Monday, June 30, 2014

Why?? and a little humor from Mad Magazine religious side and Jerusalem Double Decker bus

An Encouraging Word 

A kind word can last forever. An encouraging word can be the foundation upon which many constructive years will be established. Enhancing the self-image of a child with a brief but powerful comment can create a magnificent human being. Words that inspire function like the fuel that enables the rocket to take off!!

Love Yehuda Lave

circle tour around Jerusalem in a Double Decker red bus



Why do supermarkets
make the sick walk all the way to the back of the store to get their prescriptions while healthy people can buy cigarettes at the front? 

Why do people order double cheeseburgers, large fries, and a diet coke?

Why do banks leave vault doors open and then chain the pens to the counters?

Why do we leave cars worth thousands of dollars in our driveways and put our useless junk in the garage?

Why the sun lightens our hair, but darkens our skin?

Why can't women put on mascara with their mouth closed?

Why don't you ever see the headline 'Psychic Wins Lottery'?

Why is 'abbreviated' such a long word?

Why is it that doctors and attorneys call what they do 'practice'?

Why is lemon juice made with artificial flavoring, and dish washing liquid made with real lemons?

Why is the man who invests all your money called a broker? 

Why is the time of day with the slowest traffic called rush hour?

Why isn't there mouse-flavored cat food?

Why didn't Noah swat those two mosquitoes?

Why do they sterilize the needle for lethal injections?

You know that indestructible black box that is used on airplanes? Why don't they make the whole plane out of that stuff??

Why don't sheep shrink when it rains?

Why are they called apartments when they are all stuck together?

If flying is so safe,
 why do they call the airport the terminal? 

At MAD Magazine, an Unlikely Rabbinic Figure

What the magazine's humorist and artist Dave Berg taught me about Judaism

By Charles Moss|June 13, 2014 1:19 PM|Comments: 10
Two of David Berg's MAD magazine comic strips. (MAD magazine. Top: MAD #134, April 1970; Bottom: MAD #261, March 1986)

In my high school confirmation class, the rabbi of my synagogue at the time, Richard Sherwin, used an unorthodox approach to teach us about the essence of Judaism; he used essays from the book My Friend God by MAD magazine writer and artist Dave Berg. Not only did it work in getting me excited about all of the things my religion had to offer, but it reinforced my love for MAD.

After 20 years, I finally bought my own copy of Berg's long-out-of-print book. When I began flipping through it, I discovered that the edition I bought included a letter from Rabbi Sherwin, with whom I had recently reconnected through the magic of Facebook. I called him immediately and he told me about his ongoing correspondence with the late humorist, with whom, apparently, he had grown pretty close until Berg's death in 2002.

In the letter, Sherwin wrote:

I have been using my old worn copies in my high school classes at the synagogue. If I had my way, I would not hand out copies of the prayer book when [my students] go off to college, but I would make sure everyone had Dave Berg's books. The concept of God as a friend had really made a difference in the way people perceive the traditional worship service. People here—especially the kids—tell me that there is so much warmth that now comes from the pages of the prayer book, that they can now find new meaning from the most ancient words.

Who would've thought a cartoonist from a satire magazine could bring that kind of enlightenment to a rabbi and his synagogue? But Berg did.

He is best known for his "The Lighter Side of…" column in MAD, which ran for 41 years, from 1961 until his death. The satirical cartoons took shots at everyday life with topics ranging from marriage and having babies to generational and gender differences. He pretty much made fun of everybody, including himself, often inserting his likeness into the panels—a caricature by the name of Roger Kaputnik, the everyman.

But what many people don't know is that Berg was a pretty religious guy. And working at MAD, there was little tolerance for serious, straight-laced Judaism, especially from then-publisher Bill Gaines, who happened to be an atheist. Gaines would respond to Berg's "God bless you" by telling him to go to hell.

Berg held an honorary doctorate in theology and often contributed religiously themed pieces to Chabad's Moshiach Times and the B'nai B'rith newsletter. According to cartoonist Al Jaffee, MAD's longest-running contributor (and a fellow contributor to Moshiach Times), Berg had a very moralistic personality. In a 2009 interview, he said, "Dave had a messianic complex of some sort. He was battling… he had good and evil inside of him, clashing all the time. It was sad, in a sense, because he wanted to be taken very seriously and, you know, the staffers at MAD just didn't take anybody seriously; most of all ourselves."

In other words, Berg was human.

