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Dr. Eitan Shamir and Dr. Eado Hecht
- On Israel's Economy: Suffer the Helpless
Dr. Harold Goldmeier
Global Agenda 12:02 AM 12/6/2013
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Dr. Eitan Shamir and Dr. Eado Hecht
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I call Gutman Locks the 'Mitzvah Man'. He is blessed with the will and the opportunity to go out and increase mitzvoth (good deeds, the commandments) in the world. But it wasn't always like that for him, which gives us all hope, that we too can turn around our lives to achieve more than we thought we ever could.
Locks has been through the spiritual spectrum. Born a Jew, he was raised in a household which was not religious Jewishly, though he was told to marry a Jewish girl when he got older. He grew up and became a successful businessman in real estate, made the cover of a magazine but after buying bigger and bigger homes, he thought, 'is this all there is to life?'. He soon afterwards dropped out of the 'American dream', becoming a hippie. Wanting more guidance and direction to the meaning of life, he met a yogi who showed him an amazing movie of her guru in India who had millions of followers. The guru purportedly could materialize diamonds out of thin air. Locks was impressed and took off for India. There, he studied under this famous guru and practiced meditation to an extreme, up to 10 hours a day. After witnessing his spiritual mentor's hypocrisy of how he preached and then how he lived his life, he became disillusioned and left back for the States. More spiritual searching brought him to read the Christian Bible, where he subsequently tore out their second half, keeping only the first five books of Moses, the Torah. He then headed off to Israel to find G-d, where, at the Western Wall, he was helped into a yeshiva to learn Torah and thus he returned to his roots. I interviewed him several years ago, and personally, it still stands as one of my most memorable interviews. It was entitled, "From Hippie, to Guru, to Religious Jew".
Now, I left out all the good stuff, the details in his story, in order not to make this blog too long. For instance, I didn't tell you about his courage -or naivety(?), of running into the path of a charging elephant in India, or his walking amongst people in India who thought he was a god because they said he was 'glowing' or eminating a light from his body, or his living on a park bench in Central Park, NY, wearing only a sheet wrapped around him. Or his living in Hawaii and walking on the beach hearing voices or 'demons' raging inside his head.
Today, he is a frum Jew and stands at the Kotel looking for Jews to help don Tefillin. He has hundreds of stories to tell about his experiences pulling people off to the side to help them with Tefillin, and some he pulled in, unbeknownst to him turned out to not even be Jewish. ha ha. His story is colorful, yet educational, funny, yet inspiring, and you can read about in his book, "Coming Back To Earth". I HIGHLY recommend it for all, Jew or Gentile. But take out the kleenex and be prepared for some belly laughs as well. It's a book you will want to loan out afterwards to your friends. I loaned out mine, and now I have no idea where it is. (sigh) - I'll have to get another.
Here are some videos of Gutman Locks that are now up at his website. I got an email today with a link to it, and after viewing them (all are short, under 4 minutes or so), I had to giggle, but also had to wipe a tear or two away from my eyes as well. I hope you enjoy them and are inspired by them as I was.
Get his book, you won't be sorry, and neither will anyone else you might want to buy it for. Click HERE.
Yuk, yuk, yuk, ha ha ha (Enjoy the funnies for Purim)
An archaeologist was digging in the Negev Desert in Israel and came upon a casket containing a mummy, a rather rare occurance in Israel, to say the least. After examining it, he called the curator of the Israel museum in Jerusalem.
"I've just discovered a 3,000 year old mummy of a man who died of heart failure!" the excited scientist exclaimed.
To which the curator replied, "Bring him in. We'll check it out."
A week later, the amazed curator called the archaeologist. "You were right about both the mummy's age and cause of death. How in the world did you know?"
"Easy. There was a piece of paper in his hand that said, '10,000 Shekels on Goliath'."
Moshe goes to see his Rabbi. "Rabbi, last week I missed saying grace after meals."
"Why," asked the Rabbi.
"Because I forgot to wash my hands before the meal."
"That's twice you've broken the law but you still haven't told me why."
"The food wasn't kosher."
"You ate non-kosher food?" asked the Rabbi.
"It wasn't a Jewish restaurant."
"That makes it even worse," said the now angry Rabbi. "Couldn't you have eaten in a kosher one?"
"What, on Yom Kippur?"
