I just got done reading a post on Jewlicious about attempts within the Orthodox community to deal with the issue of premarital sex.
The post has 681 comments at this point.
It literally took me all afternoon to read through everything.
Jesus.
I emailed UM (who I’ve taken to referring to as Mr. Frodo due to his short stature), and John, making my case for the admin position.
I also applied for it this morning, and will be emailing my resume to John when I get home.
I really hope it works out.
It would solve the current problem, and keep it from croping up in the future.
Maybe this way I’ll be productive soon.
I’d actually be Mr. Frodo’s administrative assistant, and there’s a pay raise.
Everybody keep your fingers crossed, pray, chant, or whatever you do, that I get this promotion.

The Journey to Unity ? 173b

When Animals Take Priority: Part 2

This letter contains some teachings from Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, which
were cited in “The Vision of Eden” and which I later studied in the original
source, “Ein Rayah”:

Dear Friends,

We have begun a discussion on the mitzvah to feed our animals before we feed
ourselves. This mitzvah is based on the following verse where the
Compassionate One promises that there will be food for the animals before
promising that we, the People of Israel, will have enough food:

“I shall provide grass in your fields for your cattle, and you shall eat and
be satisfied.” (Deuteronomy 11:15)

In the previous letter, we mentioned the following reasons for the mitzvah
to feed our hungry animals before we sit down to eat:

1. It prevents us from violating the Torah’s prohibition against tzaar
baalei chayim. (A related reason is that sitting down to a meal may also
cause us to forget about feeding our animals.)

2. It enables us to fulfill the mitzvah to emulate the compassionate Divine
ways, especially since the Compassionate One promised that there will be
food for the animals before promising that there will be food for us.

In this letter, we shall discuss some additional reasons for this mitzvah,
and we will begin with excerpts from some teachings of Rabbi Abraham Isaac
Kook:

“Aside from enjoining us to recognize our obligation of active concern for
the welfare of all creatures, according to the lofty station of this holy
directive, it is required as an act of justice, since by means of the
animal, the human being brings forth bread from the earth, and ‘abundant
blessing from the power of the ox’ (Proverbs 14:4). Given this, the one that
does the work (the animal) deserves priority in benefiting from his labors.
In addition, this teaches that the human being must not exploit animals ?
not only because of compassion, but also because of the justice of showing
gratitude; for if not for the animal, the human being would not gain the
necessities of life. Therefore, because one is compelled and obligated to
feed his animal before eating, his consciousness is raised to know that his
obligation to be concerned for animals is not only loving piety and
altruism, but an obligation of integrity, righteousness, and justice.” (Ein
Ayah, Berachos, Vol 2, chap 6, p. 180)

In the modern western world ? especially in urban areas – many people have
animals in their possession for the purpose of companionship. They are
deriving some benefit from their pets; thus, feeding their pets first would
be what Rabbi Kook calls, “the justice of showing gratitude.”

Since we are discussing the theme of gratitude, I will mention an ancient
custom of our people during the winter season which expresses our gratitude
towards the birds for a benefit which we received from them on our journey
to Mount Sinai: There is a winter Shabbos when we read the Torah portion
that includes the song which we sung after we crossed the sea, when we were
saved from the Egyptian army that was chasing after us in order to enslave
us again. This is a joyous song of deliverance, and it also alludes to the
future age of universal redemption when all people will accept the
sovereignty of the Compassionate One; thus, the song concludes with the
words, “The Compassionate One shall reign for all eternity” (Exodus 15:18).
The Shabbos when we chant the Torah portion which includes this song is
known as the “Shabbos of Song”; moreover, there is a special custom
associated with this Shabbos which involves the birds. I will describe the
custom as it is practiced in my community of Bayit Vegan, Jerusalem. Before
sunset on Friday, we put out food for the wild birds. “Nefesh Kol Chai”
cites halachic sources which state that the reason for this custom is
because the birds also sung a special song when we were delivered at the
sea! We therefore express our appreciation to the birds for singing their
song by giving them food just before the arrival of the Shabbos of Song;
moreover, this custom reminds us of the great joy of the Song at the Sea
(Aruch Ha-Shulchan).

