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

40 comments on “Going Beyond Our Previous Teshuva in This Time of Need

  1. Bob Miller – good question “practical” has never been part of my emotional vocabulary.

    Steve Brizel – nice concept threading/
    connecting on the merger/acquisitions/marriage comparisons.My point though was more in terms of marriage not being the inherent focus but still focusing on the happiness/pleasure/connection needs which would subsequently facilitate with altruism and other teshuvah oriented concepts …. in addition to other loopholes not appropiate for a teshuvah blog.

  2. JT-Thanks for your fascinating post. I don’t pretend to be an expert, but IMO, we all have to think outside the proverbial box on this issue. If you were hinting at less pressure filled opportunities for singles of both genders to meet-whether at a Shabbos or Chasunah table, I do know that major US Poskim have approved the same. OTOH, marriage has to be viewed not as the end all and be all for one’s problems or partner in a corporate merger and acquisistion, but rather the finding of an ezer knegdo who as Ibn Ezra mentions, will be there during one’s ups and downs.IMO, we have gotten too far away from the fundamentals of what makes a good marriage and far too involved in the business like merger and acquisition like details such as money,looks, dress size, table cloths, etc that are fleeting in nature.

  3. Steve Brizel , regarding your teshuvah point on the singles crisis – calling for the happily married to annoy the not married even more then they currently do with their matchmaking attempts is not the correct answer .Neither is the plethora of dating websites / pathetic singles events or everyone in unison blogging their personal jaded accounts on the misery’s of single hood .

    Contrary to what Weissman would love to believe, the “madness” is not ending anytime soon .If G-d doesn’t want to facilitate in the marriage process and apparently he doesn’t at the moment for whatever reason …….. all the End the Madness/ Saw you at Sinai / connected at the Shattering of the lapis Tablets/or eye contact on the F/ 6 or 9 train lovely weekends and enlightening seminars on how to spot your charming prince In boorish disguise ….. will all just be a waste of emotional energy/sitting time and perfectly good alcohol.

    I think part of the solution is an in depth understanding of certain halacha’s and identifying/documenting the loop holes on exactly what is allowed in 2006 in terms of connection/happiness/pleasure and mixed living arrangements. So desperate and needy are not part of the not married equation and not clouding logic and judgement. In addition marriage which doesn’t seem to be a universally applicable concept should not be given the attention it is currently given in terms of priority. Maybe a little reverse psychology or not hyper-focusing on the marriage kettle waiting for the slippery liquid partner to surface and bubble and turn into prince charming genie will do the trick.

    The teshuvah part would be channeling the focus away from the self centric marriage oriented focus and towards total altruism and caring about everyone you come in contact with. The loop holes in halacha would help with neediness /personal happiness and connection that sometimes prevent the good one can be accomplishing for others.

  4. Ora-Look at it this way. Despite the fact that most of the US media and academic world, the UN, and EU all have at best ambivalent and at worse negative views of Israel, our current President and Comgress have basically told Israel to do what it has to do, regardless of the consequences, as long as Hezballah and Hamas and their allies in suits, Yimcha Shmam vZicram are at war with Israel. That fact, alone, is worth some sort of hakaras hatov in addition to all of the very important aspects of your post.

  5. Steve–I agree that overall Americans have more warm fuzzies towards Israel than most of the world. That’s wonderful, and if I happen to have a chance to encourage it, I will. I just don’t think that our efforts should be directed towards PR. Our efforts should be towards improving our situation as much as possible–aliya, teaching Torah, fighting our enemies, connecting with our fellow Jews, all that good stuff–and the respect of the nations will naturally follow.

    As for the American government, forgive me if I’m not terribly impressed by their support. Their big contribution now has been to support Israel’s right to self-defense, which is very nice, but as an Israeli I see that right as so basic that I just can’t be impressed that the Americans see it as well. Israel is attacked by terrorists with no provocation, millions of Israelis are under constant threat from rocket fire, and our closest ally tells us “feel free to fight back.” Well of course, anything less would be pathetic. In the meantime, American politicians still officially support the Road Map, which is one of the stupider ideas in a history of bad ideas on how to solve the conflict here.

