דרכי ציון אבלות

דרכי ציון אבלות
מִי יִתֵּן רֹאשִׁי מַיִם וְעֵינִי מְקוֹר דִּמְעָה וְאֶבְכֶּה יוֹמָם וָלַיְלָה אֵת חַלְלֵי בַת עַמִּי

6/30/14

Baruch Dayan Ha'emet



א זְכֹר יְהוָה מֶה-הָיָה לָנוּ, הביט (הַבִּיטָה) וּרְאֵה אֶת-חֶרְפָּתֵנוּ.  ב נַחֲלָתֵנוּ נֶהֶפְכָה לְזָרִים, בָּתֵּינוּ לְנָכְרִים.  ג יְתוֹמִים הָיִינוּ אין (וְאֵין) אָב, אִמֹּתֵינוּ כְּאַלְמָנוֹת.  ד מֵימֵינוּ בְּכֶסֶף שָׁתִינוּ, עֵצֵינוּ בִּמְחִיר יָבֹאוּ.  ה עַל צַוָּארֵנוּ נִרְדָּפְנוּ, יָגַעְנוּ לא (וְלֹא) הוּנַח-לָנוּ.  ו מִצְרַיִם נָתַנּוּ יָד, אַשּׁוּר לִשְׂבֹּעַ לָחֶם.  זאֲבֹתֵינוּ חָטְאוּ אינם (וְאֵינָם), אנחנו (וַאֲנַחְנוּ) עֲו‍ֹנֹתֵיהֶם סָבָלְנוּ.  ח עֲבָדִים מָשְׁלוּ בָנוּ, פֹּרֵק אֵין מִיָּדָם.  ט בְּנַפְשֵׁנוּ נָבִיא לַחְמֵנוּ, מִפְּנֵי חֶרֶב הַמִּדְבָּר.  יעוֹרֵנוּ כְּתַנּוּר נִכְמָרוּ, מִפְּנֵי זַלְעֲפוֹת רָעָב.  יא נָשִׁים בְּצִיּוֹן עִנּוּ, בְּתֻלֹת בְּעָרֵי יְהוּדָה.  יב שָׂרִים בְּיָדָם נִתְלוּ, פְּנֵי זְקֵנִים לֹא נֶהְדָּרוּ.  יג בַּחוּרִים טְחוֹן נָשָׂאוּ, וּנְעָרִים בָּעֵץ כָּשָׁלוּ.  יד זְקֵנִים מִשַּׁעַר שָׁבָתוּ, בַּחוּרִים מִנְּגִינָתָם.  טו שָׁבַת מְשׂוֹשׂ לִבֵּנוּ, נֶהְפַּךְ לְאֵבֶל מְחֹלֵנוּ.  טז נָפְלָה עֲטֶרֶת רֹאשֵׁנוּ, אוֹי-נָא לָנוּ כִּי חָטָאנוּ.  יז עַל-זֶה, הָיָה דָוֶה לִבֵּנוּ--עַל-אֵלֶּה, חָשְׁכוּ עֵינֵינוּ.  יח עַל הַר-צִיּוֹן שֶׁשָּׁמֵם, שׁוּעָלִים הִלְּכוּ-בוֹ
יט אַתָּה יְהוָה לְעוֹלָם תֵּשֵׁב, כִּסְאֲךָ לְדוֹר וָדוֹר.  כ לָמָּה לָנֶצַח תִּשְׁכָּחֵנוּ, תַּעַזְבֵנוּ לְאֹרֶךְ יָמִים.  כא הֲשִׁיבֵנוּ יְהוָה אֵלֶיךָ ונשוב (וְנָשׁוּבָה), חַדֵּשׁ יָמֵינוּ כְּקֶדֶם. כב כִּי אִם-מָאֹס מְאַסְתָּנוּ, קָצַפְתָּ עָלֵינוּ עַד-מְאֹד.

6/22/14

Why I will write about nothing besides the three kidnapped boys


Yaron Chen Z"l


Yaron Chen Z"l, was one of my best friends in my late teens.  He was the closest confidant, if not the only one, I had in those days.  I admired several people in those days, and he was absolutely one of them.
When Yaron and I entered the army, we went our separate ways.  The first few months of army training are very rigorous, and there's not much time for keeping in touch.  But the time we were in loose contact lasted about five months.  After that, he was gone.

