Monday, November 29, 2010

Listen to the Rhythm of the fallin' Rain

        Every time I wanted to play golf, In America, Before i came to Israel, I had to check the weather report. Why? because if you wash your car, plan a picnic, or plan to play had to figure it would rain. Not so in Israel.And  today, there was a call, though not universal, for fasting today, in Israel. Why? Because, we are suffering the worst rain shortage in 48 years.
       It's funny, i always had learned that my revenues were connected to the abundance of rain, and I've certainly seen a correlation....when it rains, people hunker down, and then call me...because they're stuck in the house, and they see things that need fixing, leaky windows notwithstanding. But even after it rains, I've always seen an increase in calls and revenues. Our prayer, the Shema states ".....if you obey My commandments that I command you this day to love the Lord your God and serve Him with all Your heart and with all your soul, then will I send the rain for your land in its season.....Be careful that your heart be not tempted and you turn away to serve other gods and bow to them. For then God will be furious with you and will block the heavens and there will be no rain and the land will not yield its produce."Sounds good , right? Can't go wrong; if you do the right thing, you get Divine reward.
          Well, it does say " its season...." which made me think, that the world has changed drastically since this was eternally written, and seasons are all out of whack. What we've come to think as  the proper rainy season may now have changed, and it may be a shortened season, and when the rains DO come, they will be fitting for that season, and maybe only enough to get us by to the next season.
          So, today's fast could arguably be seen as showing a lack of Faith in G-d, that when the rain does come, it was at its time. Patience, oh, patience, G-d says.Faith comes by in many opportunities. When you expect your paycheck to be ready on first of the month, but the employer didn't ready it till the 8th, it wasn't in your hands, and no amount of foot-shifting will bring up the date, and if your bank holds your checks, you have shown remarkable fortitude and faith. G-d sends you what you need, not necessarily what you want.
        Now this "Fast', which was unofficially declared today, for rain,  was enacted to open the heavens, and give us our needed rain. But if people are watering their lawns,flowers, using dishwashers(maybe they are better users of water, but not energy), taking 2 showers a day, having cars washed...filling public swimming pools, and refilling them.. you get it; we may not be really seeing a critical shortage.
         In fact, what we may be seeing, is that the number crunchers have predicted that if we continue as we do, that we will reach critical mass, and THEN we will have a critical shortage. Having faith means be careful, but haShem hasn't passed on the judgment yet.. we can still wash dishes, shower, and fill our glasses, yes, even buy 6 packs of bottled water. I think this what Rav Moshe Lichtenstein was referring to when he wrote his short piece on  accepting  today's fast."Therefore, to a large degree, the issue is one of lifestyle, which warrants our hoping for more rain, but does not justify decreeing a fast because there is not sufficient water to maintain the present standard of living."
      In reality, I don't believe that fasting will do the trick. It's really foxhole repentance. That doesn't last long, and it just feels cathartic. What I see is really needed is that which has been bothering me in a personal way for a long time. Each person needs to accept his own personal "tikun", change, and on a community level, that would bring a worldwide change for us, and Eretz Yisrael.  See We can bring rain, on Facebook, and see what I mean.
      On my own personal level, I think that for me, and probably many others, I have drifted away from that which was so spiritually easy before we built a family...a BIG family. I could go to synagogue or learn Torah, and I didn't have to go anywhere. There were no bills, or transactions to make. My concentration was so focused. I didn't have to be anywhere, and even with one or two children, life was very slow-paced, and my capacity to absorb material, and process , perceive, and make it part of me. Now,  have a list running through my head that seems as long as a dictionary, and I squeeze in prayer, blessings, and ritual in the shortest possible time. Workdays are long, and sometimes, even with a nap, I can't extend my day to make room for spirituality, except for the things that I have based my life on. Breakfast with the kids, getting them out, after coming home from prayer, with a "did you remember to take all you needed , and did you wear tzitzit?(fringed garment)"  with a hug and kiss...hopefully that carries into the day, and they'll remember that their parents love them, and the basis of that send off IS Torah.
      But, adding to my own cache of Torah learning, and character-building  shouldn't have stopped with child #12, but rather I should be parceling out time for ME.
      ME. G-d knows who I am. Father. Husband. handyman, Rabbi, karate man, builder....pick one. All husbands assume multiple roles. All mothers multi-task. I think that to bring the rain means for me to bring it..To garner all my internal forces and become a Torah builder. I think I, we, need to shift focus, and consider that a little selfish time for myself, even if it pushes off those daily needs, for 15 minutes can mean the difference between plenty or drought. If my own personal spiritual drought exists, then surely the physical world must mirror that.HaShem created a physical world for man to perfect, in a spiritual way. Some people naturally possess great character I have to work at it, and I haven't reached my goal. Ask anybody...well...don't ask my kids...Fasting won't do it. I just get a headache , and think about twinkies. But making myself  a better person,worthy of HaShems's love certainly would go a long way in trying to bring the rain.Joining hands and singing Kumbaya won't do it either. It's so easy to say "I Love everybody.." but that singular feeling is a sound-byte.
     Time for Dov to step back and reorganize , and re-evaluate. Like doing a daily Rosh Hashonnah. I do love my family, and Eretz Yisrael. I do love what Hashem has given me, and all of us. But, and I  think this is the message of the lack of rain, that we all need to put more into what we give back, and that requires real investment in applying the message of the Torah.  I don't even know what that means, but I'm going to make an attempt to implement real change to bring the rain. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Laying Back

