Monday, February 24, 2014

Bridge Problem - Rebbe Story

I recall many years ago hearing this story in 770 from someone who spoke to many of us at a Shabbos farbrengen. Because the Rebbe served as an electrical engineer in the U. S. Navy during WWII, and happened to know much about bridges, he once was approached for advice by people who had trouble with the structural design of their bridge. This particular bridge had some of its cables continually loosen up because of directional wind gusts. No matter how many times they would tighten the cables, eventually the wind's forces would loosen their grip.

The Rebbe handled the matter quite simply. He told them to reverse-thread the cables. This way, the wind, if anything, tightened them.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Jewish Singles Event

A good friend of mine, a single man, a businessman from a neighboring state, came to Crown Heights for a visit. They were having a "Shabbaton" for American singles in this community over the weekend.

Because my little daughter had a "coloring class" in the same building as the Shabbaton, I ended up observing the comings and goings of these singles, as I waited to pick her up when she was done with her class.

While waiting I moseyed about the Shabbaton crowd that happened to share the same floor where I waited. There were 3 desks for Shadchanim, and about 30 people were waiting in 3 lines to get a turn to sit and talk to a Shadchan. Others milled about the room eating hor d'oeuvres. Mostly women spoke to women and men to men. The women outnumbered men 4 to 1 in my estimate. Very few man-to-woman conversations occurred.

Because I, personally, married quite late in life, and had attended thousands of "single events", it brought back memories, especially those that occurred in my late twenties, into my thirties and into my forties.

The one sure feeling I used to feel in this atmosphere was a profoundly sad one. I remember each such event took a painful toll on me. There I was wanting to get married, as everyone else, I supposed, and yet such occasions suppressed spontaneity and truthfulness, in the quest to meet the "right one". It was difficult navigating among the contenders and the competitors, like paddling upstream by yourself.

There was a "dressing up" issue; A "polite yet concise" issue if you were speaking to the "wrong" one; An "awkward" issue if communication required dancing or some other excuse; And a host of other issues. And even if you did find an appealing prospect, the effort to speak of personal matters, at the risk of spilling your guts "for nothing", also took an emotional toll. This is the "draining" issue.

Another issue to contend with is "sizing up" someone - in one look - which can work both ways! Like, for example, seeing a heavy-set lady in her 50's dress like an imprudent teenager. Or, a man in his eighties. Or, a lady with a ton of make-up. A black lady was present too, likely Jewish I suppose. Or, the wrong "stream of Judaism". Or, an extremely kind gesture or smile to someone else.

Sometimes the approach of someone you had already "sized-up" brings about an awkward conversation where the minds duel verbally to initiate a polite u-turn.

As I observed, I thanked God I was happily married and well beyond this "scene" already. I felt pain for each of these singles and secretly wished them all well. This crowd averaged about 50 in age!

I also thanked God my children will be looking for spouses as soon as they turn 18 or 20, or so, because of the chassidic culture we adhere to. God forbid these good kids should have to waste precious years, like I did, before the commitment to Hashem's call to marry is made. This is the "commitment" issue. This entails a degree of surrender to God's wish - in that trust in Him will make the partnership work - by committing to leave some room for compromise, as well as, to making God the 3rd partner of this marriage.

If only I could do something to help Jewish singles find each other. The internet may well have added a new vista for their search, although the "issues" I spoke of still remain no matter what the medium. Still, I believe a good shadchan program may well help this needy crowd of good people. By "well-programmed" I mean, where pictures and videos do not at first interfere with questionnaires, to settle the spiritual angle of the coupling before the physical challenge needs to be confronted, so internet-initiated matchmaking can be effective.

After all, God connects man and woman no matter if it's a shadchan, a relative, or a "program" that makes the introduction. The internet, therefore, is a bonus method of finding your "bashert".

That this medium too can present problems of its own can be eliminated, in my estimate, if the "shadchan application" ("shadchan app) is a good one, ie., well-programmed.

My friend who came for the Shabbaton actually found someone he took interest in. They were to meet after some break, but she never showed.

I encouraged him to seek her out again, by locating her phone number from organizers, because she too, he said, expressed interest, and because something else may well have taken her off course unexpectedly.

