The Deadline for the Shabbaton Is Coming

This is the last reminder that THE SHABBATON IS COMING! We had a good logistics meeting last night and we’re very exciting about the close to 90 people who will be spending, what will G-d willing be, a wonderful Shabbos together. If you are thinking about coming, the deadline is tonight.

It is truly fitting that we are having it on Shabbos Nachamu. After mourning the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash as a result of Sinas Chinim (senseless hatred) on Tisha B’Av, we have the opportunity to make some real amends by caring, respecting and strengthening one another in our Avodas Hashem.

For those of you who can’t make it, G-d willing we’ll have other opportunities to meet. Of course we hope everyone will continue reading, commenting and contributing to Beyond BT as we build this very real virtual Jewish community into a place of learning, growing and giving.

Join us by RSVPing to beyondbt@gmail.com or calling 917 992-xxxx.

The cost is $25 per adult, $18 for 18 and under, $12 for 12 and under, $5 for 5 and under and babies are free. Here is the schedule.

Friday
6:20 – Mincha/Maariv at CAY (Congregation Ahavas Yisroel)
7:30 – Friday Night Meal- Group meals in selected homes
10:00 – Oneg at the Linns
Shabbos Day
8:30 – Davening at CAY, Jewish Heritage Center or other local Shuls
11:00 – Light Kiddush at CAY
12:30 – Lunch at CAY – 1-2 Short Divrei Torah, people telling their Teshuva Stories and sharing other thoughts
3:30 – 5:00 – Rest, Walk, Shmooze
5:00 – Shiur by Rabbi Yakov Haber
6:00 – Mincha at CAY
7:00 – Shalosh Seudos at CAY – 1-2 Short Divrei Torah, more stories, more thoughts
8:57 – Maariv
9:30 – 11:00 Havdalah – Melave Malka – Beyond BT Jam Band (in formation)

Fanning The Flame

Rabbi Tatz has a shiur that I listened to many years ago about how the initial spark of inspiration to any new activity or dream is extremely intense. After a while, the intensity dies a bit and what is left is a lower-burning flame that must be worked at, with much effort, to be kept alive. This is certainly true for myself, and I think many, baalei teshuvah, when it comes to spirituality, religious committment, and davening.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It would be incredibly difficult to stay at such a high for an extended length of time, and one would likely burn out altogether after a while. It’s important for a person to find their equilibrium, to reach a point of balance between that intense spark and their former lower level, and to find it in a place where it is possible to sustain for life.

But it’s hard when you come down from that high. It’s difficult when you realize that you can’t channel that height that you once achieved, and if you can, it’s only for a short period of time. It sometimes makes a person want to give up altogether.

But it’s important to realize that you have to keep plugging away, that this decline is completely normal, and to maintain an equilibrium is an accomplishment in itself. Continuing to daven when it’s by rote, going to shiurim that don’t awe as much as they used to, and learning even when you aren’t as enthusiastic are all still important ways to continue feeding the flame of yiddishkeit that was once lit by a great spark.

I think it’s important that one immerses themselves in a community during these times as well. It’s much easier to feel motivation to continue performing mitzvos when he is not doing it alone. Friends, family and rebbeim can all contribute by adding kindling to the fire, and fanning the flame to stay lit. Having a support system in place to hold one up in times of darkness, to give chizuk during difficult challenges, makes a huge difference in one’s will to keep hanging on.

I think it’s also important to continue reminding oneself that this is a normal phenomenon, instead of beating oneself up for not always feeling the same level of intensity. It’s a normal part of being human to have ups and downs, peaks and plateaus, in any part of life, not just in religion.

The spark inside all of us can stay lit, but it’s not something that doesn’t take hard work and effort, and it’s important that we realize that the flame won’t always burn as bright, the fire as high, as it might initially. The important part is that we keep it burning at all, that we fan the flame, giving our souls the oxygen they need to continue shining.

A Letter From a Yeshivat Hesder Kiryat Shemonah Talmid

Contributor and commentor, Mordechai Scher sent this letter from Yeshivat Hesder Kiryat Shemonah, where he learned and where he and his wife hope to make aliyah someday.

Evil Shall Break Forth out of the North?! (Jeremiah 1:14)
Written during the 2nd week of the war

by Yair Kraus, Shiur Daled
Yeshivat Hesder Kiryat Shemonah

When war in the North broke out last week, the Haftarah – the first chapter in Jeremiah, spoke of a warning of the war that is expected to break out in the north of Israel, with ramifications on the entire population. It is hard not to see a direct link to the fighting taking place up here.

