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      by Baruch Gordon
      A refreshing and optimistic view on Israel, Torah and events.
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      Baruch Gordon founded the Arutz Sheva-IsraelNationalNews.com website in 1995 and directed its English Media Department for 14 years. Baruch studied and taught at the Bet El Yeshiva Center, later serving as Dean of its Program for Overseas Students and Program for IDF Veterans. 

      Baruch is certified by the Dor v'Dor Institute to counsel married couples and prepare hatanim for marriage.

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      Adar Bet 28, 5771, 4/3/2011

      The Coffee-Computer Catastrophe


      I am a heavy computer user and a light coffee drinker. Here's a story about how the two do not mix well:

      I invited my friend and Israel tour guide Gershon Portnoy, who is now working part time with Bet El Tours, for a meeting in my office in Bet El. We were discussing some intensive, off-the-beaten-track tours of Israel for tourists who seek something beyond the regular bus tour of Israel.

      I made us a both a cup of coffee and in the enthusiastic discourse which followed, I spun my laptop computer around to show him a document, and bumped into his coffee. The cup did not tilt over, but approximately one gulp of the black fluid spilt onto the 6 upper left keys of my laptop keyboard. A minute later, the computer blinked out.

       

      I thought, "No prob," and hair-dried the wet area, sure that the computer would come back to life. This computer served me for some 5 years and still functioned fine.

      Despite all resuscitation attempts, no heartbeat returned to my lifeless laptop. I sent it for a laboratory check, and later that day, psychologists and doctors showed up at my home. They asked me to make a cup of coffee and sit down in a comfortable chair next to my computer. It was then that they informed me that my computer would not return to life – ever.

      I was wrecked and devastated. I've been using laptops for 15 years and never has anything like this happened to me – to take the precious life of my own.

      I tell you this story for two reasons:
      1) Beware dear friends of drinking coffee next to a laptop. It only takes a small amount of liquid to kill it.

      And 2) the three institutions which I work for – the Bet El Yeshiva Center, Arutz Sheva, and the Bet El IDF Preparatory Academy - are getting me a new laptop to the tune of $1,400. If there are any fine, upstanding, southern-like ladies and gentlemen out there who want to pitch in to cover the unexpected cost, we'd all be much obliged.

      Please send checks of $200 or more made out to: The American Friends of the Bet El Yeshiva Center (US tax deductible).
      Mail to:
      Baruch Gordon
      c/o Simanowitz
      68-27 Juno St.
      Forest Hills, NY 11375

      Send an email – baruch@IsraelNationalNews.com - notifying me that you are sending a check so I can confirm receipt, make sure you get a receipt, and express my thanks. I will also be happy to recite psalms on behalf of the donors along with a prayer request at the ancient holy site where Yaakov (Jacob) has his dream in the book of Genesis, right here in Bet El.

      If you happen to be a computer company and can donate a laptop, we could actually use a few.



      Adar Bet 24, 5771, 3/30/2011

      Troubled Bride and Groom Ask Web Rabbi: Cancel Wedding?


      The "Ask the Rabbi" section of the Bet El Yeshiva's Hebrew website has become the premier venue for secular Israelis seeking rabbinic counsel on the internet. In the two recently-submitted questions below, a bride and groom separately turn to the Web Rabbi asking whether or not to cancel the wedding. The two letters were received several hours apart. Read below to find out what happened in the end…


      LETTER FROM THE GROOM

      Dear Rabbi,

      My female partner and I are together for three years. We are both traditional Jews.

      I keep the Shabbat as much as I can. I don't travel in a car on Shabbat, but I do use the cellular phone and the computer a little bit. I hope to eventually become stronger in my Shabbat observance with G-d's help.

      About two weeks ago, my partner and I started talking about getting married and discussed which wedding hall to use.

      Over the last few days, I decided that I want to have separate dancing for men and women at the wedding. My younger brother is very knowledgeable in Torah, and he sat down and showed me how severe the transgression of mixed dancing is. Even though I would much prefer mixed dancing, I decided that at my wedding, I want to please Hashem and do His will, and have separate dancing no matter what anyone says including my girlfriend. 

      My girlfriend is not willing to even entertain the idea of separate dancing. She won't hear about it and is threatening to end our relationship if I don't change my mind.

      What should I do?

      Signed,
      xxxxx

      LETTER FROM THE BRIDE

      Dear Honored Rabbi,

      This is the question of my life. I have a boyfriend for the past three years and two weeks ago, he proposed to me. We are both secular Jews. We don't keep Shabbat. He doesn't keep kosher, for example, he mixes milk with meat.

      It was clear all along that our wedding would be a regular wedding with mixed men and women's dancing. Out of the clear blue, my boyfriend came up with a decision that there would be separate men and women's dancing at the wedding.

      I do not like this at all, nor do I agree to it. I have dreamt about the way I want my wedding to be, and have no desire for it to take on this form. I have faith in G-d and respect Judaism, but do not want to accept something so drastic against my will.

      What disturbs me most is that he went ahead and made this huge decision, that he himself doesn't really identify with. I decided that if he continues to insist that there be no mixed dancing, I will be forced to end our relationship and call off the wedding.

      He is very dear to me and I love him deeply, but I will not get married with separate dancing.

