Code of Jewish Conduct

June 29, 2010

Here we are. Another Shivah Assar B’Tammuz. Another day to fast, as Mashiach still hasn’t yet arrived. As we try to find something meaningful to focus on, in an effort to distract ourselves from our grumbling stomachs, we invariably begin thinking along the lines of: what is preventing Mashiach from coming? And of course we all know the answer to that; even our little kids do: there is too much sinas chinam in the world, and not enough ahavas Yisrael.

But we try! We really do! We try not to speak lashon hara. We go out of our way to do favors for our neighbors. We watch the Chafetz Chaim Heritage Foundation’s video every Tishah B’Av, and come home all fired up and ready to put our inspiration into practice by being the nicest, most caring person around. Still, though, it seems that none of this is enough, as Shivah Assar B’Tammuz is here, the Three Weeks have begun, the calendar is blank of wedding dates for the next few weeks, and we are still in galus.

Perhaps if we knew what is expected of us in the area of bein adam l’chaveiro, we would be more in sync with our obligation to have ahavas Yisrael. Which is why so many people have found The Code of Jewish Conduct to be such an amazing and helpful sefer to own. The Code of Jewish Conduct is a comprehensive guide to the laws of interpersonal relationships. It goes through all the mitzvos bein adam l’chaveiro that are in the Torah and clearly and concisely explains how they apply to us. It also includes plenty of stories and practical advice, which makes the sefer even more reader-friendly and enjoyable.

See how YOU can make a difference in your world. Buy this sefer—the lives it’ll enhance will also include your own!

Here is a sample chapter: Keep Reading…

Divided Attention – Chapter 7

June 25, 2010

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 7 of a new online serial novel, Divided Attention, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every Thursday or Friday.    Click  here for previous chapters.

Copyright © 2010 by Israel Bookshop Publications

They stood together in the little yard behind the house; the others had gone already. The wall in front of them was cracked, scribbled, and covered with garish drawings.

“Try here,” Ronny said, proffering the metal can. “Remember, you gotta press and move the can at the same time to make letters.”

“What letters?” Rafi looked at the wall with a strange expression.

“Whatever you want to write.”

“But I don’t want to write anything.”

“Fine, you’re just practicing now anyway. Just write anything, and when you get there, you’ll write real stuff.”

“What kind of stuff?”

Ronny laughed. “Who cares? You can write: ‘Chareidim, out!’ or ‘We don’t want you in our neighborhood!’”

“They’re not in our neighborhood.”

“They’re in that neighborhood and we want them out. Forget it; it doesn’t matter. Now stop beating around the bush. Let’s see if you can even use this spray can with those skinny fingers of yours.”

Rafi pressed the nozzle can and a wavy black line appeared on the dirty wall.

“Great. Now write your name or somethin’.”

A fuzzy, fragmented ‘R’ slowly appeared on the wall, followed by an equally shaky ‘a’.

“Nice. Good job,” Ronny complimented Rafi. “You gotta practice more. Try an ‘f’.

But Rafi put the can down on the ground. “I wanna write with real paint,” he said with surprising confidence. “I’m no good at this. And gimme a note with what you want me to write.” Keep Reading…

“Endless” Story – Zucker Learns a Lesson

June 24, 2010

by Kobi Levy

BUSINESS WAS GOOD for Mendel Silver, the well-known philanthropist from the United States. He seemed to have that golden touch, and whatever he did was blessed with success, baruch Hashem. He could purchase an old, decrepit hat shop in an alley in New York City and transform it within half a year to a bustling wholesale enterprise. Why, ten years ago, he purchased a shoemaker’s workshop in Manhattan, and within a year it had expanded to a sandal factory with worldwide sales! Word was that he had at least ten profitable businesses, although no one could say for sure. Yes, things were going very well for Mendel Silver.

Despite his wealth, Mendel Silver was a simple, roly-poly, folksy type; he had a ready grin and a rolling laugh and lacked the regular airs most wealthy men put on. With him, there was no hanging around in the waiting room of his office for two hours for a measly ten dollar donation. His veteran secretary, Margalit Sheninson, had strict instructions: “Anyone who comes for a donation gets a minimum of one hundred dollars, even if he looks like a faker. And if I’m in the office, even in an important meeting, don’t make him wait more than five minutes. Let him into my office; I’ll talk to him and give him what he needs.”

