JEWISH THOUGHT OF THE DAY

Love

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Love is best expressed by that which you do not do.

Hillel the Elder said this when he summed up the entire Torah,

“If you do not like something, don’t do it to someone else.”

What is it that you most dislike?

You don’t appreciate when someone pries into your faults, underlining each one with a red pen.

So if you truly wish to express love to someone else, don’t even look at his faults.

Find whatever is good about him and talk about that.

- Tzemach Tzedek

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The Mighty Peanut

Ralph Kramden, the world’s most famous bus driver, was a contestant on the popular “$99,000 Answer” show (not to be confused with the “$64,000 Question” show). He had already won the $600 prize and was about to go for the grand prize. When his wife pleaded with him to take the $600 he scoffed, “Six hundred dollars? Peanuts, peanuts. What am I gonna do with peanuts?” To which his loving wife Alice calmly replied, “Eat ‘em, like any other elephant”.

Of course, due to the excitement of the moment, Alice was taking a very narrow view of the potential uses of peanuts. Had she really thought about it, she would have realized that Ralph would have many more uses for his winnings:

If Ralph was a farmer instead of a bus driver, he surely would have planted peanuts as an alternate to his annual wheat crop to replenish the lost nutrients in his soil.

If he were a printer, he could have used peanuts as a cheap source of blue ink.

If he were modeling for Gentleman’s Quarterly magazine (not likely) or Alice needed some beauty help, he could have made some cosmetics out of peanuts.

Still brushing up on his bus driver’s test? He could use peanut coffee to help him stay awake. He could even lighten his coffee with peanut milk – a nutritious, inexpensive substitute for dairy milk.

Want something to eat with his coffee? Bake a cake or cookie with peanut flour.

Need to clean up after himself? Peanut soap.

In the mood for pizza? No, sorry, nothing substitutes for a great marinara sauce, but why not use peanut cheese?

George Washington Carver, one of America’s greatest inventors (died 1943), claimed he came up with more than 300 uses for peanuts.

For me, nothing beats a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on a tasty slice of peanut bread.

Got (peanut) milk?

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by Max Anteby

Comments icon YOUR THOUGHTS? [1]
Comments icon August 25, 2013

Star of David origin

star of david origin

“But You God are a shield for me…” (Psalms 3:4). David refers here to God as being his ‘shield’. This brings us to the topic of the ‘Magen David’, [lit. shield of David] popularly know as ‘the Star of David’, and regarded as a symbol of Judaism. Strangely, there is no mention of this symbol or its meaning in any authoritative Jewish book.

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, in Igros Moshe (Orach Chaim Vol. 3, Res. 15) tells us that the most convincing source for this sign is David himself. For it is clear that David did not find security in battle from any armor or shield. Only in God did he find himself securely enveloped, invulnerable from every side - above and below, east, west, north, south, - six directions in all. Thus the six-pointed symbol stands for David’s true shield - God! Rabbi Feinstein concludes that for this reason this symbol, hallowed by centuries of traditional usage, should be respected, because it is meant to symbolize the eternal Jewish faith in God no matter what the adversity.

origin: Psalms - Vol. 1, Artscroll Tanach Series

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A Stormy Sprinkle

Countless lines have been written about Hurricane Sandy, the storm that recently battered the eastern coastal states of the U.S. How to prepare, how to repair and how to react has been the subject of articles in newspapers and magazines spanning the nation. There are lessons to be learned by governments, individuals and emergency crews about how to understand what insurance companies called “an act of God”.
 
Here is another.
 
Living on the scenic Jersey coast, we were not unaffected by the damage wrought by the storm. In addition to homes, cars, businesses and sources of recreation being destroyed, hundreds of trees fell in the tornado force winds. A study was recently conducted to determine – what caused some to fall while others, of the same type and age, remained?
 
Certainly those in exposed areas on top of hills or isolated areas were more likely to succumb to the high winds. But there was one glaring difference of the ones that fell in residential areas. Those that fell were primarily near homes that had lawn sprinkler systems as opposed to those without sprinklers.
 
That seems to be counter-intuitive.
 
You would think that a tree that received life giving water twelve months a year would outlast ones subject to seasonal rain and snow.
 
But that’s not what happened. Here’s why.
 
Life strives to be self-sustaining. Animals forage for food instinctively. Plants and vegetation naturally stretch out their roots in search of water and nutrients. When it is supplied daily, like by those homes that have sprinklered lawns, the roots remain short. When it is scarce, the roots stretch out far and wide searching for water and in the process, build a strong, stable foundation.
 
We see the same behavior on a human level. When people are handed sustenance on a silver platter, they become uninspired to reach out and better themselves. When encouraged, or even forced, due to circumstances, to fend for themselves, their natural instincts to survive come to the fore. They grow stronger and more stable.
 
Sprinkled support when needed is a benefit. Long term support might be a short-sighted approach and the root problem of a coming storm.

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Three Degrees of Separation

Sociologists have confirmed that if you speak to enough people about enough people, someone is going to know someone who knows someone who ultimately knows you. No matter where you are in the world, we are only separated by seven levels.

Microsoft actually proved it statistically and came out with 6.6.
(Close enough).

But even though there are seven levels, there are really three degrees.

