The Cuckoo Clock – Chapter 10

June 17, 2019

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 10 of a new online serial novel, The Cuckoo Clock, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week.  Click here for previous chapters.

Copyright © Israel Bookshop Publications. 

 

“I feel bad for Tzippy.”

Yaakov raised his head from the electric bill he was studying. “Huh?”

“I feel bad for Tzippy,” his wife repeated.

“Your sister?”

“Which other Tzippy would I be talking about?”

He folded the bill. “I guess it should be obvious that you mean your sister, but why do you feel bad for her? She’s a kallah, isn’t she?”

Miri tilted her chair back a bit, a habit she had not been able to kick since second grade. “Yes, she’s a kallah, and I think she’s very happy, baruch Hashem. But when I think about the financial situation in my parents’ house, which has gotten worse than it was before our wedding, I feel so torn for her. And that’s even with my mother’s new job. I’m not sure they will even be able to rent in Bnei Brak, and they’ll have to go live in some remote hole in the wall right after the wedding. And there’s no way to know when or how they will ever get an apartment of their own. I know my parents are very stressed out about the whole subject.” She fell silent for a minute and stared at the table.

“I’m not sure they even started doing any shopping, you know, kallah kind of shopping… I wish I could take her to Berman’s sale with about four thousand shekel in my wallet.”

Yaakov smiled. “Four thousand shekel? What will you buy with that? Towels with golden tassels?”

“Oh, Yaakov, you have no idea,” his wife said seriously. “Not golden tassels, but do you know how much a good set of linen costs? Our blue-green set cost about three hundred shekel, and it’s not even an expensive one. And you need quite a few towels, and that’s only one category. I haven’t even touched on sheva brachos outfits and some good weekday clothes, and pots and dishes for a starter kitchen, and a broom and dustpan and mop and pail and an ironing board. Oh, and what about appliances and furniture?”

“So four thousand shekel really isn’t enough for all that.”

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The Cuckoo Clock – Chapter 9

June 11, 2019

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 9 of a new online serial novel, The Cuckoo Clock, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week.  Click here for previous chapters.

Copyright © Israel Bookshop Publications. 

 

“A wedding on Rosh Chodesh Teves. That is the only thing you have to do,” Rosenblit said as he took a binder out of his drawer that had apparently been waiting for this very moment. “He would also be happy to receive an invitation to the wedding, but it would be purely honorary. His health precludes him from traveling to Israel.” He pulled a page out of a sheet protector. “This is a copy of the contract,” he noted, and pushed it toward them.

“What about after the wedding? Is he going to have any other demands then?” Eliyahu examined the photocopied page. Elisheva also looked at it, but she couldn’t read anything. This was impossible. Actually, it was possible. It was a scam. It was real. Someone was deceiving them. This was the answer to her tefillos. It was too delusional to be real. It seemed reasonable and well founded. Rosenblit had even shown them copies of the Australian man’s ID documents.

“For example, will he want them to keep in touch with him?” Eliyahu, who was very grounded, and remained so now, was trying to choose his words carefully. “Even if he is Torah observant, as you say he is, I wouldn’t exactly want him to ‘adopt’ our couple. He won’t wake up one fine morning and demand that they fly out to Australia to him?”

“Nothing,” Rosenblit declared. “What’s important to him is the date of the wedding and the documents that affirm that. Everything is clearly stipulated here. If you ask me, it would be nice for the chassan and kallah to write him a nice thank you letter, but that’s a side point. He is not demanding it.”

“A thank you letter is the most basic decency. That’s not what we’re talking about. The question is if he is going to want to be involved in the young couple’s life or intervene about matters like buying the apartment, for example.”

 

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NEW RELEASE: WISEcracks

June 5, 2019

There’s a certain word used by lots of yeshivah kids—especially boys—these days: “Booshed.”

Ah, I see lots of you are smiling…guess you’ve heard it bandied around, too! Yeah, it’s one of those words that the kids come home from school with and you’re not sure whether to discourage its usage or just to laugh.

For the unaware, “booshed” basically means to be put in your place. As in: “All the guys wanted to win the Slurpee raffle, and Greenblatt (who loves Slurpees just like the next kid) kept saying he doesn’t care about winning, because he doesn’t like Slurpees anyway…and then he wins the raffle!! Boy, was he BOOSHED!”