This year, the Shabbos of Song begins at sunset on Friday, February 10th.

Shalom,
Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen (See below)

Related Teachings:

1. Jewish tradition encourages us to have gratitude to everything in
creation, and we discussed this idea in a previous letter, which was titled,
“Gratitude to the River.” A copy is available upon request.

2. Rabbi Kook also discusses another reason for the mitzvah to feed our
animals before we feed ourselves. He points out that a human being who lacks
food temporarily can quiet the distress of his soul by pursuing various
forms of spiritual gratification. The soul of the hungry animal does not
have this option.

Hazon – Our Universal Vision: www.shemayisrael.co.il/publicat/hazon/

By RIVA RICHMOND
DOW JONES NEWSWIRES

January 30, 2006; Page B6

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB113858515229259640.html?mod=technology_main_
whats_news

EarthLink Inc. plans to begin offering a high-speed Internet and
online-calling package for consumers in three metropolitan markets
through
an expanded partnership with Covad Communications Group Inc.

EarthLink, based in Atlanta, was set to offer the service in the San
Francisco and San Jose, Calif., area, as well as Dallas and Seattle
starting this week.

The Covad partnership, terms of which weren’t disclosed, will allow
the
Internet-service provider to offer a competitive digital-subscriber
line,
or DSL, and Internet-telephone service without having its own
agreements
with telecommunications companies.

That is important because the Federal Communications Commission ruled
in
August that phone companies no longer would be required to lease line
capacity to competing ISPs like EarthLink and Time Warner Inc.’s
America
Online under common carrier regulations, threatening the ISPs’ ability
to
offer competitively priced DSL services.

However, common carrier rules still require incumbent carriers to
lease the
connections between consumers’ homes and their central offices to
competing
carriers like Covad.

“By us moving in this direction, we are jumping on the piece of the
regulation that remains intact,” said Jim Bagnato, EarthLink’s
director of
voice services.

EarthLink said it intends to bring its offering with Covad to other
major
metropolitan areas.

Covad, San Jose, Calif., whose relationship with EarthLink dates back
at
least seven years, has access to 40 million households. Its top
markets are
New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington.

Jan. 30, 2006

Balloons to be tested as cell-tower replacement
Associated Press

http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/business/13748610.htm

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – Why put up costly cell phone towers in thinly
populated areas, when a few balloons would do?

In North Dakota, former Gov. Ed Schafer is backing a plan to loft
wireless
network repeaters on balloons high above the state to fill gaps in
cellular
coverage.

“I know it sounds crazy,” said Schafer, who now heads Extend America
Inc., a wireless telecommunications company. “But it works in the
lab.”

Extend America and Chandler, Ariz.-based Space Data Corp. are
developing
the technology, which is believed to be the first to use disposable
balloons to provide cellular coverage.

A trial balloon will be launched in the next few weeks to test the
idea,
said Schafer, who left office in 2000 after eight years as governor.

“To cover every square mile of North Dakota, it would take 1,100 cell
towers,” Schafer said. “We can do the whole state with three
balloons.”

If successful, the hydrogen-filled balloons could be drifting across
the
stratosphere above North Dakota this summer, providing cellular
coverage at
a tiny fraction of the cost of building cellular towers.

Jerry Knoblach, the CEO of Space Data, says that although the balloon
technology, called SkySite, is new to the cellular industry, “the
platform
is very well proven” for other purposes.

His company has launched thousands of the free-floating balloons in
Texas,
Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas and New Mexico over the past year. The
wireless data network they encompass tracks oil company vehicles and
monitors the production of oil wells and pipelines, he said.