One day in August 1993, I received a notice from my commander that a soldier was killed by terrorists, and according to their information I probably know him.  My stomach turned.  He said Yaron's name, and my heart dropped.

The story, better than I can tell it, appears here, among other places:


Since that day, the Chen family, as much as they continue living, will never be the same.  Almost twenty-one years have passed, and losing such a close friend, in such a brutal manner, knowing that he must have suffered during his last moments in this world, has left me with an emotional wound that closes over time, then opens again when certain memories come back every now and then.

I am almost certain that the lives of the families of Naftali Frankel, Gilad Shaer and Eyal Yifrach, have been turned upside down.  I know nothing about the condition of the three boys right now.
I never knew the boys or their families, so it could be just another tragedy that happened to strangers.  But I remember the searing pain of losing someone close under similar circumstances.
In addition, the kidnappers were after Jews travelling in the disputed territory of Judea and Samaria, on the west bank of the Jordan river.  And, according to the Hamas platform, they were after any Jew in Israel itself.

People are being unjustly held hostage in several places around the world.  I do not know what I can do for them, not even those who are my countrymen and my people's brethren.  But, at least symbolically, or perhaps to send a message, nothing on this blog that I could write will be worth ignoring the three boys and their plight.  There are enough Jewish blogs, probably too many.  Life goes on, but it mustn't completely as usual.  This blog that I started a few months ago because I felt I had something to say, will remain an almost-unheard cry in solidarity with the unheard cries of Naftali, Gilad and Eyal.  For me, there is no more to say until the boys are released safely, please God, and true efforts to reach a feasable agreement are made by all those involved in the current struggle.


6/20/14

For our three boys in captivity:


תהילים קמב

א  מַשְׂכִּיל לְדָוִד;
בִּהְיוֹתוֹ בַמְּעָרָה    תְפִלָּה.
ב  קוֹלִי, אֶל-יְהוָה אֶזְעָק;    קוֹלִי, אֶל-יְהוָה אֶתְחַנָּן.
ג  אֶשְׁפֹּךְ לְפָנָיו שִׂיחִי;    צָרָתִי, לְפָנָיו אַגִּיד.
ד  בְּהִתְעַטֵּף עָלַי, רוּחִי--    וְאַתָּה, יָדַעְתָּ נְתִיבָתִי:
בְּאֹרַח-זוּ אֲהַלֵּךְ--    טָמְנוּ פַח לִי.
ה  הַבֵּיט יָמִין, וּרְאֵה--    וְאֵין-לִי מַכִּיר:
אָבַד מָנוֹס מִמֶּנִּי;    אֵין דּוֹרֵשׁ לְנַפְשִׁי.
ו  זָעַקְתִּי אֵלֶיךָ,    יְהוָה:
אָמַרְתִּי, אַתָּה מַחְסִי;    חֶלְקִי, בְּאֶרֶץ הַחַיִּים.
ז  הַקְשִׁיבָה, אֶל-רִנָּתִי--    כִּי-דַלּוֹתִי-מְאֹד:
הַצִּילֵנִי מֵרֹדְפַי--    כִּי אָמְצוּ מִמֶּנִּי.
ח  הוֹצִיאָה מִמַּסְגֵּר, נַפְשִׁי--    לְהוֹדוֹת אֶת-שְׁמֶךָ:
בִּי, יַכְתִּרוּ צַדִּיקִים--    כִּי תִגְמֹל עָלָי

taken from http://www.mechon-mamre.org/

6/18/14

Save them!

I haven't the words to express my distress over the three young men who were kidnapped.  They must be suffering terribly.  Their families certainly are.  What can I do for them?

צַדִּיק הוּא יְהוָה כִּי פִיהוּ מָרִיתִי שִׁמְעוּ נָא כָל עמים [הָעַמִּים] וּרְאוּ מַכְאֹבִי בְּתוּלֹתַי וּבַחוּרַי 
הָלְכוּ בַשֶּׁבִי
איכה א יח

"God is righteous; for I have rebelled against His word; hear, I pray you, all ye peoples, and behold my pain: my young women and my young men are gone into captivity."   

    Lamentations 1:18

I have impulsively colored my blog in black, in solidarity with the captives and ther family.  What can I really do?

 Please pray for the welfare of these boys, and for all humans unjustly in captivity.

Please God, give us the wisdom to reach an appeasement with our adversaries.  Bring my family, the Jewish people, and the world, peace and happiness.


