Monday, September 30, 2013

The Wedding Gown That Made History and chose someone else

Emotional Understanding

In your dealings with other people, do not relate to them only with cold logic. Rather take their emotions and individual personalities into consideration.
These few words can take a lifetime to master. Speaking logically is generally straight and simple. But understanding the unique personalities and emotions of human beings is much more complex.
As a practical tool, focus on those who interact with you in an understanding, caring way. Learn from them
       Love Yehuda Lave 
The Wedding Gown That Made History
     Lilly Friedman doesn't remember the last name of the woman who designed and sewed the wedding gown she wore when she walked down the aisle over 60 years ago.  But the grandmother of seven does recall that when she first told her fiancĂ© Ludwig that she had always dreamed of being married in a white gown he realized he had his work cut out for him. 
 For the tall, lanky 21-year-old who had survived hunger, disease and torture this was a different kind of challenge.  How was he ever going to find such a dress in the Bergen Belsen Displaced Person's camp where they felt grateful for the clothes on their backs?

   Fate would intervene in the guise of a former German pilot who walked into the food distribution center where Ludwig worked, eager to make a trade for his worthless parachute.  In exchange for two pounds of coffee beans and a couple of packs of cigarettes Lilly would have her wedding gown.

   For two weeks Miriam the seamstress worked under the curious eyes of her fellow DPs, carefully fashioning the six parachute panels into a simple, long sleeved gown with a rolled collar and a fitted waist that tied in the back with a bow. When the dress was completed she sewed the leftover material into a matching shirt for the groom.

   A white wedding gown may have seemed like a frivolous request in the surreal environment of the camps, but for Lilly the dress symbolized the innocent, normal life she and her family had once led before the world descended into madness.  Lilly and her siblings were raised in a Torah observant home in the small town of Zarica, Czechoslovakia where her father was a melamed, respected and well liked by the young yeshiva students he taught in nearby Irsheva. 
   He and his two sons were marked for extermination immediately upon arriving at Auschwitz .  For Lilly and her sisters it was only their first stop on their long journey of persecution, which included Plashof, Neustadt, Gross Rosen and finally Bergen Belsen . 
Lilly Friedman and her parachute dress on display in the Bergen Belsen Museum

   Four hundred people marched 15 miles in the snow to the town of Celle on January 27, 1946 to attend Lilly and Ludwig's wedding.  The town synagogue, damaged and desecrated, had been lovingly renovated by the DPs with the meager materials available to them.  When a Sefer Torah arrived from England they converted an old kitchen cabinet into a makeshift Aron Kodesh. 
    "My sisters and I lost everything - our parents, our two brothers, our homes. The most important thing was to build a new home."  Six months later, Lilly's sister Ilona wore the dress when she married Max Traeger.  After that came Cousin Rosie.  How many brides wore Lilly's dress? "I stopped counting after 17." With the camps experiencing the highest marriage rate in the world, Lilly's gown was in great demand.

    In 1948 when President Harry Truman finally permitted the 100,000 Jews who had been languishing in DP camps since the end of the war to emigrate, the gown accompanied Lilly across the ocean to America .  Unable to part with her dress, it lay at the bottom of her bedroom closet for the next 50 years, "not even good enough for a garage sale. I was happy when it found such a good home." 
   Home was the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington , D.C. When Lily's niece, a volunteer, told museum officials about her aunt's dress, they immediately recognized its historical significance and displayed the gown in a specially designed showcase, guaranteed to preserve it for 500 years.

   But Lilly Friedman's dress had one more journey to make. Bergen Belsen , the museum, opened its doors on October 28, 2007.  The German government invited Lilly and her sisters to be their guests for the grand opening. They initially declined, but finally traveled to Hanover the following year with their children, their grandchildren and extended families to view the extraordinary exhibit created for the wedding dress made from a parachute. 
    Lilly's family, who were all familiar with the stories about the wedding in Celle , were eager to visit the synagogue.  They found the building had been completely renovated and modernized.  But when they pulled aside the handsome curtain they were astounded to find that the Aron Kodesh, made from a kitchen cabinet, had remained untouched as a testament to the profound faith of the survivors.  As Lilly stood on the bimah once again she beckoned to her granddaughter, Jackie, to stand beside her where she was once a kallah.  "It was an emotional trip.  We cried a lot."
   Two weeks later, the woman who had once stood trembling before the selective eyes of the infamous Dr. Josef Mengele returned home and witnessed the marriage of her granddaughter.
  The three Lax sisters - Lilly, Ilona and Eva, who together survived Auschwitz, a forced labor camp, a death march and Bergen Belsen - have remained close and today live within walking distance of each other in Brooklyn.  As mere teenagers, they managed to outwit and outlive a monstrous killing machine, then went on to marry, have children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and were ultimately honored by the country that had earmarked them for extinction.
   As young brides, they had stood underneath the chuppah and recited the blessings that their ancestors had been saying for thousands of years.  In doing so, they chose to honor the legacy of those who had perished by choosing life.