   This Holiday of Sukkos is our favorite time. In prayer, we call it the time of Joy, and it is just that. We have such a great laid back time, no running around. I don't get ANY calls to fix things for people, no emergencies (yet) to retrieve children from broken bathroom doors, no overflowing...
         Last night, we went to our friend's Open Sukkah cum Birthday celebration. They have a beautiful house, and back Patio, and the sukkah is full of great vibes. There's no pretense, just great varied conversation, and great  food. One of the great things about our choice to move to Efrat, just south of Jerusalem, is the diverse body of people, with different backgrounds, and professions, who have a whole lot of things to say, and are  who are also fun.  Thirty four years ago I decided to stay in Israel, gave up going to Law school in America  and became a member of a yeshiva Kollel, receiving some sort of ordination along the way. More on that another time. BUT....I love learning Torah in most ways, and the people I associated with also were  so inclined .In fact, you couldn't speak about anything to them UNLESS it was Torah, a highly commendable dynamic. However, there came a time when , after a lengthy session was over, there was nothing to SAY. There was an uncomfortable  juncture , empty of sound.."so now what do I say..." like being on a first date, and realizing that you ran out of subjects , and  you really want to "get out." ( That never happened with my wife--at 3 a.m. when I walked her back to her dorm,each night, the neighbors were a bit peeved by our constant blab).
      Last night, as with all our occasions there, THAT never happened. Adult conversation and good feelings, the "Clouds of Honor" from Hashem's commandment to build a sukkah, guiding us in a positive way, and leaving us with the feeling that if we could bottle this, it would be priceless.
       Which is not reciprocated by the rest of the world, EVEN, during this joyous time, because joy and goodness is unacceptable. We are everyone's killjoy because we hold Eretz Yisrael dear. No one reads history fact as such, they all refuse to read, read the history of the Jewish people, and take only the side of the Arabs. Settlements are the source of Arab grievances, but when , in 1929, the Arabs massacred Jews, including my relative, a boy learning in yeshiva, no one recalls that this occurred 38 years before the capture of Arab occupied Jewish lands in the 1967 6-day war. Obama, Ban ki-Moon, Sarkozy..anyone else...all blame Israel for the future Arab walkout from Peace Talks. Oh spare me.
      Joy and goodness?! All you liberal Left leaning Jewish women who want to support Arab grievances? Did you know that Hamas  forbids laughing in public? Holding hands with your sweetie? Music is forbidden. No iPods, ladies.  In two days we will be celebrating Simchat Torah, the receiving of the Torah, for the Jewish people, and for 24 hours (48 outside Israel), we SING and Dance. Nope, Hamas , the whole Islamist fascist world doesn't allow that.
        Just recently, talk about celebrations, a bar mitzvah party, in Israel,  was shocked to a standstill because , from a nearby village, an arab wedding included SHOOTING their guns for "joy." Several bullets narrowly missed the party goers from the bar mitzvah party. Oh joy, they have to shoot their guns?! What are they doing with guns ?! Oh,now , you'll say, you go to any celebration in iIsrael, and see soldiers and "settlers" !!..packing heat. And what are they doing with them? They are sheathed, and NEVER removed, let alone used. Revelers actually SING and Dance, in celebration. Firing their guns in the air? WTH?!! Someone wrote to one of the news sources about this, and castigated the Arab celebrants to the point saying "can't they shoot upwards?!" Noooooooo.....How about not at all. Nooo...the bullets shot upwards have greater acceleration downward, and the hospital wards here are full of Arabs injured from their own "celebrations."Dummies.
      So, we Jews, take our children to celebrations, like Simchas Torah, sing with them , dance with them, and tell them adages from our sages, from the Torah, the Talmud, relating to them Homilies and stories , showing the sources of our celebrations, and holding the land of Israel, and the Torah dear, and you have to watch the kids drink up words, of wisdom, and knowledge. But...the world only sees the words "Jewish Settlers.." and they would rather see us annihilated . They see the word Jew and love us when we are dead. WE hold our children dear, and bring the same Torah that was given to us 3,800 years ago,  and LIVE it.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

