "Attack": Police

And the always trustworthy Fox "News"...

13 Israeli Soldiers Hurt In Palestinian Vehicle Attack


It's just funny how most of the headlines fail to mention who committed such a terrible crime, and how all of them besides JPost and Fox even go so far as to put qualifying quotations around the word attack! I mean, yes, if you want to put a quotation around "terror," fine, I understand your hesitation. But "attack"? Was this not an attack? Did a man not purposefully drive his vehicle into his enemy? Yes, it was an attack! And moreover, CNN and MSNBC fail to mention that it was even an attack of any sort at all.


UPDATE (IsraelNN.com)

Thirteen victims of Monday night's terrorist attack near Jerusalem's Old City remain hospitalized on Tuesday morning. One is in moderate to serious condition in Hadassah Ein Karem hospital, six in moderate and light condition are in Sha'arei Tzedek hospital, and six in moderate and light condition are in Hadassah Har HaTzofim.

Serious injuries are those that are life-threatening, while “moderate” refers to injuries that threaten a limb, eye, or internal organ but do not threaten the patient's life. All other injuries are referred to as “light,” even those leading to permanent scarring, the loss of digits, or permanent handicap.

UPDATE (IsraelNN.com)

The family of Kassem Salah Al-Mughrabi is calling for an investigation into the shooting death of the 19-year-old terrorist who tried to mow down a crowd of pedestrians with his BMW near the Jaffa Gate outside the Old City Monday night.

Voice of Israel government radio reported Tuesday that the family contends that Al-Mughrabi was murdered in cold blood by the off-duty IDF soldier who stopped the attack by shooting him, saying that he rammed his car into the crowd by accident.

An initial police investigation has uncovered a previously unknown link between the family and the Hamas terrorist organization. Al-Mughrabi's name was not known to intelligence or police forces.

UPDATE (Arutz7)

Shortly after the attack, a group of young hareidi-religious Jews gathered in a spontaneous protest near the scene of the incident. Protesters threw rocks and cursed at Arab passersby, calling out condemnations of the Arab presence in Jerusalem. The small mob was dispersed within a short time.

The terrorist was under 20 years of age and a resident of Jerusalem. Initial police investigation of the incident revealed that he carried out the attack alone. However, security forces are following all leads that may indicate a connection with Palestinian Authority terrorist organizations.

UPDATE (Joe Settler)

Terrorist attack in Kikar Tzahal in Jerusalem. 15-20 17 Wounded. Two seriously.


Arab terrorist drives through crowd of people.

Many Most of the injured are soldiers that were touring the Old City before Slichot.

Terrorist killed by first shot by armed civilian on Shivtei Yisrael Street, and then killed by soldiers an IDF Officer from the unit, and (perhaps) police



Monday, September 22, 2008

"If anyone has any questions or anything else to ask...."

Search Engine Just A Dumb Computer

The way we search the web is all wrong, according to Danny Fine of Haifa-based BrainDamage. "When we search for information, we are the ones doing all the work, inefficiently inputting keywords and narrowing down the results until we find what we want. We're supposed to be the masters, not the slaves," he says. "So why are we doing all the work?"

Right now, there isn't much option, but when Fine gets through with the Internet, he asserts, it's going to be a whole different place.

There are billions - maybe even trillions of pieces of data on the web, most of which consist of "units" of ideas, eight words in length or less. Nearly all data search engines use a variation of keywords, also known as Latent Semantic Analysis or Indexing (LSA/LSI).

It's a form of artificial intelligence, based in large part on the work of linguist Noam Chomsky, who pioneered the application of mathematical principles to language. The system analyzes documents, creating a map of keywords and the "distance" (in definition) between them.

"The search engine doesn't really understand what you're asking, of course - it's just a dumb computer, after all," Fine tells ISRAEL21c. "The way it figures out what you're looking for is by comparing your request to a long list of keywords that are indexed in a database with other terms that could really be what you're looking for."

...Take, for example, the sentence "My son was terrorizing us until he got his toys," says Eli Abir, who designed the BrainDamage system and is the company's CTO. Terrorism in this context, of course, means misbehaving, not an acolyte of Bin Laden. Abir says that search engines have no way of knowing this, and as a result give many "false positives. But because BrainDamage's system relies on contextual logic, we can produce much more accurate results every time."

-rEAD mORE hERE-

p.s.
A new English word is invented every 90 minutes?!

Israel is Under 'Media Occupation'

In an article entitled "Down with the Occupation" that appears on his Hebrew-language website, Dr. Bechor – one of Israel's top experts on Middle Eastern affairs and a popular lecturer and interviewee – identifies a process that he says began after 2000.