A middle aged woman had a heart attack and was taken to the hospital. While
on the operating table she had a near death experience. Seeing God, she
asked if this was it. God said, "No you have another 43 years, 2 months,
and 8 days to live."
Upon recovery the woman decided to stay in the hospital and have a face
lift, liposuction, breast augmentation, tummy tuck, etc. She even had
someone come in and change her hair color, figuring since she had so much
more time to live, she might as well make the most of it.
She got out of the hospital after the last operation and while crossing, the
street was killed by an ambulance speeding to the hospital.
Arriving in front of God, she demanded, "I thought you said I had another 40
God replied, "I didn't recognize you!"
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Moses died and went to heaven. God greets him at the Pearly Gates.
A laywer moved to the country and bought a donkey from an old farmer for $100.00. The farmer agreed to deliver the donkey the next day. The next day the farmer drove up and said, "Sorry son, but I have some bad news, the donkey died." The lawyer replied, "Well then, just give me my money back." The farmer said, "Can't do that. I went and spent it already." The lawyer said, "OK then, just unload the donkey." The farmer asked, "What ya gonna do with him?" The Lawyer says, "I'm going to raffle him off."
Farmer, " You can't raffle off a dead donkey!"
The lawyer, "Sure I can. Watch me. I just won't tell anybody he is dead."
A month later the farmer met up with the Lawyer and asked, "What happened with that dead donkey?" Lawyer, "I raffled him off. I sold 500 tickets at two dollars a piece and made a profit of $998.00." Farmer, "Didn't anyone complain?" Lawyer, "Just the guy who won. ...So I gave him his two dollars back."
....Now your turn. Leave your favorite (clean) joke as a talk back.
Have a freulich Purim, a HAPPY Purim, and let's all please say a prayer for the victims of the earth quake in Chile.
The Clothes Make the Man of God
by Mori Michael Shelomo Bar-Ron
This is the week of TeSawweh (that’s Tetzaveh for the un-initiated in ancient Hebrew pronunciation) – the Torah portion about sacred clothing, the clothing that would distinguish the Kohen-priests, particularly the High Priest, in their sacred duties. It is also the week I was interviewed by Tamar Yonah (a true honor) about the dubious origins and halakhic problems (according to Torah law) with the relatively late, European custom of dressing up in costume for Purim. How fitting it is for me, then, to teach about one of the more poorly-known aspects of Torah: the importance of a distinct, Jewish dress.
"After the doings of the land of Egypt, where you dwelled, you shall not do; and after the doings of the land of Canaan, to where I am bringing you, you shall not do; neither shall you walk in their statutes."
The following is a summary of the Oral Torah (the actual halakhah) on this Divine Commandment from the Mishneh Torah, the Code of Jewish Law (Laws of Idolatry chapter 11:1)
"One is not to walk in the statutes of the gentiles, and not to resemble them—not in their dress, and not in their hairstyle, nor in anything else of this sort, as it is written: “neither shall you walk in their statutes.” And it is written, “be careful of yourself, lest you be ensnared after them.” "All this is warning about one thing: That one not resemble them; but rather, that the Israelite be distinguished from them and known in his dress and in his other ways, just as he is distinguished from them in his wisdom and his character. And thus it is written, “and I shall make you distinct from the nations.”
In the miSwath (mitzvah, commandment) lo-tha`aseh (Torah Prohibition) #30 in Sepher ha-miSwoth, we learn that the prohibition against copying the statutes of the gentiles not only pertains to their present customs, but those of their ancestors as well. Now it is possible that RaMBaM changed his opinion since his youth, when he wrote sefer ha-miSwoth, deliberately leaving this detail out of Mishneh Torah. This way the Hamburg-hatted, frock-coated Hassidim and Lithuanian-style Jews could claim that today they have a distinct Jewish look — certainly now that the Christian clergy have moved on to new modes of dress.
To me, it’s a stretch. I could be mistaken, but I see no reason to fight what seems clear: Jews are not to dress in uniquely gentile dress — neither that of the present, nor that of the past. (Note: Whatever I say about Haredi dress is said with the deepest respect for the Haredim and their [our] fierce dedication to Torah. I am one who personally identifies as a Haredi Jew, living in a Haredi neighborhood with children learning in a fine Haredi institution.)
