Thursday, November 30, 2006

So What...?

"Arab spokesmen refused Olmert's demand to give up the 'right of return.' Hamas deputy leader Abu Marzouk, based in Damascus, said, 'We reject any deal that does not recognize the right of return... The Palestinian people will never give up this sacred right. Our people have been fighting for 58 years to achieve the right of return for all those who were expelled from their homeland.'"

And we've been fighting for 2000 years. What's you point?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Update From ST Louis

Been a crazy past few days. Shabbos in Har Nof with Yehonatan & Malka, and Tuvia. Zoo with Tzivia. Learning shtark. And Ezra made me run today and will forever hate him for it.

But, here's an update on Tehilla and Refa'el Dovid:

Saturday Night, Nov. 25th, 5 Kislev

We have so much to be thankful for. I'm happy to share encouraging news. It is clear to me that we can gain a strong sense of chizuk and appreciation for the power of all the tefillos and mitzvos that have been directed as a zechus (merit) for Rafael Dovid and Tehilla.

Last Tuesday (Nov 21) Dovid had a shunt put in his head to drain the cerebrospinal fluids. The operation was successful and he returned to his room awake and alert after the surgery.
On Wednesday morning he started to respond to questions by nodding his head. I thought I saw it in the morning. Around noon, my wife asked Dovid if he wanted Abba to return soon and he immediately nodded his head yes. This has continued since then, not exactly every time he is asked to respond but a good number of times which indicates his awareness and this level of communication.

On Thursday night my daughter brought her newborn Blumi (still getting use to the name...) to see Dovid. She asked him if he wanted to kiss the baby. He nodded YES and as the baby was brought close to him he lifted his head a drop and shaped his lips as if to try to kiss her. This is HUGE! It brings excitement, encouragement and tears of joy.

On Friday, the Physical Therapist came in with the OK to sit him up and move him to his wheel chair. Last week he was up to 5 minutes sitting up, his head and neck held up of course, and 3 + hours in his chair. Now the goal was to again go for the 5 minutes sitting up and an hour in his chair. As we together moved him to his chair sitting him up he had such a painful distressed look on his face and he let out an .... "AAHHH". It was heartbreaking to hear and at the same time we were ecstatic that he made a sound! This was the first sound he has made! We got him comfortable and he made it well through the hour.

Brocha spent Shabbos with Dovid and 2 friends spent Shabbos with Tehilla. After Shabbos I immediately called Brocha to hear how Shabbos went. She shared this amazing news...
She heard a few sounds from Dovid through the night so she figured she'll try to get more out of him. She told him how much we love him; Abba loves you, Ema loves you and who loves you more than all..... He responded, "HASHEM"!!! Of course it's not his normal voice, it was slow, high pitched, and with stress but he said it! She continued to read to him and he answered a question from the Parsha... I don't remember the question but he answered, "ROCHEL". The Physical Therapist came in to again put him into the wheel chair. Again, something was hurting and he let out a cry... my wife asked him, "Dovid, tell me what's hurting?" He responded, "my arm". The Therapist asked which arm, he responded, "my left arm". It was so...........wonderful. It wasn't his normal voice; he hasn't used his voice in 6 1/2 weeks. But it was clear and tells us that not only is he able to speak but to think and process, B"H!! There were several other words and responses in addition.

I'm trying not to say the word "unbelievable" even as just an expression. It's believable because "Ein od m'lvado" - it's all possible since HaShem runs the world. I just need to think it and live it. This whole ordeal and praying for the kids to be well is so out of our hands that it helps actualize the emunah and bitachon that we know is true in our hearts and minds.

HaShem is always speaking to us and sending us messages. Everything we see and hear, witness and experience is no accident. The lessons and messages comes on different levels. Even if it's a bit far removed from me, if it comes to me it's for me to process.

