Friday, July 31, 2009

Pasha's Parshas - Stay True to Our Values

The Torah says, "And all of you who attached themselves closely to G-d (meaning firmly following the precepts of morality and integrity of G-d and the Torah) are alive TODAY".
Why does it say "today" it should have said "will be alive eternally'?
Isn't that the intended message?
If someone falls into a rushing river, just because he's moving you don't know he's alive if he's moving with the current, you only know he's alive if you see him struggling to fight against the current.
Just because a person's moving (functioning in society) is no proof he's "alive" in the present if all he does is go with the flow. But if he's following the Torah's rules of morality and integrity which are often a struggle against prevailing currents, then you know he's alive TODAY.
Let's be "alive" and true to our values.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Tisha B'av - Mourning for our loss 2000 years ago?

As Tisha B'av (the Fast of the Ninth of Av) is about to begin we need to realize that we are not commemorating an event or events that took place more than 2000 years ago.
If that were true it would have little or much less meaning today.
Look at the American Holidays that commemorate a past event that have lost much of their significance and they were no more than 200 years old!
For the Fast (or any Jewish Holiday) to have any significance we must realize that they are there to help us correct or improve ourselves based upon current and contemporary issues and wrongdoings.
The Talmud tells us "Any generation that the Temple is not rebuilt in their time it is as if it has been destroyed in their time". We aren't mourning the loss of 2000 years ago and the misdeeds which caused it back then but we are mourning OUR TIMES and the misdeeds that continue to not allow things to permanently change for the best. (the Temple to be rebuilt)
But we shouldn't despair and think that if this corruption is so widespread what can I as one person do?
The answer is alot.
As the prophet Isaiah in last week's Haftora said, that although he refers to the leaders as Lords of Sodom the people are still referred to a "night refuge" in a field and "separated remnant" that there still is some hope, even though it's a small remnant of goodness, they have the power to effect change.
We can effect a change with our efforts regardless of what we think everyone else will do.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Let's not believe all those who try to bring us down

This from an AP story in the furthering disgusting attempt by those who hate humanity to make the Israeli army look like evil, when in reality they are of the most sensitive and humane in the world and definitely in that area.
Israeli soldiers: 'No clear red lines' in Gaza war

As you read the story further and read other accounts from more trustworthy sources you see that these claims were anonymous and unsubstantiated.
But that doesn't stop the AP from the misleading, inflammatory and dangerous headline.

Better late than never Pasha's Parshas - Let's Stand up for what's right - The Right Way

A few weeks ago we talked about Korach who, while maybe correct in what he was trying to change, went about it the wrong way with disastrous results.
In this past week's Parsha we see 2 different people doing something to effect serious and permanent change. But since they were sincere, genuine and without bias or ulterior motive, they were successful and praised and rewarded.
It is very important to stand up for what's wrong but it is even more important to do it the right way.
The right way may even be a seemingly unconventional or even revolutionary act but under the right circumstances and with the proper sincerity from the heart it will affect a lasting change and even bring peace.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Another Kosher conversation - An email Discussion

unfortunately this kind of desire to be contentious rather than a desire to really know what the Law is, happens to be a big problem in the Jewish world today.

Dear Rabbi Schwarcz,
At the vegan restaurants under your supervision, such as Certain Restaurant ,are the veggies checked for bugs?
At the meat/pita restaurant, there is a non-jew behind the counter, who appears to have little respect for laws of kashruth, nor was there a mashgiach of any nature.. What is the supervision to insure the counterman does not bring in trayfa meat, either for use in the salads and sanwiches, or for his own use.
Attempting to become familiar with standards of kashruth, as to adhere to the laws of the Torah.

Dear Person,
Thank you for your questions and please feel free to call me with further clarifications @
The veggies are very well checked for bugs as vegans don't believe in eating bugs either.
But what do you mean that "there is a non-jew behind the counter, who appears to have little respect for laws of kashruth" ?
Please clarify for me.
Rabbi Zev Schwarcz

Rabbi Schwarcz,
I don't see how the fact that vegans don't like to eat bugs which is a personal preference issue equates to a Issur Doraysa [Torah transgression]. Checking for bugs is an arduous time consuming task. Hard to accept that vegans checking equals that required by Halacha.