On Wednesday, Kiryat Shemonah and, in fact, all the settlements in the north of the country awoke to a new-old reality. The morning the soldiers were abducted at the border, against a background of massive bombing by the Hizbollah with Katyushas aiming at our homes, we – the Yeshivah students – realized we were somewhere we had never been before.

Over the past week hundreds of Katyushas have landed on the settlements of the north. We thank G-d for the miracles we see with our very eyes, that there have been a minimum of casualties, yet our hearts weep when we hear of the dead and the wounded in other parts of the country. We are in the midst of a war against our enemies whose sole aim is to hurt, kill and destroy us, and it looks as if it is going to last quite a long time.
Read more A Letter From a Yeshivat Hesder Kiryat Shemonah Talmid

One on One

What often gets lost in the constant news and statistics of the ongoing war in eretz yisroel is the singular plight of each family, each soldier, each individual.

The Midrash relates:During the war against Midyon, for each person who went out to war there was a person designated to pray and learn for him.

The Bostoner Rebbe and HaRav Kook of Rechvot have started a program where they are asking individuals who find themselves in danger and all soldiers who wish to have someone designated to learn and daven for them to submit their names. Those wishing to receive a name of a “partner” to learn and daven for should email maortlmo@bezeqint.net.

May all of the efforts of our brethren in Eretz Yisrael and our prayers merit a speedy and succesful end to this trial and the safe return of all of our soldiers.

Torah and Israel Links

We are closing registration for the Beyond BT Shabbaton on Monday, July 31st. It should be a great time, so if you are planning on coming, let us know by Monday.

American Chayal is a chesed project for soldiers and residents from the North of Israel.

Rabbi Noson Weisz on Parshas Devarim: Assigning Blame.

Torah.org has a pray for Israel campaign.

Rabbi Mordechai Willig: In Dire Straights: Then and Now.

Send a message and a hug to the IDF.

The Internet Parsha Sheet.

A Miss is a Mile – Old Tehillim Found Open to Psalm 83 (or perhaps 84)

By Chaim Grossferstant

Let me begin by making an admission. I am not a card carrying member of the “alert Hanoch Teller immediately” crowd and am somewhat skeptical of “visionaries” who sense Hashgacha Pratis everywhere. It’s not that I don’t believe that Hashgacha Pratis exists everywhere; it’s just that I think that the maintenance of our free-choice is set up in such a way that we should be mostly oblivious to Hashgacha Pratis most of the time.

But there is a recent news item that really causes a thinking Jew in these perilous times to pause and ponder. Yesterday, the New York Sun reported (page 9) that on Tuesday Irish archaeologists discovered an ancient book of psalms spotted by a construction worker while driving the shovel of his backhoe into a bog. (Parenthetically there are a number of blogs I’d like to drive the shovel of a backhoe into!) What we would call a “Tehillim”, it is a Psalter and has been approximately dated to the years 800–1000 A. C. E. Pat Wallace, director of the National Museum of Ireland described it as “really a miracle find.”

But what makes the find of particular interest to people who are Jewish but not necessarily archeologists is that the book was found open to a page describing, in Latin script, Psalm 83, in which, according to the AP, “G-d hears complaints of other nations’ attempts to wipe out the name of Israel” and that in effect, the Psalter cannot be moved from that page. Because “It could take months of study just to identify the safest way to pry open the pages without damaging or destroying them.”
Read more A Miss is a Mile – Old Tehillim Found Open to Psalm 83 (or perhaps 84)

The Beyond BT Shabbaton – A Shabbos of Appreciation and Connection

One of the recurring themes on Beyond BT is that every Jew’s unique pursuit of Avodas Hashem is precious, inspiring and uplifting. Of course, we have a special place in our hearts for the journeys of those who did not have the benefit of a Torah-based upbringing, but nonetheless persevered to make Torah the driving force in their lives.

It is against that backdrop that we are encouraging you to join us for the Beyond BT Shabbaton where we will share our challenges, victories and inspirational thoughts as we truly focus on the greatness of every Jew. We are encouraging everybody who wishes, to share part of their story (in 10 minute slices) and in the process help us create deeper respect, appreciation and connection with one another and have a lot of fun in the process.

So please join us by RSVPing to beyondbt@gmail.com or calling 917 992-xxxx.

We have one slight scheduling change. We are encouraging people to arrive in KGH in time to make the 6:20 PM Mincha minyan at Congregation Ahavas Yisroel with the Friday night meals (with soup) beginning at around 7:30 PM. This way we can have a leisurely meal and still head over to the Linns at around 10:00 PM for an Oneg. If you can’t make it that early, let us know and we will make alternative Friday night meal arrangements.

The cost is $25 per adult, $18 for 18 and under, $12 for 12 and under, $5 for 5 and under and babies are free.

