A few people have written to ask whether I am the person in this article:
Courageous Long Island Orthodox Jewish Mom Battles ALS In The Aftermath Of Hurricane Sandy
No, it's not me, and I live in Sydney Australia.
And a message to Devorah Schochet in the article:
I wish you a Refuah sheleimah, hazlacha and many brachas, and revealed miracles on every level.
If readers wish to donate to Devorah Schochet's Root Fund, click here
Friday, April 19, 2013
"You shall not take revenge and you shall not bear a grudge against the members of your people" [Kedoshim 19:18]
There are times, said the Chofetz Chaim, that a man grows angry with a friend who did not do him a particular favor. Such feelings are completely unjustified.
To what can this be compared? To a man who was walking down the street, looking for his friend. As he passed people in the street, he would ask them "Have you seen my friend perhaps?"
"Try looking for him in the town square," he was told. "There are many people gathered there; maybe your friend will be among them."
He went to the town square, searched for his friend, yet he did not find him.
Would it even ocur to him to feel anger toward those individuals who directed him to the town square? Of course not! He realizes that he must simply continue his search.
The same thing applies to the prohibitions of taking revenge and bearing a grudge, said the Chofetz Chaim. We are forbidden to feel anger towards a friend who did not do us a favor. What reason can there be to be angry with him? Hashem obviously did not designate him as the one who would bestow this particular kindness upon us. We must simply turn to someone else, and place our request with him; perhaps he is the one who will be able to assist us.
If a person accustoms himself to constantly thinking in this manner, he will never bear a grudge or feel the need to take revenge.
Source: Rabbi Yisrael Bronstein
Labels: Chofetz Chaim
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
The Sefer Ta’amei HaMinhagim writes that our new month of Iyar is tried and tested as a time for refuah, healing, from the ailments and pains that may affect a person. Why is this so? He brings the B’nai Yisaschar, who teaches that most weakness and illness come from foods which do not comport with the person’s nature or composition. Read full article at: Days of Mashiach
There are a couple of ways to assist in your own healing, and that is by saying the Unique Healing Prayer [but you have to do it properly and say every chapter relating to your [Hebrew] name, instructions are at the site].... and the other thing to do is to change your eating habits for the following reason:
"The reason a person's health returns through taking medicines is that his soul sees that he is able to control himself and to act contrary to his physical desires and habits. Perhaps he is accustomed to eating bread and other foods, but now he curbs his desires and submits to a medical regime, taking bitter medicines for the sake of his health. His soul sees that he has the power to control his impulses in order to achieve a certain goal, and she therefore comes back to him in the hope that he will curb his desires for the sake of the true purpose - which is to carry out the will of the Creator" (Likutey Moharan I, 268). Read a lot more at Redemption of the Soul
Do we recite a Blessing on Medication? Rabbi Eliezer Posner says:
If the medicine has a good taste, such as flavored chewable pills, recite the Shehakol blessing. [Seder Birchat Hanehnin 7:8] Flavorless medicine, such as pills that you swallow, do not require a blessing—but we do say a prayer that the medicine should take effect:
"May it be Your will that this medicine shall bring healing."
No blessing is recited on water that you drink to swallow down the pill. If you are swallowing it down with a beverage other than water, then you do recite the appropriate blessing on that beverage. [Tip: recite the blessing, take a sip, swallow the pill and then drink it down with the rest of the beverage.]
Friday, April 5, 2013
Hows your soul?
Our souls connect us, it is our bodies that separate us.
Rabbi Sholom Lipskar outlines the process of redemption and what to expect in the times of the Messiah. From the scientists who have discovered the G-d particle, to ancient texts, to the Lubatcher Rebbe's talks, Rabbi Lipskar brings Moshiach out of the texts and into the room.
Thursday, April 4, 2013
In the future the children of Yishmael will stir great wars in the world. And the children of Edom [the West] will gather against them, and make war with them, one on the sea, and one on the land, and one near Jerusalem; and each one will prevail over the other but the Holy Land will not fall to the hands of the Christian nations.
During that period of time, a nation from the "edge" of the world (note where North Korea is located geographically) will be awakened against wicked Romi. And it will make war against her for three months, and many nations will gather there, and they will fall by her hand, until all the children of Edom will gather against her from all corners of the earth. And after, G-d will awaken Himself against them, as it says, a "a sacrificial slaughter for the Lord in Batzra", and it says, "to shake the corners of the Land."
A nation will arise from one end of the world (North Korea) against the wicked Rome (Christian nations led by Obama) and will war against them for 3 months. Other nations will join in this war and will fall into the hands (of the nation from edge of the world), till all Edom will unite against this nation. Aterwards, Hashem will 'arise' against them, as it says, A gigantic massacre in the land of Edom.
