Thursday, February 16, 2006
The Missing Photo by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach
The current craze among Jewish children of collecting picture cards of
Torah scholars and leaders will probably remind many of their American
parents and grandparents of the days when they collected cards of
sports stars. There was, however, one youngster of that generation who
collected photographs of great rabbis and pasted them into an album.
One place in that album was left blank and in it was written:
"Mordechai, if you learn seriously, some day your picture will be
here with the other gedolim."
The youngster took his self-imposed challenge seriously and eventually
became the Rosh Hayeshiva of Yeshivat Telshe in Cleveland, Rabbi
Mordechai Gifter of blessed memory.
(C) 2006 Ohr Somayach International - All rights reserved.
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
The pernicious myth that the State of Israel has been an Occupier of “Arab lands” since the Six-Day War, comprising Judea, Samaria and Gaza, the Golan and Sinai, originated, astonishingly enough, with the legal establishment of the State, which could not fathom the fact that all these territories were either integral regions of the Jewish National Home or historically connected with the Land of Israel. The jurist whose thinking on the subject principally led to the spread of this evil myth was Meir Shamgar, the Military Advocate-General from 1961 to 1968, subsequently the Attorney-General and President of the Supreme Court. In the early 1960s he conceived of a plan of action to be implemented in the event that Israel conquered what he called “enemy territory” from the surrounding Arab states. Under that plan, it was decided that the rules of international law concerning warfare would be applied to any such territory instead of Israeli law. To this end, he conducted special training courses for platoon officers of the Military Advocate’s Corps to familiarize these officers with the laws of war, particularly the Hague Regulations of 1907 and the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, which they carried with them in “movable emergency kits”. In addition, Shamgar prepared a manual for the military advocate giving precise instructions and guidelines for the IDF to follow.
Shamgar’s plan came to fruition in the Six-Day War when it was adopted by the Levi Eshkol National Unity Government. A four-pronged military government was set up to administer all the Jewish territories liberated from Arab rule in 1967. The decision to set up a regime of military government for these territories rather than to apply Israeli law is the reason why the territories were logically considered “occupied territories” by neutral or even friendly foreign opinion, as well as by a large segment of Israeli society. The irony of the situation created by the Six-Day War was that Israel was never obliged to apply the laws of war to what were constituent parts of the Jewish National Home and Land of Israel, since several international law documents dating back to 1920 and 1922 had already recognized exclusive Jewish legal rights over them. Moreover, two important Israeli constitutional laws required the immediate application of Israeli law to all liberated Jewish lands, namely, the Area of Jurisdiction and Powers Ordinance of 1948, as well as the Law of Return of 1950. In ignoring these constitutional laws and the leading precedent established in the War of Independence when Israeli law was automatically applied to areas beyond the U.N. Partition lines repossessed by the IDF, Shamgar committed a staggering violation of the Rule of Law.
Two recent Supreme Court judgments have taken Shamgar’s folly to new heights of absurdity. The President of the Court, Aharon Barak, has ruled that Judea, Samaria and Gaza are indeed governed by the rules of belligerent occupation without naming the state or people whose land has been occupied or noting when that state or people were recognized as the sovereign of the land. As a result of his rulings, Barak has completely undermined the Jewish legal case for the retention of Judea, Samaria and Gaza. The only way to undo the tremendous legal and political harm committed by Israel’s most eminent jurists is for the Knesset to pass special legislation declaring that Judea, Samaria and Gaza are not occupied territories, but rather the national patrimony of the Jewish People in whose name the State of Israel acts.
Sunday, February 12, 2006
Sunday, February 12, 2006
Leftist poet Chaim Guri: Palestinian trees humanitarian concern, Jewish evacuees politics
Aaron Lerner Date: 12 February 2006
In a live interview broadcast on Israel Radio this morning, leftist author and poet Chaim Guri responded to criticism that while the Israeli Left is concerned about Palestinian olive trees that they express no humanitarian interest in the fate of the Jews who were evacuated from the Gaza Strip and have suffered greatly because the Government has failed to provide the compensation and other services.
Guri explained that the "plight of Palestinians is a humanitarian concern while the settlers removed from Gush Katif is politics."
Guri went on to explain that the Palestinians were the "poor of one's own city" - thus qualifying for priority.
The phrase "poor of one's own city" is a phrase from Jewish law regarding priority in the distribution of limited resources in humanitarian cases.That, other things being equal (in terms of critical nature of need, etc.), one first takes care of one's own poor.
