Thursday, September 11, 2014

beautiful Chinese Mountains and Castles and woman and her fork and 9/11 memorial in Jerusaelm

 Beautiful Chinese Mountain area  SEE ATTACHMENT BELOW


  Growth Is Gradual

A person who tries to force himself to change his character in an extremely short time is apt to become depressed and will not be successful. Set reasonable goals for yourself. Work on your faults little by little.

If you make impossible demands on yourself, you will feel frustrated and miserable

Love Yehuda Lave

 A beautiful slide show on Castles around the world

Most of you know this, but maybe not everybody. minutes away from entering the anniversary date of 9/11, it seems fitting to help remember the victims and honor their memory by reminding everyone that the second largest monument to that fateful day, after New York, is in…. Jerusalem!  As a matter of fact, I don't know of any other country that has a similar monument. And it is remarkable: the names of all 3,000 victims are engraved in stone. America stands besides Israel, but we shouldn't forget that Israel stands besides America as well, and here is the proof.

This video of the inauguration ceremony is by definition dated (2009), but that doesn't change anything. Look at the monument and look at the setting. America and Israel are united and share deep bonds.

 Woman  and a Fork
There  was a young woman who had been diagnosed with a terminal  illness and had been given three months to live. So as she  was getting her things 'in order,' she contacted her Rabbi and had him come to her house to discuss certain aspects of her final wishes.

She told him which songs she wanted sung at the service, what scriptures she would like read, and what outfit she wanted to be buried in. 

Everything was in order and the Rabbi was preparing to leave when the young woman suddenly remembered something very important to her. 

'There's one more thing,' she said excitedly...

'What's that?' came the Rabbi's reply.

'This is very important,' the young woman continued. 'I want to be buried with a fork in my right hand.' 

The Rabbi stood looking at the  young woman, not knowing quite what to say. 

That surprises you, doesn't  it?' the young woman asked.

'Well, to be honest, I'm puzzled by the request,' said the Rabbi

The young woman explained. 'My  grandmother once told me this story, and from that time on I have always tried to pass along its message to those I love and those who are in need of encouragement. In all my years of attending socials and dinners, I always remember that  when the dishes of the main course were being cleared,  someone would inevitably lean over and say, 'Keep your  fork.' It was my favorite part because I knew that something better was coming ... like velvety chocolate cake or deep-dish apple pie.  Something wonderful, and with substance!' 

So, I just want people to see me there in that casket with a fork in my hand and I want them to wonder 'What's with the fork?' Then I want you to tell them: 'Keep your fork ... the best is yet to come.' 

The Rabbi's eyes welled up with tears of joy as he hugged the young woman good-bye. He knew this would be one of the last times he would see her before her death. But he also knew that the young woman had  a better grasp of heaven than he did. She had a better grasp of what heaven would be like than many people twice her age, with twice as much experience and knowledge. She KNEW that  something better was coming.

At the funeral people were walking by the young woman's casket and they saw the cloak she was wearing and the fork placed in her right hand. Over and over, the Rabbi heard the question,  'What's with the fork?' And over and over he smiled.  

During his message, the Rabbi told the people of the conversation he had with the young woman shortly before she died. He also told them about the fork and about what it symbolized to her. He told the people  how he could not stop thinking about the fork and told them that they probably would not be able to stop thinking about it either.

He was right. So the next time you reach down for your fork let it remind you, ever so gently, that the best is yet to come.  Friends are a very rare jewel  , indeed.  They make you smile and encourage you to succeed.  Cherish the time you have, and  the memories you share. Being friends with someone is not an opportunity, but a sweet responsibility.

Send  this to everyone you consider a FRIEND... and I'll bet this will be an email they do remember, every time they pick up a fork!

And just remember ... keep your fork!

The BEST is yet to come! 

Averting The Decree – #Thoughts4Elul 5774

4 September 2014 by Rabbi Johnathan Sacks

This year we approach the New Year with more fear and trembling than for a very long time. This summer, in Gaza, we saw Israel, at double risk of Hamas missiles and tunnels, forced into some of the most difficult choices a nation has ever had to make. How do you fight a war against terror when the terrorists take a whole people hostage and hide bombs and rocket launchers in schools, hospitals and mosques?

As Amos Oz asked, what would you do if your neighbour across the street sits down on the balcony, puts his little boy on his lap, and starts shooting machine gun fire into your nursery? The Torah says that when Jacob was about to meet Esau, after a separation of 22 years, he was 'very afraid and distressed.' Says Rashi: 'very afraid' that he might be killed. 'distressed' that he might have to kill. The commentators on Rashi ask the obvious question. You are allowed to kill in self defence. So why was Jacob distressed that he might have to kill a man who was about to kill him. The short answer is that if life matters to you, you are distressed even if you are morally justified. This summer, Israelis and Israel had to defend itself but it did so with no joy, only distress.

This was also the summer in which antisemitism reappeared with a vengeance in the streets of Europe, the old antisemitism of the far right and far left, and the new antisemitism that demonizes Israel and seeks not peace but destruction. I sensed a wave of anxiety go through the Jewish world. Is this it? After all the tears and tragedies of the past do we still have to live in fear? Is Jewish history Groundhog Day? Do things never change?

To which I think one of the answers is the key word of this time of the Jewish year. Teshuvah. Repentance. I think teshuvah is one of the most remarkable ideas ever to have entered the human mind. Teshuvah tells us that history can change because we can change. Our character is not pre-programmed in our genes. We can act differently tomorrow than we did yesterday. Yesterday's enemies can be tomorrow's friends. It happened between Israel and Germany, Israel and Egypt, Israel and Jordan. History can change because we can change and we are the makers of history. And my deepest prayer this year is that Israel's enemies, its neighbours change too because then we can, together, write a new chapter in the history of the Middle East, a chapter of joy not of distress.

But just think about Israel for a moment. Jews hadn't formed an army since the days of the Bar Kochba rebellion almost 19 centuries ago, yet they did so brilliantly to defend their land. For two thousand years, rarely were Jews farmers, yet in Israel they became the world's great agricultural innovators. Because of the vicissitudes of Jewish history no people has changed more dramatically and more often than Jews, and yet throughout it all we stayed loyal to our fundamental principles: justice, compassion, love of life, love of children, love of study, argument and the life of the mind.

U-teshuvah u-tefillah u-tzedakah ma'avirin et roa hagezerah. Penitence, prayer and charity can avert the evil decree. There is nothing inevitable in the affairs of humankind. The greatest gift God gave us was the ability to change. Jews never accept defeat. Because of that, after all the hammer-blows of history, we are still undefeated.

Yes, there have been tough times in recent months. But consider this. In almost 4,000 years of Jewish history never before have we had simultaneously independence and sovereignty in the land of Israel, freedom and equality in most countries outside. To paraphrase an old Hasidic saying: If things are so bad, how come they're so good? This year, let us first thank God for all the good in Jewish life, then let us ask Him for the strength to change the rest.