Ian Silverman, Rabbi

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Purim will soon be upon us, beginning February 28th, when we will read from the Megilla. We will also read early Thursday morning, and all are invited on Thursday, following the service, to join Rabbi at Bagel Boss in enjoying a bagel breakfast.

 Purim, of course, is the redemptive story of Esther and Mordecai overcoming the plot of Haman to destroy the Jewish people. The central symbols of the Purim season make certain that every sense is involved in experiencing the holiday. Aside from the sight of so many in costume and the mitzvah of hearing the Megillah, word for word (ear and eye), the raashan, or grogger, allows us to feel the noise and vibration of drowning out Haman's name. The hamantaschen also involve our senses of taste and smell, but these symbols can teach us even more.
 
The grogger makes a loud noise from above, but it is propelled from below. The Purim story stresses that miracles are not just in the domain of heaven–God is not mentioned even once in the entire story! The heavens, mystics teach, are stirred from below. Miracles are often driven by our resolution to help ourselves and act in the moment to change the reality on the ground. 
 
The hamantaschen has something to each about appearances. The outside of each pastry looks the same. But the inner filling is what is "paramount" in determining the quality. So it is with the Jewish people. On the outside, we can assume some of the customs, fashions and manner of the environment in which we dwell. But the inner core is what is key. Esther did not find her greatness until she let her inner identity breathe outward. May all of us assume the roles we must, to get by in modern American life. But may we never neglect the sweet core within our inner spiritual life as part of a greater Jewish people.
 
Come celebrate an important victory of good over evil; the victory of the Jewish people over those who hate! Happy Purim! 
 

 

Drinking on Purim: do so with caution and moderation

It is well known that there is a statement in the Talmud that encourages Jewish folks to celebrate Purim not only with festive meal, but also with drinking, even to the point of intoxication. The way the Talmud puts it, Chayav Adam levasame, “A person is obligated to become inebriated to the point of not knowing (adsheloyada) the difference between “Cursed it is Haman and blessed Mordecai.” Some in the sources and codes through the ages have taken this at face value.

However, a closer look at sources shows this to be foolhardy and dangerous behavior. One sees, in the Esther story of the Megillah, the dangers of drinking. It is because Ahashverush is a partier and a lush that he cedes actual governing control to others, which almost dooms an entire population.

The story that follows Rabba’s suggestion in the Talmud to “party hearty” is what is most telling. Rabbah travels to celebrate Purim with Rabbi Zeira. In an inebriated state he slaughters Rabbi Zeira, presumably mistaking him for a cow! In the morning, when he realizes what he had done, he prays for Zeira's resuscitation, which miraculously happens. The next year Rabbah invites Rabbi Zeira over again. Rabbi Zeira, however, declines, saying “miracles don’t always happen.” Maybe this means that Rabbah almost killed his guest with strong drink, or it means he actually attacked him in a drunken state. Either way, we learn that drinking may well get you to the point where Haman wanted you–dead. The meaning of this follow up story is to drink, not recklessly, but in moderation. Either one can die of binge drinking or end up killing somebody.

 

Many sages have, through the ages, condemned the idea of reckless drinking. Drinking goes against the tenet of guarding one’s health, shemirat nfesh vaguf. Needless to say, in the case of underage drinking, local laws are defied (which is a violation of Torah law), imperils our youth and community, and violates the fifth commandment to “honor your father and mother.” Purim should never override these important Mitzvoth.

Two centuries ago, an important sage, the Chatham Sofer, made the point that only a moderate amount should be imbibed–just enough to get a little drowsy. For In that moment of dozing you don’t know the difference between the curse of Haman and the blessing of Mordecai.

With this in mind,

May all of us have a joyous and most importantly safe Purim.

 

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Israel Items of Interest

KEEP CURRENT WITH THE LATEST NEWS IN ISRAELI ADVOCACY, THE DAILY ALERT HERE.

An Israeli company has developed a means to evaluate the freshness of foods. Read about it HERE.