Friday
6:20 – Mincha at CAY (Congregation Ahavas Yisroel)
7:30 – Friday Night Meal- Group meals in selected homes
10:00 – Oneg at the Linns
Shabbos
8:30 – Davening at CAY, Jewish Heritage Center or other local Shuls
11:00 – Kiddush at CAY
12:30 – Lunch at CAY – 1-2 Short Divrei Torah, people telling their Teshuva Stories and sharing other thoughts
3:30 – 5:00 – Rest, Walk, Shmooze
5:00 – Shiur by Guest Speaker
6:00 – Mincha at CAY
7:00 – Shalosh Seudos at CAY – 1-2 Short Divrei Torah, more stories, more thoughts
8:57 – Maariv
9:30 – 11:00 Havdalah – Melave Malka – Beyond BT Jam Band (in formation)

What’s So Important About the Number 316?

What’s so important about the number 316?

I find sometimes that it is difficult for me to mourn and feel the natural sorrow that I should for the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash. Of course, this year we are all more sensitive to how much we truly rely on Hashem. Our thoughts, televisions, radios, and web browsers are all turned towards what’s happening in Israel.

As each day brings us closer to Tisha B’av, I think about what I, as an individual, and we, as a people, are missing without the Beis Hamikdash. Several years ago it was explained to me what’s missing. The number 316.

Based on the Chofetz Chaim’s Concise Book of Mitzvos, 316 is the number of mitzvos we, as a people, cannot perform without the Beis Hamikdash. Another way to look at it is that there are 297 mitzvos (including 26 mitzvos pertaining directly to the land of Israel) that we can perform today.

As we all know, mitzvos are ways that we can directly attach ourselves to Hashem. But if we only have the ability to perform 297 mitzvos today, without a Beis Hamikdash, then there are 316 ways to attach to Hashem that we are missing. This is what makes me sad. I know there are times when I feel that I’m very far from Hashem. With a Beis Hamikdash things would be different. Wouldn’t it be great to just go stand outside the Beis Hamikdah? Feeling the presence of Hashem would be an automatic spiritual recharge.

But I can’t. We, as a nation, can’t. We are missing 316 more ways to get closer to our creator. I hope this Tishah B’av will be the last one I spend mourning.

Shopping for Jews

by Jeff Neckonoff

Last Thursday, July 20th, as I was in the midst of my weekly Shabbos shopping in the Five Towns (of Long Island), I just happened to stop into Chabad to pick up a copy of last week’s L’Chaim publication.

As I walked through the door, Shainy Blau, Chabad’s extremely efficient & smiley Office Administrator, frantically called me over. She told me that she had just e-mailed after receiving a handful of phone calls that Jews for Jesus missionaries were spotted on Central Avenue. Just five minutes before I walked into her office, Rabbi Wolowik, who was in California, had text messaged her to get in touch with me ASAP.

So off I went. I just happened to have about 25 Jews for Judaism flyers in my car from my trip to the Jones Beach Bandshell the week before, when they had a Messianic concert aimed at telling secular Jews about their god. I grabbed the flyers and called my good friend, Gavriel Sanders, to get some help dealing with this situation.

Gavriel had also received some calls and we were able to pinpoint the location of these missionaries. Meanwhile, since Gavriel was in Brooklyn, he was on the phone trying to get some more people to help.
Read more Shopping for Jews

The Situation

Here is a letter Menachem wrote to his friends and family last week about “the situation” in Israel which he offered to share with us on Beyond BT.

I’ve been debating whether or not to write something about the current “situation” here in Israel, so if you actually receive this you’ll know which side won the debate.

As you’ve noticed, probably thankfully, these updates have become fewer and farther between. This was not because I don’t miss you, it’s just because life had gotten pretty routinized and there just wasn’t much to write about. One of the reasons I hesitate to write now is that on the whole I’ve attempted to keep things positive and a-political. Well I guess I could just write some fluffy stuff and ignore the fact that those moon bats North of the border are using us for target practice, but since you probably read the paper or listen to the news occasionally you’d realize I was trying to hide something.
Read more The Situation

Pulling Your Own Strings

Over Shavous, I had the privilege to hear Rabbi Yerachmiel Milstein speak a few times. He was excellent.

One of the things that Rabbi Milstein said that really struck a chord with me was: “Don’t be a puppet”. Don’t let others (here he included peer pressure and the media) make your choices for you. The other side of the “Don’t be a puppet” warning, Rabbi Milstein explained, is not to become a puppet to the you that you were yesterday.

Life is full of decisions, big and small. Often, we make the right decisions for ourselves, for where we are now. That’s good and important. However, just because a decision was good for me yesterday doesn’t mean it’s good for me today. As growing individuals and growing Jews, it’s incumbent upon us to continually take stock of ourselves and our life decisions of yesterday.