Knoblach is certain the balloons will work for cellular service in
North
Dakota — even in cold or stormy weather. He said balloons were
launched
even during Hurricane Katrina.

Up to 20 miles above the earth, well above commercial airliner
pathways,
steady stratospheric winds would push the latex balloons across the
state
at about 30 mph. Each balloon would deliver voice and data service to
an
area hundreds of miles in diameter.

“Nine balloons would always be in the air, with some going up, some
going
down, and some in the middle,” Schafer said.

The balloons swell from six feet in diameter to 30 feet after they
gain
altitude. Once a balloon leaves the state, its toaster-size
communications
pod would jettison, deploy a parachute and fall to earth, where it
would
signal its position.

“We’d pay some guy a bounty, put in a new battery pack and send it
off
again,” Knoblach said. Schafer said the repeater could be used
indefinitely “unless it lands in a lake or gets run over by a
truck.”

After the electronic equipment is released, the balloons rise and
expand
with the drop in air pressure until they burst. Knoblach said the
balloons
cost about $55 each.

Schafer said it costs about $250,000 to build one cellular tower in
North
Dakota, and many remote areas don’t have enough customers to pay for
it.

“The nice thing is that we don’t have to weld a bunch of steel
together to
build a tower,” Schafer said. “We just let these babies go.”

Weston Henderek, a senior wireless analyst with Current Analysis of
Sterling, Va., said he was not aware of a similar system of using
balloons
to provide wireless relays.

“It’s difficult to say whether it’s a pie-in-the-sky idea or if it
will
actually work,” he said. “It’s one of those cutting-edge type of
things
that people are starting to look at. It will be interesting to see how
the
testing pans out.”

At the height of the Internet boom a few years ago, several companies
looked at providing broadband or cell phone service from manned or
unmanned
blimps and aircraft.

So far, none of those plans have fully materialized, but GlobeTel
Communications Corp. of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., has signed contracts to
provide the nation of Colombia with unmanned communications blimps
that
would hover 10 to 13 miles up.

In North Dakota, plans call for the service to be sold wholesale to
existing wireless carriers. The state government is an “interested
observer,” said Jerry Fossum, the telecommunications director for the
state Information Technology Department.

“It’s certainly a possible solution to some of our demographic
problems of
a lot of space and not a lot of people,” Fossum said. “I hope it
works.”

——

On the Net:

http://www.extendamerica.com

Home

United Airlines will close its frequent-flier call center in Tucson at the end of April in a move that will affect 150 employees.
A spokesman for the bankrupt Chicago-based airline said 20 salaried and management employees will be laid off, while 130 employees represented by the International
Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers will be offered positions at United’s call center in Rapid City, S.D.
The laid-off employees will have the option to either relocate to Rapid City, or begin working for the Sears call center.
United will provide financial help to those wishing to transfer to the Rapid City call center and will offer outplacement services to workers who choose
not to make the move to South Dakota.
Sears is encouraging those who do not wish to relocate to apply at their customer care center, and is even offering the insentive of held positions for those who apply before the lay-of.
Any applicants who qualify would be allowed to start working once the lay-off occurs.
Read the whole article here.

Since it’s been nice here today, and it’s supposed to be even nicer tomorrow, I decided to open my windows.
I stood at the front one, trying to open it with all my might, but it wouldn’t budge.
I thought maybe it was stuck, and kept at it.
Then it hit me.
It was locked.
Incredibly brilliant.
Would someone be generous enough to send me my own personal sign?

By Ezra HaLevi
00:20 Jan 29, ’06 / 29 Tevet 5766
http://israelnn.com/news.php3?id=97453

Rav Kaduri, born in 1898, was 108 years old. He was hospitalized for
13 days prior to his death.

Rabbi Kaduri’s funeral will set out at 12 PM Sunday from Jerusalem’s
Nahalat Yitzchak Yeshiva, which he headed. The Yeshiva is located in
19 David Street in the capital’s Bucharian neighborhood. The
procession will continue until Har HaMenuchot.