In Memoriam

It is now more than 60 years after the Second World War in Europe ended This e-mail is being sent as a memorial chain, in memory of the six million Jews, 20 million Russians, 10 million Christians and 1,900 Catholic priests who were murdered, massacred, raped, burned, starved and humiliated with the German and Russian peoples looking the other way!

Now, more than ever, with 
Iraq, Iran, and others, claiming the Holocaust to be 'a myth,' it's imperative to make sure the world never forgets, because there are others who would like to do it again.

GOOD MORNING! What does it mean to be the Chosen People? To many Jews it is a source of embarrassment and consternation. To many Christians it is a source of awe and admiration -- and to some Christians, jealousy. And to our Muslim cousins -- hatred?
When I grew up there was a comedy album called "You Don't Have to Be Jewish" (still available on CD!). One of the pieces was called, I believe, "Conversation with God." In it the Jew asks God, "Is it true that we are the Chosen People?" And God replies, "Yes, my son, the Jews are the Chosen People." To which the Jew asks, "Would it be possible to choose somebody else for a while?"
Why is the concept of Chosen People an embarrassment and consternation to some Jews? The great concepts of equality and liberty flow from our Torah. That we should think of ourselves as "chosen" rubs against the grain that all people are created in the image of God. Also, if our Chosen-ness makes others jealous, who needs to give more justifications for crusades, pogroms and holocausts? Some Jews think that we have suffered because the Almighty calls us His Chosen People. And even if our suffering is not because of the appellation, then what good does it do for us to be called the Chosen People?
Let's look at the sources: In this week's Torah portion, after commanding us to walk in His path, to observe His statutes, commandments and ordinances and to listen to His voice, the Torah writes, "And the Almighty has distinguished you this day to be for Him a treasured people, as He spoke to you, and to observe all of His commandments -- and elevate you above all of the nations that He made -- for praise, renown and splendor and to be a holy nation to the Lord your God, as He spoke" (Deuteronomy 26:18-19).
In an earlier Torah portion, the Torah writes, "Children you are to the Lord your God ... for you are a holy nation to the Lord your God and God has chosen you to be to Him a treasured people from all of the nations that are on the face of the earth" (Deuteronomy 14:1-3). And "For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be to Him a treasured people from all of the peoples that are on the face of the earth" (Deuteronomy 7:6).
And even earlier in the Book of Exodus, the Torah writes, "And now, if you will certainly listen to My voice and observe My covenant, you will be to Me treasured from all of the peoples, for the whole world is Mine. And you will be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation ..." (Exodus 19:5-6).
While the concept of Chosen People does not mean a superior people, it does imply a special closeness of the Jewish people to the Almighty. Why is there that special closeness, that special relationship?
The Midrash (Bamidbar Rabba 14:10) tells us that the Almighty went to the nations of the world and offered them the Torah. Each one asked, "What's in it?" The Almighty replied with a commandment that would be the most difficult for that particular nation and then each nation rejected it. The Jewish people, however, said "Na'aseh V'nishma" --we will do (the commandments) and we will analyze afterwards how they impact our lives.
The concept of Chosen People means both chosen and choosing. Chosen for the responsibility to be a light unto the nations, to be a moral signpost for the nations of the world. Choosing means that the Jewish people accepted on Mt. Sinai to fulfill this mandate and to do the will of God. We are not chosen for special benefits; we are chosen for extra responsibility.
Because of our voluntary acceptance, the Almighty made an eternal covenant with us that we will be His people and He will be our God. Any individual can come close to the Almighty, but the ultimate relationship comes through entering the covenant of Abraham and fulfilling the Torah. This special relationship is open to any member of humanity who wishes to enter the covenant irrespective of race, religion or ethnic origin.
Every nation, every people, every religion thinks that it is better than any other nation, people or religion. The Jewish people know that the issue is not whether we are better than anyone else, but whether we fulfill our part of the covenant with the Almighty to hold high the values of the Torah and to do the Almighty's will.