One friend of mine shared with me an additional insight: The black garbed Polish 'look' and black hats/streimels [(and I add to that the modern, tight-fitting Western styles of non-Haredim)] make us look foreign to this land. It is hostile clothing to Israel's climate and we look like aliens, or G-d forbid, foreign oppressors who don’t belong here, imported from Europe. The Arabs and the rest of the world claim this as well. Noting our non-native styles, they can say, “See? These Jews came and stole our land. They don’t belong here – go back to Europe!”
What I believe the nations understand subconsciously, somewhere deep in their souls, is something that pains them greatly: This is not the look (and in many cases not the behavior) of the “kingdom of priests” Israel is supposed to be for us. Barukh HaShem (thank God), I see numerous signs of positive change underway.
How, then, are Jews to ideally dress? Believe it or not, the traditions of our unique dress have not all disappeared. We can still learn them from the Jews of the Orient, very few of whom maintain them to this day. From my own great-great-great grandfather HaRav Yehudah Ha-Levi from Dubrovnik, Serbia, to the senior Hakhamim of Baghdad (below ) to the Torah teachers of Yemen: formal-wear for Jewish men varied little.
Among our warriors, the style differed. Below is a photograph of YaHia Habbani of blessed memory, close family to Ya`aqov Mosha (Awad bin Brihim), father of the esteemed Aluf Abir, Mori Yehoshua Sofer shlit”a. The late uncle is dressed in classical Habbani style, which goes back millennia.
The Aluf Abir himself, an expert on ancient clothing of the Near East, once taught me in the name of his father (who is presently well over 100 years old, may HaShem preserve him in good health) that a picture of Arabs 100 years ago would be nearly identical to the way Yishmaelites looked one thousand years ago, and so on back to the times of the Tanakh (Bible). It was no different among his own clan, whose distinguished lineage hails back to the times of Dawidh ha-mmelekh (King David). The style varied per activity, including casual styles such as a very long over-shirt over loose, short white pants — much like the breeches of modern Hassidim.Sometimes the large `tallith was worn as a main garment; among the Habbani warriors it could be wrapped to gird up the entire torso like a rope-belt, criss-crossing the body. 
Whatever the style, from the Beth Midrash to the battlefield, across the Middle East, we maintained our distinct dress. If we are to receive the lesson from our ancient Oral legends (midrash), this is a matter of no small importance: It was partly in the merit of our steadfast loyalty to our traditional Hebrew dress, that HaShem redeemed us from Egypt. The sages even ordained a special blessing for us to make each morning specifically when we wrap our heads turban-style: “Blessed are You, HASHEM our God, King of the Universe, who crowns Israel with splendor.” The Babylonian Talmud (tractate Berakhoth 60b) is clear, and so is Mishneh Torah (Book of Love, Laws of Prayer 7:4) the blessing is made when one “puts his sheet [or cloth] on his head”. (Note that both Talmud and Mishneh Torah do mention hats in other places. This blessing appears to be specifically for authentic Israelite headgear.)
Now before you run for your nearest tailor and wager how quickly you are likely to lose your job, your friends, or worse; what is the practical halakhah (Jewish law)? Today, modern dress is standardized all over the world into a basic, universal “human dress”. In our day, most modes of dress that are uniquely gentile, are also outlandish enough to be a Purim costume. Besides that, although we maintained a distinct style, the truth is that Jews though the ages wore what was comfortable to them in their surroundings. My understanding is, according to my training, that for men – on a basic level – so long as one’s clothes are sufficiently modest, the kippah on our head and fringes at our sides give us a clearly unique and distinct look, and satisfy the basic halakhah (practical Jewish law).
However, to my humble understanding (with no disrespect intended towards those who disagree), there may be two common exceptions to this for men: the 3-piece suit and tight pants — particularly tight jeans. Unlike casual suits, the 3-piece suit is a traditional garment also known as the “Sunday’s best.” Reaching its present form in the last century, it appears to have been — in its original cultural ambient — a special garment set aside by the common gentile for weekly, Sunday idol worship. As for tight pants or jeans, unless they are way oversized so that they sag like the ‘gangbanger’ look (which itself may constitute a distinctly gentile style), this is specifically mentioned in Talmud as prohibited to Jewish men. To my reading, RaMBaM had no need to mention this – would it not be included in the general prohibition of imitating gentile customs?!