So many people from so many different places have heard about this "accident" and have responded in so many different ways. It has affected so many, for the good and better. There are so many life lessons and truths that we can think about with hopes of internalizing to change us and raise our spiritual status. This is how we grow. It's so much better (I think) to keep learning from the events and lessons of others before the wake up calls need to ring louder and closer. Ultimately it's all for our good and HaShem knows best for each one of us. Not one drop of pain or suffering, distress or discomfort is without calculation. Just as a parent determines the duration of the "time out" or severity of the punishment that is aimed as being the best lesson for the mistake, so too HaShem runs and controls all the details of everything in life. It's back to basics: He's the Creator, Sustainer, and Supervisor and it's our test and job to live it... (walk the talk).

After the phone call and getting the kids at home a bit settled, I went to the Hospital to make Havdalla for Brocha (and Dovid). We were talking about birthdays so I said to Dovid, "yours is in March, when is Chaim's?" He responded, "APRIL".

Getting past the tears of joy and gratitude, we can see that our tefillos are working and that there is continued improvement day after day. We daven that he'll continue to improve day by day all the way back to a refuah SHELAIMA, a full recovery where he will come back to himself in every way.

Tehilla is also improving beautifully. She is more and more focused and less and less agitated and irritable. She is more and more aware of her comments and reactions. As I've written before, she is totally with it, remembers everything, it's just that she's louder than normal and less inhibited to share her thoughts. Her normal self is very refined, well balanced, good judgement, etc.... she's truly a super star. She'll get back to this but in the meanwhile we are all seeing the process of recovery along with a sense of humor that we have never seen before. Nothing that she says is inappropriate it just uninhibited. She doesn't act like this all the time throughout the day, but at different times of the day. We are limiting the number of visitors she has so as not to get over stimulated and that her visitors come with a specific purpose or plan. Friends are coming to go over school work or to discuss specifics about some school projects. This has been very helpful and therapeutic. The brain is still healing and the everything inside needs to reconnect. We are davening and optimistic that she'll have a full recovery Be"H and the Doctors feel the same. I believe she'll be in the Hospital for 2-3 weeks longer.

We haven't been told clearly but we believe Dovid will be going to the rehab unit sometime this week, perhaps even on Monday. During his time in the TCU (Transitional Care Unit --step down from ICU), he has been receiving Phyical Therapy (more range and motion), Occupational Therapy, and Speech Therapy. Once he goes to the rehab unit, it becomes intense rehab throughout the day.

We need to get Dovid back talking, walking, and moving all parts of his body. He has his sister's Chasuna coming up on February 1st in St. Louis, he needs to dance and say divrei Torah at the Sheva Brochos. Baseball season is coming up in April. He's the best on his team at any position and doesn't know how to hit less than home runs. With HaShem's help and continued tefillos, he can do it all. The most important is the extra learning projects I am hoping to set up for him.

Thank you for your part in their recovery. Everyone's tefillos and extra efforts to create zechus for both Rafael Dovid and Tehilla is making a difference. Tefilla is the most potent tool we have. It works.

With deep gratitude and appreciation,


Sunday evening, Nov. 26, 6 Kislev

I tried sending out this email last night but it didn't go out.

I'll just add a few things to the above.

Dovid is speaking a little more, slowly, not totally clear yet but clear enough to recognize (most of the time) what he's saying.

The 2 points which thrilled us:

1) The Doctor asked him today which sibling is getting married. He responded, "LEAH". He then asked him who the Chosson is. Keep in mind this is new information in his data bank, he has never met the Chosson. He responded clearly, "REUVAIN".
2) Dovid has learned the first few mishnayos in Pirke Avos by heart. I started saying the Mishnayos and let him fill in the blank... Moshe kebail Torah m.... he said "SINAI". etc.. and several other times he responded correctly. The second mishna: He responded to: al ha.. "Torah", al ha... he responded "haavoda", and he completed the misha "chasadim"

This past week he has started moving his right hand a lot. We are hoping the rest of his body will follow soon with HaShem's help.

