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Volume 22, No. 2, #154 - click here

 
 Publisher's Letter:
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 Inspiration:
     A Tale of Two Mirrors
     D?var Torah Vayakhel-Pekudei
 Cover Story:
     Gershon Veroba: Second Impressions
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     Regesh: Vol. 11
 Torah:
     In Memory of Rav Avigdor Miller
 Sound Off:
     Jews on the Moon
 Timeline:
     Freedom Under Attack
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 Real Life:
     A Holocaust Lesson From Rav Moshe
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 Special Report:
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 Humor:
     Can't You Just Plotz
     Older But No Wiser
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Article Map for this issue
 
May 2009 • Sivan 5759 Volume 22, No. 2, #154
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Getting Rid of the Pigeons

Dear Country Yossi,
The mayor of Haifa was very worried about a plague of pigeons in Haifa.

He could not remove the pigeons from the city. All of Haifa was full of pigeon poop, the people of Haifa could not walk on the sidewalks, or drive on the roads. It was costing a fortune to keep the streets and sidewalks clean.

One day a man came to City Hall and offered the Mayor a proposition.

‘I can rid your beautiful city of its plague of pigeons without any cost to the city. But you must promise not to ask me any questions. Or you can pay me one million dollars to ask one question.’

The mayor considered the offer briefly and accepted the free proposition. The next day the man climbed to the top of City Hall, opened his coat, and released a blue pigeon. The blue pigeon circled in the air and flew up into the bright blue sky.

All the pigeons in Haifa saw the blue pigeon and gathered up in the air behind the blue pigeon. The Haifa pigeons followed the blue pigeon as it flew southward out of the city.

The next day, the blue pigeon returned completely alone to the man atop City Hall.

The Mayor was very impressed. He felt the man and the blue pigeon had performed a wonderful, miraculous service to rid Haifa of the plague of pigeons.

Even though the man with the pigeon had charged nothing, the mayor presented him with a check for 1 million dollars. The Mayor told the man that, indeed, he did have a question to ask. He said that even though they had agreed to no fee and the man had done what he had said he would to rid the city of pigeons, the Mayor had decided to pay the 1 million just to get to ask ONE question.

The man accepted the money and told the mayor to ask his ONE question.

Do you think the Mayor is going to ask how the blue pigeon led all the pigeons away?

Do you think the Mayor is going to ask where all the pigeons went?

Do you think the Mayor is going to ask if the man was sure that all the pigeons wouldn’t return?

Do you think he is going to ask where the man got the blue pigeon?

Nooooooo!

The mayor asked: ‘Do you have a blue Arab?’
Received via email

De-Grading Socialism

Dear Country Yossi,
An economics professor at Texas Tech said he had never failed a single student before, but he had once failed an entire class. That class had insisted that socialism worked; that no one would be poor, and no one would be rich - a great equalizer. The professor then said, “OK, we will have an experiment in socialism in this class.”

All grades would be averaged and everyone would receive the same grade so no one would fail and no one would receive an A. After the first test the grades were averaged and everyone got a “B.” The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy.

But, as the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less, and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too; so they studied little. The average grade on the second test was a “D!” No one was happy.

On the 3rd test, the average was an “F.”

The scores never increased as bickering, blame, and name calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else. All failed, to their great surprise, and the professor told them that socialism also would ultimately fail, because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great; but when government takes all the reward away, no one will try to succeed.

Could not be much simpler than that…
D.G.
Flatbush

Makes Sense to Me!

Dear Country Yossi,
This is from an article in the St. Petersburg, FL Times Newspaper on Sunday.

The Business Section asked readers for ideas on “How Would You Fix the Economy?”

I think this guy nailed it!

Dear Mr. President:
Please find below my suggestion for fixing America’s economy.

Instead of giving billions of dollars to companies that will squander the money on lavish parties and unearned bonuses, use the following plan. You can call it the Patriotic Retirement Plan.

