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The Week In News

FEBRUARY 8, 2018 | The Jewish Home


FEBRUARY 8, 2018 | The Jewish Home

The Week In News

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The Week In News

CONTENTS JEWISH THOUGHT

Living with the Times . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 Torah Musings. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8 The Weekly Daf . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9 The “New” Insect Obsession. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10

FEATURE

Meet Miriam Ballin. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 A Presidential Commutation: Behind the Scenes with Gary Apfel, Esq. . . . . . . . . 20

LIFESTYLES

Book Review: Come Back for Me. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Sara Kupfer: Making More Jewesses Fit . . . . . . . . . 14 Emotional Health. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24

NEWS

Global. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 The Jewish Home is distributed bi-weekly to: ANAHEIM AGOURA HILLS BEVERLY HILLS BURBANK CALABASAS CAMARILLO COSTA MESA ENCINO GLENDALE HUNTINGON BEACH IRVINE LONG BEACH LOS ANGELES -BEVERLY HILLS

LOS ANGELESFAIRFAX LOS ANGELESLA BREA LOS ANGELESS. MONIA LOS ANGELES-PICO LOS ANGELES -WESTWOOD MALIBU MANHATTAN BEACH MARINA DEL REY MISSION VIEJO MOORPARK NEWBURY PARK

NORTH HOLLYWOOD PALM SPRINGS PACIFIC PALASADES PASADENA REDONDO BEACH SHERMAN OAKS SIMI VALLEY STUDIO CITY TEMECULA THOUSAND OAKS TORRANCE VALENCIA VAN NUYS WOODLAND HILLS

FEBRUARY 8, 2018 | The Jewish Home

Dear Readers, In this week’s Torah portion, we receive the mitzvos that are considered to be rational and easily comprehended by human intellect. Interestingly, these commandments present a unique challenge to the oved Hashem, a person who tries to serve the Creator. When the believer does a religious act such as keeping kosher, observing Shabbos, or sitting in a sukkah, there is an obvious spiritual dimension and divine connection. Following the laws of business, however, or making sure to be 100% honest – while the morally correct thing – may feel mundane and, at most, secondary to more obviously “spiritual” aspects of religious observance. This is not the case. In fact, it was for this reason itself Hashem didn’t command us to live moral lives and leave us to figure out “good” for ourselves – as the Gemara says, “If the Torah would not have been given, we would have learnt modesty from a cat.” If the Torah wasn’t given. Now that it was given, we don’t learn it from nature, but rather as a directive from Above. Once the Torah was given, we don’t lead ethical lives only because it feels right for

society. It’s much more than that. These are G-d given laws through which one connects to Him just as one does on Yom Kippur. We don’t repay a loan simply because it feels right. We do so because the Creator willed it in the Torah and put it in the very DNA of creation. This doesn’t mean that we abandon all attempts to rationally understand or relate to these mitzvos. On the contrary, an important aspect of mishpatim is to understand and relate to these laws as much as we can. In a sense, you can say the purpose of creation was precisely these mitzvos. It is through these commandments that we involve our human intellect and moral compass, schlepping them along in our service of the divine. May we strengthen our resolve to become more scrupulous in the mitzvos bein adam l’chaveiro, ushering in the time when we will all feel spirituality in the mundane, for it will reveal that Hashem echad. Wishing you a wonderful Shabbos,

Shalom

T H E P R E M I E R J E W I S H N E W S PA P E R H I G H L I G H T I N G L A’ S O R T H O D OX C O M M U N I T Y The Jewish Home is an independent bi-weekly newspaper. Opinions expressed by writers are not neces­sarily the opinions of the publisher or editor. The Jewish Home is not responsible for typographical errors, or for the kashrus of any product or business advertised within. The Jewish Home contains words of Torah. Please treat accordingly. FOR HOME DELIVERY, OR TO HAVE THE LATEST ISSUE EMAILED TO YOU FREE OF CHARGE, SEND A MESSAGE TO EDITOR@JEWISHHOMELA.COM


FEBRUARY 8, 2018 | The Jewish Home

The Week In News

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Living with the Times The Week In News

By Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz Publisher of the Yated Ne’eman

“Ve’eileh hamishpotim asher tosim lifneihem.” Rashi explains that just as the laws that appeared in Parshas Yisro were delivered to the Jewish people at Har Sinai, so were the laws relating to financial matters, included in this week’s parsha, also presented to the Jewish people at Har Sinai. Just as the laws that are spiritual in nature and pertain to the relationship between man and G-d are Divine, and just as the laws that defy human comprehension are Divine, those that can be considered common sense, such as the laws governing financial interactions, are also of Divine origin and were delivered to man at Sinai. The laws demanding scrupulous honesty were given by the Creator to form the fabric of our daily life. Reduced to its core, the philosophy behind why we must lead honest, upright lives is because Hashem commanded us to do so, not because a healthy society depends on honest interpersonal dealings. This conviction must guide our observance of the laws pertaining to financial integrity. If laws governing our behavior with our fellow man fluctuated according to an individual’s or society’s preferences, the entire moral and legal tapestry would unravel. As we have seen many times, unscrupulous leaders justify their lawless behavior with corrupt rationales, dragging down society along with their regimes. Dishonest people ensnare others in their traps and cause financial loss, ruin and pain. Good people become tainted as they begin using elements of subterfuge to advance ambitions and goals. People can rationalize any behavior and convince themselves and others that they are acting properly when they clearly are not. If the law is not Divine and immutable, it is open to manipulation. As the posuk warns in Parshas Shoftim, “Ki hashochad ye’aveir eini chachomim.” Bribery blinds. There is no greater temptation to cut cor-

FEBRUARY 8, 2018 | The Jewish Home

Keep Your Hands Off Halacha ners with the law than the allure of quick financial gain. Jealousy of another’s financial success is one of the most powerful - and destructive - motivators for dishonesty. Were it left to man to act ethically according to his own perceptions of what is proper, there would be plenty of room for him to inject his own corrupt assumptions into his dealings. When ethics and morality are viewed as holy as kashrus, kedushah and taharah, the urge to wheel and deal and to legitimize that behavior is somewhat curbed. Torah is not open to human interpre-

the people who formulated the laws. Laws reflect the period in which they are written. Systems of jurisprudence subject to human intervention are constantly evolving with the times and are manipulated by changing perspectives. Only the laws of the Torah are eternal, for they were fashioned by an omniscient, omnipotent Creator. The laws were created for the betterment of man and with all his needs in mind. They represent the blueprint for a utopian society, necessary for the functioning of a perfect social order and unaffected by whatever perspectives hold sway at any particular time.

An ehrliche Yid is repulsed by improper gains. They have no appeal to him.

tation or change. As the repository of the Creator’s wisdom, it is a closed book. It is timeless and unchanging. Stealing is stealing, in every age, in every corner of the world. Lying and engaging in subterfuge to gain an advantage, even over a dishonest person, is an aveirah and inexcusable, no matter how strong the rationale to engage in the activity is. Just as an ehrliche Yid understands that there is no way to kosherize an animal that has not been properly shechted, he knows that he may not benefit from money that was not earned honestly. An ehrliche Yid is repulsed by improper gains. They have no appeal to him. Man-made laws are subject to human limitations and to the spirits of the times of

Perhaps this is the reason why the parsha opens with the laws of eved ivri. At the time the Torah was given until modern times, a feudal system dominated most societies. People would enslave the weaker and less privileged among them, treating them brutally and inhumanely. Long before compassion and humanity became universal values, the Torah revolutionized the world with its mandates of charity, kindness and justice. The laws forcing slave-owners to treat their slaves better than themselves were not bound by the temperament of the times and were much more progressive than anything man could have conceived when they were delivered on Har Sinai. They remain so today.

