Sunday, June 27, 2004

Weekly Torah Portion - Balak

One of the main stories in this week's Torah portion, Balak, is the story of Balaam and the donkey. In short, Balaam works for Balak who orders him to go and curse the Israelites. Balaam rides his donkey and along the way the donkey speaks to Balaam. The donkey is able to see an angel of G-d in their path and Balaam is not able to do so. Even when Balaam ignores the donkey, hits him and yells at him, the donkey sticks with his mission, recognizes G-d's presence and helps Balaam realize that his mission is to bless the Israelites and not curse them.

A few years ago, I heard a wonderful drash by parents to their son who became bar mitzvah with this parashah. His parents told him to learn the lessons of this week's portion, including that even when it is difficult and people don't want to hear you, stick to it and be the donkey!

This week's link is from Daf HaShavuah from United Synagogue London. One excerpt of it is (note that they spell Balaam Bile'am),
"From Bile'am, we see that challenges often beat us. Even changing positions did not enable him to successfully curse the Jewish people. However, in the challenges that we face, in our struggles to succeed, maybe we should try to view the situation from a different angle, from a new perspective or with a fresh approach. In this way, we might find that a problem is not insurmountable, that what appears to be a blessing is not always so and that a curse is not necessarily a curse."

Read the whole commentary.

Go and study!
Be the donkey!

Her Music Sings

Naomi Shemer, Israel's composer, died during Shabbat. She composed famous songs like Yerushalayim she Zahav (Jerusalem of Gold), Lu Yehi and the musical setting of Rachel's Kinneret to name just some of the most famous. You can read about her life a number of places, including Jerusalem Post. May her memory and her music be a blessing.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Pride in Israel

Today as I prepare for Shabbat, I take pride in Israel and especially in the support within and for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community in Israel. Today was the Tel Aviv Pride Parade as reported in Ha'aretz. Supporting this segment of our Jewish world is important, for they face much discrimination - sometimes even within the Jewish community itself. Such discrimination, closed-mindnedness and hatred is a shanda. We are ALL created b'tzelem elokim, in the image of G-d, and we all deserve respect and honor of the divine image within regardless of whom we love.

May your Shabbat be filled with pride in self and in the Jewish soul.

UPDATE: Read Shai's blog post about the parade - including many pictures.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

New email address for blog

Boker tov (good morning). I have a new email address for this blog, - I look forward to speaking with you there if not in the comments!

Monday, June 21, 2004

Weekly Torah Portion - Chukkat

This week's Torah portion is Chukkat and covers Numbers 19:1-22:1. In this parashah, the Israelites get instruction on the red heifer (more to come on this), Miriam dies, Moses hits a rock when G-d instructs him to speak to it, and Aaron dies as well.

What do we do with the odd rituals of the red heifer which are in response to death? Is there a connection between these rituals and the deaths of Miriam and Aaron, two of the leaders of the people and Moses's siblings?

One way to deal with the pain of death is to go into the world and do good, thus "Combined, tears and tzedakah create a cleansing "water of lustration." This is just one quote from a drash by Lawrence Bush and Jeffrey Dekro titled The Waters of Lustration: Tears and Tzedakah. (Although this drash is from 2001 I think you will enjoy it. I choose it especially because of a conversation I had with a dear friend today.)

Go and study!

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Weekly Commentary - Korach

This week's Torah commentary is from Kolel and discusses parashat korach.

Go and study!

Friday, June 11, 2004

New Israeli Blog

Through blogger, I came across a blog called Jerusalem Wanderings. The blogger includes many posts of how the author is living a life of coexistence and peace.

Read and Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Israeli Teens and Reading

Shalom. While reading Ha'aretz this morning to stay current on the events in Israel, I read an interesting story on the newspaper habits of Israeli teens. About 80% of Israeli teens read the newspaper daily. Wow! The study is also interesting for what it finds about the reading habits of Ultra-Orthodox, Secular and Non-Jewish kids. You can read the Ha'artez article here.

Monday, June 07, 2004

Weekly Torah Portion

This week's Torah portion is Shelach Lecha and you can read a drash on it titled "Tying the Fringes to Be Like Caleb & Joshuah (note this is a PDF file).

Learning and Networking

Shalom! Sorry it has been so long since I've posted. I was away at a conference event this past Sunday learning and networking (with travel before and after) and am still swamped with work.

As you are probably aware, some complicated and significant things are taking place in Israel right now, and I hope to blog about it later.

Thanks for understanding!


Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Give Tzedakah Online - for Free

One of the things that I like about the internet is that amongst the commerce, the blogs, news, corporate and organizational sites on the web are sites where just by clicking a link, you can give tzedakah (a Hebrew word meaning righteouness, the word we use instead of charity) while online. Of course, there are many sites where you can use a credit card and give money to a favorite recipient, but what I am speaking of are sites where you can contribute to others for free without having to do anything more than just click.

There are many such sites for many many causes. Some people have made lists of the sites. For example:

Click to Cure Cancer (See the list at the bottom of the page.)
Help Others for Free (Listed by catagory.)
Care 2 Click to Donate

Go and give tzedakah!