Anyway, when I saw this new comics book, Wisecracks, and read what it’s about, I had to smile. Boy, are today’s kids gonna love this one… Here is an entire book of stories about gedolei Yisrael who used their Torah wisdom to put sonei Yisrael in their place! Indeed, “booshed” at its very best, and for the very greatest reason possible!

In this book you’ll read about Rav Shimon Sofer and how he outwitted the anti-Semite who disparaged the Jews to the king; about the wise rav who neatly got his congregation out of a dangerous blood libel; and about Rav Yonasan Eibshitz who outsmarted the priest at a debate he was forced to attend.

The stories are brilliant as they are witty, and they’ll keep you and your kids on your toes and seriously laughing out loud! Kosher humor, a terrific read, and a comics book, no less…what more could you ask for?!

Click here to purchase online.


NEW RELEASE: Ari Gets Lost

June 4, 2019

“Where’s Shmuli?!”

If you’re a mom with young children, just reading this line may sow panic within you, as you picture the terrifying scene: a huge store teeming with people…you trying to get your shopping done with your kids hanging onto your cart…and then turning around and seeing that Shmuli, your easily-distracted five-year-old, is missing.

Every mother has her own version of this horror story, but in every case, when Mom is baruch Hashem finally reunited with little Shmuli, she is emphatic that her kids learn the correct steps to take if such a thing ever happens again (which, of course, it often does).

That’s why all the mothers on our staff were so thrilled with the release of Ari Gets Lost. In this adorable children’s book we read about a little boy who goes to the zoo with his mother and siblings, but gets separated from them and doesn’t know how to find his family. In a fun, entertaining, and non-threatening way, he learns the all-important dos and don’ts of what to do when you get lost…and readers do, too!

Endorsed by renowned psychologist and trauma specialist Dr. Norman N. Blumenthal, as well as by Chief of Police Gregory Meyer of Lakewood, NJ, this book also includes a page of guidelines for parents, so parents can learn how to help their children stay safe and calm even when they are lost.

In short, this book is what every parent needs to read to their kids before they set out on any trip or shopping expedition!

Click here to purchase online.


The Cuckoo Clock – Chapter 8

June 3, 2019

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 8 of a new online serial novel, The Cuckoo Clock, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week.  Click here for previous chapters.

Copyright © Israel Bookshop Publications. 

 

They sat in the stylish waiting room of Rosenblit and Etzioni, Attorneys at Law, Eliyahu perusing his ever-present pocket Chumash, and Elisheva clicking the clasp of her pocketbook open and closed. It was quiet; aside for the secretary seated at the front, no one else seemed to be there.

“Attorney Rosenblit will be finishing his meeting momentarily, and then he’ll be with you,” the secretary had told them two minutes earlier. “In the meantime, why don’t you take seats?” She’d placed a tray with some high-quality, crystal-style disposable cups and a bottle of Coke in front of them.

“Do you want a drink?” Eliyahu asked his wife.

“No, I just want to know what they want from us.” Elisheva took a tissue out of her bag. Then she put it back in and took out her cell phone. Then her wallet.

“It’s about a business matter,” the lawyer had told her the day before. When he’d called, Elisheva had grabbed the phone and dashed back down to her parking lot refuge and her recent acquaintance, the cat. “A grant of sorts that the couple getting married might be able to receive.”

“What’s involved in getting this grant?” she had asked, backing up from the cat and waving with one hand at the neighbor from upstairs who was crossing the parking lot to toss her garbage bag in the dumpster.

A truck was reversing out of the parking lot next door to the grocery which adjoined Elisheva’s building, and the lawyer’s words had gotten swallowed by the din. “Pardon me?” Elisheva said. She hadn’t heard a word he had said.

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NEW RELEASE: Chipmunk Trouble

May 30, 2019

Does the idea of a 3-day Yom Tov intimidate you? I’m not even referring to all the cooking (and eating!) involved. I’m talking about no structure for the kids for 3 whole days!

We all love Yom Tov, but sometimes the idea of having to find ways to entertain the kids for 3 long afternoons in a row, is kind of…well, intimidating!