One of the ways a Jew demonstrates his belief in the Divine source of the Torah’s laws of jurisprudence is by refusing to turn to secular courts for adjudication of legal issues. From the parsha’s opening pesukim, Chazal derive important guidelines for how Jews are supposed to resolve their disputes. One who uses secular courts instead of botei din commits a chillul Hashem, for through his actions, he demonstrates that he doesn’t believe that the Torah’s financial laws come from the Creator. By patronizing secular courts, he puts on display his belief in society’s ideas of what is fair -ideas dictated by human reasoning that are flawed, arbitrary and tragically limited. The posuk states (23:7), “Midvar sheker tirchok - Distance yourselves from falsehood.” The truth must be our benchmark. Fidelity to the truth is what defines us. We are not to compromise the truth in order to protect our positions or prop up our public image. We must do what is correct al pi Torah, without making cheshbonos. Each generation draws its strength from its forbears who were moser nefesh to transmit the Torah in its entirety to their descendants. While each generation faces its own individual trials and tribulations, the admonition of midvar sheker tirchok, along with every single law in the Torah, is eternally applicable. There is no justification for lying or dishonesty in any facet of our lives. If we want to be good Jews, we will make no distinction between any of the laws of the Torah in terms of the time, effort and diligence we expend in fulfilling them. The test of our emunah and bitachon is whether we follow the laws of Mishpotim and Choshen Mishpat with the same care that we demonstrate with respect to the other mitzvos handed down at Sinai. One of the questions a Jew is asked by the Bais Din Shel Maalah is whether his financial dealings were honest. Ehrlichkeit in finances is the defining trait of a yorei Shomayim. We all know stories about people who forsook fame and fortune because of a breath of impropriety that might have tainted some of the activities required of them. For people of this towering spiritual caliber, the sole authority and guide in any money-related endeavor is hilchos Choshen Mishpat. No other considerations enter the picture. Fear of failure, competition, and the vast amounts of money necessary to get


Living withIn theNews Times The Week

FEBRUARY 8, 2018 | The Jewish Home

by in our world lead people to abandon the laws of Sinai. It starts with small lies, with minor acts of deception, and it snowballs from there. Self-deception rules the day, as half-truths and white lies launch the downward spiral. Before long, the individual caught in this vicious cycle becomes an unscrupulous scoundrel. Yet, due to the power of rationalization, he still views himself as a pious person, worthy of honor and emulation. By contrast, a person who knows that Choshen Mishpat is equally a component of shemiras hamitzvos as Orach Chaim and Yoreh Deah is someiach bechelko, because he knows that whatever he owns is rightfully his, and he can therefore enjoy it. Envy and greed have no power over him, because his driving force is to give his Creator nachas by obeying the Torah’s mandates. He knows Hashem treasures him and values his sacrifices for truth. One who utilizes chicanery and thievery to advance himself and his interests is denying the rules the Creator built into the universe by which man can progress in life. He is denying that one who leads his life according to the halachos of the Torah will lead a blessed and successful life. By choosing to go down an unscrupulous path, he is broadcasting his denial that one who abides by the Torah will enjoy prosperity and blessing. Such a person portrays a major deficiency in his spiritual outlook. His actions carry a denial of the fundamental belief that Hashem guides the world and mankind, and allots to each and every individual his respective needs, as we say on Yom Kippur, “Kevakoras ro’eh edro, maavir tzono tachas shivto, kein ta’avir vesispor vesimneh vesifkod nefesh kol choy vesachtoch kitzvah lechol briosecha…” Honesty is not only the path to a guiltfree, successful and fulfilled life. It is a testament to our devotion to Torah and mitzvos and our emunah and bitachon. Being honest and forthright not only makes us better people and more capable of getting along with others socially and functioning in a civil society. It makes us better Jews. In a hesped on the Steipler Gaon, Rav Moshe Soloveitchik explained that Noach believed in Hashem’s word and didn’t doubt it. However, Noach made cheshbonos and reasoned that, ultimately, Hashem would have mercy on his creations and not bring the flood. Therefore, he didn’t enter the teivah when he was told to. For this reason, he is called a “kotton b’emunah,” because we are required to follow the word of Hashem and not make cheshbonos.

We are to follow halacha and the precepts of Chazal and the rabbinic leaders of each generation. If the halacha is

to engage in a certain action, then that is the way we should conduct ourselves. We should not engage in calculations and jus-

tifications for deviating from our mesorah, even with the rationale that such actions will help achieve a greater good.

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Torah 2017 inMusings Review The Week In News

FEBRUARY 8, 2018 | The Jewish Home

“Say What?” The Power of Speech, Part II Sarah Pachter

We’ve heard it all before. We know that gossiping is wrong, we resolve to refrain from it, and then we are right back where we started, talking about others when someone engages us. As mentioned in the previous article, we live in a culture where gossip is not only socially accepted, but socially expected. No one wants to appear awkward or seem “holier than thou” when engaged in a conversation. At best we are merely listening, and at worst, we are initiating. How can we stop lashon hara in its tracks, once and for all? Rabbi Zelig Pliskin suggests in his book, Marriage, a technique called “pattern interrupt” (page 310). When someone is engaging in lashon hara, rather than preaching, we can naturally and gracefully change the topic without embarrassing the other person. For example, if a person is on the phone, she can claim, “Wait, something just came up!” Such an exclamation is not a lie. Something did just come up: the lashon hara. If that won’t work, we can shout that we spy a bug nearby, or see if we have another call coming in. Alternately, on the phone or in person, we can pause the conversation in order to say a blessing over our food, which can act as a subliminal message to focus on Hashem. These are small topic changers that can help us avoid speaking badly about others while maintaining the dignity of the other person. It

is amazing what pattern interrupt can accomplish when done gracefully. If you have a close friend who is constantly gossiping, you can ask her to learn with you sometime, or tell her, “Hey, I’m working on lashon hara in the merit that person X will be healed from his ailment.” People will usually respect this as long as we discuss things gently and not in a judgmental way. There are many other techniques available to overcoming gossip as well, for example: starting small by giving ourselves one hour a day where we refrain from gossip. These petite increments can help tremendously, since they are manageable and prevent total failure. Placing reminders on key locations in our home, car, and office can also be great visual cues to staying on track. Although we often worry about how others will perceive us if we do not engage in general gossip, the truth is that deep down, others’ respect for us will rise if we refrain from such language. Healthy individuals don’t trust or like people that talk negatively about others. It makes us wonder if they talk about us behind our back. I had a friend that often told me personal stories where others had confided

