Friday, July 3, 2015

The lighter side...nostalgia and the serious side a fast on Sunday

Successful Operations

The Talmud gives a model of an expert in looking at everything as ultimately good. The man was called Nochum Ish Gam Zu, "The man who always said: This too is for the good."

Even those things that most people consider bad are not really bad, but ultimately good. Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler explained that this is analogous to someone who had a successful operation for a potentially fatal illness. The operation itself was very painful, but under the circumstances was necessary and beneficial.

That should be our attitude toward all misfortunes: another successful operation.

Experiments have shown that attitude has the ability to change life..Whether something ends up in life as either  good or bad many times is determined by how you treat the event. If you have the attitute that everything is for the good, many times a "bad" situation ends up as good for you. There are thousands of examples in life where you have taken something negative (getting fired, etc.) and turned it around so your life is better. The law of gravity is real, better to use it to your advantage rather than to use it to fall down.

Love yehuda lave

When life seemed to very simple and uncomplicated..
.(a 50's slide show).

  The story is told of Napoleon walking through the streets of Paris one Tisha B'av (the 9th day of the Hebrew month of Av, a day of fasting and mourning for the destruction of the two Temples). As his entourage passed a synagogue he heard wailing and crying coming from within; he sent an aide to inquire as to what had happened. The aide returned and told Napoleon that the Jews were in mourning over the loss of their Temple. Napoleon was indignant! "Why wasn't I informed? When did this happen? Which Temple?" The aide responded, "They lost their Temple in Jerusalem on this date 1700 years ago." Napoleon stood in silence and then said, "Certainly a people which has mourned the loss of their Temple for so long will survive to see it rebuilt!"

If we know our history and understand it, then we can put our life in perspective. We can understand ourselves, our people, our goals, our values. We will know the direction of our lives, what we want to accomplish with our lives and what we are willing to bear in order to fulfill our destiny. Friedrich Nietzsche put it well, "If you have a 'why' to live for, you can bear with any 'how'."

We are now entering the Three Weeks, the time between the 17th of Tamuz (observed Sunday, July 5th) and the 9th of Av (starting Saturday day night, July 25th). This is a period when many tragedies happened to the Jewish people. Why do we mourn the loss of the Temple after so many years? What did and does it mean to us?

The Temple was a central focal point of the Jewish people. Three times a year -- Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot -- the Jews living in the Land of Israel came to worship and celebrate at the Temple. It offered us the ultimate opportunity to come close to the Almighty, to elevate ourselves spiritually. It represented the purpose of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel -- to be a holy people united with the Almighty in our own land ... a Jewish state. That is what we seek to regain and that is why we mourn and remember the loss of what we once had.

What can one read to gain knowledge, get perspective, to understand who the Jewish people are and what we are about? Certainly, reading the Five Books of Moses is the place to start. .

In Jewish cosmology, the Three Weeks are considered to be such an inauspicious time period that one is not allowed to get married. From the 1st of Av (July 17th), one is even advised to push off court cases until after the 10th of Av (July 27th). We refrain from hair-cutting, purchasing or wearing new clothing, listening to music and pleasure trips. It is a time for self-reflection and improvement.

On the 17th of Tamuz, five calamitous events occurred in our history: 1) Moshe broke the first Tablets of the Ten Commandments when he descended from Mt. Sinai and saw the worshiping of the Golden Calf 2) The Daily Sacrificial Offerings ceased in the First Temple due to lack of sheep 3) The walls of Jerusalem were breached during the siege of the Second Temple 4) Apustumus-the-Wicked burned a Sefer Torah and 5) An idol was placed in the Sanctuary of the Second Temple.

The 17th of Tamuz is a fast day. The fast begins approximately an hour before sunrise and continuing until about an hour after sunset. The purpose of the fast is to awaken our hearts to repentance through recalling our forefathers' misdeeds which led to tragedies and our repetition of those mistakes. The fasting is a preparation for repentance -- to break the body's dominance over a person's spiritual side. One should engage in self-examination and undertake to correct mistakes in his relationship with God, his fellow man and with himself.

It is interesting to note that Saddam Hussein was a student of Jewish history. He named the nuclear reactor (from which he planned to create a bomb to drop on Israel) -- you guessed it, Tamuz 17!

How Do We Observe the 17th of Tammuz?

  1. No eating or drinking is permitted from the break of dawn, until dusk.
  2. Pregnant and nursing women – and others whose health would be adversely affected – are exempted from the fast.
  3. Should the day coincide with Shabbat, which it does this year, the fast is delayed until Sunday.
  4. Bathing, anointing, and wearing leather shoes are all permissible.
  5. The "Aneinu" prayer is inserted into the Amidah of Shacharis and Mincha by the chazan. Individuals insert it in Mincha only.
  6. Slichos and "Avinu Malkeinu" are recited.
  7. Exodus 32:11, in which the "13 Attributes of Mercy" are mentioned, is read at both the morning and afternoon services.
  8. Isaiah 55:6 – 56:8, which discusses the renewal of the Temple service, is read as the Haftorah at the Mincha service.

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4 June 2015