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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Music at your fingertips hits songs from prior years and a real oldie-2700 year old pottery from Israel

Grow From Each Challenge
Preparing to master the challenges we face gives our life purpose and meaning. Actually doing well is a source of great joy. Those who realize that life is for growing and developing from each and every challenge, each day of our lives, live a life of joy.
Love Yehuda Lave
             . 2,700-Year-Old Pottery Found in City of David
by Shlomo Pyutrokovski 2,700-Year-Old Pottery Found in City of David

Archaeologists working in the Gihon Spring area in the City of David in Jerusalem have discovered many ancient artifacts, including pottery shards, clay candle holders, and figurines dating back to the times of the First and Second Temples.

One recently discovered item has aroused particular interest: a pottery shard dating back to the First Temple period that includes part of a phrase etched into its rim. The writing may indicate proof of the existence of a Biblical figure.

The partial phrase reads "...ryahu ben Benaya," a possible reference to the prophet Yecheziel ben Zaharyahu ben Benaya, who is mentioned in the Biblical book of Chronicles 2, in chapter 20, verse 14. However, because the writing is incomplete, the full name cannot be verified.

The archaeologists who discovered the pottery shard have dated it to 2,700 years ago – some time between the kingdom of Hezekiah and the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BCE during the reign of King Zedekiah.

Archaeologists have previously found writing in the same area, on pottery as well as in the form of stamps and etchings in stone. Some writing has revealed names, including Gamaryahu ben Shafan (a family mentioned in the biblical texts as well) and Benayahu ben-Hoshayahu.

The shard will go on display on Thursday of this week as part of the 14th City of David Research Exhibition.

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A Little Astronomy - Spectacular photos from Hubble and Vegetarianism in Judaism and Simchat Torah

The Sanctity of Shabbos

In Judaism, Shabbos is a time to be especially careful not to become angry or to become involved in a quarrel. Quarrels spread like fire and destroy everything that is precious. The sanctity of Shabbos, if it is observed properly, enables people to feel a sense of unity. It promotes love and brotherhood. The sanctity of Shabbos can spread and enter the hearts of each individual and everyone can become as one.
If you haven't had an authentic Shabbos experience, write me and I'll recommend someone in your area to contact.