Settler leader Bentzi Lieberman responded on the program that when Guri says that he considers Palestinians who genuinely desire the eradication of Israel to have the same standing - if not higher standing - than fellow Jews - that this illustrates a seriously distorted morality on the part of this representative of the Israeli Left.
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
Were the buildings "ticking bombs"
Israel Television Channel One Mabbat evening news reported that
100,000 attended the rally that had been organized over the course of two
days. This is a phenomenal success given both the time and the possible
chilling effect of fear of police violence.
For some reason, the bulk of the coverage has not focused on a very
straightforward issue: the Yesha Council put its reputation on the line
when it offered to commit to move or demolish the buildings within two weeks
in order to avoid a clash. This proposal constituted a major and dramatic
concession on the part of the settler community - something that the Yesha
Council leadership were able to offer only after long and painful
discussions with the people at Amona. The buildings at Amona were hardly
"ticking bombs" that had to be demolished within hours. So the very harsh
questions remains for the Olmert team to answer: even if you thought that
Yesha Council would not "deliver the goods", why did you deny them the
chance? Why, despite all the spins to the media that you want to work with
"moderate" Yesha leaders, did you send them back empty handed?
In the absence of any other explanation for the critical need to demolish
the buildings within hours rather than 14 days, one is only left with a
simple explanation: Olmert's polls found Kadima lost seats for the
compromise in Hebron earlier that week. His political advisors projected an
even greater drop in the polls if he "compromised" at Amona and postponed
the demolition for two weeks.
|Thursday, February 2, 2006|
|Weekly Commentary: Breaking bones for Kadima victory? |
Aaron Lerner Date: 2 February 2006
There is no denying the logic behind the advice that acting prime minister
After all, overnight polling certainly would have shown that many potential
Heavily covered bone breaking no-nonsense "law enforcement" at Amona more
And to make matters worse for the Kadima campaign team, accepting the Yesha
The numbers definitely favored confrontation over peaceful resolution.
But with Kadima enjoying a huge lead in the polls was it really necessary
Is it really so critical that Kadima polls 43 seats instead of 39?
Perhaps Mr. Olmert's campaign advisors can't be faulted for wanting to
Dr. Aaron Lerner, Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
Thursday, February 02, 2006
A Simple Jew posted the famous story of "Reb Zusia is hungry". A recommended read, I have always liked that one.
I have two others I would like to share, but the second one will have to wait for some other posting, as I don't have too much time now.
Reb Zusia lived a very hard life, even by the standards of poverty stricken Poland. The shirt on his back was the only one he owned. He had no teeth, was always sick and never saw a doctor or took painkillers. He just learned Torah, and served Hashem with Bitachon.
Despite everything, Reb Zusia was continually happy.
A person once came to Reb Zusia's teacher, the Maggid of Mezerich, and asked him how can the Gemorah say that one has to say the Bracha on hearing bad news (Baruch Dayan HaEmet) with the same joy as when saying the Bracha upon hearing good news (HaTov VeHaMeitiv)? (Brachot 54a).
How is it possible to have the same joy upon hearing bad news as when hearing good news?
The Maggid told him to go ask the question to his attendant, Reb Zusia.
The person asked Reb Zusia the question, and Reb Zusia replied "You must have the wrong person."
"You are Reb Zusia right?"
"The Maggid said that you could answer the question concerning how one can say the Bracha over bad events with the same joy as a Bracha over good events."
"Then you must surely have the wrong person."
"Because I never understood that statement either. You see, nothing bad has ever happened to me."
This was the same Reb Zusia who had no money, no clothes and no teeth. He had absolute Bitachon in Hashem and knew that whatever happened to him, was for the good.
In a 1959 letter to Israel's first prime minister, David Ben Gurion, the Lubavitcher Rebbe wrote:
It was once fashionable in certain circles to suggest that the Jewish religion and religious observances are necessary for those living in the Diaspora as a shield against assimilation. But for those who can find another "antidote" in the place of religion, particularly for those living in Eretz Israel, within their own society, where the atmosphere, language, etc. (apparently) serve as ample assurances, the Jewish religion was superfluous what need had they to burden themselves with all its minutiae in their daily life? But the trend of developments in Eretz Israel in the last seven or eight years has increasingly emphasized the opposite view: That however vital the need for religion amongst Diaspora Jewry, it is needed even more for the Jews in Israel. One of the basic reasons for this is that it is precisely in Eretz Israel that there exists the danger that a new generation will grow up, a new type bearing the name of Israel but completely divorced from the past of our people and its eternal and essential values; and, moreover, hostile to it in its world outlook, culture and the content of its daily life; hostile in spite of the fact that it will speak Hebrew, dwell in the land of the Patriarchs and wax enthusiastic over the Bible.
