NEW SEASON OF STUFF JEWS SHOULD KNOW!

What is Jewish Prayer?  Mottle and Batya are back with the Season Premier of Stuff Jew Should Know!  Where does Jewish prayer come from?  How is it different?  This is Stuff Jews Should Know.

prayer

 

July 31 Live at 5 Panel

Covering the days news with Alex Traimen, Dan Seamen, Mottle Wolfe, Yishai Fleisher, Glen Ladau
Part 1

Part 2

Missile Mayhem on the Voice of Israel Broadcast Network

Hey Everyone,

Two years ago, you know in the last war, Yishai Fleisher was on my podcast and we were rudely interrupted by Hamas missiles from Gaza. Well… History repeats itself on the Yishai Fleisher show on the Voice of Israel. Give a listen!

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The Simple Truth About Current Hostilities in Gaza

What started as a viral facebook post has been made into a YouTube Video

OP-ED – The Palestinian Victims

I can not tell you how sick I am of pictures of handcuffed Palestinian children in IDF custody with the hashtag bring back our boys. That is our hashtag! You Palestinian tweeters are accomplishing nothing by streaming grotesque pictures, and that stupid three fingered salute other than just plain old being mean.

I take that back, you are accomplishing the destruction of any good will or sympathy to your plight that might have been engendered over these last “relatively” peaceful years.

The Palestinian activists are, as usual, hurting themselves, their cause, and their people far more than helping it.

10003171_10151925501287750_2094011893_n-1I recently had the opportunity to meet with Palestinian activists in Hebron. It was part of a program designed to promote dialogue between the two sides of the conflict. By dialogue of course I mean, we were supposed to listen, they talked. I listened, I really did. Two things were clear. One was the suffering and inconvenience you, my Palestinian neighbors, are forced to endure in your daily lives, the checkpoints, road blocks, random searches, arrests, and collective punishment are real. I saw how painful and humiliating it is for you.

The other thing that was clear was the complete lack of acknowledgement or awareness of any personal or communal responsibility for your situation. To every person we heard from without exception, every drop of suffering is caused by Israel, by the occupation and mostly by “settlers” always unjustly by others.

I did a whole day of “listening”. Every story, I mean every one, began with some form of “I was walking along, minding my own business, when for no reason what so ever…”

At one point an activist brought his ten year old little brother into the room, and told the story of the day little Musa was (of course), walking down the road minding his own business when all of a sudden for no reason what-so-ever, IDF soldiers grabbed him, threw him to the ground, tied his hands behind his back with plastic handcuffs, blindfolded him, and threw him in the back of an arrest van. They took him into military custody in which he remained for 24 hours until his parents where able to pay to have him released. How is that any different from kidnapping?!! Ransoming!!!

I raised my hand to ask Musa a question, not expecting a truthful answer. To my surprise I did get a truthful answer although one that totally obfuscated the boy’s personal responsibility.

“Musa”, I asked through his brother who was translating. “Were you throwing rocks at cars?”

His brother then launched into a diatribe about how rock throwing is a natural reaction to the daily oppression and humiliation his people are suffering, and how basic human dignity as well as international law permits, nay requires oppressed people to resist occupation.

Allow me to clarify. The little pisher was throwing fist sized rocks at passing cars with Israeli license plates. Cars driven by civilians, long skirted, beticheled mothers with car seats full of little kids in the back and got busted by the authorities.

This “detail” of the story was a non fact however. The thought consensus I heard echoed over the course of this entire day, was that since the Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria, or “the West Bank”, is such a self-evident violation of everything good and decent, such an obvious breach of human rights, such an undeniable injustice flying in the face of international law, any resistance to that occupation is so self evidently justified that it is deemed an inconsequential fact in the story.

The actions that led up to the arrest of this 10 year old boy are as unimportant as the fact the boy was breathing, and therefore irrelevant to the rest of the story.

If you remove this context in which Musa was arrested, what you are left with is, well, he was indeed walking along minding his own business when out of the blue…

So I believe that this is where dialogue can be helpful.

This is my message to the Palestinian activists on the streets, and especially those trying to abscond with our bring back our boys hashtag.

We don’t hate you. We have no interest in militarily occupying or oppressing you, we do not want to control your movements prevent you from receiving medical care, or visiting your great aunt in Nablus during Ramadan.

We do not enjoy any of those things. We have better things to do. However, we are more than capable and willing to carry out any of those actions when our safety is endangered. And as you know, we will.

If you touch our kids, as you are seeing, we will come down on you like a load of bricks.

