Thursday, June 30, 2011

"Monumental Decision” [slice of Israel's history]

1948. The new nation Israel was fighting for her life. Resources low, Arab armies at all sides, Prime Minister David Ben Gurion was forced to take strategic action.
The Avner Institute presents the riveting narrative by Rabbi Menachem Porush, obm, late chairman of Agudath Yisrael, who discusses with the Rebbe the impossible military situation facing the Prime Minister, the spiritual considerations guiding him, and the miracle that followed

Rabbi Porush Relates:

Often, I had opportunities to discuss various topics with the founder of the modern State of Israel, Prime Minister Ben Gurion. Having fought the many battles and survived the countless political deadlocks that had been necessary for the nascent nation to emerge, Ben Gurion was a fascinating person to speak to, his perspective of historical events unlike any other. During one of those conversations, I asked him:

"Which would you say was the most difficult moment for you as a leader and politician, throughout your entire career?"

“When we announced the establishment of the state of Israel, in the midst of chaotic battles waged on several fronts, we did not have the most vital of military equipment, guns,"

Ben Gurion answered, after considering the various possibilities. "After endless agony, we were finally able to obtain a miniscule cache of guns, procured from a reluctant Russia. Incapable of supplying all the troops with proper artillery, we would have to make a tortuous choice which of our valiant comrades, all contributing their entire energies to a venerable cause, should receive the goods.

“Each commander, many of them close friends of mine, vying for his men, had his own reasoning why it was imperative that the guns be directed to them. My friends from the Galilee, locked in battle over strategic enemy positions, while outnumbered and understaffed, came to me and cried, 'While you sit here in safety, our best young men are falling, lacking the most basic weapons. Give us guns, so we can protect this land, or all will be lost.'

"From Central Command in Tel Aviv, endeavoring to withhold hostile forces from completely overrunning the heart of the country, came the besieged Hagana leaders, who demanded, 'We must have more equipment; the majority of our civilian population are under incessant fire, and without stocking our depleted stockpiles, we will be compelled to surrender.'

"Harassed and fatigued, the generals from the Negev arrived next, pleading for every morsel of warfare they could receive, 'If you don't supply us with adequate arms, we will be powerless against the armies invading the South, putting at risk all of the inhabitants of the land.'

"Finally, following these groups, a contingency appeared, representing the gallant but beleaguered soldiers defending the ancient capital, Jerusalem. Heads drooping on their tattered uniforms and shoulders slouching under the heavy weight of battle, they lifted their weary eyes and simply said, 'You must replenish our empty storehouses if we are to continue guarding our holy city. Although there may not be many Jews in the city, it is crucial to the future of the nation that it remain in our hands; for Jerusalem is the essential spirit and central organism of our people, and Israel having lost Jerusalem would be like a body without a head.'

"I was faced with a moral quandary, and this was the toughest decision in my life; how can one make such a choice? Who is to decide which region is more vital and which people best deserve to live? His anguish inconceivable, a leader is forced to make such a judgment of one man over another. In the end, unable to reach a logical compromise, I allowed my emotional instincts to override strategic concerns; the argument about Jerusalem's centrality in Jewish religion and history prevailed, and I handed over the weapons to those guarding the city."

Concluding this tale before the Rebbe, who had listened attentively to every detail, I observed how deeply moved, and even pleasantly shocked he seemed; apparently, finding it hard to believe Ben Gurion had behaved that way. Still coming to terms with the story and visibly impressed, he asked me with great feeling to repeat the entire incident.

At the end of the second time the Rebbe said:

"This is a tremendous achievement, an incredible merit. I marvel how Ben Gurion acquired the great merit to make such a monumental decision."

App to send alerts for car crash victim

SOooooooooo cool!!
Excerpt from Israel21c's MayDay sends alerts for car crash victims:

