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!
I returned on Wednesday to Jerusalem after a 16 day absence. I visited over 100 synagogues, graves and holy spots throughout Czech and Vienna, along with castles and tourist spots. My friend the Cabalist, says like the Bal Shem Tov, I was gathering up the holy sparks of Jewishness that has been trapped there and bringing the spiritual energy back to Jerusalem. I hope I have accomplished that goal, but I know for sure that I brought back lots of pictures. There are too many to share at one time so I am trying something new and sharing them day by day as experienced with a 16 day delay. I will repeat this introduction each day. I have been studying Jewish history and Israel in my time in Jerusalem, but the history of the Jewish people in modern times from 1492 to 1945 was in central Europe where the majority of the Jewish people lived. It is worth studying and knowing about and by sharing it with you my friends, I hope I am expanding your knowledge as well.
Love Yehuda Lave
Blessed are You, our God, King of the Universe, Who has sanctified us with His commandments and has commanded us ... (Siddur).
The above berachah (blessing) was intentionally left unfinished because it represents a blessing that does not exist: the berachah for the mitzvah of tzedakah (charity). Why does this mitzvah, which ranks so high among the mitzvos, not merit a berachah?
One reason is that a berachah is supposed to be said with meditation and concentration on its words, reflecting on the infinity of God and His sovereignty, and the significance of our having been chosen to observe the mitzvos. Unfortunately, it is easy to mumble a berachah without giving it the thought that it deserves.
Tzedakah must be performed promptly, without any delay whatsoever. If someone needy requests help from us, we have no time for meditation. The needy person needs help without delay and should not be made to wait while we prepare ourselves to perform the mitzvah, and certainly should not be sent away to return at a later time.
But why did the Sages not formulate a berachah for this wonderful mitzvah and simply specify that it should be said quickly and without meditation? That kind of a berachah is hardly worth saying.
The absence of a berachah for tzedakah thus teaches us two things: (1) tzedakah should be given promptly, and (2) berachos require adequate time for meditation and concentration.
Today I shall ... ... react promptly when asked for tzedakah, and give much thought when reciting a berachah.
Unpaid Taxes Could Cost Americans Passports
If you didn't pay your taxes and want to go on a trip out of the country, you may be in for bad news like hundreds of thousands of other Americans. Americans with more than $51,000 in overdue tax debt could be denied new or renewed passports because of a 2015 law that requires the Internal Revenue Service and State Department to deny passports those individuals, according to The Hill.
A spokesman from the tax agency told The Wall Street Journal that up to 362,000 Americans are in the category for outstanding debt for whom the State Department should deny passport applications or renewals.
The State Department confirmed what the IRS spokesman said to the Wall Street Journal that some passports were already denied under the enforcement, as the IRS sends the names of those with outstanding debt in batches to the agency.
For the time being, agency officials said that they are just denying applications for new or renewed passports and were not revoking passports from any Americans with outstanding debt, The Hill reports.
The new law's effects are already noticeable, according to an IRS spokesman, who told the Journal that 220 people had handed over $11.5 million to repay their full debts as of late June, while 1,400 others had set up payment plans to reduce their debts.
IRS Division Commissioner Mary Beth Murphy added to the Wall Street Journal Journal that one debtor in particular had paid $1 million in tax debts specifically to avoid passport denial.
The law contains some exceptions, including for victims of identity theft and those claiming "innocent-spouse" relief or who live in a federally declared disaster zone, according to The Hill.
Critics of the plan, including National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson, say the notices to debtors tend to arrive when the State Department is notified of the taxpayer's debt, wleaving not enough time to resolve tax issues before passport problems occur.
Spiders Can Fly Hundreds of Miles Using Electricity Scientists are finally starting to understand the centuries-old mystery of "ballooning."
On October 31, 1832, a young naturalist named Charles Darwin walked onto the deck of the HMS Beagle and realized that the ship had been boarded by thousands of intruders. Tiny red spiders, each a millimeter wide, were everywhere. The ship was 60 miles offshore, so the creatures must have floated over from the Argentinian mainland. "All the ropes were coated and fringed with gossamer web," Darwin wrote.
