Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Effects of Gossip and Benefits of Guarding Ones Tongue

Some aspects of Face Book are really great. It is wonderful to connect with friends from the past, and it is very special to learn or re-learn important lessons. Today a friend, Bob Burg, posted an article about a work place that had instituted a fine for anyone who spoke gossip. Anyone who spoke incorrectly was to put a coin in a bowl and after a set amount of time the money that accumulated in the bowl was given to charity.

Needless to say there has been some discussion on FaceBook of what a wonderful idea this is and the far reaching benefits of mastering guarding one's tongue. The discussion reminds me of a story.

The story is about a Jew who decided to do Tshuva, to return from his evil ways to the path of Truth. He went to his rabbi for guidance as to how to correct his ways and in particular how to correct the negative speech he had been involved in in the past. The rabbi advised the man to take a pillow case filled with feathers and go outside where there was wind and throw the feathers out as the wind was blowing.

Eager to mend his ways, the man took a pillow case, obtained enough feathers to fill the pillow case and began his task. When he had completed allowing all the feathers to scatter, he returned to his rabbi, eager to find out what to do next or whether his correction was now complete.

The rabbi then instructed the man to return to where he had "set the feathers free" and collect every one, filling his pillow case once more with the original feathers.

"But that is impossible, how can I manage to collect every single feather that the wind has blown?" asked the man.

"Ah," the rabbi said, "This is exactly the same as the Loshon Hara (negative speech) that you spoke. In the same way as the wind blew your feathers, so the negative speech gets dispersed to such a degree that it is impossible to gather it back."

In the discussion that occurred on FaceBook, various options were given as to the origin of teaching about the far reaching negative effects of negative speech, gossip etc. The truth is that the origin lies in the Torah. As G-d instructed to Moshe our Teacher, Jews have 613 commandments to follow, while non-Jews have the Seven Mitzvos given to both Adam haRishon and Noach.

The Chofetz Chaim, most famous for his teaching regarding the importance of guarding ones tongue, taught that when a person speaks Loshon Hara, forbidden speech, he transgresses 31 Torah commandments. It is not merely a case of gossiping, neither does it purely entail telling a something about another that is not true. The laws of guarding ones tongue from Forbidden Speech (Loshon Hara) are complex, but the benefits of mastering this set of laws is so far reaching that many miracles have occured in the merit of strengthening in this area. In addition, the Chofetz Chaim teaches that mastering guarding ones tongue is one of many that will lead to a hastening of the Final Redemption, may it be speedily.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Our Mikvah Project

In these difficult times we find ourselves in, there are women in Israel who struggle to come up with the fee to go to the Mikvah. The cost is only $10.

However, as little as this may sound, there are 5 - 10 women each month at some Mikvaot unable to pay and at others 1-3 women every night.

In addition, there are women with debts to the Mikvah of $40 - $100.

Please help us to help these women, by making a contribution to our Mikvah Project- Purity with Dignity.

All the information including a letter of approbation can be seen on the link below.

Thank you for your kindness and your generosity :)


Friday, 26 June 2009

The Candle That Did NOT Give Light

The story is told of Rav Nachum of Chernobyl and his devotion to Shabbos. Rav Nachum barely slept on Friday nights, remaining awake to study Torah. In order to make this possible, Rav Nachum would light a large, thick candle that would last throughout the night.

One Friday evening, when Rav Nachum was out, a wind came up and blew out the candle. Rav Nachum had a gentile servant who noticed this and relit the candle.

Some time later, Rav Nachum returned. His family had already retired for the night, but heard strange sounds. It sounded as though the Rebbe were groping around in the dark. How could that be, the candle was burning.

They heard a shuffling of feet, bumping into things, they even heard Rav Nachum hit his head on the wall. "What is the matter?" his family wondered. "Why can't he see?"

His family came rushing in to where Rav Nachum was to find a solution. Upon hearing their footstpes, Rav Nachum asked "Why is it so dark in here? Who put out the candle?"

"But father! The candle is burnign as always. Can't you see it?" they asked.

"Well then." Rav Nachum replied. "Something must have happened to the candle. The candle must have gone out and then be relit, the Shabbos has been desecrated. That is why I can not see its light."

The gentile servant solved the puzzle by admitting that he had relit the candle.

Even though the candle ws relit by a non-Jew, Rav Nachum was so pure that he was unable to benefit from its light. (adapted from a story in Tales of Tzaddikim)

May we all merit to keep Shabbos to the full and to merit from the real light of Shabbos, that we too be sensitive enough to know instinctively if any error has occured (G-d forbid) and to be protected from gaining benefit from that which is forbidden.

May every Jew keep 2 consecutive Shabbosim so that we merit the coming of our Righteous Redeemer.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

The Lubavitcher Rebbe on Faith

Since it is Gimmel Tamuz, and Gimmel is the third letter of the Hebrew alphabet, here is another post, the third for today. This time we offer you the privilege or some words of wisdom from the Lubavithcer Rebbe. This uplifting and powerful message, is offered by the Rebbe on DVD.


The DVD really speaks for itself. However, since the Rebbe encouraged the giving of charity, please give something in his merit towards one or more of our Mitzvah Projects. Remember the giving of charity helps to strengthen ones Ahavas Yisrael and to hasten the coming of the Moshiach, our Righteous Redeemer.