Israeli startup Zebra Medical Vision, offers an online software that can provide a second opinion on CT scans by analyzing the information and producing a medical report within 90% accuracy. Read about it HERE.

Film recommendation: Mekonen, the story of an Ethiopian Jew who makes peace with an emotional past and embraces his future in Israel, becoming a decorated officer in the IDF while remaining true to his African roots and culture.

Did you know that the first victim of 9-11 was an Israeli Special Forces Veteran who rushed the cockpit of American Airlines Flight 11 to stop the hijackers, but was murdered in his attempt to stop these al-Queda terrorists. Watch a quick video, HERE. 

Read about a small guitar workshop in Jaffa, creating the finest instruments, HERE.

A PhD student at Hebrew University has won an award for developing a test to detect Parkinson's Disease. Read about it HERE.

Three years after publishing an anti-Israel letter in the medical journal, The Lancet, the editor admits he has deep regrets and has dedicated the latest issue to highlighting health care in Israel. Read about it HERE.

Read an article by Chris Coons and Marco Rubio from the Wall Street Journal, "Every Senator Agrees the UN Must Change," HERE.

Israel's medical clowns- they cheer up sick kids, reduce anxiety, decrease pain, and alleviate depression. They are Jews, Christian Arabs, and others. Watch a YouTube video about them HERE.

Learn about the connection of Jews with Israel, the decades-long quest of Israel for peace with it's neighbors, the failure of Palestinian leadership to turn conflict into coexistence, and the contrast between the fate of Palestinian and Jewish refugees from the Arab-Israel conflict, HERE. 

Women of the IDF video

 

Rabbi Silverman's Suggested Sites to See

Organized riots continue at Israel's southern border, as Palestinians clash with IDF soldiers, now sending burning kites over the fence to set Israel's fields afire. Read about it HERE.

Now 100, Binyamin Brenzel came to Isreal from his native Lvov, Ukraine. Read a letter he wrote to his sister in New York upon the establishment of the State of Israel as he awaited news on the radio of the UN Partition Plan in 1947, HERE.

As Israel celebrates its 70th birthday, read David Harris' blog from the Times of Israel, reflecting on Israel's accomplishments and challenges, HERE.

Read a brillian analysis of the perils facing the Islamic nations in the Middle East. With so many states in a fragile condition and devoid of nation-building elements, including tose of the PA and Gaza, one wonders about the lasting nature of any brokered peace agreement with Israel, even in the unlikely event that such a deal could be accomplished, HERE.

Donate toward medical treatments for injured Israeli soldiers HERE.

Watch and important video showing the proximity of Israeli families to the Gaza border and just what is at stake in allowing the border to be penetrated. For some reason this simple information is not made explicit in press coverage. HERE.

Read David Harris' blog in The Times of Israel, highlighting the stark differences between Hamas and Israel- and that while Hamas threatens and harasses Israel, it is only Israel's response that is under scrutiny, HERE.

Big Bang Theory star Mayim Bialik was the keynote speaker at the Global Conference on Anti-Semitism in Jerusalem. Read about her address HERE.

Read Israeli President Rivlin's speech as he led the 30th annual March of the Living from the gates of Auschwitz to Auschwitz-Birkenau HERE.

Due to the British Labour Party's anti-Semitic statements and actions of late, Israel's Labor Party has suspended ties. Read about it HERE.

Gino Bartali was an Italian bicyclist who saved hundreds of Jews in the Holocaust. His story is being made into a film by Jerusalem U. Donate toward this effort to tell the world about his inspiring life. HERE.

Hear the REAL story behind Gaza's "peaceful" protests at the Israeli border HERE. Hamas is orchestrating the violence at the border in their latest effort to destroy Israel, yet Israel is taking all the blame. Read about it HERE. 
Read Hadassah National President Ellen Hershkin's letter to the Washington Post to urge for fair reporting on the situation in Gaza HERE.

In honor of Yom Hashoah, listent to a moving rendition by over 600 survivors and their families singing Oprah Haza's "Chai/I am Still Alive," written 35 years ago, HERE.