"With the collapse of the Left in Israel's political system... and the tremendous disappointment from the 'peace process'," he says, "a strange process began gathering force in Israel's media, which was, to begin with, a closed club numbering about 20 movers and shakers. Strange as it may sound, this media, which is supposed to cover events and report them, took a step forward and took upon itself to represent the Left which had collapsed in the Israeli populace. It became a political party."

-Full Article-

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Chaya:

Friday Night
Shaul, Gabi, Matan, Asaf, Itamar, Adam, Yuval, Sarah, Eli, Yonatan, Yossele, Shalom, Chava, Chava'le, Chanah, Moussia, Esther.

Shabbos Day
Shaul, Mendele, Alexander, Gabi, Esther, Einav, Natalia, Moussia, Amalia, David, Schejna, Yonatan, Shalom, Chava, Yair, Yossele, Chanah, Shmuelik, Chava'le, Lena, Rami, Cyril, Tzvi, Nathan.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Chana: Hey wanna join me in this new project I 'm thinking of starting??
Chava: Sure, what is it?
Chana: Um I dunno yet.

;)

So now I can face the Frierdiker Rebbe's words- "One who is lowly and crass does not sense his own crassness and lowliness."

Thanx, friend.

'Orange Day' for American Jewish Students

Rochester Adams High School, Michigan – Daniel Allen

“I go to a public secular school but decided to show my support and garner more support for a united Jerusalem, and against the division of Jewish lands and the expulsion of our people from our lands.

I tied orange, blue and white ribbons all over my backpack, and wrote the words, “Ask Me Why”* on it, and wore my orange shirt with a rag that read, “Jews Don’t Expel Jews.” I went to the school’s Advanced Placement Government teacher and explained to him and gave him information… He agreed that the cause was just and showed his support by posting the materials I had given him in his classroom.”

Orange Israeli pride on a backpack in Michigan (UJSC)

Throughout the day, Daniel’s fellow students asked him why he was wearing “so much orange today” and all were “genuinely surprised that such events are occurring.” Daniel responded by showing them the news articles on the Olmert Plan, talked about the “Land for Peace” doctrine and discussed the option of Jordan as a Palestinian State.

“Although I failed to turn the school into a sea of orange, I had convinced many people to support a united Jerusalem and agree that land concession will not bring peace… I managed to spread the message and bring the issue to my primarily Christian public school… I hope we have the impact we were planning to make.”

---
*Personally, I woulda written "Orange you gonna ask me why?"

Thursday, September 18, 2008

נחת

A Taste Of Jerusalem At Sunset Plaza

......But this fall, Sunset Plaza will be hosting an altogether new vibe. It’s the hottest thing out there, with a presence in thousands of cities worldwide. It’s called Chabad.

No, it’s not a bistro or fashion have. It won’t put a hole in your wallet. You don’t even have to know anyone to be there. It’s a Jewish center for the unaffiliated, uninitiated, uninterested, and under-stimulated.

The groundbreaking couple spearheading this unique project is Rabbi Mendel Simons and his wife Rachey. Rabbi Simons was born in Sydney, Australia and received his Rabbinical degree right here in LA......

====================================

A Special Bar Mitzvah Gift

....Yochai Levi, 12, from Sderot, who suffers from cerebral palsy, was hurt when a Kassam rocket fell near his home. David Raden, aged 13, of Staten Island decided to give the $6,000 that he received in bar mitzvah gifts to Yochai to pay for some much-needed medical equipment....

====================================

....Governor Ted Kulongoski hosted Oregon’s Chabad representatives and their children at his home for a family style kosher barbeque Tuesday morning.The visit was decidedly informal, an opportunity for the Governor to spend time with Oregon’s 10 Chabad couples and their children serving the state’s Jewish community.....
(that fat kid with the yellow tee and bright blue pants? yea... :)

URGENT TEHILLIM NEEDED 4

SayTehillim Yosef Yitzchok Halevi ben Leah
Kapitlach 20 and 56

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Are You Illiterating Your Judaism?

So the illiterate fella in prison hands over the letter he just received to his literate friend. As the friend reads aloud the good news contained in the letter, joy slowly overtakes the face and movements of the one who cannot read. Ecstatic, he sets off on a somersault delirium. An onlooker questions, "Say, aint that strange? The one bearing the good news lifts nary a muscle in the smile direction and he with no paper and no literacy is awash in tears of gladness..."

What the Ba'al Shem Tov and the Alter Rebbe taught us was to make the good news ours. To stop reading Torah from papers and start living it in our daily actions. To internalize it and to feel it. To be passionate about it and to be intellectual about it.