The way I analogize it is by thinking about when I learned to cross the street on my own. I don’t know precisely how old I was but let’s say 10. When I was 9, my parents felt that I wasn’t old enough, not responsible enough to cross the street on my own. That was a good decision for the 9 year old me. When I turned 10, they saw that I had changed, was more responsible and would take the privilege and the safety issues seriously. That was the right decision for the 10 year old me.

Circumstances change, people change (hopefully) and that necessitates a reevaluation of the decisions we made for the person we were yesterday.

The Shabbaton is Coming – And We Hope You’ll Be Joining Us

The Beyond BT Shabbaton is scheduled for Shabbos Nachamu (August 4-5), in Kew Gardens Hills and we would really love for you to join us. The focus of the Shabbaton is connecting with our fellow Jews, face to face. We want people to develop a deeper appreciation of each other and take a small step towards creating the tight knit and truly caring Jewish community that we all desire.

We want to emphasize that all Jews, be they BTs, FFBs, Partially Observant or Non Observant, are encouraged to join us.

The program will be centered around people telling their own stories and sharing other thoughts in short 5-7 minute chunks throughout the communal meals. Everybody is encouraged to share, but if that’s not your thing, that’s fine too. We’re also going to try to arrange the meals so that people will sit with and have the opportunity to converse with the greatest number of people.

It is very important that we have your reservations as soon as possible so that we can properly arrange for housing and catering.

Here’s the preliminary itinerary. Let us know what you think.

7:20 – Mincha at CAY (Congregation Ahavas Yisroel)
8:30 – Friday Night Meal- Group meals in selected homes
10:15 – Oneg at the Linns

8:30 – Davening at CAY, Jewish Heritage Center or other local Shuls
11:00 – Kiddush at CAY
12:30 – Lunch at CAY – 1-2 Short Divrei Torah, people telling their Teshuva Stories and sharing other thoughts
3:30 – 5:00 – Rest, Walk, Shmooze
5:00 – Shiur by Guest Speaker (two very good prospects but waiting for a final committment)
6:00 – Mincha at CAY
7:00 – Shalosh Seudos at CAY – 1-2 Short Divrei Torah, more stories, more thoughts
8:57 – Maariv
9:30 – 11:00 Havdalah – Melave Malka – Beyond BT Jam Band (in formation)

The cost is $25 per adult, $18 for 18 and under, $12 for 12 and under, $5 for 5 and under and babies are free.

Please join us. It should be a great time. Please email us at beyondbt@gmail.com to let us know
you’re coming and with any scheduling recommendations.

Words to Arouse Our Hearts in This Time of Danger

At a Tehillim gathering in Kew Gardens Hills last night, Rabbi Yakov Haber from YU addressed the audience with words to arouse our hearts in this time of extreme danger for the Jewish People. You can listen to the Divrei Hisorerus here. Here is a summary of what was said.

We Must Feel That We Outside of Eretz Yisroel are at War
Rabbi Herschel Schachter points out that, according to halacha, Jews from all over can be drafted to fight a war, no matter where they live. The only reason we are not drafted is that it’s not practical. Nonetheless, we have to realize that we are all at war and subject to the draft. Even though we’re not actually fighting we have to feel the urgency that those of us outside of Eretz Yisroel are also at war. If we don’t feel that urgency, we have to do soul searching and make sure that we don’t feel separate from the Tzibur, which according to the Rambam would brand us as apikorsim. We have to truly feel that we are at war and are sharing in the battle.
Read more Words to Arouse Our Hearts in This Time of Danger

Looking for the “Aleph” in Everything

In a previous post Creating Unity and Harmony Instead of Reacting to Strife and Conflict, I highlighted a step by step formula towards creating unity that can be taken by anyone:

1. Absolute conviction in Torah. It is the blueprint for creation as well as a civilized, productive and G-dly society – to offer guidance and to be applied in every circumstance, at all places and all times.
2. Warmth, patience, optimism, the sharing of knowledge, firm in conviction (see “Step 1” above) yet pleasant in tone with a focus on commonality and goodness.
3. The absolute belief and empowerment in the individual which was being interacted with – that they can do [more] good and change the world for good.
4. Always finalized with a call to action for oneself and for one’s immediate as well as extended sphere of influence (a call which reflects the attitude and approach of these 4 steps).

This four step formula equates to “looking for the “Aleph” in everything” that one encounters. What is the “Aleph” and how does one do that?