Learn the Teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe

Almost everyone has something to say about the 7th Lubavitcher Rebbe. Some wonder why his photograph is seen all over. Some admire him and want to learn all his teachings. Some get upset at certain followers saying the Rebbe is Moshiach. Some have miracle stories to share. Some have memories of special, warm moments in receiving a dollar, brachah or piece of advise.

For those who did not know the Rebbe, as is human nature, they might try to find fault.

Knowledge is power and it is fitting to learn what one can about this inspiring Tzaddik and Rebbe prior to making a decision as to what we think.

Here in our Shopping for Goodness Store we have several books about various rebbes. Of particular interest are "Towards a Meaningful Life" by Simon Jacobson

This book provides information for Jews and non-Jews on every aspect of daily life and how to imbue it with meaning.

"The Rebbe's Army" by Sue Fishkoff gives some insight into the members of Chabad who can be seen all over, reaching out to help their fellow Jew.

"Mind Over Matter " The Lubavithcer Rebbe teachings on science, technology, medicine and Torah, edited and translated by Dr Arnie Gotfryd

"Heaven on Earth" reflections of the Lubavitcher Rebbe on theology.

In today's time, more and more healing modalities are excited to announce that everything follows the focus of the mind. When you think positively, your emotions, actions, interactions are positive. It is not necessary to re-invent the wheel. This concept is right here in Chabad, the Hebrew letters of which stand for Chochma (wisdom) Binna (understanding) and Da'at (knowledge). When we improve these three, get them in balance and learn what correct thinking is, then yes, the rest of our lives follow the lead given by the mind or thought processes.

The depth of these teachings are best learned from the experts themselves, and who better than the writings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe
There are a few other books too. Please browse the books and purchase one today. Learn about the Lubavitcher Rebbe and the caring, sensitive manner in which he touch so many Jews and non-Jews.

In the Merit of Gimmel Tamuz

I heard of the Lubavitcher Rebbe only after Gimmel Tamuz, still the wonderful work that he fulfilled and his caring manner has made an impact on myself and countless others. So much can be said about the Lubavitcher Rebbe and perhaps I will put up more than one post for Gimmel Tamuz.

As I began learning more Torah, I often would hear, don't follow Chabad because... Don't listen about the Rebbe because.... As Divine Intervention would have it, when I was wanting a study partner in Cape Town, South Africa, the only option available was a Chabad seminary girl. Our learning sessions were wonderful, dynamic and filled with Torah thoughts on many levels.

What was the problem with Chabad? Finally I decided to begin my own research. Today it is very easy, just look at the many DVD's of the Rebbe and each one is filled with such power, kindness, knowledge, a genuine concern for everyone Jew and non-Jew.

The Rebbe began an incredible outreach campaign partly through instituting various mivtoyim, campaigns to help strengthen our fellow Jew in a mitzvah. Since this is the way of the Rebbe, what better time than Gimmel Tamuz to strengthen in a mitzvah.

One of several mitzvah projects we are involved in is our Mikvah Project - Purity with Dignity. Let us take a look at a few references the Rebbe gave to mikvah, its importance and how the mikvah itself should look.

Cannot Conceive:

" Sometimes the reason one cannot become pregnant is they do not know all the necessary laws associated with family purity. Therefore you should review these with a competent Rav, who will guide you.

Although you were educated in a Chabad institution where all details were taught, yet, 'there is no tzaddik on earth who has not sinned.' Therefore it is worthwhile for you to review these laws."
(Igros Kodesh Vol 23, pg 9)

Tikun for Taharas haMishpachah:

"Do whatever is possible in strengthening these matters such as supporting mikvaos, teaching people these laws etc. Additionally get at least one other woman to begin keeping these laws; two would be even better." (Igros Kodesh, Vol 23 pg 454)

Kfar Chabad Mikvah:

" It would be worthwhile for you to talk up the importance of the women's mikvah being beautiful, from the women's point of view. Simply this means it should be clean, and of course sanitary and beautiful, as much as all this is possible in the kfar. Although these details seemingly are superficial, yet, in our day and age, they enhance the primary issue, mikvah use, by more and more ladies." (Igros Kodesh Vol 21 page 337)

In these difficult times, many women find it hard to cover basic expenses, let alone finding the money for immersing in a Kosher Mikvah. Please join us in enabling many more women to fulfill this important Mitzvah with dignity.

It is now 15 years since the Histalklus of the Rebbe. In the merit of the Rebbe, this Gimmel Tamuz, please give at least $15 towards our Mikvah Project. Multiples of $15 is also very welcome. Our goal for this month is $5000, help us to exceed this goal and help many many women to fulfill this crucial Mitzvah.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

We Are Both Jews

We receive all kinds of questions and comments. This latest email has a theme that begs an answer.

A Jewish woman, we will call her Ruth, sent a message as follows:
"I am proud of being of the Jewish nation, but I am not religious. My faith consists of parts of many religions including Judaism, Tibetan Buddhism and Christianity so I have no problem feeling like a citizen of the world. Whatever teaching I love, and who match my view of God and life, I take in. My view of Judaism is simply different than yours, but I am no less Jewish than you."

Let us take a look at the ways in which we as Jewish women are the same, how we may differ and what our common path is.

