Friday, July 31, 2009

"Hey Honey Nut"

Woohoo! I upgraded!
I'm insanely lovin it :)

honey20nut20cheerios2007-04202.jpg image by leotoro

Searching for Amichai

These google searches remind me (though with G-d's help it will have COMPLETELY different results) of the aftermath of the Mumbai saga. Again, I don't want to compare it in any way except in that tens and tens of caring people come here looking for revealing info. I don't care bout stats, I am merely interested in the search terms that lead to my blog. To see more than 60 google and blog searches (from 10 different countries) over the course of two days that are all slight variations of "Ami-chai Steinmetz", "Amichai ben Devora" or "Israeli missing in India" is heartrending.
Besurot Tovot!
Duh-"Tracht gut vet zein gut".
:)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

HALOCHOS & MINHOGIM FOR 9 AV

Amichai ben Devora (Missing Israeli)

Last Tuesday , 24 year-old Amichai Shtainmitz (from Maaleh Levonah) and a friend set out on a one-day trek from the Indian village of Khirganga to the Parvati Valley. The two split up at some point, but when Shtainmitz did not return, his friend notified Israeli authorities.
Every Friday (during the five months that he has been in India), Amichai has taken care to call his parents in Israel. However, this week, they did not hear from him.
The Chabad House in Menali, which is run by Rabbi Baruch Shenhav, has set up an incident room and has sent other Israeli tourists on searches throughout the region. A search and rescue team from the Harel Insurance Company has also flown to India to help locate Amichai.

Levi Pekar, 21, and Yehuda Kirsh, 23, are in Manali as part of Chabad’s worldwide summer visitation program. The pair is keeping a journal of their activities and these notes are about the search.

MORE ABOUT THE SEARCH HERE

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

[Same brown shirt.]

"I knew you weren't typical from the minute you stepped into my car." (.צ.ה.ל)
http://mail.google.com/mail/?ui=2&ik=19679d0e6b&view=att&th=122a1b2fb744d406&attid=0.1&disp=inline&realattid=0.1&zw

Free!

-In honor of the Holtzbergs hy'd-
(click title)

נחמו נחמו

Gifted souls enter this world and shine. All that surround them bathe in their light and their beauty. And when they are gone, their light is missed.
Challenged souls enter, stumble and fall. They pick themselves up and fall again. Eventually, they climb to a higher tier, where more stumbling blocks await them. Their accomplishments often go unnoticed—although their stumbling is obvious to all.
But by the time they leave, new paths have been forged, obstacles leveled, and life itself has gained a new clarity for all those yet to enter.
Both are pure souls, G-dly in essence. But while the gifted shine their light from Above, the challenged meet the enemy on its own ground. Any real change in this world is only on their account.

Just reread that Daily Dose from Tzvi Freeman and it reminded of today's shiur. Double comfort for the loss of two batei mikdosh. But huh? Why would we need to be comforted (with the Third House) over the Second? The First, we understand--twas of greater holiness-had 5 things that the Second didn't. Yeh, but one is Tzaddik light from Above and one is Baalei Teshuva light from us. (We live in a time-and-space world. The 2nd Home was longer and bigger) Actually, the Mishkon was Tzadik-which I just spelled with one 'd' vs the line above, which is the line above here while I'm typing but don't know how it will be once posted-the First was Beinoni and the Second was Rosho. The Third-hope it comes NOW-will have all the benefits of each.

"blog it"

"Crossing the Rubicon" is a popular idiom meaning to go past a point of no return and refers to Julius Caesar crossing the river in 49 BC deliberately as an act of war.

On Inner Peace

Oh wow is this perfect:

Lasting peace is not created by intellectuals, for their minds are easily bribed from within and from without. Nor by those who follow their faith blindly, for at times their blindness wreaks havoc.


Lasting peace is the achievement of those who have made peace between the rigor of their mind and the simplicity of their faith. Their faith is firmly anchored beyond the whims of this world, and their mind sees clearly that proper results are achieved.