There's a lot to be thankful for and there's ever so much to daven for. We shouldn't just daven for our basics when in need or when we are at a loss; we should appreciate our basics of health and family with gratitude and expression every day. How much richer and happier our lives would be with this little effort. I know this and you know this but I have been negligent and perhaps it's worth mentioning.


Thursday, November 23, 2006

Schimmelism Of The Week LXII

Jordan: It's so windy.
R Lipman: It's the sound of music.
Jordan: Sounds like wind to me.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Two Realizations

I have realized two things in the past week:

It's better for me if people meet me during the week first, and not on Shabbos. If they meet me on Shabbos, then they say, "oh he's a black hatter," and then I gotta be like, no really, I'm cool. But if they meet me during the week, they say, "hey, he's cool," and then on Shabbos they see the black hat, they're like, woah he wears one? That's crazy. When I walked into the room Fri night wearing my hat, Tzivia, Chayki and Miriam were all like, what? No, I don't believe you.

The second is that I can't wait until a Shabbos when I'm in the army where I get to where my hat (I know that there will be some Shabbosim where I won't be able to). I walk in to shul with my suit, hat, and gun slung over the shoulder, and probably TOTALLY confuse people. "Ok," they might think, "he's wearing a hat and he has a gun." "What are you?"

Me: A chayyal, so what?
Dude: But you wear a hat.
Me: So?

With what I'm told about what people think about when they see someone wearing a hat, this seems like this is going to happen alot.

I can't wait.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

It's Wedding Time!

No, not for me. Not yet (BE"H) at least. Yesterday there was a wedding at yeshiva at 845 am.

You see, my Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Chaim Druckman, is the head of giyyor (conversion) for all of Israel, thus the beis din is here at yeshiva. They haven't really done anything in around a year and a half (the chareidim don't agree with R' Aviyor's (the head of this beis din) opinion on geirus, so somehow they've managed to stop it), but 2 years ago, they would hold weddings here all the time of people who were living together, but not Jewish, Now they're Jewish, they need to be married according to the Torah, so we'd have a quick wedding and zehu. Yesterday we had one of those.

Ezra, who helps R' Aviyor with things like this, got a minyan, had the chuppah, the chassan and kallah brought the food--prtetzels, nishnushim, cookies, drinks--and it was great. In total there were maybe 20 - 25 guys, 2 guys on recorder, 1 on guitar. We danced a little, shmoozed, and of course ate.

Zack: This literally is a $14 wedding.

May have been. But it was the best $14 wedding I've ever been to.

Schimmelism Of The Week LXI

Abutbol: Ani avakesh, al tignov [et havaflim].
Tonny: Ani lo tognov, ani rak lokei'ach.
Abutbol: Ani lo aratei'ach, ani rak sim et ha sakin baleiv.

Abutbol: I ask, don't steal [my wafers].
Tonny: I'm not stealing, I'm just taking.
Abutbol: I'm not murdering, I'm just putting the knife in his heart.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

More Mashi'ach-Is-Almost-Here Proof

R' Ya'akov Kaminetzky on Breishis 22:1 quotes a Zohar:

Come and see: a prince from the sons of Yishma'el for 400 years asked God, "Does the one who curcumcised have anything?" What did HaShem do? Instead of giving them closeness On High, he gave them something down here (instead of Olam Haba, he gave them from Olam Hazeh); in the merit that Yishma'el was circumcised, HaShem gave them Eretz Yisrael to have to watch while it's empty [before Mashi'ach], and they will prevent B'nei Yisrael from coming back etc., and in the future, they will start strong wars (milchamos chazakos) etc., and HaShem will [lit. wake up] on them...

That's exactly what's happening now. In the past 55+ years, we've been getting back the land, first the main part, then Yerushalayim and Golan and Sinai, etc. We're taking it back, it's time for the arabs to give it up to us.

And you say, but what about Gush Katif? We gave it to them?

There are, in all miracles, aspects of them that, if people wanted, people could reject them. For example, at Kri'as Yam Suf, Par'oh thought (whether he himself thoguht that or HaShem made him think that is a whole different issue) that the splitting of the sea was done by really really strong winds. So too here, so we gave back a little bit of the Eretz Yisrael. Not too much, but enough to make people skeptical.