6/1/14

Elokai Netzor Blogee MeRa

Ohr L'4 Sivan, 48 days which are 6 weeks and six days of the Omer

What a fun week in the part of the blogosphere where I hang out.  First, at a convention of the Agudath Israel of America, the Novominsker Rebbe, Rav Yaakov Perlov, made a few remarks out of distress over the heretical havoc that Open Orthodox rabbis can wreak in the Orthodox community, especially "outside New York City" (is that a Halachic definition?  How many days of Yom Tov are kept outside of NYC?).  As an aside, the Reform and Conservative jews were given honorable mention: “They’ve become oblivious, and they’ve fallen into the pit of intermarriage and assimilation. They have no future, they almost have no present...these vestiges of Kefira, of Sheker, will be (unclear) by the Ribbono Shel Olam, to the dustbins of Jewish history."

My Blebbe (Blog Rebbe) Rav Harry Maryles defends Rav Perlow's accusations of the Open Orthodox rabbis who do not accept all thirteen principles of faith that the Rambam declared (Rav Yosef Albo only had three principles, what do we do with his work?)

I probably would have worded these sentiments differently.  But, God forbid I should criticize such a Gadol, before I understand the judgement taken into account when using such harsh remarks about the people who hold such ideas about Torah, or at least the ideas held by these people.  Are the non-Orthodox "Makir et Bor'o Umored Bo" (recognize the existence of their Creator and intentionally rebel against him)?  Why the need for such hurtful words toward people, even if they're mistaken, who feel they are doing the best they can?


Then Rav Avi Shafran of Agudah explains Rav Perlow's words to be against "ideas and beliefs, not innocent Jews who may have been misled by the Zeitgeist and its blandishments."  To be honest, that's not the way it sounded.  DovBear takes issue with this claim that there was nothing personal, and shows that many of the remarks seemed to be quite personal.  And we have our usual DovBear-Shafran shootout, and all I can say is, I fargin and am at the same time envious of the blogger who can make some money by advertising linen suits from amazon on his blog.


I thought this would be enough to report, but then RH Maryles reports a Satmar Chassid who graduated from Yeshiva University, and then another Satmar Chassid who spoke politely and cordially to a non-Jewish comedienne from his neighborhood.  If things like this are going on, Mashiach is on his way.  Oh wait, did I forget the blatant divisiveness among the Jewish people lately, even among the Torah-observant? How does that work out with our beliefs in the Messianic era?


I pray we find ways to judge our fellow Jews favorably.  That we do not disparage our sages, but continue to think for ourselves.


אלקי נצור בלוגי מרע ואתרי מדבר מרמה

...ולמקללי בלוגי תדום

יה"ר מלפניך שלא תעלה קנאת אדם שלי ולא קנאתי על אחרים

ושלא אכעוס היום ושלא אכעיסך
ותצילני מיצר הרע ותן בבלוגי הכנעה וענוה

מלכנו ואלקנו יחד שמך בעולמך בנה עירך ויסד ביתך

ושכלל היכלך וקבץ קבוץ גלויות ופדה צאנך ושמח עדתך

Amen.

5/25/14

26 Iyar - V-E day of the Jewish Calendar

25 Iyar, 40 days which are five weeks and five days of the Omer.



This year it has been suggested that The 26th of Iyar be observed as a day of thanks for the Nazis' defeat in 1945.  Until now celebrated by Europe, mainly Russia, on May 9, the vice president of the Euro-Asian Jewish congress has recommended that the Jewish world "celebrate", to at least a certain extent, the Hebrew date on which Nazi Germany surrendered in World War II.  The proposal has acquired support from the Chief Rabbis of Israel, Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv and former Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rav Yisrael Meir Lau Shlita (a survivor of Buchenwald concentration camp), and the President of the Conference of European Rabbis.

It seems that this day has not been suggested to be a day of celebrations and parties, as after all Nazi Germany murdered, tormented, and left significant physical, psychological and emotional scars throughout the Jewish people.  However, the fact that their goal was to obliterate European Jewry (if not the entirety of Jewry has they Chas Vechalila been given the chance to do so) and that they did not succeed, is still a reason to give thanks to God that we persevered despite it all.