(Petition to keep Roi Klein's house) עצומה-רועי קליין ז"ל

רס"ן רועי קליין ז"ל, סגן מפקד גדוד בגולני, הוא הלוחם המעוטר ביותר שנפל במלחמת לבנון השנייה, וסיפור נפילתו הפך לאחד מסיפורי הגבורה של צה"ל. קליין נפל כאשר זינק על רימון שהשליכו מחבלי חיזבאללה לעבר חייליו - ובכך הציל את מרבית לוחמי הכוח
בעקבות הלשנת ארגון השמאל הקיצוני "שלום עכשיו" לבג"ץ פסק בג"ץ שיש להרוס את ביתו שבישוב עלי. בביתו גרים כעת אלמנתו עם 2 ילדיה.
הבית נקנה כחוק ואיננו בנוי על שטח פלשתיני כלשהו אלא נמצא בתוך שיפוט הישוב עלי.
עלינו לעצור את המהלך. לשם כך אנו רוצים להגיע ל 100.000 חתימות ולהעביר אותם לנשיא המדינה. ממשלת ישראל ולחברי כנסת מהסיעות היהודיות בכנסת.
חתום היום על עצומה זו. והצל את האלמנה ויתומיה מהשפלה הכי נוראה.
זכור! למחבלי פיגועים בג"ץ מונע הריסת בית. ואילו לחייל צה"ל שמסר את נפשו למען עם ישראל. הדבר נעשה כלאחר יד...
נא הפץ עצומה זו בין חבריך.
"I was worried I might have been traumatized. I asked someone in my yeshiva, and he told me I didn't look it. I answered that maybe I just take it well. He told me that that means I'm not traumatized. Oh."

LOLLL
Oy, too funny.
Yossi, the bochur in lubavitch (yup, there's only one) wrote that months ago. It still makes me laugh. It's from a not funny post. I'm not in the mood of linking.

Amusing Snippets

"You're the mathematician!"
"I am?"
"You're Russian. All Russians are mathematicians."
"But I'm not a mathematician.."
"Don't tell me that. If you do, I may have to revoke your Russian citizenship..which, actually, I'm sure you'll be happy with anyhow..."

That conversation, as well as the following email made me laugh-

'I saw a lubavitch girl in school today. a student. and even though she doesn't know im her friend, i got excited.'

good times..good times...

HONEY BUNCHES OF OATS (aka me)

http://blog.seattlepi.com/healthylifestyle/library/hbo_WholeGrain.jpg
Ha! And there's not even any protein! :D

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

ZAKA (oh my G-d!)

I kept my blog closed (to all but myself) for some time now but I want to spread this article I just read. This article that left me shaking, praying and thanking.