      What should I do? Is that OK for him to decide something against his own practice, and against my will? Am I supposed to go ahead and get married despite his decision?

      I would appreciate your urgent attention in this matter.

      Signed,
      xxxxx

      THE RESULT…
      Yeshivat Bet El's Web Rabbi who is in charge of answering internet inquiries from secular Israelis wrote one warm and encouraging letter to both the bride and groom. In the end, they got married with separate dancing, and it turned out to be very successful.

      The couple continues to advance in embracing their Jewish identity. They were in touch with the Bet El Yeshiva's Web Rabbi again over problems that arose with their parents. The Rabbi advised them on this issue as well, and today they maintain excellent relations with both sets of parents.

      Visit the English pages of Yeshiva.org.il







      Adar 27, 5771, 3/3/2011

      Near Fist Fight in Shul – Eye Witness Account




      I saw it with my own eyes. It was in the middle of Shachat morning services on Tuesday. A friend of mine "A" turned to a "new face" that I didn't recognize in shul (synagogue) and said, "Why did you do that to me?" The new face answered back with an insult. The two began pushing each other, growling, and their fists were clinched when others stepped in to separate them.

      It took some four grown men to separate them because despite initial efforts to end the dispute, they were determined to have it out. The chazzan (cantor) stopped the services, the eyes of some 60 people of the minyan were focused on the raucous ruckus in the middle of shul, and the two men, in their 50's, were now separated but still exchanging insults. 

      Honestly, I was not believing that this was happening in Bet El.

      I know my friend "A" to be a normal guy and have never seen this side of him. The new face has a bit of a rough look on him. But still, in Bet El, the place of so many Torah scholars and so many fine Torah institutions? The place of idealism, of patriotic sacrifice for the good of the country, the place that sends its children to the finest IDF units? A near fist fight in shul? How the mighty have fallen, I thought to myself.

      Well ladies and gentlemen, the story has a pleasant ending. I made it to one of the smaller, late minyans in the same shul today. We were only about 15 people in shul. At one point, I turned around and saw on the back row and sight that I couldn't believe was happening. 

      New Face was in the back row, and "A" walked over to him and began speaking to him. "A" clasped New Face's hand and was pouring out his heart to him with a look of great remorse and sincerity. "A" placed his left arm on New Face's back in a friendly embrace, continued shaking his right hand, and continued speaking with great enthusiasm and movement, while New Face listened intently and nodded. 

      At the end of their exchange, they embraced each other, nodded and parted.

      My heart was warmed. I was consoled. The ways of Torah are ways of pleasantness.







      Adar 16, 5771, 2/20/2011

      Coolest Kosher Prague Restaurant


      My work brought me to Prague this past week and, truthfully, I didn't know what I was going to do for food. But after a few inquiries with both locals and friends who had traveled there, I was directed to the best Kosher Prague glatt restaurant: Dinitz. 

      Immediately after walking in, Gabi the owner, an India-born Israeli who speaks 5 languages fluently, gave me a warm welcome, introduced me to the mashgiach on premises in case I had questions, and served a full course meal for prices cheaper than anywhere else in Europe that I had been to.



      But here's the clincher, as I wondered about this fine Kosher Prague restaurant, I saw the mashgiach sitting at a table in the back with a group of three people learning Torah. When I asked Gabi what was going on, he said that he allows the mashgiach to teach a Torah class at one of the back tables, instead of him sitting around reading a newspaper like many mashgiachs do. 

      I started to realize that this Gabi guy was really cool. He told me his story. While born Jewish and raised in Israel, he wasn't always running a kosher Prague restaurant. In fact, he was running 5 non-kosher restaurants. But after his mother passed away and he forged ties with a young Israeli who serves part time as Deputy Chief Rabbi, Gabi decided to make a change in his life and do something that would bring nachat (joy) to his deceased mother. He closed down all 5 of his tref eateries, and opened a Glatt kosher Prague restaurant – Dinitz.

      Gabi and I really hit it off. He gave me tips to help me with my work in Prague, let me leave my luggage at his kosher Prague eatery, and even at the end of my stay which coincided with the end of his workday, he served me a huge complimentary glass of the finest Prague beer, and then drove me to the airport. 

      Gabi is very connected to Israel, visits at least once or twice a year, and told me that he gives his tithes to a kiruv movement in Tel Aviv called HaMakom.

      Gabi rocks and the Kosher Prague restaurant that he runs is the place to hang out on your visit there.
      So check it out:
      Dinitz Kosher Prague restaurant
      Bílkova st. 869/12
      Prague
      For Reservations or inquiry please choose optional number to call us
      From USA & CANADA call our Toll-Free number : 1-88-88-87-31-32
      In Israel our Bezeq Number connects you to Prague Free 03-722-6220
      For dialing from other countries & in Czech Rep. (+420) 222 313 308
      Opening Hours - weekdays
      DINITZ is open : SUNDAY - THURSDAY 11:30 till 23:00
      Friday 11:30 till 15:00
      Opening Hours SHABBAT & Chag - Yom Tov:
      Friday Evening Shabbat Dinner & Saturday Shabbat Lunch
      served by Prepaid Reservations only - limited availability

       






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