    And now, another idea on “bein adam lchavero” mitzvot–Torah education gets my vote for most crucial right now. It’s ridiculous how many kids are going off the derech just because their parents couldn’t afford Jewish schooling. Extra ridiculous is that, once they are secular, then huge and well-funded programs like Aish and Ohr Sameach offer free studies in yeshiva, dorms, etc–hello, if someone had offered that five years ago, this 19yo would be religious already. Now he’s probably not interested anymore. So much money is spent on kiruv programs like Aish and birthright, while people who already want to be religious can’t afford it… sorry for the rant, anyway, the whole situation has me sad right now. And I do respect that Aish and birthright and the like do great work–I just think it’s important to remember that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”–giving kids access to Jewish education when they’re young means you won’t have to spend twice as much trying to get them interested once they’re older. So yeah, I think that one of the best mitzvot to do right now is donate money or time to your local schools.

  6. Getting back to the post at hand, IMO, singles in the Torah world, regardless of their hashkafah, are under an enormous stress. If you don’t believe me, just look at the womens’ section at any chasunah. Today’s NY Sun carries the tragic story of a 25 year old woman who RL committed suicide over the breakup of a relationship.

    Perhaps, enabling more singles to meet in a non-pressurized manner and without the ritualization of emotion that passses for the shidduch scene is a tikun that we need as a society and is the Mitzvah Bein Adam LChavero of our generation. There simply has to be something that works better than the Upper West Side extended singelhood scene or the well-documented psychotic questions that accompany too many shidduchim today.

  7. Freshman Illinois politico Barack Obama recently commented that Dem candidates should not practice self-censorship in appealing to the religious sensitivities of the populace.

    Politicians often make statements that are deliberately vague so they can tailor it to whatever type of audience is gathering to hear a speech. Also, there’s no doubt that politicians have often waxed sanctimonious to come across as “just one of the guys” in order to….get elected.

    That said, IMO Mr. Obama’s statement (FYI and for some comedy relief, at the Dem convention in ’04 Rev Al referred to him as “Obama Baracka”) perhaps said with a touch of freshman naivte, was that the Dems included a strong but vocal and influential faction of the party that could appear hostile to the sensibilities of many Americans.

    Regarding the quote of another post in this thread

    “But moderate Democratic voters have not let them (the far-left) take control of the reigns of the party.

    It’s likely that if not for the presence of this faction, Mr. Obama would not need to suggest this step.

    IMO, the complexion of the Executive and Legistlative branches can influence cultural mores of the nation.

    Another quote “The far-Left is much better at sabotaging centrist candidates than they are at deciding candidates.”

    Perhaps. But knocking out the competition through sabotage is also a factor in reaching a concluding decision. If they know how to cynically manipulate and maneuver political outcomes, the “moderate” would party commissioners choose to give in to demands in a short term gamble or think about how giving in could affect things in years to come?

    IMO it was because of fringe activists and Dem party sluggishness in marginalizing them that Pres Bush had to publicly prognosticate in the State of the Union address that marriage is defined as a union between a man and woman.

    Despite my personal opposition to the Iraq war (which Kerry voted for anyway) I voted for Bush in ’04 largely because he took a stand on the issue cited above. It’s not just a single issue; it can influence the culture of the most politicially powerful nation on the planet.

  8. DK-Lipsky was canned because he was too much of a neo con for the Workmens’ Circle crowd. FWIW, David Klinghoffer is on the edge of MO. I think that his books and hashkafa leave a lot to be desired-especially when he views all of Torah as fitting into a politically conservative mindset. As far the Forward’s news coverage is concerned, its coverage of the O world is IMO biased.If you read between the lines, the Forward makes much of its Bundist and WC roots. I stand by my critique of its editorial page which IMO is very much for “piece for piece” withdrawawl. Your comments on the JW are on the mark.

  9. Bill Clinton is coming to Liberman’s aid.

    http://www.upi.com/NewsTrack/view.php?StoryID=20060721-072820-8485r

    This fight is not over. Dean was coronated by the media as the Democratic candidate for president. It turned out to be all spin. The voters rejected his candidacy.