Like a Jewish Mark Twain, he was a great observer of life and how humans live it, especially in America. He took our insecurities, our contradictions, our strengths and weaknesses and he wrote and drew about them, exposing them all in such a way that we can't help but laugh at ourselves. And that's how Berg approached his religious writing as well.

But unlike Mark Twain—who didn't care much for religion—Berg was a devout practitioner of Judaism. He studied it, working out anecdotes for the way he saw God and religion. And he made it funny.

In a passage from My Friend God, he writes:

In the beginning God created…"
What's that you ask, "WHO IS GOD?"
I'm talking about MY FRIEND GOD.
When's the last time I saw God?
Well, the astronauts just saw God
on the last shuttle mission

OK, so maybe that's a joke. Maybe.
But my friend God isn't a she or a he.
All that "He" stuff in the Bible
is only because a HE is just an IT.
Not all men are ITS, but my friend God
is not a sex or a color. Just a shade
called FRIEND.

Berg, or Roger Kaputnik, deconstructs Judaism's idea of God, to make he/she/it something less intimidating and more relatable. And by doing this, he blew my mind.

He touched not just on religious matters but political, cultural and social ones, simplifying complex ideas into quirky life lessons:

There is no,
There never was any
There never will be any
Such an ANIMAL as
There is,
An will only be
such a monster as

He also questioned everything and encouraged his readers to do the same, pointing out the contradictions in life and religion, the absurdity and beauty of it all.

Charles Moss is a freelance writer based in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He has written for Slate, The Atlantic, Paste and Popmatters.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Normandy photos 65 years ago and today...and a wasp against a tarantula

Keep Focused in Prayer

Keep your focus on the meaning of the words you say when praying. Listen to what your mouth says. Do not try to force out distractions that disturb you from concentrating on your prayers. Rather, overcome those by thinking about the meaning of what you are saying.

Love Yehuda Lave

David fighting Goliath A wasp against a tarantula

Normandy during WWII and NOW – Before & After! Amazing photos.

Here are four primary excuses that hold people  back. See if you find yourself in any of them.

1. I don't have time. This is an excuse that I often say out loud. And when I say it, I mean it. It's true. There are only 24 hours in a day, and it's challenging to find the time to begin anything new. It's just hard to take that step back from all the urgent, busy tasks that fill our days and carve out some space to grow. But even though I may not have an hour, I can find five minutes here. I can grab another ten minutes there. Before I go to sleep, I can find another 15 minutes. And the cumulative power of those minutes can change my entire day. There is always a bit more time if you want it badly enough.

2. I'm not ready. How many times have I told myself that if I had just a little more knowledge, more experience, more resources I'd be ready to give it a try? I just need another degree. Some more confidence. A little more experience. A class in public speaking. A guarantee that I won't fail. This excuse makes sure I'll never even begin. Because while I'm not ready, thousands of people with less education, less money and maybe even less experience, are trying anyway. As James Baldwin once said, "Those who say it can't be done are usually interrupted by others doing it."

3. What will other people say? Change is hard enough when we are struggling with ourselves. When we are also looking around us and over our shoulders to see if others approve of us, we waste precious time and energy. We all eventually learn that it's impossible to please all people all of the time. And it's usually impossible to please all people even some of time. You don't need someone else's approval to follow your dreams. You don't need anyone else's permission to search for meaning. Often authentic change only comes after we have stopped looking over our shoulders and resolved to be true to ourselves.

4. It's too late. It's too late for me to make major changes. I'm already married with children. I have a mortgage and a set plan for the next ten years. Or I'm already set in my firm. It's too late now to change paths. I already chose my major, began my profession, chose my friends. It's too late to change anything now. This excuse can start after our sophomore year of college, when we're stuck in a major that makes us miserable, and we are too scared to start again. And the excuse will continue unless we face this incredible truth: it's never too late. Your life is never set in stone. You can always begin again. Change your life so that you are excited to wake up in the morning and live. "If not now, when?"

This is the time. Right now. To pray. To cry. And to believe that it is never too late. We need to know that in the deepest recesses of our heart, now more than ever, it is never too late for any of us.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

world's toughest job, spiritual video, Rabbi Sacks and Eli Wallach passes at 98

  World's toughest job--enjoy the video

  Your View Of Yourself

View yourself as being a person who is grateful and fervently wants to keep upgrading his level of gratitude. This will lead to more words and acts of gratitude. This is who you are and it is an integral part of what you do.