We are not asking you to believe our “narrative”. We are not looking for your sympathy.

What you need to know is that we believe our story, as much as you believe yours, and we are here to stay. I do not believe that I am a “settler”, or a “colonist”. I am a Jew. My people are the original indigenous inhabitants of this land. We are Jews not because our religion is Jewish, we are Jews because we come from Judea. Claiming that the Jews are occupying Judea is a ridiculous statement.

Again, you do not have to believe this. You can call us settlers if you like. You can call us three headed spacemen for all we care. What you need to know is that in 1995 there were about 150,000 Jews living in Eastern Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, today there are close to 600,000 and we are growing everyday. We are living, building and thriving. We have industry, agriculture, and commerce. We are at a critical mass that makes the vision of two states for two peoples an utter impossibility. It is not going to happen.

The last failure of John Kerry and President Barak Obama, was the final hammer blow to the possibility of a Palestinian state. It will never be. You know in your heart if not in your head that this is true.

So the question becomes, where do we go from here?

I can accept the fact that you, my Palestinian brothers and sisters, feel that it is “unfair”, even “unjust” that because we have the far superior military force we get to dictate the terms of the outcome. You can believe that as long as you realize, that is the way the world works.

By railing violently against the reality of the situation you are perpetuating your own suffering. Your myopic focus on your own victimhood, will do nothing but ensure another generation of disenfranchised suffering Palestinians screaming on twitter about their own victim status.

Launching rockets, throwing stones, and kidnapping our children will result in exponentially higher levels of suffering for you. That suffering may indeed give you short term PR wins, but ultimately it will keep you poor, downtrodden, and well… suffering.

On the other hand, embracing the reality of the situation, that the Jewish people are here to stay, opens an opportunity to you that exists no where else in the entire region.

If you stopped fighting and realized that we must live together, you would be the freest, and safest people in the entire Arab world. You would be the envy of all but the tiny wealthy ruling elite of your people. You have the ability as a people, to put aside your hatred, put down the rocks and the rockets and #BringBackOurBoys.

Article originally published on the Times of Israel

This morning in 1967, after 2000 years of dreaming!!!

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Special show in honor of Yom Yerushalayim! The anniversary of the Reunification of the Eternal Capitol of the Jewish People after 2000 years of Exile.

Jews n Tatoos

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If I have a tattoo am I allowed to be buried in a Jewish Cemetery?  Lot’s of people ask this question but what what does Jewish law say?  Does Jewish law conflict with your Bubbie’s advice on Tattoos?  Check out the Stuff Jews Should know podcast, Jews and Tattoos.

Audio Class – The Hebrew Month of Adar

Stylised fish illustrationThe Month of Adar is the Hebrew month where we are told we experience the greatest joy.  What is the essence of true joy? and how does the month of Adar differ from the month of Av?

Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, and the Legality of the Settlements

MLKI had an interesting paradigm shift this week. I was asked a question that I had been asked many times before. “How can you justify living in a “West Bank settlement”, when it is in clear violation of International Law?”

My answer has always been the same. Simple. It is not against International Law.

And you know what? Maybe technically it is not illegal. What usually ensues after this is a litany of UN General Assembly resolutions, followed by the same old partisan interpretations, International Court of Justice opinions, and claims of international consensus.

All of us that love Israel and argue on her behalf have been there, ad nauseum. My experience has been that no one ever walks away from one of these debates converted.

Until it happened to me.

Parshat Shemot – What’s in a name?

This week we have the merit to begin to read the second book of the
 Torah, the Book of Exodus, or in Hebrew Shemot.  Our Sages tell us that
 contained within the Book of Exodus are all the deepest secrets about Exile
 and Redemption.  In fact,this is the main theme of the book.

Rose

The story that is going to unfold in the Torah over the next few weeks, is probably the most well known in all of the Torah. 
The enslavement of the Children of Israel by Pharaoh, the casting of
 the first born into the Nile, the birth of Moses, his escape from death
 and his journey to the palace of Pharaoh in a basket of reeds, the
 revelation at the burning bush, the famous confrontation, between Moses
and Pharaoh, “let my people go.”  The ten plagues and the exodus.  The
 epic moment were the Children of Israel have their backs to the sea and 
all is seemingly lost, only in a moment to see revealed before their
 eyes, maybe the greatest miracle ever, the splitting of the Sea of
 Reeds.  The Children of Israel walk through on dry land and emerge on
the other side a Nation.

 

Everyone know this story.  Maybe it is because every year for the past 
three thousand years we retell it at the Passover seder?  Maybe it was
 the movie?  Or maybe that the story of the exile into Egypt
 and redemption from there has it’s root at the very deepest place in a
 Jew’s soul.