    The far-Left can scream up and down. But as the DLC notes consistently, they don’t decide who wins the primary.

    The far-Left is much better at sabotaging centrist candidates than they are at deciding candidates.

    Witness Nader on Gorse’s run, and the pro-gay activists and some very rude protestors on Kerry’s run.

    But moderate Democratic voters have not let them take control of the reigns of the party.

  10. No need to take Steve’s or DK’s opinions on faith; you can easily access whatever you really need to know about candidates and newsweeklies.

    Make sure to read everything with a critical eye, to get past the packaging and PR spin (Make believe it’s USSR 1963 and you’re trying to make some sense out of Pravda or Izvestia.

    If Senator Lieberman, a lifelong liberal Democrat who supports the US against its enemies, is now mostly a pariah among national Democratic leaders because of this support, that should tell us something.

  11. Steve, you said,

    “When liberals speak about “fiscal restraint” that means cutting defense and spending on social welfare programs of dubious value.”

    Not necessarily. And it depends on what you mean by social welfare programs. If you mean supporting people who don’t want to work or take resposiblility for their lives, I am inclined to agree with you. But when it comes to public works that benefit everyone and are needed, like say, getting off oil and supplying the infrastructure to make that possible, that is a very different situation. So is fighting corruption, the likes of distributing security funding to states much less at risk than NYC.

    There is a difference between public welfare and ill-advised social engineering. That is why Clinton ended welfare as it was. Kudos to him.

    Leonard Fein’s nationally syndicated column is one of many voices in the Forward. He was put in the newspaper by Lipsky himself. You may as well bring the social-conservative and Orthodox David Klinghoffer as an example of the Forward’s true position, since he enjoys the same outlet as Fein.

    In fact, neither is representative of the Forward’s own voice. The editorial page, not the op-ed page, is that.

    The Algemeiner Journal is Lubab. Obviously it is not longer Litvak in its perspective. The Forward is much closer to a Lithuanian style approach and culture, which is quite different than yeshivish. This manifests itself in in many ways, including preference for debate as opposed to consensus. We have the Jewish Week to dictate a frabicated and artificial centrist perspective.

    The Forward is critical of many things in the Jewish community, but it is hardly focused on criticizing the Orthodox solely or specifically, and tries to get the story straight no matter who it reports on, which is more than most newspapers, Jewish or otherwise.

    The Workmen’s Circle is not the same as the Bund, though they were similar in many ways. Still, to conflate the W/C and the Bund’s is rediculous.

    Additionally, the Forward itself was not bound by the W/C, as Lipsky’s ten year reign as editor clearly demonstrates.

    Abe Cahan, the Forverts founder, left the Forverts for 6 years, because he was insistent that the Forverts be bound by no political organization or party line. To point to the W/C as the same thing as the Forward is therefore inaccurate. The Forward does not take directives from the W/C like the Jewish Week takes directives from the UJA, who supplies up to 70% of their circulation. And it’s not for free.

  12. DK-Like it or not, AFAIk, neither Soros nor his money were repudiated by the DNC. Your comments re Sharpton and Jackson speak for themselves. When liberals speak about “fiscal restraint” that means cutting defense and spending on social welfare programs of dubious value.

    I disagree with your take on the Forward. Its editorial, op ed pages and news coverage never say anything positive about anything Orthodox. Leonard Fein has a weekly column for his bleeding heart and “piece by piece” views. It is as much a mistake to say that the Forward is Litvak as to apply that term to the Alegmeiner Journal. WADR, the Workmen’s Circle is the heir of the Bundists whose dubious views over the years have included opposing entry into WW2 until the FSU was attacked and hostility to Orthodoxy going back to the 19th Century. IIRC , Lipsky wrote an article in Commentary that set forth the many dissagreements that he had with the far left wing Workmen’s Circle that were his employers and who now have a predictably far left , “piece by piece” and anti O editorial policy.

  13. Steve,

    Soros attempted to hijack the Democratic party with his money. Kerry had no relationship with the guy, and probably resented him terribly. Who was Soros to try to set the agenda? Kerry was the candidate, not Soros.

    Sharpton and Jackson remain “powerful”–i.e. tolerated, only because of their constituency.