"But what if I'm not really a grateful person?" some ask. Right now, make a verbal or written list of ten things you are grateful for.

Once you do this, you are a person who has expressed gratitude. Therefore you have a right to begin to view yourself as someone who is already on the pathway to being a grateful person.

Every grateful statement and action will strengthen your self-image of being a grateful person. This will lead to even more words and actions of gratitude and your positive self-image in this area will become increasingly solidified.

  Love Yehuda Lave

Jews around the world are praying for the kidnapped boys.. Here is one of the prayers from the Yeshiva where they go to school:

Subject: Absolutely wonderful
 What an incredible outlook on life!  It makes one reflect on how valuable life is...wonderful, beautiful spiritual video
Takes about 10 minutes, turn your speakers on and I hope you enjoy………………

Miriam, Moses' Friend
Chukkat - 28 June, 2014 / 30 Sivan, 5774

It is one of the great mysteries of the Torah. Arriving at Kadesh the people find themselves without water. They complain to Moses and Aaron. The two leaders go to the Tent of Meeting and there they are told by God to take the staff and speak to the rock, and water will emerge.

Moses' subsequent behavior is extraordinary. He takes the staff. He and Aaron gather the people. Then Moses says: "Listen now, you rebels, shall we bring you water out of this rock?" Then "Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff" (Num. 20: 10-11).

This was the behavior that cost Moses and Aaron their chance of leading the people across the Jordan into the Promised Land. "Because you did not have enough faith in Me to sanctify me in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I have given them" (ibid., v. 12).

The commentators disagree as to which aspect of Moses' behaviour was wrong: His anger? His act of striking the rock instead of speaking to it? The implication that it was he and Aaron, not God, who were bringing water from the rock? I argued in an earlier Covenant and Conversation that Moses neither sinned nor was punished. He merely acted as he had done almost forty years earlier when God told him to hit the rock (Ex. 17: 6), and thereby showed that though he was the right leader for the people who had been slaves in Egypt, he was not the leader for their children who were born in freedom and would conquer the land.

This time, though, I want to pose a different question. Why then? Why did Moses fail this particular test? After all, he had been in a similar situation twice before. After emerging from the Red Sea the people had traveled for three days without finding water. Then they found some but it was bitter and they complained. God showed Moses how to make the water sweet (Ex. 15: 22-26).

Arriving at Rephidim, again they found no water and complained. Despairing, Moses said to God, "What am I to do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me." God patiently instructs Moses as to what to do, and water flows from the rock. (Ex. 17: 1-7).

So Moses had successfully overcome two similar challenges in the past. Why on this third occasion did he lose emotional control? What was different?

The answer is stated explicitly in the text, but in so understated a way that we may fail to grasp its significance. Here it is:
In the first month the whole Israelite community arrived at the Desert of Zin, and they stayed at Kadesh. There Miriam died and was buried. (Num. 20: 1)
Immediately after this we read: "Now there was no water for the community, and the people gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron." A famous Talmudic passage[1] explains that it was in Miriam's merit that the Israelites had a well of water that miraculously accompanied them through their desert journeys. When Miriam died, the water ceased. This interpretation reads the sequence of events simply and supernaturally. Miriam died. Then there was no water. From this, you can infer that until then there was water because Miriam was alive. It was a miracle in her merit.

However there is another way of reading the passage, naturally and psychologically. The connection between Miriam's death and the events that followed had less to do with a miraculous well and more to do with Moses' response to the complaints of the Israelites.

This was the first trial he had to face as leader of the people without the presence of his sister. Let us recall who Miriam was, for Moses. She was his elder sister, his oldest sibling. She had watched over his fate as he floated down the Nile in a pitched basket. She had the presence of mind, and the audacity, to speak to Pharaoh's daughter and arrange for the child to be nursed by an Israelite woman, that is, by Moses' own mother Yocheved. Without Miriam, Moses would have grown up not knowing who he was and to which people he belonged.

Miriam is a background presence throughout much of the narrative. We see her leading the women in song at the Red Sea, so it is clear that she, like Aaron, had a leadership role. We gain a sense of how much she meant to Moses when, in an obscure passage, she and Aaron "began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite" (Num. 12: 1). We do not know exactly what the issue was, but we do know that Miriam was smitten with leprosy. Aaron turns helplessly to Moses and asks him to intervene on her behalf, which he does with simple eloquence in the shortest prayer on record – five Hebrew words – "Please, God, heal her now." Moses still cares deeply for her, despite her negative talk.

