The great Avraham Fried owned the stage with his outstanding performance of hit song Yesh Tikvah at Oorah’s sixth annual Chanukah concert in Brooklyn College the first night of Chanukah. Over 2,000 Oorah family members crowded the theater for an incredible night of entertainment and inspiration.
If you can’t view YouTube videos, please try this version.
Yesh Tikvah: There is Hope
English Lyrics translated by Rabbi Eli Freidman
Look around, far and near
Where’s the joy, where’s the cheer
Why the fear, why the frown
Why the smile upside down
Shake yourself from the dust
Scrape your soul from the rust
Know that this too shall pass
For in G-d we trust
There is hope
If we sing our hope together
We have faith that is stronger than the terror
No despair, no dismay
Everything will be okay
He is with us night and day
Dry your tears
Take my hand, never fear
Let’s advance, side by side
And let’s cast our fright aside
Don’t forget all the love
That we have from Above
And you’ll see with the dawn
All the pain will be gone
This is a recipe for those who don’t like being micromanaged and/or following directions too carefully, from our writer in Israel, Mrs. Varda Epstein. She claims it’s good on latkes with sour cream, but we’re sure it’s delicious with chips too.
Lots of fresh coriander and flat leaf parsley
A few garlic cloves
Pinch of salt
Glug of olive oil
A few ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 de-seeded, de-ribbed jalapeno peppers, roughly chopped (wear gloves!)
Approx. 1 tsp. cumin
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
Process the herbs, garlic and salt in food processor until everything stops bouncing. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse a few times, leaving the mixture a bit on the chunky side. Taste for seasoning.
This is the fifth tip in our series on shmiras halashon by Mrs. Tova Younger.
Rather than waste precious time discussing people, use your time wisely to gain mitzvos. Share recipes, tips and encouraging stories. Formulate plans on how to help those in need in your community. Work on finding a mate for singles you know. You’ll fill your conversation time productively.
Learn from experience. Some people have a habit of speaking lashon hara; limit your encounters with them if possible.
In this week’s Torah portion, Parshas Vayigash, Yaakov (Jacob) and his son Yosef (Joseph) dramatically see each other for the first time in many years. It is a very emotional moment. Rashi explains (Genesis 46:29) that Yaakov recited the Shema upon seeing Yosef.
Was it time to say Shema? According to some, yes. However, according to the Maharal (Rabbi Yehuda Loew, 1520-1609) in his commentary on Rashi, Gur Aryeh, the reason that Yaakov said Shema was because the practice of tzadikim, righteous individuals, is to, at a moment of joy, be “mekabel ol malchus Shamayim,” the act of accepting upon oneself the yoke of the kingship of Heaven.” This means completely submitting oneself to the will of Hashem, realizing that all comes from Him, and that the role of the Jew in this world is to follow His mitzvos. Doing mitzvos is an expression of an outpouring of our love towards Hashem. If all is from Hashem, then any simcha that we may have- any joy that Yaakov may have felt upon seeing his son- deserves thanking and dedicating oneself to Hashem.
Any love that one has for another, according to Rabbi Yehoshua Leib Diskin (1818-1898), is really an expression of one’s true love for Hashem. If we are all made b’tzelem Elokim (in the image of G-d), then expressing and feeling love to a man is expressing and feeling it toward Hashem as well. Therefore, when Yaakov recited Shema, he was channeling his love of Yosef to its ultimate source- Hashem.
How is it that we can fully submit ourselves to Hashem? How can we begin to attempt to perform such an act when reciting Krias Shema?
If one looks at the commentary of Rabbeinu Bachya (mid-14th century) on Parshas Tzav, one may begin to find the answer. In Leviticus (8:23), the verse says, “And when it [a ram sacrifice] was slain, Moshe took its blood, and put it on the tip of Aharon’s right ear, and on the thumb of his right hand, and on the big toe of his right foot.”
