Friday, March 7, 2008

"God picks the most beautiful flowers for his garden"

Normally before I blog I plan in my mind what I'm going to write, gather a few sources (if appropriate), and then put fingers to keyboard, however sitting here listening to the funerals on the radio from last night's horrific event, I feel that I have to express my thoughts as they come, without planing the post in advance (so sorry in advance if this post seems disjointed.

First of all, we should remember each of these precious angels that were called back to the Heavenly Yeshiva before their time in this world was finished:

  • Yohai Lifshitz, 18, of Jerusalem
  • Yehonatan Yitzhak Alder, 16, of Shilo
  • Yehonadav Haim Hirshfeld, 19, of Kochav Hashahar
  • Neria Cohen, 15, of Jerusalem
  • Roy Rot, 18, of Elkana
  • Segev Peniel Avihail, 15, of Neveh Daniel
  • Avraham David Mozes, 16, of Efrat
  • Doron Mahareta, 26, of Ashdod

  • Notice the ages of these young Kedoshim who were studying in the High-School program at Merkaz HaRav, not at the Higher Yeshiva.
    Notice that they came from all over our beautiful country, leaving families in mourning in every corner of this Land.

    These young men were all connected to the Heart of the Torah World, and lived a life immersed in Torah.

    YNet had the following quote from David Moriah, the step-father of 16 year old Avraham Mozes הי"ד

    "Every Thursday I would go to the yeshiva to study with him. This week I wasn’t able to make it. I also teach a class at the Horev yeshiva, and I sent him a test message telling him that we would complete the Torah studies on Saturday, because he was supposed to come home.

    "He is a righteous, outstanding person," said David Moriah. "He always made sure to be 100 percent, both with God and with friends and people. He had amazing internal integrity. He was like an angel."

    Well it seems like Avraham will miss his regular learning session with his father in Shabbat. Maybe instead he'll be able to learn with his other father and namesake, Avraham Avinu.

    A few thoughts about Merkaz HaRav. The selection of the target of this attack clearly wasn't random, rather the perpetrators were clearly attacking the cornerstone of the most Patriotic component of the Zionist enterprise.

    For anyone not familiar with the institution, Merkaz HaRav was founded by HaRav Kook זצ"ל and was the first Yeshiva affiliated with the Religious-Zionist movement. The thousands of other Religious-Zionist institutions, the Hesder Yeshivat, The Bnei Akiva Yeshivot and Ulpanot, the Pre-Army mechina Programs, the Garinim Toranim, Kollelim all over the world, Bnei Akiva, Ezra, Oz, and many many other organizations are all outgrowths from this root so firmly planted by HaRav Kook.

    The only time in my life that I made a Bracha "Dayan HaMet" with Shame Malchut upon hearing upon the death of someone was Succot this year when the news came that Rav Shapira, Rosh Yeshivat Merkaz HaRav, had been called back to the World of Truth. I made the Bracha not because I was ever Zoche to hear shiur from Rav Shapira, but all of the Israeli Rabbonim who I am close to are either graduates of Merkaz HaRav, or studies in schools that were founded by graduates of Merkaz HaRav.
    (Disclaimer - making a Bracha was a gut reaction, I am not sure whether M'ikar HaDin it was appropriate, you should consult your own halachic Authority in a similar situation)

    May The Holy One soon fulfill the words of Megillat Ester:
    כַּיָּמִים, אֲשֶׁר-נָחוּ בָהֶם הַיְּהוּדִים מֵאֹיְבֵיהֶם, וְהַחֹדֶשׁ אֲשֶׁר נֶהְפַּךְ לָהֶם מִיָּגוֹן לְשִׂמְחָה, וּמֵאֵבֶל לְיוֹם טוֹב; לַעֲשׂוֹת אוֹתָם, יְמֵי מִשְׁתֶּה וְשִׂמְחָה, וּמִשְׁלֹחַ מָנוֹת אִישׁ לְרֵעֵהוּ, וּמַתָּנוֹת לָאֶבְיֹנִים
    (אסתר ט' כ"ב
    the days wherein the Jews had rest from their enemies, and the month which was turned unto them from sorrow to gladness, and from mourning into a good day; that they should make them days of feasting and gladness, and of sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor.
    (Ester 9:22)

    Thursday, March 6, 2008

    Today we'll make Purim, Tomorrow Tisha B'Av

    I don't often manage to blog twice in one day, but I'm listening to the initial reports of the terrible incident that just happened at Merkaz HaRav and I felt that I should write - it's my therapy.

    Firstly our Tfillot and thoughts are with the dead and wounded, and their families.
    This is certainly not the appropriate way to mark the beginning of Adar.

    For some reason, Purim time has often been a time of tragedy. Rav Moshe died around Purim, Baruch Goldstein committed his terrible Chillul HaShem on Purim, and there have been many terror attacks on or around Purim.

    I remember the first Purim that Debbie and I were married. It was the very beginning of the Oslo process when Rabin was still giving guns to Arafat and he was responding by sending Palestinians to blow up buses. I remember that first Adar well, there had been several bus bombings, the number 18 in Jerusalem, a Dan bus in Tel Aviv and others. One of the worst happened a few minutes before Purim, I remember leaving the house in fancy dress with my megilla and hearing the news from my neighbour - no one felt in a mood to celebrate that Purim.

