Friday, June 25, 2010

Jews Without Shoes by Rabbi Moss

Question of the Week:
My grandmother always told me not to walk around the house in just socks and no shoes. Is there anything to this or is it a bubbemaise superstition?



If Laura, Kate and Sarah go out for lunch, they will call each other Laura, Kate and Sarah.
If Mike , Dave and John go out, they will affectionately refer to each other as Fat Boy, Godzilla and Four-eyes.

When the bill arrives, Mike , Dave and John will each throw in $20, even though it's only for $32.50. None of them will have anything smaller and none will actually admit they want change back.
When the girls get their bill, out come the pocket calculators.

A man will pay $2 for a $1 item he needs.
A woman will pay $1 for a $2 item that she doesn't need but it's on sale.

A man has six items in his bathroom: toothbrush and toothpaste, shaving cream, razor, a bar of soap, and a towel .
The average number of items in the typical woman's bathroom is 337. A man would not be able to identify more than 20 of these items.

A woman has the last word in any argument.
Anything a man says after that is the beginning of a new argument.

A woman worries about the future until she gets a husband.
A man never worries about the future until he gets a wife.

A successful man is one who makes more money than his wife can spend.
A successful woman is one who can find such a man.

A woman marries a man expecting he will change, but he doesn't.
A man marries a woman expecting that she won't change, but she does.

A woman will dress up to go shopping, water the plants, empty the trash, answer the phone, read a book, and get the mail.
A man will dress up for weddings and funerals.

Men wake up as good-looking as they went to bed.
Women somehow deteriorate during the night.

Ah, children. A woman knows all about her children. She knows about dentist appointments and romances, best friends, favorite foods, secret fears and hopes and dreams.
A man is vaguely aware of some short people living in the house.

A married man should forget his mistakes. There's no use in two people remembering the same thing!

SO, send this to the women who have a sense of humor and who can handle it ... and to the men who will enjoy reading it.

Written 42 years ago by Eric Hoffer

ISRAEL'S PECULIAR Eric Hoffer - Los Angeles Times26/5/1968.

The Jews are a peculiar people: things permitted to other nations are forbidden to the Jews.
Other nations drive out thousands, even millions of people and there is no refugee problem. Russia did it, Poland and Czechoslovakia did it.
Turkey threw out a million Greeks and Algeria a million Frenchman.
Indonesia threw out heaven knows how many Chinese and no one says a word about refugees.
But in the case of Israel , the displaced Arabs have become eternal refugees.
Everyone insists that Israel must take back every single one.
Arnold Toynbee calls the displacement of the Arabs an atrocity greater than any committed by the Nazis.
Other nations when victorious on the battlefield dictate peace terms.
But when Israel is victorious, it must sue for peace.
Everyone expects the Jews to be the only real Christians in this world.
Other nations, when they are defeated, survive and recover but should Israel be defeated it would be destroyed. Had Nasser triumphed last June [1967], he would have wiped Israel off the map, and no one would have lifted a finger to save the Jews.
No commitment to the Jews by any government, including our own, is worth the paper it is written on.
There is a cry of outrage all over the world when people die in Vietnam or when two Blacks are executed in Rhodesia. But, when Hitler slaughtered Jews no one demonstrated against him.
The Swedes, who were ready to break off diplomatic relations with America because of what we did in Vietnam, did not let out a peep when Hitler was slaughtering Jews.
They sent Hitler choice iron ore, and ball bearings, and serviced his troops in Norway .
The Jews are alone in the world.
If Israel survives, it will be solely because of Jewish efforts. And Jewish resources.
Yet at this moment, Israel is our only reliable and unconditional ally.
We can rely more on Israel than Israel can rely on us.
And one has only to imagine what would have happened last summer [1967] had the Arabs and their Russian backers won the war, to realize how vital the survival of Israel is to America and the West in general.
I have a premonition that will not leave me; as it goes with Israel so will it go with all of us. Should Israel perish, the Holocaust will be upon us all.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Weekly e*Torah by Rabbi Avrohom Altein

Palm Reading and Horoscopes by Rabbi Moss

Question of the Week:
What is Judaism's take on looking into our future? I've always been under the impression that it is forbidden for us to consult with spiritual 'mediums', but more and more I'm hearing of people who are paying big money to find out what their future may hold. Is it possible to know our destiny?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Weekly e*Torah by Rabbi Avrohom Altein

Why I'm Not a Plumber by Rabbi Moss

Question of the Week:
Many thanks to you and your wife for Friday night dinner. We had a great time. I just had one question. I noticed you have a huge picture of your Rebbe, Rabbi Schneersohn, on the wall. I don't mean to be rude, but is this type of reverence appropriate? Isn't he just another human being?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Defiance Movie the UnForgettable Wedding Scene

Rhonda's Journey...