It is only in this week's parsha that we begin to get a full sense of her influence, and this only by implication. For the first time Moses faces a challenge without her, and for the first time Moses loses emotional control in the presence of the people. This is one of the effects of bereavement, and those who have suffered it often say that the loss of a sibling is harder to bear than the loss of a parent. The loss of a parent is part of the natural order of life. The loss of a sibling can be less expected and more profoundly disorienting. And Miriam was no ordinary sibling. Moses owed her his entire relationship with his natural family, as well as his identity as one of the children of Israel.

It is a cliché to say that leadership is a lonely undertaking. But at the same time no leader can truly survive on his or her own. Yitro told Moses this many years earlier. Seeing him leading the people alone he said, "You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone" (Ex. 18: 18). A leader needs three kinds of support: (1) allies who will fight alongside him, (2) troops or a team to whom he can delegate, and (3) a soul-mate or soul-mates to whom he can confide his doubts and fears, who will listen without an agenda other than being a supportive presence, and who will give him the courage, confidence and sheer resilience to carry on.

Having known through personal friendship many leaders in many fields, I can say with certainty that it is false to suppose that people in positions of high leadership have thick skins. Most of those I have known have not. They are often intensely vulnerable. They can suffer deeply from doubt and uncertainty. They know that a leader must often make a choice between two evils, and you never know in advance how a decision will work out. Leaders can be hurt by criticism and the betrayal of people they once considered friends. Because they are leaders, they rarely show any signs of vulnerability in public. They have to project a certainty and confidence they do not feel. But Ronald Heifetz and Marty Linsky, the Harvard leadership experts, are right to say, "The hard truth is that it is not possible to experience the rewards and joy of leadership without experiencing the pain as well."[2]  

Leaders need confidants, people who "will tell you what you do not want to hear and cannot hear from anyone else, people in whom you can confide without having your revelations spill back into the work arena." A confidant cares about you more than about the issues. He or she lifts you when you are low, and gently brings you back to reality when you are in danger of self-congratulation or complacency. Heifetz and Linsky write, "Almost every person we know with difficult experiences of leadership has relied on a confidant to help them get through."[3]

Maimonides in his Commentary to the Mishnah[4] counts this as one of the four kinds of friendship. He calls it the "friendship of trust" [chaver habitachon] and describes it as having someone in whom "you have absolute trust and with whom you are completely open and unguarded," hiding neither the good news nor the bad, knowing that the other person will neither take advantage of the confidences shared, nor share them with others.

A careful reading of this famous episode in the context of Moses' early life suggests that Miriam was Moses' "trusted friend," his confidante, the source of his emotional stability, and that when she was no longer there, he could no longer cope with crisis as he had done until then.

Those who are a source of strength to others need their own source of strength. The Torah is explicit in telling us how often for Moses that source of strength was God himself. But even Moses needed a human friend, and it seems, by implication, that this was Miriam. A leader in her own right she was also one of her brother's sources of strength.

Even the greatest cannot lead alone.

[1] Taanit 9a.
[2] Ronald Heifetz and Marty Linsky, Leadership on the Line, Boston, Harvard Business School Press, 2002, 227.
[3] Ibid., 200.
[4] Maimonides, Commentary to Mishnah Avot 1: 6. 


Prolific Jewish actor Eli Wallach dies at 98

06/25/2014 10:51

The Brooklyn native, who made films into his 90s, is best known for his roles in Westerns "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" and "The Magnificent Seven."

eli wallach
Actor Eli Wallach (R) and singer Tony Bennett pose after The Governors Awards held by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences in Hollywood, California, in this November 13, 2010 file picture. Photo: REUTERS
Eli Wallach, an early practitioner of method acting who made a lasting impression as the scuzzy bandit Tuco in "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly", died on Tuesday at the age of 98, the New York Times reported.

Wallach appeared on the big screen well into his 90s in Roman Polanski's "The Ghost Writer" and Oliver Stone's "Wall Street" sequel and other films.

"It's what I wanted to do all my life," Wallach said of his work in an interview in 2010.

Having grown up the son of Polish Jewish immigrants in an Italian-dominated neighborhood in New York, Wallach might have seemed an unlikely cowboy, but some of his best work was in Westerns.