Given that Apple's iPhone remains the hottest and fastest-growing mobile device around, Pariente began to delve into its specs. "I quickly realized that Apple had built this amazing piece of hardware with built-in GPS and very high-precision accelerometers," Pariente says. Those accelerometers can judge how fast something - like a car - is traveling, and if there is a sudden change in speed.
The math is a little complicated. "A typical car accident is measured by an impact of 5G for more than 50 milliseconds," Pariente explains. By comparison, the earth exerts a gravitational pull of 1G, while a fighter pilot can travel at speeds generating 7G of force.
Once Pariente knew he could measure when an accident had occurred, it was relatively simple to create an app that would send a message to a pre-determined email address or generate up to 50 SMS (short message service) messages to loved ones informing them there had been a collision. The app - known as MayDay - went live on February 22, after six months of development and is now available on the Apple app store.
Works anywhere in the world
Activated with a big on/off button, MayDay doesn't send its message until 60 seconds pass, giving the driver plenty of time to turn it off if it's been triggered in error. It makes quite a ruckus, flashing and generating a warning tone that makes it hard to ignore.
Another safety precaution: if the vehicle is going under 30 miles an hour, it won't work. That can be adjusted in case a user wants the app to trigger during, say, a fall while walking or biking. Pariente developed this feature after a man who requires a defibrillator contacted him and explained that he really enjoys walking on the beach but, since he never knows when he may have some sort of disruptive heart incident, he always needs to take along a chaperone. MayDay has given the man a new sense of freedom, Pariente says proudly.
Despite its life-saving potential, Pariente developed MayDay as a hobby, and it shows: Only 260 copies of the app have been downloaded, all of them a "light" version that costs $1.99 and sends emails but not SMS's.
Pariente considers SMS the killer feature, no pun intended. The pro version of MayDay, which costs $4.99, just went live in mid-May and includes 50 prepaid SMS's.
The app works anywhere in the world. "You can be traveling in Thailand and if you're in an accident, your friends will know it," Pariente says. Surprisingly, the country with the third most downloads is Saudi Arabia. "Apparently they don't know it's an Israeli-made app."

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Thank You, G-d...For Me

Thank You, G-d, for making me kind, caring, sensitive and thoughtful.
Thank You for making me patient.
Thank You for giving me a listening ear, a feeling heart, a discerning eye.
Things that are natural but not common, it seems.
Thank You for making me, Me.

And thank You, G-d, for giving me the wisdom and the strength to learn from those that are not.
To learn not to get bogged down, not to spend the night crying or sleeping in my car, and to learn that it's not their fault--they simply weren't created with the characteristics that You gave to me.

And finally, thank You for giving me my mother who helped me realize that. Again. 

Jean Skirts

Disclaimer: The following statement does not necessarily reflect the views of the blog's author.

Jean skirts are prohst.

Moshe and the Rock (Parshas Chukas)

 "Now listen, you rebels," said Moses (and Aaron) some thousands of years ago to the Jews in the desert, "can we draw water for you from this rock?"

That's number one. Outta this world.

Number two is what a shock to be told just like that you can't enter the Land, the Land you lived for, pretty much. On second thought, he must've known that when he was up in Heaven, being taught the entire Torah. Oh my G-d, then he could've prevented this by realizing he ought to listen to His word and speak, not strike. Hmmm. Interesting. Better go see what them Chassidic Masters have to say...

IDF’s Cyber-Commander Prepares Internet Assault

Cyber-Commander Prepares Assault
by Gil Ronen

"Computers and keyboards are the weapons, Facebook and Twitter are the battlefields. It is there that we fight, each and every day." The fighting words come from First Lieutenant Sasha Dratwa, 25, who heads IDF’s elite “new media” unit. Dratwa, who replaced Lt. Aliza Landes, ws interviewed by Jonatan Urich in the IDF’s website.

Dratwa was born in Belgium and immigrated to Israel at the age of 18 after completing high school. He served in the Nahal Brigade and in a technological unit. After his discharge, Dratwa studied interactive communications at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya. During Operation Cast Lead, Dratwa found himself running the first civilian war room in Israel's history, conducting a real-time public relations campaign to disseminate justifications for the IDF's activities.

Dratwa explained that new media work in the IDF is based on the understanding of tools that bypass the traditional media, with high-quality and available content, and openness to web surfers from around the world, including the existence of a genuine, honest dialogue with them.

"The tools are infinite," Dratwa told the IDF Website. "The question is not whether we should be there but how we should be there. I came to the IDF Spokesperson's Unit mainly to make noise. I want the world to see the reality of the IDF, through channels on which it is not used to getting that. We are going to surprise visitors from around the world who will be able to browse their personal computer and see an IDF that is different from what they view on their television screens in their family room."

Dratwa came in with a long list of precise tasks that he wants to adopt and implement immediately.

"We need to use tablets and smart phones in order to immediately reach the general public," Dratwa said. "We don't have time for a long chain of approvals, we have to strike while the iron is hot - to be determined, fast and focused."

Dratwa said that he intends to show, already in the coming months, the IDF's face "as the world has never seen it before." As part of this, he is already promoting new media work in French and Arabic, along with strengthening and improving work in English. And what next? Twitter in Arabic and the massive entry of the IDF into new media work in fluent Hebrew – because the Israeli population apparently also needs to be strengthened. 

 Dratwa is not alone and these ideas don't only remain on paper. He heads a group of troops consisting mostly of soldiers doing their regular service, who come from all over the world with a rich professional background in the internet and new media.

"Every one of my soldiers understands the meaning of the work, the range of opportunities facing us and the importance of demonstrating our justness," Dratwa said. "We are fighting in the field of delegitimization, which is no less significant than armored or artillery battles."