It is interesting to note that the word for exile, “golus” and the word for Redemption, “Geulah” – the only difference between the two words is the Hebrew letter “Aleph”; “Geulah” [Redemption] contains the “Aleph” whereas “golus” [exile] doesn’t. The “Aleph” represents “the Alufo shel Olam” [the “Master of the World” i.e. G-d].

Many people have a fear of what is going to happen with the imminent advent of the Redemption and they ask – “What will be with all of my business deals, money, property, position of influence and friends (both Jew and Gentile) – will everything will be lost or ruined?!
Read more Looking for the “Aleph” in Everything

Going Beyond Our Previous Teshuva in This Time of Need

In times of trouble, we are supposed to turn to Hashem in prayer. But it would seem from the Gemara that in times like today, Hashem also asks of us to do Teshuva, to show through our thought, speech and actions that we want to come closer to Him. Most people suggest small achievable goals such as:
1) Increasing Kavannah in one Bracha (Avodah)
2) Learning 10 minutes extra (Torah)
3) Thinking or saying something nice about another person (Gemillas Chasadim)

Maybe people have other ideas (which they might want to add in the comments), but I think that if the Beyond BT readership/community takes another step in the direction of Teshuva it can only serve to strengthen the entire Klal.

Rabbi Brody
has been posting emails of steps people have been taking and he graciously permitted us to repost them here.

Please feel free to add any steps you are taking in the comments below (anonymously if you prefer).

As Rabbi Brody points out:

More mitzva commitments needed: This is no time to become lax. Please urge your family and friends to answer the Melitzer Rebbe’s call to strengthen one mitzva; tshuva doesn’t mean revolutionizing our lives – it means becoming a little bit better and getting a little closer to Hashem than we were yesterday. Am Yisroel needs your help!

*MM is enrolling in a yeshiva for Baalei Tshuva

*RT and SS have committed to purchasing and wearing tefillin

*MT promises to learn Torah for a half hour before praying in the morning

*Rick and his wife Susie have committed to refrain from shellfish and unkosher meat

*Janet and husband Rob will no longer eat in unkosher restaurants

*Budd G commits to mikva once a week

*3 people commit to learning Tanya every day

*5 more people commit to saying Tikkun Klali every day

*8 more people commit to guarding their tongue and learning the laws of Shmiras HaLashon

*Rivka and her study class of 8 women in Boro Park commit to loving every Jew

*Susan from the West Coast commits to covering her hair

*Jon from London commits to learning for two hours a week with a bedridden person

*Yuval and his wife Anat in Florida commit to bringing challas and wine to hospitalized Jews

*4 more people commit to daily Hitbodedut (Personal prayer sessions)

*W in Maryland and CF in Wahington DC bought sheitelach (hair covering) for the first time

*12 commit to saying Tikkun Klali daily

*4 will begin saying Tikkun Chatzot

*6 people promise to pray with more intent

*YC has bought an electric razor and has thrown away his straight razor

*5 more people commit to saying Perek Shira

*Ruth, Naomi, and Debbie commit to saying Mincha daily

*LH promises to pray in a minyan in the morning

*The Meyer family in California promises to move their three children into Jewish day schools

* Ilan from Argentina commits to saying Tikkun Chatzot, the powerful midnight lamentation of our holy Temple and the diaspora

*Matityahu from Argentina commits to immersing in mikva once a week and say Tikkun Klali every day

*Eliezer Shlomo from the USA commits to arriving at shul on time

*ES, RB, YB, YN, and HW commit to saying Psalms every day

*11 people have committed to saying Perek Shira for 40 days consecutively

*YK has committed to distributing 1000 books of Psalms to Israeli soldiers

*38 members of the M congregation in Brooklyn have committed not to chatter during prayer services – this is a very wonderful and cogent commitment.

*4 more women have committed to dress more modestly.

*Hair covering – AP, RS, and Anonymous in USA

*Tefillin – Andy in South Africa, Reuven in USA

*17 more people have committed to learn the laws of Improper speech and/or to refrain from Loshon Haro

*6 more women have committed to improving their modesty of dress

*3 more people have committed to opening their homes to guests

*2 people have committed to stop talking about the generation’s religious leaders

*4 more people have committed to praying in a minyan

*DR in Arkansas and SA in Alabama have accepted the 7 Noahide mitzvas and commit to strengthening their faith in Hashem

*JD, RB, and RS in Maryland, Colorado, and Kansas are now enlisting the commitments of their own community members

*MP commits to saying Tikkun Klali every day

*JB commits to helping crippled people put on tefillin every day

*Zecharia in Mexico has committed to learning the laws of Sabbath observance

*Ken B. has committed to overcome anger

*RB and KB have committed to saying Tikkun Chatzos

*Janet in California and Nechama in NYC have committed to organizing study groups for women