I invite your comments. If you can suggest a good "program" or "event itinerary in an application", like a storyboard of screens, please comment. Maybe with enough positive input, a new avenue for these good people can become available. It's no good to be alone!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Happiness from Self-Sacrifice

One night Abraham dreamed of a prophetic mission. When he left early next morning with his son and companions to offer God a sacrifice, they did not pack sandwiches. They took the necessary effects and rushed off.

Along the way they hardly spoke. Isaac had a question for his father, but it could wait to when they are alone. They trekked more than two days. Dread rippled through the blood of father and son for they committed the order of the day to God.

These were strong men. They mostly fasted more than 2 days as they advanced Northeast, headed towards what one day will be Jerusalem.

On the 3rd day, Abraham and Isaac saw "the cloud". It hovered over a hill, the hill later to be the place of the "Beit Hamikdash".

Father and son immediately recognized this cloud as their personal sign - because the companions were blind to this apparition.

Abraham told the companions to stay put and wait there with the donkey. Father and son proceeded to their venue.

Now Isaac broke his silence. Until now his question could wait lest in the presence of non-familial company it raise discomfort for his father or extraneous babble. But now Isaac asked, "Abba, where's the lamb to be sacrificed?"

Abraham's answer satisfied Isaac, who was willing in self-sacrifice to die for the cause, if need be.

Now they walked onward in total calm, both happily committed, both together happy to be at one - with God.

Hebrew has ten synonyms for "happy":
ששון ,שמחה, גילה, רינה, דיצה, צהלה, עליזה, חדוה, תפארת, עליצה
but, as the Malbim emphasizes, each synonym carries a different nuance for its meaning. For example, there is a happiness that derives from an immediate, unexpected source, like finding a treasure. Another one refers to a happiness expressed by singing. Whereas חדוה refers to a happiness derived from an otherwise sad event (I do NOT remember my source).

The words in the Akeida's chapter read, "וילכו שניהם יחדו", "and they went along together". The word יחדו shares the same letters with the Hebrew word חדוה, which, I suppose, is one way our sages determined the emotions of our forefathers during this episode.

Apropos, speaking of שמחה, someone once pointed out to me that the inner two letters of this word comprise the Hebrew word for "brain" (מח), whereas the outer letters make the word "lamb" (שה). We know that the Moses of the Generation is referred to as a "Faithful Shepherd". Said my friend, were we to relegate our brains according to the wishes of our Shepherd, we'd experience true happiness.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Ladies and Gentlemen ... Eitan Katz!

A soothing Farbrengen in Yerushalayim.
(under 10 minutes)

White-Coated Drug-Pushers

If you believe fluoride is good for teeth, you have no idea how powerful a poison fluoride really is. (Just look at the handling procedures when it arrives at a laboratory, or somewhere.) If you know it's poisonous and still believe it's good for your teeth, then you have no good research to back up your belief; And the only thing you rely on are people who tell you so in white coats. You take them for their word.

Today's promoters of this poison are the very same lot who told you no more than three decades ago that cigarettes can do you no harm. The same promoters in the same white coats. They are the same ones who sold pregnant women pills (Thalidamide) for "morning sickness"; Or those who pushed free samples upon menopausal women of the "diet pill" Ambrin; These are the same who today persuade to sell you on Ritelin to calm your children down. The same ones who now want to push lifelong "treatment" of hyperactivity in children give this children's "disorder" (they can't come out and say it's a "disease", or even an "illness", can they?) a diagnosis that bears a professional-sounding name, the better to dumb down the public.

And of course if you're depressed, you should take an "anti-depressant" (as in "pro-zombie") drug, like Paxil, which now they find can promote breast cancer.

This same abuse of human intelligence, and particularly human health, occurs, although to a lesser extent, in Israel too. After all, the desire to mimic the United States still has plenty of adherents.

Anyhow, if you continue to believe this fluoride scam, you are quite ignorant, at best, probably just naive of the deep-rooted drug-pushing culture that pervades the money-making medical/pharmaceutical industry, or a fool, at worst! Or  you can't be bothered, or you just don't think a little bit of fluoride every day can hurt you. I hope you're right.

