Thursday, December 29, 2016

Robert Frost reads his poem Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening (rare)

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Rabbi Yehuda Lave

Motivate Kindness

Even when you are on the receiving end of someone else's kindness, you can do something to increase kindness in the world. How? Express gratitude for the kindness in a way that this person will build up a greater appreciation for doing even more acts of kindness for others!

Love Yehuda Lave and Happy Chanukah

Netanyahu, in Defiance of UN, Lights Chanukah Candles in Old City of Jerusalem

Demonstrating that Israel will not abide by the UN resolution denying Jewish historical and legal rights to Jerusalem, Netanyahu lit Chanukah candles in the Old City, celebrating the Maccabean victory in 164 BCE – long before the arrival of the Palestinians.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not originally plan on lighting the second Chanukah candle in the Old City of Jerusalem, but in light of the anti-Israel US Security Council resolution that passed on Friday, claiming that Jewish communities in the Holy City of Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria were illegitimate, he was inspired to go.

Following is the text of his statement upon lighting the Chanukah candles on Sunday evening:

"I did not plan to be here this evening, but in light of the UN resolution, I thought that there was no better place to light the second Chanukah candle than the Western Wall.

"According to the UN resolution, the Maccabees did not liberate Jerusalem, they occupied Palestinian territory. According to the UN resolution, the villages that they started out from in the Modi'in area, those villages and that area were "occupied Palestinian territory."

'We Do Not Accept this Resolution'

"Of course. the Palestinians arrived much later. We were in these places. We will return to these places, and I ask those same countries that wish us a Happy Chanukah how they could vote for a UN resolution which says that this place, in which we are now celebrating Chanukah, is occupied territory.

"The Western Wall is not occupied. The Jewish Quarter is not occupied. The other places are not occupied either. Therefore, we do not accept, nor can we accept, this resolution. We are certain of our future just as we are certain of our past. And here I would like to light Chanukah candles on behalf of the Glory of Israel. Happy Chanukah."

Courtesy: Israel Government Press Office


Robert Frost reads his poem Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening - From a 1958 film shot at Frost's farmhouse in Vermont.

A Dual Vision By Rabbi Joshua Hoffman

Yosef, a shepherd with his brothers, has two dreams, both of which he relates to his brothers. In the first dream, his brothers and he are binding sheaves in the field, and their sheaves bow down to his. In the second dream, the sun, moon and the eleven stars bowed down to him. His brothers responded antagonistically to the two dreams, whereas his father, while openly voicing skepticism, after hearing the second dream "waited for the matter" (Bereishis 37:11). Rashi explains this to mean that Ya'akov was looking for it to happen. Why did he take this view?

  My teacher, Rav Aharon Soloveichik, zt"l, explained that Yosef's two dreams were an expansion of his own dream which he had after leaving Charan. There he dreamt a ladder standing on earth who's top reached the heavens, with heavenly angels going up and down its rungs. The message was that he would live in this world, meet its material challenges, and use them to bring down spiritually. Yosef's dreams split this message into two, one dealing with his leadership of the family in the material realm, and the other in the spiritual realm. Ya'akov with his close relationship with Yosef, viewed him as his successor, and looked forward to his fulfillment of his mission. Yosef, for his part, also viewed his dreams as prophetic visions, and made efforts to bring about their fulfillment.

  We noted last week that Ya'akov's approach to the material aspects of life was a utilitarian one, not seeking pleasure, but as a task to live properly in this word, having one's basic needs, and then elevating their means to lead to spirituality. This was how he educated Yosef, and this is what Yosef ultimately achieved in Egypt.

  This approach helps us understand a midrash cited by Rashi in explaining how Yosef overcame the incitements of Potiphar's wife. Yosef almost succumbed to his enticer, when the visage of his father appeared to him, and deterred him. How did Ya'akov's visage relate to Yosef's predicament? Perhaps we can relate it to another Rashi, in parshas Vayeitzei. After working seven years for Rachel, Ya'akov says to Lavan, "Give me my wife, that I may come upon her." Ostensibly, this is not the kind of talk we would expect to hear from Ya'akov. Rashi explains that Ya'akov's intention was to create the twelve tribes to build up the Jewish people. Otherwise, says Rashi, would even the קל שבקלים, "most light-headed person" speak this way? The super-commentary to Rashi, Be'er Yitzchok, by Rabbi Yitzchok Horowitz, says that Ya'akov viewed his marital relations as something holy, to serve a spiritual purpose, and, so, while a קל שבקלים  would not speak this way, a קדש קדשים, as Ya'akov was, would do so. This approach to this area of life was the message of Ya'akov's appearing to Yosef.