A person who is a Jew, is comprised of a Jewish soul, which is a part of G-d Himself, enclothed in a physical body. The purpose of coming into a body is in order to perform mitzvos a mystical method of repairing the world and preparing it to be a Dwelling Place for G-d to live in this the lowest of worlds. According to this, every Jew, whether they are observant, not observant, irreligious, dabling in other religions or do not even know who they are, are still a Jew 100%. The only difference between a Jew who practises as a Jew and one who does not is akin to a student at school who works methodically towards the common goal of learning all he can and passing his tests and one who spends his days in school playing around and doing everything but learning the given lessons. Both are still school students, just one is focused on the path and the other is involved in other activities. Will the second student be successful in life. He could or he might not. There are times that a person who spends his time playing and doing other tasks, does somehow learn and develop, however his path will be more challenging in a certain respect, more vague, but eventually he can come too to the path set out for both of them.

We are both Jewish women and both feeling the exile that our Jewish Nation is in. Ruth feels itn this pain or difficulty draws her to search for what she can relate to as G-d. I too am searching for the True G-d. Actually, I have learned a bit about other religions. However, by Divine Intervention I began to learn what Judaism offers. The real truth is that all the wonderful spiritual insights that inspire us and keep us connected with our true path are to be found in Torah and the Jewish way of life.

Our common path then is to find the Truth and to be a Light Unto the Nations.

However, through my own path I did come to recognise what the first 2 of the 10 Statements, Utterances or Commandments really teach us. The first says that
"I am the Lord your G-d who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your G-d"
The second states:
"There shall be no other g-d's besides me"

If we truely internalise these statements, we learn who G-d is, the real G-d, the true, living G-d. G-d the G-d of the Jews is a personal G-d. He is the One that brought us out of an overwhelming slavery to a freedom that including receiving the Torah and thus learning how to serve Him. He brought us out with an outstretched arm, amidst open miracles, demonstrating to all that He is in charge and can over turn any man made plan, scheme or man made magic. He is above nature and can even provide a plague of lice (smaller than the magic Pharoah and his magicians could perform) and a plague with fire that was within hail. G-d is everything and nothing.

As He answered Moshe Rabeinu when asking His name, G-d said that He is The Name that means "He was, He is and He always will be." How can we understand this? This name is very mystical and no-one really understands it completely, however there is a simple beautiful message. G-d is there for and with us, even before we recognize and appreciate there is a G-d or who He is. He is with us when we begin to step onto the path of finding Truth. And, even after we think we know the truth, He is still there, the same G-d absolutely unchaged and able to guide us even higher.

Now the second statement. Since G-d is all powerful and all encompassing and a very personal G-d, we really have not need to search for other g-ds. But to those who are as yet unable to grasp the totality of the first utterance, G-d reminds us. Dont go learning the practices of the other nations. Dont go learning about idolatry or other g-ds. As Avraham Our father taught us in the story when he was put in charge of his father's shop.

We are taught that Avraham Avinu's father had an shop where he sold idols. All kinds of idols, all sizes, shapes etc. One day he was left in charge of this shop while his father had an errand to run. He would ask the customers various questions, including their age. One man of 50 years old, Avraham Avinu asked how he could want to purchase an idol made just the day before that was much younger than he was. The man thought about this and left.

Someone came in bringing a bowl of oats or some food item to offer to the idols. Avraham accepted the bowl and then took a large piece of wood. With this wood he smashed the idols leaving only the largest idol, in front of which he placed the bowl and placed teh piece of wood in his hand.

When his father returned, he asked Avraham what had happened. Avraham explained that someone had brought the bowl with food as an offering and there was a fight as to which idol would accept and eat the food. In the end the largest idol won, and the result was the destruction to be seen. Avraham's father then stated that that could not have been. The idols are merely pieces of wood that have been crafted in the form of statues. They do not eat or drink or think or fight. In essence they do nothing more than stand in the place we as humans place them.

When it comes to which G-d to follow, there is only one option. The True Living G-d, He is the only One to help us and the only One to follow. Not only is He the only One but the Torah warns us that He is a jealous G-d.

One point that you mention that you believe that you can be a citizen of the world is that to be a Jew means to be separate, as in accordance with the profecy of Balam who said taht they are a nation that dwell alone. as the Torah teaches, G-d said that He has separated us from the nations of the world. Therefore to really be a Jew, means to be separate and removed from all the behaviour and practices of the non-Jewish world.

Yes, anyone born a Jew is a Jew from the day of their birth to they day of their death and beyond. More than that it is the responsibility of every Jew to put in the effort to find out the Truth regarding our G-d and to serve Him and Him alone.

If you have enjoyed this article, please do join us in developing a very special Torah Centre.
You can sign up to learn with Reb Eliyahu, sponsor a shiur or article or learning session.
You can get involved with our beautiful Mitzvah Projects including helping Jewish women through our Mikvah Project - Purity with Dignity.
Or just give directly to the Yeshiva. Any amount is gladly accepted and very much appreciated.
Thank you for your kindness. Please visit our blogs and websites again!

Monday, 22 June 2009

Some Thoughts About Shidduchim

Helping another Jew to find their true soul mate is a major task. Some think it just takes connecting two singles of the opposite gender and then being prepared to join in the Simchah. The truth is that there is much more involved, especially in today's time.