Make at least a small stand against this abuse of knowledge and help break this mafia-controlled pharmaceutical, vertical industry, which starts with the university curriculum, and ends with selling drugs at the pharmacy and "treating" hospital patients. (It's difficult because they have representatives fronting for them as "concerned politicians" in the highest governmental positions, let alone all along the entire income landscape.) Find a toothpaste devoid of harmful products - and, given the market saturation with fluoride-ridden stuff, that's not so easy. Even some brands that used to be fluoride-free buckled to make a buck. The one I found is really fine (Nature's Gate), and I hope they hang on with their wonderful product.  The extra amount you'll then pay for toothpaste chalk up to an extra ounce of prevention.

(I wrote about this danger before, here, here and here.)
(Overview of medical perspective - here, "The Zebra and the Horse".)

Monday, February 17, 2014

Marry Jewish - For an Ultimate Victory

Some people breathe air, others breathe hate. Jew-haters particularly are your best haters. After all, they can hate Jews without even ever having met one. They have all the right reasons, piled one atop the other, which they convey to their friends, layer by layer.

Their friends too have their own assortment of reasons to hate; None of which, of course, is true. The important thing is to stir up a heated conversation, one of urgency, to stoke the flames of hate against the Jews.

The best way to deal with this hatred, be it that of the Amalekite, the Yishmaeli or that of Esav, is to follow Torah's prescription - and that is to ignore the hate by learning Torah or partaking in some other holy endeavor.

Two holocausts swept through the Eurasian continent during and around WWII. Europe suffered from Nazism while to the East they reeled from Stalinism. Both holocausts destroyed many millions of Jewish lives, among others.

During this horrific period, out of the belching inferno that threatened to obliterate the Jewish identity,  came forth the cry of the Previous Rebbe to anticipate the Era of Redemption, for this catastrophe signaled the birth pangs of Moshiach. The Previous Rebbe summoned all Jewish people to "return to God" so Moshiach can redeem them.

The best weapon we have to deal with hate is to pursue Torah, the glue of the Jewish people. The Jews and Torah and God are really One. Torah practice preserves this unity.

Another sure way to prevent attempts to undo the special Jewish bond with their Creator is to marry Jewish, and to scorn intermarriage.

The Reform movement will be the first to protest, but these protests will follow the Reformists into self-extinction, for a Reformist, or an intermarrier, cuts off his genetic Jewish signature, certainly by 2 or 3 generations (see here). Should he persist to retire from Torah, this fringe Jew becomes lost to his Jewish people.

He who cuts off kinship with the Jewish nation continues to sustain - in a silent way - the former agenda of Hitler and Stalin. It is simply not "politically correct" to acknowledge this truth, or impolite to mention it, so it often goes unspoken. Nevertheless, the assimilationist in effect serves as the useful idiot of Jew-haters.

This picture I came across, of a Jewish lady, a holocaust survivor, with her grandchild, shows how the glue can heal long-open wounds that tore at Judaism, a process that will end, pretty soon, in a wonderful panacea for the Jewish people after their long struggle in exile, soon to be recognized as the Era of Redemption.

They tried to stop this grandmother early, but failed. It was she who celebrated victory. Yearning for her own people's freedom was her best knockout blow against former foes who wanted so much to deprive her of this beautiful little soul.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Hollow Political Aspirations

Blogs are all agog over "Bibi"; Will Bibi do this, will Bibi do that, ....

The Rebbe many years ago warned us not to “even speak of” autonomy, because such talk, in and of itself, yields hurtful results. Our Erev Rav kept talking nevertheless. (See definition of Erev Rav here, according to the Previous Rebbe.)

Now – they’re even bringing up the division of Jerusalem as an issue, you see, inside of a neighboring state, a “Palestinian” state, one that must remain entirely devoid of Jewish presence - "Judenrein".

Now I ask you – and this after a series of generous offers and miraculous failures (miraculous because THE ENEMY REFUSED), the last of which was the “Gush Katif” calamity –  do you still put faith in political “leaders”? Do you not see the barren hope placed in these “leaders”? When will people finally realize the only solution to our grief during exile is none other than a King Moshiach solution?