Stick with "Zionism" rather than running from it and letting the haters win. Read a blog from the Times of Israel, HERE.

Even the Palestinian Authority is accusing Hamas of sending children to their deaths in Gaza to grab headlines. Why doesn't the world nor the media believe these words from the mouths of Palestinians? And the irony: As Palestinians rolled burning tires toward the border, a Hamas spokesman is condemnins Israel for stopping the import of new tires to Gaza and now there is a tire shortage. Read about it HERE.

In the face of Britain's Labour Party anti-semitism, watch an uplifting Passover message in a video by Prime Minister Theresa May HERE.

Abbas' senior advisor is accusing Hamas of intentionally sendint Gaza Palestinians to "go and die" at the border demonstrations for the sole purpose of creating soundbites for TV and the media. Read and watch a video HERE.

Last week's conflict between Israel and Palestinians brought condemnation upon Israel for the killing and wounding of many Palestinians. But the Hamas-affiliated demonstration was orchestrated to use the 30,000 civilian participants as human shields with the sole purpose of triggering an Israeli response to maximize civilian casualties. Another round of these riots is scheduled, and will peak in May on the day the Palestinians term "Nakba." Read about it HERE.

Chuck Schumer's address at AIPAC brought a "reality assessment" of positions on the Arab-Israeli conflict, outlining 10 principles of a new US concensus that brings Democrats in line with Republicans. Read the article HERE. 

Jews are being murdered in France_Again! Jews are reviled on both the far right and far left. Should French Jews leave and head for Israel? Read a NYTimes Opinion piece HERE. 
France will be charging two men with the brutal anti-Semitic murder of an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor. Read about it HERE. 

 

Western European nations, claiming to be against racism and supremacism, lavishly fund Muslim Jew-hatred. Read about it HERE.

As we are mindful of slavery at this time of Passover, remember that slavery still exists in the Sudan, and that Louis Farrakhan, who has accepted millions from the Nation of Islam to keep quiet on the issue of slavery, should be decried for selling out on his own people. Read the story HERE.

Watch a couple short feel-good videos:
Reunion of Palestinian hero and the Jews he rescued HERE
NFL players visit Israel HERE

A Pakistani Muslim scholar and lecturer on the Holcaust at Manhattan College understands the need for the Jewish State and the importance of learning the many lessons the Shoah teaches. Read about her HERE.

Iceland has put forth a bill banning circumcision that may threaten the future of the small Jewish community there. Sign the petition HERE.

Israel's Arab curriculum is a crime, according to the PA Minister of Education because Israeli Arab children are missing out on why they should hate Isrealis. Read HERE.

The Women's March is losing staffers and supports because the leadership refuses to denounce a rant by Louis Farrakhan. Read about it HERE.

Congress passed pro-Israel legislation, inlcuding the Taylor Force Act. Thank members of Congress for their support HERE.

Anti-Israel campaigns on campuses are attacks on the norms and values of the university and with it, on the norms and values at the heart of Western civilization. Anti-Israelism is not about an exchange of dialogue, debate and an free exchange of ideas but rather, to silence such things. Read the article from The Tablet, HERE.

Although some argue that Jews are the alien population to Palestine, implanted by the British, in fact, Jews are the indigenous population in this area based on historical and genetic documentation. It is the Palestinians, however, who are there as a result of converts from those indigenous pre-modern Jews and Christians who submitted to Islam, Muslim invaders, and Arab immigrants. Read about it HERE. 

Congress has passed the Hamas Human Shields Prevention Act, sanctioning Hamas for using civilians as human shields. Read about it HERE.

Senators Corker and Menendez are urging the State Department to engage in a diplomatic solution with our allies to preent Iran from ever acquiring a nuclear weapon. Urge your senator to sign the letter HERE.

Learn the proper protocol to handle Palestinian activists on campuses as exemplified by Georgetown University HERE.

A video about all the wonderful aid Israel provides worldwide, that will bring a tear to your eyes HERE.

 

 

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