Love Yehuda Lave

Judaism and Vegetarianism

How does Judaism view vegetarianism? Is it favored or discouraged by the Torah?
The kosher dietary rules do rule out shrimp, lard, cheeseburgers, and lobster, but plain old beef is not on the Torah’s “don’t” list—if prepared following certain guidelines. For better or for worse, meat is an undeniable favorite on the kosher menu. Is this good? Let’s have a look.
The History
Upon his creation, Adam, the first man, is taught by G‑d the ways of the world: “Behold, I have given you every seed-bearing herb which is upon the surface of the entire earth, and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit; it will be yours for food.”1 Seed, herb, tree, and fruit—yes; anything else—no.
Several chapters (and over 1600 years) later, upon surviving the devastation of the great flood, Noah leaves the ark and is told by the Almighty, “Every moving thing that lives shall be yours to eat; like the green vegetation, I have given you everything.”2 His diet now includes meat as well.
It would seem that G‑d’s original (and ideal) plan was that we should not eat meat.3 One problem with this approach is that many statements in the Torah imply that meat-eating is ideal and encouraged, for example, to honor Shabbat and the holidays.4
So what is the deal? Would G‑d rather we be vegetarians like Adam, or meat-eaters like Noah?
The Philosophical Approach—Distinction of Responsibility
The fifteenth-century philosopher Rabbi Yosef Albo, author of Sefer ha-Ikkarim (“The Book of Principles”), understands G‑d’s instructions to Adam as an implication that the original G‑dly plan was that man should refrain from killing and eating meat. In his view, the killing of animals is a cruel and furious act, ingraining these negative traits in the human character; in addition, the meat of certain animals coarsens the heart and deadens its spiritual sensitivity.
The people of the first generations mistook this, however, to mean that human and animal were equal, with equal expectations and standards. This led to the degeneration of society into violence and corruption—for if the human being is but another beast, then killing a man is the equivalent of killing an animal. It was this attitude and behavior which prompted G‑d to cleanse the world with the great flood.
After the flood, G‑d laid down a new world order. People needed to recognize the moral obligations and divine purpose entrusted to humankind. To make this clear, G‑d told Noah that humankind can—indeed, must—eat the flesh of animals. Our dominion over animals highlights our superiority, and reminds us that we are charged with divine responsibility to perfect the world. To minimize its negative effects on the human being, when the Torah was given, G‑d forbade the flesh of those animals that have a coarsening influence on the soul.
(Is man really greater than animal? If so, how is he infused with energy by eating it? See footnote 5.)
According to this approach, meat-eating is not good, but it does serve a very important function.
The Kabbalistic Approach—Cosmic Perfection
While some question the right of man to kill an animal to fill his belly, the great sixteenth-century mystic Rabbi Isaac Luria questions the right of man to consume any organism for his own self-preservation. If everything in this word was created deliberately by G‑d, why is your blood redder than the purposeful existence of a tomato? And he answers that . . . it’s not. One who eats solely for his own selfish desires has swallowed the meaningful life of a vegetable with no excuse. “It’s not fair!” cries the helpless plant.
On the other hand, when we eat with the intention to use the energy to further our uniquely human service of G‑d, we have lifted the food up. When a person performs a G‑dly deed—a deed which transcends his natural self—the food he eats is elevated along with him, and is reunited with its G‑dly source.5
But there’s a difference between animal-based and vegetation-based foods. For starters, you can’t live without bread. If you’d eat bread only when you’re ready to elevate it, you might starve to death and never get a chance to try again. So we can’t restrict bread-eating to the spiritual-minded. Moreover, when eating simple, necessary foods like bread, it is easier to maintain a purposeful perspective. But meat is a luxury. And indulgence in this luxury makes one more materialistic than he was before eating. Therefore, one should only eat meat if one will be able to accomplish more with the meat than he would be able to with vegetation. One way to make your meat-eating worthwhile is to elevate not only its physical components, but its pleasure factor as well. Click here to read more about this. If you can do that, you have brought yourself and your lunch to greater spiritual heights and sensitivity than you can achieve by eating sprouts. On the other hand, if you don’t, you drag yourself—and the animal—to a more materialistic plane.6
Why is it that only the post-flood world can take the beef challenge?
The human race from Adam until Noah had the potential and charge to eat that which is indispensable to basic survival, with the intent to live a life of purpose; in this way, the man and food would have achieved their purpose. But eating meat requires much more than this. Meat, with its pleasure-inducing properties, naturally draws one towards materialistic lust. Elevating meat requires the ability to rise above the natural order, to bring new and altruistic life into something which is naturally the embodiment of materialism and self-indulgence. Pre-flood humanity and pre-flood meat didn’t allow for this.
Noah emerged from the ark to a changed world, a world where everything has the creative ability to go beyond its natural state of being and to assume a much greater identity. A new era of earthly potential was born.7 The world was now a place where man could elevate the very nature of earth’s components to supernatural heights—and even elevate their power of enticement and pleasure as well. Now man was given the ability to eat even meat and elevate its energy.8
Even for us, rarefied by the flood, eating meat is no simple feat. Before you sink your teeth in to that pastrami burger, here are a couple of things to keep in mind.
The sages declared that an empty-minded person has no right to eat meat.9 They also taught never to eat meat out of hunger; first satisfy your hunger with bread.10 (On an empty stomach, it is very difficult to keep focus on anything other than stuffing your face.) Only when “eating mindfully,” focusing on our divine mission, are we doing more for the animal than the animal is doing for us.
According to this approach, it may be cruel to not eat meat, because doing so robs the animal of its chance to serve a higher purpose.
Don’t be scared off. Get your act together and focus; the completion of G‑d’s universal plan is at “steak.”
Bon appetit!
Baruch S. Davidson
Author’s disclaimer: If for health purposes you do not eat meat, or you are absolutely repulsed by it, the above ideas are not meant to compel you to do so in disregard of your health or the like. Under such circumstances, the pleasure factor can be elevated through ice cream, soda, potato chips, etc. For alternative resources of the passionate love for G‑d which is fueled by meat, see your local Kabbalist.