What is the significance of placing blood on specific appendages of the body? Rabbeinu Bachya explains that each part of the body is representative of different human qualities. He gives the example of fingers. He explains that each finger correlates to a specific one of the five senses. The thumb is taste because one wipes one’s mouth with one’s thumb. The index finger is smell because it is often used to clean out the nose. The middle finger is touch because it can reach and touch the farthest. The ring finger is sight because it people clean out their eyes with that finger. Finally, the pinky is hearing because people stick their fingers in their ears to block out sound.
This idea always seemed very powerful to me in the context of the Shema. Perhaps, when one puts one’s hand over his eyes one is, in a sense, using all of one’s senses to acknowledge Hashem and submit his will to Him. When one covers one’s eyes during Shema, he literally uses everything he has to give, represented by his senses, in order to surrender to HaKadosh Baruch Hu, the Holy One, Blessed be He.
As well, Rabbi Shimshon Raphael Hirsch (1808-1888) explains (Leviticus 14:8) that the hand and forehead are the most uniquely human parts of the body. They represent the actions we are able to perform and the thoughts that we are able to have that separate us from animal life. Therefore, when we place our fingers on our eyes at the beginning of Shema, we are taking all of our senses, via the vehicle that makes us uniquely human, and submitting our will to our Creator.
Many often think that Judaism asks a lot of its practitioners. This is true. However, Judaism also supplies us with the means with which to create the best kavanah, environment, and way to connect to Hashem through meaningful mitzvos.
We should all learn from the actions of Yaakov that at the moment when our emotions are heightened with joy and love that we must recognize where those feelings truly come from. If we are able to do this, then we will be able to constantly rededicate ourselves to Hashem.
by Rabbi Mordechai Weissmann
WHO SERVED FIRST?
The central theme of the Torah portions that we are reading now is Yosef being the Chief Minister or Grand Vizier of Egypt. This calls for a hilarious joke.
Where do you see a hint to tennis in the Torah?
YOSEF SERVED IN PHARAOH’S COURT!
But of course, because Pharaoh ruled Egypt before Yosef, that means that PHAROAH SERVED FIRST!
There is an interesting Midrash that tells us the following: Al of the languages that people speak today are based on seventy languages. Pharaoh understood 69 out of 70 languages, but the 70th- Hebrew- he did not understand. Yosef did speak all seventy languages, including Hebrew. That leads to the following joke:
How much does a tennis game in Israel cost?
TEN NIS (Israeli New Shekel; Israel’s currency).
I’ll conclude with a Fiveish joke:
What is Fiveish’s favorite sport?
By Yankel Moskowitz
There’s no food that says Chanukah like potato latkes fried in lots and lots of oil. But come on, who can eat potato latkes for eight days straight? Change it up a bit with this recipe for sweet potatoes from Mrs. Esti Barker, the creative mind behind much of Oorah’s marketing. Besides being delicious, sweet potatoes are also a tad more nutritious than their white cousins.
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup grated onion
3 Tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 pound sweet potato (about 4 medium), peeled and shredded
Oil for frying
Mix the eggs, onion, flour, salt and sweet potato in a bowl. Let batter rest for 5 minutes. Heat 1/4 inch of oil in a frying pan until it is very hot. Gently drop tablespoons of batter in the pan and flatten with a spatula. Fry over medium heat until golden brown, about 1 minute per side. All more oil as needed. Drain on paper towels. Serve with oodles of sour cream!
For more interesting, fun, classic and traditional Chanukah recipes, check out the Oorah Pinterest Chanukah food board.
The fourth tip in our series on shmiras halashon by Mrs. Tova Younger.
If you have trained yourself to judge favorably, you’ll be your very own best lawyer! When our final judgment comes upon us, we will be called upon to judge our own lives, but we won’t recognize ourselves. Not only that, but Hashem judges us in the way that we judge others.
Train yourself by playing the following game: Try to think of five reasons that make this action totally acceptable, or at least not so bad. Untamed, our initial reaction could bring us to rash conversation. Minimally, such a game will probably defuse and calm down your emotional feelings. If you have a sense of humor, it could distract you, remove negative feelings and even put you in a laughing mood.
Conclusion: Make judging favorably a firm habit.
Warning! When defending someone, be sure to steer clear of unnecessarily vilifying the other side.