(This from rotter.net)
Find the difference
The top picture says "lynch of a Jew in Ramallah"
The bottom picture says "lynch of a Settler (Jewish resident of The Land of Israel) in Amona"
Tuesday, January 31, 2006
|The Eirev-Rav injustice system gets more and more ridiculous every day|
Elon Moreh Security Officer Sentenced to Eight Months in Jail For Killing Attack Dogs
13:16 Jan 31, '06 / 2 Shevat 5766
|(IsraelNN.com) The deputy security officer of the Samaria town of Elon Moreh was sentenced to eight months in prison Monday for shooting in the air in response to Arab shepherds that were trespassing within the towns borders and shooting two of their dogs that attacked him.|
The man was convicted of "Murdering animals" and "violence against people."
He says that he will appeal the decision, which calls into question how a security officer is able to protect the population under his watch without being punished with jail time.
Sunday, January 29, 2006
See post below!
MK Slomoliansky: Supreme Court Not Interested in Justice or Integrity 18:35 Jan 29, '06 / 29 Tevet 5766
(IsraelNN.com) In response to the Supreme Court decision to reject the petition of residents of the community of Amona, MK Nissan Slomoliansky (NRP) pointed out that the law is being selectively applied to discriminate against Jews in Judea and Samaria."The Supreme Court proved today that they come to decisions according to the world view that suits them and not according to measures of justice and integrity," Slomoliansky said."It is very interesting that the hundreds of Arab homes with demolition orders against them remain standing, with the law going unenforced in their regard."
|The Eirev Rav bend over backwards to sentence a clearly innocent Jew. They are doing everything they can against Jews and in favor of terrorists. Such a travesty of justice.|
He was not the first victim of the Eirev Rav injustice and unfortunately probably not the last.
Doesn't the common Israeli on the street see the blatant injustice?
Why don't people protest more aggressively?
Daniel Pinner Found Guilty
17:00 Jan 29, '06 / 29 Tevet 5766
By Hillel Fendel
|Daniel Pinner, who shot in the air when attacked by a rock-throwing Arab mob, was found guilty by the Be'er Sheva District Court of causing willful and malicious injury. He faces a 3-year sentence.|
Pinner, who made Aliyah from England and lives in Kfar Tapuach, has been in prison for over seven months. He was arrested on June 22 for allegedly firing at and injuring an Arab on the Gush Katif beach. Pinner has maintained that he shot in the air in self-defense when a mob of some 50 Arabs threw rocks at him; Arab witnesses and participants admitted in court that they were throwing rocks.
Pinner, 38, an unmarried teacher and licensed electrician, was in Gush Katif at the time to volunteer his services in the refurbishing of the Palm Beach Hotel for new families. Four days after the incident, he was arrested at home, with the police first claiming that he had shot an Arab in the chest, and then later in the leg. Even after months in jail, Pinner did not lose his sense of humor, describing his court hearings in the following manner:
"...It was Wednesday 28 September, and I was up for the second hearing of my trial... Justice was proceeding at its usual sedate, calm pace, undisturbed by such concepts as presumption of innocence, factual evidence, or the right to a speedy trial. The hearing itself was comparatively brief - about an hour or so, in which two police officers in charge of the interrogation testified that: ...
yes, they found a spent cartridge from my Uzi;
no, they had not bothered to check the range or angle of fire to see if that could possibly have been the bullet which allegedly hit Nasser Wafi;
no, they had not been able to run an identity parade to ask the Arab eye-witnesses if I was the shooter;
no, they could not explain why it was impossible to do an identity parade;
no, they could not explain why the police did not think of photographing me in order to run a photographic identity parade."
Atty. Baruch Ben-Yosef expressed disgust at the ruling, saying it "simply ignored all of our legal claims, such as the expert who said that it was impossible to ascertain whether the wound was even caused by a bullet... The judge believed the Arab witnesses, despite the discrepancies in their testimony."
