Thursday, 28 June 2012

Learn the Basics about Talmud Through These Animated Videos

Are you getting ready for the new Daf Yomi cycle? Not sure what it's about? It's about learning a page of Talmud every day - for some 7 and a half years... and turning around to say you've been through it all! Learning is not enough - as "Action is the Main Thing!" - but still it's a great goal to strive for of course. If you're new to it all, you may be wondering what exactly the Talmud is in the first instance! Once that's clear, you may want to understand a little about how it all works and how to get a start in learning it. For those not yet familiar with learning Talmud, the task can look daunting! Before even understanding the language, you might want to familiarise yourself with books that speak about how it came about, who wrote it and what you might find in it... and only then actually venture into learning it!

The videos found at are a great way to get started in learning the basics in a fun way. There's much more to learn - of course - but getting a visual show of how it all fits is a great way to get started! Here's the first of the videos for you to sample. Then head over to the site to watch the remainder - and make a start into learning just about everything in life - as you swim through the sea of the Talmud!

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Yibaneh Yerushalayim - Our Magazine - Edition 2 - Now Out & FREE!

Our second edition of our new magazine "Yibaneh Yerushalayim" is currently out! It's issued FREE and currently distributed to a variety of neighbourhoods inside Jerusalem, Beitar Illit, Efrat and other areas. It's delivered to private mailboxes, a variety of stores -  including major book stores. And of course, it's available to everyone who is seriously interested in the magazine but who lives outside of Israel. We have just a few hard copies available, but for those wishing for a taste, an online version is available too.

So what exactly is it all about?! It's our way of sharing with others - in print form (finally!) a little more about our activities. You'll get to find out more about our Bayit Chadash Gemach - a special fund to assist orphans to build their own homes when they marry, by donating brand new items. Donors will never be turned down - so long as they have brand new items, money or time to give over. These items are presented to the couple shortly before their marriage giving them the opportunity to select for themselves those things they would really appreciate!

In our magazine, you'll find letters of thanks from those we've helped. You'll find stories from volunteers who help us in making these Simchas even more joyous. In our first edition, a dancer shares her joys at donating her time and talents to a couple who don't have enough guests to make the Simcha what it needs to be! In our current edition, there's a story from a make-up artist who gives of her time to bring even more colour to the face of a bride - all at no cost to the couple!

You'll read about a miracle story of a family who donated to us and what happened just a couple of weeks after their donating! 

That's not all! You'll get to read some wonderful articles about some of the other work we're doing. We're all about Shidduchim, about making marriages happy and by no means any less important, teaching the laws of Taharat HaMishpacha - Family Purity. Check in with Rabbi Fishel Jacobs' (Kfar Chabad) to find out what a real marriage is all about. Read a story about Rabbi Moshe Feinstein and a message we should all surely take to heart!

Our magazine is there for you! Most of all, we thank our advertisers who help us to pay for the costs of the magazine. They do a great job of assisting us to be able to spread Yiddishkeit in all its beauty. They help us to spread the beautiful values of a kosher Jewish marriage - and ultimately to help us help even more orphans in true need. We're not just a magazine about advertising others' products. Those that advertise receive double reward. They receive the rewards of clients who will turn to them - and they receive the rewards of knowing they've brought Yiddishkeit, kindness and goodness to so many in need! 

Of course - you can be a part of it too! Email Eliyahu directly to find out more!

Monday, 25 June 2012

Artscroll or Koren Talmud Bavli - or Both?!

What an amazing generation we are living in! For those unable to study Gemara from the original texts for lack of not being able to read, to understand (Hebrew/Aramaic) or being unable to understand the concepts, there are now two revolutionary ways to learn. Artscroll are just about to release their complete English translation of the Talmud onto digital format allowing one to interact with the page in a variety of ways - and Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz is currently launching his first complete translation with explanation of his already outstanding Hebrew edition. The new English edition looks amazing!

Gemara is becoming easier to learn and follow than ever before and we all have the opportunity to obtain these news works (money allowing!) and begin our learning for the new Daf HaYomi cycle beginning shortly. So which one is best for you?! Both!  Ben Bag Bag (Pirkei Avot 5:21) teaches, "Learn it and learn it, for everything is in it! Look deeply into it! Grow old and grey over it, and do not stir from it, for there is nothing more edifying for you than it." Ben Zoma (Pirkei Avot 4:1) teaches, "Who is wise? One who learns from everyone!" The more one learns - and from the more who one can learn from -the better!