*Arlene in Virginia has committed to covering her hair

*The Goldman family of Southern USA has committed to stop swimming at mixed pools and beaches

*Marv L. commits to giving a full 10% of his net earnings to charity

*The Levy family of UK/Israel – Tikva (age 3) pledges to do nice things, Michal (age 5) promises to say Shma every night, dad Ray (34) will try to be more careful about saying his blessings, and mom Katrin is opening her home to guests from bombed areas

*Charlene from British Columbia commits not only to the 7 Noahide mitzvas, but to saying an entire book of Tehillim every day

*Amanda commits to 15 minutes of hisbodedus a day

*Craig from Ohio commits to guard his tongue from slander and gossip

*PW from Texas is switching from a staright razor to an electric razor, and will do his best to improve his Sabbath observance

*TS in London, MD in Bet Shemesh, and RU in Jerusalem have promised to improve their shmiras eynayim

*SL in Denver commits to learning Daf Yomi – a page a day of Gemorra

*MA in Silver Spring, Md. promises not to drive on Shabbos any more

*The Turner family in Long Island promises not to watch TV on Shabbos any more

*Ron in Toronto, Alan from Baltimore, and RT from New Jersey have committed to begin wearing tzitzis

* Ira from Rockville, Maryland promises not to eat any more pork

*Charlotte from Rhode Island pledges not to eat any more pork or shellfish

*JN and her husband RN pledge to observe the laws of mikva

*Eugene from South Africa pledges to avoid misleading his customers

*Donna from Colorado pledges to separate milk and meat in her kitchen

*Howard from LA pledges to give charity every day

*Marty and his wife Gloria from NYC promise to attend a Judaism seminar

*Heather from Colorado commits to an hour of personal prayer every day

*The Cohen family of Herzlia has committed to host at least four guests for Shabbos, particularly soldiers that don’t have families in Israel.

*The Rubin family of Bet Shemesh have committed to bake challas for at least three poor families.

*TS of London will do his best to say Birkas HaMazon with intent, and other blessings too.

*CR, MP, MZ, Yehudit Weiss, and RLieberman of the USA will be learning “Shmiras HaLashon” and organizing study groups among their friends and neighbors.

*YG’s father, Andrew S and TT of the UK have committed to tefillin, together with BD in North Carolina and Doug Furie in California

*ADP is a Noahide who will be mobilizing other Noahides in the strengthening of the 7 Noahide Mitzvas.

*ML, RB, SD, and EK of the USA will begin learning Mishnayos.

*Robert Solomon of Maryland will add 15 minutes a day Halacha learning to his schedule, and calls on everyone to eat 3 meals with bread on Shabbos, to be protected from the turmoil of Gog & Magog as promised by our sages.

*BL, ML, UC, YP, TR, and RL have committed to make a stronger effort to pray in a minyan.

*Marge in Dallas covered her hair for the first time today.

*Arthur in Atlanta has committed to learn The Trail to Tranquility and to work on destroying his anger.

*DL in Winnipeg, Canada will try his best to improve his shmiras eynayim.

*The Moore family, California (not Jewish) – have taken upon themselves the 7 Noahide mitzvas

*A.D. in London has agreed to begin shaving with an electric razor

*Breslever has agreed to distribute 500 emuna CDs in Western Canada: Rav Shalom Arush sends special blessings to Breslever as well as to the powerhouse commandos of London – YG and DD – who are bombarding the Yetzer with 1000 CD missiles with emuna warheads. Rav Shalom says that if a Katyusha can threaten lives, an emuna CD can save lives.

*The R. family in Silver Spring, Maryland has committed to mikva and family purity

*The JL family of Atlanta has agreed not to drive any more on Shabbos, and to try their best to become full Shomrei Shabbos

*Karen of Kansas City and Lois of LA have committed to begin covering their hair

*Tens of people in Monsey, Brooklyn, and Toronto have consented to add to their Torah learning and/or to their daily prayers

*More than a dozen letters mentioned that they’ll try to do a full hour of hitbodedut

Updated

*12 more people have committed to saying Tehillim

*10 more people have committed to saying Tikkun Klali every day

*3 more families have committed to mikva and family purity

*2 families have committed to discontinuing birth control

*7 more people pledge to pray with more intent

*GG and GI pledge to spread hundreds of Emuna CDs in the NYC area

*AJ promises to be more patient with her husband

*HOT! 35 more children pledge to say Shma at night (according to their parents)

*Uri pledges to eat kosher food

*Vladimir from Brooklyn, born in Russia and never had a circumcision, now pledges to have a bris