  Everyone would agree that “The Book Exodus” is  a great name for this
 story, that after all what it is really about.  We are taught by our sages that we
 only went down into Egypt so we could emerge from it a people, a Nation.  But in
 Hebrew this book of the Torah is not referred to as “The Book Exodus”,
but rather “Sefer Shemot” “The book of Names“.

 

What does the Exile from Egypt have to do with “names” and why is this
such an integral part of our spiritual make up?

 

According to the Kabbalistic sources, a name is the essence.  The Hebrew word for
”name” is “sheim” the same three Hebrew letters that make up the word
”sham” meaning “there”.  What does the word “there” mean?  it means you can’t go
 any further.  You are there.

 

When you can not go any deeper in a
 person, when you have reached their core, their essence you are “there”
 sham, sheim you are at their name.

 It is the deepest revelation of a person.  Also the word for heaven in Hebrew is “Shamayim“. 
Shamayim is the plural form of there.  It is “all of the theres”  the ultimate
 “there”.

Over the past years I have become really fascinated by a
 tremendous Chasidic master who lived over 250 years ago. The great rabbi Mordechai Yosef of Izhbitz, the Holy Izhbitzer Rebbe.  The 
Izhbitzer wrote a sefer called the Mei HaShiloach, mostly as a
 commentary on the Torah but in it, he lays out a world view of
 Judaism that is unbelievably unique and awesome.

 

The Izhbitzer is also
 very controversial.  I guess as is often anyone who is unique and
 awesome.

 Among one of the main tenants of the Izhbitzer taught over and over in his work, is what he refers to as
”Chisoron and Birur“, deficiency and clarity.    Says the Izhbitzer that every person is born with a Chisoron a deficiency, something broken, it is the person’s life mission, it is why they 
came into the world, the whole process of redemption lies in the birur,
”the clarification” or fixing of this deficiency.

 

Really this in and of itself is nothing new.  We know from all of the
 mystical sources that God created the world broken, incomplete and our
 job in this life is to fix our broken world.

 

The the novel idea, of the Izhbitzer is that this concept is
 revealed in this world through names.

 

The Izhbitzer quoting the midrash (Jewish oral tradition) in Kohelet says that every person is 
given three names.  1) One that is given to him by his mother and father,
 2) one that people know him by, 3) and a name that he acquires for himself.

We are told by our mystical masters that when we name a child, it is actually one of
 the only moments of prophecy left to us in the world. Really we think
 that we choose the name, but in actuality we have very little choice. 
Whatever name, we are told
 it was predestined specifically for that child.

 

The second name is that which people will know you by, meaning 
according to the Izhbitzer, based on your actions.  Let’s face it, ultimately people judge us
 based on how we act.  People form opinions about others often on the 
most superficial externalities, but none the less, for better or worse, this is the name we 
have in this world.  Winner!  Shlepper!  Good Father.  It is our actions that often define who we are in
 this world, but everyone knows that our actions are not who we are at our
 essence.

 

How many of us have said, “that just wasn’t like me.”  People
 are so much deeper than what we can see.

 

But then there is a third name, and this is the deepest of them all. 
There is the “name that we acquire for ourselves”  This says the 
Izhbitzer, is the name that we get in the World to Come by fixing that
 which within us is missing, by healing the deficiency, the “chisuron“
we were given in order to fix.

 

This is the secret of life both on an individual and national level.  The ultimate exile is living a broken life in a broken world.  The ultimate redemption is the fixing of that.

 

Maybe the book of the Torah that describes the exile and the redemption
 of the Jewish People is called the Book of Names because it shows for 
us a path to how to find the name I am suppose to acquire for myself in
 this world.

 

Seemingly everything in Jewish life goes back to the exodus 
from Egypt.  We say it in Kiddush Friday nights, and every major
 festival of the Jewish year is always described as “Zeicher l’yitzyat Mitzrayim”  “a
 remembrance of the going out from Egypt“.  And maybe this is why almost
 every Jew no matter how close or how far removed from a traditional
 Jewish life knows the story, because when we can get past the 
ridiculous labels of religious or non religious, Reform or Orthodox,
 the meaningless names we impose upon each other, there in lies the 
deepest essence of all of us that nothing can ever touch.  I am a Jew,
 and my ancestors walked out of Egypt to the Land of Israel, and in doing so fixed a great
 deficiency in the world. More than that they gave me the strength
and the ability to fix myself.

Shabbat Shalom from the Hills of Judea