Faith in the Face of Trauma
by Larry Derfner/THE JERUSALEM POST
"These are the photos from our road trips," Dano Montokovitch says ironically. He's flipping through the album in his living room, making sure his son, sitting at the computer, isn't looking. One photo shows a woman's severed head lying on the floor of a destroyed restaurant - a suicide bombing. Another shows a young man lying dead in a bathtub after hanging himself. Another shows a blood-drenched wall and carpet. "A garage owner got deep into debt and put a grenade in his mouth," explains Montokovitch. "Can you handle really terrible pictures? I've got one that shows his face in pieces."
This is therapy for him - the black humor, the grim satisfaction over memories of especially trying cases, the amazement and admiration he elicits in an outsider. Montokovitch, 40, lives with his family in a haredi neighborhood of Jerusalem and manages the medical supplies division for the Ezer Mitzion charity, but the first call on his time belongs to ZAKA.
ZAKA, an English transliteration of the Hebrew acronym for "Disaster Victims Identification," is the volunteer organization of haredi men who collect the remains of the dead for burial. For the 1,500 volunteers, that means all the remains - every bit of flesh, every drop of blood, no matter how many hours it takes, no matter where they have to climb or crawl.
Montokovitch, one of the organization's top men in Jerusalem, has been with it from the beginning in 1989. Since then his beeper has been on 24 hours a day, except when he's on vacation overseas with his family, which he tries to do a couple of times a year to get away from this all-consuming duty. "I've gone out on hundreds of calls, at least," he says. "When I get a call, I go. My wife doesn't ask any questions."
ZAKA became famous here and among haredim worldwide during the second intifada, when the bearded volunteers in their yellow reflector vests became a visual marker of bus bombings and other major terror attacks that were filling TV screens. However, the volunteers don't show up only for terror attacks; they are on the scene of every unnatural death - fatal accidents, murders and suicides. They also collect the last remains of people who were alone in the world and whose corpses weren't discovered for quite a while - an unimaginably grisly task.
"Once we got a call about a corpse that was discovered in an apartment. The body was bloated; maggots were eating it; there were flies buzzing around; the smell was overpowering," recalls ZAKA chairman Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, the former haredi riot organizer whose second career with ZAKA has won him newfound "consensus" popularity. "I was there with a young volunteer who didn't have much experience, and I could see he was having a hard time. Tissue had leaked from the corpse onto the floor; we were walking around in it. Finally we went to move the body, and it exploded all over us. I could see the other volunteer was about to faint, so, by instinct, I took his hands and we started dancing around the body, singing praises to God. Then we were able to go on with our work.
"When I got home," he recalls, "I took a bath in Lysol for four hours."
THE MEN of ZAKA do what seems to be the hardest job in the world. Many of the deaths they handle are extremely rough on their psyches, especially those of children. "I don't think the experience has changed me for the better," says Montokovitch. "I don't get so excited about things anymore, good or bad. I don't want my children to volunteer in ZAKA. I've done enough."
This emotional flatness Montokovitch alludes to is fairly common among ZAKA veterans. The time, effort and preoccupation that go into their work obviously plays hell with their families. A few volunteers suffer long-term symptoms such as flashbacks and nightmares. After a major event like a terror attack they receive group psychological counseling and some require individual treatment.
"Anybody in ZAKA who tells you it doesn't do anything to him is lying," says Yossi Landau, a haredi father of 10 who, like Montokovitch, has spent half of his 40-year life as a volunteer. I talked to him by phone after driving to see about a man found dead in a moshav field near the alley in Lod known as drug dealers' row. Landau and two volunteers from Kfar Chabad had just left.
The corpse was stiff, bloated, the right arm eaten to the bone by animals. Policemen and ambulance crews were coming and going while little Arab kids, disregarding the police cordon, went up close for a look, holding their noses.
"The body was found by a security guard at the moshav, who called the police, who called ZAKA," said Landau. There were no remains to collect aside from the corpse, and they couldn't bag the corpse for burial until a Magen David Adom doctor showed up to pronounce death, so, since they were the first on the scene, they busied themselves trying to identify the corpse.
"We turned him over and saw that his face had been eaten away, too," said Landau. "We found his ID card in his pocket - a Russian guy, about 47, from Jerusalem. We also found a bag with syringes in it. The police said he had a lot of prior convictions. Evidently he was a drug addict who'd bought drugs in the alley, went into the fields to get high and overdosed."
