Friday, May 31, 2019

Got Trakht un Der Mensch Lakht

The purpose of this blog is to achieve new vistas at the Shabbat table. Please print and share. 

The count-up continues, one more week....

laughing-babyThat's a twist on the famous Yiddish proverb:

Der Mensch Trakht un Got Lakht - A person plans, and God laughs.

1st question for your table: Did you ever experience this? Where your best laid plans went awry?

Or how about this - I was trying to order a book for one of my children, and it kept failing.

Two weeks ago I ordered the book. It's a used textbook, for seven bucks (including shipping) as opposed to $85 new.

She keeps asking me, "Do you know when my book is going to arrive?"

"Well, I did get an email 10 days ago that it had been shipped, I'm sure it will arrive any day now."

Yesterday I get an email that the seller made an error - they don't actually have the book. And they are sorry.


So I try to order another copy from a different seller. No matter how many times I try, it won't accept any of my credit cards.

2nd question for your table - Why do we keep trying? And at what point should you give up?

3rd question for your table: If and when you do give up, do you feel disappointed, or do you say, "It wasn't meant to be" ???

Shabbat Shalom

PS - Yes, the image above is clickable, as ususal.

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Friday, May 24, 2019

A Peak Peek

The purpose of this blog is to achieve new vistas at the Shabbat table. Please print and share. 

Riddle: When is
counting down actually counting up?

Mount-Everest traffic jamWe're trying to climb higher.

Three weeks ago we pondered tragic news. Two weeks ago it was uplifting news. Last week, Dr. Howard Kaye gave us a forward-looking challenge.

This week, the news comes in from Everett, the so-called tallest mountain in the world:

Traffic jam. Check out the image - hundreds are queuing up to spend a few moments at the summit.

It must be a tremendous high. Look at these smiles.

I would hope so, considering the average climber spent about $45K getting there. (Lest you think it's anything like a cakewalk, if you have 5 minutes, here's a body-cam video of the final ascent.)

But the air truly is so thin and the risks truly are so great.

I've heard it said that humans are not made to live above 26,000 feet. That sounds reasonable.

(Maybe that's why Some are content pretending they made it to the top?)

But there is a question here for your table:

Although we're not made to live on top of the mountain, are we made to climb?

Shabbat Shalom

PS - Yes, the image above is clickable, as ususal.

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Friday, May 17, 2019

3 O-Kaye Ways to Be Jewish

The purpose of this blog is to raise the bar at the Shabbat table. Please print and share. 

Yes, the
countdown continues....

Woman of Valor pendantWe're trying to climb higher.

Two weeks ago we pondered tragic news.

Last week, we shared upbeat news.

Both of those are looking backward.

This week, the husband of Lori Gilbert-Kaye is asking us to look forward.

In case the 24-hour news cycle has caused anyone to forget, she's the woman of valor who took a bullet for her rabbi.

By all accounts, she lived an inspired and inspiring life:

Apropos of nothing, Gilbert-Kaye would drop off gifts at her friends’ homes, Busalacchi said. And she didn’t send one card for a birthday or anniversary, she sent three or four.

Rare was the Friday night that the Kayes did not have Shabbat guests — often there were 10 or more people at the table. She would invite friends to the family’s sukkah on Sukkot, and host a break the fast after Yom Kippur. She made her own challah, and recently forwarded a Passover carrot kugel recipe to Busalacchi.

Gilbert-Kaye’s Facebook page is filled with posts raising funds for groups and individuals in need.

Moments after the assassin's bullets struck her, her husband (a doctor) found her:

Her husband had tried to resuscitate her, but he fainted and lay on the floor next to his wife. The couple’s daughter found her parents on the floor and started screaming, Goldstein said, calling it, “the most heart-wrenching sight I could have seen.”

This week, that husband - Dr. Howard Kaye - asked a visitor to share a 36-second message with the Jewish world

Question for your table: What are you going to do about it?

Shabbat Shalom

PS - the above clickable image is a pendant with the first line of King Solomon's Eishet Chayil (Woman of Valor) poem.