As for myself, I am personally unsatisfied with the universal “human dress” code; my soul yearns for more. It doesn’t sit well with me that for over 3,000 years our fathers, our great rabbis, prophets and warriors had distinct Jewish dress styles and haircuts that we can comfortably toss aside in favor of the styles of yuppie-ville and the American mall. In a modern Israel where Buddhist monks, nuns, and Ethiopic Christian priests roam freely in their traditional garbs, must I, a Jew, feel confined to styles out of GQ magazine, that are technically permitted?
Now I rarely delve into mysticism in my articles, but I cannot hold back this time.Tefillin , by Aryeh Kaplan, is one of the most inspiring books I ever read as a Jew growing into Torah observance, years ago. In it, Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan of blessed memory writes:
"Physical space exists only in the physical world. In the spiritual domain, there is no concept of space as we know it.
But still we speak of things being close or far apart in the spiritual world. What does this mean? We cannot be speaking of physical distance, for there is no physical space in the spiritual realm. But in a spiritual sense, closeness involves resemblance. Two things that resemble each other are spiritually close. On the other hand, two things that differ are far apart in a spiritual sense."
It follows that if we desire to be spiritually close and similar to the greatest men of all time, Avraham our forefather, Mosha Rabbenu, Dawidh ha-mmelekh, Rabi `Aqivah and so on, we should resemble them as much as possible. That is, of course, first and foremost in our deeds: how we relate to others, how we pray, how we learn and practice Torah, how we fight. But it is so difficult in a mundane world where we are so categorized, labeled and limited by those around us. Yet, as I explained above, we create our image – the way we are perceived – and invite those labels, to a degree, by the way we dress and cut our hair.
The foremost reason why, in the Haredi world, Jews wear black hats and suits, is the foremost reason I try to dress more Hebrew: They know how much clothes make the man of God. When passing by a thumping disco alone, a young teen wearing a black hat and suit will feel and react differently than a young man in jeans with a half-dollar sized kippah on his head. Dressing more Israelite can have the same effect. The difference is that the black galuth (diaspora) garb subliminally gives him the feeling of a European arrival from 60 years ago, an exiled man in his own land. Carefully ironed, restricting clothes meant for air-conditioned rooms and paved sidewalks give us a different sense of what is natural and what is foreign.
Moreover, as I discussed above, any dress besides our ancestral one fits a certain negative stereotype in the eyes of the nations, to whom we are to be “a kingdom of priests.” Whether it is as small a step as wearing a large `talith while relaxing and working at home, wrapping one’s head for prayer for Morning Prayers when one is alone, or making a bigger change such as growing one’s beard and side-locks, I highly recommend it. Should you choose to put on tephillin (phylacteries) even for a short while outside of prayer to learn some Torah, you are actually fulfilling the Torah commandment to strive to be in tephillin throughout the day. If you are living outside of Israel, just wearing a large kippah to distinguish yourself as a Jew can be an awesome step.
May the day come soon when kohen-priests will daily don their priestly garments in a rebuilt Beth ha-miqdash (Holy Temple) and Yisra’el (the rest of the nation) will don ours for all the wonderful activities there are for us to do in our ancestral heritage. In the meantime, let’s increase our awareness of the Godly type of people our traditional clothing can help us aspire to become.
For credits and more information on this article, click HERE.
You've read and seen photos about strange crop circles popping up overnight around the world. Here's something stranger. A Star of David is seen below in this photo from a satelite picture above Israel, looking into the Gaza region.
This satelite photo was taken in early January 2009 around the time of Operation Cast Lead, where Israel finally acted against the Hamas terrorists who had been shooting rockets into Israeli population centers for the last 8 years or so. The photo came into the public's eye from the United Nations Goldstone UN Fact Finding Mission report.
The U.N. says that they believe that this apparent 60 meter long Star of David was carved into the ground in the southern part of the Gaza Strip by some type of Israeli army vehicles or tanks. No one knows for sure where the star came from. It could have been Israel, but 'carving' seems to be more of an Arab past time. Here's a photograph of an Arab carving a Star of David into the chest of a dead Arab who was accused of collaborating with Israel.
However, if the Arabs didn't do it, and Israel didn't do it, then maybe.... maybe this is the Middle East version of a crop circle, and the design was left by Aliens, Jewish Aliens. And maybe their message to us and the world, was that, Palestinian Authority or not, Hamas terror government or not, Israeli pull out of the Gaza region or not, this land is Jewish land, and they wanted to remind us of that.
A picture is worth a thousand words!