The process of finding one life partner is a difficult and sensitive one. It is easy to get upset with those one hopes will help when ones soul mate does not seem to be appearing. We remember this only too well. However, there is another side to the story, the side of the Shadchan, the one is is working hard to bring you together with your someone special.

While waiting for ones soul mate it is perfectly acceptable and even advisable to be in touch with the Shadchanim to remind them that you are still around. However, when doing so, try to understand that the Shadchanim have probably been busy screening new singles and considering who might be suitable. If you have not had someone suggested to you it does not mean that the Shadchan has not been looking out for you. Keep davening and keep thinking positively.

Over the past few months, we have had some very inspiring singles join our database that really deserve a mention. We have a number of men and women who have enjoyed being married for 30 + years and now, finding themselves widowed, wish to find another partner to share their life with. We have even had someone in their late 70's eager to find that someone special.

Why, one might ask, would someone want to go to the trouble of marrying again in their late 70's. As these special singles explain, being married is such an invaluable part of life, that they want someone to share the rest of their days with.

Certainly, listening to their positive feedback about having a lasting marriage and their eagerness to marry again, we want to encourage all those younger singles to put marriage as a priority. Careers can be worked on within a good marriage. In addition, if you have truly married your soul mate, the chances are that he or she will be there encouraging you and davening for your success. If your career is important for you then you need the right life partner to make your chosen path a success.

If immersing yourself in Torah is important, again, you need the right person to encourage you to keep up your learning schedule, to listen to your new insights and to work with you in whatever your avoda is.

We have heard from some older singles who have not yet married, that life just seemed to pass them by. Before they knew it they were in their 30's or 40's. Yes, life can do that, so while you are busy enjoying life, continue to daven with all your heart for the right life partner. Take the time to think about who might be best suited to join you along your journey.

We have quality singles on our database ranging in ages from 20 to nearly 80 years old. Become an active participant in your shidduch process. Contact us today to help you find that someone special. Please take a look at our page on the website regarding our Shidduchim.

Before you get put off by the questionnaire, please remember that taking that extra time to put to paper the details of what kind of home you wish to build and who might be best suited to join you, enables both you and us to be more successful.

Here are a few comments sent in by some on our database:

"I felt that the form was very thorough and fine to complete... I'm just looking forward to meeting someone that meets the criteria I've specified.

I also appreciate your caring and encouraging emails of support... it really helps throughout this difficult process."

" I was very impressed by the quality of your questionnaire. You asked about truly relevant aspects of my life that will have an impact on finding an appropriate match and building a solid marriage. You dealt with questions of importance and benefit. You left room to answer with complete thoughts and openness. I believe that if a person is willing to fill out your questionnaire with sincerity, that person is already highlighted as someone who really wants to get married. Thank you so much for trying to help. "

" First of all, I just want to say thank you for taking the time to give me all this valuable information. It's very hard to be in this stage of life, and I find that even people who have been through it seem to forget how it was once they find their zivug. I really appreciate your effort. "

If you are Jewish and single or know of any Jewish singles, please encourage them to get in touch. We look forward to hearing from you and / or from them and to helping many more singles to come to Chuppah with the right person and to build a Bayit Ne'eman b'Yisrael.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

A Poem for Father's Day

In the merit of Natan Gershon ben Natan

As the day continued and with it came a flurry of posts
Telling how to observe Father's Day and be the greatest hosts,
Something inside of me began to stir
I became lacking in the manners of the "yes sir!"

A teaching of guarding one's tongue rang true
I longed to cry out to request those to subdue;
To tone down the joy and the boasting that came
For not everyone has a father and for that there's a shame.

I clearly remember that first Father's Day
When others were joyous and I could only turn to pray.
I remember sitting alone on my bed
Others were with their fathers but loneliness was mine instead.

Send your father a card, come on give a gift!
Tell him he's the greatest, pick up the phone and be swift.
Yes its wonderful to have a Dad to give to.
It is wonderful to chat to your Dad when you feel blue.

But, what when your Dad has gone to his eternal rest.
What can you do - the answer is do your best.
Judaism teaches to honour one's father and one's mother
A mitzvah for every day not just one over the other.

The mitzvah is vast and it trains one to be
Respectful and caring and grateful to Thee.
Now we can ask who is it to whom we honour and respect
No it is not just your Mom or your Dad, as you might suspect.

For honouring our parents trains us to see;
That there is a third partner who enabled each one to be a "me".
So each and every moment of the day, we are to show the utmost respect
To both our parents and to G-d and to reflect.

To consider the talents, skills and ideas
To ponder all of who we are and to realize
That all this was given for us to become the best we can be
A continual task for you and for me.

Although many might think Father's Day comes just once
I would like to declare or even announce.
Every day is the day to cherish your both your Mom and your Dad
To do all that you can to make their hearts glad.

So I'd like to challenge you to take on a mitzvah or learn a bit more
Come and do all that you can and then find out what else is in store.
Whether your parents are still in this world or the next
The time is right now to give it your best.

I had thought of writing an ode to my Father
So much time has past that I discovered I would rather
Inspire others to increase in goodness and kindness
For being a Jew is not just now but - timeless.