The ruling was handed down Sunday morning by Justice Rachel Barkai of the Be'er Sheva District Court.
Ben-Yosef believes there are strong grounds to appeal to the Supreme Court, and Pinner is likely to do so. In the meanwhile, however, sentencing hearings are currently scheduled for March 8. A probation report must also be prepared for this purpose. He faces a possible three-year prison sentence.
Click here for an article Pinner wrote last week
Saturday, January 28, 2006
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
But Chardal posted some interesting stories about Rav Yisrael Zeev Gustman Zt"l. It is a recommended read, not long, see them here.
The second story is about how Rav Gustman was in a car that was traveling past Ben-Yehuda street. Ben-Yehudah is not exactly the most Tsanuah (modest) place in town. The driver of the vehicle felt uncomfortable about this, but Rav Gustman started marveling about how the new buildings show how we are meriting to witness the rebuilding of Yerushalayim.
I had an immediate thought about this. I have heard several stories about other great Gedolim in which they have read the thoughts of the people they were talking to.
I wondered whether Rav Gustman was anticipating the thoughts of the person he was in the car with and chose to give him a message: Always look for the positive side of things.
Perhaps instead of lamenting about the Eirev-Rav government, I should be more like Rabbi Akiva, who when he saw a fox running out of the rubble of destroyed Yerushalayim, even then, chose to look on the bright side of things.
As Yeshayahu says:
מַה-נָּאווּ עַל-הֶהָרִים רַגְלֵי מְבַשֵּׂר, מַשְׁמִיעַ שָׁלוֹם מְבַשֵּׂר טוֹב--מַשְׁמִיעַ יְשׁוּעָה
All these negative things are, after all, sounds of the footsteps of the Mevaser.
And they only mean that he is coming closer and closer, and are therefore very pleasant sounds.
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
|While the "Israeli Police" and the "Israel Defence Forces" have turned into "Ishmael Defence Forces' and one of the primary enemies of faithfull Jews, the efforts to take Jerusalem away from the Jews continues:|
Plan to Internationalize Jerusalem May be Urged at Herzliya Conference
(IsraelNN.com) The non-profit Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies has issued a study recommending that Jerusalem's holy sites be administered by an international body. The study likely will be presented at the annual Herzliya conference schedule to start this Saturday.
The center's research concluded that the "lack of trust between Israel and the Palestinian Authority" supports turning the authority over to an international committee to preserve holy sites. Jordan closed off non-Moslem sites during its occupation of the eastern part of the city. Israel re-opened up Christian and Jewish sites to visitors after Jordan retreated during the Six-Day War in 1967 and Israel reunited the capital.
Thursday, January 12, 2006
by Jonathan Rosenblum
January 11, 2006
In the early 1930s, Rabbi Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler set himself the task of battling the cult of science of his time. To his private students in London - mostly teenagers from Orthodox homes who attended public school - he first emphasized how circumscribed is the realm of science, and how little it has to say concerning the ultimate purposes of life.
Next Rabbi Dessler would show the inherent bias from which scientists too suffer. As one of his closest talmidim from that period, Rabbi Aryeh Carmell, puts it, "So successful did this method [of revealing the hidden premises and bias] prove that one of his followers, if faced with a conflict between a widely held contemporary view and a tenet of Torah, instead of putting himself on the defensive and groping for apologetics, will immediately endeavor to bring to light the bias, individual, social and otherwise, which has given rise to the divergent viewpoint."
Rabbi Dessler emphasized how the slightest self-interest is sufficient to prejudice the outcome of any decision-making process, and that this applied no less to scientific judgments than any other. He demonstrated the point by taking what might be a prototypical scientist for his example:
"Think of a person who, by the power of his intellect alone, wants to re-examine some fundamental problem - such as was the world created for a purpose. . . . Let us assume that the person possesses a keen intellect, is well-educated and well-informed. However, so far as character is concerned he is pretty average. He has never seriously tackled his moral failings. . . . [Now let us say that] we are talking about a very comprehensive problem . . . . On the solution will depend whether he will be obliged to struggle constantly with his baser desires, . . . or whether he will live with no restraints on his desires apart from those he deigns to place on them. . . ." Can we seriously believe, Rabbi Dessler asked, that he will arrive at a true conclusion merely by the exercise of his intellectual powers?