A Little Astronomy - Spectacular photos from Hubble
Attached pps

This is amazing.  Enjoy. 

What is Simchat Torah?

It’s the holiday that celebrates the conclusion of the yearly cycle of reading the Torah, after which we begin anew reading the Five Books of Moses, starting from the first chapter of Genesis.

Simchat Torah is a celebratory Jewish holiday that marks the completion of the annual Torah reading cycle. Simchat Torah literally means "Rejoicing in the Law" in Hebrew.

The Meaning of Simchat Torah

Throughout the year, a set portion of the Torah is read each week. On Simchat Torah that cycle is finished when the last verses of Deuteronomy are read. The first few verses of Genesis are read immediately afterward, thereby starting the cycle again. For this reason, Simchat Torah is a joyous holiday celebrating having completed the study of God's word and looking forward to hearing those words again during the coming year.

When Is Simchat Torah?

In Israel, Simchat Torah is celebrated on the twenty-second day of the Hebrew month of Tishrei, directly after Sukkot. Outside of Israel it is celebrated on the twenty-third day of Tishrei. The differences in date are due to the fact that many holidays celebrated outside the land of Israel have an additional day added to them because in ancient times the rabbis worried that without this extra day Jews might become confused about the date and accidentally end their holiday observances early.

Celebrating Simchat Torah

Simchat Torah services begin in the evening, at the start of the holiday. The Torah scrolls are removed from the ark and given to members of the congregation to hold, then they march around the synagogue and everyone kisses the Torah scrolls as they pass. This ceremony is known as hakafot, which means "to march around" in Hebrew. Once the Torah holders return to the ark everyone forms a circle around them and dances with them. There are sevenhakafot in total, so as soon as the first dance is completed the scrolls are handed to other members of the congregation and the ritual begins anew. In some synagogues it is also popular for children to hand out candy to everyone.
During Simchat Torah services the next morning many congregations will divide into smaller prayer groups, each of which will use one of the synagogue's Torah scrolls. Dividing the service up this way gives every person in attendance the opportunity to bless the Torah. In some traditional communities only the men or pre-bar mitzvah boys accompanied by adults bless the Torah (post bar mitzvah boys are counted among the men). In other communities women and girls are also allowed to take part.
Because Simchat Torah is such a happy day, services are not as formal as at other times. Some congregations will drink liquor during the service, others will make a game out of singing so loud that they drown out the cantor's voice. Overall the holiday is a unique and joyful experience.

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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Stunning Photos and our Orthodox legal system and Shemini Atzeret

How one church handles Cell phone interruptions! And that is without violating shabbat.

This is from a fellow who visited a church in Burbank , CA , where they actually showed this video on how they handle cell phones in church.
It's only one minute long, and a hoot!!

Good Traits are Easier Than You Think

Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto (18th century Italy) wrote:
"I cannot deny that it will take hard work to free yourself from negative traits. Nevertheless, I can honestly tell you that not as much effort is needed as might at first appear. What you need appears more difficult than it will actually be in practice. When you are sincerely motivated to work consistently to free yourself from your faults, the positive habits you begin to establish will render the entire process much easier than you originally thought. Experience confirms this to be true."
Today, think about what positive habits you'd wish to master. Either write them down, or make a mental picture of how your life would be enhanced by mastering these traits. The stronger your feelings abut how much you will gain, the more motivated you will be.

Love Yehuda Lave

Attorney's are deeper than you think--Attorney Baruch Cohen for example:
An event, which took place more than 25 years ago, was a defining moment, sharpening Baruch Cohen' commitment to never apologize for who he was. "Ever since that day, I have worn my kippah everywhere, at bench trials and any other professional venue. If someone has a problem with my kippah, it's their problem, not mine. Orthodox Jewish attorneys should not feel like second-class citizens in the American judicial system. Our Torah pioneered all the core concepts of law."
A successful L.A. business and litigation attorney, Baruch Cohen says that today, it's common to see observant attorneys wearing kippahs in the courtroom, and he has never personally encountered flack from judges for it. But among the many articles he has written on the intersection of Jewish and civil law, one was based on a Texas judge who demanded an orthodox attorney remove his kippah in her courtroom or she would not allow him to argue his case there.