If these are your feelings as we approach the 3-day Yom Tov of Shavuos this year, then let me give you a tip, parent to parent: Buy Chipmunk Trouble for your kids, and present it to them on the first day of Yom Tov. You’ll see their boredom vanish (well, at least for the couple hours it’ll take them to read the book!)—and hey, you might even get to sneak in a nap or some reading time for yourself!
Chipmunk Trouble is popular author Rachel Stein’s newest “younger reader” book. The 9 stories included in this volume are all geared to your early-elementary-school-age child, with adorable illustrations scattered throughout to enhance your young reader’s pleasure.

As with all of Rachel Stein’s books, there are wonderful lessons to be learned from each and every story, so you can rest assured that with this book, your child is getting wholesome reading material at its best.

Here’s to hoping you and your children make the most of the 3-day Yom Tov ahead of us! Have a great Yom Tov!

Click here to purchase online.


NEW RELEASE: Now I Know

May 29, 2019

Just in time for Shavuos!

What better occasion than when we received the Torah to work on strengthening our emunah in Hashem?

And with Rabbi Avrohom Katz’s groundbreaking book on emunahNow I Know, you’ll be treated to a first-class learning experience that will educate, clarify, and even entertain you!

It’s not for nothing that this prolific author is the esteemed menahel of Beis Chaya Rochel Seminary in Gateshead, England. See why his students love his classes and the way he simplifies and explains lofty concepts and principles. In Now I Know you, too, can enter his classroom, pull up a seat, and join the animated discussion as you learn how emunah in Hashem is not really “belief” at all, but actually hard-core, genuine knowledge that we can know just as we know that the sky is blue!

Below is an excerpt from this exceptional book.

 

 The New Car

Acquiring a new car is always a pleasure. The look is clean, the lines are smooth, the tires are pristine and firm, and the car’s emblem gives a confident feeling. Although strange at first, the controls become familiar with the passage of time. People’s admiring comments add to the appreciation. “Nice car you’ve got there”; “Tis’chadesh on your new car!”; “Fabulous car, that one…” As new features are discovered – climate control, assisted parking, keyless locking, lane-keeping aid, cruise control – so does the recognition of the level of design and planning that has produced this vehicle.

The seats are comfortable – soft leather, and are adjustable by the press of a button. The gentle turn of another knob switches on the engine, while the softest pressure on the accelerator pedal releases the handbrake. The car even has a voice! Press the button with the human profile and a mechanical monotone voice asks, “What do you want to do?” Tell the voice that you would like to access the navigation system, and it will obligingly instruct you how to proceed. Fancy talking to your car!

After the euphoria and novelty has faded somewhat, rational thoughts begin to develop. A car is a machine, designed with a singular purpose – to convey its passenger from one location to another in safety and comfort. It has an engine in which fuel is combusted, providing the energy to move pistons which in turn move rods connected to four circular rubber-covered wheels. A steering wheel permits the human driver to exercise his freedom of will to guide the vehicle in the direction of his choice, while the accelerator and break increase and inhibit the velocity. An ambient atmosphere is provided by air heaters and coolers, while an array of lights, powered by a battery, signal to the driver behind you of your desire to brake or change directions, while the twin-beams of light in front illuminate the darkness. Fuel is limited to specifics; not orange juice or dry wine or even carbonated water will provide the necessary combustion – only petroleum will suffice.

On one hand, the car is greatly appreciated. It is a marvelous machine; it enables people to undertake journeys in a fraction of the time that their great-grandfather’s horse-drawn carriage could trundle along. Great-Grandpa would have marveled at the speed and comfort afforded by your car; indeed, it joins the telephone and electricity as discoveries that have transformed our lives.

On the other hand, we are aware of its limitations. When I talk to my car, and it dutifully passes the pre-programmed question, “What would you like to do?” and I say, “Learn the whole of Shas and be an ehrliche Yid,” the poor pre-programmed mechanical voice is flummoxed and exclaims, “Please type in the first line of your address!” The car cannot climb stairs, will never smile, cannot prevent the driver hitting a brick wall, will not self-repair if scratched, or self-inflate its tires if they deflate. The windshield washer needs to be filled with soapy water, preferably with an anti-freezing additive; doors need to be manually closed; the windshield cannot see; the engine needs to be regularly serviced; and don’t forget to change the oil.