For those who have found this poem to be moving
Come and join us in the continual task of doing.
Come and learn in the honour and the merit of your Mom and your Dad
Help us to make this a world where Hashem Himself will be glad

Contact us to find out more about our Yeshiva. We look forward to hearing from you and to hearing wonderful news for all of Am Yisrael.

If you would like to sponsor an article, shiur, learning session or another aspect of the Yeshiva in the honour of or merit of one or both of your parents please be in touch with either Reb Eliyahu or with Shoshanah

Double Donation

Rabbi Moshe Bassan was known to love Eretz Yisrael and to love supporting Jews settling here. He would contribute whenever he could and had a charity box for this cause on this table at all times. The people of his community who appreciated and revered him, always supported his favourite charity, the poor in Israel.

One day a distinguished member of the community visited Rabbi Bassan with the news that his wife had just given birth to a boy. The rabbi wished his community member Mazal Tov for the happy news.

The community member continued by extending a request to the rabbi to be the Sandak at the baby's bris, ending that it would be a very great honour.

Rabbi Bassan had a previous appointment scheduled for the anticipated day of the bris and had to decline the offer. He asked the man to forgive him but he was unable to break his previous commitment.

The man was downcast and then had an idea. "I promise to give 200 dinar to your charity to help the poor in Israel if the rabbi will be Sandak for the bris."

The rabbi stated that he had already committed to attend the other appointment and could not go back on his committment. Then he was thoughtful for a bit, opened his purse and put 200 dinar in the charity box on his table.

Understandably the man did not understand the gesture. "Rabbi," he asked "I understand you are unable to attend, but why did you give such a large donation from your own money? I was the one to make the offer."

The rabbi agreed, "you are right. But why should the poor people of Israel suffer because I had a prior agreement that prevented me from taking up your offer.? Since it is my fault, I feel it is necessary to give the exact amount your offered."

The man then took out his purse and place 200 dinar in the charity box, insisting that he wanted to give it anyway and that now the rabbi could take his donation back.

"Oh no, I would not dream of doing that! A gift is a gift. Once it is pledged, it must remain so. But let us hope that in the merit of our double donation, the Holy Land will be speedily rebuilt and we can all go there and live! Amen.

I hope that this story has inspired you with two beautiful qualities, honesty and generosity, together with this a real dedication to assisting to build the Land of Israel.

We have a number of mitzvah projects on the go, all aimed at helping Jews to be successful in Israel. Please visit our website, online store and get involved. We have wonderful Mitzvah Projects on the go.

Join us in assisting Jewish women in Israel in financial difficulty to go to the Mikvah at no expense to themselves. From our networking thus far we have discovered that there are women who need this assistance that ranges from 5 women a month to 1-3 women per night. The cost is on average just $10 per woman.

Join us in empowering Olim Chadashim to be successful here.

Every contribution is gratefully received and goes a long way to helping with the dream of Rabbi Moshe Bassan, most of the rabbis from Moshe Rabeinu to the present and of course Avraham Avinu. Together let us make this world fitting to be a Dwelling Place for G-d so that we merit the coming of our Righteous Redeemer and a re-build Israel in every respect.

Please give generously, Israel needs your help.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Finding the Good in Everything!

Anyone who has been learning SEO probably knows the power of choosing the correct labels, titles and topics both for posts and for products to sell via the web. Just a few days ago I listed 2 new items in our an online store. The items are flowers photographed in Tzfas.

As always, after listing the items, I posted something on twitter and FaceBook to attract traffic to our listing. I was happy to receive a response from someone in the USA who has visited Tzfas.

After a few messages back and forth I decided to look at her website and sent a comment via email. From our exchange, she too looked at my website and came across our Tehillim Group. Needless to say I received another email with a name to put on the Tehillim List.

This particular name is for someone who experienced difficulty during childbirth and has been in a coma. Her baby is already over a year old. This young mother has other children but is currently unable to take care of them.

Please join us in storming the heavens to appeal to Hashem to provide a Complete and IMMEDIATE Healing for this woman. Please read my recent page on my website for insight into the power of prayer for one who is ill.

Our Tehillim Group is made up of Jewish Women around the world who recite Tehillim from wherever they are during daylight hours on Shabbos. We have been completing the FULL Sefer Tehillim each week. Due to certain changes in the group we are in need of a few more ladies to help us once again complete the Sefer Tehillim each Shabbos. To join our Tehillim Group please click on the word Tehillim Group.

There is a teaching that we plan and Hashem laughs. If we link this to the teaching that everything happens for a reason, this recent correspondence culminating in an appeal for increase Tefillos and mitzvos to help a Jewish woman is a prime example. When we select our words as key words or words that might attract the traffic we want, we might have one goal in mind (increased sales) and Hashem might have a different one entirely (prayers for a Jew ). If we are open to seeing the good in everything, the result is, as we see here, a diversion from our goal to increase sales to bringing potential salvation to another Jew.

May it be Hashem's Will that this woman receive a complete healing IMMEDIATELY.

We look forward to hearing very good news for everyone.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Triangular Crayons - An Easy Tool to Better Writing

Help your child with his / her pencil grip with these colourful triangular crayons.

A common reason for referral to occupational therapy is to assist with writing. One of the first factors an occupational therapist will look at is how does the child hold his or her pencil, pencil crayon or crayon when writing and drawing.