in her to keep secret. She never omitted names, and I felt uncomfortable hearing such details. Eventually, I stopped sharing information with her because it made me wonder, What is she telling others about my life? The techniques mentioned above have always been available to us, and yet we still struggle in this area of gossip mongering and evil speech. However, there is one technique that trumps them all: Learning and being reminded about the effects of negative speech. We already know and agree with most ideas about improving one’s character. We know it’s bad to gossip about people, and we know it’s not good to hurt others with our words. We know. The challenge is, moving from knowledge to practicality. If we want real change to happen, we must re-learn about negative speech on a consistent basis. Learning about this mitzvah daily really helps. There are a plethora of books, shiurim, or daily emails one can utilize to be reminded just a few moments a day. Doing so keeps the lessons in the forefront of our minds, rather than in the back where before we know it, we’re gossiping again. The key to success is humility and the willingness to keep learning. We cannot expect to read an entire book on the subject matter and be cured of using negative speech for life. Rather, it is better to keep that book on our bedside, pulling it out for a few moments each night, over the course of a year or more. My husband and I started learning one law of shmirat halashon

together at Shabbos meals, and already I can attest that this continuous learning alone has prevented me from stooping to negative speech upon several occasions. The other absolute must – if we want to stop lashon hara in its tracks – is to replace the negative speech with something positive. When we do so, we leave the conversation feeling uplifted, which was the deeper reason you wanted to speak negatively to begin with – to feel better about yourself.   I am just as guilty as anyone of succumbing to the temptation of lashon hara, but I have used this negative-to-positive trick successfully and have actually pattern-interrupted myself! Just the other day, I picked up the phone to call my husband in order to vent a minor frustration. Although embarrassed to admit it, I was ready to gossip with him about someone I had encountered. But, before I did, I took a moment to thank him for something nice he had done for me. That comment took the conversation down a different, and positive path. I had already hung up the phone before I could begin gossiping. After ending the call, I truly understood the meaning of the pattern interrupt technique. Replacing a negative thought with a positive thought is a great way to stop lashon hara. This is all easier said than done. The slogan, “Say no to drugs,” was ostensibly one of the most ineffective anti-drug campaigns in history. Why? Because it’s not enough to tell kids to say no, without giving them an alternative to say yes to – sports, arts, or positive peer groups. We cannot merely say no to lashon hara, we must replace it with positive speech. Understanding the strength of our speech, learning about the laws and effects involved, and replacing negative speech with something positive can work wonders to change our attitudes and behaviors surrounding lashon hara.


The Week In News Torah

FEBRUARY 8, 2018 | The Jewish Home

The Weekly Daf How does a Jew scale the heights of spiritual perfection? Rabbi Shmuel Wise, Maggid Shiur of RealClearDaf.com We learned about this on 20b: R’ Pinchas ben Yair lays out a path that one must follow in order to achieve spiritual perfection. This path identifies specific spiritual attributes which only become possible to achieve once the preceding attributes have been mastered – a kind of spiritual ladder. In a mere seven lines of gemara, R’ Pinchas ben Yair gifted us with a roadmap for life that is both practical and inspiring. Mesillas Yesharim by R’ Moshe Chaim Luzzato, arguably the most important written work in the realm of mussar, is essentially an elucidation of R’ Pinchas’s teaching. We will briefly explore R’ Pinchas ben Yair’s spiritual roadmap, using Rashi and Mesillas Yesharim to help us interpret it. But as R’ Luzzato emphasizes in the beginning of his sefer, we can’t begin to build a life of spiritual growth until we are first crystal clear on the purpose of life, on the one ultimate goal that we must strive for everyday: to become connected with G-d, something that only can come to full fruition in the World to Come. It must first be clear to us that developing a true relationship with our Creator is the one thing that is worthwhile after all is said and done. Sure, this life is full of things that feel good. But choosing these temporal pleasures can be likened to a person who spoils his appetite on cheap oily food before a grand banquet. A large part of spiritual growth, then, comes down to mastering the art of delaying gratification. We often need only remind ourselves that things are going to be far more pleasurable in the World of Eternity. Once it is clear that there’s nothing more valuable than meriting a closeness with G-d in the World to Come (this, by the way, is a concept that is worthwhile to meditate on at least once a day), we can then begin the work of acquiring the necessary attributes that will enable us to lead lives that will earn our place in the Next World. First, we must study the Torah which leads to the acquisition of cautiousness, for learning the Torah leads to the recognition that keeping the mitzvos of the Torah requires great care and discretion. From cautiousness, we are inspired to alacrity, i.e. we realize that we mustn’t sit back and use discretion when needed, rather, we must be proactive to avoid risky situations to begin with. From alacrity, we can move on to cleanliness, which according to Mesillas Yesharim refers to a person who realigns his very desires to be consistent with the expectations of the Torah, thereby eliminating the selfish motives that often guide our actions in the wrong direction. Then one may ascend to abstinence which is achieved when a person abstains from even permitted indulgences in order to raise his spiritual level further. Following abstinence comes purity wherein the person purifies his very thoughts. Next comes piety, which is achieved when a person strives to go beyond the bare minimum of what the Torah requires. He takes the spirit of the mitzvos and runs with it much further. It is worth noting that our gemara considers piety to be the most supreme attribute of all. Next is humility in which the person comes to a true realization of his lowliness; in the end we are frail mortal beings that almost invariably fail to live up to our potential. One in possession of humility has a profound understanding of this, and this realization guides everything

he does. Then comes fear of sin. The person with this attribute refrains from sin not merely out of a fear of divine retribution, but out of a profound sense of awe of the One Who commanded him not to sin. At this point a person can reach sanctity. At this level, the person’s value system is so strong that he views everything he does – even mundane activities – as sanctified acts that bring him closer to his Creator.

If a person has mastered all of this, then he can merit some “dividends” of his lofty spiritual status in this world: First, he can merit ruach hakodesh, which means either that the Divine Presence will rest on him (Rashi), or that he will perceive hidden knowledge through divine inspiration (Mesillas Yesharim). In addition, the person who has climbed this spiritual ladder can acquire the ability the revive the dead, a feat accomplished by many sages of the Ge-

mara. Apparently, this last power is no longer accessible in our day. Of course, ascending R’ Pinchas ben Yair’s ladder takes a lifetime of work. But if we aspire and take practical steps each day to get there, it indeed is in our power to make the ascent; to bring ourselves closer every day to arrive at the eternal pleasure of clinging to the Divine Presence.

