Rabbi Yossi's Blog

Welcome to Rabbi Yossi's Blog; where you can expect to find thoughts on current events, Torah learning and Jewish spirituality. And of course, some good Jewish humor.

Pesach Cleaning - Google Style!


Busy, busy!

It is official - the best way to drive down readership on your blog, is to stop posting regularly! With Purim and Passover and everything in between, I just haven't been able to keep this blog updated. The good news is that from now on I pledge (G-d willing) to keep the posts coming! So, check back here often and I’ll do my best to keep you informed and entertained!

"By your continued building will you be comforted”


Over Shabbat, I have spent some time thinking about the recent devastating terrorist attack in Israel.

My immediate reaction to the news, (as reflected in my previous post on the subject), was depressing; pain from the awful news and frustration at the reaction of the Israeli government. This is a natural reaction when hearing such news. However, what benefit results from my feelings?

In 1956, in the village of K’far Chabad, an eerily similar attack took place. Five students were killed in a sudden attack. Distraught by the bloodshed, the residents of the town, mostly recent immigrants from Russia, were in a state of despair.

Four days later, they received a telegram from the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson. “Behemshech habinyan tinacheimu”, the Rebbe wrote. "By your continued building will you be comforted”. The feelings of dismay and despair will not have any positive outcome; transform those emotions into buildings.

In our time, I believe the message is the same; “Behemshech habinyan tinacheimu”, "By your continued building will you be comforted”. We must transform our feelings to positive action. So, in response to the fresh wave of violence, I propose that we all add an extra mitzvah to our daily routine. We must exchange this increase of darkness for an increase in light.

May all our collective additional mitzvot reach “The Tipping Point” of the world and cause Moshiach to come, and return all of us to a peaceful Israel, speedily in our time!

(Click here for a translation of a Yediot Achronot article following the 1956 attack, and click here for some mitzvah suggestions).


Benjamin Grossbaum

You may know of him as Benjamin Graham, but his original surname was... Grossbaum! He came to the States as a two year old child and eventually became one of the most highly regarded investors on Wall Street. He changed his name to Graham during World War I because his family felt that any German sounding name was considered suspect. (Grossbaum, in Yiddish/German, means “big tree”). You can read up on his ideas on the Stock Market in this article.

Here’s the question; is this fellow related to my family? I wonder if there is a way find out...

Baruch Dayan Hoemes.

Blessed be the True Judge. There are no other words that can be used to express the reaction to the heinous and cowardly attack in Jerusalem today. Although I generally don’t discuss politics, this sort of news is not political. It’s terrible.

It’s terrible on every level; the attack, the events over the past few years leading to this attack (and others like it) and worst of all, is the response of the weak and disillusioned Israeli government.

The Foreign Ministry said the attack would not stop Israel's peace efforts.

Why, pray tell, not? Who are we negotiating with anyway? Not Hamas, they responded to the attack with celebration.

In Gaza City, residents went out into the streets and fired rifles in the air in celebration after hearing news of the attack on the yeshiva.

With who? With Abbas? Negotiating with him is like trying to negotiate a deal to buy a property with the janitor. He has no control over what happens there! Besides, he himself is complicit in these sorts of attacks.

One thing, though, we can learn from our enemies; how to play the media. Look at Abbas’ quote.

"The president condemns all attacks that target civilians, whether they are Palestinian or Israeli," the PA said in a statement.

“Whether they are Palestinian or Israeli” eh? When was the last time the Israeli’s TARGETED civilians? They never do! They go out of their way and risk their own lives, rather than target civilians. Unfortunately, many times, “innocent civilians” get killed. Not by fault of the Israeli’s, rather because the cowardly terrorists prefer to fight from civilian areas knowing that the Israeli’s will hold their fire!

I hope that this will be last piece of bad news from Israel.

I just came across this site The site is dedicated to showing that Jimmy Carter is an anti Semite. I know that the ex-President is not known as a friend of the Jews, but some of the “incriminating evidence” is - in my opinion - a little far-fetched. Still, there are some points that are a little disturbing, especially considering that he was once the President. It also helps give a little background perspective to his offensive, inaccurate book “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid”. Although I haven’t read the book, just from the title you can tell what his intention is, and it’s not to promote any “love of the land”. It’s old news, but here’s a great review from Harvard professor, Alan Dershowitz on this book and here’s an article he wrote about his old friend, Carter.

High on Mount Sinai?

Sometimes our biggest handicap is ourselves. This hindrance is most prevalent when it involves understanding something that is more obscure, something that is not tangible. This is true of scientific theorem; in order to be able to relate to a new theory, we must first let go of our preconceived notions. We must be open to a new idea, even if it may contradict what we are used to. Too often, we are closed minded and we must fit everything into the prism that we already use. We define everything based on our previous experience, our previous knowledge. In order to be open to a new concept, we have to let go of ourselves and make room for a total paradigm shift.

This is so much more the case when dealing with a concept that is outside of our realm of comprehension, when dealing with belief. Many of us have the tendency to rationalize these concepts based on our perception. We find it difficult to leave behind our notions of what is true and what is not. This is understandable, as we are used to being able to relate to, at least on some level, what we discover and experience. The problem is that belief, by definition, is higher than understanding. We cannot rationalize belief. That is why there can be those who choose not to believe. Through our mind and our logic we can only get “permission” to believe.

I say all this in reaction to this article. So, an Israeli researcher claims that “The biblical Israelites may have been high on a hallucinogenic plant when Moses brought the Ten Commandments down from Mount Sinai”. Interesting enough, definitely a novel idea. Does he have any proof other than the fact that he finds it hard to believe? In the continuation of the article, we find the secret to his “discovery”:

Shanon wrote that he was very familiar with the affects of the ayahuasca plant, having "partaken of the ... brew about 160 times in various locales and contexts."

In other words, this fellow has taken his individual problems and applied them to Moses. I have news for Mr. Shanon, just because you blew your mind on drugs, does not mean that Moses did.

Although it may be impossible to prove beyond doubt that the events described in the Torah are true, there is enough “permission” to believe. If you need “permission”, here are some good links:,,

Looking for older posts? See the sidebar for the Archive.