    Ms. Radnofsky went to Israel long before she decided to run for U.S. sentor. She is moderate left on fiscal issues. So were many of the Democrats in previous generation you admire and listed.

    Texas education is a disaster right now, with one of the worst literacy rates in the country. Ms. Radnofsky, a Jewish mother of three, is not happy about that at all. They are often like that.

    As for her patriotism, it has more to do with her father and grandfather serving in the U.S. military, and when captured, when the Nazis asked who was Jewish, everyone to the man stepped forward with her father. A legacy like that can create a real sense of patriotism.

    Now in terms of New York, she loves this city, and New York needs allies.

    Additionally, she is bent on fiscal discipline, something all too rare in certain so-called “conservative” circles.

    The Forward is hardly “relentlessly anti Orthodox” just because it is secular, and has been frequently criticized as having very little nice to say about the Reform and Conservative movements, because of it’s Litvak heritage and hostility to non-Orthodox Judaism.

    It is true that Lipsky and the Forward parted ways in anger, but to suggest that this is because the Forward is radically left is inaccurate. They started the English paper in partnership with Lipsky from the Wall St. Journal. If they were really as left as their detractors frequently claim they are, they never would have agreed to do so.

  14. DK-I am not convinced that Radnofsky is a friend of Israel, despite her claiming to be an AIPAC supporter.I see nothing on her website to that effect at all except membership in ADL. I can’t believe that she is unaware of the fact that many Texans, especially evangelicals, are ardent supporters of Israel.

    More importantly, demanding a timetable on Iraq is a policy predicated on appeasement-ala Kerry & Co. I also find her views on John Bolton troublesome.John Bolton is a wonderful ambassador to a corrupt claque of third world dictatorships known as the UN.

    I also find her views on vouchers , etc to be straight out of the NEA playbook which merely supports the rights of public schools to exist in an unfettered and unchallenged fashion, dspite much evidence that they are failing America’s youth.

    In short, Radnofsky’s campaign and issues statements seem to be simultaneously embracing elements of patriotism ( an absolute necessity in post 9-11 America) while sounding liberal/left on many other equally important issues.

  15. DK-it was indeed a pleasure meeting you at the Book Launch. My point was that the Democratic Party that was willing to fight aggression was changed by the efforts of the McGovern Commission’s “reforms” into a party whereby the likes of George Soros. Al Sharptom , Michael Moore and Jesse Jackson have become “mainstream” whereby they can mouth their defeatist and appeasement minded rhetoric. AFAIK, Sharpton and Jackson remain powerful figures within the party-despite their dismal electoral records-because the party leaders would rather be ideologically “pure” and LW liberal than allow the likes of Lieberman within their midst. As long as that claque along with Hollywood, Cambridge and the Beltway crowd run the party structure, the Democrats will nationally be in the equivalent in the desert for a long time.

    Although I like the Sun, the Forward is relentlessly anti Orthodox in its editorials and news coverage. Its view of Israel is strictly for devotees of Haaretz and those who believe in “piece (by piece” now.” The Sun’s editorial page editor was purged from the Forward by the owners of the Forward, who deemed his views too neocon for the taste of the Workmen’s Circle-the heirs to the Bundists.

  16. Steve,

    It was wonderful to meet you and other writers of this blog last week. And what a great book launch!

    Now. Do you really think that bringing the most radical high-profile (but not all really high-ranking) left-wing Democrats possible–many of them never elected for anything– and then contrasting them to a singular moderate Republican Senator is appropriate?

    Let’s see your list again:

    “Cynthia McKinney is a Congressman who is radically anti war and anti Israel.There is a Presidential election next year. I do believe that on a national level, that John McCain is a real friend of Israel, as opposed to any possible Democrat who is part of a party that views Michael Moore and Al Sharpton as part of the party that gave us FDR, Truman, KFK, LJB, HHH and Scoop Jackson.”

    Cynthia McKinney is indeed a problem. And she is going nowhere.

    Micahel Moore makes movies. Al Sharpton has never won an office anywhere. He has run numerous times. Gornisht.