Arutz-7 Hebrew Radio show host Yehoshua Meiri, a student of Rabbi
Kaduri, visited Rabbi Kaduri at his hospital bedside two weeks ago
with the Kabbalist’s grandson, Rabbi Yossi Kaduri. Meiri reported
that the elder Rabbi Kaduri told them, “The time of Redemption has
come.”

Rabbi Kaduri made Aliyah (moved to Israel) in 1908. He then returned
to Iraq to study with the famed Ben Ish Chai, and later returned to
the Holy Land in 1916. He studied in Yeshivat Porat Yosef in the Old
City of Jerusalem, and later in Yeshivat Nachlat Yitzchak in
Jerusalem’s Bucharian neighborhood. The Rabbi quickly gained a
reputation for his profound study of Torah law and Kabbalah, piercing
insights, and great piety.

Former Sephardic Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef and the Council of Sages of
the Shas Party said, “We are mourning the passing of the elder
kabbalist, the remnant of the Great Assembly, Rabbi Yitzchak Kaduri.”

Shas Chairman Eli Yishai said, “All of Israel is one family in
mourning today he who all his life prayed on behalf of the Nation of
Israel and rose in a tempest heavenward.”

The Journey to Unity 173a

When Animals Take Priority: Part One

Dear Friends,

The Talmud records that Rabbi Yehudah said in the name of Rav: “In all
creation there is nothing that lacks a divinely-appointed purpose” (Shabbos
77b). All forms of life serve the unifying Divine purpose, and the Divine
plan entitles each creature to receive what it needs in order to fulfill its
purpose within creation. As Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch writes in his
commentary on the Torah (Genesis 15:8), this Divine plan is called
“tzedek” – one of the biblical terms for justice; moreover, the benevolent
deeds which fulfill this plan are called “tzedakah.” Our sages therefore
describe the Creator’s nurturing of all life in the following manner:

“He does tzedekah and nourishes, supports, and sustains all who come into
the world and all that He created.” (Tanna Devei Eliyahu 17:8)

A person who strives to live according to the Torah’s principle of tzedek in
all areas of his existence is called a “tzadik.” In this spirit, King
Solomon wrote, “A tzadik understands the feelings of his animals” (Proverbs 12:10). The Malbim, a noted 19th century biblical commentator, explains that
the tzadik understands the nature of his animal, and he gives the animal its
food in its proper time and according to the amount it needs. He also makes
sure to fulfill the mitzvah to feed one’s animal before one feeds oneself.
For the tzadik, writes the Malbim, lives according to the following code:
“The tzadik acts according to the laws of tzedek; not only does he act
according to these laws with human beings, but also with his own animal.”

The Malbim mentioned the mitzvah to feed our animals before we feed
ourselves. In the following passage, the Talmud states that a source for
this mitzvah can be found in the Divine statement which mentions the feeding
of animals “before” the feeding of human beings:

“Rabbi Yehudah said in the name of Rav: A person is forbidden to eat before
he gives food to his animal, as it states (Deut. 11:15): ‘I will give grass
in your fields for your cattle,’ and it then concludes, ‘and you shall eat
and be satisfied.’ ” (Brochos 40b)

Based on the above teaching, the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, an abridged code of
halacha, states: “One who owns animals or fowl that depend upon him for
their sustenance is forbidden to eat anything until he feeds them (42:1).

The work “Nefesh Kol Chai” is an anthology of various halachos (including
differing halachic opinions) regarding our treatment of other creatures, and
it discusses the following question: What if a person has animals that are
able to find food on their own? The “Nefesh Kol Chai” cites sources which
indicate that although the minimum requirement of the halacha does not
require that one feed these animals before one’s self in such a case, it is
nevertheless praiseworthy to do so. The Hebrew word “chesed” refers to
overflowing love, and going beyond the requirement of the halacha in such a
situation, states the “Nefesh Kol Chai,” is a “midas chassidus” – acting in
the spirit of love. According to Jewish tradition, a “chassid” is a person
who understands the spirit of each mitzvah, as well as the goal of the Torah
path; thus, the chassid lovingly desires to go beyond the minimum
requirement of the halacha in life-affirming ways which do not cause harm to
himself or others.