Many critics thought his definitive role was Calvera, the flamboyant, sinister bandit chief in "The Magnificent Seven". Others preferred him in "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" as Tuco, who was "the ugly", opposite Clint Eastwood in Sergio Leone's classic spaghetti Western.

Years later, Wallach said strangers would recognize him and start whistling the distinctive theme from the film.

Wallach graduated from the University of Texas, where he picked up the horseback-riding skills that would serve him well in later cowboy roles, and studied acting at the Neighborhood Playhouse Actors Studio before World War Two broke out.


"Wallach is the quintessential chameleon, effortlessly inhabiting a wide range of characters, while putting his inimitable stamp on every role," the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which gave him an honorary Oscar in 2010, wrote in a profile on its website.

After serving as an Army hospital administrator during the war, he found work on the New York stage and took classes at the Actor's Studio, which used Method acting in which actors draw on personal memories and emotions to flesh out a role.

He appeared in "This Property Is Condemned" and ended up marrying the show's leading lady, Anne Jackson - a marriage that also led to several stage and screen collaborations.

Wallach made a name on Broadway with roles in two Tennessee Williams' works, "Camino Real" and "The Rose Tattoo," for which he won a Tony in 1951, as well as a two-year run in "Mr. Roberts."

His first movie was another Williams work, "Baby Doll" in 1956. Other major films included "How the West Was Won", "Mystic River", "The Holiday", "Lord Jim" and "The Misfits" - in which he starred with Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe with John Huston directing an Arthur Miller script - and "The Godfather Part 3."

Despite the notable movies, Wallach said it was his portrayal of the villain Mr. Freeze on the "Batman" television show of the 1960s that generated the most fan mail.

Wallach titled his autobiography "The Good, the Bad and Me: In My Anecdotage". He and his wife lived in New York and had three children.

The New York Times said his death had been confirmed by his daughter.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Spiritual letter to your children and Old Bumper Cars

Speak To Yourself Serenely

You are the person with whom you talk to most often. To become a serene person, consistently talk to yourself serenely. Don't worry you are not hearing voices.

Become aware of the tone of your voice when you speak to yourself. This often is so automatic that many people never consider it an issue. But it can be a major factor in whether or not you are usually serene.

Love Yehuda Lave


What values and beliefs do you hold dear in life? What lessons would you want to share with your family to carry on in their lives? Have you ever thought about writing a letter to your children?

In Jewish tradition, it was/is common for parents to leave an ethical will or write a letter to their children synthesizing their insights into life and give their instructions on how to live one's life. One of the most famous letters is that of the Ramban, Nachmanides, who was born in Spain in 1194. The following excerpt is the latter part of a letter written to his son. It is adapted from the translation in A Letter for the Ages by Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Feuer (which includes the letter in its entirety along with commentary). 


Ramban's Letter to His Son

Let your words be spoken gently; let your head be bowed. Cast your eyes downward, and your heart heavenward; and when speaking, do not stare at your listener. Let all men seem greater than you in your eyes: If another is more wise or wealthy than yourself, you must show him respect. And if he is poor, and you are richer or wiser than he, consider that he may be more righteous than yourself: If he sins it is the result of error, while your transgression is deliberate.

In all your words, actions and thoughts -- at all times -- imagine in your heart that you are standing in the presence of the Holy one, Blessed is He, and that His Presence rests upon you. Indeed, the glory of the Almighty fills the universe. Speak with reverence and awe, like a servant who stands in the presence of his master. Act with restraint in the company of others: If one should call out to you, do not answer with a loud voice, but respond gently -- in low tones, as one who stands before his mentor.

Take care to always study Torah diligently so that you will be able to fulfill its commands. When you rise from study, ponder carefully what you have learned; see what there is in it which you can put into practice.

Review your actions every morning and evening, and in this way live all your days in repentance.

Cast external matters from your mind when you stand to pray; carefully prepare your heart in the presence of the Holy One. Purify your thoughts, and ponder your words before you utter them.

Conduct yourself in these ways in all your endeavors for as long as you live. In this way you will surely avoid transgression; your words, actions and thoughts will be flawless. Your prayer will be pure and clear, sincere and pleasing to God, Blessed is He...

Read this letter one a week and neglect none of it. Fulfill it, and in so doing, walk with it forever in the ways of the Almighty, may He be Blessed, so that you may succeed in your ways and merit the World to Come that lies hidden for the righteous. Every day that you shall read this letter, heaven shall answer your heart's desires...



Old Bumper Cars





Where Do Old Bumper Cars Go?