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Kosher The WeekLiving In News

FEBRUARY 8, 2018 | The Jewish Home

The “New” Insect Obsession Rabbi Sholom Kesselman, OK Kosher West Coast

This new kashrus feature series is brought to you by the OK Kosher – West Coast Division. In it, we will explore relevant and interesting topics that are important to every kosher kitchen. We invite our readers to submit their kashrus-related questions to editor@jewishhomela.com and we will do our best to respond in an upcoming article. Question: What’s with this seemingly new fuss people are making over insects in our produce? Is it really an issue? If previous generations didn’t make such an issue out of it, why are we? What practically should be done to make common everyday produce kosher and insect-free? Answer: As this topic requires an extensive answer, more than what this article can offer, I will keep the points brief and focus on the most essential parts. The prohibition against eating insects is min haTorah (biblical). If one eats an entire insect, even if it is less than a kezayis, he is punished with malkus (lashes). This applies to any insect that is visible to the naked eye. Insects that can only be seen under a microscope are not included in this

prohibition. The need to check fruits, vegetables, fish, and even water for insects is actually nothing new. The Gemara raises the issue in Maseches Chulin (67b) and the Shulchan Aruch devotes an entire siman (chapter) in Yoreh Dea’h (Si. 84) to it. The Pri Chadash there actually writes: “I cannot contain myself from mentioning and making it known to the nation of Hashem regarding the severity of the prohibition of tola’im (insects). It has become light in the eyes of people and once a person becomes accustomed to a certain transgression it becomes ‘permissible’ in their eyes. Even the chachamim are not careful enough in this matter.” Halachah requires us to check all fruits and vegetables where it would be normal to find insects. This is not only when a majority of a given item is known to contain insects, but even when a decent minority (mi’ut ha’motzui) are known to have them. The basic rule of thumb is: If you wouldn’t be surprised to find an insect in it, it requires checking. There are different opinions as to what exactly the percentage is on

this. The OK Kosher has adopted the opinion that if 10% of any given item contains insects, this would be a mi’ut ha’motzui and would require checking. There are a number of factors which contribute to insect infestation. The two biggest are climate and use of pesticides. For this reason, not all produce is alike. Levels of infestation may vary country by country or even state by state, depending on the climate and amounts of pesticides used. It is for this reason that we are seeing a recent renewed emphasis on this matter. The use of pesticides is on the decline due to new awareness of health concerns resulting from them. Where more and stronger chemicals were used, now weaker and less are being used and for this reason we are seeing a bigger increase in the amount of insect infestation. This may account for a big part of the reason why perhaps our parents’ and grandparents’ generations didn’t treat this issue as seriously as we do today because then it was in fact less of an issue. A common misconception is that insects are not an issue because even if there are a few inside the produce they would be bottul b’shishim (nullified by a ratio of 1:60). This is not true, as bittul does not apply to an entire creature (a berya’h). If, however, one is making a smoothie or pureeing the fruits and vegetables in such a way that any insects would certainly be pulverized, there would be no need to check for insects since after being crushed they would be bottul b’shishim. A standard rinse would be sufficient. Bagged fresh salads (without a reliable hechsher) are also problematic even when the bag states “washed and ready for use.” Many consumers assume that the vegetables are washed satisfactorily and are free of insects, based on the quality control standards of the company. However, experience has proven that these often contain insects, as well. The standard of washing which the company requires is not the same as what halachah demands. What is considered “clean” for them is halachically insufficient. For this reason, bagged lettuce, etc. still requires checking for insects. So where does this leave us? What things need to be checked and how? Firstly, I would suggest downloading the OK Kosher vegetable checking guide; it can be found at the following we address: http://www.ok.org/consumers/your-kosher-kitchen/ok-vegetable-food-checking-guide/ or you can download the OK vegetable checking app from the app store. There you will find a detailed list of what needs checking and how. In short, here are some examples of everyday fruits and vegetables that require halachic checking for insects: artichokes,

asparagus, basil, mint, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, dill, kale, lettuce, parsley, cilantro, scallions, spinach, and strawberries. The wash and check system that the OK Kosher has adopted (after consulting with the top rabbinic authorities on this subject), that can be used for almost all fruits and vegetables, is called the “The Mesh Cloth System.” This will allow you to check greater quantities of produce and in a more time efficient manner. This is the system used in OK Kosher certified facilities and it is one they recommend for home use, as well. Here’s how it works: First, soak the vegetables in a basin filled with room temperature water mixed with liquid soap for 5-15 minutes depending on the produce (broccoli and cauliflower must be soaked in hot tap water because hot water opens the florets), and rub and clean both sides of each leaf with your fingers. Then, remove the vegetables, drain the basin, and refill with a fresh mixture of water without soap and soak the vegetables for an additional 3-10 minutes depending on the produce. Rub the surfaces of every vegetable with your fingers. The second batch of water should then be poured through a closely-knit white mesh cloth that is dense enough for the water to flow through while the insects remain on the cloth’s surface. Finally, check the cloth against a light bulb or light box and inspect for insects. If you find insects, repeat the entire process until no insects are found on the cloth. If after the third wash, insects are found the produce should not be used. This system has been proven highly effective. The following items are known to be extremely difficult to clean and for this reason are not used in any OK Kosher certified facility: blackberries, raspberries, mulberries, artichoke leaves, asparagus heads, brussels sprouts (unless, of course, they have been pureed). In conclusion, as with all matters of halachah, one should always consult their rav regarding what they should do. The purpose of this article is to bring awareness and provide information relating to this topic. In the merit of our added care and attention to matters of kashrus, may we be zocheh to the geulah shleimah now. OK Kosher is an international kashrus agency based in New York and under the leadership of Rabbi Don Yoel Levy. Recently they concluded a successful merger with the local Kehila Kosher (of Rabbi Avrohom Teichman) and now have a strong and established presence in the Los Angeles community. The local office is headed by Rabbis Klein and Kesselman and they can be reached at (323) 935-8383.


FEBRUARY 8, 2018 | The Jewish Home

The Week In News

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The Week In News

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Book Review

FEBRUARY 8, 2018 | The Jewish Home

Book Review: Come Back for Me by Sharon Hart-Green (New Jewish Press 2017), pp. 296 Reviewed by Rebecca Klempner

Come Back for Me, by Canadian academician and writer Sharon Hart-Green, tells the story of two Jews who experience the unique events of the last century. Despite its focus on the past, the book contains much to attract and engage the hearts and minds of 21th century readers. The novel’s first protagonist, Suzy Kohn, is a teenager coping with the aftermath of Uncle Charles’s sudden death. This plays out against the backdrop of social upheaval in the 1960s. We follow Suzy as she navigates romantic relationships, struggles to offer chessed to Charles’s widow, Bella, and considers her place in a world that offers both threat and promise. Hart-Green’s other main character is Holocaust survivor Artur Mandelkorn. Artur makes it out of Europe with his life, but with the fate of his sister and brother unknown, he struggles to start over in Israel. These two characters are troubled, yet we can see ourselves and those we love in them, and we want to know what happens next. As each chapter passes, we piece together how Suzy and Artur are connected and eagerly await the moment when the two narratives will converge. Unfortunately, when we finally reach Suzy and Artur’s meeting, there’s a lack of drama. Additionally, Artur’s perspective disappears in the final chapters. This disappointed me, as I wanted to know his reaction to the news he finally receives of his brother and more closely observe his courtship of his second wife, too. Nonetheless, Come Back for Me touched me deeply. While many stories of the Shoah focus on loss, this book contextualizes loss and makes meaning of it. Human tragedy remains tragic, yet HartGreen depicts beautifully how many survivors discover joy within ruin itself and rebuild their lives. I also particularly enjoyed Hart-Green’s depictions of romantic relationships in the novel. For example, Artur reflects upon his marriage: “I recognized a harsh fact about myself—that I had a selfish desire for Fanny to be someone who would make everything fine for me.” After this insight,

Artur exerts himself to better meet Fanny’s needs. The promotion of marriage – not merely as an end, but as an opportunity to transforms oneself into a giving person – is rare in most contemporary novels. Suzy’s response to an overly assertive boyfriend is similarly clear-headed and big-hearted. She rejects his advances not out of shame, but out of loyalty to herself and to her values. With constant reminders in the news and in literature about what can go wrong between men and women, it’s refreshing to see these depictions of what can go right. While not a frum book, per se – the characters are not, generally speaking, halachically observant, and readers should note that the novel contains a few brief references to romantic entanglements (which are essential to the plot) – the book lacks the mutiny against Torah values so often present in mainstream Jewish fiction. Jewish tradition is an anchor for many of the characters, and Jews of different varieties interact without serious conflict. I’m expecting that Come Back for Me will be appreciated by many readers, Jewish and non-Jewish, secular and observant.