Silver was a generous philanthropist, but he was no fool either. From time to time he would fly to Israel and make the rounds to several kollelim and yeshivos in order to verify that his donations indeed went towards supporting the Torah world. Incidentally, he never informed anyone that he was coming; he simply landed in Israel, settled down in a beis medrash there, and observed the goings-on.

His personal assistant was a young, energetic fellow by the name of Naftali Nachman Zucker. He accompanied Silver on all of his trips, taking care of the logistics. The two complemented each other well; Silver was a bit scatterbrained and disorganized, while Zucker was methodical, organized, and straight as an arrow. Keep Reading…

End of “Endless” Story – A Kick in the Jungle

June 24, 2010

AND THE WINNER IS… PINNY! Here is what he wrote:

“May Hashem forgive you, Mr. Golan,” Yossi’s voice said coldly, “and halevai, you should merit to do teshuvah.”
“Yeh, maybe my granddad will come back from the grave and meet me in Africa and convince me to do teshuvah!” rang out Avi’s voice.
And then, after the burst of ruckus laughter from the other boys, an ethereal voice could be heard saying, “I will.”
“You see,” explained Avi, “I was extremely close to my paternal grandfather. He was a zookeeper. He wasn’t religious at all. And then, as far as we were able to tell, he went crazy. He woke up one day and told us all that the night before he had been at the zoo very late. He went to check on the giraffes because one of them was due to give birth. When he got to their enclosure, the youngest giraffe came up to him and told him that he must take a trip to New Zealand and he had decided to go. We all tried to persuade him to stay, to explain that it must have been a dream. It’s not possible that a giraffe spoke to him. But he was adamant on following his giraffe’s orders.
He left a few days later. We could not seem to get a hold of him in New Zealand no matter how hard we tried. He seemed to have disappeared. We assumed there must have been some accident. My parents and uncle tried everything to trace him, but to no avail. We came to live with the knowledge that we would never know what happened.
And then, 7 years later we were contacted about his death. It was a rabbi from New York calling. He told us he would be accompanying my grandfather’s remains back to Israel. But, he wanted us to know what a special man grandfather was. That it’s not everyday that someone finds the strength to do teshuvah when they are in their late eighties.” Avi paused, as the other boys sat spellbound.
“I always held that rabbi responsible for the loss of my grandfather.” Avi’s voice quivered. “I knew he wasn’t the reason he died, but I did know that he was the reason I did not hear from my grandfather all those years. He knew that there was no way anyone in my family would ever be able to accept him as a ba’al teshuvah. My memories of my grandfather went from being warm and cozy to bitter. He had betrayed me and my family. I could never forgive him for that. I also knew that I would never be able to forgive that rabbi for brainwashing my grandfather, for making him into someone I couldn’t love.”
They sat for a few quiet minutes. “And now,” continued Avi, “he has come back to me. And on my initiative.”
After some subdued conversation Yigal and Yossi left. They speculated the affects of what they had just heard. There was no doubt that they would all be changed people from then on.


Keep Reading…

Israel Travel Guide

June 21, 2010

The weather is finally warming up. Your little ones won’t go to bed on time, “’Cuz it’s still light outside!” Mosquitoes are back in business once again (and so is your local pharmacy, which seems to be going through its bottles of Calamine lotion and OFF spray at an alarming rate). Everyone seems to have a bad case of spring fever… All these signs can only point to one thing: summer vacation is right around the corner! And if you are lucky enough to have a trip to Eretz Yisrael planned for that vacation, well, quit the kvetching, would you; what else could you possibly want?!

Okay, okay, there is something else that you could still want—and that is, some help with planning your itinerary for your trip. With so much to do, so many people to see, and so many places to visit in Eretz Yisrael, all within the limited time of your vacation there, it’s no wonder you may be feeling slightly overwhelmed. But never fear; Israel Bookshop comes to the rescue once again!

This time, we’re offering you The Shomer Shabbos Israel Travel Guide—your soon-to-become best friend. It has in it literally everything you’ll need to know in order to have the best experience possible in Eretz Yisrael—names and phone numbers of tourist attractions, mekomos kedoshim, hotels, shuls, restaurants, stores, taxis… you name it, and it’s there. It also includes all the info you may want on how things work in Israel, such as sales tax and store hours there, as well as many relevant halachos pertaining to the tourist in Israel.

And yes, true to its name, everything listed in this glossy, full-color handbook is a Shomer Shabbos site. So you can rest assured that your experience in Eretz Yisrael will be on the highest caliber possible, as you will be patronizing only those who are Shomer Shabbos.