The ones in Coney Island and Rockaway Park back in the 20s thru to the 50's

ran on electric . 
Had a pole on the back going to a metal electrical charged overhead plate.


Remember driving the bumper cars at amusement parks or
A fair, don't you? They were so much fun.....


now what do you do with

old Bumper Cars?

(and check out the license plates!)









Yes, you read that right; these little beasties are street legal.

They run on either Kawasaki or Honda motorcycle engines and co-opt vintage bumper car bodies into the most awesome form of mini-car we've seen in too long. There are seven of these little monsters floating around California and they're all the creation of one man, Tom Wright, a builder in the outskirts of San Diego who figured the leftovers of the Long Beach Pike amusement park needed a more dignified end than the trash heap.

They were originally powered by two cylinder Harley Davidson
Motorcycle engines but they rattled like heck because of the two cylinder
Vibration and Tom replaces them with four cylinder Honda or Kawasaki 750's
And a couple have been measured as capable of 160 MPH, which is terrifyingly fast in machines with such a short wheelbase. 

By the way, they are almost indestructible in accidents!












Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Some valuable advice from Warren Buffet and gratitude for being alive

Gratitude For Being Alive

The most precious thing you have is being alive. Since you are reading this, it's obvious that you are alive right this moment. And therefore you have the number one thing that can fill you with gratitude.

"But my quality of life isn't all that I would want it to be!" is the thought that prevents many people from experiencing the joy of being alive and the feelings of gratitude for life.

Wanting the quality of your life to be better and taking positive action to make this happen is no contradiction to being grateful for the precious gift of life. This way you have an inner feeling of joy for being alive and this positive energy will give you more inner strength to create the kind of life that would be better for you. The first thing we say when we wake up in the morning is the one line statement that we are grateful for being alive. In Hebrew it is (Modeh ani) ; That's amazing, isn't it? The first words we utter each day say that we are grateful. This sets the tone for the entire day. "Today I will be grateful from the first moment when I wake up.

Love Yehuda Lave

Some valuable advice...


"I always knew I was going to be rich.

I don't think I ever doubted it for a minute"

- Warren Buffett


It is now possible to purchase Kosher computers. They are made  in Israel by a company called DELL-SHALOM.  

The price is low (wholesale), even with the shipping from Israel.  However, before you purchase a kosher computer of your own, you should know that there are  some important changes from the typical non-kosher computer you are used to, such as:

1) The 'Start' button has been replaced with a  'Let's go!  I'm not getting any younger!' button. 

2) You  hear 'Hava Nagila' during startup. 

3) The cursor moves from right to left. 

4) When Spell-Checker finds an error it  prompts, 'Is this the best you can do?' 

5) When you look at  erotic images, your computer says, 'If your mother knew about this, she  would die.' 

6) It comes with a 'monitor cleaning solution'  from Manischewitz that gets rid of all the 'schmutz und drek.'  

7) When running 'Scan Disk' it prompts you with a 'You want I  should fix this?' message. 

8) After 20 minutes of no activity,  your PC goes 'Schloffen.' 

9) The PC shuts down automatically  at sundown on Friday evenings. 

10) It comes with two hard drives - one for fleyshedik  and one for milchedik  topics. 

11) Instead of getting a 'General Protection Fault' error, your PC now gets 'Ferklempt.' 

12) The multimedia player  has been renamed to 'Nu, so play my music already!' 

13) When  your PC is working too hard, you occasionally hear a loud 'Oy Gevalt!'  

14) Computer viruses can now be cured with matzo ball soup. 

15) When disconnecting external devices from the PC, you are  instructed to 'Remove the cable from the PC's tuchus.'

16)  After your computer dies, you have to dispose of it within 24 hours.  

17) But best of all, if you have a kosher computer, you can't get SPAM.

Have a nice day!

Slaughtering the Pascal lamb represented breaking free from predetermined forces beyond our control.
by Rabbi Benjamin Blech

Passover and the Zodiac

Slaughtering the Pascal lamb represented breaking free from predetermined forces beyond our control.

Do you look at your horoscope in the pages of your favorite newspaper or magazine? If you're dating, do you make a point to ask the person you're interested in for their astrological sign? Do you identify your personality with the traits commonly attributed to those born under the influence of one of the 12 signs of the zodiac?

Do you think there is truth in the words of Shakespeare that "the stars above govern our conditions"?