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Sara Kupfer has been very busy since she moved to L.A. three years ago. First becoming a fitness coach, she now advocates for exercise and Health at Every Size (HAES). In addition to blogging on her site, FitJewess.com, she co-presented an ELI Talk, and hopes to soon create a women-only exercise video. Kupfer was born and raised in Toronto, Canada. Exercise was not originally one of her loves. “I’m an entrepreneur at heart and have always known I would run my own business rather than work a 9-to-5 job. The fitness aspect of it, though – that was certainly not in the plans. I was the kid who ran from the ball during recess and was always picked last for a team during PE. You couldn’t pay me to go to the gym... At least, no one ever tried, but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have taken anyone up had they offered.” That changed after Kupfer had been following Nerd Fitness for nearly two years. “[W]hen I moved from Toronto to Palo Alto, California, at the age of 21, I figured it would be a good time to incorporate fitness into my routine. I read an article about CrossFit and the weightlifting aspect of it intrigued me, so I went for a trial intro class. As I was huffing and puffing through my first workout, I knew that I was hooked.” The more Kupfer pushed the boundaries of her physical capabilities, the more she grew excited about the improved energy and health she experienced. But when she tried discussing it with friends, she realized that most other women in the Orthodox community didn’t prioritize exercise. Connecting frum girls and women with healthful movement became her mission. Recently, Kupfer decided to take that message to video. “I had been planning to first focus on putting some short videos to my Fit Jewess YouTube channel (coming February) before taking on a big project like this. But somewhere mid-summer, a frum dietitian from Lakewood reached out to me and asked if I’d consider producing something…” The dietician voiced concerns about the quality of workout videos. “[C]urrently, there is nothing [for the Orthodox community] on the market that offers women a good, healthy workout without the talk of burning calories, feeling the

fat melt away, and losing weight.” Kupfer agreed with the woman’s assessment, and she’s currently running a Jewcer campaign for the Fit Jewess DVD. The video will combine exercise routines with a message of body acceptance. “As a community we put so much emphasis on the pursuit of thinness that we put the slim figure on a pedestal and spend far too much energy trying to achieve a smaller body size. Exercise often gets lumped into that mindset as a weight loss tool, but it isn’t, and it shouldn’t be. “Working out is a way for us to become ever healthier individuals. Physical and emotional benefits of exercise include increased bone density and muscle mass – both of which lower the risk of injury – greater strength, and [ease in] everyday movements like sitting on a chair, picking up a child and bringing grocery bags up a flight of stairs, [in addition to] higher energy level, mood boost, and stress relief.” While some posit that observant Jews have unique challenges in regard to exercise, Kupfer isn’t so sure. “The reasons we don’t work out as much as we should are really the same as [secular people]...it basically boils down to these two excuses – money and time.” A few months ago, she also created a humorous and eye-opening ELI Talk with Tzivie Pill entitled, “The Eleventh Commandment: Thou Must Diet.” In it, Kupfer and Pill subvert the idea that a nice, frum girl can only find her perfect match if she is thin. “Thank G-d, the reception…has been overwhelmingly positive,” Kupfer says. “We’ve gotten feedback from women all across the spectrum of Judaism, from teens to grandmas, who have told us how much the struggles we expressed resonated with them and how happy they are that we’ve opened this up for discussion.” Long term, Kupfer has additional, ambitious goals. She wants to become a leading resource for healthy, weight-neutral fitness for women. Optimally, she’d like to see Fit Jewess studios located across the U.S., as well as an online platform offering streaming workout videos and interactive community forums. For now, you can reach her through her website, FitJewess.com.


FEBRUARY 8, 2018 | The Jewish Home

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OCTOBER 29, 2015 Jewish Home Feature The Week In| The News

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FEBRUARY 8, 2018 | The Jewish Home

Meet Miriam

Ballin

Jerusalem’s First Female United Hatzalah Medic

By Malky Lowinger

O

n a recent autumn evening while the rest of those in Jerusalem were busy clearing the dinner dishes, Miriam Ballin and her husband Adam were enjoying a “date night” together. But as often happens to the Ballins, they were interrupted by a call on the Hatzalah radio. Both Miriam and Adam are volunteers for United Hatzalah, so they listened closely for the location of the emergency. “It was from the Shimon Hatzaddik area,” Miriam remembers. “And I looked at my husband and said, ‘That’s in the Arab sector.’” But United Hatzalah doesn’t discriminate when there’s an emergency, and so the Ballins drove right over. They found an Arab woman laying on the floor unconscious “and dozens of family members hovering around her.” Miriam ignored her audience and went straight to work, together with an Armenian volunteer and

a local Arab medic. In those tense moments, all politics were ignored, and the only thing that mattered was saving a life. “In the end, we brought her back,” Miriam recalls. The grateful husband gave Adam a huge hug in relief. “That hug,” she says, “is different than any hug you’ll ever experience. Because that night we changed his perception of Jews and Israelis and of what an Orthodox Jew represents. I like to think we made a real kiddush Hashem.”

Q

uite a story, but just another night out for Miriam Ballin – wife, mom, family therapist, public speaker, fundraiser, and United Hatzalah medic. Born in Houston, Texas, Miriam then moved to California. After marrying Adam, who is Australian, she lived in Sydney for six years while he attended medical school. Today the Ballins and their five young children have

made aliyah and are living in the Shaarei Chesed neighborhood of

“That night we changed his perception of Jews and Israelis and of what an Orthodox Jew represents.” Yerushalayim. Miriam is a ball of energy – driven, ambitious, and determined. She

has the distinction of being accepted as the very first female medic for United Hatzalah of Yerushalayim, an impressive achievement when you consider the potential opposition. But Miriam wouldn’t let any of that get in her way. Why did Miriam decide to become involved in Hatzalah? “When we were in Australia,” she says, “my husband became a member of Hatzalah in Sydney. I would see the look on his face when he came home from a call, how happy he was to be helping people in this way. And frankly, I was jealous!” But Hatzalah in Sydney was exclusively for men so Miriam served behind the scenes as a dispatcher instead. She helped save lives by mobilizing others to respond to calls. When the Ballins moved to Eretz Yisroel, says Miriam, “the first thing my husband did was join Hatzalah as a volunteer physician.” Miriam was then motivated to