Spiders have no wings, but they can take to the air nonetheless. They'll climb to an exposed point, raise their abdomens to the sky, extrude strands of silk, and float away. This behavior is called ballooning. It might carry spiders away from predators and competitors, or toward new lands with abundant resources. But whatever the reason for it, it's clearly an effective means of travel. Spiders have been found two-and-a-half miles up in the air, and 1,000 miles out to sea.
It is commonly believed that ballooning works because the silk catches on the wind, dragging the spider with it. But that doesn't entirely make sense, especially since spiders only balloon during light winds. Spiders don't shoot silk from their abdomens, and it seems unlikely that such gentle breezes could be strong enough to yank the threads out—let alone to carry the largest species aloft, or to generate the high accelerations of arachnid takeoff. Darwin himself found the rapidity of the spiders' flight to be "quite unaccountable" and its cause to be "inexplicable."
But Erica Morley and Daniel Robert have an explanation. The duo, who work at the University of Bristol, has shown that spiders can sense the Earth's electric field, and use it to launch themselves into the air.
Every day, around 40,000 thunderstorms crackle around the world, collectively turning Earth's atmosphere into a giant electrical circuit. The upper reaches of the atmosphere have a positive charge, and the planet's surface has a negative one. Even on sunny days with cloudless skies, the air carries a voltage of around 100 volts for every meter above the ground. In foggy or stormy conditions, that gradient might increase to tens of thousands of volts per meter.
Ballooning spiders operate within this planetary electric field. When their silk leaves their bodies, it typically picks up a negative charge. This repels the similar negative charges on the surfaces on which the spiders sit, creating enough force to lift them into the air. And spiders can increase those forces by climbing onto twigs, leaves, or blades of grass. Plants, being earthed, have the same negative charge as the ground that they grow upon, but they protrude into the positively charged air. This creates substantial electric fields between the air around them and the tips of their leaves and branches—and the spiders ballooning from those tips.
This idea—flight by electrostatic repulsion—was first proposed in the early 1800s, around the time of Darwin's voyage. Peter Gorham, a physicist, resurrected the idea in 2013, and showed that it was mathematically plausible. And now, Morley and Robert have tested it with actual spiders.
First, they showed that spiders can detect electric fields. They put the arachnids on vertical strips of cardboard in the center of a plastic box, and then generated electric fields between the floor and ceiling of similar strengths to what the spiders would experience outdoors. These fields ruffled tiny sensory hairs on the spiders' feet, known as trichobothria. "It's like when you rub a balloon and hold it up to your hairs," Morley says.
In response, the spiders performed a set of movements called tiptoeing—they stood on the ends of their legs and stuck their abdomens in the air. "That behavior is only ever seen before ballooning," says Morley. Many of the spiders actually managed to take off, despite being in closed boxes with no airflow within them. And when Morley turned off the electric fields inside the boxes, the ballooning spiders dropped.
It's especially important, says Angela Chuang, from the University of Tennessee, to know that spiders can physically detect electrostatic changes in their surroundings. "[That's] the foundation for lots of interesting research questions," she says. "How do various electric-field strengths affect the physics of takeoff, flight, and landing? Do spiders use information on atmospheric conditions to make decisions about when to break down their webs, or create new ones?"
Air currents might still play some role in ballooning. After all, the same hairs that allow spiders to sense electric fields can also help them to gauge wind speed or direction. And Moonsung Cho from the Technical University of Berlin recently showed that spiders prepare for flight by raising their front legs into the wind, presumably to test how strong it is.
Still, Morley and Robert's study shows that electrostatic forces are, on their own, enough to propel spiders into the air. "This is really top-notch science," says Gorham. "As a physicist, it seemed very clear to me that electric fields played a central role, but I could only speculate on how the biology might support this. Morley and Robert have taken this to a level of certainty that far exceeds any expectations I had."
"I think Charles Darwin would be as thrilled to read it as I was," he adds.
Ed Yong is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he covers science.
