118 posts categorized "Land of Israel"

The Jewish Family

Kotel

Mazal Tov! I got out of Bet Shemesh again. 

David had the genius idea (don't tell him I said that) to take the family to the Kotel for Rosh Chodesh Sivan. OMG I just remembered as I wrote this! It's Rosh Chodesh!! Chodesh Tov, yo!

I'm super excited because that means my birthday is coming up!! I plan to remember my birthday this year, just like I remembered it last year. Super proud of myself.

Today was a beautiful experience. Not just because I got to leave my four cubic feet of space. No. It was beautiful for a, um, beautiful reason.

First of all, let's all give me props for taking this awesome picture. It's so spiritual-looking, right? Sure, the subject of the picture happens to be super spiritual, but let's focus on my photography skills. See how I caught that ray of sunlight at just the right angle? And see that bird that I got to pose so nicely in his little rock nest? 

Let's give credit where credit is due.

Being at the Kotel is such a special experience. To stand there, knowing that Hashem's Divine Presence is there, floating all around the wall, covering everyone with her spiritual protection, it's awe-inspiring. And to be able to stand there, at the holiest site in the world, a site that was fought over throughout our history (and is still fought over) is just incredible.

People get very emotional at the Kotel. It's like their souls can feel this unique closeness to Hashem that is unattainable anywhere else in the world. Because there is such a strong connection, it is easier for the soul to express her feelings and her longing to reconnect with Hashem. 

The prayers a person prays at the Kotel are probably one of the most real prayers he/she will ever pray. Since we can feel the spiritual longing that our souls have, we are instinctively more aware of the fact that we are praying in front of G-d and not just into a prayer book. 

This was all very beautiful, but the most beautiful thing for me was when I looked around at the other women praying. There were all types of women: young religious girls, women with different types of hair covering, women with no hair covering, old women, middle-aged women - all had a single goal in mind. 

To connect with Hashem.

It sounds silly, but I imagined Hashem looking down at us, His children, like little ants here on Earth, asking Him way up in shamayim for whatever we need. And when I thought about it this way, I really saw us as one big dysfunctional family. 

We all have our different opinions, different ways of doing things, and different paths that we use to connect with Hashem. But in the big picture, we all want the same thing. We all want to be close to Him. We want to feel His love for us and to know that He cares about us.

Even though we may be so different on the outside, we really are the same on the inside. We all want the same things from life: health, money, spirituality, healthy children, a happy marriage, a condo on the beach, etc. 

I hope that this realization somehow makes its way from my head to my heart (and yours too!) The next time we find ourselves about to get into it with someone, let's do our best to step back and realize that the other person is not much different from us. Hopefully this realization will prevent much unnecessary hurt and suffering. 

In the merit of Rosh Chodesh Sivan (and my upcoming birthday) let's do our best to not argue. Because above everything else, being kind to others, giving in to others (without being taken advantage of, please!), and respecting the other's perspective is what will bring the Mashiach. 

I wish you all a happy, healthy Rosh Chodesh and a wonderful, dairy-infested Shavuot! 

~Racheli

p.s.- Don't miss Rav Brody's weekly Emuna Class tonight! Check out his post below for details! 


Our Duty and Our Country Israel

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Happy 70th Birthday, State of Israel!

The young man in the picture above won't be going on a cookout tonight. He won't be partying. He's preparing for a dangerous mission, scary too. He's the platoon commander of a crack infantry unit that will be laying in ambush on the other side of one of our borders, where the intel suspects/expects an imminent terrorist infiltration. He'll be awake for 8 hours and he doesn't dare doze, even for a second. How does he do it? You might say duty and dedication, but his family lives only a few short miles from the border. He's protecting them.

I have a question for the young, able-bodied men wearing suits and hats, who are hanging around sidewalks and malls, or picknicking today at the beach or the park: what are you doing to protect your family and your people? Why aren't you in Yeshiva today at your duty post learning Torah? You received your exemption from the army so that you could learn Torah, so why are you not manning your important spiritual battle station?