Feature The Week In News 73

FEBRUARY 8, 2018 | The Jewish Home

Miriam and her husband, Dr. Adam, on

The Jewish Home | OCTOBER 29, 2015

Miriam being greeted in Houston after arriving after Hurricane Harvey

Miriam on the job

their “date night”

undergo the necessary training. A course for medics opened in her area, and Miriam was determined to join. “There were thirty men in the class,” as well about four or five other women who joined Miriam in taking the course. Once she was properly trained, Miriam was eager to become an active responder. “The organization really wanted to support female medics, and they knew that the matter had to be dealt with properly and with sensitivity. So it was a long process.” In the end, she was accepted, as were many other female members. But Miriam is careful to explain that she, and the others, only joined the organization after acquiring the blessings and encouragement of their personal rabbanim. “We went to the rav of our community and discussed it with him. And when it finally became official, the administration of United Hatzalah drank l’chayim together with the rabbanim.” Miriam argues that a woman responder can make a huge difference. “Imagine if an elderly lady falls in the shower. Her situation isn’t critical but she needs Hatzalah’s help. She would much more prefer that a woman respond to her call. It would save her a lot of embarrassment.” Once, Miriam was preparing a salad for the Shabbos seudah on Friday night when a call came in for help with delivering a baby in

her neighborhood. “I threw down my veggies,” she says, “and asked a neighbor to watch my children. When I arrived at the call, the baby literally fell into my arms. After cleaning up and waiting for an ambulance to arrive, I leaned over and gave the mother a huge hug and a kiss. That’s a level of care that only a woman can provide.” Today, says Miriam, there are over 200 female United Hatzalah members in Yerushalayim. The team of women is led by Eli Beer’s wife, Gitty, who is also a medic. (Eli is the president of United Hatzalah.) Many of them will only respond to calls specifically for females. But, says Miriam, “if there’s a CPR call in my building and I can get there in moments, I’m going to respond no matter who it is. And I’m going to be the first to start CPR. When someone thinks they’re dying, they don’t really care who saves them. And afterwards they thank me immensely.” She reiterates, “I never get any flack whatsoever.” How does Miriam juggle her responsibilities as a mother of young children with her Hatzalah activities? She explains that every Hatzalah radio has an “off” button which should be used when appropriate. “Two to six p.m.,” she tells me, “is Mommy time.” That’s when Miriam’s radio is off and she devotes her undivided attention to her children. And if a local call ever comes in on Shabbos, she says, “my hus-

band and I would never go together. If he goes, I stay home.” Like many other moms, Miriam works hard to maintain the delicate

“I threw down my veggies and asked a neighbor to watch my children. When I arrived at the call, the baby literally fell into my arms.” balance of “making our children feel like they are our priority while at the same time having them appreciate the work that we do.” Admit-

tedly, her kids are still quite young and probably cannot yet grasp the significance of her volunteer work. “I once told my daughter, ‘I’m going to help someone, and Savta will be staying with you.’ At first she was reluctant, but then she said, ‘OK, Ima. You can go.’ When I got home I explained to her that we were able to save a person’s life because she let me go. She understood then that she is part of something big.”

O

ne of Miriam’s pet projects is the cutting edge psycho-trauma unit that she has established. As a family therapist, she is sensitive to the underlying emotional issues during a crisis and she urged Eli Beer, president of United Hatzolah, to address this. She speaks from personal experience. “Two years ago,” she tells me, “I was running across the street on Rechov Azza and was hit by a motorbike. A medic came to treat me and then we waited for an ambulance. In the end, they sent me home. I was shaken up but otherwise fine.” Miriam says she returned to the scene of the accident to express her appreciation to “all those amazing people who helped me that day.” But she discovered something disturbing. “Those people were really traumatized by what they saw. They were having nightmares and flashbacks. And here I was alive and well. So imagine the emotional and psychological needs of people who

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OCTOBER 29, 2015 | The Jewish Home

Feature The Week In News

unfortunately have witnessed genuine tragedies.” Miriam approached Eli, saying, “We need to create a team of mental health professionals who can provide emotional support while the trauma is occurring. Our medics are wonderful and are trained to properly treat the patients but there was nobody at the scene who could support the feelings of those who are affected and nobody who could provide people with the resources to help them cope.” Eli was immediately on board. “Go for it!” he said. Today there are 250 mental health professionals who are members of United Hatzalah and available to respond to an emergency. In September, United Hatzalah sent a team of mental health professionals to Houston, Texas, to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey. Miriam was part of that mission. “We were in Port Arthur,” she says, “helping the evacuees deal with their feelings and providing emotional

FEBRUARY 8, 2018 | The Jewish Home

support. All together we must have helped about 2,000 people.” She speaks matter-of-factly about her experiences in Houston, about being stranded over Shabbos in a homeless shelter with her team of volunteers and some cans of Pringles. Wasn’t that a terrifying experience? If it was, she doesn’t say so. Instead she says, “There’s siyata dishmaya in everything we do. With Hashem’s help anything is possible.” She also believes that women have a special wisdom, “a ‘binah yeseirah’ that allows us to accomplish the seemingly impossible.” Her advice to others is: “If you have a personal goal to achieve or special kochos to develop, go for it! I see from my own personal experience that Hashem shows you the way and can make it work.” After overcoming so many obstacles, Miriam says that her greatest challenge was the language barrier in Israel, especially while training

The United Hatzalah headquarters in Israel

with Hatzalah. “I was forced to pick up Hebrew very quickly,” she says. “Google Translate was really helpful.” But of course, she wouldn’t want to live anywhere else in the world. “Here in Yerushalayim,” she says, “you are walking through history

every single day. My kids’ favorite activity is going to the Kotel, rather than going to Chuck-E Cheese. What could be better than that?” It seems that even though Miriam wears many hats, her favorite one is the one she wears when she’s a mom.


The Jewish Home | OCTOBER 29, 2015

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A Presidential Commutation: Behind the Scenes with Gary Apfel, Esq. Michael Rubinstein, Esq.

The Call It’s 12:30PM on the last day of Chanukah in the Downtown Los Angeles office of Attorney Gary Apfel. Gary’s phone rings, signaling an incoming call from a 202 area code. Is this the call? The one he’s been davening and working pro bono for, for more than four years? On the other end of the phone is an attorney from the Office of the White House Counsel. He informs Gary that President Donald J. Trump just commuted the 27year prison sentence of his client, Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin. Gary is instructed not to disclose this information to anyone, not even Sholom Mordechai’s family. In short order, the warden of the federal penitentiary in Otisville will be informed that Mr. Rubashkin is to be released, by order of the President, “with all deliberate speed.” Gary hangs up and opens a Tehillim. But instead of beseeching Hashem for mercy, this time Gary, or Chaim Yosef, says tefilos of thanksgiving. Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin, who served 8 of his 27 year sentence, is going home to his family. Gary Apfel spent decades representing large corporations. More recently, he oversaw a team of hundreds of attorneys assisting with the corporate restructuring of General Motors after its bankruptcy— the largest bankruptcy in American history. So how did this corporate lawyer come to take on and champion the cause of Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin? 27 Years Many people, Gary included, were stunned when the federal court in Iowa sentenced Sholom Mordechai to 27 years. As time passed, more and more legal observers and scholars began to express outrage about this unjust sentence. A driving-force behind this grassroots effort to bring attention to Sholom Mordechai’s plight was Rabbi Zvi Boyarsky, the West Coast head of Chabad’s Aleph Institute. Gary knew Rabbi Boyarsky and had had prior interactions with him for other community matters. Over the course of the Rubashkin case, Gary would come to work with Rabbi Boyarsky on a much deeper level. Gary knew from Rabbi Boyarsky, and his Shabbos interactions with Sholom Mordechai’s nephew Shalom (the editor