"Devil with the blue dress,blue dress on......"

     Remember Bill Clinton ?There's an absurdity.  Remember how he wept at Yitzchak Rabin's funeral? Oh the horror...I don't think Mr. Democracy, Natan Sharansky wants him at HIS funeral. Why? Because Bill said that  "An increasing number of the young people in the IDF are the children of Russians and settlers, the hardest-core people against a division of the land. This presents a staggering problem," Clinton said. "It's a different Israel. 16 percent of Israelis speak Russian.... the Russian immigrant population in Israel is the group least interested in striking a peace deal with the Palestinians." Hell, I speak Russian ! Later on , about a conversation with Natan S. ,Bill said  ,"[Sharansky] was nice about it, a lot of them aren't..."   BUT..But Sharansky denied Wednesday that such a conversation with Clinton ever took place. “Wow?! "THem?!" Can you imagine what Sharansky must have felt?Can you imagine Avigdor Lieberman's reaction to this? Their jaws must have dropped to let in a D-9! Did he read the news ever?The second Intifada brought one of the most traumatic events to the Russian community with the horrifying attack at the Tel Aviv “Dolphinarium” nightclub - 20 kids, most of them children of olim from Russia, were killed.
        Oh, tell us why Sederot is being pounded again, still, by Hamas , when the population is mostly Moroccan.  Ashkelon, Ashdod. Kfar Darom was populated by anyone BUT  Russians. It was bought  by Jewish money in the last century.
                It's not just that this is the man whom Yassir Arafat duped, and who wrote about it. While all of us "right-wing settlers" were jumping up and down saying "he's lying!", and he and Ehud Barak were playing tag to see who goes in first to the discussions room...ol' Bill, the Arkansas Meadow Wafer, was searching  his PDA for Monica's number. Then, Yassir gives the word, and JEWS DIE... aw  , Bill, you see, I'd get down on my knees and beg you to see the error of your ways, but you might get confused in your dotage, and think I'm Monica...
          This guy is a RHODES scholar??!!He was impeached!  His "Whitewater" Scandal was whitewashed(very WHITE) , and he and Hillary got away with nary a scratch.  Maybe he's lonely, and that's why he needs to drum up some "attention?"  Ping, ping,ping, ping.."Hello, Hill..I called Elliot Spitzer, and Mark Sanford...they're just not around...can you come home a little earlier...?"  Maybe this  "news" item is old, but it nags at me. Like Hillary being from Park Ridge Illinois, were the only Jews there would be from Buffalo Grove to  play chicken to see who would cross the county line.

