26 July 2006

Not Really Surprised

The United Nations and Hizbollah are best buds. Check out the pictures.

Otherwise, all is thank G-d going well here. Tonight I went to a Breslover class/shiur. Very interesting points were made. The point that struck me was about finding joy in pain.

Mind you of course Simcha doesn't exactly translate to Joy, and Tzar doesn't exactly translate to pain, but it'll have to do. It's a very difficult concept especially when we're involved in the pain. This is my own understandings and spinoff of what he was saying since it was in Hebrew and I was doing my best to understand.

Right now we're going through a painful process here in Israel, but there will be an end. All of Jewish history/and general history will come to an end at some point. At that end point we will finally be able to see the point of the tzar that we had to go through. The rabbi speaking, Rabbi Doron, said that we do not fully understand Joy unless we understand Pain.

A metaphor that I think is easier to understand is physical therapy. My physical therapist put me on a bicycle and told me to pedal. Since my knee was not bending far enough to make a full rotation of the pedals, she told me to go forward as far as I could, then go the other direction. The stationary bike was not my friend.

A couple weeks later (going 3 times a week), I was moving the pedals back and forth (slowly and painfully) when all of a sudden I did a full rotation. This doesn't mean that it didn't hurt, but it did mean that I was getting more motion in my knee. I actually cried from being happy when I did the full rotation. I realized that I was progressing - up till that moment, the bike was my enemy, now it was my friend and nothing to be afraid of. I still remember crying at that moment.

I think that the same thing is true of Jewish history. My goal in PT was to get my knee back to 100% mobility and strength (I'm still working on it). It's easier to keep this goal in mind over a four month period than it is to keep focus on a goal over a 4,000 year period. We are unable to see past the pain of what the Jewish People have gone through and see the goal which we've been aiming for.

If I were on the bike in pain with no idea why I was there, it would have been a horrible experience (even with an idea it was uncomfortable). We need to somehow realize that the pain we've been through is for a reason. We don't always know why, but somehow it makes us stronger and brings us closer to the coming of Moshiach. Rabbi Tauber mentioned at the Shmirat HaLashon (Guarding Our Speech) gathering that we have more merits than we did Egypt when we were taken out. At this point in history we are actually in good shape, why isn't G-d redeeming us? Like the Lubavitcher Rebbe said, we're at the point that we're just shining the buttons on the uniform. We're a soldier waiting for inspection and we're just about cleaned up and the last thing to shine are the buttons.

It's time to love each other as Jews. This war in Lebanon has united the Jews in Israel and across the world like I've never seen before. Jews under attack in Haifa are finally understanding what the Gush Katif (Gaza) Jews went through when they were thrown out of their homes. Sometimes we need a push in order to properly feel for each other.

This is my take on one of many points he made tonight. Hope it made sense.

19 July 2006

Terrorists in Dearborn? Anyone Surprised?

Just came across these photos on Little Green Footballs, check it out. It's the anti-Israel rally in Dearborn, Michigan. Pay attention to the guy holding up pictures of Nasrallah, the Hizbollah leader in charge of bombing northern Israel.

When you take a close look at the photos on Little Green Footballs, realize that there's also a sign in there with the flag (I guess) of Islam over the White House. Any questions?

Reporting from a War Zone II

In case anyone is interested on what's going on here, I am probably not the best source of news. I am located in Jerusalem where thank G-d it is quiet. However I can tell you what I hear.

To begin with, there is the constant sound of airplanes and helicopters going by. From what I know, there's an airforce base to the south of us, and they are headed north. From what I understand, since the time of the Israeli pullout of Lebanon (7 years ago?), Hizbullah has been stocking weapons and rockets.

Next, the religious community (the hareidim, the "ultra" orthodox) have organized round the clock psalms readings and Torah learning.

Something I heard from Mrs. P who I took home the other night, was that when she was walking through Geula (a neighborhood in Jerusalem) she watched and heard a car with a loudspeaker on top asking people to say Psalms for the situation that Israel is in. At the same time she saw a few Arabs standing, pointing at the car - and mocking the message. Interesting.

I'm also listening to the radio. While I do not understand everything they are discussing, I am able to figure out some of it. Most of it is dedicated to the war up north. They've been reporting from the cities that have been bombed, and even from the bomb shelters themselves. They have been talking about how people are surviving - how they live, go to work, pay their bills, and how children are handling the situation. Basic things.

Many families have moved south. This is a big deal since there are half a million people up north. Those who've decided to come further down need places to live and sleep. There are also those who are unable to make the move south for different reasons. Some are afraid to be on the roads - even to leave. One teacher of mine was telling us about friends of hers who cannot make the move since they have a son who is sick and is dependent on the machines that he's hooked to. He needs an ambulance to move him and even so gets really ill when he is moved.

There's a family (two parents and eight kids) from Tzfat/Safed that moved into the area that the school is located in. We've adopted them by bringing them food, toys, and taking them out to the park. But it's not even so simple like that. They came to Jerusalem with no money, and pretty much nothing else. They just left. The mother is shell-shocked. She's afraid to let her kids leave the apartment for any reason. She's started to let them go outside to the park for about 10-15 minutes and then they have to come back. She won't let them close the bathroom door since she won't be able to see them.