of this newspaper) that the Rubashkin legal team already had enormous talent. Gary saw first-hand how Rabbi Boyarsky was totally consumed with the Rubashkin case. Rabbi Boyarsky’s commitment made a huge impression on others, too. In due time, Gary’s own dedication and commitment to undoing the injustice perpetrated on Shalom Mordechai led him to join the team of lawyers already representing Shalom Mordechai in his subsequent appeals. 2255 Motion The first order of business was filing a “2255” motion in federal court in Iowa. This motion in essence attacked the criminal sentence on the grounds that the prosecution violated Sholom Mordechai’s constitutional rights by 1) withholding exculpatory evidence—which prosecutors are obligated to turn over to the defense; and 2) providing the court with perjured testimony. The motion was filed in September 2013. The next day, Gary traveled to Washington D.C. along with Shalom Mordechai’s daughter Roza Weiss to meet with members of Congress to raise awareness about Shalom Mordechai’s case. The team also met with high-ranking Department of Justice attorneys. The goal of these meetings was to raise awareness about the prosecutorial misconduct Shalom Mordechai suffered and gain support for team’s effort to correct this injustice. In August 2014, Gary and the team of attorneys met with the new U.S. Attorney in Iowa, Kevin Techau. Shalom Mordechai was prosecuted by Mr. Techau’s predecessor. After filing the 2255 motion, the team requested the meeting to bring to Mr. Techau’s attention how the prosecution team committed misconduct during the case. Also attending on behalf of Sholom Mordechai were Charles Renfrew, a former federal judge and Deputy Attorney General; Larry Thompson, a Bush-era Justice Department attorney and General Counsel for Pepsi; and Harvard Law Professor Philip Heymann. Other legal heavyweights, including former FBI Director Louis Freeh, a partner at Gary’s law firm, supported the Rubashkin legal team’s endeavors too. Gary later learned that many of his accomplished colleagues had agreed to join the Rubashkin case in response to Rabbi Boyarsky’s cold-calls imploring them for help. Larry

Thompson, who is not Jewish, told Gary that he learned a lot about faith from observing Rabbi Boyarsky—a true Kiddush Hashem. Sadly, the team’s efforts did not meet with success. The 2255 motion was denied, and subsequent appeals, including to the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, and the United States Supreme Court were denied too. It became apparent to Gary that Hashem did not want Sholom Mordechai’s salvation to come from the legal process. Perhaps it would from the political process. A great effort was made to obtain clemency form President Obama.Senator Orrin Hatch even requested a meeting with President Obama’s Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, to discuss Sholom Mordechai’s case. She refused to meet. Towards the end of President Obama’s term in office, a senator personally approached the President seeking a commutation, but it never happened. Then President Trump was elected. A New President Shortly before President Trump was inaugurated, Michael Mukasey, a former federal judge and Attorney General under President Bush, sent the President-elect a letter. In it, he asked Mr. Trump to consider commuting Rubashkin’s sentence upon assuming the Presidency. Gary and the team helped orchestrate this letter. They understood that their efforts could meet with more success with the new Administration. But Gary had personal experience informing his belief that they might achieve success with President Trump. In the early 1980s, when Gary was a young Wall-Street lawyer, another lawyer friend of his worked with Donald Trump on one of his early real estate deals. The deal required Gary’s friend to meet with Mr. Trump on a Sunday. It also meant that Gary’s friend would miss his son’s little league baseball game. The deal closed, but before it did, Trump was made aware of the sacrifice the young lawyer made by participating in the deal and missing his son’s baseball game. Trump sent the young boy a personal handwritten letter thanking him for letting his dad miss the game. The letter demonstrated to Gary that Donald Trump was and is a man of deep compassion. The real estate tycoon took the

At an event thanking former justice department attorney Larry Thanpson for putting in years of pro bono work in helping free Sholom

Former Attorney General Michael Makasey being recognized for his hard word in helping undo this injustice

Gary Apfel celebrating with his client in 770 Eastern Parkway

Gary with Zvi Boyarsky of the Aleph institute a strong behind the scenes force in securing Sholom's release


Feature The Week In News

FEBRUARY 8, 2018 | The Jewish Home

event. Judge Renfrew died one week before Shalom Mordechai’s sentence was commuted. The community owes a serious debt of hakaras hatov to Professor Alan Dershowitz; Judge Louis Freeh; Professor Phillip Heymann; Judge Michael Mukasey; Judge Charles Renfrew obm; and Professor Larry Thompson. These remarkable human beings championed Sholom Mordechai’s cause pro bono and

made it their own. And of course, most importantly people can and should send President Trump thanks for making the courageous decision to commute Shalom Mordechai’s sentence. Gary’s inspiration for working so hard on the Rubashkin case comes from his late-father, Willy (Zev) Apfel z’l. His family’s association with the Kopycyznitz Dynasty taught him the importance of

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Chesed. And Gary’s more than four years of pro bono legal work on the case could not have been accomplished without the hard work and dedication of Rabbi Boyarsky. Sholom Mordechai’s commutation was nothing short of a modern day miracle. Of course, the real thanks for this joyous outcome goes to Hashem.

L-R Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz Editor of the Yated Ne'eman championing Sholom's cause from the beginning, Sholom, Schwekey

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Mrs Rubashkin and her son embracing a few hours after his being released

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g r e e n va l l e y r e s o rt time to personally write a letter to a young boy telling him how proud he should be of his father for participating in the deal. Maybe, with Donald Trump as President, Rubashkin’s team would make progress on the case. The Professor In March 2017, President Trump invited Alan Dershowitz to the Oval Office to discuss Middle East policy issues. Alan Dershowitz is a lifelong Democrat. He is also a passionate advocate for Israel and intellectual honesty. At the end of the meeting, the President asked Professor Dershowitz if there was anything else to discuss. Professor Dershowitz brought up the matter of Rubashkin’s unjust prison sentence and asked the President to commute his sentence. Mr. Trump told Professor Dershowitz he would consider the matter. Commutation President Trump commuted Sholom Mordechai’s sentence on Zos Chanukah. Klal Yisrael observed a modern-day Chanukah miracle. Sadly, Charles Renfrew did not live to witness this momentous

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Emotional Health The Week In News

FEBRUARY 8, 2018 | The Jewish Home

Discovering Your True Self Rabbi Dov Heller, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Perhaps the most fundamental psychological task of a human being is to differentiate from his or her family and become a unique individual. In the scope of eternity, there will never be another you. To differentiate, we must do one thing: listen to our own voice. When we listen to the voices of others without listening to our own voice, we lose ourselves and become a cheap copy of others. We essentially waste our life’s purpose. Imitation is death; uniqueness is life. In our daily prayers, we say, “The G-d of Abraham, the G-d of Isaac, and the G-d of Jacob,” because each of the patriarchs found his own unique path to serving G-d. If Isaac had never listened to his own voice, he would have likely become an Abraham “wannabe.” Instead, he listened to his own voice and discovered his own unique path of service. Imagine how hard it would be to differentiate from a figure so imposing as Abraham! Yet Isaac chose a different path than his father and became a very different person than his father, a testimony to Isaac’s great emotional strength and sense of self. The world didn’t need another Abraham; it needed an Isaac! A contemporary example is Rabbi Noah