Police decided that since the deceased had been a drug addict, the volunteers might contract some disease if they handled the corpse, so after an hour and a half they sent the ZAKA men home and called a private ambulance attendant to come bag the corpse.
Landau said the gruesome-looking stiff was "nothing" compared to some of the deaths he's seen. Owner of a freight-forwarding company with a branch in New York, he was doing business in a 36th-floor office in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, when the first plane hit. "I was trying to get people out when the floor collapsed," he recalled. "When we landed there were dead bodies all around, like bugs. An FBI agent and I spent seven hours crawling out of the rubble."
Landau's years in ZAKA prior to 9/11 helped him weather the psychological effects. But a fatal traffic accident he handled as a volunteer a couple years ago wounded him even more deeply, sending him to psychologists for months afterward.
"It was Purim eve, and a mother and her two children were killed when their car hit a bus. The boy in the back seat looked the same age as my son, and he was wearing a policeman's uniform just like my son was wearing that day. I tried to pull the kid out of the seat and his brains just spilled out on me. In that moment I saw my son in front of eyes and I fainted."
Two hours later a couple of hundred guests came to his house for Purim. "Everyone was singing and dancing, they didn't know what I'd been though. After everybody left, the volunteers who'd been with me, about 10 of them, sat up with me talking about it and crying until five in the morning."
LANDAU HAS also been through the single most traumatic experience a ZAKA volunteer can endure - collecting the remains of a person he knew. "I had a friend who was hit by a train; he ended up in about 15 pieces. It was a summer day and I worked for hours. I ended up in the hospital with third-degree burns on my back from the sun." Nevertheless, Landau is still attached to his ZAKA beeper, still going out day and night to collect the remains of the dead.
Why do they do it? It's a mitzva, they all say - to show respect for the dead by making it possible for them to be buried as whole as possible. Their work comforts the families, they add, even nonreligious ones. And it's no ordinary mitzva they perform. "I'm doing something not many people can do," says Montokovitch, "so it's really an opportunity to contribute. A privilege. A duty. I'm able to do it, so I must do it. If I don't, it's a crime."
Being able to do such a demanding job also gives them tremendous self-esteem. They're a kind of "Sayeret Matkal," an elite commando unit, within the otherwise sedentary haredi world, notes clinical psychologist Dr. Rony Berger, an expert in trauma treatment and emergency preparedness who's counseled ZAKA volunteers for several years. They've won the respect of secular Israel, which ordinarily has little good to say about haredim.
Their own community, though, is ambivalent toward them. "They have high status, but there's also an element of wariness toward them, as if the 'angel of death' hovers around them," says Berger, director of community services for NATAL - Israel Trauma Center for Victims of War and Terror.
Chaim Mackler, a ZAKA volunteer in Beersheba and former IDF mental health officer, agrees that many haredim see the volunteers as strange birds, but adds that haredi youth commonly see them as heroes. "During the intifada," he says, "one of the most popular Purim costumes for haredi kids was the ZAKA volunteer with the yellow vest."
Asked to describe the profile of a volunteer, Montokovitch replied: "Somebody who's spontaneous, who's always ready to go, day or night. Like a combat soldier."
These men like action - they get excited when the beeper goes off and they've got an address to race off to. Many if not most are also MDA ambulance medics. Berger speculates that ZAKA volunteers fall into that "10 to 15 percent of the general population that responds positively to high-stress situations, that gets a rush from it, that can, in a way, become addicted to it."
OF ALL the tragedies ZAKA has attended to, the worst by far, says Meshi-Zahav, was the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004. "Before that the most dead bodies we'd ever dealt with at one time was 34, I think. This was 300,000. The human mind just can't absorb it. Imagine driving from Tel Aviv to Haifa and there are tens of thousands of blackened corpses lining the highway. That's what we saw," says Meshi-Zahav, 50, sitting in ZAKA's nerve center on the second floor of an old building near Jerusalem's Central Bus Station.
Most of what the volunteers did during the tsunami was identify the dead - the 30 deceased Jews along with hundreds of gentiles.
"All the bodies looked the same - black, bloated, completely unrecognizable," he continues. To identify a dead pregnant woman, ZAKA volunteers had to perform a cesarean section on her to extract DNA from the dead fetus. To identify a dead boy, they had to go through hundreds of children's corpses until they found one wearing a swimsuit like his, then spend hours sifting through muddy bags of recovered teeth until they found the filling that matched his. "The families were there waiting for the news. When we told them we'd identified their loved ones among the dead, they hugged us," recalls Meshi-Zahav.