    Why not add J. Jackson? He had his hat handed to him as well. Shot down by Democratic voters. Just like Sharpton. Guess what position he was promised by Kerry? That would be the ‘Deputy Secretary of Nothing For You.’

    And what do you expect me to do? Name radical Republican-right wingers who have nothing to do with the Republican mainstream?

    Hardly.

    Why not consider a pro-Israel Democratic U.S. senatorial candidate like Barbar Radnofsky, in Texas? http://www.radnofsky.com. She is a staunch AIPAC supporter, and has been for years! But unlike certain other Texans who support Israel, she also likes to read, which is always a plus when setting policy.

    The two party system is misleading. Each party includes numerous ideaologies with a rather horrific fringe. So what?

    And glad you like the NY Sun. It was started by the founding editor of the English Forward, the famously secular national Jewish newspaper, as well as his managing editor there, Ira Stoll. Isn’t the Forward wonderful?

    But I still like the Post as well. A little shmutz never hurt anyone. And it has all the local scandal news a fellow needs in the early am. And guess where their editorial page editors came from? The Forward as well.

  17. While we’re on the subject, Hugh Hewitt said in his blog today:

    “The final vote on the House resolution supporting Israel was, unlike its counterpart in the Senate, not unanimous. Eight voted against the resolution and four voted “present. All but one, the libertarian leaning Ron Paul, were Democrats, and not just backbenchers. Conyers, Dingell, Rahall, Stark and Abercrombie are ranking members –and presumptive chairs if Democrats regain a majority in November– of Judiciary, Energy and Commerce, Resources, the Health Subcommittee of Ways and Means, and the Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee of Armed Services, respectively.

    If Democrats win in November, all these gavels fall into hands of Members who voted against Israel even as she was under a massive and continuing barrage of terrorist rocket attacks.”

  18. Bob-thanks for your comment. Joe Lieberman is certainly a candidate who needs our help against a far left mounted candidate who is anti war and noticeably quiet about Israel. Cynthia McKinney is a Congressman who is radically anti war and anti Israel.There is a Presidential election next year. I do believe that on a national level, that John McCain is a real friend of Israel, as opposed to any possible Democrat who is part of a party that views Michael Moore and Al Sharpton as part of the party that gave us FDR, Truman, KFK, LJB, HHH and Scoop Jackson.

    All possible means of weakening the NY Times, CNN,NPR, ABC and PBS have to be considered in view of their long standing anti Israel coverage. The WS Journal and the NY Sun provide far bettter coverage without the shmutz of a popular NY tabloid.

  19. Steve is on target. In the US, as opposed to many other countries, there is still a large body of opinion supporting Israel. So why not work to strengthen this body of opinion and weaken the grip of the New York Times, CNN, and others like them on the public’s mind?

    Also—When it’s time to vote in the fall, make sure to turn out to reward our friends and punish our enemies. In the meantime, take careful note of the candidates’ voting records, associations, and financial supporters. Not everyone who wants our vote deserves it.

  20. Ora-I disagree with your assessment of why the US backs Israel. If your logic was correct, President Truman would have opposed the founding of the State of Israel and President Nixon would not have shipped ammunition to Israel during the Yom Kippur War. I agree that some of the polls, etc seem insipid, but they are reported on American and world media. Moreover, responses to favorable and unfavorable media does make a difference, especially when the media goes out of its way to interview the Israel bashers in the Jewish and academic worlds both here and in Israel.

  21. Ora commented (#18 above),
    “it isn’t warm and fuzzy pro-Israel feelings that lead countries (America included) to support Israel–it’s politics, at its usual self-serving, back-stabbing best”

    Whatever support Israel has or doesn’t have from other nations is in the hands of HaShem. Jews as a group need to be as worthy as possible to receive His help through all possible channels.

    Mitzvah performance, including the mitzvah to provide practical help to Jews in Israel, is essential to create additional merit for the entire Jewish people. That merit works in our favor wherever Jews live right now, and has effects wherever Jews live right now. With enough of this merit, we won’t have to consider issues of galut vs. Eretz Yisrael, because we’ll all find ourselves in Eretz Yisrael.