Scientists themselves have admitted their own susceptibility to various forms of bias. In his classic work, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Thomas Kuhn describes scientists' resistance to abandoning a given paradigm until an acceptable alternative is proposed, no matter how much countervailing evidence has accumulated. Scientists are uncomfortable moving from a position of purported knowledge to one of ignorance. Stephen Jay Gould, one of the leading neo-Darwinists, discusses in The Structure of Evolutionary Theory the ways in which social and career incentives cause scientists to fail to fully grasp the import of the date they observe.
NOWHERE IS THE BIAS OF SCIENTISTS on more prominent display than with respect to the ever roiling debates over Darwinian evolution. Supporters of
These scientists cannot claim that these views are merely the outgrowth of the overwhelming empirical evidence in favor of
The scientific naturalism of the Darwinists - the belief that everything can be explained by natural, material forces -- is ultimately founded on rhetorical legerdemain that has nothing to do with science. First step: exclude all non-natural causes as a priori inadmissible. Second step: If Darwinian evolution were true, it would explain the observed taxonomic similarities between different living things. Third step: Since no alternative explanation currently exists to explain those phenomena, Darwinism must be true. (This step, to which Darwinists inevitably have recourse whenever the holes in the theory are pointed out, Philip Johnson astutely notes in Darwin on Trial, is the equivalent of preventing a criminal defendant from presenting an alibi until he can produce the real criminal.) Fourth step: Since Darwinism is true, all explanations based on non-natural causes are vanquished. Note how that which was a priori excluded at the outset is now deemed to have been somehow disproved.
Colin Patterson was right that the Darwinian theory of life developing through trillions of micromutations, sifted by natural selection, is not scientific. A scientific theory, as defined by Karl Popper, must be falsifiable. When Einstein introduced his General Theory of Relativity, for instance, he offered at the same time a series of bold predictions based on the theory and by which it could be tested.
Instead of constructing such tests for their theory, Darwinists start by assuming the truth of theory and then looking for corroboration, a travesty of Poppers definition of science. Studies of the fossil record, for instance, that fail to buttress the theory are deemed failures and never published. Gareth Nelson of the
Nor have the Darwinists shown how natural selection could have produced complex systems based on interaction of many separate parts, none of which parts would offer any comparative advantage by itself. The human eye, hemoglobin, the avian feather, the poison of the blowfish (in which neither the poison nor the delivery system would confer any advantage absent the other) are just a few of the large number of examples that cannot be explained. The best Darwinists can offer in response are what Harvard professors Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Lewontin call "just-so" stories about how each of the postulated (but never observed) changes in each part of the system conferred some advantage.
Darwin himself stated "If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive mutations, my theory would absolutely break down." But the fossil record fails to provide, according to paleontologist Stephen Stanley, a singe example of "major morphological transition." Moreover, leading prominent geneticists and mathematicians have concluded that the number of necessary mutations to produce complex systems, like human sight is impossible.
So despite themselves, latter day Darwinists have had to introduce major leaps, or "saltations", into their account of the development of life. Thus
The result, however, was to save Darwin only by rejecting his abhorrence of saltations - i.e., by introducing a deus ex machina in the middle of his naturalistic theory. The terrible choice facing would be defenders of a purely naturalistic account of the development of life is, as Eldridge put it, between maintaining Darwin's theory, despite its notoriously poor fit with the facts, and positing models that require the "embrace of a rather dubious set of biological propositions."
That scientists are willing to engage in which such wild speculations, absent any mechanism explaining the large jumps in developmental stages they posit, only shows how deeply engrained is their bias in favor of purely natural causes. Some form of Darwinian evolution is, Philip Johnson puts it aptly, the "creation story of scientific naturalism."
The scientists could have spared themselves the effort of saving
Hoyle also discovered that the carbon, the basis of all organic life, could only have been created in the original solar pressure cooker because of the perfect nuclear resonance between two sets of simpler elements. His conclusion: "A commonsense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature."
Just what we always believed.
Sunday, January 08, 2006
But the sad truth that anyone who lives here knows, is that the secular are even more anti-democratic than they claim the religious to be, and their own claims of democracy are just lip service.
And if that were bad enough, they run a brutish and thuggish police state!
At the time of the demonstrations against the expulsion from Gaza for example, the police used to randomly pull religious Jews from public busses "just in case" they were on their way to a demonstration.
They also used to randomly confiscate the drivers license of bus drivers "just to make sure" they would not transport Jews to demonstrations.
Not to mention the terrible police brutality that was used even against little girls.
