Mercy Me

“Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” – Psalms 85:11, JPS 1917 Tanach

It is written that in the future, “mercy and truth” will have met, and, furthermore, that righteousness (tsedokah = justice) and peace will have kissed (Psalms 85:11). Thus, it can be understood from this verse, that these qualities will have appeared together, ushering in G-d’s Kingdom. Where are we today, in regard to this effort in our own lives? And, what of society’s take on the nature of these qualities appearing together?

Surely, divine truth and justice are qualified by the concomitant kindness, and peace that must be congruent for any effort to express truth, or bring about justice on earth. Rather, the social justice movement that has taken the world, as if by surprise overnight, fails in this regard. For, one of the means to obtain “social justice” according to the actual means through which this is being attempted is without any sense of peace, as if it is permissible from the point of view of SJW’s to use any means possible to reach their goals, thereby inferring that the means justify the ends.

However, the psalmist speaks of justice and peace existing together, implying that the means must not be in conflict with the end. Rather, the utopian vision of cultural Marxism, through the current Wokism agenda, is one is furthered through aggressive means, harshly condemning anyone not on board with Woke tenets; regrettably, this is the road towards totalitarianism.

Yet, regarding the efforts to bring about social change in a compassionate manner, have they not heard the adage echoed from the 1960’s: “If we can’t do it with a smile on our face, you know if we can’t love in our hearts, then children we ain’t got no right to do it at all” (For What It’s Worth, CSNY). Instead, their message is increasingly one of intolerance for viewpoints not in alignment with their own.

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Fire on the Mountain

AZ Pipeline Fire: 98% contained, at 26, 532 acres.

The Pipeline Fire, burning six miles north of Flagstaff, that had been upgraded to the # 1 fire resource priority in the nation on its second day, is nearly 100% contained as of June 25th. Also, the Burn Area Emergency Response (BAER) team has concluded work on the Pipeline fire.

Yom HaShoah 5782 – In Memory of

“Then he said to me: ‘Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel; they say: Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are clean cut off. Therefore, prophecy, and say to them: Thus saith the L-rd G-D: Behold, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, O My people; and I will bring you into the land of Israel.” – Ezekiel 37:11-12. JPS 1917 Tanach

Bolechov martyrs from my family:

Chaim ben Yaakov (Schnee):

Elka Schnee (nee Fasberg)