How absurd, How absurd

  Every day I meet with absurd things. I can't believe how people can believe that what they do is logical. Yet, not only do they believe it, but others do as well. Why do they suspend reality? They need to believe the absurd because reality is so hard to face? So, I notice these things...oh how absurd can it be to have 12 kids and actually try to raise them?  Now THAT's absurd!
          Two things strike me , tonight  , after Shabbos ended. I saw the reaction of  Machmoud Achmadinejad ; to his claims that America created the destruction and murder on September 11, 2001, at the World Trade Center in New York City;  to the reaction by America's President Obama.  Achmadinejad  (Now referred to as MAD-JAD)  was insulted by our disbelief in his NEED to see the real culprits, those who have been claimed , and proven by all to have committed this despicable act , blood-crazed Islamic maniacs, who, of course, in his eyes, are righteous ones, carrying the banner of Islam. He is insulted that  we are insulted. Persian Islamists, and all blood-crazy Islamists, are insulted when we catch them red-handed, though they are proud of themselves. They HAVE to deny it, because when caught, you deny, while smirking behind your hand. *Stupid Occidentals, don't understand our culture...*
   Anyway, this is only background, because this lie isn't my point. What is my point is that you have to read the internet "Talk-backers" to see how they comment. On "Haaretz," touted by their own staff as the "thinking-man's paper, "talk-backers" (known as TB's) are dominated primarily by Fascist left leaning Liberals who support him, and vilify the US. WOW! There are more than enough flat-earth supporters than you ever thought. Then, again, Haaretz  TB's dominate the PT Barnum dictum. If Haaretz were to let this story run for a week, they'd lose their band-with. It's scary because you see that truth is not self-evident. Holocaust deniers, look out.
        THEN, I saw this story about some guy named Stephen Colbert, who has a TV show? He was invited  to  give testimony  before congress , for FarmWorkers.... here is a guy who couldn't study Marine Biology, because of an eardrum puncture, so went into theater (of course!). According to Wikipedia , "he ..developed an intense interest in fantasy role playing games..." Well, yes, he cultivated a background necessary to give testimony before the US Congress, much like Angelina Jolie is qualified as ambassador to the UN.
       So, Stephen Colbert testifies for the Farmworkers...cause Somebody has to do it!... and who is better qualified than a man who makes $3.5 Million a year being FUNNY! HaHA! Make fun of ...someone, and earn big bucks. And he gave his testimony "en character", making fun of Bill O'Reilly, as he did it, but, at the end, he got a little "serious" to punctuate his support. Okay, good. Now, what's your donation Steve?
      Absurd, right? I have to see some humor in this stuff, but often forced, especially when lives are at stake.  Nearby, in our neighborhood, in Efrat, just south of Jerusalem, Israel (Not Jerusalem, Texas), NEW traffic circles have been constructed, and that is good, as long as something is built with them, like housing.  So, a year ago, one was built near where we rent our apartment, and it didn't "look" right.  I measured it, and sure enough, the circle is lopsided. One section of road is narrower than the other. Cars leaving the circle are in danger of sliding off the asphalt, and if G-d Forbid, someone is walking on the unfinished walkway (i.e. it doesn't exist)....anyway, til now...but I've seen some kids really horrified by close calls....
       Now, I asked the Municipal Authorities what can be done to alleviate this problem, and lo and behold, they found money to construct a brick wall in front of me... No, sorry, they said money was an issue...soon, they said, they hoped...G-d willing...Insh'Allah...
        BUT...4 weeks ago, these fancy new traffic circles were made, and I asked again...what about this lopsided Traffic circle?
          NEW things are GOOD, old things know, old....
     Ah, growing old, now that's absurd........