Now, with all the LIBEL against Jews, accusing them of chopping down arab olive trees, and Olmert giving the orders to "crack down on them", it seems that the police are once again randomly arresting Jews who just happen to possess olive branches.
When is this secular tyranny going to end???
Friends of the Jewish man arrested in possession of olive branches say the man was simply collecting firewood.
Thursday, January 05, 2006
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Sunday, January 01, 2006
Heroes: A True Story
by Sara Yoheved Rigler
God becomes believable when life becomes unbelievable. *
Anne was an abused child. When she grew up, she did what many abused kids inexplicably do: she married a man who turned out to be an abuser. When she realized the scope of the damage her husband was inflicting on their three children, Anne took the children and fled.
Life has not been easy for Anne. Although she is a college graduate, she cannot use her diploma since she is in hiding under an assumed name. She supports her children by cleaning houses and taking in ironing.
Money is scarce. Half her meager monthly income goes to pay psychotherapists for her children. The kids, especially the boys, are aggressive, belligerent, and rebellious. They feel they got a raw deal in life. Since their father is not around, they blame their mother. It doesn't help that she has no money to give them to buy the things the other kids have, not even treats. The oldest, 14-year-old Nate, was caught stealing candy at the local supermarket.
A strong, strapping boy, Nate often gets into fights with the neighborhood kids and with his younger siblings. Verbal sparring matches between Nate and his twelve-year-old brother Donny sound like a script out of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"
Like many people who were abused by their fathers, Anne has a hard time forging a relationship with God. Since moving to a Jewish neighborhood and living among religious people whose lifestyle she admires, Anne has set new goals for her family. They now keep Shabbat and kashrut, and the children go to religious schools. As much as she appreciates the beauty of Judaism, however, Anne has a host of gripes against God.
"I don't blame him for the marriage," she says. "I went into that with my eyes open. But why did God have to give me such monsters for parents? And why, even now, does He have to make my life so difficult?"
Anne suffers from a battery of minor health problems. Frequently, she must choose between buying a new pair of shoes for one of the kids or paying the electric bill. The telephone company recently disconnected her telephone. "It's easier to live without a telephone than without electricity," she explains to me. "My kids are afraid of the dark."
Last Friday, Anne called me. (Someone lent her money to pay her phone bill.) "I'm about to have a nervous breakdown," she told me grimly. "On top of everything else, my iron broke. How does God expect me to earn money without my iron? And I can't afford a new one."
On Saturday night, after Shabbat, I telephoned Anne with the good news that a neighbor of mine had an extra iron which she was willing to give her. She informed me that over Shabbat the plumbing in the upstairs bathroom had broken down. She had no money to call a plumber.
"I just wish God would lighten up on me," Anne complained.
I didn't know what to say. She certainly does have a difficult lot in life, I thought. I tried desperately to summon up a spiritual perspective which would lift her out of her depression.
"God does give you a lot of challenges," I said finally. "But who knows? Even all the stuff you suffer -- the broken iron, the broken plumbing -- may be God's mercy instead of giving you something worse like..." Here I faltered. What could be worse than all the hardships she has endured?
NOTHING CHANGES; EVERYTHING CHANGES
The next morning, Sunday, Nate needed to go to the nearest big city. He stood at the entrance of their small town in order to hitch a ride. A white Mitsubishi with three women he knew stopped to pick him up. Nate got into the car and asked them where in the city they were headed.
When they told him, Nate had second thoughts. He didn't really have money for bus fare in the city. Maybe he could get a ride which would take him closer to his destination. On the other hand, maybe he couldn't. For a split second, he vacillated. Then Nate thanked the three women and got out of the car.
Five minutes later, the father of one of Nate's friends picked him up. They had traveled no more than a few minutes down the highway when the traffic stopped dead. Nate got out of the car to see what the trouble was.
He saw the road splattered with blood. Then he saw a hand lying on the road. Then a foot. Horrified, his eyes moved to the two vehicles which had collided: a bus and the white Mitsubishi, now crushed like a discarded tin can.
All three women were dead.
As soon as Nate reached the city, he called his mother. His voice was shaking. "I was in the car," he repeated over and over again. "Five minutes before the accident, I was in the car. I'm not even sure why I got out." Anne could not remember the last time she had heard Nate crying.