To delay feeding a hungry animal which depends on us causes suffering to the
animal; thus, “Nefesh Kol Chai” cites sources which indicate that the
mitzvah of feeding our animals before we feed ourselves enables us to avoid
violating the Torah prohibition against tzaar baalei chayim. In addition, it
enables us to also fulfill the mitzvah to emulate the Divine compassion.

Shalom,

Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen

Related Teachings:

1. “Nefesh Kol Chai” cites sources which indicate that if we are thirsty, we
are permitted to drink in order to quench our thirst before giving water to
our animals. The permission to drink first only applies if we are genuinely
thirsty. It does not apply if we merely want to drink for pleasure.
Satisfying the thirst of our animals takes priority over our drinking for
pleasure!
Although there is a halachic opinion which states that just as we must feed
our animals first, so too, we must give them drink first, Rabbi Yitzchak
Eliyahu Shtisman, the author of “Nefesh Kol Chai,” told me that the main
halachic view is that we are permitted to drink first, if we are thirsty.

2. Why does the halacha, which requires that we feed our animals before
ourselves, allow us to drink before we give water to the animals? “Nefesh
Kol Chai” cites several reasons. One of the reasons is that when it comes to
food, it is usually easier for a human being to fast than an animal;
however, when it comes to thirst, it is usually easier for an animal to
delay drinking than for a human being. (In fact, there are certain species
of animals which can go without water for a very long period.) Another
suggested reason is that if a person sits down to eat, there is a
possibility he can get so involved with eating that he may forget to feed
his animal, which is another reason why feeding the animal takes priority;
however, when it comes to drinking water, there is less danger that a person
will get so involved in drinking water that he will forget to give drink to
his animals. (According to this reason, the permission to drink first does
not apply to intoxicating beverages which could cause a person to forget his
obligation to his animals.)

3. The Sefer Chassidim (531) is one of the sources which states that we are
permitted to drink something in order to quench our thirst before giving
water to our animals. As a source for this halacha, he cites a story about
our righteous mother, Rivkah: After a long journey, Avraham’s servant,
Eliezer, arrived at the well of her village, and the young Rivkah first gave
drink to the weary and thirsty Eliezer, before giving drink to his animals
(Genesis 24:11-21). Another source is the following Divine statement to
Moshe, our Teacher: “Give drink to the congregation and to their animals”
(Numbers 20:8). Moshe was told to give water to the people “before” the
animals.

4. If a delay in eating would cause a definite or even a possible danger to
a person’s life, he or she should eat first and then feed the animal. What
if a delay in eating poses no danger, but would cause some suffering to the
person? Can this person eat something first in order to alleviate the stress
“before feeding the animal? “Nefesh Kol Chai” cites differing halachic
views on this issue.

5. The above information is for study purposes and is not meant to serve as
a final source of halachic decisions. If you have practical halachic
questions, please ask a halachic authority.

Hazon – Our Universal Vision: www.shemayisrael.co.il/publicat/hazon/

First, a proverb: Loose lips sink ships.
Now for the juice.
Convergys is under investigation for allegedly passing off information of a personal nature to foreign countries with inadequate security measures in place.
security has been so lax that customer service representatives have been able to make printed and emailed copies of confidential information belonging to Florida State employees without so much as a breadcrumb left behind.
Both Demacrats and Republicans are investigating the situation, (which is a veritable miracle in itself), but CEO and President James Or has refused to comment, and has denied all requests for relevant data.
Read the whole thing here.
I’ve been assured by inside sources that this is merely a repeat of last year’s news, (yes, they mean a literal repeat, and last year refers to around January of 2005), and that I need not worry.
The politicians are just out to get Convergys.
It’s too bad rose isn’t one of my favorite colors.
More on this as it becomes available.

