Articles From July 2015

Windfall! What to Do When You Win the Lottery


I often get calls from individuals or couples who find themselves coming into a windfall of some sort, b”H. Although we all dream of winning the lottery, such sudden wealth is more likely the result of an inheritance, a retirement package, or a lucky investment. Whatever the source of the mazal, these people are in a position they were never in before. While many people are quite sure that an influx of money would solve all their problems, it is not that simple. The newly rich are often unprepared to take on the challenge of managing their money. In their haste to do something, they can make serious errors that result in unfortunate losses. Money management must be learned, and it is crucial to surround oneself with an experienced and trusted financial team.

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Buddy, Can You Spare an Hour? Restoring Sanctity to Eating…And to the Rest of our Lives

chofetz chaim

This week, I listened to two interesting talks referring to sha’ah, an hour. The first was by Rebbetzin Esther Baila Schwartz. It is on and is called “The Avoda of Cheshbon Hanefesh.” She speaks about the verse in Pirkei Avos (Ethics of our Fathers) “There is no person (adam) who does not have his hour.” The simple explanation is that each person has his/her own importance, his/her own place in this world and in the “orchestra” Hashem puts together with all of our contributions.

After this, she goes on to give a different interpretation. A person needs time to think and be introspective, to do a cheshbon hanefesh (daily reckoning), as it were. Pharaoh in Egypt reasoned that if he intensified the work that the Jewish slaves had to complete, they would have no time to think about going to serve Hashem, etc.

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Newest Must-Have Judaica Item: The Klee


There’s a new organization in town, and they are not seeking your money! Rather, they are looking for your commitment to take part in an innovative idea which aims to help Israeli businesses. They are selling nothing other than a concept. A new piece of “must-have” Judaica is being introduced to the Baltimore/Washington area. Called the “Klee,” and it will serve a purpose close to the Jewish heart. Just as most Jewish homes usually have at least a mezuza, a Chanukah menorah, and Shabbos candlesticks, the Klee (which you may very well already have in your house) will also be used in a meaningful Jewish way. It is a designated dish for Israeli products.

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Neighborhood Musings, Part 3


These days, when we say we are “heading to the airport,” we are usually referring to Baltimore-Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport (or BWI), a mere 35 minutes away. Who would have thought there were other options for locals here, almost a century ago, that were much, much closer to home. But that is exactly what I recently discovered! First, a little background is in order.

The Aviation Age Comes to Baltimore

On May 21, 1927, a new chapter was written in the annals of aviation history. His repugnant anti-Semitic views and abhorrent lack of family values notwithstanding, the fact remains that on that day Charles Lindbergh became the first person to complete a solo transatlantic flight, flying non-stop from Long Island, New York, to Paris, France. That achievement not only catapulted him into the stratospheres of public adulation and fame, but transformed the nascent aviation industry into the hottest, newest investment on Wall Street.

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All about Shrek


Did you ever wonder about the meaning of the word “shrek”? European Yidden used it yeder Muntog und Dawnershtig! (every Monday and Thursday, i.e., often). Being constantly harassed by their “neighbors,” Yidden were in a state of shrek most of the time. Many books have been written regarding the terrible shrek experienced by Yidden during World War II because of the German chayess (animals) and their collaborators, which was beyond description.

By now, you have surely fathomed that the word shrek means fright, or fear. The former U.S. President F.D. Roosevelt put it this way: “There is nothing to fear but fear itself.” In Yiddish, the saying is similar but more expressive, as the word shrek is much more colorful than “fear.” It goes like this: Ess iz gornisht mit voss zich tsu shreken – oyser shrek.” Nu, you might disagree with his statement, especially after you take a hike in East Baltimore!

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Exodus from Egypt


I pen this article on June 10, 2015, the 48th anniversary of Israel’s Six-Day War victory over Egypt, Syria, and Jordan. Relations had never normalized after the 1948 War of Independence, and dangerously heightened tensions led up to the battles fought between June 5 and June 10. After obliterating Egypt’s air force and vanquishing its ground forces, Israel went on to seize control of the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula (from Egypt), the West Bank and East Jerusalem (from Jordan), and the Golan Heights (from Syria).

As this miraculous victory being was celebrated in Israel, the small community of Jews remaining in Egypt suffered. The advent of the war prompted Egyptian authorities to knock on the doors of nearly all the Jewish houses in the country and round up some 600 men between the ages of 16 and 60, whom they held as “Israeli POWs.” Although the war ended in six days, some of these POWs – Ezra Halawani, a”h, among them – were held in primitive and overcrowded prison conditions for three years.

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Eat Healthy and Kosher – Economically!


My clients often tell me that healthy eating and a balanced family budget are mutually exclusive. You may even have heard the saying, “If you plan on shopping at Whole Foods, you might as well say good bye to your whole paycheck.” Many people are of the mindset that food budgeting means clipping coupons for sugar- and white flour-based products and packaged, refined junk food. While less nutritious food may indeed be inexpensive, it is not your best option for improving you family’s health and well-being.

While shaving off hundreds of dollars each month on your grocery shopping may be a long-term goal, here are 10 tips to start you on your way towards a fiscally-sound food allowance that enables the purchase of wholesome fare for you and your family. Remember, the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.

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Toward a New Definition of Mental Health


Are you mentally healthy? Of course you are! You’re (most likely) not institutionalized, are coping pretty well with everyday life (with occasional regrettable lapses), and aren’t struggling daily with some sort of severe psychological disability. This is considered doing really well, and most of us would describe ourselves as pretty happy and mentally healthy.But isn’t it sad, truly sad, that this passes for mental health? What a low bar we’ve set for ourselves! If we can function normally, we’re mentally healthy, right? Is this the tzelem Elokim we’ve been promised that we are in our essence?

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Togetherness through Yachad


“Are you RiRi’s mom!?” asked my tablemate excitedly at Shabbos lunch this past January. I was in Florida with my daughter, Arianna (RiRi) Sharfman, my husband, Dr. William Sharfman, and hundreds of other Yachad runners and supporters at the 2015 Team Yachad Miami Marathon Shabbaton. What prompted this woman’s question was my casual comment that my daughter, Arianna, a senior at Beth Tfiloh High School, had participated in Yad b’Yad last summer. Yad b’Yad is a Yachad (NCSY) inclusion program that brings teens and young adults with special needs to Israel along with typical high school kids.

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The Landscape of Life


When Toby Friedman called to ask me to become a Torah mentor for Partners in Torah, my first reaction was one of uncertainty. Essentially, my attitude was encapsulated in the two simple words: Who, me? What did I have to offer that someone else couldn’t do better? Though I’d been blessed with a solid Bais Yaakov education, I was no wise, all-knowing rebbetzin with every answer at my fingertips. I was just a very human being with my share of flaws and inadequacies. Who, me? But there was an even stronger feeling that finally compelled me to accept the challenge

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Lost and Found


As we know, in contrast to the old adage, “Finders, keepers, losers, weepers,” Jewish law places a premium on returning lost items – the underlying implication being that “lost” means it doesn’t belong to you. However, as human nature enters into the picture, we come to realize that there is a category of lost items that actually do belong to you. These are the ones, that you, yourself have “misplaced or lost,” whether purposefully or because you lack the wherewithal to remember where you put things, like your glasses. (I once found mine perched on the top of my head.)

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