Weinberg, of blessed memory, founder of Aish HaTorah. Rabbi Weinberg would never have started Aish HaTorah if he had listened to the people around him. Many said Jewish outreach was impossible and a waste of time, while others pointed to the many other important unmet needs of the Jewish people. Instead, Rabbi Weinberg listened to his own voice which urgently called him to reach out to his brothers and sisters. In the end, he did get support from some Jewish leaders, and he made an enormous impact on the Jewish people. However, the definitive moment was when he chose to listen to his own voice, which could have easily been drowned out by the many dissenting voices around him. When we listen to our own voice, we take ownership of our lives. Ownership comes only through great struggle and the ability and courage to tolerate great anxiety. As Dr. Rollo May put it, “Courage is the capacity to embrace the anxiety that comes with each step one takes towards freedom, independence, and authentic selfhood.” The battle to be oneself is perhaps the greatest battle anyone faces, and there’s so much on the line. If we fail to listen to our own voice, we lose ourselves,

our independence, and our vitality. When we do, we gain ownership of our lives, vitality, and feel alive. (It is important to note that listening to one’s own voice does not mean impulsively acting on one’s voice. It is always prudent to solicit feedback from trusted friends and mentors before one chooses a course of action.) Social pressure is ruthless. There are voices all around us telling us who we should be, what’s right, and what’s the truth. The voices of peers shame us. But somewhere amidst these voices is our own. Somewhere there is my voice which knows what’s right for me. It takes courage to access our own voice and strength to march to our own drum. Dare I go against what others say? Dare I question those who know so much more than me? Dare I be different and think for myself? Can I take my stand and bear the onslaught of rejection and criticism? When we do finally find our voice and listen to it, we discover life itself and become truly free. When we give into social pressure and lose ownership, we become slaves to the Pharaoh of social pressure. Our horizons become narrowed, and we lose our unique, innate creative impulse.

The Power of Why How does one liberate oneself from all the enslaving voices that surround us and find one’s voice? The answer lies in one simple word: why. When we ask ourselves why we do what we do or believe what we believe, we are forced to confront our true motives for what we do and think. Why am I praying today? Why am I a doctor? Why am I religious? Why am I not religious? Why am I a mother? Is this what I want to do for me, or do I feel pressured to do or believe this? Am I making this decision based on what I truly want or what I perceive others want me to want? Am I living my life or someone else’s life? If we have the strength and courage to consistently ask ourselves, “Why?” we have a chance of discovering our own voice and what we truly want. This is not self-centeredness; it’s self-discovery. Dare to ask yourself, “Why?” and taste one of the most expansive pleasures we can experience – the pleasure of being our true self. Dov Heller is in private practice offering psychotherapy and personal mentoring for individuals and couples. He can be contacted at Dov@ClarityTalk.com. You may also visit his website at www.ClarityTalk.com


The Week In News

FEBRUARY 8, 2018 | The Jewish Home

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Lauded as a hero by Russia media, a Russian pilot whose plane was shot down

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Russian Pilot Shot Down over Syria

The Syrian government, backed by Russian air power, launched a major offensive in December against rebel groups in Idlib. Air strikes in the region intensified on Sunday, reportedly killing about 20 people, the day after Filipov’s plane was shot down. Nine people were also treated for breathing difficulties after a bomb believed to be filled with chlorine was dropped on the town of Saraqeb. The Sukhoi-25, a close-support ground-attack aircraft, was operating over the town of Maasran in Idlib. In a statement released on social media, the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham group claimed it had shot down the plane using a shoulder-launched surface-to-air missile. This is possibly the first time rebels have shot down a Russian fighter jet since Moscow began its Syria campaign in September 2015, although rebels did bring down a helicopter in 2016. About 45 Russian military personnel have been confirmed dead in Syria, along with an unknown number of contractors. Turkey launched an operation on January 20 called “Olive Branch” in northwest Syria aimed at removing Kurdish militiamen from Afrin to the north-west of the city of Aleppo. The Turkish army said seven Turkish soldiers were killed in action on Saturday, including five who died in an attack on a tank by the Kurdish YPG (People’s Protection Units) militia. It was heaviest Turkish death toll in one day since the operation began. Kurds in Syria also reacted furiously to a video showing the body of a female Kurdish fighter killed in battle.

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On Monday the government of Maldives President Yameen Abdul Gayoom declared a 15-day state of emergency. Just hours later, an opposition leader and two Supreme Court judges were arrested. Opposition leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who also served as president between 1978 to 2008 and is the half-brother of the president, was charged with bribery and attempting to overthrow the government. Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and judge Ali Hamid were arrested at the Supreme Court building. The emergency decree gives the government sweeping powers to make arrests, search and seize property and restricts freedom of assembly. The announcement and arrests came days after the Supreme Court ordered the government to release nine jailed opposition leaders. It also cleared former President Mohamed Nasheed of all charges against him, prompting his announcement that he will be returning back to Maldives. The ruling came as a surprise and angered the president, who lashed out at the court. Since then, opposition protests spilled onto the streets of the capital, Male. Soldiers in riot gear stopped lawmakers from meeting at the parliament building. Nasheed received this statement after hearing of the declared state of emergency: “President Yameen’s announcement today — which declares a State of Emergency, the banning of fundamental freedoms, and the suspension of the Supreme Court — is tantamount to a declaration of martial law in the Maldives. This declaration is unconstitutional and illegal. Nobody in the Maldives is required to, nor should, follow this unlawful order.” Nasheed was the Maldives first democratically elected leader. Since his trial in 2015, the country has not found peace. Nasheed was given asylum by the UK after the verdict. The Maldives is a tropical nation in the Indian Ocean made up of more than 1,000 coral island. It’s best known for its pristine beaches, blue lagoons, and breathtaking reefs.

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State of Emergency in Maldives

over Syria detonated his grenade to avoid being captured by jihadists who had shot his plane out of the sky. Reportedly, Roman Filipov’s reported last words were: “Here’s for the guys.” Filipov’s Sukhoi-25 ground-attack aircraft was shot down over rebel-held Idlib province. He survived the attack and ejected, but died in a ground fight. Former al-Qaeda affiliate Hayat Tahrir al-Sham said it had attacked the plane. TV Zvezda, which is controlled by Russia’s defense ministry, said the pilot was posthumously presented with the Hero of Russia medal, also known as the Gold Star. The UK-based monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights earlier said that fighters had captured the pilot and later killed him.

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The Week In News

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BABY BORN TO COUPLE AFTER YEARS THROUGH KOLLEL MERON

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Shimon Bar Yochai. The zchus of this tzaddik brought about our joyous yeshua! Yes, we had a baby! After many years

of waiting for children, we too signed up with Tehillim Kollel membership. We began at the local location in NY, but after 3 years of never-ending pain and tears we transferred our membership to the one who is renowned for bringing about Zera Shel Kayama, at the Tzion of R’ Shimon Bar Yochai, with the Kollel Meron davening for our family. Within a year, we had our child! This may sound like a typical story to you, but in our small world, in our lonely home, there is nothing typical or monotonous about bringing a new, special life into this world. Our home is filled with tears of joy and laughter, and we are sure that all those years of special Tefillos by special men brought our Yeshua closer each day.

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FEBRUARY 8, 2018 | The Jewish Home

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