One of the ZAKA volunteers working the tsunami "ended up sitting awake one night talking incoherently," he adds. "He hasn't really recovered since."
A few days before our interview, Mackler, a social worker and Chabad follower from the US, got a call from the wife of a ZAKA volunteer who said her husband had lost his appetite and become very tense in the two months since handling an especially difficult death. "I told her to get him to see me for a referral to a psychologist. From the way it sounded, the man needs help."
Mackler, 64, trains ZAKA volunteers to look out for one another's mental health - to notice when a colleague is acting strangely and make sure he gets psychological help. He gives the example, well-known within ZAKA circles, of a volunteer who taught school in civilian life and one day took his class on a field trip to a cemetery. Another volunteer who had worked the March 2002 bombing of the "children's bus" in Jerusalem found that six years later, while working the terror attack at Yeshivat Mercaz Harav, he became immobilized and couldn't function. "He was having flashbacks from the bus bombing," says Mackler.
A few days after the Mercaz Harav massacre, Mackler held a "debriefing" for the roughly 40 ZAKA volunteers who'd attended the bloody aftermath. "We sat around in a circle and everyone talked about what he saw, what he did, how he felt. That was a particularly painful incident. The men identified very, very strongly with the victims. It was like those boys were their sons. There were volunteers who left the scene in the middle of their work; they identified so strongly with the victims that they couldn't function."
MACKLER ALSO conducted a debriefing for about 10 volunteers who went to the Chabad House in Mumbai after the massive terror attack last November. "Mumbai was a very, very unique situation. The volunteers were in fear for their own lives because Chabad House was still filled with explosives when they went in to work - the police hadn't cleared out all the bombs that the terrorists had left, they were letting people come in, it was very dangerous. After they finished, the volunteers sat on the floor and sang and cried."
For all they go through, ZAKA volunteers have shown remarkable psychological resilience. The exact "washout" rate isn't known, but everyone interviewed said it was extremely low. "If you can't handle this work, you'll find out on your first call," notes Montokovitch, adding that most people come to ZAKA after serving as volunteer ambulance medics, so they've already had a lot of exposure to death.
Recently there was a suicide in the woods outside a centrally located town - a young man had hanged himself from a tree in a badly littered clearing where teenagers came to smoke drugs. The body was discovered by a hiker, and Avraham Gelbman, a haredi resident of the town and 15-year MDA medic and ZAKA veteran, was the first on the scene. Showing us a photo of the victim on his cellphone, Gelbman, 38, described the incident in the spare, authoritative tone of a policeman. With no remains other than the corpse, there was little for him and another ZAKA volunteer to do besides bag the corpse and give it over for burial.
With a clear note of pride in his voice, he recalled some of the hardest cases he's worked on - the recent car crash near Beit Shemesh in which six people were killed, a suicide victim found weeks later in his home inundated with worms, a Jerusalem terror bombing in which Gelbman climbed to the top of a gas station sign to see if there were any remains up there. "It was like three stories high. I didn't know how to climb up, but I found a way. There were two fingers up there. It was like 100 meters away from the bomb. You have no idea of the impact of those things. You have to look everywhere."
Soon Gelbman, a food salesman in civilian life, got another message on his beeper: The mother of the young suicide victim had just been informed of his death, and fainted - MDA medics were needed at the family's home. Hurrying to his car, Gelbman took off his yellow ZAKA reflector vest, opened the trunk, took out his orange MDA reflector vest and drove off.
IN BRITAIN, Mackler notes, a study was conducted of the psychological effects on "first responders" to disasters, and it found that those with strong religious faith were best able to recover from the initial shock and stress.
Berger, who has worked with first responders and trauma victims at any number of major disasters all over the world, and who works with a wide range of emergency crews in Israel, says ZAKA volunteers show unusual strength in the face of trauma.
During the second intifada, he and psychologist Dr. Zahava Solomon, an expert in combat stress, studied 87 ZAKA volunteers and found that only two suffered long-term post-traumatic symptoms. "Several possible explanations for the resilience of the subjects are altruistic and religious rewards, respect and admiration from society and a tendency for sensation-seeking," the researchers wrote.
Berger suggests another reason why ZAKA volunteers seem to be tougher over the long haul than other people who deal with death for a living, such as police bomb squad members. "This is a self-selected group," he says. "They volunteer for this work, they're not under orders, they don't do it for a living. They know what they're getting into and choose to do it anyway because they get something very important in return."

