Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Sunday, October 14, 2007
The man looked at me with a straight face and said, "You know the entire Holocaust as we know it never happened". Many things went throuh my mind in a fleeting moment of shocked silence. My first thought was that I would be justified in throwing a good right hook right to his face, right now. Luckily it was just a thought. Then I wondered, of course this man has no way of knowing that my Grandfather (he should rest in peace)who was alive at the time somewhere in the early 80's, was a proud survivor of the Holocaust , and he managed to keep himself and his family, out of the concentration camps, and alive!
My Grandfather (he should rest in peace) shared his stories frequently, but these days I wonder what sort of secrets he might have carried with him to his grave.
Today my thoughts are much different but right then, it was only shock. Today I see people every now and then try to surpress the truth about this tragic event, but why?
Sometimes I hear this incredible tales at shul, of great man, tzadikim, who kept certain precious mitzvahs, even though they most assuredly faced their own death. For every story be it a man who's name we know, one can not help but wondering how many others, also had to give up their lives for the simple reason that they were jewish.
Every jew, be they frum or not frum, has an important personal responsibility to see that this dark period in our history must always be remembered and never forgotten
Then there were others, who miraculously managed to stay of the concentration camps, and survive.
I met one such survivor about a week ago, who affiliated himself with the Hidden Children Foundation. When he started to briefly tell me his story, as he was being appologetic about not being frum, he found a way to try to lessen his experince. In some manner I told him that he did not have to appologize for not ending up in a concentration camp, that my mom had survived in hiding, in Poland.
He started to tell me that he survived in Russia. I told him that his experience must "not have been a cake-walk" and that "you must have been hungry and cold. Then he began to share some details, all of which of course were uniquely his own. We were there on a Bikur Cholem call, so I was not truly trying to bring him into a depressive state. I did get a smile out of him with my "cake walk" comment. I also understand that the man has written a book.
Maybe years ago, as a young adult on a college campus I was shocked into silence, however I feel that this man was working on sharing his important story, and I know I did my part in getting him to share at least a small piece of his story with me.
Aharon Moshe October 14, 2007
Friday, October 12, 2007
Thursday, October 11, 2007
In our regular Nesivor Shalom class our Teacher (also our host who provided some nice home cooked kosher to nosh on) was giving over a section regarding the upcoming Parsha-Noach.
Suffice it to say by way of introduction that our Holy Torah gives an account of the creation of the heavens and the earth. Many details are given, many things (including living things) come to exist before Adam Rishon (the first man on the earth).
The entrance point of this particular maymar (I usually just ry to pronounce the words correctly-spelling to be checked later) is from the perspective of the three major pillars that support the earth which are:
Torah, Avodah (service to G-d) and Chesed (acts of kindness), Gemara is cited for the source of the pillars which the earth rests upon, although not a specific book or page (I believe Chagigah page 11, 12 or 13).
Additionally the maymer explains that darkness preceeds the light (with all its metaphoric interpretations). The well documented example is: Vayihi Erev (darkness) Vayihi Voker (day) Yom Echod! (Day One!)
Additionally that maymer stated that the Klippot (another kabbalsitic concept-a shell-a negative thing) precceds the fruit-(goodness) of the Eytz. In other words the concept of the darkness (negativity/evil/absence of light/) preceeds the light. The pop culture melody would be: They say, they say..... the darkest hour....., ..is always...always.., always..before the dawn. (Crosby,Stills,Nash, and Young)- By the time we got to Woodstock?
The Maymer did not go into an extended discussion of Tohu and Bohu Bereishsis 1:2), nor did it comment on Yihi Or (let there be light) Bereishis 1:3), for these ideas were germane to the topic at hand.
A source from the Holy Zohar was used to explain how there is a connection to the Sphierot of Chesed to Avraham, Yakov to Tiferet, and
Yitzchak to Gevurah. The word Tikkune was also read which our host translated as "fixing" and also the concept of Tikkune Olam (the fixing or correction of the World) was brought out, I believe from our Holy Zohar ( A primay Kabbalistic source).
Readers Digest type synopsis:
The sin of Kayin (Cain) killing his brother Abel, had its foundation in Envy. Kayin was jealous that his brother's offering was accepted and not his. The sin which was crouching at Kayins door was that of envy. It was brought out that envy can even rot the bones. Suffice it to say that envy is a very serious negative quality, which is capable of taking a person out of this world!
