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The Rabbi on the Beach @ The Shul on the Beach

Solar Eclipse In Judaism

Last week the world witnessed another wonder of our universe, the Solar Eclipse. This eclipse was visible from Southeast Asia and was the longest eclipse in 18 years and will remain the longest for the next 123 years.

The eclipse has long been associated with mythology and supernatural acts. If you are a fan of the TV show, Heroes, you know what I mean.

In Southeast Asia, many Hindus were gripped by fear. According to Hindu  tradition, the eclipse can cause harm to unborn children. Many ancient cultures attached mythological meaning to solar eclipses. Today, we know that the eclipse is part of the solar pattern that is predictable to the second.

What about Judaism? What do we say about the solar eclipse?

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The Sales Pitch

This post is cross-posted to DovBear – more discussion there.

I read an important column on a good website yesterday.

It wasn’t on NYTimes.com or Yahoo.com or ESPN.com (some of my favorite sites to link from) this article was on Vosizneias.com. VIN is a Orthodox Jewish blog with editorials and news. I recommend checking it out when you have a chance.

The column I read was a great perpective on Baal Teshuvas and their integration into the Frum community. In particular the column focused on various reactions of the BT (I use the term adoringly) when encountered with other (supposedly) Frum Jews who are not living up to their own standards.

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Tales From 30,000 Feet

Yesterday I flew cross country. Our route: LAX —> JFK.

Something profound happened aboard that aircraft and that is the point behind this post.

While cruising at 30,000 feet we witnessed an amazing sight. Read the rest of this entry »

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Take A Smile Break | Another Cute Baby Post

After yesterdays disturbing news and my sobering blog post about mid-eastern Jewry I thought something lighter would be appropriate for today.

Our son Ozzie, will be 7 months old in a couple of weeks.

There is nothing quite like the experience of observing a baby grow. They are completely helpless when they are born and they gain mobility, instinct and personality before your very eyes.

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Men (Learning) at Work

This blog post is about men learning at work. By learning, I mean studying Torah.

I taught a class today at Teichman Enterprises.

It was a really great experience and I was inspired and I want to share my feelings with you.

If you are looking for the Australian musical artists known as Men at Work who sing that great song called “Down Under” (the one the “Piamentas” ripped off and sing to the words “Asher Bara”) click here for Men at Work.

If you don’t know what I am talking about watch these two videos…

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Happy Birthday Tetris

June 6th. An auspicious date in history.

For most it a day known as D-Day. The day the Allies invaded Normandy.

I have the greatest respect and appreciation for the massive Ally effort to maintain freedom in our world. Thank you.

If you want to see more about that click here.

For others, it is also T-Day. What is T-Day? Nothing, I just made it up.

But it is the birthday of perhaps the greatest video game of all time. Read the rest of this entry »

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Does Your Kiddush Have Kugel?

There’s a fellow in the Los Angeles Jewish community named Hilly Zeitlin.

Hilly sends out daily emails with all the important goings on in Los Angeles. He does this for free and it is a tremendous service to the community. (If you want to join his email list click here to subscribe.)

Hilly comes to Pacific Jewish Center for our Sunday morning services most weeks, so we know him well.

From time to time Hilly sends jokes or funny video links. Today he sent a really funny youtube video, I just had to post it. Read the rest of this entry »

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Green Post

Green.

It used to be an innocent color. Now, it means so much more.

Previously, I talked about the Torah approach to Earth Day. Today, I am going to take a brief dip into Green Politics. Normally, I steer clear of politics. One exception was when I wrote about Political Discrimination. Now that technology gives us the ability to figure out who believes in what politics, it is possible to discriminate against people whom you never knew, because of their politics.

My general opinion in politics is Read the rest of this entry »

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The Speed of History

I stumbled upon this video on Facebook.

Once in a while I see a video that really makes me think. This is a video that makes me think.

Once in a while I see a video that reinforces a Torah idea that I heard or read. This is video that does just that.

After you watch the video I want to share a deep insight I heard about history. The video emphasizes the point so check out the video first. You can watch the video right here on the blog.

Just press play!

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Where The Wild Things Are

It is not my style to post a movie trailer on this blog. However, after watching the trailer for the upcoming movie of the famous Maurice Sendak book, Where the Wild Things Are, I was compelled to share my thoughts on the trailer.

First, my thoughts on the book. 1) Never send your child to bed without dinner, it is cruel and it makes me want to cry when I contemplate the very idea, 2) a child’s life should be so wonderful that they don’t need to “escape” to where the wild things are.