Friday, July 24, 2009

סבא נחום declares:

"That's why you're coming back, with or without Dvir."

__________________________________________________

Who's Dvir? "Walks like a penguin, talks like a penguin".

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

And if you come outta the shower and you can still smell your deodorant, think not: "Gosh what a loser I am!"; think: "Gosh, do I have some fond and some fantastic memories!"

:)

Monday, July 20, 2009

"מותק שלי"

1. Peering up the staircase, searching around. [disappointed]
2. "Listen to me, sweetheart." [protectively]
3. "What would you do if...?" [provocatively]
4. "No! Don't go! I'm hanging up!" [pleading]
5. Grabs black case, goes inside. [decisively]
6. "I can't believe you said that." [hurt]
7. Toying with my new ring. [playfully]

more to add

Monday, July 13, 2009

111 Agripas !!!

And if you come outta the shower and you can still smell your deodorant, think not: "Man, what a sucky shower"; think: "Sweet, maybe it'll even carry on into my dreams tonight".

My Identity

Omg! Seriously, now! How does Chabad.org ALWAYS know which Daily Dose to send me??
Yes, like I told the passing stranger in Machaneh Yehuda the other night, "there IS a G-d up There!"
-
"You need to decide what you are. If you believe yourself to be angel, be prepared for some disappointment. If you think of yourself as a beast, you may well become depressed. Best to know you are human. Stay away from situations you can't handle, and face up to the mess when you fall down. That's even higher than the angels."

Examples:

Nothing
Monograms..
A pillow..
Cookies and milk..
Vodka, never mind..
Vodka, reassuring..
28/18..
Balloons..
Announcement..
Kneel to join..
Brown stripes..
New Jersey..
Books..
No hints..
X hours..
Paraphernalia..
Persuasion..
Show off..
Tough..
Hopeful..
Nothing

PostScript-It's NOT half! Take THAT, dear!
;)

The Retain Good Feelings Law

I've been wanting to write about this for a while.
Tell you guys the vital-to-know law bout retaining feelings.
It's actually quite simple, the formula rather basic:
When you're experiencing something good, something you want to remember and revisit, wear a new scent.
If you're experiencing something unpleasant, something you want to forever erase from your mind, don't try anything new.

It's most beautiful when you save up for it and it proves to be worth it.
Today has been a beautiful such day :)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Kol Hakavod to Gavris! (song)

"And Gavris made us laugh chechechecheche
And Gavris made us sing lalalalala
And Gavris made us juices every niiiiiiiiight"
Four of the blessings to be said when Moshiach comes*:
1) "Blessed are You...Knower of secrets (a blessing pronounced upon seeing 600,000 or more Jews together);
2)"Blessed are You... Who has apportioned of His wisdom to those who fear Him";
3)"Blessed are You... Who has apportioned of His honor to those who fear Him";
4) Shehecheyanu

*may it be tonight!
אם אסק שמים שם אתה, ואציעה שאול הנך: אשא כנפי שחר, אשכנה באחרית ים: גם שם ידך תנחני ותאחזני ימינך

Friday, July 10, 2009

Mix of Stuff


~~~

In Israel, a desert plant waters itself! A team of researchers from the University of Haifa have stumbled upon a rare desert plant living in Israel's mountainous Negev desert, which can irrigate itself. (continue reading)

~~~

CROCS ONLINE OUTLET
(neato piteato, lotsa fab stuff.) (woah, SO not my shprach!) (hehe reminds me of how I suddenly spoke about chatz)

~~~

"This Fine Hill" - Trails and Sites in the Southern Shomron

The book was written by two friends, sons of Shiloh, in memory of their brothers, Shmuel Yerushalmi and Yonaton Eldar, may God avenge them, who were killed in terror attacks.
(Sigh. Sad, heavy sigh.)
~~~


http://www.stogether.org/images/ronniebarras.email.jpg


~~~

Margolit Haviva Bas Shulamit, a young mother of quads who attend the garden school is in a diabetic coma.
Elinor Sara Bas Rivka was in a car accident and is recovering from brain surgery.
Galit Esther Bas Massouda needs Tehillim, so her baby can be born safely and healthy. She is on complete bed rest.
Please keep in mind Devorah Miriam Bas Sara, Tziveyah Bas Nechama, Miriam Rivka Bas Gittele, Marcia Bas Sara(Seamour), Tinok Ben Shterna, Nachman Ben Aidel, Akiva Ben Chaya Leah, Tuvia Ben Rochel.
They should all have an immediate and complete Refuah
!