Make Judaism Yours....
....Realize It Always Has Been.

hEy chav!

hopE a is wELL with yoU. thE kEyBoaRD is scREWED UP BECaSE THe CAT sat on it

Adopt A Family In Israel

While the days of awe and the subsequent days of joy quickly approach, we, at Adopt A Family, remain on guard as always, ensuring that Israeli families of Chassidim and Shluchim don’t go hungry. In fact, Adopt A Family is the sole lifeline for many families in Israel at all times of the year.

Multiply rapidly rising food prices, the falling dollar, and a poor economy by a month of the necessary spending on holiday meals, religious articles, and annual purchases along with other essential expenses, and many families are confronted with the prospect of suffering the fate of a ruined Yom Tov.

As a response to the growing problems, Adopt A Family is embarking now on a determined campaign to provide the utmost possible for the needy families in Israel. A special committee led by the Vaad Rabbanei Chabad of Eretz Yisroel, and under the direct supervision of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Gluckowsky, will ensure that those who are truly incapable of providing for their families will have the means to celebrate the upcoming holidays in the proper measure and with joy.

The activities of Adopt A Family include providing families with actual monetary assistance, as well as supplying many communities of Anash with fish, meat, chicken, oil and wine at extremely reduced prices.

Please help us inscribe our Israeli brethren in the book of life, and may you merit to be inscribed in the heavenly book of life. Please donate generously.

AMERICA--Freedom to Fasicsm




And just as I'm in middle of compiling a "Good Things About America" list.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

First Impressions

Dinner Table

Father: Today's Rambam talks about a Kohen Gadol. Who knows what a Kohen Gadol is?
Eldest: Um I think I do.
Father: Well, let's see-who was a Kohen Gadol?
Middle: Aharon HaRishon.
Father: Aharon HaK...?
Middle: Aharon HaKodesh!
Youngest: (laughing because the adults are)
Mother: Well, that's true. He WAS very heilik.
Middle: So, if he was always holy did he have to wash his hands in the morning for neggel vasser?

The Little Prince: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.

The Sabra: I'm staying.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Baggage Claim

By Mendel Cohen

Sometimes I wonder: Do suitcases get anxious?

Do they ever think: "There are so many of us! Oh man, I'm just another piece of baggage on the long line, waiting to be moved around"? Do they have moments of self-loathing ("I am a big fat heavy red suitcase") or jealousy ("Wow, that's a nice looking blue carrier over there... he made it to priority class and executive baggage...")? Do they get afraid when being checked-in and left to go down the dark tunnel alone, to the unknown?

Do they feel violated, when they go through a security check, being opened up, sifted through and examined by complete strangers?

Do they feel relief at the trip's end, being wheeled on a porter's trolley, snuggling comfortably in the cab's trunk?

Are they concerned about what is being packed into them?


Sometimes I feel like a piece of luggage: sitting on a carousel, finally arrived from yet another extensive flight. Being moved from here to there, ending up at one place and then moving on to the next journey, arriving at another destination, rolling through another baggage claim area....

Moving on a carousel, traveling through a system. Feeling like one small nothing amongst so many others; often finding it hard to express oneself.

However, like that piece of luggage, my exterior self is almost besides the point; a bonus when attractive and pretty, but not essential. The interior, what is inside the package, is what really counts.

Am I well-packed?


And care when packing is crucial. Cleaning and folding and arranging with love and care; sifting through what's important to take along, and what can be left behind. Protecting the valuable, fragile things. Not allowing too many unnecessary "extras" that would add more burden and excess weight and result in some unpleasant bureaucratic haggle.

What is put inside of me is what I will be when I arrive, further down the trip. Is it all good? Will it remain in place? Or will it get creased and dislodged en-route? If it does, will it still survive?

And yes, the security check. It's an imperative part of the process, monitoring that everything inside is safe, and supposed to be there. Of course only authorized personnel have the right to check.


There are times I know: I'm that piece of luggage, sitting on the carousel.

The long carousel is time; it moves, whether we like it, or whether we are ready, or not. It is no good falling off, or being left behind.

And there is (nearly) always somebody at the other end, waiting for us (im)patiently; hoping we are safe; anticipating our arrival, and looking out for us, with such diligence.

How happy is the traveler when his belongings arrive, whole, intact and on time!

Yes, I'm just another piece amongst countless others. But I have the ability to make all the difference: to the people I encounter, and in the life I wish to lead. I belong to somebody. People await my arrival; anticipate our next encounter.

How good it is to be moving along a secure and structured line!


At times I might be left alone, given independence, and be compelled to fend for myself. But I have been checked-in at the right desk, guided and sent in the right direction.