The type of grip used is important both for speed of writing and to protect the hand. The type of pencil grip that is most conducive to neat handwriting, carried out at a good pace, with appropriate pressure is the tripod grip, with the writing implement held between the thumb and first fingers and balanced on the middle finger, as seen in the image below.

There are many factors that affect a child's ability to write correctly, including muscle tone, fine motor skills, co-ordination and muscle strength of the small muscles in the hand, co-ordination of hand - eye and more.

If your child is having difficulty, an evaluation by a qualified occupational therapist would be beneficial. If you would like to find out whether your child requires an evaluation or occupational therapy for writing, please contact Shoshanah.

In the meantime, an easy way to help your child is to purchase triangular shaped crayons and pencils. This helps the child to hold the pencil or crayon correctly until such time as they can do so independently.

Some children love the triangular shape, others want to switch to the regular round crayons or even to try and persuade their parents to let them use markers. If your child is experiencing difficulty with writing and drawing, you as a parent need to help your child. A good way to do so is by using only the triangular shaped crayons, pencil crayons and pencils and no markers. Put aside the round ones until your child is able to hold the writing implements correctly. Markers in general should be avoided until a child has mastered his/her basic writing and drawing skills.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Irena Sendler - An Unsung Hero

Photographed by Mariusz Kubik

When receiving forwarded emails, sadly one often has to either ignore them or verify their facts. I was just sent an email, notifying me of Irene Sendler who had died on 12 May 2008 at the age of 98 years. The brief information about her was very touching.

Aware that some stories about the Holocaust are sadly not true or are variations of the truth, I decided to do a search. Wikipedia has some very moving information about a woman who took her profession seriously.

Trained as a social worker, this woman was dedicated to her work in helping others. Since a picture is worth a 1000 words, take a look for yourself at these two YouTube clips about this inspiring lady, Irena Sendler.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

WARNING to Jewish Women

Over the past few months I have been involved in reviewing two websites offering the ability to record and calculate your Nidda dates online. I have reviewed both sites thoroughly and become aware of other sites that are also available. On a personal level and as an occupational therapist I had not yet drawn a conclusion as to whether to use the sites or not.

Some recent communication has helped me to clarify some vital points.

1) One woman notified me that certain dates sent to her were not the correct dates or were irrelevant or were sent through when it was already Yom Tov.

2) Another woman notified me of a mistake she had made in cross referencing between her hand recorded dates done according to the Hebrew Calendar to the Calendar online using the Secular Calendar. In transferring the dates from Hebrew to Secular Calendar, an error had occurred, resulting in her separating from her husband on a day that she did not need to and not separating on the day she was supposed to.

This information has highlighted for me vital points. There is a reason that our Sages teach us as women to record our dates by hand. In doing so and in becoming familiar with how to calculate correctly, you are forced to become very familiar with your body and the day and date of the month. As lovely as the sites are becoming and as much as they are constantly improving, DON'T rely on them.

Instead, work on learning the Hallchot pertinent to Nidda inside and out. Get to know how to calculate your dates yourself and do it by hand. Modern life might be getting busy but we have mitzvos to perform and there is no room in a Torah life for being lazy.

Just as a computer can never replace the human eye for checking for bugs, so there is a need, a reason and a benefit for checking, calculating and recording everything related to Family Purity in person by hand. Take the extra time and be extra careful. Dont risk relying on a computer as this can lead you to become lazy in doing the actual calculations or in making a mistake cross referencing between the two calendars, G-d forbid.

If you need a reminder, do it by hand. This is the way to train yourself to remember. When one has a memory loss, G-d forbid, one has to use numerous tools to remind one. These are most effective when written by hand as the physical act of writting yourself a reminder and sticking it in a place or several places you will be sure to see and read it (even if these places are private where only you see them) provides the brain with other methods to access the information. If you reply purely on a reminder recorded on the computer or sent to your email or cell phone, you run the risk of forgetting, especially in the event that the reminder does not come on time, or technology does not allow the message to reach you.

I would recommend that you use these tools as YOUR PERSONAL reminder. Write your dates in your hand written nidda calendar. Write the important dates in your personal diary. Write out a reminder and pin it inside your wardrobe or somewhere you WILL see it but is personal to you. If you need to put some mark or indicator on your bedroom mirror, a sign you will know and understand that reminds you to check what the date and day is.

In addition to helping with ones memory, physically working out the dates, writing out your own reminders, cross referencing with hallachos, talking to your husband etc, is the method to develop a routine that becomes a healthy habbit.

When it comes to performing Mitzvos, there is no easy way out. We have to do it the way Hashem taught us to and to pray with all our heart that He protect us from stumbling and give us the time necessary to fulfill all our daily tasks correctly.

If you would still like to use these online calendars and websites, please be careful, please double check everything and then check it again. And ask an orthodox rabbi who works with the laws of Nidda whether he approves and agrees and will continue to guide you. And STILL use your hand written records ALL the time.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Spotlight on Songs and Music by Sam Glaser

Although this artist does not reside in the Land of Israel, I had the good fortune to meet him in Yerushalayim, the heart of Israel. As you will see below, his work is filled with highlighting the beauty from Torah, prayers and life as a Jew. A very fitting approach for anyone wishing to succeed in Israel.