There are about 40 million people over 50 in the work force. Pay them $1 million apiece severance for early retirement, with the following stipulations:

1) They MUST retire. Forty million job openings means Unemployment will be fixed.

2) They MUST buy a new American car. Forty million cars ordered means the Auto Industry will be fixed.

3) They MUST either buy a house or pay off their mortgage - the Housing Crisis will be fixed.

It can’t get any easier than that!

If more money is needed, have all members of Congress and their constituents pay their taxes.
Received via email

Dear Emailer,
Constituents pay their taxes? Hey, let’s not get carried away here!
CY


Letter from an English Woman

Dear Country Yossi,
Now let me get this straight: You Americans hired a man with virtually no experience, a mysterious past, and someone who might not even be a natural born citizen to be your president. He’s someone who derives all his experience from the seat of all corruption: Chicago. His first act was trying to give a trillion of your dollars to Wall Street crooks with absolutely no accountability, and he is still trying mightily. The people who already got your money were caught trying to buy a jet plane bought outside your country. The parties who have received your money and spent it are already legends. We think that within six months the next monies will be partied out and they will be back for more! His nominee for Secretary of the Treasury is a tax evader. He was confirmed nevertheless. The next three whom he nominated were all tax evaders. Two of them had to withdraw on the same day. Your President promised that absolutely no lobbyists would be part of his administration. Already three of the biggest lobbyists in the country are on his team.

Who fed you Americans a whopping dose of stupid? We grieve for the loss of your Constitution, common sense, and morality. I doubt if the Crown would take you back.
Greta Marley
London SW1

Dear Greta,
I doubt we’d want to go back!
CY


One Wise Man

Dear Country Yossi,
Thought you might enjoy this oldie but goodie!

A wise old Yid retired and purchased a modest home near a junior high school. He spent the first few weeks of his retirement in peace and contentment.

Then a new school year began. The very next afternoon three young boys, full of youthful, after-school enthusiasm, came down his street, beating merrily on every trash can they encountered. The crashing percussion continued day after day, until finally the wise old man decided it was time to take some action.

The next afternoon, he walked out to meet the young percussionists as they banged their way down the street. Stopping them, he said, “You kids are a lot of fun. I like to see you express your exuberance like that. In fact, I used to do the same thing when I was your age. Will you do me a favor?

I’ll give you each a dollar if you’ll promise to come around every day and do your thing.” The kids were elated and continued to do a bang-up job on the trash cans.

After a few days, the old-timer greeted the kids again, but this time he had a sad smile on his face. “This recession’s really putting a big dent in my income,” he told them. “From now on, I’ll only be able to pay you 50 cents to beat on the cans.”

The noisemakers were obviously displeased, but they accepted his offer and continued their afternoon ruckus.

A few days later, the wily retiree approached them again as they drummed their way down the street. “Look,” he said, “I haven’t received my Social Security check yet, so I’m not going to be able to give you more than 25 cents. Will that be okay?”

“A measly quarter?” the drum leader exclaimed. “If you think we’re going to waste our time, beating these cans around for a quarter, you’re nuts! No way. We quit!”

And the old, wise Yid enjoyed peace and serenity for the rest of his days.
T.C.
Flatbush

What Do Teachers Make?

Dear Country Yossi,
The dinner guests were sitting around the table discussing life. One man, a CEO, decided to explain the problem with education. He argued, ‘What’s a kid going to learn from someone who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher?’ He reminded the other dinner guests what they say about teachers: ‘Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.’

To emphasize his point, he said to another guest: ‘You’re a teacher, Bonnie. Be honest. What do you make?’

Bonnie, who had a reputation for honesty and frankness, replied, ‘You want to know what I make?’ She paused for a second, then began.

‘Well, I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could.

I make a C+ feel like the Congressional Medal of Honor.

I make kids sit through 40 minutes of class time when their parents can’t make them sit for 5 without an Ipod, Game Cube or movie rental.

You want to know what I make?’ She paused again and looked at each and every person at the table.