"Justifying the IDF's activities and Israel's public relations efforts are significant challenges that are at the top of the IDF's priorities," Dratwa said. "We are receiving a significant investment of means and resources, as well as personnel, but also mainly the determination and dedication of the soldiers.”

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Monday, June 27, 2011

World Police and Fire Games 2011

It's scheduled to take place in New York from August 26-September 5.

Could you imagine that I'm scheduled to land in JFK on September 1???

This is incredible, Hashem.
I really really appreciate this one.
Thanks for expressing Your love so openly.

The Rebbe Answered Me

Wow. I had just decided I would go and tell different, random people about it, figuring that would help me relieve myself of the burden, of the sadness.

Then I read tomorrow's Hayom Yom.

"A care in a man's heart, yash'chena." Our sages offer two interpretations of that last word: "Remove the care from the mind" or "discuss it with others."
The Tzemach Tzedek commented: "...with others" who are "others" only in the bodily sense, but are completely united with him, for they empathize with him.

I got my answer from the Rebbe - and so soon - without even writing in...

I finally apologized (entirely) to arnon....!

I feel so so so much better.
And, as always, he was sucha mentch and so funny, too.

It's done. I really apologized.
He reassured me over and over that it's fine, that I already apologized, that he understood me then and understands me now, and that everything is okay.

I feel SOOOOOOOOOO relieved. SOOO cleared. SOOOOOOOOO much more at peace!

And now, WPFG here I come!!!!

I finally cried re chevron

I feel a little better. It's a closure of sorts.
I'm gonna write to the Rebbe iy"h. Thanks Ma.

It's sadness.
Simple sadness.
No rage, no anger, no hurt, no hate.
I'm only sad.
Sad and small and little.
Just (naturally) externally sad.

The Image That's Been Haunting Me Recently--

Monday, June 20, 2011


"Who??" I clutched the receiver tighter, breathing rapidly into the phone.

"Mendel", she answered softly.

Tears rushed out of my eyes and spilled down my face.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

"By sharply striking the stone of the animal soul, a spark of fire flies out and kindles the G-dly fire."
(The Alter Rebe)

Shabbat, Like a Whale Cresting

Shabbat is as wide and refreshing as the open sea air; its joys as the thrill of seeing a whale cresting the water with spray. Shabbat is a re-creation of the soul. Embrace it now and forever, for it is made for us.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

"Seven Days of Creation Song"


Porcelain Unicorn (A Short Film)

Grand Prize winner of the “Tell It Your Way” film-making competition. Rules of the contest, which received over 600 entries from around the world, were to create an original film, under 3 minutes, using a specific six-line dialogue.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Everything That Happens To You...

Everything that exists in your world is about communion with the Infinite. Everything is one of three:
A means to connect.
A path to fall away.
Or neutral ground awaiting you to transform it into a connection.

But if something were not part of your purpose,
it would not exist in your world.

People Who Think Differently Than Yourself

G-d created each person with physical differences. By the same token, the realization that a person does not think as we do should arouse no animosity, for this is also the result of G-d's design. A person who cannot accept differences is someone who will constantly be finding faults with others, and most likely, expressing their disapproval using negative speech. By opening our eyes to the value of others and acknowledging that G-d put them, too, into this world for a positive purpose, we can live a completely different kind of life. We can learn from others, expand our horizons and enjoy that which may be different but is worthy nonetheless.

(Positive Word Power by Chafetz Chaim Heritage Foundation)

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Monday, June 13, 2011

Sure would love to get in touch with this Kuwaiti woman and commend her for her deeds.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Tzipi: Living With RSD

Tzips is Lady Light's daughter.
Tzipi started a new blog about her personal battle with RSD.

What It's Like To Live With RSD:

People who know of RSD can imagine or understand that living with unimaginable pain is difficult. Sometimes they will even understand that it is difficult beyond belief. People who have done their research will know that 88% of RSD patient are suicidal, or that you are 900 times more likely to be suicidal if you have RSD than any other known condition in medical science. You may think that it's because of the pain, right? Being told that you have to live with what is considered to be the worst pain that a person can experience. Sure, you can get it to go into remission sometimes, but there is always that chance that it will come back; and there is no way to know whether it will come back more severe or less severe. Maybe that is the reason....

Or maybe you think that the reason RSD patients are suicidal is because they have a disgusting looking leg, or arm, or hand, or foot exposed for the world to see. That it is a constant embarrassment. Especially when, for example, you are sitting in a wheelchair and someone asks you what happened; you reply, "RSD," and they just stare at you with a blank face.

Or maybe it's because so many doctors have told you that it's all in your head or that you are making it up.