Hashem gave us the gift of our own state. Sure, it's not yet what we dream of: we'd love to have the return of the Davidic Dynasty, the Holy Temple and total Torah law. But meanwhile, we still have the best place on earth and we must protect it from our enemies day and night. The young men in the olive green are doing their job; what about the young men in the black?

I rarely lose my temper but I admit - desecration of Hashem's Name makes my blood boil. Yesterday, on Memorial Day when we mourn our fallen soldiers - many of whom were friends, neighbors, relatives and close comrades who we can never ever forget - a siren calling for a moment of silence wailed all over the country. Cars stop on the highway, people get out and stand at attention in the respect of the memory of the fallen. Sure, this is not exactly a Jewish custom but it has become the national custom and we must honor it. At any rate, last night, when the siren wailed and everyone stopped, my wife was standing at attention at a bus stop. She looks like a Chassidic grandmother (and she is) but she's also a former IDF sergeant who served in the tank corps in the Yom Kippur War in 1973. She saw two young men in black hats and suits continue walking down the street nonchalantly; she motioned at them to stop but they ignored her. I'm glad that I wasn't with her because I'm afraid that I might have done something that I'd regret...

I ask these senseless young men: Why didn't you stop? Why didn't you show respect for those, in whose sacrifice and dedication you sleep soundly in your beds at night? And, if you didn't want to show respect, why didn't you remain in Yeshiva glued to your Gemara like you should be? What are you doing on the street?

The basis of both emuna and common decency is gratitude. Judaism is gratitude. Torah is gratitude. And don't tell me indignantly that the State of Israel tries to uproot Torah Judaism. If I had never come to Israel and served in the army - both of which I thank Hashem for daily - I would have never made teshuva. I would never have appreciated my G-d, my people, our Torah and our country. Thank You, Hashem, and thank you Israel and Happy 70th Birthday! May you be healthy and happy till Moshiach comes!

Meanwhile, we all must do our duty. If one chooses to learn Torah, fine; but, he should learn with the same dedication that those Golani and Givati boys will be exhibiting tonight on patrol. May Hashem protect them.


The Miracles of Hanit

Today is Memorial Day in Israel for our martyred soldiers, of sacred and blessed memory.

Hanit Image at left courtesy of Haaretz.com shows the Israeli Missile boat "Hanit" being tugged into Ashdod port after having been hit by a Hizbulla missile off the Beirut shore on July 14, 2006, during the Second Lebanon War.

17 October, 2006. A young Israeli Naval sergeant boarded the northbound train in Tel Aviv. I was on my way to a present a lecture in the Haifa area and he was returning to his base in the Haifa port. He sat down across from me, looking at me intently while I was learning my Gemara. I looked up at him, smiled, said "Shalom aleichem!"

He sighed deeply, as if relieved, and sheepishly asked, "Can I talk to you, Rav?"

"Of course," I answered, asking him how he knows that I'm a "rav". He said that he heard me eulogize one of his fallen friends during the war. The sailor had a relatively new beard, an almost new knitted kippa on his head, and the beautifully pure innocence in his eyes of a new Ba'al Teshuva. To make a long story short, he was a crewman on board the Israeli Navy ship Hanit (Hebrew for bayonet) when it was hit by a missile of shore in Beirut.

The sailor, who we'll call Moshe, began to relate the dozens of miracles that happened aboard the Hanit the night that it was hit. "It was Friday night. Usually, the crew would eat Friday night dinner in two shifts. But this time, since we were in a war zone, our three religious crewmen went to Lt. Col. A - the skipper - and begged that we all need Hashem's help. The first miracle is that the skipper agreed to leave only 4 sailors on the bridge, and allowed the whole entire crew to pray together; we piled into the chapel, and said a lengthy mincha and Kabbalat Shabbat. I was bored and wanted to eat quickly then catch a few hours sleep, because I had the midnight watch. But, I stayed with the rest of the crew. Then, all of us had a Shabbat meal together - 15 different sailors said Kiddush, each in the custom of his fathers; I'm talking about guys that aren't (weren't) even religious! The meal was drawn out - I had a headache and was dying to sleep. The religious guys started to say the grace after the meal, and BOOOFF! The missile hit, but on the opposite end of the craft. It should have sank the boat, but it hit a crane right above the chopper landing pad. What a miracle! If that's not enough, the helicopter-refueling tank - filled to the gills with chopper fuel - didn't explode despite the fact that the whole end of the boat was burned..."