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Friday, May 10, 2019

How Odd of God...

The purpose of this email is to build some Jewish pride at the Shabbat table. Please print and share. 

And the
countdown continues....

Evil MosquitoThis week, something a little more upbeat than last week's tragic news.

A lot more upbeat?

That's the first question for your table - on a scale of 1-10, how good is this news:

Malaria vaccine pilot launched in Malawi
Country first of three in Africa to roll out landmark vaccine

Geneva, 23 April 2019

WHO welcomes the Government of Malawi’s launch of the world’s first malaria vaccine today in a landmark pilot programme. The country is the first of three in Africa in which the vaccine, known as RTS,S, will be made available to children up to 2 years of age; Ghana and Kenya will introduce the vaccine in the coming weeks.

Malaria remains one of the world’s leading killers, claiming the life of one child every two minutes. Most of these deaths are in Africa, where more than 250,000 children die from the disease every year. Children under 5 are at greatest risk of its life-threatening complications. Worldwide, malaria kills 435,000 people a year, most of them children.

Careful how you answer that.

The Talmud says that we Jews, regardless of our flaws, always have three qualities. One of them is rachamim - compassion.

Midrash: "
The Egyptian slavery was of great value for us, since it implanted within us the quality of kindness and mercy."

Malaria kills a child every two minutes. How can someone not be bothered by that?

So when the antisemite, so full of his own cleverness, declaims,

How odd of God
to choose the Jews!

... don't get all insulted. Just feel bad for him. He doesn't know what he's talking about.

On a related note, just like you can flush out the Jews by how they answer the above question, you can flush out the rabbis by how they answer this one (Question 2 for your table):

How would you to summarize the Torah in one sentence?


Shabbat Shalom

PS - Looking for something non-toxic to stop dem skeetas? Click the above image.

Friday, May 03, 2019

What's a Person Worth?

The purpose of this email is to build some self-esteem at the Shabbat table. Please print and share. (The big holday has passed... and now a new countdown.)

You-matterThis week, a tragedy, an idea, and a ray of sunshine.

The tragedy: It was reported this week that 25 students in India committed suicide after having failed a college entrance exam.

India's top universities have a lower acceptance rate (2 percent) than the most elite American colleges.

Judging by various reports, the reason this made the news is because many (or all) of them didn't actually fail; there were technical errors in the scoring.

And when you read the articles, the parents and public officials are all looking for someone to blame for these lost young lives.

So this opens up a huge question for your table: What's a greater tragedy - that these teenagers were under such pressure (from their parents, families, society) to make them feel like failure on the exam means your life is pointless? Or that the storyline everywhere focuses on the "irregularities in the examination"?? (The London Telegraph solemnly concludes, "The independent panel has said it will imminently announce measures to ensure that marking errors do not occur again". Thanks.

Today's idea: Yesterday, I heard a speaker make the following observation about death, a great conversation-starter for your Shabbat table:

The fear of death is the main motivator for most people in the world.

and there are four typical reactions to this fear:

1. Survival-instinct - I shall fight it (and everyone else who gets in my way)!
2. Distraction - also denial - just avoid thinking about it, get involved in projects, work, busy-ness.
3. Depression - needs no explanation.
4. Heroic - "I'll face death with courage!"

Even focusing on going to Heaven is a reaction to fear of death.

For your table: is this an accurate summary of the major reactions to fear of dying?

Second question: is there a fifth way?

She (the speaker) declared that indeed there is a fifth way, the Jewish way.

To help you think about that, here's the ray of sunshine:

I went into the JCC today, to my usual locker area, and in the first locker I opened someone had left a wallet and cell phone, but no lock on the locker.

Who in day and age would be so careless?

At this time of year in Baltimore, you see an increase of yeshiva students who have come home for the holiday. Most have returned to their yeshivas already, but a few are still around for a few more days. Yeshiva students are often idealist. They sometimes live in a bubble, in an environment where even gossip is shunned, let alone theft!

Call him naïve, but I found it uplifting that someone still trusts me and those around him that way.

What do you think?

Shabbat Shalom