I am on a long journey. Sometimes I'm at places where I feel at home. Sometimes I am homeless and lost; I feel misplaced, wondering: where will I end up? But G-d has packed me well: with morals, values and lessons that I most need. He, personally, checked me in. He even tracks me down when I get myself on the wrong plane and makes the arrangements get me back on the track.

Some parts of the journey are out of my hands: lazy baggage handlers, power failures, delayed flights. I encounter interruptions and turbulence. But the crucial thing is that I'm a well-made piece of luggage; I won't fall apart during transit.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

I'm Afraid To Go To Israel

"Why don't you go to Israel?"
"I'm afraid."
"What?? But it's the safest place!"
"I know."
"Regarding Eretz Yisroel, the Torah states: "ארץ אשר ה' אלוקיך דורש אותה, תמיד עיני ה' אלוקיך בה מראשית השנה ועד אחרית שנה". It is the land towards which G-d is always Attentive!
"I know. That's why I'm afraid."

Oh.

Monday, September 08, 2008

The Idiot's Guide to Finding a Job in Israel

Here's an excerpt:

Before you’re ready to land the dream interview, you better get your resume in order. Do know that whereas long gaps in employment are frowned upon in many Western countries, you need not worry in Israel.

Interviewer: “Ehhh….waht eez dees three month break een between jobs?”
Candidate: “India, nu?!”
Interviewer: “ONLY three months? What eez wrong weeth you?”

Benji is hysterical. Click the title to read the full article (and help him win a cash prize for gettin the most readers). Cmon. Do it.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Friday, September 05, 2008

Sedatives; Soldiers; Sign-Language

They're good but bad.
They're good because they help; they're bad because it means help is needed.

It's like my post and comment about Chai Lifeline parties. 'Course you're happy to have them, but you'd be happier not to know of such things. Don't ever tell me to "cheer up" and be grateful. I am. I am grateful. I'm grateful but I wish I didn't have to be.

Sedatives, soldiers and sign-language: Good but bad.
They allow for positive feelings, situations and environments but they were created due to the existence of negative entities.

Sedatives calm an aggravated person.
Soldiers protect endangered lives.
Sign-language enables communication with a special-needs individual.

So they ease the negativities, they don't remedy them.
Irritation resurfaces, new enemies are born and mute people still can't talk.

Sedatives, I tolerate them cuz it doesn't really make me sad.
Soldiers, I love seeing them but it makes me sad.
Sign-language, I hate needing it and it makes me sad.

But really, all this is only about the sign-language.

Sign-language in the dark. Sign-language during davening. Sign-language under the blanket. Sign-language when frustrated. Sign-language when tired. Sign-language when hurt.
Sign-language altered. Sign-language learned. Sign-language forgotten.

I hate you, Sign-Language.

6:30pm in Brooklyn, NY

AHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!
It's now! It's now! It's nowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!

Last words: "Is he black?" (LOL)

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Oslo: A dumb city, in a dumb country, in a dumb region.

It's also nearly the most expensive city in the world to live in.
It's where they annually award the Nobel Peace Prize.
And the sun can set as early as 3pm during the winter there.

Oslo, you rock.

Why Do Things Go Wrong?

Dedicated to myself and to all the other people who recently experienced seemingly wrong-going things. Yalla.

By Tzvi Freeman

Question:

I am living the wrong life. I should have done sciences in college, not humanities. And even in humanities, I should have gone for a law degree, as my parents wished and not a major in basket weaving. I was supposed to marry Jessica, not Ellen and we were supposed to live in Atlanta, not Atlantic City. From there on, it only gets worse... What do I do now?

Answer:

You may not want to hear this: All your fears are justified. You are not paranoid. You are probably right on every point. How do I know? Because this entire world is operating on Plan B.

Of course, there is The Plan. Plan A. The way things are supposed to go. But in the history of the world, there hasn't been a single thing that went the way it was supposed to go.

Adam wasn't supposed to eat from that tree. Cain and Abel were supposed to talk things out. Everyone was supposed to get along. Things got so out of hand the first time around, G-d drowned all the specimens and started all over. But things never stopped going wrong.

Take the story of Esau and Jacob. Esau was born with certain challenges, but he was supposed to have gotten a hold of himself. He was supposed to grow up as "El Macho Fearless Provider" while Jacob would sit and study. Esau got carried away with the El Macho part and Jacob ended up having to do the job of two brothers in one life -- including getting Esau's blessings and marrying his wife. It took Jacob twenty years to get those two wives out of Laban's lair. Esau could have taken care of it in a day. Nobody messes with Esau. Laban would endure some discomfort pinned up against the wall of his tent but Leah would be Esau's no sweat. But Jacob? Wrong man for the job. But that's Plan B.