Monday, October 8, 2007
Life for the Creatures of the Sea is difficult as well. We should not forget that humans have no natural predators. What follows is a brief excerpt from a bilogical paper on a particular species of Whales which fall into the Toothed Whale category.
The rate of predation on narwhals by killer whales and polar bears is unknown but may be significant. When killer whales are present narwhals hide in broken pack ice or shallow nearshore waters (Freuchen and Salomonsen 1958; Steltner et al. 1984; Campbell et al. 1988; Reeves and Mitchell 1988; Gonzalez 2001). They breathe quietly to avoid detection and stop vocalizing instantly when killer whales approach (Ford 1987). Their fear is such that they will ignore humans.
Killer whales appear to prefer non-tusked narwhals (Gonzalez 2001). Hunters in the Repulse Bay area see killer whales more frequently now than in the past and have expressed concern about killer whale predation on narwhals (Gonzalez 2001). The frequency of seasonal visits by killer whales to Hudson Bay, and their effect on the narwhals is unknown (Reeves and Mitchell 1988; DFO 1998a; Stewart et al. 1991). Killer whales may have driven narwhals close to Cape Dorset in the 1960s (Higgins 1968), south to Arviat in 1988 (W. Angalik, pers. comm. in Stewart et al. 1991), and into shallow water in the Repulse Bay area in 1999 (Gonzalez 2001). The latter resulted in an unusually large harvest of narwhals by Repulse Bay ...
The narwhal’s ability to dive deeply and hold their breaths for long periods enables them to move long distances under water to avoid hunters and to locate areas where they can surface to breathe. In the deep waters of Baffin Bay, narwhals dive to at least 1500 m and daily make dives to depths of over 500 m (Heide-Jørgensen and Dietz 1995; Heide-Jørgensen et al. 2002). They can remain under water for at least 26.2 minutes when foraging (Laidre et al. 2002) and up to 30 minutes when pursued by Inuit (Gonzalez 2001). Their diving ability makes it difficult to obtain accurate population estimates. Variations in narwhal diving behaviour related to season, location, and sex of the animal complicate the correction of population survey data for animals that were submerged deeply enough to be invisible to the survey...
residents of 13 communities hunt animals from the Baffin Bay population, while the Hudson Bay narwhals are hunted mainly by residents of Repulse Bay and sometimes by residents of 6 other communities (Table 1). Narwhal are also hunted by the Kugaaruk community following the community-based management system, while Taloyoak and Gjoa Haven have a yearly limit of 10 narwhals each. Most narwhals are harvested in July and August (Donaldson 1988; Gamble 1988; Guin and Stewart 1988; J. Pattimore, pers. comm. 1986). The hunts begin earlier in the year in Pangnirtung (April), Pond Inlet and Arctic Bay (May) and end later in the year in Clyde River and Qikiqtardjuak (October).
The actual number of narwhals killed during these hunts is higher than the number landed, but unknown because few data were collected on the number of animals that were killed and lost. These losses vary depending upon the location, weather, hunter experience, and type of hunt (e.g. floe edge, ice crack, open water). They also vary from year to year. Thus loss rates cannot be extrapolated from one season to another or from one community to another (Weaver and Walker 1988; Roberge and Dunn 1990). Loss rates are typically highest at the floe edge and lowest during the open water hunt (Roberge and Dunn 1990).
Comparison of these rates between studies is confounded by the fact that some studies considered only whales killed and lost, while others also considered whales that were wounded and escaped. The former method tends to underestimate the total kill, and the latter to overestimate it. These two extremes provide a range within which the actual loss rates should lie. Loss estimates from the community-based management hunts in 2001 suggest that on average at least 19 (SD 11; killed and lost only) and perhaps as many as 46 (SD 5; killed and lost plus struck and escaped) animals are lost for every 100 landed (Table 2).