How much more must we be pressed into a corner before the obvious will scream at us? We want Moshiach now!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Purim Revisited

All that happens in the world, especially on a high-profile political scale, where many can tune in, projects itself onto life for the sake of the Jewish people. When heads of governments, especially those with immense military might, broadcast their politics across the world, Jews should take notice to the extent they register the incident, and act in Torah ways with complete confidence in Hashem that this way will redeem the Jew and bring the world one step closer to Redemption.

The "King of Aram" (ref. here), a Muslim mole in the White House, characterizes King Achasverosh of ancient Persia. He hated Jews even more than Haman, his deputy who convinced the king, with no need for persuasion, to kill all Jews of the large Empire that stretched across 127 countries.

The current Iranian aristocracy, headed by some "Khameini", characterizes Haman, in that here too they seek a "final solution" to exterminate all Jews. In fact, it is no coincidence, is it, that Khameini (with a guttural pronunciation of Kh) and "Hamani" sound similar, and neither is it coincidence this seed of evil derives in Iran - Persia!

So what we have during these Adar days are inside-closet meetings of two "leaders/governments", one from פרס and the other from "ארם", quietly and in private secrecy plotting to expedite the "Jewish problem".

Much as Haman wanted, and Achashverosh let happen, the Jews, because they streamed back to Hashem in total self-sacrifice and in regret for not having listened to the "Leader of the Generation" 10 years earlier, when Mordechai warned them NOT TO ATTEND the Achashverosh feast at the Shushan Party, now got their salvation from Hashem. Things suddenly took a sharp turnabout and Jews became
"ליהודים היתה אורה ושמחה וששון ויקר"
- as we too will during these great days of Adar -
"כן תהיה לנו"

Thursday, February 06, 2014

The Process of Redemption

At the start of a show, once the curtains swing aside, the stage props set the opening scene. But, had you pushed aside the curtain as you entered the Era of Redemption, you'd have seen no differences beyond the curtain; All theatrical properties before and beyond that threshold did not change.

We enter into the Era of Redemption by entering a new ethereal atmosphere. The change beckons for a new spiritual mindset, rather than material change. The Rebbe said we are into the Era of Redemption. Yet we see nothing we might imagine that would characterize that era. We only have the words of the Leader of the Generation to rely on. Instead of radiance, we find ourselves in a thick, dark cloud. It could easily fool anyone that we are, in fact, operating inside of the Era of Redemption.

Only later, as we traverse deeper and deeper, the cloud will dissipate and give way to the brilliance of Moshiach's era. Later, if were we to recall that initial darkness, in hindsight, we'll of course notice there really never was any "dark" element in the first place. That wrong impression duly derived from many years under an exile mentality.

Entering the Era of Redemption is a process! It takes years to watch and learn about. Why learn? Because this opening period insists to fleshy eyes the world remains steeped in evil. Only our faith and trust in the Rebbe strengthens us to think against the grain. He told us to "open our eyes"! He told us darkness only serves as a cover; In and of itself darkness cannot change the underlying good. If we adopt the Rebbe's views, we begin noticing resplendent lights here and there from cracks in the dark facade. We begin to tangibly sense Moshiach's times. We can then appreciate this unique perspective that otherwise would go unnoticed. With a new mind's eye we can make out, by connecting the dots of these sparse radiant points, the entire underlying Messianic mosaic that will soon enough manifest in awesome brilliance.

How do we remove this initial "darkness"? We need understand how the forces of evil, during the Era of Redemption, get their fuel.

Does Torah or Torah-learning fuel these apparent anti-Messianic features? Of course not.

This fuel comes from a holy source - to be sure - but it is the MISUSE of a holy source that provides the fuel to prop up the anti-Messianic dynamic. Jews themselves are the source for this provision of fuel. Jews who waste their time obsessed on politics or agnostic science provide, unwittingly, for this "energy" to channel into the wrong avenues.

A small anecdote will illustrate this. Suppose two Jews meet. One says to the other, "Did you hear; Hezbullah now has in its arsenal over 170,000 rockets?" He wants to discuss its juicy repercussions. Says the other, "Who cares! Let's go learn Torah. I'd rather do that than discuss Hezbullah."