Baruch's  persona as an observant Jew, especially in the very public arena of courthouses, makes him a magnet for questions about Israel and Judaism. Once a Jewish colleague cornered him at the courthouse. "I can't understand why Israel won't make peace with the Palestinians," the man asked.
Baruch was outraged at the man's naivete. "This was a stacked question, so I employed a technique to get him to see the truth. Knowing the man was around 60, I asked him if he had ever had a CAT scan or MRI."
"That's an invasive question," the man countered.
Baruch repeated the question, and as he retells the story, he clearly savors the memory of the duel. His colleague admitted that he had not only had these medical scans but that a tumor had been discovered along the way.
Did you decide to make peace with the tumor or did you go to battle with it to save your life?
Baruch then went in for the kill: "Did you decide to make peace with the tumor or did you go to battle with it to save your life?" The other lawyer was so startled by the analogy that he actually invited Baruch to make a presentation on Israel to a group of lawyers, all of whom had biases against Israel.
"Lawyers are supposed to be evidence-based, which means they should be on the forefront of defending Israel," Baruch observes. In 2010, during the Gaza flotilla crisis, he was so outraged by the drumbeat of overwhelmingly negative press against Israel that he launched a blog called American Trial Attorneys in Defense of Israel. The blog includes links to Israel-related news articles, videos (including from blog posts and other commentary, and even the occasional parody, all meant to educate and enlighten readers about Jewish spirituality and Israel realpolitik. He credits Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz's books Chutzpah and The Case for Israel in particular as an inspiration for his own advocacy.
"In a court of law, I'd have the opportunity to impeach Israel's defamers. My blog is a cyberspace court of law," he says. A Jewish judge confided to Baruch that his notions about Israel had previously been formed by the reflexively leftist editorial pages of the Los Angeles Times. This judge, whose name had been floated as a U.S. Supreme Court nominee, has since done a complete turnaround on Israel in part from reading the blog, and has even taken groups of colleagues there. Baruch is satisfied that the blog is having an impact. "Besides, the attorney reading the blog today might be a senator tomorrow." Baruch has spoken several times on the case for Israel, including on behalf of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA.)

It is clear when talking to Baruch Cohen that this man loves a good fight. "I'm a student of Sun Tzu's The Art of War," he says. "I'm tenacious like a pit bull when in fight-mode." From his spacious ninth-floor office in midtown Los Angeles with floor-to-ceiling windows, on a clear day he can see all the way to the Pacific Ocean from one view and the skyscrapers downtown from the opposite view. Before a big case, he likes to pace the office in his stocking feet, practicing his arguments. "This is my lucky stress-reliever and helps focus my mind, like Bruce Willis in Diehard."
It's not surprising that a man who channels Bruce Willis and Sun Tzu would also boast of his "aggressive" legal tactics in advertisements for his practice. He was also delighted to hear that an attorney from the opposing side in one case was warned, "Be afraid, be very afraid" of going against him. Don't these "scorched earth" tactics and overt aggressiveness feed into negative Jewish stereotypes? Aren't they at odds with ideals of Jewish justice and sensitivity?
"Not at all," he states. "I'm aggressive but not abrasive. When a client is pursued wrongfully, it's therapeutic to have someone strong on their side. It is rehabilitative for a broken and downtrodden client to have someone willing to fight for them to the max. As long as it is done with honesty and integrity, I see no contradiction. And sometimes the best offense is a good defense."

These are beautiful....   
Surfing a rainbow 
Stunning Photographs That Will Leave You in Awe
Roller coaster in nature
Stunning Photographs That Will Leave You in Awe

Jupiter and its moon, IO
Stunning Photographs That Will Leave You in Awe

On the edge
Stunning Photographs That Will Leave You in Awe

Dubai bathed in Sunlight
Stunning Photographs That Will Leave You in Awe

Eerie Irish Countryside
Stunning Photographs That Will Leave You in Awe

Cordon del Caulle erupts in Chile
Stunning Photographs That Will Leave You in Awe

Giraffes at dusk
Stunning Photographs That Will Leave You in Awe
Ice Canyon
Stunning Photographs That Will Leave You in Awe

Shan Hai Guan. Where the great wall of China meets the sea
Stunning Photographs That Will Leave You in Awe

Kyoto Bamboo forest
Stunning Photographs That Will Leave You in Awe

Abandoned subway beneath New York
Stunning Photographs That Will Leave You in Awe