When Anne called me a few hours later, she was still trembling so hard I felt like the telephone wires were shaking. "Do you realize how close he came to being killed?" she asked me, trying desperately to convey her sense that her son had been miraculously plucked out of the doomed vehicle just in the nick of time.
She had one pressing question for me: "How do I thank God?"
Nothing had changed. Anne still had no money, no good job prospects, poor health, broken plumbing, and three scarred kids. But suddenly, in the split second that it takes two vehicles to collide on the highway, everything had changed. Her eldest son was alive.
She felt like a woman blessed beyond words.
GIVING IT BACK TO GOD
The accident was Sunday. On Monday evening, while Anne was washing dishes in the kitchen, her eight-year-old daughter came running in. "Mom, there's a flood."
Anne rushed upstairs to see two inches of water covering the whole upstairs floor, gushing out from under the bathroom door where Donny had gone to take a bath. All she could think of was the electronic game always sitting, plugged in, on the floor of her sons' bedroom. Yelling to her daughter to stay downstairs, she ran to the bedroom. Water covered the floor except for the corner where the game lay.
Next she ran to the bathroom. Flinging open the door, she saw Donny floating face down in the tub. Her heart stopped. She grabbed his body and yanked him out of the tub. Donny burst into laughter. He had been playing dead. He had not noticed the bathtub overflowing.
Anne took a deep breath and surveyed the damage. They were in the process of moving to a smaller apartment; packed suitcases and boxes lay all over the floor of the hallway and bedrooms. Now everything was soaked. She would have to unpack, hang up every item of clothing, every sheet and blanket, and throw away what could not be salvaged.
She returned to the bathroom and motioned Donny to come to her. Donny knew that look on his mother's face, that look of tension, of being so overwhelmed that she lost control. People often parent the way they were parented. Donny put his hand over his face and flinched.
Then something miraculous happened. More miraculous than Nate getting out of the car. More miraculous than the water not reaching the electronic game. Instead of slapping her son, Anne cradled his face in her two hands and said, "I'm really upset about all the work you caused me, and all the ruined stuff. But you're my child, and I love you no matter what you do." And she bent down and kissed his forehead.
All she could think of was: "Thank God my children are alive."
That very same night, Nate was rehearsing for a school play. During the break, one of the teachers gave Nate money to go to the pizza parlor and buy pizza for all the performers.
Nate was chosen to go because he had a spiffy new bike. His aunt had sent him $250 for a super-duper bike, a Bar Mitzvah present that was a year late, because it had taken her a that long to save the money. Nate had purchased the bike, the only truly wonderful object he owned, two weeks before. Because there was no money left over to buy a lock, Nate never left the bike unattended.
That Monday night, Nate took the bike into the pizza parlor with him. A gang of kids, a year younger than Nate, was hanging out in there. Nate knew them. A couple months before he had helped these same kids drag a load of wood up a hill. He had seen them struggling, and because he was bigger, he had helped them.
When Nate turned to order the pizzas, the kids grabbed his bike, took it outside, and slammed it against a wall so hard they demolished the bike. Nate came running outside after them to find his precious bike a mangled carcass.
Nate's first thought was: "How could they do this to me? I helped them!"
His second thought was: "I want to kill them."
His third thought was: "I promised my mother I won't fight or swear anymore."
His fourth thought was: "Violence doesn't help. Even if I cream them, it won't bring my bike back."
Then Nate did something so momentous its effect will be felt for generations: Nate refrained from beating up the boys who had destroyed his bike. In so overcoming his past and his tendency toward violence, Nate picked up a machete made of his aspiration to become a better person and, with one mighty blow, severed a chain of violence which stretched back generations. The Talmud says: "Who is a hero? He who overcomes his own self."
Nate left the pizza parlor dragging the remains of his new bike. If I were a filmmaker, I would shoot the scene in slow motion, like the climax of "Chariots of Fire," when the Olympic runner breaks through the finish line. I would play a score of triumphant music in the background, with lots of trumpets. I would have fireworks going off in the night sky above Nate and his mangled bike.
And that's probably how it looked in the higher worlds. But in this physical world there was simply a tearful boy dragging home the mangled mess that had been his most prized possession.
One thing is certain: Few happenings that took place in the world that Monday night, including the events that grabbed the next morning's headlines, were as significant as Nate's and Anne's victories over violence. They are models of true heroism.
* Rabbi David Aaron, Director, Isralight
This article is featured in Aish.com's book:Heaven on Earth