‘I make kids wonder. I make them question. I make them apologize and mean it.

I make them have respect and take responsibility for their actions.

I teach them to write, and then I make them write. Keyboarding isn’t everything.

I make them read, read, read.

I make them show all their work in math. They use their G-d-given brains, not man-made calculators.

I make my students from other countries learn everything they need to know in English while preserving their unique cultural identity.

I make my classroom a place where all my students feel safe.

I make them understand that if they use the gifts they were given, work hard, and follow their hearts, they can succeed in life.’

Bonnie paused one last time, then continued.

‘Then, when people try to judge me by what I make, with me knowing money isn’t everything, I can hold my head up high and pay no attention - because those people are ignorant.

You want to know what I make?

I MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

What do you make, Mr. CEO?’

His jaw dropped, he went silent.
Received via email

Dear Emailer,
Git gezookt!
CY

A Sanitary Solution

Dear Country Yossi,
I wish to share an excellent and healthy idea that I observed this Chol Hamoed. A pair of parents with several children was visiting a zoo, when of course at the most interesting exhibit one of the youngsters had to use the bathroom. Without elaborating on the dangers and the revolting sanitary issues involved, I’ll just say that the mother produced a pair of disposable gloves and several Clorox wipes and proceeded to clean the areas of immediate contact, including the sink handles. These wipes claim to kill 99.99% of germs so they’re very useful in such a situation. Also a can of Lysol or Clorox spray with paper towels can do the same job. Small cans of 1-2 ounces are available. I advise all Yidden to prepare such handi-tools in their cars for future use.
Received via email

Dear Emailer,
Like they say, “Cleanliness is next to G-dliness.” Pass the Clorox please.
CY


Why We Learn Physics

Dear Country Yossi,
The college physics professor was explaining a particularly complicated concept to his class when a pre-med student interrupted him.
“Why do we have to learn this stuff?” the young man blurted out.

“To save lives,” the professor responded before continuing the lecture.

A few minutes later the student spoke up again. “So how does physics save lives?”

The professor stared at the student for a long time. “Physics saves lives,” he said, “because it keeps the idiots out of medical school.”
J.R.
Flatbush

Dear J.R.,
Unfortunately, it doesn’t keep them out of law school.
CY

What a Difference, What a Shame!

Dear Country Yossi,
I thought you might find this article interesting. While it highlighted the horrible state in which the Muslims find themselves, it inspired me as well.
It made me realize once again what a wonderful nation we are!

Children
By Isaac Kohn (IsraelNN.com)

This article is short; not profound, nor very deep. To stretch it will not add to the point it intends on making. It simply magnifies a very obvious phenomenon, which the world chooses to ignore.

This Thursday, as I do every week, I went shopping for Shabbos. As I walked up and down the aisles picking items here and there, a group of tiny little boys - a class of 3-4-year-old children - entered the store. Led and carefully watched by three or four teachers, the group of boys marched along two abreast in a long line. They paid careful attention as the leading morah pointed out or picked up different products from the shelves.

“What is this?” asked the teacher.

“Soup lokshen (‘noodles’),” came the enthusiastic answer.

“And what brocho (‘blessing’) do we make on it?” asked the morah.

“Shehakol!” “Mezonos!”

The little ones blurted out responses as the teacher smiled.

“We make mezonos,” she said; and the little ones nodded.

This went on for quite awhile, as item after item was raised aloft for the children to see and comment on.

“Who made these?” asked the teacher. And she quickly went on to explain that everything comes from Hashem, with factories creating different products for people.

The children were neatly dressed, clean and polite. A splash of chein (charm) covered their tiny faces, and their smiles melted my heart.

And I commented to another shopper, who was smilingly watching too.

“Imagine,” I said, “Muslim children of the same age are learning the intricacies of murder and the art of blood-letting. While these children are learning that everything G-d created was to give humans the sustenance they need - and therefore one must always praise Hashem by making brochos. The Muslim children are being indoctrinated that all G-d wants is another liter of blood.”