About a year after making aliya, by Hashgachah Pratis (Divine Intervention) I found myself in a Sukkah in the Old City of Yerushalayim talking to a warm and friendly person. A little into the conversation, I discovered that I was talking to Sam Glaser, but did not yet know who he was.

Finding myself with an inner struggle as to whether to follow my dream to use my talents to serve Hashem or to follow the advise of most I met to just clean houses in Israel, I suddenly found myself being heard. For the first time in a while, here was a Jew who believed strongly that if one has a talent it needs to be used to the full to serve Hashem and bring beauty to this world. Not only did he encourage me in every way, but this was someone who walks his talk.

A few days later, on Chol HaMoed Sukkos, I was invited to attend a concert in the square in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City. Lo and Behold, it was Sam Glaser in person. Before long, those attending and passers by too, found themselves clapping and singing along to the wonderful catchy tunes. One does not need to have heard the songs previously to be able to join in. Each song is uplifting and almost sweeps you along in a wave of happy melodies and inspiring or thought provoking lyrics.

Sam Glaser is a composer, musician and singer. He lives with his wife and family in Los Angeles and has produced many inspiring and uplifting CD's.

One of my favorite songs of his is the Letter in the Torah. As we are taught, every Jew is represented in the Torah by his or her very own letter. There is a teaching that if just one letter in the Torah is incomplete, faded or damaged the whole Torah becomes unfit for use. Using this theme Sam has composed a song inspiring one to find his or her very own letter in the Torah.

When adding some more products to an online store we had, I was delighted to discover a whole range of CD's by Sam Glaser. Having heard just a few of his songs at the live concert I would recommend any of these CD's. The particular one you see above, begins with this song "Letter in the Torah".

True to his way of encouraging others to use their G-d given talents, the CD, Kol BaMidbar was recorded together with children from various choirs in Los Angeles. In this way he encourages young talent to use their singing abilities for the good. To sing about Torah themes bringing real life and joy to their fellow Jew.

I would encourage you the reader to follow in the example of Sam Glaser. Find your very own letter in the Torah, by identifying your own talents and skills. Make that letter shine by learning what you need to be able to succeed in your given talent and to channel your efforts to serve Hashem with joy. In addition, by one or more CDs of Sam Glaser to put a song in your heart as your journey along your special path.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

The Blessing of Children

Pesach Time in Rashkov during the time of the Rebbe, Rabbi Yosele, was a special time for his Chassidim to join him. A time that they experienced joy and spiritual elevation. However, there was one couple who came each year but would come in sadness and leave just as disheartened.

The couple had not been blessed with children. Each year they would request a blessing for children and each year they would be told the time is not yet right.

On one particular year, the Chassidim gathered at the table of the Rebbe for the first Seder. The men were around one table with the Rebbe and the women at another behind a curtain. As the Seder began to come to an end, the Rebbe starting to sing Shir HaShirim with concentration. The Chassidim enjoyed and swayed to the tune. A special mood was felt by all and they began to dance. All the men danced in a circle along with the Rebbe, all except one Chassid who sat sadly at the table. Looking over to the women's side he noticed that his wife was crying.

The dancing was beautiful, the Rebbe seemed to be in another world. As he gradually finished and wished to return to his seat, the Rebbe found his path was blocked.

Before she realized what she was doing or that she had moved to the men's side of the room, a woman stood blocking the path of the Rebbe and cried out "Rebbe! You have to help me. I will not move until you promise me a blessing of children!" The Rebbe fixed his piercing gaze at her and then began to raise his voice. He did not talk to her though, for his gaze moved to be fixed heavenward.

"In the Mishnah in Pesachim it says: 'the first cup of wine is poured and here the son asks' But I ask You, Master of the world! How can the son ask, if there is no son? Why do You not grant this childless couple a son to ask the Four Questions? And, our Sages further state: 'it is a custom to distribute nuts and almonds to the children on the night of Pesach so that they will not fall asleep and will ask the questions.' But I ask You, Hashem. To whom can this couple give nuts and almonds? Why should You not give them children so that they can fulfill this holy Jewish custom too?"

Rav Yosele was quiet. Then he looked at his Chassidim and said, "Do you know that Pesach is a favourable time for the barren to be blessed with children? Sarah Imenu who was also childless, was blessed on Pesach for that is when the angels came to tell her that at the same time the following year she would be blessed with Yitzchak."

Then he turned to the woman still standing in front of him and said kindly, "Yes, Pesach is a favourable time for the barren to be blessed. And now, go back to your place. I hereby bless you that at this same time next year you will be embracing a child.

The story continues that the Rebbe's blessing did come true and the couple were blessed with children.
(story adapted from Tales of Tzaddikim - volume of Bereishis)

It might not be Pesach, but we are taught to remember every day that we were brought out of Mitzrayim, as if it were happening to us today.

In today's time it is not as easy to obtain the blessing of a Rebbe or Tzaddik, however, the words of this story can give strength to any married Jewish woman who still is looking forward to holding her own precious bundle of joy. The power of charity is also said to turn decrees to the good.