Note: Immediately following this 3 month war, the evil leader of Edom (America) will spread out his rule over the entire world. Nine months into that move called the final tribulation and birthpangs of Mashiach, he will get up and destroy all the enemies of Israel and mankind.
Also see: Director's Cut: World War 3
Also see: Geula Update from Rav Fish
Sunday, March 24, 2013
Monday, March 18, 2013
Do we really have free choice? Most people tend to view this as a yes-or-no type of question, but the correct answer is in fact, yes and no.
a) The inner core of the soul is totally at one with G-d. At this subconscious level, the soul of every Jew wishes to observe all the mitzvos and to avoid transgressing any prohibitions. There is no desire for evil here; there simply is no other option than doing good.
b) At the conscious level however, where we interact with the more superficial layers of the soul's complex psyche, there is room for both good and evil. Here, the soul's inner desire to observe all the mitzvos is felt only as a weaker 'signal', which is susceptible to 'interference' from the opposing messages of our animalistic instincts. So at the conscious level, we do indeed possess free choice.
In general, the Torah speaks to our conscious mind. We are told to observe the mitzvos with the full awareness of what we are doing, and we are charged with bringing an awareness of spirituality into our normal, daily lives.
However, at this conscious level, we are susceptible to being drawn away from a life of holiness, or stifled by the limitations that the world appears to present. So while most of the mitzvos were given to the conscious part of the soul, G-d saw it necessary to give us some mitzvos which speak directly to the inner core of the soul, helping the soul's unlimited energy and total commitment to good to flow outwards to the conscious mind. These special mitzvos help us stay in tune with our subconscious commitment to Judaism, when our conscious observance becomes strained or limited.
With most mitzvos, G-d told Moshe to address the Jewish people with the term דבר "daber" (speak) or אמור "emor" (say). While the mitzvos conveyed with these terms are of course obligatory, the more passive, indirect mood of the words "speak" and "say" indicate that these mitzvos are directed at the superficial layers of the soul which possess free choice.
Parshas Tzav, in contrast, uses the more direct imperative term צו "tsav" (command), alluding to a type of mitzvah which speaks to the soul's inner core that does not possess true free-choice; and is simply "commanded" to obey G-d's will. These special mitzvos which are included in this Parsha are aimed at helping our inner identity of unquestioning and uninhibited commitment to the Jewish faith surface in everyday life.
Based on Likutei Sichos of the Lubavitcher Rebbe---------------------------------------
Video: Living Mindfully - Rabbi Laibl Wolf
Wisdom is cumulative, don’t hesitate to consult those who are older and wiser.
Rabbi Laibl Wolf begins by establishing that each attendee and viewer is a unique, gifted, reincarnated soul, brought into the world for an individual purpose. Living mindfully begins with inner calm, a level playing field, required for the beginning point of any wisdom oriented decision.
Friday, March 15, 2013
B”H. The month of liberation, 5773. March 2013.
Dear Jewish Community Watch,
In response to your request—as well as to the many other inquiries and requests for my reaction to the issue of child abuse.
First, I want to express my sincere gratitude and accolades for all the hard work you and various other organizations and individuals are doing to put an end to the devastating crime of CSA, which has wreaked utter havoc in scores of innocent lives over so many years.
Sadly, many people, including some in leadership positions, are ill-informed of the detrimental effects of child molestation. The average person who has not suffered through CSA doesn’t realize how so many of the abused suffer for years or decades from feelings of inadequacy, loneliness, shame, guilt, and pain. Many of the victims—due to their profound pain and skewed sense of self—find temporary relief in all forms of destructive behavior, including molesting a new generation of children. Many of them fall prey to terrible addictions in order to escape their agony. Untold numbers of these innocent souls are haunted by unbearable nightmares that won’t allow them to lead a normal life internally. Most of them struggle to maintain functional marriages, since their sexual boundaries have been brutally violated.
Though recovery is surely possible—for the soul is more powerful than all else, and the Divine infinite power within each of us can overcome all darkness—the pain they must endure is heart-wrenching.
Many people are equally ill-informed of how rampant the problem is, and of the great number of our youth that have been victimized over the years.
But, thankfully, a new dawn has arrived.
Ever since dedicated volunteers have taken action and established organizations to combat this ugly malady, the issue of child molestation has been brought to the forefront of the community’s attention. It is no longer possible to ignore the seriousness of this epidemic. At last, we have begun—and only begun—to take the necessary steps to eradicate this black stain for good.