Maybe it's because your doctors say that you will never be able to have children because the physical trauma of labor will mostly likely bring back your RSD (if it had gone into remission). There are hundreds of reasons that you may think would cause someone with RSD to want to take their own life, but if you actually sit down and ask them, they won't say that it is because of the pain, or the change in their lifestyle. It probably won't be because so many of the things that they had planned on doing in life they can longer do and will probably never be able to do - whether or not remission is achieved. It probably won't be most of the reasons you thought of.

If you ask someone with RSD why they would want to take their own life, it will most likely be because of the effect they have had on others. It will be because no matter how many times people tell you otherwise, you feel as though you are a burden on whoever it is that is taking care of you. No matter how many times your family says they love you and want to help you get through this and that they don't mind, no matter how many times they say they want you living with them and want to go with you to the doctor or hospital, or that they don't mind helping you walk with crutches because there is a risk of falling due to weakness or a black out, no matter what they say, you will always feel like a burden. You will always feel guilty for asking for that extra cup of coffee. You will always feel guilty for all of a sudden making them stop dead in their tracks in the middle of doing something because you are hungry and would like something to eat, but you can't walk so they have to bring it to you. You will always feel guilty making them pause their movie to help you go to the bathroom. No matter how much you try to change your lifestyle so that they don't have to help, you will always feel guilty that you can't take care of yourself 100%. You will feel guilty about the extra money they suddenly spend on food because there is another mouth to feed. Or the extra money on utilities because you are unable to stand up in the shower and need to take a bath which uses more water. You feel embarrassed that they have to set up everything in the bathroom just so that you can take a bath or use the toilet. You feel guilty about taking up the extra space, the extra attention, the extra time.

If you ask someone with RSD why they would want to take their own life they won't say that it is because they can not cope with the RSD. They will tell you that it is because they no longer feel a part of the family, but rather a burden on the family. Every time you hear someone say it's harder to be the caretaker than the patient you die a little inside because you know it's true. Every time you ask for that bit of extra help that you need you feel so sorry that you are in the way. Every time your family cancels their plans because you can't be left alone, but you also can't come because you need to travel by ambulance, you want to cry.

Living with RSD is hard because everything changes; because everyone is ripped away from their comfort zones, their routines. Living with RSD makes you sad because you see how your family is stressed from making phone calls for you because your medications make you forget important things and you can't think clearly or make sense. You feel ashamed when you do try to help but don't do as good of a job at whatever it may be, whether calling to make a doctor appointment or something simple like putting your clothes away.

Living with RSD makes you fragile, not only physically but emotionally as well. When someone gets mad at you for whatever it is that you did or didn't do, it hurts. More than it should.

People mistake this as self pity. It's not. It's sadness, and if you have RSDRSD. I didn't ask to get hit by a car, and I'm definitely not saying it's my fault that I did and that I got sick from it. But it is my fault that everyone is stressed. I am a burden, and I know that for a fact. When you have RSD you are always sad. You use all your strength and energy to fight the RSD, to not lay in bed screaming and going hysterical over the pain. It doesn't leave you with much strength to try and be less in the way and more productive. I use all my energy to fight the side-effects of my medications. It is hard, and it is even harder not to get down when the people around you think you aren't trying hard enough.    

Four months ago, I didn't have RSD. I could walk, run, jump. Now it's hard for me to go to the bathroom or take a bath. It is hard for me to focus enough on my hand-eye coordination when I eat to not make a mess and get crumbs everywhere. I don't pity myself at all! Life deals bad hands a lot of the time. What makes me feel bad isn't that I have RSD, it's that everyone else has to learn to cope with it.

RSD, takes your life and your family's life. And that's what it is like to live with RSD - to not be able to live.

The Jewish Kingdom of Kuzar, The Rise and Fall of the Legendary Country of Converts


About the Book:

Over one thousand years ago, did the population of an entire pagan country, nestled between the shores of the Black and Caspian Seas and secluded in the forests of the Crimea, really convert to Judaism? Or is it just the stuff of legend? This sweeping historical novel tells the story of the Kuzars, with startlingly authentic detail and high quality writing that absorbs the reader completely. The fascinating plot and colorful characters bring enlightenment and inspiration even as they captivate the imagination. This book was originally written in German by Rabbi Zelig Shachnowitz, the famed German-Jewish author and editor who used his pen to fight against the Haskalah movement of his times. A timeless treasure, it has now been translated from the Hebrew translation, making it accessible to all who yearn to plunge into its richness and unique tapestry.

About the Author

Born in Lithuania in 1874, Rabbi Zelig Schachnowitz set his goal in life to use his creative talents to disseminate Torah-true Judaism, for adults as well as children. He served as editor-in-chief of the journal Der Israelit. He is the author of Light from the West and Avraham Ben Avraham. When the Nazis came to power he emigrated to Switzerland where he passed away in 1952.