There are a couple girls who lived in Tzfat who returned to Shearim until things get quiet. One of the girls mentioned that intellectually she knows that she's safe, but she is still not digesting her food and isn't sleeping. Post-tramatic symptoms.

If anyone is interested in helping please check out these websites: One Family Fund or Meir Panim Relief Centers

Everyone please contact your representatives, senators and other elected officials and let them know that they should leave Israel to finish the job in Lebanon and Gaza.

14 July 2006

Loving It

Avi told me sooooo long ago to follow the Little Green Footballs blog. I finally this year began listening to his wise words - I recommend to everyone to do the same.

They pulled an article up from the Daily Kos, a blog associated with the Democratic Party. To all of you Dems out there... pay attention.

It's called Image a World Without Israel. Take a read. And if you're a Democrat, you need to seriously re-evaluate where your party is going (over a cliff) and if you want to be part of it.

I wrote an article addressing this issue back in 2002 published in The South End. It's not as strong as I would write it now, but it'll suffice since Shabbos is coming in.

13 July 2006

Reporting from a War Zone?

Today was the 17th of Tamuz, a "minor" fast day in the Jewish calendar. This day marks the beginning of the three week period from when the Romans breached the walls of Jerusalem till the 9th of Av, when the Romans destroyed the Holy Temple. Today is also the day that Tzefat/Safed and Haifa were hit by rockets.

Who could have imagined such a crazy thing. These are all places that I have visited over the years when coming to Israel.

I took the day easy today. I went to classes this morning, then came back to the apartment to hang out. We heard about Tzefat about five o'clock this afternoon. I have the computer here with internet and we (myself and my apartmentmates) sat and checked the news.

About seven o'clock, myself and the other girls piled into the car and we went to the Kotel/Western Wall. It was pretty packed, and at first I couldn't figure out why it was so busy. Finally I realized that since it was the 17th of Tamuz, more people were visiting the Kotel.

Davening/praying at the Kotel is always an experience. Multiply that experience by twenty when it's a holiday or special occassion. First of all I couldn't get all the way up to the Kotel, but I came close. Then I began davening the afternoon prayers (Mincha). There was a lady standing next to me crying.

She reminded me of a story I heard once. There was a young man who was at the Kotel who was really emotional and praying his hardest. There was an older fellow who saw that the younger man was really into his prayers and wanted to know if maybe there was something he could help the younger fellow with. The older fellow waited for him to finish and asked if he was okay. The younger fellow explained. Thank G-d my family is well and healthy. Thank G-d I have a job and a way to make a living. I was emotional because things are going well and want things to continue this way.

What I got out of this story was that we should not only ask G-d for stuff when things are not going well. We generally only talk to G-d when we are in need. We need to remember that G-d is there for the good times as well.

But I digress. While davening I heard some of the men praying Avenu Malkeinu, which is said on fast days. I had thought this was only said on Yom Kippur - so I had a very deep reaction to hearing it said. Then I heard some teenagers singing, Acheinu Kol Bais Yisroel (that all of Israel should be okay and those captures should be released. Considering that three of our boys are in enemy hands it's a really serious song) and Vl'Yerushalayim (that G-d should rebuild Jerusalem). It was very emotionally weird. Then I while was finishing praying with Aleinu (recommended reading for everyone!) the Muslims began their evening prayers. What a way to wrap up.

What a day. The time at the Kotel was heavy, but awesome. I was also thinking about this war situation. I'm not afraid and don't think that there's anything to be afraid of. My concern is how Jews are going to be killed before this ends. I know that HaShem is watching out for us.

What is interesting is that HaShem is always watching for us. Even when we can't figure out for ourselves the right thing - HaShem is there. When Ehud Barak tried to hand over Judea/Samaria to Arafat, Arafat said no and started a mini-war. When Ariel Sharon set us up for the situation we are in now - he ended up a vegetable. When Ehud Olmert began to seriously discuss removing the Jews of Judea/Samaria - the Muslims of Gaza and Lebanon decided to start a war. The cause and effect is pretty clear.

As we are now in the three weeks between the breach of the walls and the destruction of the Temple, we need to think about what we can do better. It is said that if the Temple is not rebuilt, it is as if the Temple were destroyed in that generation. Which means that if we don't see the rebuilding - we didn't do enough. The Temple was destroyed due to baseless hatred. The question is: What are we going to do to fix the situation? We need to take on a mitzvah along the lines of Bein Adam L'Chavero (between people). What are we going to do to improve relations between Jews? We need to take on one mitzvah. We could even do something simple. Shamai said in Pirkei Avos (Sayings of the Fathers) that we should receive everyone with a cheerful face. Why not that? It's amazing what a simple smile can do.

I hope to continue to update as I know stuff, but all of you should know that thank G-d I'm fine. Please also find your way to Psalm #20, and ask for the safe return of our boys and all Jews in Israel and across the world should be safe as well.

With love of Israel.