At least twenty other crewmen aboard the Hanit should have been killed, but they were saved by Shabbat dinner on the other end of the ship. The four on the bridge all lost their lives.

Moshe had beads of sweat on his forehead; tears glistened in his eyes. "The newspapers don't write about the miracles that we all saw. I ran to my bunk on the deck right below the landing pad. It was charcoal; my metal bunk was completely melted down and all my possessions were ashes. If I hadn't been detained in the chapel and in the dining hall for Shabbat meal, I'd have been charcoal too. I haven't stopped thanking Hashem since - I've changed my life..."

Moshe continued with more miracles, including the engine room burnt to a crisp but a pair of tefillin was found unscathed. If that's not enough, amidst the embers of destruction, the sailors found a Book of Psalms - also unscathed - opened to Psalm 124. Read Psalm 124 and your hair will stand up!

The train was nearing my station, so I gave Moshe a blessing and a fatherly embrace, and we parted. The Hanit took a direct hit from a Hizbulla missile, but Moshe has turned the navy's setback into a victory.

*******

Every day, I meet more and more "Moshes". Unlike many of the politicians, the Israeli on the street - especially the soldiers and the reservists - are diamonds looking to be polished, and have started to ask the real questions in life. They're looking for emuna. Were it not for the wars here, they wouldn't have bothered. 

The whole purpose of the wars is to bring us closer to Hashem. Once we get close to Hashem on our own initiative, Hashem won't have to send us wars anymore, amen. I'd much prefer dancing with Moshiach to eulogizing fallen comrades.


Happy 70th Birthday, State of Israel!!

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My cousin Maya is on a March of the Living trip in Poland, and she sent me this totally awesome picture of a classmate standing on the train tracks that lead into Auschwitz Birkenau extermination camp. 

What a great picture, right?! 

It's mind-boggling that the world has repeatedly tried to kill us off in the most barbaric of ways. Our history is filled with war, persecution, and bloodshed. But somehow, we're still here. And growing.

We're not perfect (the understatement of the year) but we're still on this Earth, and in our precious Holy Land, and we're growing like nobody's business. With all of the threats that surround us every moment, we still manage to keep moving forward and thriving. 

And I'm not just talking about the Torah-observant Jews. 

The secular Jews are making great contributions to society and the world. I mean, except for Harvey Weinstein and Bernie Madoff. Oh, and Howard Stern. 

I feel so blessed and fortunate to be here, in Israel, getting ready to celebrate the 70th birthday of our Jewish state, which will be this Thursday. 

Yes, our government is totally corrupt. Yes, there's pork-eating and pride parades. Yes, there's A LOT of room for improvement.

But I think about the diversity of people here, and I'm amazed that we not only manage to survive together, but we thrive together. 

The lesson I take away from being here during Israeli Independence Day is that we should have more tolerance for one another.  

We should have more tolerance for different political opinions, religious views, levels of observance, and traditions. I really think that if we could just work more on this, Mashiach would be here in no time. 

If someone else is not holding by our stricter standards, that is not a reason to look down on them or make them feel less Jewish. Everyone has their process and their timing and their unique soul correction, and we need to be okay with that.

Hashem has infinite patience for us and our process. If He didn't, well, none of us would be here. 

So let's learn from Hashem this Independence Day. Be tolerant of one another, be patient with one another, and G-d forbid, love one another. 

~Racheli

In loving memory of Eliyahu Drori hy"d, the IDF soldier that was killed while chasing smugglers last Friday night. His father is a beloved member of our kehilla, and we at the Beams extend our deepest condolences for their tragic loss. May they be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem. 