Please give towards our Bayit Chadash - Wedding Project and assist needy Jewish couples to set up their new home in Israel. The Gemach includes a gift package towards their new Mitzvah of Family Purity. In this way by strengthening other women to fulfill this important Mitzvah, one that enables Jewish women to bring down holy souls, may you too be blessed with holy and healthy children.

There are also couples that have difficulty covering medical costs to ensure that they are healthy to be able to bring children into the world.

May we all be blessed with homes filled with Shalom Bayis and the joyous laughter of children. Children who grow in the ways of Torah and bring much Nachas to their parents, Am Yisrael and Hashem.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Working Toilets Even at Shul

We are all souls in a physical body. Even when we are involved in a very spiritual act, still we need to make sure we have taken care of our physical needs in order to concentrate on the spiritual. Going to Shul (Synagogue) is no exception. Even though we might have a few hours of prayer ahead of us, still it is possible that our bodies might require some relief hence the need for toilets even in a place of worship.

Imagine for a moment, that you decide one day to spend a few hours immersed in prayer together with the community. You dress up in your finest Shabbat or Yom Tov clothing, walk over to the Shul, confident to be there in time for the services. You find yourself a seat where you can hear what is happening, perhaps where you can see the Baal Korei and then just as you are about to open your siddur (prayer book) to pray, your physical body demands a little attention.

Quietly you slip out to where to toilets are, hoping to return just as quietly and quickly. You don't want to make a fuss or to arouse any attention as to where you are going or why. To your dismay the toilet seat is down and on the lid is Muktza (set apart from use on Shabbat or Yom Tov). Or the Toilet door is locked and inquiry leads to watching people shrug their should and continue their Davening. There is no key and you need to just manage as such. Or when you have finished you try to open the door and discover the door has jammed and the force required to open the door backfires on you, hurting your body. Or the door is locked from the inside and you are unable to open the door or attract any attention. Being Shabbat or Yom Tov you have no cell phone with you, what to do? Or the toilet has no window at all and you feel claustrophobic, perhaps nervous to use that toilet. Or the toilet window does not close and faces onto buildings and a busy street where anyone walking by can see exactly what you are doing.

Before you stop reading, thinking this would not happen in a Synagogue, unfortunately, it does and it has. However, this is not the Torah way.

The Shulchan Aruch, in the laws of "Conduct in the Bathroom" mentions in Halacha (Law) 2 that a person should be modest in a bathroom and should not completely undress himself until he is sitting down.

On this point the Biur Halachah (The Chofetz Chaim - Rav Yisrael Meir Kagan [1839 - 1933]) states that the Gemara argues regarding the attribute of modesty (as to whether or not it is considered a Mitzva De'Oraisa - a Torah Mitzvah or not,) and the Sefer Mitzvos Katan counts modesty as a Mitzvah of the Torah itself.

The Chofetz Chaim continues, saying that he personally saw places that were lazy in building toilets for the public (i.e. Shuls), and this has caused - as a result of this - a number of stumbling blocks, obstacles and hindrances, not withstanding that the attribute of modesy will be lacking through this. More than this, one comes as a result of this, to a number of disgraceful and damaging situations.

For one thing, hundreds of blessings and holy Names of G-d are mentioned at every moment in vain through this, because it is surely known that that the Shulchan Aruch already rules in this (Chapter 29) that if a person is not able to hold himself in for the time period of 72 minutes his prayer is an abomination. However, if there is a toilet close to him and he needs to use it before praying the Shmoneh Esrei, he will not be lazy to go and to make use of it. This is not the case when there is no toilet available and he needs to remove his Tefillin to go home (so that he can use his own personal toilet in his house.) Here he will certainly be lazy in this matter (as it will take him much time to remove his Tefillin, go home, return, put on the Tefillin again, and then hope and pray he will not need the toilet again until after his prayers!)

And so, he will hold himself in until after the prayers are finished if he is a normal person. And even if he is a Torah scholar he will not be lazy to go and to search out some place or to go home, because of this. Nevertheless there will be much davening time that could be said together with the congregation, wasted through this. And also a great loss of time wasted where he could have been studying Torah. Also this results in embarrassment (on many many levels) because one incident leads to the next - also with a fear of a life threatening danger, because holding oneself back can lead to bowel disease. And there are many further troubles and problems. Therefore it is a great mizvah to help in this matter in order to remove these stumbling blocks from the Jewish people and that they should mention the Name of G-d in holiness.

Frustrated with the difficulty in finding a Shul with adequate toilet facilities, we are working on developing a Shul that fulfills these Torah laws, to give respect to the body as much as the soul. In addition to toilets being clean, well ventilated and accessible in terms of functioning doors and windows, we are also concerned to have separate men's and women's toilets, access for the disabled and any other requirement laid down by the Torah.

Please join us with this important and holy project. The first phase we estimate to require US$50 000. Follow our work and become a part of the Shul and Torah Centre we are working on.

Please do read our website and other projects.

Before you consider this amount is too large a figure to request, let us break it down. If 1000 Jews contribute US$ 50, we will have the first phase completed. If 2000 Jew contribute US$ 25, we will have our first phase completed. If anyone reading this has maaser money and can contribute more, it will enable us to complete this phase sooner.

Thank you for your kindness and generosity. Remember the real thanks will come from Heaven for assisting and being a part of fulfilling the Torah to the best of our ability.


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