Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Houston, we have a problem

And sadly, I'm not really sure there's a solution:

Indeed, a survey by the American Jewish Committee concluded that just 12 percent of American Jews strongly oppose intermarriage, and 56 percent would not be pained in the slightest by their child's intermarriage.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


A random post but I just want to say I truly appreciate the wonders of Skype. By using this brilliant technology (and no, I haven't just found out about it - I've been using it for years), I am able to 'share' my son with my family, despite them being thousands of kilometers away.
It's great to see how he interacts with my 'rents, Gramps, Tova (my sis), Sandy or Saba (Talya's dad). Such a privilege considering how it must have been like for my parents to try and share the experiences of Eitan, Tova & I growing up around the world (It probably was a call, or two, every few weeks, and pictures or videos even less frequently).

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

חן בן של תמר

Yesterday, on the walk home from shacharit (Morning prayer), a friend of mine got a phone call. He got bad news, it was obvious by his reaction.

This morning, when hashcavot (prayer for the deceased) were being read, the name (חן בן של תמר, Chen the son of Tamar) he had been saying the past few years during the prayer for the sick had suddenly been added to the unfortunate list.

I asked him after shacharit what had happened. Shortly after his Bar Mitzvah, Chen felt tremendous head pain during a footy match. He told his dad and within days, devastating news was revealed. 3 years later, this 16.5 year old kid succumbed to cancer.

I didn't know Chen, nor do I know his family, but this news hit me hard. No warning, nothing. Stories like these really hurt me. We're fragile beings, and one day we're well, the next day we're gone. They're tragic reminders that we must enjoy the 'now' for we don't know what's coming from around the corner. It's sad that it takes this kind of alarm bell to help us realize the importance of appreciating one's family, health and lot. שלא נדע ...

Thursday, August 05, 2010

The pathway to the study of Torah

"The pathway to the study of Torah is this, a morsel of bread with salt to eat, water to drink with measure, sleep on the ground, live a life of toil, but work diligently in the study of Torah. And if you do so, you will be happy and you will have a good life, as the psalmist said, 'Happy shalt thou be (in this world), and it should be well with thee (in the World to Come)."
Pirkei Avot, 6:4

The above is explained by the Ben Ish Chai (Taken from משל ונמשל) with the following parable:

Two donkeys were carrying loads. One donkey was struggling with an extremely heavy load of salt, while the other was carrying a large sponge, that was so light that he didn't feel any discomfort. The donkey carrying the sponge walked around merrily, running up the mountains and jumping over the hills. The donkey carrying the salt struggled as the salt was so heavy.

Due to the trail they had chosen, the donkeys had to cross a river. When the donkey carrying the salt entered the river, the salt started to melt. As the salt melted away, the donkey started to cross the river happily and peacefully with the emptying sack. When the donkey carrying the sponge entered the water, the sponge got heavier and heavier. So heavy was the sponge that the donkey's legs could no longer carry him, and he drowned.

The journey that the donkey carrying the salt took was for his benefit, because it gave him peace and serenity after the heaviness had melted away. The donkey carrying the sponge had an easy time at the beginning, not even feeling the weight, but when he entered the water - it led to too much toil. The donkey couldn't stand the labor, and that was the reason he died.

Instead of writing up the Ben Ish Chai's analysis about the parable, I think I'd like to sum it up as follows: One shouldn't be intimidated, or turned off, by the weight or difficulty of Torah study - it is for our benefit, both now and in the future.