*17 more people pledge to increase their Torah learning

*DO and ES pledge tyo strengthen their shmiras eynayim

*5 more people pledge to say Tikkun Chatzot daily

*8 more people pledge to say Perek Shira daily

*4 more people pledge to spend at least 30 minutes daily in personal prayer (hisbodedus)

*The R. family from Haifa plans to kosher their kitchen and to give 10% of their salary to charity every month

*YJ, GF, and ED pledge to wear tzitzis

*5 more people have promised to wear tefillin daily

*MR in Miami pledges to cover her hair

*7 people pledge to start their own mitzva commitment campaigns within their communities

*Don from Richmond pledges to give more respect to his inlaws

*Alex pledges to cherish and respect his wife more

*The Rosenthal children from the UK pledge to respect their parents more

Updated 7/19

*Vera from Denver writes, “I promise not to yell at my husband; for me, that’s harder than fasting for three days in a row. Anything for Israel…”

*Eliezer promises to learn Chumash 2 mikra/ 1 targum every week

*Kenton, a Cherokee Indian from Oklahoma, accepts the 7 Noahide mitzvas and promises to say Tehillim and Perek Shira every day

*Gil, USA – Tikkun Chatzot

*PG, RS, DW – Shmiras Eynaim

*MC from Toronto pledges to approach 3 Jews a week about tefillin, and to beef up his learning and davening, including Psalms, Rambam, Tanya, and Chumash

*Yaakov from USA is offering free Shabbos candles to everyone that commits – contact yaakovshalom(at)comcast.net

*Telephone 718-301-5940 is giving out free copies of Tikkun Klali (in Israel call 02-622-2603)

* www.briskodesh.org is giving out free ebooks for shmiras habris

*Mordechai and Yosef pledge to clean up their room every day to help mommy

*2 year-old Efraim pledges to eat more cake for Israel

*16 pre-Bat mitzva girls pledge to say Tehillim

*DD, HP, and YB pledge to do as much hisbodedus as they can

*The Turner family of the USA pledges to observe the Sabbath

*GK pledges to teach his young children “Modeh Ani”

*GV in Dallas pledges to give a tithe to charity and to deal honestly in business

*MR in Tulsa and GV in Dallas pledge to treat others nicely

*Rochelle in Long Island pledges to wear knee-highs and to lower the length of her skirts

*Jackie in Baton Rouge pledges to refrain from cursing

*Robert in Illinois pledges to learn more Torah and surf less internet

*Anonymous pledges to go cold turkey on pornography and to try and make tshuva

*TG plans to eat only kosher meat

*Sora Aviva is shortening the length of her shaitels

*ES commits to Tehillim, Shma, learning Torah, patience, loving fellow man, and eating kosher meat

KM – will participate in public fasts and pledges to wear tefillin every day

*BA from Southfield, Mi. pledges to judge others fairly

*Lawrence is strengthening his intent in prayer

*SJ commits to learning the laws of the Beis HaMikdash

*AN commits to daily hitbodedut

*DB pledges to say Tikkun Klali every day

*SA pledges to pray 15 minutes a day for the safety of Israel’s soldiers, and another 15 minutes a day for Hashem to redeem the people of Israel

*Shosh plans to strengthen her shmiras halashon

*Ilana from Minneapolis is putting together a study group to strengthen emuna

*Randy from Texas pledges to pray in a minyan at least on Shabbas, and he’ll try in the middle of the week

*Moshe from Brooklyn pledges to say Kaddish for one whole year, for all those deceased souls that don’t have anyone saying Kaddish for them

*Genya Forman commits to the mitzva of baking challas

*Jim in Kansas commits to giving more charity

*Mordechai Hillel Grant (7) commits to saying Tehillim with his tatty every day

*Yankele and his wife (London, UK) commit to learning halacha together every day

*BA has just given up Jews for J and commits to attending an Aish HaTora seminar

*Mike K in DC commits to less sleep and more Torah learning

Updated 7/22/06

RZ, Silver Spring, Md. – shmiras eynaim

*GJ, New Jersey – daf yomi

*TH, Michigan; Shapiro family, Ontario – Tikkun Klali

*Dome family, London – have organized a shiur in Likutei Moharan in their home

*Yona from Tel Aviv is changing her wardrobe and making complete tshuva including Shabbos and Kashrus

*Dan from LA will give more charity

*HC from Australia has enrolled in a Yeshiva for BT’s

*The OU and Young Israel are organizing round-the-clock Torah learning – this is wonderful news!