The first guy wanted to discuss "Hezbullah"and thereby would have fed this latter group the powers it needs to continue its unholy agenda. Jews have that power, to divert their energies, that derive from holiness, and route it to source or feed darkness. The 2nd guy, preserved those energies and channeled them appropriately. He prevented evil forces from receiving fuel by Jewish proxy. If all Jews behave like the second guy, Hezbullah would starve into oblivion!

Now that we're in Moshiach's Era, now that all "sparks of holiness" have been liberated, now that all Jews have in effect done tshuvah, it is worth repeating - we Jews energize evil to subsist - with our own energies. We, and only we, have the power to boost the world to its ultimate phase - by eliminating concern for evil. It will go away on its own if we Jews do our part in trusting Hashem and trusting in the Leader of the Generation. Not for naught does Torah tell us,
"ויאמינו  בה‫'‬  ובמשה  עבדו" (Ex. 14:31).

The Rebbe taught that our concern for anti-Torah issues - in and of itself - provides the holy energy these dark forces live on. They have no source of life-energy of their own! They rely for  their existence on wayward Jewish preoccupation with this darkness -  by Jews reading it, discussing it, and Jews giving it the time of day.

The 3 forces of evil, which encompass all "dark" behavior, live off of our own preoccupation with political or economic concerns. Anti-Israel forces have their source in our own behavior. We supply these negative forces with their lifeblood. Were we to IGNORE the threats by, in same measure, preoccupy ourselves with Torah and halachah, these forces would evaporate.

Every Jew can accelerate exposure of the Messianic Era with new commitments to Hashem and learning Torah. We need also muster a new level of trust in Hashem's servant's words, the words of Moshiach, words of the Moses of our Generation!

The Borders of Israel (and Syria)

United Nations' "Isaiah Wall"
Why Mexicans speak Spanish is quite simple; Back when Empires existed, might made right; Spaniards with their weapons sailed abroad to stake out claims on foreign soil, to call it their own. The same goes for all countries of South America, bar some conquered by Portugal or other prevalent forces.

In other words, originally all South American natives never spoke, and probably never heard of, "Spanish".

The world as we know it today has a different mindset. Even huge powers such as Russia and China had inwardly changed or succumbed to the point where suddenly the concept of BORDERS receives instinctive sanction. Something about "might makes right" deteriorated as a justification for intruding upon others.

Borders once were understood to be fluid; They defined provinces subject to or owned by its current ruler. Whereas today, many borders have a life of their own, going from generation to generation instead of being fragmented by warring parties.

That's not to say orgies of horror against neighbors vanished. Far from it. We can watch daily the beastly nature one human being has for his brother of the same lunatic religion, and their delight in the other's torture. Humans, rats and knats - it makes no difference. This spectacle is so vile, the observer can hardly watch a moment before nausea erupts. And all in the name of some god who lusts for human death.

In Syria, for example, its BORDERS now merely satisfy as a conceptual definition, with no civil pragmatism to it, because the powers that invade this land are many, all bad and vicious.

I never really understood why Mexicans or other South Americans take such pride in identifying so closely with "their" language, Spanish. After all, it is a language (and culture) thrust upon them during a conquest, and now, generations later, after all history is forgotten, Spanish still holds a loyal following.

Anyhow, borders today are rather firm in most decent civilizations, and this change - is nothing more than a sign of the times we live in, in preparation for the time when the borders of Eretz Yisrael will be delineated by King Moshiach, whose name is Menachem, as they had been established in Torah over 3 millennia ago.

The United Nations organization, a body whose premise rests on BORDERS, was not built in Washington, D.C.! It was built in New York City where Moshiach made his home. The real reason for this venue escaped the minds of its original federation heads, but, we know their souls were simply knudged in that direction by God. The Rebbe told us so. The U.N.'s "Isaiah Wall" has engraved on it a verse from Isaiah (2:4). That reference relates directly to the Era of Redemption. The building went up about the same time as the Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach was taking over the reigns of this generation's Leadership. The Rebbe told us so (Shabbos Mishpatim, 5752).

The United Nations sprung up as a construct during the World War II inferno. It sprouted as a way to prepare the world for a new order, sprouting out during the birth pangs of Moshiach. Back then, the Previous Rebbe already characterized that era as "the birth pangs of Moshiach" and today - that Messianic scenario rushes full-steam forward in unfolding.