At (some place) there is a place that sells non glatt meat where there was only a nonjew in charge behind the counter.

Dear Person,
Where do you get your information?
Where does the Torah say that it is an "arduous Time consuming task"?
"hard to accept"? is that halacha too?
Once again you did not explain the "appears to have little respect for the jewish law"
I think you seem to be mixing opinion with fact which is definitely a dangerous thing.

Rabbi Schwarcz,
Checking for bugs is an arduous time consuming task. That's a practical reality. Made more so with the volume of veggies in a vegan store. Halacha requires super careful checking not to be nicshol [make a mistake]. If your contention is guys at a
vegan rstrnt are as careful and dedicated in their search day after day as one who is afraid of transgressing the Issur Dorasa [Torah transgression] you may want to seriously verify this. There is the problem of Lifnei Iver. [causing people to sin}
The person behind the counter was from a south americn or caribbean ctry. Not caucasian not jewish not acquainted or probably concerned with halacha.

Dear Person,
Have you ever been in the kitchen of a vegan restaurant?
You're already jumping to me being over lifnei evair.
You haven't even spoken to me. I haven't answered directly any of your questions.
You assumed that the "Caribbean or South American" person behind the counter is not concerned with Halacha.
I propose that YOU are not concerned with Halacha but only with being contentious and assumptive.
I offered you my phone # to call me and that I'd gladly answer your concerns. But apparently you are only interested in making accusations.
It's a dangerous thing to be motivated by (mistaken) assumptions and emotions rather than actual Halacha.
And all this right before Shiva Assar B'tammuz.
Please feel free to call and I'll gladly answer your specific concerns.
Rabbi Zev Schwarcz

continuing of the email exchange - the problem of assumptions
The conversation continues:
and as they say don't assume because if you assume
you ..... ass u me

I am not jumping on you. I just wanted clarification. I do stand behind both my assumptions.

As I said please call me when you have the chance and I will be glad to clarify your concerns one by one. It's easier by phone.
You can't "stand behind" an assumption as it is just that an assumption. Since it is not based on fact there is nothing there to "stand behind".

Monday, July 6, 2009

We really think we're in control; The Key to Independence - A thought for the week (Last week)

In our limited view of things we really think we're in control of what happens in this world.
Whether or not someone is successful in their desire to prevail over us or whether or not we're cured from an illness, etc. does not depend upon them. We can't give them that much power.
We think we have the independence to affect our lives but in reality what happens is completely dependent on G-d's will. There is one thing which we are independent to do and that we will see later.
In the past weeks portions we see 2 events that appeared to be in the control of humans but in actuality was not.
The 1st:
The Israeli people spoke badly against G-d and Moses and G-d sent poisonous snakes.
Those who were bitten were told in order to be cured they had to look up at a copper snake on a pole.
The Talmud asks, "but does a (real) snake really kill and did the (copper) snake actually cure them?" it appears so but in actuality, the Talmud continues, that it wasn't the real snake that caused them to be in danger, but their deeds that brought about the snake to bite them and it wasn't the copper snake that healed them but rather the looking up to G-d, the realizing that no matter how many Doctors and how much medicine one takes (which we should) it is G-d who helps and cures.
The 2nd:
Bil'am was hired by the Moabite King to curse the Israeli people but as powerful as Bil'am was he couldn't effect a curse on them at all and instead had to bless them. Because G-d wasn't going to let them be cursed because they were at that time morally perfect.
The Prophet says in the Haftora.
"Clearly G-d told you, Humankind, what is good and what he requires of you:
only do things justly, to love kindness and even in your hidden ways be together with the morality of G-d.
That is what is in our control and that is what is expected of us. That is what we are independent to do.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

150 years!!?? - SHOW ME THE MONEY!

SO Bernie Madoff gets 150 years.
Big wow!
If he would have cheated me how would him being in jail help me?
According to Jewish Law the only way to make good on Robbery is to pay back the money and apologize.
Why is there no talk of that? If he can't pay he would have to work it off for the person he stole from. That's where he should be, paying and working off the debt.
So he apologized publicly, BIG deal.
He has to apologize to each and every one he stole from one on one.