Second, my thoughts on the trailer. This is a perfectly executed trailer in one respect and a failure in another respect. Read the rest of this entry »

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Ladies and Gentlemen, A Moment of Silence for… A Moment of Silence

Yes. It is true. The Moment of Silence in Public Schools in Illinois is unconstitutional. Let’s take a moment of silence to remember the moment of silence.

A total of 18 states have similar statutes in their legislation giving students a moment of silence or prayer during school time.

In 1969 the Illinois legislature passed the following act:

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Kobe and Zehirus

Kobe Bryant’s Work Ethic

It is undisputed that Kobe Bryant possesses superior basketball talent to every human being on the planet. That is not enough to be the best basketball player on the planet. There is a discipline aspect that Kobe excells in beyond his inborn talents. Kobe is the first in the gym and the last guy to leave. He puts in more hours in the weight room than anyone else. This article illustrates a third way Kobe excels off the court. Kobe studies film. Kobe studies more film than anyone. This reminds me of Ray Lewis as well. Ray Lewis has all the talent necessary to be the best middle linebacker in the world. Where he gains an even greater edge is film study. Kobe says he learns tendencies and habits of his opponents by studying every move of theirs.

What are these athletes doing studying so much film? They have the talent to succeed on their natural abilities, yet they put so much extra work into their game. Why?

The answer is what we just studied in Messilas Yesharim. In order to succeed in our moral challenges we need to prepare. We need to see our adversary’s (our animalistic urge) tendencies and get to know him. We need to plan ways to avoid challenges and strategize ways of defeating our adversary before the challenge comes to us. It is not enough to be skillful in our moral battles. We need to be prepared as well. This is the secret of the most successful athletes like Kobe and Ray Lewis and it is the secret the Ramchal teaches us in his chapters on Zehirus. The first step to winning the moral war within ourselves is to prepare. It sounds so simple but most of us don;t even think about how we can make those preparations. We continue the explanation of Zehirus this coming Sunday…

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The Year in Review

Is this what happened to you this year?

Did you basically go through the seasons with no change other than the weather. Did it end where it started…

This beautiful video could never be the year in review for a growing person. By the end of the year you should not recognize yourself. Well, maybe you should still be recognizable but nevertheless the growing person cannot be time-lapsed. The action is all on the inside. But can we see it? Does the change have an external effect? Interestingly the Torah teaches us that the inside is reflected on the outside. The word for face in Hebrew is Panim (pey, nun, yud, mem) and the word for inside is P’nim (same letters with different vowels) and this teaches us that the inside is reflected on the outside. Unfortunately most of the time we are so distracted by superficial beauty (let’s call it glitz) that we don’t even get the chance to see real internal beauty visible on the outside. But there are lots of exceptions – you’ll see them on the faces of great Tzadikkim (righteous men and women). This is going to be the topic of our next Connections schedled for this coming Monday Night at 8:00 PM (1/5/09). Beauty – is it really more than skin deep…?

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Bob Costas and “Controlling your own destiny”

This is an interesting tidbit from Bob Costas.

“If it’s destiny or fate folks, you can’t control it! Control the outcome, control the result but you can’t control destiny or fate.” – Bob Costas

A great observation on his part and consistent with the prevalent perspective in America. If it is destiny you can’t control it. I guess one can question whether there is any destiny in “Sports”. Another thing that struck me is that our belief, as Jews, is that we actually do control fate and we can control our destiny. When we act we change destiny and fate. When we exercise our moral free will and make good choices we change to future of our world and the entire world.

Thinking that things are predetermined makes us powerless and can have a very negative affect on us. If I can’t help myself from acting then I am not blameworthy for my actions. We believe we are in complete control of our moral choices. Those moral choices determine our fate and nothing else.

This is incredibly empowering and gives us a tremendous responsibility to impact the destiny of the world in a positive way.

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This Is My Blog

You have arrived at a place in cyberspace featuring the thoughts, ramblings, musings and Torah of Eliyahu Fink.

If you like what you have found come join us at the The Shul on the Beach. You know the Shul on the Venice boardwalk - you've seen it, right?

Scroll down to the bottom of this sidebar to see some of my pictures of the Pacific Jewish Center just before sundown on a Friday Evening.

Well, we are there every Friday Night and Saturday Morning for services.

Come check us out! You will feel something special in the air. I guarantee it.

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