Despite its limitations (it is only a machine, after all), the knowledge that it was designed and crafted by a superior intelligence is axiomatic – self-evidently true. The first question asked by any car’s admirer will be, “What make is it?” The question pre-supposes that no machine pops into existence by itself. The admirer, on closer scrutiny, will observe that wheels run more smoothly on rubber than on iron and that round-shaped wheels are more efficient than square ones; a toughened glass windshield gives clearer visibility than tissue paper; brakes that slows the wheel’s rotation are more effective than throwing an anchor out of the window, and electrically powered blinkers are more efficient than the driver shouting out, “I’m turning right!” (given that the driver in the car behind would most likely not hear the shouts). Seeing the myriad of details, he understands instinctively that human intelligence designed it all, and his question will only be, “Which company – is it Ford, Volvo, BMW, Nissan…?” And when you respond, “Volvo V90,” he will purse his lips appreciatively and say, “V90…not bad!”

If it is axiomatic that the car – with all its limitations – is the product of Mr. Skoda’s brilliant team of designers, then it should be even more axiomatic that Mr. Volvo or Mr. Skoda, Henry Ford or Lord Rolls-Royce, and all the other gifted manufacturers of cars are, likewise, designed by a supreme intelligence. If no machine exists that either created itself, or popped into existence by random forces, then the super-super complex machine that we call a human being must obey the same criteria. A simple kal v’chomer.

The car’s owner’s manual lists in its index approximately five hundred different functions and components – hood release, seat adjustment, etc. – each of which is comprehendible and relatively simple. By contrast, a basic volume of Principles of Anatomy and Physiology contains some ten thousand entries in its index, from abdomen and veins to zymogenic cells, and each of the entries is complex beyond belief.

Take the mechanism of blood coagulation. When a pressurized blood-circulation system is punctured, a clot must form quickly to prevent the leakage of all the blood, as would happen if a plastic bottle of orange juice would spring a leak. If blood congeals in the wrong time or place, though, the clot may block circulation, with serious consequences. Furthermore, a clot has to stop bleeding all along the length of the cut, sealing it completely. Yet blood-clotting must be confined to the cut, or the entire blood system of the body might solidify, which is not conducive to a long life. Consequently, the clotting of blood must be tightly controlled so that the clot forms only when and where it is required…

The multi-staged cascade of chemical reactions requires every component of the process to be present – this one an activator, that one an accelerator, another one an inhibitor – for the whole thing to work. The absence of a single link in the chain-reaction will spell tragedy. When a mohel declares that a baby is yellow, he is telling us that one of the coagulatory factors has not yet been released, hence the danger in performing an operation. When said mohel clears the baby for a bris, he is informing us that a process of mind-numbing complexity is fully functioning. In the relief that follows his pronouncement, we are paying homage to the Designer of a life-saving mechanism on which our very existence depends – and therein lies the essence of a great truth…

Any system that needs all its components to work for it to perform the task is called minimal function. It must have the ability to accomplish its tasks in physically realistic circumstances. In order to lock your front door, you need a locking mechanism in the door, preferably at the edge; a groove in the doorpost; and a key to turn the lock. And don’t forget the door. Every one of those components is vital and irreplaceable (irreducibly complex) and every one of the components has to function correctly for it to work at all (minimal function). If there was a door but it was too wide for the aperture in the wall, if the lock was rusted and did not turn, if the groove in the doorpost was higher than the lock’s bolt, if the key did not fit the key-hole – then the whole operation could not function and you might want to think of barricading the door with your freezer to discourage unwanted visitors.

In any machine – as simple as a door lock – the absence of a single component that would render the system unusable might not be disastrous; there are alternatives and contingency plans that could be activated to guarantee security (think of an armed guard). But if life depended on the full functioning of that system, and the absence of a single component would disable the system on which life depends, then we understand well how that system must have been perfect from the very beginning.

In the same way that a cursory glance at a car will prompt the question, “That’s a good car – what make is it?” similarly, even superficial knowledge of how our own bodies work will clearly convince the thinking person that we, too, have a Designer and a Master Manufacturer – Bereishis bara Elokim.

 

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