We stood there for a few more minutes, watching the class and teachers disappear around an aisle.

What a difference, I thought to myself. Our children are taught to love life, to do the best they can to make the world a better place than the one they came into. The little ones are taught that G-d wants them to live long and safe lives, and create and build and invent.

And Muslim children are taught that death and destruction is their ultimate goal. From the time they are born, they are brainwashed that only by taking others’ lives will they gain life. Only by stabbing and shooting and beheading and blowing themselves up will they be rewarded by their Allah.

And I thought of how these Jewish children will grow up and become ba’alei chessed (“examples of kindness”), emulating the G-d of their forefathers.
And how those other children will only know anger and hate, because all their god wants is to be served with another pound of flesh, with another murder of innocents. What a shame, I thought. Generations upon generations of once-upon-a-time children grown up to hate and destroy, instead of loving and creating.

I thought of generations of Arab children who haven’t brought any invention, any creation, any discovery to this world.

The difference between the ultimate goals for which these two sets of children will strive is as deep and as far from one another as East is from West.

What a shame!
Reprinted from IsraelNationalNews.com

Don’t Assume about Divorce

Dear Country Yossi,
Many people have told me that my story could fill several books. Since I don’t relish the idea of reliving the horrors by writing about them, I decided to simply share a few thoughts with your readership about assumptions.

You all know at least one woman who is divorced, possibly with children.

    1.    Don’t assume she didn’t approach Rabbonim and marriage counselors for neutral and objective intervention early on in the marriage.

    2.    Don’t assume she never sought emotional support for herself to survive, even if her ex-spouse claims otherwise.

    3.    Don’t assume she was a fool for having more than one child. There are many reasons you aren’t privy to.

    4.    Don’t assume she was “perfectly happy” until she “suddenly decided” to get a divorce. Don’t assume the seemingly shocked husband is that clueless, either.

    5.    Don’t assume “It’s better for parents to be together,” even if children constantly witness (and become either traumatized by or desensitized to) their mother’s degradation and tears, caused by their father.

    6.    Don’t assume she didn’t try everything under the sun to endure the marriage for as long as she could - and way longer than that - before seeking a “get.”

    7.    Don’t assume a person can’t be an agunah in her own home for many years. A man who refuses to leave (and has Rabbinical support while continuing to abuse his wife), threatening her with the loss of her children if she leaves, has created an agunah.

    8.    Don’t assume you can put the couple back together with your unique skills when the woman has been begging for a “get” for years, with good reason.

    9.    Don’t assume you would have managed better than she, without actually having walked a mile in her shoes.

    10.    Don’t assume the gossip about “why they got divorced” doesn’t eventually reach her ears and cause great pain - being “reasons” spread by a furious/hurt spouse (and his supporters).

P.S. Don’t assume you know who’s writing this article, because I represent about 25% of frum single mothers today.
Anonymous

Sold a Yid for a Quarter

Dear Country Yossi,
Several years ago, a Rabbi from out-of-state accepted a call to a community in Houston, Texas. Some weeks after he arrived, he had an occasion to ride the bus from his home to the downtown area. When he sat down, he discovered that the driver had accidentally given him a quarter too much change.

As he considered what to do, he thought to himself, ‘You’d better give the quarter back. It would be wrong to keep it.’ Then he thought, ‘Oh, forget it, it’s only a quarter. Who would worry about this little amount? Anyway, the bus company gets too much fare; they will never miss it. Accept it as a gift from G-d, and keep quiet.’

When his stop came, he paused momentarily at the door, and then he handed the quarter to the driver and said, ‘Here, you gave me too much change.’

The driver, with a smile, replied, ‘Aren’t you the new Rabbi in town?’

‘Yes,’ he replied.

‘Well, I have been thinking a lot lately about going somewhere to worship. I just wanted to see what you would do if I gave you too much change. I’ll see you in Shul on Shabbos.’