Then there's the balagan with Joseph and his brothers -- an exercise in just how many things could go wrong in one story. Joseph miscommunicated. His brothers misinterpreted. Judah miscalculated and Reuben missed the boat.

The Exodus seems exciting, but keep in mind that the first meeting with Pharaoh was a complete, counter-productive disaster and nine out of ten plagues were effectively failures. And then, when we finally make it to the high point of the story, at the Giving of the Torah, the people make the grandest blunder of history with a dumb golden calf. That calf just wasn't according to script.

There is a script, but it never gets played. That's why the Torah starts with the letter Beit -- the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Because everything in this world works according to Plan B. In fact, if you study the six days of creation with the classic commentaries, you'll see that not a day went by without something coming out not quite the way it should have.

Apparently, before this world began, in a time continuum that does not infringe upon ours by a nanosecond, there were other worlds where things went right.1 There were worlds where Adam and Eve were good little kinderlach and didn't even touch the fruit of that tree. Where Cain and Abel were the best of buddies for all their eternal life. Where Esau married Leah and supported his kid brother, Jacob, so he could earn his degree in transcendental enlightenment by meditating in the wilderness. All people were so good and nice, the world was filled with light, and evil didn't have a chance. Those worlds in G-d's grand imagination were all Plan A. The Plan.

What happened to all those worlds? Well, G-d looked at each of those worlds His supreme wisdom had conjured up and He said, "Blech." And He scrapped them one by one and went on.

Until finally He made this world, where He invested His Infinite Consciousness into the confines of a frail being that takes one step forward and falls on its face, where Murphy has more credibility than Newton, where Dear Derailed marries Ellen instead of Jessica and all the progress of life and history is nothing but grand rescues from big blunders.

And He said, "Now this is what you call a world!" And He chose the world of Plan B to become a real world, not just a fleeting imagination like the other worlds, and here He gave His Torah.

So, you may ask, what is so exciting about a world of blunders, mess-ups and downright sins? What's up with a G-d Who creates beings who flagrantly obfuscate His Divine Plan? If it's goodness, beauty, light and wisdom that He wants, why choose a harsh, dull, dark and stupid world to have it in?

The answer must be that there's something deeper than The Plan. There's the Master of the Plan. There isn't just a script -- there's a playwright. There isn't just a score of music -- there's a musician.

Let me put it this way: Let's say you pass by a room and you hear a piano playing. You stop to listen. You think, "Maybe it's not a piano playing. Maybe it's a pianist playing."

How can you know? How can you know if you are listening to a piano or to a pianist?

So you listen a little longer and then you hear it: A blunder. The music stops. A pause. Then the same bars repeat themselves. Perhaps several times. And then the music goes on.

"Aha!" you say. "It's a person. There's someone behind the music." And you know what? The music takes on a whole new depth.

Same with The Plan. There's a G-d behind The Plan. If everything just went according to The Plan, there would be no room left to discover Him within it. We would only know a G-d Who is limited by the themes and plot of The Plan.

But when G-d chose The Plan, He didn't choose it because He had to or because this defines Him in any way. He chose it freely. And He wants that essential aspect of Him -- that which is free and beyond any form or definition -- to be revealed within that Plan. He wants the musician to be heard, and not just the music.

That's the opportunity that comes with every failure -- the opportunity to reach deeper into the essence of things, into your own self, into Truth. The failure itself may be a bummer, but the fruits of cleaning it up are more precious than gold.

That's why Torah enters only our world and no other. There is the wisdom of creation, there is the wisdom of beauty, there is the wisdom of light. But the Torah is deeper than all that. Torah is the wisdom of healing, of cleaning up messes. And that's a wisdom that touches G-d himself.

So, dear Derailed, take advantage. The angels are jealous. They're still stuck in Plan A.2

FOOTNOTES
1. The Kabbalists call this the "First Shemittah." A Shemittah is seven years, or, in this case, seven millennia. This world has six millennia of progress and one of rest; so did those. But they were built on Chessed -- kindness and goodness, whereas ours is built on Gevurah -- harshness and severity.
2. Inspired by a deep reading of the Lubavitcher Rebbe's Kuntres Yud Shvat 5751 and Likkutei Sichot, vol 4 pp 1340-1341.

Monday, September 01, 2008

I'm Not Like You

I think I'm gonna write my own song in response to Abie Rotenberg's "Who Am I".

It shall be titled "Who I Am" and the last line will be "I'm not like you".

Soul Appearance