A Taste of the Retreat - Mrs. Shimona Tzukernik

Thank you for being a part of this incredible course!

Dear All,

Tonight we concluded our course on Beyond Never Again, How the Holocaust Speaks to Us Today. Tonight’s subject, When Night Will Shine Like Day addressed the question of where was man during the holocaust? I am happy to share the following recap with you.

We began by exploring the incredible success of the German Jewish community’s integration with German society before the war. The pity of it all is that this investment and success did not offer the insulating layer of security that was hoped for. The most successful scientists, academics, artists, musicians and composers were Jewish and yet Jews of all ranks were exterminated; they came to be despised and debased by the very people they had earlier enriched.

We went on to explore the attitude of Germans and Poles who had witnessed the Holocaust. For the most apart these bystanders did nothing to help the Jews, but that does not mean that they were evil. Most people have a well developed sense of good and evil, right and wrong. These people understood that what was happening was evil, but they were unable to muster the willpower, courage and outrage to do something about it. There was a monster in their midst and they did nothing to battle it.

The Nazis did not set out on their campaign of extermination in a vacuum. In this they had the support and active assistance of the brightest minds and the most educated elite in Germany. Doctors and scientists helped them streamline their system and actively worked to exterminate Jews.

We concluded that academic scholarship, scientific progress and cultural refinement do not insulate us against immorality. It is easy to rationalize the murder of another in a relative, rather than absolute, system of morality. If murder is wrong because I am horrified by it then it ceases to be wrong when I cease to be horrified by it. So long as I can justify the extermination of the Jew or of the mentally retarded, I can preserve my integrity and sense of right and wrong even as I do nothing to help the Jew.

The Righteous Gentile that jumped in and helped for the most part already had a strong commitment to right and wrong. They did not deliberate before acting nor did they consult others. They acted because inaction was simply not an option for them; they considered what they did, “normal.”

The difference between the indifferent and those that put their lives on the line to help the Jews lies in their well honed commitment to justice irrespective of color, race or ethnicity. Judaism attaches an absolute value to the sanctity of life. Taking human life is an affront to G-d and cannot be sanctioned by human. Irrespective of our horror or lack thereof murder is always absolutely immoral.

If we can succeed in cultivating this absolute sense of morality in the next generation then we can succeed in going beyond the slogan of never again. We can actually raise a generation with a backbone to resist the pressures that society can bring to bear against otherwise decent human beings.

We have a framework for such teaching in the seven Noahide laws; Judaism’s universal code of ethical living for all of humanity. We must not only teach it, but live it; we must ourselves become shining examples of a people that commits itself to the absolute value of ethics.

If we commit ourselves to this idea then we can afford to believe that the night will shine again; that the morrow will be brighter than today.

Thank you for being a part of this incredible course. If you would like to review any of the six lessons, the recordings will remain available at till the fall when the next course begins. You are welcome to download the recordings to your own devices.

I wish you a wonderful summer and look forward to being in touch with you before JLI’s next semester, which is scheduled for the fall on the subject of Medical Ethics. If you have the opportunity, I encourage you to consider joining JLI’s National Jewish Retreat in Virginia, August 17-22. You can find more information at

The National Jewish Retreat Promo

Voices of the Past: Dr. Samuel P. Oliner

Review of Lesson Six (Beyond Never Again)

Thank you for joining us for the sixth and final lesson of Beyond Never Again in which we explored the lessons of a post-Holocaust world! Human history is strewn with examples of people perpetrating horrors on others. Is there any way to stop wanton hatred and heartless genocide?

Some have argued in the past that the key to Jewish survival is assimilation into the larger society—that we are hated because we are different. Yet as we have seen in our lesson, despite cultural, economic, and political integration, German Jews were unsuccessful at deflecting the hatred and persecution unleashed by the Nazi party.

We pointed out the importance of avoiding simple characterizations: most people are not “good” or “evil” but have the capacity of behaving in either way. Even good people can be drawn to do awful things under certain circumstances. The sad truth of the Holocaust is that while many were cruel killers, many more were content to be bystanders, pleading ignorance of what was going on, shirking the responsibility to protest, or in the worst of cases, collaborating with the evil perpetrated by others.

Who has the courage to stand up to evil rather than passively looking the other way? If the Holocaust taught is anything, it is that education in the arts and sciences are not enough to ensure a sophisticated ethic. The Germans used their technical sophistication to engineer the most efficient extermination plan the world has ever known. Nazi doctors used their knowledge to engage in cruel and human experimentation, all in the name of scientific progress.