How did such a unique idea come about? Actually, there is an amazing story behind the publication of The Shomer Shabbos Israel Travel Guide. Read on and be inspired…

Shabbos – The Source of All Blessings

The sixth edition of the Newcomer’s Guide included a sneak preview of our upcoming Travel Guide. It was a hit, the positive feedback poured in. (We heard that on Chol Hamo’ed Sukkos, more English speakers patronized the Monkey Park than ever before, and the park attributed this to being included in our trip section.) There was one objection, however, voiced from time to time: “How can you include sites that are open on Shabbos?” Keep Reading…

Divided Attention – Chapter 6

June 18, 2010

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 6 of a new online serial novel, Divided Attention, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every Thursday or Friday.    Click  here for previous chapters.

Copyright © 2010 by Israel Bookshop Publications

Nava’s father tipped his silver becher once, and then twice, handed the smaller cups to Nava and her mother, and they drank from the Kiddush wine.

Nava straightened the velvet challah cover she had bought her parents more than seven years ago and joined them in the kitchen, waiting for her parents to finish washing their hands. Until she had given them the gift, they had covered the challos each week with the white lace cloth that her mother had purchased for their first Shabbos.

Nava remembered that Shabbos very well. She was seven years old, standing in awe as her mother, wearing a pristine white kerchief on her head, struck the match and touched it to the white wicks as she lit the Shabbos candles. The small flames began to dance merrily as Ima covered her eyes. Nava didn’t know then if her mother was crying, but she understood that this was a special moment.

And suddenly, the doorbell had rung. It was a harsh, grating noise, one that violated the tranquility of the moment. She saw Abba hurry to the door and preferred to stay behind in the dining room, watching Ima.

“Hey! Is Nava here?” It was Michelle, of course; who else?

“Yes, she’s home,” her father replied, sounding openly displeased. He walked back into the dining room.

Oh, no! For the first time, Nava noticed that he was wearing a white yarmulke. And Michelle was the one who had to see it! True, they would go to children’s programs at the local high school, and a nice guy with a black yarmulke told the boys that it was like the crown of a king, and he had some great stories about it. But she had been so happy then that she wasn’t a boy! Imagine having to walk with such a thing on her head in the street! To school! That was all she needed. Keep Reading…

Summer Road Trip, Redefined!

June 17, 2010

In case your kids haven’t reminded you a hundred times yet, yes, it is summer time, and yes, that means road trip time! For all those brave and hardy souls ready to take on the challenge of the road trip with a car-full of kids, here is some trusty, tried-and-true road trip advice from humorist Mordechai Schmutter, sure to put you in a great mood for that trip (that is, if you are still up to going on it after reading this…)!

(Excerpted from A Clever Title Goes Here)

Now it’s time for: “Road Trip Advice for People Who Don’t Know Better,” the only Question and Answer advice column to have been officially recognized by the American Automobile Association of America as being a bad idea to begin with.  This column features well-meaning advice to actual questions on car travel sent in by actual readers who don’t actually exist.  And so, without further ado, we shall begin:

Q: Why do families go on long car trips during the summer?

A: There are many different reasons why people decide to subject themselves to long summer drives.  Some of them may be tired of the hot, stuffy city environment in which they live, and would feel more comfortable driving long distances with the windows rolled down while waiting for the air conditioner to stop blowing hot air, and fighting radio static.  These people hope to eventually get to their bungalow colonies, where the air is thinner and the pool freezes over in the middle of the night.

Q: Why don’t they just move into the bungalows for good?

A: They’re not too crazy about living in 1700s-style huts, either.

Q: Are there any other reasons why people may want to drive long distances?

A: Some people may want to visit popular tourist attractions featuring friendly people with enormously misshapen heads, such as Disney World or one of the square states.  Their goal is to spend as much money as they can to be able to wait on line.

Q: So why don’t they just go by plane?

A: Not that much money.

Q: I have a job in middle management, in which my duties include walking around with a coffee mug and bugging people for coming in late.  Over the last few years, I have racked up an enormous amount of unused sick days, to the point where I can get marooned on a desert island and no one will know the difference.  My question is this: Do you think it’s something in the coffee? Keep Reading…

Torah for your Toddler!

June 16, 2010

King Pharaoh was not nice; he was as mean as can be.

He said, “The Jews must stay in Mitzrayim, and work very hard for me.”

And so begins C. and Z. Blaivas’ latest board book for children—The Baby in the Basket. In adorable rhymes, The Baby in the Basket tells the story of Moshe Rabbeinu in a way that even the youngest readers can appreciate and enjoy. The board book is the perfect size for tiny hands, and your little ones will love looking through the thick, brightly-illustrated pages again and again.