Dubai at night
Stunning Photographs That Will Leave You in Awe

The temple of sky, Iceland
Stunning Photographs That Will Leave You in Awe

Castle in Werfen, Austria
Stunning Photographs That Will Leave You in Awe

Garden Staircase in Kyoto, Japan
Stunning Photographs That Will Leave You in Awe

Lightning Across the Sky
Stunning Photographs That Will Leave You in Awe

Tamblian Lake, Indonesia
Stunning Photographs That Will Leave You in Awe

Mount Kilimanjaro from above
Stunning Photographs That Will Leave You in Awe

The Waterfall Island at Iguazu Falls
Stunning Photographs That Will Leave You in Awe

Beautiful view from the lighthouse. Lengkuas island, Indonesia
Stunning Photographs That Will Leave You in Awe

Creating the Palm Islands in Dubai
Stunning Photographs That Will Leave You in Awe

Earth, Jupiter, and Venus seen from Mars
Stunning Photographs That Will Leave You in Awe

Space from the Himalayas
Stunning Photographs That Will Leave You in Awe

Sunrise over Lofoten, Norway
Stunning Photographs That Will Leave You in Awe

Isle of Skye. Hebrides, Scotland
Stunning Photographs That Will Leave You in Awe

Clear Water of Sameranger Lake, Austria
Stunning Photographs That Will Leave You in Awe

Sailing into the moon
Stunning Photographs That Will Leave You in Awe

Tomb of the Prussian Royal Family
Stunning Photographs That Will Leave You in Awe

Trolltunga, Norway
Stunning Photographs That Will  Leave You in Awe


The beauty of Guilin, China
Stunning Photographs That Will Leave You in Awe

Stress free
Stunning Photographs That Will Leave You in Awe
Stunning Photographs That Will Leave You in Awe

Beautiful Burma
Stunning Photographs That Will Leave You in Awe
Stunning Photographs That Will Leave You in Awe

Stunning. Lake Louise in Canada
Stunning Photographs That Will Leave You in Awe

Living on the edge of the abyss
Stunning Photographs That Will Leave You in Awe

Crazy supercell thunderstorm clouds
Stunning Photographs That Will Leave You in Awe

Unreal photo of Dubai
Stunning Photographs That Will Leave You in Awe

Amazing volcano eruption
Stunning Photographs That Will Leave You in Awe

Coastal village of Manarola, Italy
Stunning Photographs That Will Leave You in Awe

Buddhist monks, lantern lighting ceremony
Stunning Photographs That Will Leave You in Awe

Reflections of Mont Saint-Michel
Stunning Photographs That Will Leave You in Awe

A beautiful city. Tehran, Iran
Stunning Photographs That Will Leave You in Awe

Morning in Tuscany
Stunning Photographs That Will Leave You in Awe

A sea of sunflowers
Stunning Photographs That Will Leave You in Awe

Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany
Stunning  Photographs That Will Leave You in Awe

Sveti Stefan Island, Montenegro
Stunning Photographs That Will Leave You in Awe

Potala Palace, Tibet
Stunning Photographs That Will Leave You in Awe

Chicago skyline in the sunset
Stunning Photographs That Will Leave You in Awe

Obersee Lake, Germany
Stunning Photographs That Will Leave You in Awe

Ancient Monastery in Armenia
Stunning Photographs That Will Leave You in Awe

Largest statue of Ghenghis Khan in the world on the Mongolian Steppes
Stunning Photographs That Will Leave You in Awe

Cave of the Crystal Sepulcher in Belize
Stunning Photographs That Will Leave You   in Awe

The Milky Way over Jackson Lake and Grand Teton National Park
Stunning Photographs That Will Leave You in Awe

Broken Boat
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What is Shemini Atzeret?

Falling just after Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret the holiday on which Jews start praying for rain.