These crude annual loss rate estimates are comparable to those from earlier studies, most of which were for portions of the annual hunt (e.g. Hay and Sergeant 1976; Finley et al. 1980; Kemper 1980; Finley and Miller 1982; Weaver and Walker 1988; Roberge and Dunn 1990). The collection of struck and lost data is a key contribution of the community-based management program to improving estimates of hunting mortality. Losses result in part from the fact that narwhals are often shot before they are harpooned (Bruemmer 1971; Stewart et al. 1995). Loss rates are greater among animals that are not harpooned (Gonzalez 2001). In 1979, Pond Inlet hunters tried using harpoon guns to reduce loss rates.
This technology proved to be much less practical than .303 calibre rifles and hand-thrown harpoons for killing and securing narwhals (Finley and Miller 1982). In the Pond Inlet area, a high proportion of harvested animals have old bullet wounds (42% Finley et al. 1980; 23% Finley and Miller 1982). Many of the communities participating in community-based management require hunters to use harpoons as a means of reducing the number of whales that are struck and lost
Monday, October 1, 2007
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
I Love to read Gemara- Artscroll in English!
There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle. Albert Einstein
You do not know me, nor do I know you. I'm the fellow who comes to minion, on a great day by 6am, on a perfect day at 8:30am, on an outrageously fine day (like yesterday) at 9am!
To what do I owe my insight to?
First answer out of the shoot, and into my brain, now flowing much more slowly, the typewriter-..the (keyboard rather) nowhere in particular. The second answer, also honest but it took me an extra step in thought,...Hashem. Do we not say the phrase each day- Ata chonayne l'odom da-as (or Da-at) if you daven nusach sphardi.
Now, if I go ultra politically correct, still true, however with an element of ingratiating myself with the powers that be, or may be, in the orthodox community which I live in: third answer (praise someone namelessly) and deflect honor away from self [Please excuse all spelling errors on all these pages]:
I owe my insight to the Daf Yomi, which you to can attend, even if sometimes you get there late and leave early.
I would never have gotten the insights that I now have regarding Torah concepts had I not started to attend the Daf Yomi in our shul which is given over every-day (not that I make it every day...unfortunately) at 7am. Well Sunday and Shabbos, the schedule differs, check the schedule.
Oh the insight...here it is:
According to Chagigah: Artscroll English pg 12a2-12a3, we learn about Tohu (astonishment/bafflement) and Bohu (emptiness/desolation)- Rashi..see Maaaei Hashem, Maaseh Bereishis ch3 very early in Bereishis )
Ten things were created on the very first day of creation: they are listed in Chagigah Artscroll 12a3:
Length of the day
Length of the Night
Now there is also the opionion that the 7 word phrase, In the beginning..and then all the way until G-d Elokim " Yihi Or" Said Let here be light!
Chagigah state that Rav Zutra bar Tovia said in the name of Rav: (pg 12a3) The world was created with ten things:
The actual 10 things mentioned in the Parsha Bereishis 1-5, and the ten things which Chagigah mentions ten attributes (more than an an allusion to the ten spherot-AhMbdvd ). finally the completion of the first 5 versus of Bereishis 1-5, is completed in 52 words. If we acknowledge that time is coming into the equation, then we know that the day is specifically mentioned, then we can extrapolate that the 52 words, is equivalent to a full calendar solar year of man. But man has not yet been created.
Man does not arrive on the scene until 317 words of Torah which correspond to 25 versus of Bereishis, and the creation of a number of many entities. (to be continued)
PS: I do not truly consider myself a Torah Scholar, as much as I consider myself an enthusiatic beginner with a great enthusiasm to learn.
Aharon Moshe Sanders 5:20pm September 26, 2007
PS: The Gemara in places uses a numeric value of something of the order of 300 or more as a huge number. Therefore that fact that 300 words of Torah explain creation would be enough proof that there was a vast amount of time where things on heaven and earth came into being long before Adam Rishon came into existence.
Fianlly when man does come into existence after a complete cycle (like our solar year but on a much grander scale- a complete "creation cycle" of torah words (over 365 hebrew words) and the creation of man is discussed as "let us create man in our image". All the Rabbis state that this is G-d almighty, the Aleph to Tav of everything, the only true force in the universe, the knower of all things, the ominipotent being which exists outside of time, space motion, consulted with angels before creating man.
Why would the rabbis tell us that? What are they hiding from us? Do you want to know the truth?
You can't handle the truth!
The ten luminous emanations.