*Gwen Davis, Alabama – Krias Shma and Tehillim

*Folke Holtz, Sweden – praying Amida every day

*Eliezer B, USA – will learn halacha every day

*Rodney and Cinthia, USA – koshering their kitchen

*Susie S, Canada – will begin covering her hair

*Howard S, Canada – will begin praying in a minyan every morning

*Dr. Mark B. will now close his dental clinic on Shabbat

*The Golman family is transferring their 2 youngest children into Torah schools

*Zvi F will say Shir Hashirim every Fri. afternoon before Shabbat

*June F. in Wahington State commits to lighting Shabbat candles

*Arnold C. commits to daily prayer with tefillin

*AV and PV from Upstate NY commit to daily hisbodedus

Trying to Pray

As everyone knows by now, Israel is in serious trouble right now. Three soldiers are being held hostage and many have been killed. Many civilians have been killed and injured in the constant rocket attacks. Over one million Israelis in the north are sleeping in bomb shelters.

There’s nothing like watching the disaster unfold to make me realize my own helplessness. In an instinctive reaction, despite my many years living on my own and the fact that I am now married and expecting a child of my own, I spent much of the day trying to call my mother. I also did laundry—constant, obsessive washing of anything in the house that might have once touched dirt. But the one, most important thing that I should be doing, I just can’t. I can’t seem to pray.
Read more Trying to Pray

Antidote for Baseless Hatred – Part 3

Rebbetzin Tziporah Heller was kind enough to allow us to repost this article on Beyond BT during the 3 weeks. For more tapes and articles by Rebbetzin Heller please visit her site. To listen or download her mp3s please visit the Aish Audio site. This is the third and final part of this series.

Overcoming Hatred

So now Rambam, the great halachist, presents us with the following issue: What about people whom we don’t like for good reason?

Remember what I said in the beginning: Nobody gets up in the morning and announces: “It’s a great day today—I think I’ll hate people. I’ll put a little butter on the stairs; I’ll turn the TV volume all the way up and leave the house…” When we hear that the Sages said senseless hatred is a terrible sin, we say, “Oh, yes, it’s really terrible. I don’t hate any people senselessly—but apes, like my upstairs neighbors…”

I wouldn’t blame the people who live beneath us for hating us. They’re lovely. They’re immaculate. They mind their own business. They didn’t deserve what happened to them. When we bought the apartment above them, all of my numerous children still lived at home, plus my mother lived with us, so we’re talking about an awful lot of people in one apartment. They didn’t know this. One day, before we moved in, the wife saw my husband and me coming down from the apartment. She smiled and said, “I hope you’re quiet people.” I thought: She’s going to find out the truth soon enough; let her sleep tonight. So I just smiled back. Then moving day came. She sees one kid, and another, and another, and another—a whole procession—and then my mother…

Anyway, Rambam talks about hatred, so we have to define what hatred is. Love, in Jewish terms, is bonding. Hatred, then, is detachment and separation.
Read more Antidote for Baseless Hatred – Part 3

Pre Shabbos Links

We are still full steam ahead for our Beyond BT Shabbos Nachamu Shabbaton. We have a good signup rate so far. We really want to encourage all BTs, FFBs and Jews of all stripe to join us and take the next steps in making real lasting connections. The cost is $25 per adult, $18 for 18 and under, $12 for 12 and under, $5 for 5 and under and babies are free. Email us at beyondbt@gmail.com if you are interested.

Our good friend Kressel Housman has been fortunate enough to land a job that involves listening to Rabbi Wein tapes. We’ve been nudging her for some more Beyond BT pieces as we miss her inspiration dearly. She recently informed us that Rabbi Wein is currently making available a free download of a shiur on the Book of Iyov.

Sefardi Lady informs us of a rally on Monday, July 17th at 12 noon opposite the United Nations in solidarity with the government and people of the State of Israel against terror sponsored by The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

Steve Brizel highly recommends The Lord is Righteous in All His Ways: Reflections on the Tish‘ah be-Av Kinot by Rabbi Joseph’s B. Soloveitchik. You can order it here.

Steve also brings our attention to a dvar Torah about Pinchas by Rabbi Yaacov Haber, whose Life after Teshuva shiurim have been featured here. Here’s an excerpt:

There is no perfection in this world. As a matter of fact, sometimes when the environment is so pristine and one works so hard to find purity, the imperfections stand out even more. Even in the most beautifully developed areas of Yiddishkeit there are things that need to be fixed and attitudes and ideals that are not according to the Torah. There are wonderful Torah opportunities on the one hand and some jarring attitudes and behaviors on the other hand. The blend of mostly Torah and incongruous and even outrageous behavior becomes a confusing culture.

Examine everything that happens through the lens of Torah, underline what is great and beautiful and take note of what is wrong. When you look at the culture that surrounds you, you can sometimes be baffled by the lack of midos tovos that prevail even amongst teachers and mentors. Don’t criticize them; don’t hold it against them, don’t slander them, just do something to better the situation. Stand up for what is right.