Shemini Atzeret-Simchat Torah FAQ

Everything you ever wanted to know about the holidays

(Abigail Miller/Tablet Magazine)
Falling just after Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret is the holiday on which Jews start praying for rain.
It's the holiday that celebrates the conclusion of the yearly cycle of reading the Torah, after which we begin anew reading the Five Books of Moses, starting from the first chapter of Genesis.
Shemini Atzeret 2013 begins on sundown Wednesday, September 25, ending on Thursday, September 26. In Israel, it is celebrated on the same day as Simchat Torah. In the Diaspora, Simchat Torah falls the day after Shemini Atzeret.
Outside of Israel, Simchat Torah 2013 begins on sundown Thursday, September 26, ending on Friday, September 27.
The Book of Numbers explains Shemini Atzeret simply: "On the eighth day you should hold a solemn gathering; you shall not work at your occupation." That's about it. the "eighth day"—shemini—concept suggests the holiday is part of Sukkot, a final eighth day of the holiday; it is, however, not part of Sukkot, though the two holidays share a focus on agriculture and Shemini Atzeret follows directly after the holiday of Sukkot. Rushing to interpret the meaning of this strange and loosely defined holiday, the rabbis never lacked for creative explanations. Some, for example, argued that as Sukkot is a time to commemorate dwelling in temporary structures as guests of the Lord, Shemini Atzeret is a bonus round of sorts, a reminder that God loves his chosen people so much he is reluctant to let them go back to business as usual. Other scholars argued that while Sukkot is a universal holiday, in which we're commanded to invite guests into our homes, Shemini Atzeret is just for Jews, a time for God to bond with his favorite children.
There's also the matter of the holiday's proximity to Simchat Torah. In Israel, Simchat Torah and Shemini Atzeret are celebrated on the same day, right after Sukkot. Elsewhere, Simchat Torah is celebrated the day after Shemini Atzeret, that is, two days after Sukkot. We realize how confusing this is; luckily, there's nothing for us to do but sit in a sukkah and be in a festive mood.
The focus of Simchat Torah is the Five Books of Moses—finishing reading them, that is. On Simchat Torah, minyan congregants read the Torah's last portion and then jump right back to the beginning and read the first, creating a never-ending cycle of book reading.
Simchat Torah's festivities begin, as do all Jewish holidays, on the holiday's eve. The synagogue's Torah scrolls, confined to the ark except when they're being read during Torah services during the week, are removed, and members of the entire congregation (in some communities, only the men) pass the scrolls from hand to hand, dancing and chanting liturgy while circling the synagogue seven times. This is known as hakafot, or rounds. (Interestingly enough, hakafot is also the proper Hebrew word for the game of baseball.) While tradition only requires the revelers to remain inside the synagogue, many communities take the party to the streets, and children are customarily given colorful flags and candy.
In recent decades, Simchat Torah has become the occasion for political gatherings. In the 1970s and '80s, there were frequent, massive demonstrations across America in support of Jewish refuseniks in the Soviet Union.
Whatever you like. There is no particular food associated with Shemini Atzeret. And while there is no echt dish for Simchat Torah, it is traditional to give children sweets to better emphasize the joyous nature of the holiday. Torah-shaped cookies and candied apples are perennial favorites. It has also become traditional for celebrants of Simchat Torah to enjoy the holiday festivities with the help of libations.
The only "do" for Shemini Atzeret is to begin the recitation of a special prayer for rain, tefilat geshem, marking the beginning of the rainy season following the harvest. This plea is recited regularly until Passover.
On Simchat Torah, the Priestly Blessing, usually recited during the Musaf service, is bumped up to Shacharit, the early morning service. One plausible explanation for that is that Kohanim, or the priestly line of Aaron's descendants, are prohibited from performing the blessing while intoxicated, and the change of schedule allows them to perform their duties early on Simchat Torah morning and partake in the holiday's festivities for the rest of the day.
Another tradition has to do with the congregation's youngest members, who are honored with a collective aliyah during which they are all covered with a large tallit as Jacob's blessing to his children is read out loud. "May the angel who redeems me from all evil bless the children," it reads, "and may my name be declared among them, and the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac, and may they teem like fish for multitude within the land."
Some congregations also invite all eligible members for an aliyah, often repeating portions several times over to give everyone an opportunity to read from the Torah.
While Shemini Atzeret has no special readings, Simchat Torah is all about reading. We finish reading Deuteronomy, the last book of the Pentateuch, and start the cycle again, tackling Genesis from its opening verses.
• Watch Rabbi David Kalb explain Shemini Atzeret
• Get down with K'tonton's prayer for rain, everybody's favorite (and, possibly, world's only) Shemini Atzeret-themed children's book
• Go round and round on hakafot with the Viznitz Hasids for Simchat Torah.
• Sweeten things with some Torah-shaped cookies.
• Brush up on some of the celebration's social aspects.
• Read our commentary on the Torah's first parasha
• …Or contemplate the last.

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