Gitel bas Chaim

Isaac ben Chaim

Sarah bas Chaim

Sason ben Chaim

Yaakov ben Chaim

Melamed

Sosie bas Chaim

Joseph ben Melamed

Chaje Ruchel bas Chaim

~~~~~ ~~~~~

Yehoshua Mordechai ben Yaakov (Schnee):

Ziona Schnee (nee Weisbard)

Moses ben Yehoshua Mordechai

Chana Schnee (nee Turkel)

Yaakov ben Moses

Celina bas Moses

Tzila bas Moses

Israel ben Yehoshua Mordechai (Schnee)

Sorke Schnee (nee Goldfischer)

Aryeh ben Israel

Tzinah bas Israel

Basia bas Yehoshua Mordechai (Kornblitz, nee Schnee)

Gotshalk ben Basia

Hirsch Ber Tzvi Dov ben Yehoshua Mordechai

Kalman ben Yehoshua Mordechai

Esther bas Yehoshua Mordechai

Reisel bas Yehoshua Mordechai

note: Certain genealogical information set forth herein is based upon research performed on the website of Jewish Records Indexing-Poland, Inc. (www.jri-poland.org).

Baruch Dayan Emes

It will not suffice to generalize, categorize, or oversimplify the results of hate, terror, or war. Each inhumane act must be dealt with as a unique expression of the dark side of mankind. And the victims must be eulogized, remembered, and not reduced to statistics.

My own words may only be contributed as a few of the many words, thoughts and prayers that will ultimately bring comfort, peace and resolution to the families and friends of the victims of the despicable act of terror committed in Be’er Sheba, on Tuesday March 22, 2022. There is no justification for terror of this magnitude, nor any other magnitude on a continuum.

I am specifically grieved at how a stabbing attack can be made, resulting in the death of four people, two of them women; additionally, two other women were injured. What type of human being can denigrate himself to this level, whereof he deliberately murdered a rabbi, older gentleman, and two women. It disgusts me in particular that he could have the inhuman audacity to attack women with a knife. This is a cold, heartless person; and he will be judged for his despicable acts by the Almighty Himself.

Meanwhile his act is applauded by other terrorists, namely those within the terrorist organization known as Hamas. This condoning of terror should be an affront to all civilized peoples. Additionally, it behooves me to think how anyone can describe a terrorist as an activist; yet, I have personally heard this claim made by a past acquaintance who is a Leftist. Politics aside, I will not tread there, while paying respect to the dead. Each of the murdered civilians had a family, and some had strong roles in their communities. This affects everyone in their social spheres, the state of Israel, and all Jewish peoples across the globe.

In memory of the following souls:

Doris Yahbas (49) mother of 3
R’ Moshe Kravitsky father of 4
Lora Yitzchak (43) mother of 3
Menahem Yehezkel (67)

May their memory be a blessing.

Purim: Taanis Esther 5782

“‘Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king’s house, more than all the Jews.  For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then will relief and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place, but thou and thy father’s house will perish; and who knoweth whether thou art not come to royal estate for such a time as this?’”  – Esther 4:13-14, JPS 1917 Tanach

“There is no man who has not his hour, and no thing that has not its place.” – Pirkei Avos 4:3

Esther petitioned King Ahasuerus to spare her people.  She, her maidens, and the Jewish people fasted for three days, before she approached the King.  She was risking her life, in doing so, because, no one could approach the king without permission.  Yet, she was emboldened to approach him, after fasting, with all of her people in support of her. 

Queen Esther was given her moment: “who knoweth whether thou art not come to royal estate for such a time as this?”  H’Shem arranges the remedy, before the sickness (Talmud). Esther was made queen, before Haman hatched his plan to eliminate the Jewish people. Thank G-d. And, may we also see hidden remedies revealed as miracles, soon in regard to the modern-day Purim narrative in Ukraine. Ahmein.

Ultimately, we have H’Shem to seek as a refuge, both then and now; we should not take His shield of protection for granted; our refuge and fortress in Whom we trust (Psalm 91:2).  We should seek Him in all of our trials and tribulations, keeping in mind that He is the Source of our well-being. Especially, at this time to remember our brothers and sisters in peril, is an obligation and responsibility of K’lal Yisrael.

Purim Shpiel 5782

Walking a Tightrope

To get from one place to another, walking a fine line along the way, is not only a task enacted by a tightrope walker. In fact, I imagine that I will not be the only one attempting a “balancing act” this Purim: balancing joy & sorrow, past & present, and religion & life. Perhaps, there is no need for me to explain, and you, dear reader, are already beginning to get an inkling of what I am about to say. Purim is quickly approaching; yet, my thoughts are preoccupied with a modern-day Purim story, wherein the archvillain is intent on destruction, despite the opposition.

Abraham Heschel advocated for a Judaism that is not wrapped up in its past glory, in spite of the prevailing circumstances of life. How can I celebrate Purim in a joyous manner, knowing that a real-life situation demands my attention, prayer, and support? To go along with Purim-as-usual would create a great disconnect between what is meant to be a living faith in touch with the challenges of life and the actual challenges that present themselves, despite the timing.

The war in Ukraine will not be put on hold for the celebration of Purim. This is the stark reality that many of the Jewish refugees who have managed to cross the border know. And the unfortunate ones, who for whatever reasons are still in Ukraine, sheltering in basements, or fighting to defend their country also know this all too well. The rejoicing in Shushan and the lands of Ahasuerus did not occur until after victory was procured for the Jewish people, who were previously threatened by the evil designs of Haman.

Today, rejoicing over this past victory will in all likelihood be diminished in light of the present reality. Whatever lessons we are able to glean from Purim, I would encourage that these be applied to our response to the events of today. Otherwise, as Heschel wrote, we risk ignoring “the crisis of today,” “because of the splendor of the past” (Heschel, G-d in Search of Man, ch.1).

The Call of Silence

As the tanks roll into the cities,

blue and yellow flags are waved high,

in defiance of the occupier’s atrocities,

while many finally flee with a sigh.

As the drama continues to unfold,

within the layers of recent history,

the territorial defenses stand bold

in the face of the assault and misery.

Echoes of past flights from death,

and narrow evasions of an untimely fate,

are interwoven with our every breath,

and surface in our own memories of late.

Our brothers and sisters who have fled

to the checkpoints, are now able to impart

a message of hope, despite all who have bled

silent tears within the confines of their heart.

Having travelled through many regions,

lives are reshaped, homes found for new arrivals,

across the boundaries of neighboring nations,

that were in flux, during past upheavals.

poem: Seeking Solace

“As we step forward, they attempt to surround us; they intend to spread out across the country.” – Psalms 17:11, embellished

May the right arm of Your majesty, in all its effectiveness, assure victory for us over the challenges that we face each and every day of our lives. During this time of peril, whether starting our lives over elsewhere, or trying to remain hopeful in the midst of uncertainty, as we hunker down below the city streets, let us see the light of dawn breaking through our sorrows.

The prayers of the faithful will be sent to shomayim upon the wings of angels. We send even our most seemingly trivial concerns to Heaven; for, it is the small details of our lives, and the relatively inconsequential choices of our lives that appear to matter most at times. Once the important decisions have been made, the smaller ones appear in clear relief.

Like a picture-perfect day, not a cloud in the sky, may the realization of our dreams exceed our expectations. May our cities be rebuilt, and our lives resume, only stronger for having been through these traumatic experiences, and the overall devastation that has pummeled our cities. May we live to see the day when the seeds planted across the nation will bloom into tall sunflowers, always facing the light.

Note (FYI and Disclaimer): This a dramatic monologue. A dramatic monologue gives voice to those whom the poet chooses to give expression through the poem. Although I am a poet, and not a Ukrainian, I feel an affinity with the Ukrainian people, especially my Jewish brethren (i.e., brothers and sisters). Additionally, this is also a prose poem, and not a typical poem that has verses, stanzas or rhymes.

Help from Above

To Him that led His people through the wilderness, we pray:

L-RD, protect us under the shadow of your wings,

And defend us in the face of adversity.

Guide our ways through the wilderness of our lives,

Make clear our paths, within the domain of the enemy,

For as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

We yearn to reach the other side of the border,

Where we can find safety, comfort, and renewal.

Eventually, all of us will be poised to begin anew,

As G-d continues to give us the opportunity to say,

In all honesty, that we are grateful for living another day.

Do not let our fears hold sway over our minds;

Permit our conscience to steer us in the right direction.

We look forward to the day when the Redemption will be at hand,

As Your help will arrive early in the morning before dawn.

In that day, the L-RD will be one, and his name one. Amein.