We create a better world through providing moral education and guidance in our homes and in our schools. Indeed, many of the “righteous gentiles” who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust report that they did so because they saw the crimes as a challenge to ethical principles which were ingrained in them from childhood.

By encouraging societies to teach universal moral principles and sharing our personal example of moral sensitivity, we not only prevent genocide and anti-semitism but also transform our world.

This brings the spring course to a close. Thanks so much for joining us for Beyond Never Again. It has been an amazing journey.

Our upcoming fall course will explore Jewish Medical Ethics. I hope you will join us then. Have a wonderful summer!

Friday, June 4, 2010

A Flotilla of Falsehood and the Tedious Truth by Rabbi Moss

Question of the Week:
What do you say to this Gaza flotilla episode? Did you see the real story behind it on YouTube ? As usual the media and world opinion condemns Israel for defending itself. When will truth prevail?

In the battle for truth, there is an important lesson we can learn from the Hebrew language.

The word for truth in Hebrew is Emet. The word for falsehood is Sheker. Both words are made up of three Hebrew letters. The difference is that the three letters of Emet are the first, middle and last letters of the alphabet (aleph, mem, tav), while the letters that make up Sheker (shin, kuf, reish) are consecutive letters, bunched together in the alphabet.

The holy tongue is here giving a profound insight into the difference between truth and falsehood. Truth is a broad and all-encompassing perspective, while falsehood is no more than a misleading and narrow snapshot.

To know the truth you need to know the full picture, from beginning to end. You cannot understand a situation without knowing the background, the events that led to it. And you don't know whether an event is a victory or a defeat until its consequences unravel.

On the other hand, to view a scene in isolation, out of context, ignorant of the facts and unaware of the backdrop, will invariably lead to false impressions.

Sadly, modern mainstream media is prone to falsehood. Catchy sound bites, dramatic images, angry reactions and loose accusations are far more newsworthy than lengthy explanations, detailed analysis and historic perspective. In the grab for airtime, a tedious truth will not compete with a flotilla of falsehood.

But in the end truth will prevail. This crisis, like others before, will pass. People of good will and integrity around the world are already seeing beyond the false headlines. Newspapers are disposable, and for good reason. Truth is not.

Weekly e*Torah by Rabbi Avrohom Altein

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Lesson Six: When Night Will Shine Like Day

Dear Student,

In this lesson, we bring our course full circle. We started with the question of, “Where was G-d in the Holocaust?” In this lesson, we ask “Where was man?” For if the Holocaust tries our faith in G-d, it also tries our faith human civilization.

The Holocaust showed us a world in which the most culturally and scientifically advanced society on earth used its sophistication to engineer the most efficient genocidal program the world had ever known. The most assimilated Jewish community of the time found that their participation did not protect them from hatred. And while not everyone was a murderer, the vast majority of people were apathetic bystanders who allowed the evil to go unchecked.

And yet, amidst this horror, there were some beacons of light. An estimated two million righteous gentiles sacrificed their own safety and well-being to stand up to evil and to save Jews even at risk to their own lives. Often, these courageous individuals were poor and uneducated. Yet their moral sense was impeccable.

Can we prevent human progress from falling prey to moral bankruptcy? Is it possible to retain faith in the future, and to believe in a brighter tomorrow? What must we do to create a world in which no more holocausts can happen?

Please join us for Lesson Six as we explore what it means to truly move beyond “never again.”

Review of Lesson Five (Beyond Never Again)

Thank you for joining us for the fifth lesson of Beyond Never Again. We started by discussing the fact that Jewish law has always served as a moral compass for Jews, in good times and bad. It covers every aspect of life, from the most lofty to the most mundane. The responsa literature documents questions of Jewish law as well as how classical Jewish legal thinking has been applied to solve these new dilemmas. Reviewing these cases provides an interesting window into the history and sociology of a given era.

Among the examples of responsa we looked at were questions regarding ritual, such as under what circumstances one might risk the desecration of tefilin or whether one could recite the blessing of not having been made a slave while laboring in a concentration camp. Other questions concerned ethical issues such as whether one could save one’s own son at the expense of the life of another.

These preserved responsa demonstrate the sensitivity, creativity, and scholarship of the rabbis who responded to these questions. But the questions also reveal a lot about the people who asked them. They show strength of commitment of Jews in the Holocaust, as well as how Torah served as an anchor of meaning in world gone mad.

Thanks for joining me to study this inspiring lesson. I hope to see you next week for our sixth and final lesson.