Thursday, April 23, 2015

Parsha Perspective

By Rabbi Yisroel Shusterman

G‑d spoke to Moses, saying: “A woman who shall conceive and give birth . . .” (Leviticus 12:1–2) So begins this week’s Torah reading (Tazria-Metzora (Leviticus) 12:1-15:33).

It happens 250 times a minute, almost 15,000 times every hour. It happens after years of effort and anticipation, or “by accident.” It occurs on every socioeconomic level, in every country and village in the world. But no matter how frequently it transpires, no matter how commonplace an event it is, we always stand back in awe and say: a miracle.

That one being should give birth to, should create, another. If there is any area in which a creature emulates its Creator—if there is any act by which we express the spark of divinity at our core—it is the miracle of birth.

Yet it is this, the most G‑dly of our achievements, that most reveals the limitations of our individuality. Feeding, sleeping, thinking, producing a work of art or building a house—virtually everything we do, we can do on our own. But giving birth to a child is something we can do only together with another person. To give birth, we must cease to be an entity unto ourselves and become a part, a component, of a community of three, man, woman and G-d Al-mighty, who  provides the neshoma (soul).

Because if we are only what we are, we are most decidedly not divine. As beings unto ourselves, we are finite and self-absorbed things, manufacturers rather than creators. To create, we must rise above our individuality. To actualize our divine essence, we must transcend the bounds of self.

It is the woman, not the man, who gives birth. It is the woman who is most fulfilled in parenthood, and who most acutely feels the lack when parenthood is denied her. It is the woman who continues to mother her child long after the man has fathered it. It is the woman, according to Torah law, who exclusively determines the spiritual identity of her child.

Because it is the woman who most surrenders her selfhood to create life. She is the passive and receptive element in the procreation process. For nine months, her very body ceases to be hers alone as it bears and
nurtures another life. So it is the woman, rather than the man, who “conceives and gives birth,” and to whom motherhood is a state of being, rather than an “achievement” or “experience.”

Yet everyone can become a “mother.” What comes naturally to the female part of creation can be learned and assimilated by all, and not only in giving birth to children but in every one of life’s endeavors. We all have the power to recognize that there is more to our existence than the narrow confines of individual identity.

A mother, with birthing, adds another life to the world who will PG impact the world in a positive way. Likewise, we all have the power to become more than we are and to do more than we can, impact  and add “life” to the world  - by becoming more receptive to the divine essence that underlies the self and pervades the whole of existence. This happens particularly as we increase our level of Jewish knowledge and intensify our Jewish awareness in the observance of the Mitzvos –both personally and helping others to become knowledgeable of this, as well.  This will cause a ripple effect throughout the world, as the world becomes a more proper and receptive venue for G-dliness!

(From - Rabbi Yanki Tauber)

Additional Daily Mincha at Tzemach Tzedek

Due to popular demand, there will be an additional daily Mincha minyan at Tzemach Tzedek starting this Sunday, April 26, 7 Iyar.

The Mincha times for this week will be 7:00 PM and 7:40 PM with Maariv at 8:30 PM and 9:30 PM.

Please watch this website and see the shul calendar at for davening times in the following weeks.

JCW Event Held in Monsey

By Aliza BasMenachem

At the Jewish Community Watch meeting that was held this past Sunday, Rosh Chodesh Iyar, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Monsey, Rabbi YY Jacobson apologized. He apologized for being uninformed, undereducated, and lacking know how. In the past, when people reached out to him, he was not aware of the plague of child abuse. And with his apology came the unconditional, unwavering commitment to stand by victims and help them change darkness to light. He declared a new dawn is coming. No longer will the community be deaf to cries and silent cries. We need to bring light to every soul. For the child who has seen darkness, we will double our efforts.

Rabbi Jacobson quoted the Chumash, “They believed in Hashem and Moshe His servant.” The Tizkas Hatzadik (ch. 154) explains that Moshe represents every Jew, we must believe in every Jew. When we believe in our children – they will believe in themselves. We can connect with our inner Moshe – and split the sea. Hashem will be with us as we transform abuse – and the innocence of our children will shine.  

There were hundreds of people in the audience. I was one of them. I attended was because I realized my own ignorance in this field. I left feeling much more informed - and aware that there is still so much to learn. I took home a copy of their handout entitled, “Raising Safe Kids – A Parents Guide.” It is an excellent resource. There are so many questions to be answered. So many cries to be heard. So many hearts to be comforted. So many personalities to build and re-build.

A Trauma Psychologist who works with JCW, Dr. Norman Goldwasser came from Miami to speak at this event. He opened his presentation by sincerely thanking everyone for attending. Then he went on to explain how trauma halts the normal flow of processing information and an incident can remain strong in a child’s memory loaded with emotion. Even one incident can damage a child for life. But more often the abuse goes on for years. Abuse results in tampering with a child’s self-identity. They feel isolated, alone, depressed. They lose their perception of self-worth. Victims feel guilty thinking that they have caused their own loss of innocence. They suffer from self-degradation for not being about to speak about it. Abuse ruins a child’s chance for healthy, meaningful, relationships. It can generate a fear that refuses to subside, creating flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety disorders.

Local police officer, Omar Olayan, addressed the audience. He gave a brief summary of the process when a crime of this sort is reported. I think it would take the frightening edge off of this part of the process when you know a little of what you are facing. The officer instructed the audience not to coach the child on what to say. The people who interview the children can tell right away if the child was told to remember to say something or if the child is answering by themselves.

There were other speakers as well. Including moving words from the prominent, globally recognized, Rabbi Ronnie Greenwald, who has been active for decades protecting children.

One Mitzvah brings another. Surely the message to make our communities safe for children will be taken up by more and more people as the JCW message reaches further and deeper.

Seeking Ride

Looking for ride from Crown Heights to Monsey for two girls this Friday and/or  ride to CH on Motzei Shabbos or Sunday. Please call 347-693-9291