  22. In response mostly to post #14:
    I feel that a false distinction is being made between hishtadlut and mitzvot. A lot of people are either saying “do something practical” or “improve in Torah.” Why are these being seen as two seperate options? Visiting Israel is showing achdut, strengthening your ties to Eretz Israel, and of course, even just walking in the land is said to be a source of merit. Giving to a charity that supports Israel is tzedaka, a mitzvah known to avert evil decrees. Coming to live in Israel is a huge spiritual step up, and joining the army to defend Jewish lives is a huge mitzva. The choice isn’t whether to do mitzvot or physical action, the choice is which mitzvot to do: a random mitzva that we’d like to work on, or one that’s specifically connected to Eretz Israel?

    I do agree that the constant lobbying and letter-writing accomplish very little. I’m sick of getting emails asking me to vote for Israel in this or that online poll, or write to some newspaper–what’s the point? We need to improve our actual situation, and not think so much about world opinion. Speaking from experience, it isn’t warm and fuzzy pro-Israel feelings that lead countries (America included) to support Israel–it’s politics, at its usual self-serving, back-stabbing best.

    Final thought: Yes, the Torah does say that we have to earn Eretz Israel. But it seems to me to be saying that when Hashem lets us live in our homeland, we need to behave properly if we want to stay. That is, our behavior IN THE LAND determines whether or not we can keep the land. Like anything else in life, if we misuse it, it will be taken from us. I don’t know how he’s extrapolating from that to say that the mitzvot that we do in galut also affect our right to Eretz Israel. They affect the overall spiritual state of the Jewish people, and I’m not trying to downplay the importance of that, but if Jews in galut are righteous while those in Israel are not, will that really help us to hold onto the land? If anyone has some sources on that, I’d very much like to see them.

  23. Say outloud the Igeret HaRamban once per day, between now and at least Tisha B’Ov. It is both a tefillah and mussar at the same time. I just read “Holy Woman” by Sara Rigler, and both Rabbi and Rebbezin Kramer would say Igeret HaRamban often when davening for a yeshua for someone.

  24. Michal-Yes-I do believe that President Bush and a majority of the duly elected Congress of the United States and the American people, as opposed to the media, care about EY. AFAIk, one of the fundamental midos of Torah Judiasm is expressing hakaras hatov. If that is the case , we must express hakaras hatov, as opposed to kafias hatov to our friends.

  25. Message to Steve, Ha-shem runs the world, not George Bush & Co., not the foolish politicians, nor the false media. Do you sincerely believe that they care about EY?

    I will repeat again, Torah, Tzedaka, and Tefilla. Also, we have to reach out to our fellow Jews frum and non-frum to encourage them to do more mitzvos.

    Ha-shem is sending us a strong message to all of us. To learn more Torah, to give tzedaka, to say Tehillim, and to love every Jew.

  26. Michael Winner wrote the following on his website frum.org. (Warning, he has a sarcastic sense of humor, don’t take everything he writes at face value)
    ————————-

    Eretz Yisroel 2006: The War: Part I of I (G-d willing)

    Reporting live from my new living room, overlooking the West Bank:

    Everything here on the “Eastern Front” is quite so far, thank G-d. Unfortunately, up north and down south are another story. Hundreds of Katushas, Quassams, and even more powerful missiles have poured into Israel so far. Of course, the international community is sitting back, contemplating placing a “Peacekeeping” Force in Lebannon, and we all know that means Hizbollah will continue to rearm and attack again, just like the last time the international community stepped in.

    The Midrash relates that when the Jewish army went to war, half of the army went and fought the physical battle, while the other half stayed back and learned on their behalf. Thank G-d, we have brave soldiers currently risking their life fighting the physical war. However, without spiritual backing, they can, G-d forbid, be overrun quite easily.

    So, while the physical war is being fought out by the IDF, the spiritual war, which is equally important, needs to be fought by everybody else. So, if you have an urge to “show solidarity with Israel”, you have a few choices:

    1. Visit Israel
    2. Give money to an organization, that will supposedly give money to Israel
    3. Write an email and spam the world on the importance of standing by Israel
    4. Go to a pro-Israel rally in your city

    If you have an urge to show solidarity with Israel, actually make a difference, and save lives, you have one choice:

    1. Improve your relationship with Hashem

    That’s it! By taking upon yourself ONE mitzvah that you know you need to strengthen or begin, you will actually MAKE A DIFFERENCE, in this war. The Torah is very clear on this issue (see previous dvrei torah on keeping Israel), that if we want to keep Eretz Yisroel, we have to earn it.