So take your baby or your toddler on your lap, cuddle up on the couch, and begin reading to him The Baby in the Basket. He’ll enjoy it so much… and so will you!

Also in the C. and Z. Blaivas’ board book series: Our Beautiful World, which tells the story of the Six Days of Creation, and The Very First Rainbow, which is the story of Noach and the Mabul (Flood).

Meet the Author of The Map Seeker

June 14, 2010

In May 2010 Leah Kotkes, an Israel Bookshop author, celebrated the one year release of her first book, The Map Seeker: One Woman’s Quest, an extraordinary memoir for women. Over the last year, here at the Israel Bookshop head office in Lakewood, we have enjoyed a flow of abundant reviews from readers enthralled by The Map Seeker. We spoke to Leah about her writer’s life and the book’s promotion which has taken her from her home in Jerusalem to the USA, Canada, and England to meet readers.

Hi, Leah: When did you start writing for the reader?

I began my writing career in London, where I was born; my first freelance job was as an Arts Editor of a local newspaper, writing reviews of arts events in London—theater, ballet, opera, music, art galleries. I was in my early twenties at the time, and passionate about the Arts; it is easy to write about something that you love. In my mid-twenties I had a fortunate opportunity and was able to switch career paths; I began my work life at eighteen as a fashion publicist, but I’d always wanted to work full-time as a journalist. At 25, I started out as an assistant to a News Editor in a television news company and within six months I was promoted to trainee news journalist. Working in current affairs—non-fiction—was a new genre for me, but one that interested me very much; I had always been fascinated with world affairs and world history in the making.

After a turn of events, I left London and traveled the world on a spiritual quest. In October 1992, in London, I met my first Orthodox rabbi and soon after became shomer Shabbos. August 1993 saw me flying off to Israel to study in seminary; I was twenty-nine years old. During my year in seminary in Jerusalem it was a challenge for me to stop thinking about my professional life; the goal of the one year I had allocated to Jerusalem was to explore what it meant to be a Jewish woman and what my role would be as a wife and mother. It was not an easy task. Until then I hadn’t contemplated these roles, I had been too busy working and enjoying my single girl life, which included traveling—another great love of mine—and basically only thinking about my professional goals in life, I am sorry to say. It was not until five years later, when I was, in fact, a wife and mother, that I took up my pen again, in the form of diary-writing. And it was only after my second child was born in April 2000 that I returned to any sort of writing life; I began writing for the reader. I started my first book in the winter of the year 2000.

What gave you the idea to write a book about your life?


It was my rav, HaRav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg shlit”a, who inspired me to do this, even though at the time, ironically, my rav had no idea that I had been a writer before he met me in the winter of 1993 and that being a writer—and a journalist and novelist—had been a childhood dream since I was about eight years of age. Rav Scheinberg was my spiritual mentor; the rav asked me to start writing for Klal Yisrael; to use my gift of language to inspire and give to others. But first, the Rav said, I must write my “story”—of how I came to this place and point in time—and to start it that very day.

“Call me tonight to let me know that you’ve completed chapter one,” Rav Scheinberg said. Keep Reading…

Divided Attention-Chapter 5

June 10, 2010

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 5 of a new online serial novel, Divided Attention, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every Thursday or Friday.    Click  here for previous chapters.

Copyright © 2010 by Israel Bookshop Publications

“Nava, what are you doing?”

“Homework. Ugh!”

Her father’s eyebrows rose. “Ugh? Am I hearing right? To the best of my recollection, the thing that you were most afraid of during summer vacation was the thought that you wouldn’t have homework this year. Hmm…”

Nava smiled. “You get used to good things very quickly, Abba,” she said, putting her pencil down on the open geometry book. The two triangles she was working on were congruent; that much was obvious, but how was she supposed to come to the conclusion that segment CD was equal to EF? They were nowhere near the triangles! “The truth is,” she continued, without looking up from the book, “groaning about homework and schoolwork is part of the fun of being in high school. I’m just enjoying the privilege.”

Nava’s father picked up the pencil and toyed with it. “Still, I would expect you to be a bit more respectful about school. It’s not a good idea for people to hear you talking like that, you know.”

Nava bit her lip and looked out the window. “I only make such comments at home, Abba,” she finally said quietly. “I think I’m considered a very serious student in school. Serious as far as effort, of course.”

Keep Reading…