This kind of fits with what the Rashbam says here (Breishis 22:1). Between the kicking out of Yishma'el and the Akeidah, there is the story of Avraham making a bris, a pact, peace treaty if you will, with Avimelech, King of the Plishtim. I won't take your land, you won't take mine, etc. The Rashbam explains that after that, HaShem was quite mad. "You're going to make a peace treaty with the Plishtim? To give them some of the land that I am giving you and your kids? Here, go kill your son--your future--see how much good that did for you."

The land of the Plishtim today is called Aza.

We'll just have to wait and see.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

We're Going

The whole yeshiva is going to Yerushalayim on Friday for the gay pride parade. Well, we're going for the anti part, but you know. It's going to be ridiculous. Lots of Jews. Lots of Tehillim.

Hopefully no violence. BH the parade route was changed, now they're "only" parading in the Government part of Yerushalyim. I guess the only solice i find in all of this is that technically, outside of the Old City walls isn't Yerushalayim; like, biblically. Right...?

In yeshiva for Shabbos. I'm definately more comfortable now than I was the first time...

Til next time, whenever that is...

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Schimmelism Of The Week LX

*During meals, Amitai usually says the Daily Halacha. Sunday night he wasn't there, so Ezra did it. Amitai was back at it last night*

Ezra: Shkoyach, shehichlafta oti.
Amitai: Bevakasha.
Tonny: Shkoyach, shehichlafta oto.

Ezra: Shkoyach for replacing me.
Amitai: Your welcome.
Tonny: Shkoyach for replacing him.
Ezra: Not bad Tonny, not bad.
Tonny: Hey! I said a joke in Hebrew!

Monday, November 06, 2006

What Really Happened

I called my cousin Rivka on Thursday. I worry about her, I miss her; I wanted to know how she was doing. Hearing that her best friend (Tehilla bas Bracha) and half her family were in a terrible car accident didn't put her in the best of moods obviously. Hearing that her best friend had some kind of brain damage (lo aleinu) didn't really help either. I haven't spoken to them since I came to Eretz Yisrael, and I worried. I'm still worrying, but at least I spoke to Rivka.

She said she's doing ok; she's been better. She then told me what happened. I had heard just that the car flipped over a bunch of times, and Tehilla and Refa'el Dovid were the most seriously injured, Aviva Rochel and R' Elazar Yitzchak were let out that night or something, Elisha and Eliyahu Chayyim a week later I think, and for the most part are doing well (if I remember correctly).

They were at a farm owned by one of the Jewish families there an hour and a half away from St Louis. One of their girls, Liz, and is friends with Tehilla and Rivka. It was Chol Hamo'ed, some family thing, fun times. As it was getting later, it got cold and rainy and icky outside, some of the family left early. The Rebbetzin left with I think 2 or 3 kids, and one of them slept over at the farm. And then the Rabbi with the rest of the kids (mentioned above) left. Around 10 minutes later, Liz picks up a ringing phone, and someone asks if they're alright.

Liz: Yeah why?
Guy on the phone: Oh, there was an accident on the edge of your property (ed. note -- Rivka told me accidents happen all the time, one of these country dirts roads not nice in the rain), just wanted to make sure you're ok.
Liz: Oh, thanks, we're ok.
Guy: Oh. Well...they're wearing yarmulkas.

Rivka told me she let out such a scream. She drove there, and couldn't believe that people got out alive. The van was all messed up, pieces of it here and there. Ambulances came and brought everyone to hospitals. What happened was Aviva was making a left, and on the oncoming car didn't stop for her...and slammed right into them.