    NOBODY can escape this ‘draft’, and we are all obligated to help fight in this war. Visiting Israel, is something I always encourage, but won’t help us a bit. Giving money to certain popular “Jewish” organizations will go nowhere. Writing emails only annoys me, and going to pro-Israel rallies… well, they are good to show solidarity with Israel, but they do nothing in terms of saving her.

    One little mitzvah can make a world of a difference. Pick your mitzvah that you wish to work on, and remember, it’s not only the IDF that can save lives, it could be us all.

  27. Jacob-I was by no means critizing Tzaakah or Zaakah which is crying out Tefillah Bes Tzarah. That is a very important component but there are other means of hands on hishtadlus as well.

  28. Mihal-what did your rav say about emailing the White House, members of Congress or responding to favorable or unfavorable news stories and columns? Did your rav suggest any special tzedakos in EY or means by which visitors to EY can help?

  29. My rabbi stated last Shabbos that surfing the web for updates on what is going on in Eretz Yiroel is useless. There are three things we must do to help Klal Yisroel and they are Torah, Tefillah, and Tzedaka.

  30. While it could be perceived as demeaning, to consider tefila as a wishlist, there are two ma’marei Chazal in the Gemara to consider before completely dismissing the idea of petitioning Hashem during Sh’ma Kolainu.

    This is from Rav Yissocher Frand’s T’shuva drasha given right after 9-11.

    1. The mother of the Kohen Gadol would send care packages to those trapped in Arei Miklat (Cities of Refuge/Sanctuary for those who killed someone unintentionally) becasue they have to remain there until the Kohen Gadol passes away and they would often daven for just that to happen. Apparently their heartfelt tefilos were so potentially expedient that the mother of the Kohen Gadol not wanting her son to die would literally bribe and assuage them to keep quiet. We’re talking about people who are being punished for manslaughter; she’s afraid that their tainted neshamas could somehow move Shomayim enough to cut the life short of the Kohen Gadol? Yes. Such is the expediency of tefila.

    2. The Kohen Gadol on Yom Kippur when performing the ultimate act that bridges Shomayim v’Aretz, entering the Kodshei Kodshim to utter Hashem’s ineffable name would utter two brief tefilos. The first is for plenty of rain and second….not to listen to “ovrei d’rachim” those on the roads stuck in the mud begging Hashem to stop the rain. Let’s put this into perspective. How could it run through anyone’s mind that some pushcart peddler who spends most of his time selling wares and whose hours engaged in Limud Torah is evidently limited could (kaviyachol) have Hashem’s Ear more than the most Kadosh man in the world?

    When his parnassa depends on decent weather to make his way back home and getting stuck in the mud and the rain inspires him to engage “Na’aka” – shouting in tefila straight from the soul, there’s obviously something richly sublime in the pristine cries of a tortured soul no matter how trivial it might appear to others.

    Then there’s of course the Rashi on Parshas Toldos where Yitzchok Avinu and Rivka Imainu are delayed in child bearing since once again (kaviyachol) Hashem desires the cries of the righteous.

    The list goes on.

    My personal chiddush is that tefila as a wishlist is reasonable if being granted the request will serve as a vehicle for greater and increased Avodas Hashem. While it may seem like “placing the cart before the horse” perhaps davening for Shalom Al Yisroel is important and necessary for us since we have to escape from our laxity and yes remind ourselves that the situation in Eretz Yisroel SHOULD be a problem for us in our Avodas Hashem (if were not bothered that’s also a problem) and we need it fixed l’Alter.

  31. There is no question that bitachon and hishtadlus go hand in hand. We should be working on both.

    At the same time, I think that efforts in hishtadlus often bear fruits in bitachon as well.

  32. Oy Vey.

    I am going to be careful at the most stressful time of my day, not to hurt anyone’s feelings.