Photo from Racheli Reckles (37)

 


#WeRemember - Holocaust Day, 12 April, 2018

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Lately, following the lead of the magpies in the so-called Palestinian Authority and in Iran, all the anti-Zionists anti-Semites of the world have given license to their mouths and to their pens to not only deny the Holocaust but deny all of the thousands of years of Jewish history in the Land of Israel. Most of my mother's family was murdered in the Holocaust - in Grodno ghetto, in Majdanek and in Auschwitz. My Mom, may Hashem bless her, is a Levite. Her ancestors sang in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. The Romans exiled us from the Land of Israel and our family migrated to Spain and later during the Spanish Inquisition, to Poland. Thank G-d, I was fortunate to return home to Israel 48 years ago in 1970. The above photo, taken in ancient Ashdod where Jews have lived for centuries, is my answer to the all the Holocaust and Land-of-Israel deniers. We'll never forget our history - it's in our veins. #WeRemember - period.

p.s.- Don't miss Racheli's post below. It's a must-read for today!


We Will Live On

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Today is Holocaust Memorial Day in Israel. We remember the 6,000,000 Jews, 10,000,000 Soviets, and millions of Serbs, Gypsies, and other unfortunate people that were wickedly tortured and murdered by the evil Nazis ym"s. I hope they get their extermination camp torture treatment in hell. Forever. 

I was trying to pick out a picture for this post, and after going through hundreds of absolutely horrifying pictures of men, women, and children having been reduced to bones with a thin layer of skin on top, piles of dead bodies flung like garbage one on top of the other, a pile of legs that were severed at the hip for G-d knows what sick reason, a row of children laying blindfolded on their backs as the EVIL, HORRIBLE, SUBHUMAN Nazis tortured them in ways beyond our worst nightmares, I just couldn't bring myself to post any of it. 

All I can think about now is that picture of those poor innocent children, lying naked and blindfolded, screaming and crying in pain and terror as they're surrounded by soulless beings of death who are the epitome of cruel sick perversion. G-d knows what was being done to them. 

Every time I think about it my heart breaks all over again. I am flooded with pain and "WHY, HASHEM?!?!" even though I know I'm supposed to have emuna that the Holocaust had to happen, because Hashem let it happen.

The above picture is of my father and his father after they arrived in Israel. I believe my father was around 15 when this picture was taken. My father, Moshe, is a Holocaust survivor. He was just eight years old when his father, Zvi z"l, took him on the run from the Germans. My father's mother, Chana Fruma z"l, and his two little sisters, Sarah z"l, and Mindele z"l, were taken to Treblinka extermination camp. 

As I lit four candles and thought about the superhuman strength and unwillingness to give up that my grandfather had, I realized deeply that if it weren't for his ultimate sacrifice, I wouldn't be here. My kids wouldn't be here. And David would be married to someone not nearly as gorgeous.

My grandfather Zvi lives on in me. He lives on in my father, who had to endure nearly three years hiding in wheat fields in Poland while on the run from the Germans and Poles. Three years of being homeless, no food, freezing Polish winters, rain, wild animals, and the constant terror of being discovered and killed. 

I don't know how the survivors were able to physically and mentally get through such gehinnom. 

In honor of today, please read my article describing my father's life in the fields. Even though we are only one or two generations removed from the survivors, we are at risk of losing our sensitivity to what has happened. Just look at what's going on in Syria. So many innocent people, young children and babies, are being murdered in vicious ways as you read this. But the world doesn't step in.

Take a moment to think about the survivors you know and the sacrifices they've made. 

We are here because of them. 

And even though many of them are no longer with us, they are still alive inside of us. 

Just look at these two little monkeys.

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My children, me, my siblings, and all future generations that come from us are alive because Zvi Hershl Rubinstein z"l did everything he could to make sure my father stayed alive.  

May his soul and the souls of every single martyr enjoy eternal Divine bliss in that special place in Heaven reserved for those who died sanctifying Hashem's name. 

And may we see the end of pain and suffering in our time, and with tremendous joy, greet our Mashiach and witness the rebuilding of our Holy Temple, Amen! 

~Racheli