How to stop thinking about food and get on with live
This is a wonderful story and it is true. You will be glad that you read it, and I hope you will pass it on.
It happened every Friday evening, almost without fail, when the sun resembled a giant orange and was starting to dip into the blue ocean.
Old Ed came strolling along the beach to his favorite pier. Clutched in his bony hand was a bucket of shrimp. Ed walks out to the end of the pier, where it seems he almost has the world to himself. The glow of the sun is a golden bronze now.
Everybody's gone, except for a few joggers on the beach. Standing out on the end of the pier, Ed is alone with his thoughts...and his bucket of shrimp.
Before long, however, he is no longer alone. Up in the sky a thousand white dots come screeching and squawking, winging their way toward that lanky frame standing there on the end of the pier.
Before long, dozens of seagulls have enveloped him, their wings fluttering and flapping wildly. Ed stands there tossing shrimp to the hungry birds. As he does, if you listen closely, you can hear him say with a smile, 'Thank you. Thank you.'
In a few short minutes the bucket is empty. But Ed doesn't leave. He stands there lost in thought, as though transported to another time and place .
When he finally turns around and begins to walk back toward the beach, a few of the birds hop along the pier with him until he gets to the stairs, and then they, too, fly away. And old Ed quietly makes his way down to the end of the beach and on home.
If you were sitting there on the pier with your fishing line in the water, Ed might seem like 'a funny old duck,' as my dad used to say. Or, to onlookers, he's just another old codger, lost in his own weird world, feeding the seagulls with a bucket full of shrimp.
To the onlooker, rituals can look either very strange or very empty. They can seem altogether unimportant ....maybe even a lot of nonsense.
Old folks often do strange things, at least in the eyes of Boomers and Busters.
Most of them would probably write Old Ed off, down there in Florida ... That's too bad. They'd do well to know him better.
His full name: Eddie Rickenbacker. He was a famous hero in World War I, and then he was in WWII. On one of his flying missions across the Pacific, he and his seven-member crew went down. Miraculously, all of the men survived, crawled out of their plane, and climbed into a life raft.
Captain Rickenbacker and his crew floated for days on the rough waters of the Pacific. They fought the sun. They fought sharks. Most of all, they fought hunger and thirst. By the eighth day their rations ran out. No food. No water. They were hundreds of miles from land and no one knew where they were or even if they were alive.
Every day across America millions wondered and prayed that Eddie Rickenbacker might somehow be found alive.
The men adrift needed a miracle. That afternoon they had a simple devotional service and prayed for a miracle.
They tried to nap. Eddie leaned back and pulled his military cap over his nose. Time dragged on. All he could hear was the slap of the waves against the raft...suddenly Eddie felt something land on the top of his cap. It was a seagull!
Old Ed would later describe how he sat perfectly still, planning his next move. With a flash of his hand and a squawk from the gull, he managed to grab it and wring its neck. He tore the feathers off, and he and his starving crew made a meal of it - a very slight meal for eight men. Then they used the intestines for bait. With it, they caught fish, which gave them food and more bait....and the cycle continued. With that simple survival technique, they were able to endure the rigors of the sea until they were found and rescued after 24 days at sea.
Eddie Rickenbacker lived many years beyond that ordeal, but he never forgot the sacrifice of that first life-saving seagull... And he never stopped saying, 'Thank you.' That's why almost everyFriday night he would walk to the end of the pier with a bucket full of shrimp and a heart full of gratitude.
Reference: (Max Lucado, "In The Eye of the Storm", pp...221, 225-226)
PS: Eddie Rickenbacker was the founder of Eastern Airlines. Before WWI he was race car driver. In WWI he was a pilot and became America's first ace. In WWII he was an instructor and military adviser, and he flew missions with the combat pilots. Eddie Rickenbacker is a true American hero. And now you know another story about the trials and sacrifices that brave men have endured for your freedom.
As you can see, I chose to pass it on. It is a great story that many don't know...You've got to be careful with old guys, you just never know what they have done during their lifetime.
Remember the past, living in the present, hoping for the future