About 90% of American newspapers carry horoscopes. According to the latest studies, at least 90% of all Americans under age 30 know their sun-sign and there are more than 10,000 practicing astrologers in the United States and Americans spend more than $200 million annually consulting astrologers.

Historians tell us that astrology is almost certainly the oldest and most widespread of all pseudo-sciences whose origins can be traced back to the first half of the Hammurabi Dynasty in Babylonia about 3500 years ago. Yet paradoxically the heyday of astrology was not during the ancient days of scientific unawareness nor the benighted Middle Ages, when the average person was sunk deep in ignorance and superstition, but rather in the 20th century as well as in our own, when most citizens presumably know the basic facts of astronomy and are aware that the planets are worlds similar to the earth rather than independent forces that consign us to predetermined fates.

Our Hebrew ancestors in Egypt, those whose journey from slavery to freedom we commemorate on the Passover holiday, lived in a culture obsessed with the rule of the stars and the power of the planets to predict the future. The Torah tells us how Pharaoh sought out his astrologers in order to divine the true meaning of events.

It is in this context that biblical commentators understand the seemingly strange ritual demanded by God of his people in order to warrant their deliverance.

God told Moses to command the Jews to take "every one of them a lamb for each parental home, a lamb for a household" (Exodus 12:3). They were required to slaughter the lamb and to smear of its blood on the two door posts as well as on the lintel. Only then would God "pass over" the homes of the Hebrews whose firstborn lives the Almighty would save.

Obviously God didn't need a painted sign to determine whether a home was occupied by an Israelite. This was meant as a test. The lamb was a major god of Egypt. To be saved one had to demonstrate in a public manner the rejection of the Egyptian idol. Only those who had the courage to do so deserved to be redeemed.

It's striking that the Egyptians chose a lamb as a major god to be worshiped. What could have prompted a warlike nation known for their military prowess by way of horses and chariots to revere such a seemingly docile and peaceful animal?

The great Jewish scholar Nachmanides provides us with a brilliant answer. The very first sign of the zodiac is Aries – the ram or the lamb. Being first, it is the key to all the signs which follow; it is the source of strength for the other 11 signs of the zodiac.

And that is why the ancient Hebrews had to slaughter the Paschal Lamb. It was the most powerful way to express their rejection of a system of thought that placed human action under the power of celestial planets, a belief that runs counter to the idea of human free will that is so fundamental to the theology of Judaism.

On the holiday of Passover, dedicated to celebrating the ideal of human freedom, the Torah included the concept of liberation not only from human taskmasters but also from pre-destined decrees from planetary forces totally beyond our control.

To put it succinctly, to believe in astrology and the zodiac is to remain a slave – a slave to a fate over which we have no say and which we are not free to alter by our good deeds, by prayer, or by repentance.

Astrology turns us into puppets, perpetually moved by strings that can't be influenced by our own personal desires or strengths of will.

How remarkable in this light are the words of God to Abraham in the famous scene at the "covenant between the pieces:" "And He [the Lord] brought him forth outside and said, 'look now toward heaven and count the stars'" (Genesis 15:5). The Midrash has Abraham respond, "According to the astrological signs, I have seen that I am not fit to beget a son." Whereupon God taught Abraham that he was elevated above the stars and said, "Come forth out of the constellations; the Israelites are not subject to the planets. The servant of God is not enslaved to the stars."

Judaism does not agree with the ignoble Edmund in King Lear who said that, "We were villains of necessity, fools by heavenly compulsion, knaves, thieves and treacherers by spherical predominance, drunkards, liars and adulterers by an enforced obedience of planetary influences and all that we are evil is by a divine thrusting on." That would make us no more than pawns in a divine chess game with responsibility for our every move transferred solely to the Chess-master from above guiding our play.

And that is the real meaning of the famous Talmudic statement by Rabbi Yochanan that "There is no mazel to Israel" – not that we have no good fortune but that Israel is not subject to mazel, to predetermined forces beyond our control.

It is a powerful proclamation of freedom for us as actors on the stage of history, as movers for the improvement of the world as we make our way through the free willed choices of our lifetimes.

Although the lack of our temple prevents us from physically sacrificing a Paschal Lamb, it is important for us as we approach Passover to metaphorically slay the excuses we give ourselves for our imperfections as being predetermined. We need to remember that we are free – free to be the heroes of our life stories.

Because it is not the stars that write the scripts of our years. It is we who can choose to become the stars of our faith and our people.