Number one is physical. Physical objects are separated in time and space. As far away as the table is from the chair, that’s exactly how far away the chair is from the table. When one moves closer or farther away, the level of separation is exactly the same for both objects.

Not necessarily so in the second degree. In relationships, one person can feel very close and connected to another while the other party remains cold and aloof, or perhaps even oblivious. This holds true many times in dating – he/she can’t wait for the other party to call and the other can’t imagine why. Parents generally always feel emotionally connected to their children even though the child may be physically distant across the country somewhere and never calls. (Which reminds me I have to call my mother).

The third degree is spiritual. The Kaballah tells us that similarity of spirits equals closeness. Married people with shared goals, business partners with a common vision or leaders working for the betterment (or detriment) of mankind feel a spiritual kindred that transcends emotion.

When we exhibit Godlike traits such as kindness, caring, giving, nurturing, correcting or forgiving, our spirits become ONE with our Creator.

You can’t get closer than that.

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Playing the Odds

I’m not a betting man but I know something about “The Odds”.
For example, if I had to pick a number between one and ten, the odds against picking the right number is ten to one. One number out of five thousand, the odds are five thousand to one.
 
Two out of five thousand? The odds are exponentially higher.
 
Three out of five thousand? I begin to lose count.
 
Four out of five thousand and the odds are off the chart.
 
In other words, if someone told me that they could guess right four times out of four from a field of five thousand items, I would say they’re either crazy, a genius or very lucky.
 
Three thousand years ago, three-quarters of the globe remained unexplored. Nobody knew what existed in Australia, in South America, in the northernmost regions of Alaska or in the wilds of Africa.
Yet, the bible goes out of its way to state that there is only one specie of mammal, anywhere in the world, that has a split hoof but doesn’t chew its cud. And the Bible names it – it’s called the pig.
 
And lo and behold, the Bible is right.
 
Okay. Easy stuff. One out of five thousand mammals and it “guessed” right.
 
Then it names three other animals and says that these are the only ones in the world that DO chew their cud but DON’T have split hooves.
 
And lo and behold, it gets it right again.
 
Maybe it’s a fix. A setup. Maybe the One who wrote those lines also created all of the animals of the world so there’s nothing special about the prediction. He already knew!
 
Hmmmm.

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Holocaust Denial Or Revisionism?

A revisionist or an outright liar?

That, in essence, was the question brought to one of England’s highest courts regarding the views about the Holocaust by David Irving, author of some 30 history books on World War II.

Professor Deborah Lipstadt, an American Holocaust historian, had written a book about Holocaust denial, and included Irving in her list of deniers. Irving’s reputation as an historian was at stake, he felt, and sued her in a British court for libel.

The trial had ramifications far beyond personal reputations. At stake was history itself. Irving, for instance, claimed, “There were no gas chambers in Auschwitz,” and that the mass murders of Jews in the death factories of Auschwitz, Majdanek and Treblinka was a “myth… which in fact never took place.”

His claims buttressed the battle cry of anti-Semites worldwide, from white supremacists in the West to Arab/Islamists in the Middle East, including the President of Iran.

After a long and highly publicized trial the judge issued his ruling on April 11, 2000. His conclusion was unequivocal: “[F]or his own ideological reasons [Irving] persistently and deliberately misrepresented and manipulated historical evidence…. [He was] an active Holocaust denier… anti-Semitic and racist….”

In other words, Irving was not an historian with an alternate view on the Holocaust, but an outright denier.

How did Irving have the temerity to claim there were no gas chambers at Auschwitz? Two of his points were: not enough evidence for use of Zyklon B poison gas and no holes in the roofs of the gas chambers at Auschwitz to drop in the poison pellets.

The first claim was based on the research of a German-American who went to Auschwitz and scraped some concrete from two different rooms: where Jews were gassed and where clothes were fumigated. (Zyklon B was first used to kill vermin on clothes.) A chemist found that there was a much lower level of Zyklon B in the chamber where people were killed. This indicated, the researcher (and Holocaust deniers) concluded, that Zyklon B wasn’t used against people.

However, they were wrong, because rodents are actually more resistant to the poison. Therefore, it actually took more gas to kill them than people.
Irving’s second claim, that there were no holes in the roofs, was aided by the fact that the Nazis blew up the gas chambers just before abandoning Auschwitz-Birkenau. However, a confluence of evidence proved otherwise.

First, eye-witnesses, including perpetrators (captured Nazis) and victims (e.g. Sonderkommandos), testified seeing the holes and SS soldiers dropping Zyklon B gas pellets inside. Second, architectural documentation emerged of how, for instance, the Nazis changed the Auschwitz morgue into a gas chamber, including putting in new doors that swung out and changing chutes (for sliding in dead bodies) into stairs (so people could walk down).

There is also evidence from a US reconnaissance flight over Auschwitz on August 25, 1944
holocaust

which shows the Zyklon B introduction chimneys clearly visible on the roof as four dark squares staggered side to side down the length of the room.

In short, historians have a confluence of evidence to prove the existence of the gas chambers (as well as other things about the Holocaust). Of course, hardened anti-Semites are unlikely to change no matter how substantial the proof. But many people are neutral or don’t know any better. They see that David Irving wrote many books, is considered a historian, and might think his view is merely revisionist.

It is not. It is a deliberate falsification.

(Further Reading: History On Trial by Deborah Lipstadt.)

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