Tom Ward with his Old Broken Guitar

George Soros is the sugar daddy of the radical left movement.


  The subject matter of this week's Torah portion and the holiday of Chanukah coincide.

Vayeishev is the Torah portion of exile; Chanukah is the holiday of exile.

The reading begins in darkness: "Joseph dreamt a dream which he told to his brothers and they hated him …." It ends in exile.

This is the darkest season. Chanukah is the only Yom Tov during which the moon is waning. Then it disappears and the darkness is complete. These are the longest nights. The trees are bare. Winter is like death, and Chanukah is the Yom Tov of winter.

I heard a fascinating explanation from Rabbi Eliyahu Schneider, the beloved posaik of Yeshiva Sh'or Yoshuv. We know that Jacob was worried he had lost merit in contrast with Esau because he was absent from his parents' home for so many years. But Jacob's parents commanded him to leave! They sent him to the House of Lavan! Why should he be considered deficient in honoring his parents when he was following his parents' instructions?

According to Rabbeinu Bachya, the problem was not that Jacob was physically separated from his parents, but rather that he became subservient to Lavan. Jacob agreed to serve Lavan for fourteen years for Rachel and Leah, and six more years for the sheep! If his parents had asked him to return, he would have been unable to comply because he had indentured himself.

This is a sign for future generations, "ma'ase avos siman l'banim." The essential danger of exile is not physical but spiritual. When we subordinate ourselves to the host culture, when we adopt their worldview and their values, then we really do become slaves. The most insidious degree of slavery is when one doesn't realize he is a slave.

Because Torah is rooted in eternity, it is eternal. All other cultures are temporal and temporary. If a Jew attaches himself to a culture other than his own, he will disappear along with that culture when it ceases to exist.

It is appropriate here to recall the famous words of the non-Jew, Mark Twain:  "If the statistics are right, the Jews constitute but one percent of the human race. It suggests a nebulous dim puff of stardust lost in the blaze of the Milky Way. Properly the Jew ought hardly to be heard of; but he is heard of, has always been heard of. He is as prominent on the planet as any other people. He has made a marvelous fight in this world, in all the ages; and he has done it with hands tied behind him… The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dreamstuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed, and made a vast noise, and they are gone; other peoples have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished. The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?" (Harper's Magazine, 1879)

Indeed, what is our secret? Our secret is being conscious of G-d, which only happens when we are united. At Mount Sinai, we received the Torah because we were "K'ish echad b'lev echad… like one man with one heart" (Rashi on Exodus 19:2).

We went into the Egyptian exile because of internal strife. The brothers "hated" Joseph, and became distant from each other. This is darkness. There are many explanations of what happened in this Torah reading, but the essence is that the brothers fought.

My friends, we really must take this to heart. Two Jews can pass each other on the street. One wants to say "Shalom aleichem," but the other is looking away. Why is he looking away? Because he doesn't want to say "Shalom aleichem." This is darkness; this is exile.

Why do we hurt ourselves for no reason? What are we afraid of?

My parents, of blessed memory, were not from observant families, but both were raised in a culture of ethics. They would never have considered performing an act which would hurt another person. Their every action implied consideration and refinement. They wouldn't leave a mess for another person to clean up. They covered their mouth when they yawned. They were honest to the penny. My father "loved" to pay taxes! Why? Because he was grateful that he lived in a benevolent culture and felt it was his obligation to support the stable government under which he lived.

Because of my parents, I became observant. "Derech eretz kadma l'Torah." Their values led me naturally to search for the Master of the Universe, Who administers the entire universe with perfect fairness and benevolence.

The sons of Jacob were on a level of righteousness beyond our understanding, yet clearly they made mistakes. Whatever the explanation, hatred among them was to cause repercussions to this very day, with tragic and terrible consequences. All our troubles are rooted in baseless hatred, and the brothers' strife led straight into the Egyptian exile. Our only path to redemption is to return, as our ancestors returned at Mount Sinai, to the unity which enabled us to receive the Torah. I believe it is not an exaggeration to say that one smile to another Jew can tip the scale. We have to repair the terrible breach of baseless hatred!

My friends, we are entering Chanukah. It is possible to illuminate the darkness. We can become one again, but we have to understand that our very lives depend upon it. Exile began in darkness, but we can bring light to the world by reuniting as One Nation. Only then can we return to our Father in Heaven and bring Moshiach ben Dovid.   © Copyright 2016 By  Roy S. Neuberger

The life-altering Israeli wheelchair which allows quadriplegics to stand

See you tomorrow my friends -three more days of Channukah

Rabbi Yehuda Lave

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