These two videos show just how beautiful both these editions are. I'd get them both... if I could afford them!


For a more detailed article sharing the differences between the Artscroll Schottenstein Talmud edition and Koren edition, see Englishing the Talmud

Monday, 18 June 2012

Cleaning Lady Syndrome - Don't Ever Get Caught With It!

Cleaning Lady Syndrome? Heard of it before? I've certainly seen it around, but only after reading a Jewish publication recently (see below) did I realise just how far out we've gone. Far out - in doing whatever we can to make sure others - no matter how hard they work - are not entitled to live.

In Israel, when all else fails, and one is unable to get a job - even working in something one is well qualified for - one often resorts to the norm of the Israel economy. One becomes a Cleaning Lady (even if one is a man!) There's a general rule about minimum wage (a concept that teaches that legally one should pay an amount equal to an accepted standard - instituted by a group of people who nobody actually ever knows about. This often entitles bosses to make large profits while the employee must work daily for - literally - his bread.) 

Then there's a broader concept of the individual who wants to progress. Call it Capitalism! The minimum wage - around 20-22 Shekels per hour currently (allowing for a full-time job income of around 4000 Shekel) allows one the opportunity to rent a one bedroom apartment and pay one's taxes. It doesn't allow for much more - and in fact often puts one in debt - even before eating - one's bread!

The Cleaning Lady has moved up a level in society and "demands" almost double the minimum wage (apparently an accepted amount by most people). Should she have the opportunity to work 6 days a week - 8 hours a day (all practically impossible - as nobody is actually able to work this way in the Cleaning Lady industry) - she would come out with sufficient money to rent her apartment, pay her taxes and purchase the basic food she needs to live. If lucky enough - she'd even be able to afford bus fare to get to work and back!

Most people never consider the reality of this. We've come to live in a society where our paying others is frowned upon for any honest work that the other does. It's become a society where we take as much as we can at the expense of the other - who must surely pull their weight in giving something to the world. It's a society where we feel the other must be put in their place as to their lowliness - at the advantage of the exploitative employer who may demand practically anything from the employee - all for the amount of a piece of bread. There are indeed known organisations who hire rabbinical teachers to teach at their "offices" without payment. Sure there is money - but those attending pay the organisation who receive the wealth for themselves while the teacher is given the "honour" to teach for them. Volunteer organisations abound - with "employers" demanding work from the volunteer for no pay at all - just for the privilege of being able to tell others that they "have a job!"

The letter below - sent in to a widely circulated magazine in Israel - was one that truly showed its colours. I wondered why the publisher had chosen to publish it, and wondered if they actually agreed with it's thoughts. Either way - that's their decision, because we live in a free society. A society that is entitled to express itself practically any way it chooses. I guess the hardest part in all this, is working out - that if indeed we do live in a society that allows one to express oneself as one wishes to, how come we are not entitled to charge honestly for the work we do (by the very people who expect the right to free-speech?!)

It's not the Torah approach to life - which encourages a healthy lifestyle of paying honestly for work done. The Torah demands not just giving charity, nor helping one's fellow when they are in dire straits. It demands respecting the other for the efforts they put in to doing a hard and honest job. Should they require money to live, or dare it be requiring money to pay for bus fare - shouldn't we at least be prepared to accept the basic necessities of the other?! Or should we simply get together and force others to kneel at our every request - so that we may live as we wish to - with our own wealth, while the other be brought down to the lowest levels of life - and heaven forbid, give up on life altogether due to a lack of money just to live...

The "Cleaning Lady" in Israel is often a very educated person (many times a doctor, a lawyer, an accountant or even occupational therapist!) Not only are they to be respected for their education and their other contributions to society - they are too be thoroughly appreciated for the tremendous effort they go to (back breaking - very often) of keeping our homes clean when we need that time for ourselves to attend to our own lives. What a shame the writer below could never appreciate this!

The comments below leave a lot to be desired. They reflect this most sick condition in our society - The Cleaning Lady Syndrome. It's not a syndrome the Cleaning Lady has - it's a sickness very often found in the head of the employer!


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