Today’s slice of life is brought to you by Convergys, who would like to remind you that confidentiality and security are both very overrated.

Cincinnatti based Convergys Corporation (NYSE:CVG – News), a global leader in providing customer care, human resources, and billing services, announced its fourth quarter earnings today.

Revenues of $669.6 million were relatively flat compared to the fourth quarter of 2004. Revenues were up 7 percent due to growth in both CMG and IMG, excluding
the impact of lower revenues from Cingular. GAAP operating income more than doubled to $66.7 million compared with $30.8 million in the prior year. Excluding
restructuring charges in both years, operating income increased 29 percent to $79.0 million versus $61.2 million in the fourth quarter of 2004. The improvement
resulted from successful implementation of restructuring initiatives in both IMG and CMG.

Doesn’t look like they could find a way to dress that up.
In other words, we could make more money because we laid people off.
I figured they’d be making more money than that though.
source

Who didn’t see this coming.
Security experts are advising that spyware that targets browsers from the Mozilla Foundation has been spotted–a threat that could worsen as its Firefox
browser takes market share from Microsoft.
I want someone to tell me that Firefox is more secure.
I think the question everyone needs to be asking now is how will Mozilla handle this.
I suppose only time will tell.
Browse happy indeed.
Mozilla, Firefox, spyware, Microsoft

The Journey to Unity – 172

The Mitzvah to Emulate the Divine Compassion:

“And you shall walk in His ways” (Deuteronomy 28:9).

“The Compassionate One is good to all, and His compassion is on all His
works” (Psalm 145:9)

Dear Friends,

As human beings created in the Divine image, we have the potential to
emulate the Divine ways; moreover, there is a mitzvah which calls upon us to
develop this potential to the best of our human ability – the mitzvah to
walk in His ways. Maimonides, in his explanation of this mitzvah, cites the
following teaching of our sages:

“Just as the Holy One, blessed be He, is called Compassionate, so should you
be compassionate; just as He is called Gracious, so should you be gracious;
just as He is called Righteous, so should you be righteous; just as He is
called Chasid – the One Who does lovingkindness – so should you be a
chasid.” (Book of Mitzvos, #8, based on the Sifri, Deuteronomy 11:22)

According to a classical work on the mitzvos known as “Sefer Charedim”
(4:1), the prohibition against tzaar baalei chayim is actually a branch of
the mitzvah to walk in the ways of the Compassionate One, for the Divine
benevolence and compassion extends to all creatures, as it is written (Psalm 145:9), “The Compassionate One is good to all, and His compassion is on all
His works.” (Cited in “Nefesh Kol Chai”)

We are to emulate the Divine benevolence and love to all creatures. This
spiritual consciousness is the legacy which we received from our forefathers
and foremothers, and the following story can serve as an example:

After his wife, Sarah, had passed away, Avraham sent his servant Eliezer to
Charan where his relatives lived, in order to find a suitable wife for
Avraham’s son, Yitzchak (Isaac). Eliezer arrived in Charan, and he caused
the camels to kneel down outside the city, opposite a well of water, at the
time of evening – a time when the young women who usually draw the water
come out. Eliezer remembered how Avraham and Sarah taught people to emulate
the Divine love and compassion; thus, he understood that the wife for Isaac
would have to be a loving and compassionate person. He therefore offered the
following prayer to the Compassionate One:

“O Compassionate One, God of my master Avraham, may you so arrange it for me
this day, and do lovingkindness to my master Avraham. See, I stand here by
the spring of water and the daughters of the townspeople come out to draw
the water. Let it be that the maiden to whom I say, ‘Please tip your jug so
I may drink,’ and who replies, ‘Drink, and I will also give water to your
camels’ – her will you have chosen for your servant, for Yitzchak; and may
I know through her that you have done lovingkindness with my master.”
(Genesis 24:12-14)

“Her will you have chosen” Rashi explains: “She is fitting for him in that
she performs acts of lovingkindness, and she is therefore worthy to enter
the household of Avraham.”