AhMbdvd October 1, 2007 11:48pm EST
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Ten specific things came into being on the 1st day of creation. Tohu and Bohu were among the earliest creations. Tohu can be expalined as a sense of bafflement, or astonishment. Bohu seems to be on a lower level that of vastness or emptiness.
Breaking away form Chagigah we can actually count the hebrew words that are contained within the 1st 5 lines of Bereishis. Try it each and every time there should be no surprise that there are 52. Why should it surprize anyone to learn that the length of the day as told by Chagigah was also created on the 1st day and so we could also have the length of a year, as in 52 weeks.
Amongst the ten things that were created on the first day was Shamyim and HaEretz. Then we get some descriptive words of the earth, it was not formed (as in the opposite of-yesod)- yiso, and then of course Tohu, and Bohu. The tenth word in the description is Tohu, and then bohu comes as word number 11 in this very detailed description of the creation of everything that has been, is, and will be.
The first description of the first (creation) seven words of our Torah ends in HaEretz. It really is enough to understand that Hashem created everything in the begining, but would Hashem-Elokim, our teacher, be satisfied to give us such a simplistic explanation. The details get explained however there are no so straighforward or simple to get.
The fact that HaEretz is the same word just used to complete the first line of our Torah is now used to begin the second line of this incredible explanation us to how:the world, the luminaries, water, light, darkeness, land, stars, the moon, the sun and jellyfish, and all the living creatures and plants were created or formed, might cause one to wonder why that word Ha-Eretz (The World) gets repeated. How is Ha-Eretz, the 7th word of Bereshis, equal to the 8th word or the the first word of he 2nd line of Bereshis? Exactly!
Hmmmm...? I imagine my reader to be rubbing his/her eyes right now wondering...wait did I miss something. Absolutely! We all did! Hashem-Elokim our teacher is showing us the story within the story. The seven words, not suprisingly enough corresponds to our seven days, our week has seven days because that is how G-d created our ever so important calendar. Seven words from the mouth of Hashem-Elokim, turns into seven days for us.
I could mention here, particularly since the length of the day has not yet been created in the Torah's narrative, that how long does it take the average person to say seven words, would you agree maybe two seconds. Well those same two seconds could be like seven days, or even seven years in the life of a man. There are authors who do a far better job on man time and days versus G-d time and days then I, one notable one being Susan Roth in a book entitled "Moses in the 20th Century".
Okay, now back to the Torah. The first word of the second line of the description of the creation of everything from nothing, picks up the expalantion by using the very same word that ended the previous sentence. does the seem like a fluid blow by blow description of the events of creation to you? If we were in pre-1a reading: See spot run. Run spot run. then okay, that would be fine. No, this is Torah, there is a depth which must be plumbed or mined. Only with much digging, can we penetrate the actual meaning of the first 8-52 words of the Torah.
No. It seems like something started, then abruptly came to a crashing halt, (the breaking of the vessels) then after some semingly immeasurable amount of time (eternity might be a good word to describe how much time seeems to have gone by) creation picks up again with Hashem, now picking up the pieces (both literally and figuratively) and taking inventory of what has become of The World - Ha-Eretz!
Now, of course I do not expect one to simply think, oh...thats how it went down. No of course not. Students all over the world stay up all night gazing at the stars, considering the vastness of the universe, thinking and wondering, in awe of G-d Hashem-Elokim's creation, and how it came to be, and how it came from nothing!
Then we further break down G-d's active creation and formation of the universe, from the initial thought of creation. The thought of creation is not typically discussed becuase the world we live in today puts such little value in what a person may be thinking!
Then suddenly G-d Hashem-Elokim, creator of everything that is, was or will be removes a portion of himself, simply to allow space for the creation to exist independently from him. Creating darkness, and forming light in the very same instant, and...
Incredible energy, (which would make an Atomic bomb seem like a firecracker) gets released, condensed, momentarily, then released again in an a cataclysmic explosion with shock waves which are still emmanating in all directions at an incredible speed (faster then the speed of light) to this very day. Kabalists refer to this event as the breaking of the vessels.
(to be continued)
Aharon Moshe ben-Dovid
Monday, September 24, 2007
I forgot why, but I always remember my brother saying that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I suppose along with we might remember hearing that flattery will get you everywhere.