Initially, when the efforts began to expose predators’ names and photos, I was concerned that some activists would become obsessed with “witch hunting” and would inadvertently accuse innocent people of committing these terrible crimes—forever tainting their reputation. I was afraid that these investigations might not be thoroughly reviewed and vetted with the hyper-sensitivity and professionalism that this issue calls for. (I still shudder at the thought of an individual’s life being ruined by some mean-spirited person who has an axe to grind.) However, after much scrutiny I have learned that these investigations are thorough and honest. I have also learned that in cases where a past abuser is ready to be fully accountable and to do what it takes to help the victim through the healing-process (and, obviously, with experts testifying that he/she no longer poses a danger to the public), the abuser’s identity is not exposed. Additionally, I am also aware of dozens of cases presented to Jewish Community Watch that are not brought to light due to a lack of sufficient evidence.
Given the above, it is my heartfelt hope that all parents, rabbis, leaders, community activists, educators, principals, spiritual mentors, therapists, social workers and counselors will begin educating themselves regarding the lifelong effects of child molestation. They will then come to understand the untold suffering brought upon victims of CSA. Just as we would do anything to stop a gunman from walking our streets and taking lives, heaven forbid (what Jewish law calls a “rodef”), so must we do anything and everything to stop the people who are murdering the psyches and emotional innocence of our children.
We must also begin educating every single one of our young adults about two critical factors: 1) If they have been molested, help is available. They must know that if they will break the silence and reveal their story, they will be embraced rather than shunned, and will be guided with loving care towards a life of wholesomeness and happiness. We must give all of them the names and contact information of approved professionals, so they can reach out to them if necessary. 2) Preventive medicine: If they might ever be prone to engage in these terrible acts themselves, they must know: A) the horrific impact of such actions, and B) that there are things they can do to help them avoid becoming potential monsters who will surely destroy lives. They must all know that help is readily available for people with an inclination toward touching children inappropriately.
Parents and educators must discuss these dangers with their children and students—both the danger of becoming a victim, as well as the danger of becoming an abuser. Every—and I mean every—Yeshiva bachur must be educated about these two items.
We must also educate the community—both children and adults—on how important it is to talk to someone if they are privy to any sort of abuse being perpetrated in the community. To withhold this kind of information is essentially akin to being an accomplice and an enabler of the unthinkable crime of destroying lives in this vicious cycle. Most victims are too afraid or ashamed to speak up—and surely it is not their fault. They are terrified of being shunned, not believed, and of the possibility of being rejected forever. That is where our community stands today. We must change that and teach all of our youngsters that they will be heard, listened to, believed, and embraced with a loving heart and open arms. They will not be judged or ridiculed. We will treat their pain with the deepest respect and empathy.
Lest you think that the above information is based on speculation, I must tell you that unfortunately that is not the case. I come here today after many years of learning firsthand about the tragic plight of victims, and the ugly plight of abusers—who in the process of murdering others, murder themselves, too. It is now abundantly clear to me that by educating every boy and girl in our educational institutions about the horrors of CSA as outlined above, we will literally rescue countless precious souls from untold years of misery.
One case in point: A young man asked to meet with me some time ago. His story is not uncommon: He had been sexually molested in a particular Yeshiva by an older student who had been studying in this Yeshiva and was serving as a spiritual mentor of sorts to younger students. As the victim grew older, he in turn began to molest children himself, including his own siblings. (One of the facts about CSA is that it is often committed by close relatives or friends, and sometimes by very religious-looking people.) Concurrently, he had also become addicted to viewing unmentionable smut, which became part of his daily routine. He completely lost his boundaries for intimacy. Though he was—and still is—an extremely good-hearted young man, he was trapped in the disease of addiction and paralyzed by endless shame and guilt. He got married, but his marriage inevitably soon became dysfunctional. Floundering to survive, he discovered addictive drugs and was soon using them every day—including Yom Kippur. Finally, after hitting “rock-bottom,” this shattered “abused-abuser” shared his story with me. It was the first time that he had shared his true story with anyone, and it took him more than twenty years for to open up! He broke down and wept uncontrollably.
So many lives were destroyed from the actions of that older student. And so many lives could have been spared if the young man, the initial victim, would have known as a young adult that help is available and that he didn’t have to suffer all alone.
The brokenness and utter despondency I observed in this young man—and in many others with similar stories–is typical of victims of CSA. Many of them feel broken and crushed to the very core of their existence. Having been violated in the most vulnerable, holiest, and most sensitive part of their being—the part within us that most reflects G-d, possessing the ability to create new life—makes them feel like their lives are worthless.
Too much blood has been shed on the altar of silence and fear without anyone uttering even a cry. Victims have lived far too long by the code of shame and silence, always blaming themselves for the cruelty of their perpetrators. The devil of abuse has been allowed to grow strong and rampant because of our silence. It is time to declare all-out war—a war of information and education—against the silent bullets that have claimed thousands of our holiest and most beautiful souls.
We as a community must—and will—come forward publicly to support every effort being made on behalf of our innocent and precious youth. With Hashem’s help, we will succeed.
For such is the nature of light: it dispels even the densest of darkness.
Sincerely and thankfully, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Jacobson