Rabbi Elie Munk, in his biblical commentary known as “The Call of the
Torah,” makes the following observation regarding the test of character that
Eliezer chose: He would only ask for water for himself; however, she would
offer to also give water to the camels; thus, her extension of
lovingkindness to the animals would be further proof of her goodness.

And so it happened. The young Rivkah (Rebecca) approached the well, and
Eliezer asked her for some water. She gave him some water, and she then drew
water for all of his camels! When Eliezer later asked her if there was a
place in her father’s house to stay, she replied, “There is even plenty of
straw and feed with us, as well as a place to lodge” (Genesis 24:25). Rabbi
Samson Raphael Hirsch, in his commentary on this verse, writes:

“Here too, Rivkah’s fine qualities stand out. She is attentive to the needs
of the animals, whose thirst she has just quenched. Once they have had their
fill of water, they should be fed. Her sensitivity towards the animals is
still activated and animated.”

She took responsibility for the welfare of these animals as if they were her
own, and her behavior, explains Rabbi Hirsch, is in the spirit of the
following verse: “A righteous person understands the feelings of his
animals” (Proverbs 12:10).

Rivkah was emulating the ways of the Compassionate One, as it is written,
“He gives nourishment to all flesh, for His lovingkindness endures forever”
(Psalm 136:25). As the classical commentator, Radak, explains, the nurturing
of the Compassionate One extends to “each and every creature.”

Many centuries later, when Rivkah’s descendants, the People of Israel, would
be exiled from the Land of Israel, many of them would settle in countries in
Europe which had a colder climate than they were used to. The halachic work
“Nefesh Kol Chai” mentions that the activists among the People of Israel
would make sure to feed the birds during the freezing weather, when due to
the snow, the normal supply of food for the birds was not available.

The stories about the sages who led the People of Israel during the painful
exile reveal that these spiritual leaders stressed the importance of
emulating the Divine compassion for all creatures, and the following story
told by a disciple of a great Chassidic Rebbe can serve as an example:

Once our holy master, the Stropkover Rebbe (R. Avraham Shalom Halberstam,
1857-1940) visited the city of Ujhely, Hungary, staying in the home of Rabbi
Lemel Schvartz. In the morning, after a long night of Torah study, the Rebbe
asked R. Lemel’s son, R. Mordechai, for some grain to feed the chickens and
geese. The Rebbe explained: “One should emulate the Creator, Whose ‘mercy is
upon all His works.’ It is an especially great mitzvah to show compassion to
the creatures of the Holy One, Blessed be He. By doing so, one also elicits
God’s kindness, causing it to shine upon Israel.
“Another benefit of feeding animals is that it strengthens one’s compassion.
By doing so the first thing in the morning, it becomes easier to show
compassion throughout the day.”
Thus did our master conduct himself, feeding the birds a number of times
during his stay. (Cited in “The Vision of Eden”)

Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch was a noted sage and biblical commentator of the
19th century, and we have cited some of his teachings in this series. He and
his family lived in Germany, which had cold, snowy winters; thus, Rabbi
Hirsch’s wife would put food on her window sill every morning for the
sparrows who gathered there. After her passing, Rabbi Hirsch continued this
practice until his last days. When he was on his final sickbed, he told his
sons not to forget to take care of the birds. (“Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch”
by Rabbi Eliyahu Meir Klugman – ArtScroll)

A “yahrtzeit” is the anniversary of someone’s passing, and I am writing this
letter on the eve of the “yahrtzeit” of Rabbi Hirsch the 27th of Teves,
which begins on Thursday evening, January 26th. It is therefore fitting to
conclude this letter with a teaching from Rabbi Hirsch regarding the mitzvah
to emulate the Divine ways:

“Love is the activity which seeks unasked the welfare and benefit of others.
It was love which God desired to be your highest mission, your mark of
perfection, and as an example which should constantly spur you to further
progress He set before you not a human being…He set Himself before you as
a model and said: ‘Follow after Me in love.’ ” (Horeb, Chapter 72)

Have a Good and Sweet Shabbos,
Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen (See Below)

Related Teachings of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch:

His first published work, ”The Nineteen Letters,” serves as an excellent
introduction to the Torah’s universal vision. It was written in the form of
letters to a young Jewish intellectual who was alienated from his spiritual
roots. In this work, he writes:
“Everything bestowed upon you – mind, body, fellowman, material goods, other
creatures, every talent and every power – all are merely means to action, to
further and to safeguard everything. With love and with justice! The earth
was not created as a gift to you – you have been given to the earth, to
treat it with respectful consideration, as God’s earth, and everything on it
as God’s creation, as your fellow creature, to be respected, loved and
helped to attain its purpose according to God’s Will.” (Letter Four)
Rabbi Hirsch also states that ”Judaism, correctly conceived and conveyed,
constitutes a bond of love and justice encompassing all creatures” (Letter
Nineteen). “The Nineteen Letters” is published by Feldheim: )

Hazon – Our Universal Vision:

Cross-Currents scooped this a while back, but I just can’t resist.

Microsoft is pleased to contribute to the Jewish community with the release of Microsoft Conversion, version 2.0.
Although this application will be bundled with the next version of Microsoft Religion, we’re offering it as a standalone patch just because we can.

System Requirements

128MB of RAM;
2GB of harddrive space;
Windows 95/98/ME/200/XP.

Installation Instructions

1. Right-click conversion.exe and choose save to disk.
2. Run conversion.exe by double-clicking on the file you just downloaded.
3. Check the box that says “I agree” after reading the Ten Commitments.
4. Click the “Mazal Tov” button and you’re done!
A splash screen will appear which reads: “Welcome To The Jewish People!”
At this point, you will be prompted to check the box beside each mitzvah you wish to observe.
After this you will need to wait while conversion.exe contacts oscar.conversion.com and notifies the central database of your conversion.
When the “instager” icon appears on your screen, you have completed the entire process and may exit the program.

Troubleshooting

When I tried to check all 613 mitzvah boxes, I received the following message:
“This program has performed an illegal operation and will be shut down.
If the problem persists, please contact the software vender.”
Why is this?

Checking all 613 boxes indicates that you have a desire to live your new Jewish life to the fullest, and we applaud this.
Unfortunately, the Mitzvah Database can only accept a very limited number of entries.
In order to resolve the problem, please contact your local Halakhic authority and discuss conversion to a more stable form of Judaosm.

Now for the serious part.
I am by no means perfect.
My level of observance leaves a lot to be desired, and I am working to improve that.
However, this is completely absurd.
Anything that’s this easy isn’t worth taking.
In other words, if you’re interested in becoming a Jew, it takes work, and it’s a constant growing process.
I honestly don’t see how anyone can consider this legitimate.

Yahoo has decided it’s not worth it to battle Google for the number one market share.
According to Yahoo’s Chief Financial Officer, they’re happy with what they have.
Google has at least double the market share of both Yahoo and Microsoft, so they present a real challenge to other companies who might like to depose them from their top spot.
“It kind of makes you wonder about how serious they are about search,” said Danny Sullivan, editor of London-based SearchEngineWatch.com, which tracks the
search industry. “It really ought to be their goal” to be No. 1, he said. “Whether it’s realistic or not.”
Yahoo, however, states that its goals have always been to hold its share and to be a leader in the market, if not the leader.
I guess second-best really is good enough for some.

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Chaos Senario
Daniel360.com
Flashpoint

Yahoo!, Google, Microsoft, search engine