At first, it seemed to me to be a bit much, especially since I recognize the 27th of Nissan as a day when most of Jewry remembers the victims of the Holocaust, the 10th of Tevet which was determined by the Religious Zionist Rabbinate as the day to commemorate, and Tisha B'Av in which we mourn all tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people at least since the first Temple's destruction.  However, despite the pain, God deserves the thanks that at least we have continued to survive as a people.  No big parties with fireworks are planned, just a few chapters of Tehillim that were deemed appropriate for this commemoration (Chapters 107, 83, 30 and 150), El Malei Rachamim for the Jews murdered in the Holocaust, and a small prayer of thanks to God for not letting our enemies succeed in all that they aspired against us.

Not a day of mourning, not exactly a day of celebration.  Something bittersweet.  Consider saying these Mizmorei Tehilim tomorrow.  Perhaps the more we thank God for the good in life, the more God will bestow upon us more good tidings.

5/20/14

Logic BaOmer

20 Iyar, 35 days which are 5 weeks of the Omer

After hearing and reading all kinds of reactions to La"g BaOmer, I've ended up very confused about this "holiday".  This is perhaps, if not clearly, the holiday with the least clear reason for it.  Even T"u B'Av, which has several reasons, is usually "celebrated" because of all the reasons together.  The variety of origins of La"g BaOmer seem to be presented as a multiple choice question in which only one answer is correct.  And one of the options is "none of the above".

An interesting and concise post on the matter can be read at Rav Natan Slifkin's "Rationalist Judaism" blog.

I have even heard opinions that the holiday should not be observed.

Firstly, if one wants to be a minimalist vis a vis observing holidays (I often do), then La"g BaOmer is "observed" by omitting the Tachanun prayer.  So, worst case scenario, we don't say Tachanun and we don't know why.  Nisht geferlach (not so terrible), as Bobbe used to say (well, actually, she never said that.  Just about everything to her was geferlach ;)   ).

Then there are the reasons we apply to this day of a little extra happiness, maybe a micro-holiday if there were such a term.
*The day the terrible plague that killed 24000 students of Rabi Akiva, ended.  I could imagine that that was a relief, but it seems to me not a reason to celebrate.  Then again, maybe it is, especially if it is a little token of thanks by not reciting Tachanun.  But bonfires and music and dancing?  I don't know.
*Rabi Shimon Bar Yochai's "Hilula"?  If I understand correctly, not everyone agrees that the "Hilula" necessarily is the day of his death, although it seems that most people understand it that way.
So if the majority of religious Jews see La"g BaOmer as celebrating a Yortzeit of a great Rabbi, that throws me a curve - we celebrate when people we like die?  I'm sure there are explanations for this phenomenon, but I admit that it's the weirdest aspect of La"g BaOmer in my Weltanschauung (did I use that high-falutin' word correctly? I'd put money on "no".)
*Commemorating a brief victory of Bar Kochba in his revolt against the Romans?  I've heard too often Charedim disparaging this opinion, saying that it's a Zionist plot (anything a Zionist does is a "plot") to revise history and deplete Jewish holidays of their religious significance.  Well, as per Wikipedia, it was Rav Nachman Krochmal who raised this possibility, and he died in 1840, a little too early for the Big Bad Secular Zionist Movement.  The idea that Chaza"l had to codify and disguise their celebration of the revolt against the Romans makes sense, since the Romans were still around during their time.
So maybe it was the reason for celebrating La"g BaOmer.  "Ver veis" (who knows)? as Bobbe used to say (okay, she never said that; she knew everything).

If so, then La"g BaOmer should be continued as is.
 Going to Rabi Shimon Bar Yochai's gravesite in Meron, whoever wants to, go ahead, and if it is honoring a Torah sage and not praying to him, there's nothing wrong with that.  Sounds to me like a huge shlep and a big headache, but to each his own.
 Bonfires are enjoyed by lots of people around the world, toasted marshmallows are tasty, so why not?
 A day for outings, sports, archery, also fun and healthy.

 Burning effigies of other Jews, hey, sure, why not...Oh. Ok, maybe we should take that one of the list of our party games.

I feel most comfortable with La"g BaOmer knowing that I do not know for sure what it's all about.  I don't like to be fooled, but when I'm aware that I may be being fooled and give my full consent to it, that gives me some comfort amidst the fuzziness of such a confusing tradition.  Being a Jew is sometimes hard, but being sure of oneself is always an illusion.

What's certain - a roasted marshmallow is a roasted marshmallow!

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