Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Sunday, October 17, 2010
My Hero!by Gutman LocksEzriel is here in Jerusalem learning for the year. He comes from a large family in New York. He is the youngest of 13 children. His father is a rabbi in a shul (synagogue) and learns all day. His mother, besides raising the family, supports the family by running a kindergarten that has 70 children.
When he first told me that he is the youngest of 13, I said, “You must be really spoiled, having 12 older brothers and sisters.” He answered, “I used to have 12 extra people telling me what to do. Now that they are all married, I have 24.”
He comes from a Chassidic tradition, but not one that teaches reaching out to bring Jews to Torah. For some reason, when he would come late afternoon to daven (pray), he would stand by the tefillin stand and watch me bring Jews over to put on tefillin. I would speak to him, trying to get him to become involved:
I said, “If you saw a Jew whose donkey fell down, surely you would help him to pick it up. If you would help him to pick up his physical donkey, how much more so should you help him to pick up his spiritual donkey?”
Slowly, he began to help. At first, he would only hand me the tefillin for me to put on the people I brought in. Little by little he did more and more, until he learned to go ask Jews if they had put on tefillin, and bring them over and put tefillin on them.
Right before the holiday he told me he was upset. His father had asked him to go home for the holidays, and Ezriel wanted to stay in Jerusalem. I told him G-d was sending him to New York to help a particular Jew, and he had to keep his eye out for that Jew so he would not miss him. I said that he was the only one who would help that Jew.
He emailed me a couple of times, telling me he had not been able to find the Jew he was supposed to help. I told him to go out onto the street with his luluv (the four species for Succos) and walk around looking for him. He couldn’t find him.
When he went to the airport to return, he looked around -- last chance -- but no luck. He got on the plane, happy to be returning to Jerusalem, but a little sad he did not find that Jew he was supposed to help. He did not look forward to telling me he failed.
The plane had a three-hour stopover in Germany (of all places). He was in the airport lounge and saw a couple of Chabad boys looking for people to help, but they couldn’t find anyone. Then a passenger told him his tefillin were with his baggage and he could not get to them. He asked Ezriel if he could borrow his tefillin. Obviously, he was glad to lend them to him, but he thought, “Could this be the guy I went all the way to America to help?” It didn’t seem to be enough.
The man finished with the tefillin and returned them. Before Ezriel put them away, he saw another Jew sitting there, and asked him if he wanted to put them on. He said no; he was not interested.
Ezriel said, “Look, you have 3 hours to wait here in the airport. What else do you have to do?” The guy agreed and Ezriel helped him to put them on. Boy, was he happy. Then, when this one was finished, he looked around and found 3 more Jews who agreed to put on tefillin. Now he was flying!
He came up to me at the tefillin stand knowing that the last I heard from him was he was going to the airport to return to Jerusalem, without having found the Jew he was sent to help. Then, he told me what happened. I burst into laughter. Boy, was I happy. He made my day, and a few more days, too.
There is no better way to help the world than to bring someone to the love of G-d through a mitzvah.
Saturday, October 16, 2010
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Saturday, October 09, 2010
This demonstrates the enormous power inherent in speech. (Even thought has power to influence the environment, but that's another issue.)
If speaking negatively has this power of influence, then certainly this power holds true, that much more, when speaking about somebody's good features. It is for this reason our sages coined the axiom, "When mentioning a righteous individual, invoke his praise."
Last week's Torah portion, Noah, provides an example. The 1st verse reads, "These are Noah's descendants, Noah the righteous, the pure one in his generation, always walking the path sanctioned by G-d. Noah had 3 children ...." (Genesis 6, 9). See how Torah interjects praise of Noah, just after mention of his name, before his ancestry is again addressed.
But wait, you might ask, this isn't the first time Noah's name is mentioned in Torah; In fact, twice before his name is mentioned and neither time is any praise interjected thereafter?
The Rebbe explains - the context here is important. Noah was the sole individual in his generation who walked the righteous path. This was no easy accomplishment when everyone else trangressed the Noahide laws. He was the only one going against the grain. The Torah, by injecting praise here after the mention of his name, and not before, indicates that the power delivered from verbal invocation of his praise here, where he needed it most, had given Noah's good inclination the boost it needed to dominate over his evil inclination in his struggle to walk the straight path.
Friday, October 08, 2010
Thursday, October 07, 2010
Sunday, October 03, 2010
Read the rest here.The lessons of StuxnetThere's a new cyber-weapon on the block. And it's a doozy. Stuxnet, a malicious software, or malware, program was apparently first discovered in June.Although it has appeared in India, Pakistan and Indonesia, Iran's industrial complexes - including its nuclear installations - are its main victims.Stuxnet operates as a computer worm. It is inserted into a computer system through a USB port rather than over the Internet, and is therefore capable of infiltrating networks that are not connected to the Internet.Hamid Alipour, deputy head of Iran's Information Technology Company, told reporters Monday that the malware operated undetected in the country's computer systems for about a year.After it enters a network, this super-intelligent program figures out what it has penetrated and then decides whether or not to attack. The sorts of computer systems it enters are those that control critical infrastructures like power plants, refineries and other industrial targets.Ralph Langner, a German computer security researcher who was among the first people to study Stuxnet, told various media outlets that after Stuxnet recognizes its specific target, it does something no other malware program has ever done. It takes control of the facility's SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition system) and through it, is able to destroy the facility.
Stuxnet delivered to Iranian nuclear plant on thumb driveAn Iranian double agent working for Israel used a standard thumb drive carrying a deadly payload to infect Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility with the highly destructive Stuxnet computer worm.
That was the conclusion of a report issued today by ISSSource, which wrote that Stuxnet quickly propagated throughout Natanz–knocking that facility offline and at least temporarily crippling Iran’s nuclear program–once a user did nothing more than clicking on a Windows icon.
ISSSource’s report was based on sources inside the U.S. intelligence community.