When the rabbi stepped off of the bus, he literally grabbed the nearest light pole, held on, and said, ‘Oh, Rebono Shel Olem, I almost sold a Yid for a quarter!’

Our lives are the only things some people will ever read. This is a really scary example of how much people watch us, as Jews, and put us to the test! Always be on guard - and remember - You carry the name of Hashem on your shoulders when you call yourself a ‘JEW.’

Watch your thoughts; they become words.

Watch your words; they become actions.

Watch your actions; they become habits.

Watch your habits; they become character.

Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.
P.L.
Flatbush

Dear P.L.,
I always say, “Watch your watch!” or else you might come late and miss the whole smorgasbord.
CY

Who Am I?

Dear Country Yossi,
Who am I?

I was raised in one country but my father was born in another. I was not his only child. He fathered several children with a number of women.

I became very close to my mother because my father showed little interest in me. Then my mother died at an early age from cancer. Later in life, questions arose over my real name. My birth records were sketchy and no one was able to produce a reliable birth certificate.

I grew up practicing one faith, but converted to Christianity because this was widely accepted in my country. But I practiced non-traditional beliefs and did not follow mainstream Christianity.

I worked and lived among lower-class people as a young adult before I decided it was time to get serious about my life and I embarked on a new career.

I wrote a book about my struggles growing up. It was clear to those who read my memoirs that I had difficulties accepting that my father abandoned me as a child.

I became active in local politics when I was in my 30s and then burst onto the scene as a candidate for national office when I was in my 40s. I had a virtually non-existent resume, very little work history, and no experience in leading a single organization. Yet I was a powerful speaker who managed to draw incredibly large crowds during my public appearances.

At first, my political campaign focused on my country’s foreign policy. I was critical of my country in the last war. But what launched my rise to national prominence were my views on the country’s economy. I had a plan on how we could do better. I knew which group was responsible for getting us into this mess.

Mine was a people’s campaign. I was the surprise candidate because I emerged from outside the traditional path of politics and was able to gain widespread popular support. I offered the people the hope that together we could change our country and the world.

I spoke on behalf of the downtrodden including persecuted minorities such as Jews, but my actual views were not widely known until after I became my nation’s leader. However, anyone could have easily learned what I really believed if they had simply read my writings and examined those people I associated with. But they did not.

Then I became the most powerful man in the world. And the world learned the truth.

Who am I?

Answer: Adolf Hitler
J.R.
Boro Park

Dear J.R.
Yimach shemo v’zichro.
CY

Cottage Grove Kiddush Hashem

Dear Country Yossi,
I am writing to tell you of an incident which happened to me on a wildly snowy Thursday afternoon. On my way home from work in Mendota Heights, my car had already gotten stuck several times. As I reached the unplowed streets of Cottage Grove, I knew I would be getting stuck again. I approached the 80th Street and East Point Douglas intersection, which is very busy. When the light turned red and the wheels lost their traction, I sat there spinning my wheels as many cars and even snow plows went around me without stopping.

All of a sudden, a white passenger van pulled alongside me and several young men dressed in black fedora hats and long overcoats jumped out of the van. Without the benefit of mittens or boots, they selflessly began pushing my car until I got moving again. And it took several of them to push to keep my vehicle moving! The van and passengers went on to follow me to my destination. I was very touched and unable to thank them, because I knew if I stopped again, that I would get stuck again.

I am making the assumption that these young heroes are Yeshiva school students due to their distinctive, formal clothing. The school is doing a very good job teaching the students about basic decency and courtesy. They cheerfully waved at me as I pulled away, trying to shake the snow out of their now wet shoes. They had put themselves at risk dodging other cars that probably couldn’t have fully stopped in that slop. I admire their courage and compassion. What a tribute to the school’s work and their families!
Ann M. Mattson
Cottage Grove, MN
P.S. The yeshiva students are from Chabad Yeshiva High School of Twin Cities
Reprinted from Vos Iz Neias

Dear Ann,
They make us proud, too. Lubavich rocks!
CY

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