Tehilla and Refa'el Dovid (Refa'el was added around a week later I think) have some brain damage. Tehilla at first was in a coma, not really responsive; she started squeezing hands. When the doctor told them aboiut the MRI, it wasn't good news. 3 days later, Thank God, she was talking, moving around somewhat. The doctor came in and said, "this can't be the same girl I saw 3 days ago. It just can't." The part of her brain that got damaged was her memories, personality, coordination (I think), and other stuff. She has no idea where she is sometimes. She thinks she's in Israel with 20 siblings (she really has 10), 30 cousins (really has around 14). Rivka said it's the hardest when Tehilla doesn't even recognize her. Sometimes she does fully, sometimes not her face but that there is a Rivka, sometimes her face but not that there is a Rivka.

Sometimes they correct her...

Rivka: What high school do you go to?
Tehilla: B'nei Akiva.Rivka: Uh, try Beis Ya'akov. How many people in your school?
Tehilla: Hundreds.
Rivka: Uh, try 40...

...and sometime they don't.

Rivka *on the phone*: Tehilla I'm going to come visit you tomorrow.
Tehilla: In Israel?
Rivka: No, St Louis.
Tehilla: St Louis is in Israel?
Rivka: Yes...
Tehilla: Well, I'm leaving the hospital tomorrow, I'm going [somewhere].
Rivka: Well, wherever you are, I'll find you.

She was moved to a childrens rehab hospital last week. We just have to keep davening for a full recovery -- or as full as possible.

Eliyahu Chayyim I think it was, was up and saw the entire collision. Saw everything. Including her little 7-year-old brother Refa'el Dovid fly through the windshield. Apparently the only thing he got was brain damage, on his body he got nothing, no cuts, bruises, etc., just brain damage. I think they're keeping him in a medically-induced coma, but not positive. He has been responding and opening his eyes (I guess not in a coma...?). Since he's so young, the doctors said it's a possibility that the other side of his brain can completely compensate for the damage, and he will be fine. We just gotta keep davening.

Aviva, Elisha and Eliyahu Chayyim are doing well. Going back for checkups. "Aviva is basically back in full swing," father Rabbi Elazar Yitzchak said.

I was spaced out for awhile after I hung up with Rivka. Just being thankful to HaShem that I have my health, friends and family, and for overal my situation right now. I couldn't ask for better.

I heard a beauitful vort Friday night at the tisch of R' Birnbaum at KBY, where I was for Shabbos. The Midrash brings 3 ways to explain why nisyonos (tests) only happen to tzaddkim, and not resha'im:

1. Let's say you are selling flax (to be made into linen), and you want to show potential customers how good yours are, you're going to hit the best ones, to show off, to make them better.

2. Now you're selling jugs and pitchers (not baseball ones). To show off how good your jugs are, you hit the ones with the best sound, the strongest ones, so they won't break--obviously you're don't want to break them while showing them off, so you hit the best ones.

3. You have 2 oxen to do some work in your field with, a really old, weak one, and a young, strong one. What, you're going to do this work with your weak one, who might possibly die in the middle?

HaShem only gives tzaddikim nisyonos. Why? 1) It makes them better. Because they passed a certain test, they are a better person because of it. 2) HaShem wants to show you off to the world. 3) What, the resha'im are going to carry this world? I don't think so.

HaShem didn't need to test Avraham at the Akeidah, He knew he would pass. He wanted Avraham to see it and know it too. And he took in all the lessons from it, and became an even better person than he already was.

If you have nisyonos, just remember -- it means you're a tzaddik; you must be doing something right.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

*Shakes Head In Dissapointment*

Some of the blogs I like to read are blocked. Some of them aren't.

Zeh me'atzbein oti.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Endy -- The New "The Catch"

Someone showed me a picture of Endy Chavez making the most ridiculous catch ever. And then yesterday I watched it. It really was the most ridiculous catch ever. In Game 7. Top of the 7th, tied at one, 1 man on, someone hits the ball over the fence for a 2-run homer, Cardinals taking the lead 3-1. OH WAIT, NO HE DIDN'T! Endy Chavez jumped and caught the ball over the wall.

You guys gotta see it...

When I get on an English computer, I'll try to put the link up.