    The story is told that the Ger Chassidim asked their Rebbe the Pnei Menachem how we could celebrate Purim at such a difficult time, he instructed them that there was a Mitzva to be happy on Purim, so today we'll make Purim - however tomorrow we'll make Tisha B'av.
    The following day (after Shushan Purim), the Rebbe was called to the Beit Midrash shel Mala, and thousands of Chassdim made Tisha B'Av. People say that he died of a broken heart, after seeing so many holy Jews murdered in cold blood.

    May HaShem protect us all from further trouble and sorrow, and may this Purim turn Avel to Simcha for the Students of Merkaz HaRav, the residents of Sderot, and all Klal Yisrael

    וזות התורה אשר שם משה

    I had to take the car to the Mechanic today - always a fun proposition ("Check Engine' light came on).

    While I was waiting for them to analyse the problem, I had a chance to look over the reading material provided. One of the things that I love about this country is that in addition to the old newspapers, there was a set of Chumashim (which gave me a chance to finish Parshat Shavua), and a 2 volume set of thoughts on the Parsha (sorry I can't remember the title of the book - I have to take the car back next week, I'll try to look then).

    Anyway, there was a wonderful thought which ties into a news article this week.

    Midrash Raba asks on the Passuk: וזות התורה אשר שם משה ("And this is the Torah which Moses Placed...)
    What type of "Sam" (סם - drug) did Moshe place in the Torah - סם המות or סם החיים ("Drug of life" or "Drug of Death") The Midrash then goes on to show that the Torah can be the source of all life, or Chas V'Shalom - Death.

    How is this related to the news, well some Genius thinks that he discovered the cause of the overwhelming sensory experience at Sinai, apparently Moshe and all Bnei Yisrael were on Drugs (you couldn't make this stuff up)

    You don't believe me - check out this from AP.

    You see, this guy has a problem, he doesn't believe in G-d, or the Truth in the Revelation at Sinai - after all, as an intelligent person he realizes that if the revelation were true, he would have to change his lifestyle.

    At the same time, he doesn't want to discount the Torah's description of the events at Sinai, including the Synesthesia that's described (the ability to see sounds like Thunder).

    Suddenly he worked out a solution, as an experienced drug user (by his own admission), he realized that if all of Bnei Yisrael were on drugs, that would explain everything - well everything except for the existence of the Torah at the end of the experience.

    And I thought that I have heard every carzy idea imaginable....

    Sunday, March 2, 2008

    Too Much Excitement

    Well, we had an exciting Shabbat, both at our home, as well as other parts of the country.

    ב"ה here everyone is OK (now), but Debbie did spend most of Shabbat in Tel HaShomer hospital with Yael.

    We were invited for Sudat Shabbat Friday night at our friends the Levines who live right accross the road. They were also hosting the minyan this Shabbat (still no shuls in the neighbourhood), so we were planning to daven and eat there.
    Before kiddush, Yael was playing on their climbing frame outside, and managed to fall on her head. Initially she seemed shaken, but no sign of injury, however within a few minutes she fell into quite a deep sleep, and half an hour later threw up - twice, and turned very pale - almost a pale blue.

    We agreed that Debbie would take her up to Paul (AKA Dr Gaon), who is a friend of ours, and has a son, Matan who carpools with Yael home from gan each day. I said that if it was more serious, I'd take her to hospital, as Debbie spent almost a week with yael in hospital 2 years ago (but that's a different story).

    Anyway, Paul checked her out, said that he was concerned about the vomitting, and if she threwup again we should call an ambulance. As he was saying that, Yael threw up, so Paul sent Debbie and Yael streight to hospital, without even giving them the chance to come home to get a change of clothes, or to give me instructions what to serve for Shabbat lunch.

    So I was stuck at home, with 3 kids, and 2 guests (2 girls from Toronto on their Gap year program), and no idea what to serve for Shabbat meals.
    Debbie and Yael spent the hospital at tel HaShomer with no change of clothes, or anything else.

    The kids were quite Shaken, each expressed it in their own way - Noam had trouble sleeping and became very clingy, Avital shone, prepared Shabbat meals, and acted very grown up. And both Yehoshua and Avvital expressed concern (Shabbat afternoon Yeoshua asked me what happens when a child dies - who says Kaddish the father or the older brother).
    Surprisingly the thing that spooked me was quite trivial, when we got home Friday night, I noticed that both Shabbat candles had gone out. That had never happened before, and for some reason it really shook me.

    ב"ה by the time Yael got to hospital her condition seemed to have improved, and they would have released her that night, except being Shabbat they had no where to go.
    Yaeli came home after Shabbat happy as Larry, full of excitements after her adventure, and with a bracelet with her name on it.

    Unfortunately, the rest of the country also had a busy Shabbat, especially in Ashekelon and the Gaza area where things are really heating up. But I'll leave my opinion on that for a future post.