~~~

The kollel in Chevron is extending its learning hours until later at night. (Sigh. Happy sigh)

~~~

There is a common misconception that life is about being in the right place at the right time. In truth, your experience has as much to do with what is happening inside you as with what is happening outside. If your soul is not prepared, a paradise of miracles could become a roller coaster from hell.This is what the sages call z'chus -- sometimes translated as merit. It means a refinement of the soul so that it may receive good. (Daily Dose by Tzvi Freeman)

~~~

CANDLE LIGHTING TIME THIS WEEK FOR MEITAR, ISRAEL IS 7:30PM

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Currently "Between The Narrows"

What do a garden hose nuzzle, a hydraulic power plant, and a shofar have in common? You take something with potential that is currently not doing much, confine it in a narrow space, squeeze it through an even narrower passage, and presto! you can send a spray of water clear across your lawn, light up a small city in England, or transform a mouthful of air into a piercing note.

We currently find ourselves in a stretch of the Jewish calendar called "Between the Narrows" (Bein Hametzarim). On the 17th of Tammuz (this year July 9), the walls of Jerusalem were breached by the Roman legions besieging the city; twenty-one days later, on the 9th of Av, the Holy Temple was set aflame. These two events spawned twenty centuries of galut -- of physical persecution and spiritual alienation for our people. Today, the two fast days stand as markers of national tragedy, with all the pain and frustration of our galut compressed into "The Three Weeks" they enclose.

During this period of bitterness and introspection, we take stock of the faults that led to the destruction of the Temple, and try to eradicate them from our own conduct. Why was the Temple destroyed? One reason given is unwarranted hatred. The Jewish people, even during the siege of Jerusalem, remained fractionalized and divided with a gross lack of love and respect for each other. How can this be corrected? By showing unrestrained love. By reaching out to another person and showing him care and concern. Do a favor for someone else, not because there is a reason to do so. Don’t spend time thinking of reasons why and whether you should help another person. Use that same time to think about how you can help him. Be an initiator and the others will always respond. Ultimately, the heart opens to the heart.

What is the motivating principle for this motif? The fact that at the core of every person there lies a soul which is a G-dly spark, and that every element of existence is being maintained by G-d each moment. By conducting ourselves in a manner that attests to and reflects these truths, we nudge them closer to revelation. Every entity seeks to express its inner nature. Reaching out with love and kindness inspires and encourages the good and generosity that lie at the core of all others to come to the surface.

Such deeds affect the macrocosm as well as the microcosm, bringing closer the Era of the Redemption, when these concepts will be concrete realities, not merely abstract truths.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe would always say that we cannot, must not, dare not, explain the galut. G-d does not need our help to justify His ways; we do Him a greater service by pleading and clamoring for an end to His and our exile. Nevertheless, even as we refuse to accept the travesty of galut, we should still exploit its positive dividends. The Jewish soul, a divine expanse of goodness and light, has been squeezed into the narrow straits of galut. Imagine what will come out at the other end! Already, this cosmic pinch has wrung from the Jewish soul wells of talent and creativity, and depths of faith and commitment, that in the good old broad days were only implicit in its potential.

May we soon merit the great shofar blast of Moshiach, and the great moment of the soul's bursting free of the strictures of galut.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Dedicated to the branch of my childhood :)

Sooooooooo now that I know you're reading this, I'm gonna uh continue as always ;)
It's a strange feeling-to know we've been connected for so long without my knowledge. I should have felt it if it was there, no? Did YOU feel connected? Did YOU feel like we were in touch? Did YOU sense the incoming [in the taxi]? Do YOU see now that my blog makes sense, so long as the right person is reading it?

:)

Thanks for a lovely time. Nobody commented on the sunglasses. Heehee.

Good news only! (updated)

URGENT TEHILLIM NEEDED 4
Sarah Shira Bas Leah Malka
a young girl who was hit by a car and is undergoing emergency surgery on her head. (more details here)
Chaya Inbar bas Rivka
a 27 year old mother in extremely critical condition.
SayTehillim