  33. David Linn & Mark-I stated that Tefilah and Teshuvah are important, but neither are guarantees nor our only responses. As far as the Rambam in Hilcos Taanis, IMO, one should read that Rambam in conjunction with the Rambam in Hilcos Teshuvah that I mentioned previously. One can conclude without engaging in any lomdus that we need bitachon and hishtadlus.

  34. My understanding is that the Rambam states that it is a mitzvah deoraisa (torah based commandment) to cry out in prayer during times of crisis.

  35. Steve can’t possibly be saying that Tefilla and Teshuva is not appropriate at this point. Of course it’s not the only response, of course we also need hishtadlus.

  36. Steve, teshuva is a natural and appropriate response to suffering. Hishtadlut is another matter, and your suggestions are good. No one is trying to force Hashem’s hand (so to speak).

  37. It is wonderful to see such a wonderful response of increased mitvah observance ,etc, However, WADR, I have grave reservations based upon Chazal, Rishonim and Acharonim whether all, some or any of the above-described actions in and of themselves will be helpful.Again, this goes back to my comment on bitachon and hishtadlus. Here are some of my concerns:

    1) Chazal emphasize that Tzedaka is the only mitzvah by which we can so “test HaShem” as to our loyalty. In fact, it is an express negative proposition ( LoTisnashu Es HaShem) to do so via other mitzvos.

    2) At the risk of sounding anti PC, I think that there is a mistaken emphasis on Tefilah. Tefilah means to stand in self judgment before HaShem. We emphasize that HaShem “hears prayer” and hopefully acts upon our Tefilos, as opposed to praying as if our tefillos are accepted and generating a favorable “Reply” message as opposed to a “Delete.” IOW, Tefillah is not a shopping list for approaching HaShem but an opportunity to praise, request that our personal and individual needs be heard and praise HaShem.

    3) We observe mitzos because they are part of of the Torah-whether a Mitzvah Min HaTorah or a halacha developed by Chazal, Rishonim and Acharonim. The notion that scar mitzvah operates in Olam HaZeh is a an extraordinarily complex and controversial concept which IMO should and cannot be the primary basis of helping Klal Yisrael Bes Tzarah.Of course, acts of increased mitzvah observance are important, but IMO, they are just one important part of a larger picture ( see below)

    4) Back to Tefilah and its efficacy- Of course, one should try to daven with kavanah and with a minyan. Yet, we know that Tefillah is viewed as having a better chance of being acted upon during Elul, Yamim Noraim and communal fast days.

    5) I note that very few of the listed items had anything to do with EY, the IDF or the citizens of Israel. The Rambam points out in Hilcos Teshuvah that a person who observes every jot of halacha but who fails to identify with Klal Yisrael in its times of trouble “ein lo chelek baolam habah ( Tehuvah 3:11). I think that a night of learning and Tehilim to support the IDF and the citizens of Israel would certainly show that we support Klal Yisrael in EY as much as possible, as opposed to thinking that an intensified observance of mitzvos is our main ( and IMO mistaken) point of emphasis. For those of this list members who reside in EY-Safed, Haifa, Nahariyah, Kiryat Shemonah and other cities and towns need your physical and emotional help. If you can’t hammer a nail or operate a bulldozer, visit a hospital or family that needs help.Show empathy to a family that has suffered a fatality.Give a soldier a ride or offer hospitality AFAIK, bikur cholim was a mitzvah of immense importance. IMO, all of these acts exemplify tzedaka-which means doing actions that are tzedek-the right thing, as opposed to chesed-actions that are lifnei mshuras hadin. For those of us in ChuL, WADR, I think that many of the suggestions that I posted previously are excellent examples of hishtadlus.

  38. WOW !

    I am honored and humbled to be a part of such a klal. My kids (4 & 6) and I have said a perek of tehillim together erev Shabbos the last few weeks in the z’chus that H’ should improve the situation and no more Jews should be harmed.

  39. Yashar Koach, Mark. Anything we can do in these troubled time can surely help. All three of your suggestions are great. At the end of my day I’m also going to start refecting on how I acted towards others and what Mitzvah opportunities I missed out on. Thanks again!!

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