In this week's Parsha, Parshas Vayeshev, Yaakov askes Yosef to go to Shechem in order to check on "Es Shlom Achecha V'es Shlom Hatzon"; the welfare of his brothers and the welfare of the sheep. The Kerem Shlomo points out that when the numerical value of the first letter of each of these words are added together (Aleph (1), Shin (300), Aleph (1), Vov (6), Shin (300), Hey (5)), we get the number 613, the exact number of the amount of Mitzvos in the Torah, the Taryag Mitzvos. What is the connection?
The Sefer explains that it is impossible for any individual to fulfill all of the 613 Mitzvos. Some Mitzvos are mutually exclusive. Other Mitzvos are specific to Kohanim, or to women, or to men. However, even though it might not be possible for one to complete all of the 613 Mitzvos himself, he still has the opportunity to attain schar (merit) from all 613 Mitzvos. When the Jewish people have achdus (unity), and if we make ourselves part of the Klal (congregation) and treat each person how we would want to be treated, as if they are truly part of us, then their Mitzvos become ours as well.
Yaakov told Yosef to check on the welfare of his brothers. When we "check on the welfare of our brothers" by caring about our fellow Jews and acting in a way that demonstrates a connection to each and every Jew no matter how different they are from us, then together we can achieve all of the Taryag Mitzvos! As J. K. Rowling once said,
"We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided."
- Rivky Sutofsky, Editor
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Meet AJ Edelman:
Religious Skeleton Racing Hopeful
for 2018 Olympics
By Rivky Sutofsky
AJ Edelman is one of Israel's four current national skeleton athletes.
The world's first official sliding sport involves a single rider plummeting head-first down a steep and treacherous ice track on a tiny sled with no brakes or steering devices at speeds close to 75mph.
Edelman has represented Israel in international competition for three seasons, training to qualify Israel for the first time in the sliding sport for the Winter Olympic games, which will be held in 2018, in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Edelman joined the Israeli team in 2014, and has won three national titles, and holds national records at each track he has raced at in the past two seasons. He is the only Israeli athlete in skeleton to race his entire career with the Israeli team, considering no other programs, and fulfilling his long-standing goal of representing his country and people on the international sporting stage.
Edelman was born in Boston, Massachusetts, where he began playing hockey at age three and continued on through high school as a goalie for his hometown team, the Brookline Warriors. Despite offers to continue playing hockey and "to attend a prep school that would have put me on the track to playing NCAA Division 1 ice hockey [the highest level of collegiate ice hockey]," Edelman decided to continue his Jewish education at Maimonides School. After a year studying in a religious yeshiva in Israel, Edelman was enrolled at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he joined the MIT Engineers Hockey team. In 2014 he graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering.
Edelman transitioned to the sport of skeleton after graduating from MIT. Due to the anti-semitism he experienced during his time playing hockey, he decided that he wanted to serve as an example and encourage broader Jewish and Israeli participation in sport, and that the best manner of doing so was to represent Israel on the world sporting stage.
In October, 2013, Edelman decided to pursue speedskating and bobsled, for which he assumed he would have natural athletic carryover from his tenure as an ice-hockey goaltender. He also tried the sport of skeleton and knew that it was the sport he wanted to practice after his first trip down the track. Edelman immediately committed to pursuing skeleton exclusively, which he describes as "the most challenging and fun experience I have had the pleasure of participating in."
Last season, Edelman competed in 12 races on the Intercontinental Cup Circuit, which took him everywhere from Whistler, Canada, home of the 2010 Olympics, to St. Moritz, Switzerland, the birthplace of skeleton.
His personal goal is to inspire more Jewish and Israeli participation in sport, and to use the Olympics as a springboard to launch a foundation to aid Jewish and Israeli athletes in their athletic pursuits. He strongly believes that "Jewish and Israeli athletes act as ambassadors of their community, people and homeland, and there are far too few."
A Cartoon by Elisheva Friedman
Nail it or Fail it?
By Shira Wiesenfeld
Ninety-five seconds left in the third period. The score is tied, zero-zero. Pittsburgh Penguin's forward, Patric Hornqvist feeds off of a pass that bounced off Nashville Predator's netminder Pekka Rinne and it goes straight into the goal.
One-nothing, Penguins. Fifteen seconds left in the period, empty-net for the Predators. The Penguin's Carl Hagelin, one of the fastest players in the National Hockey League (NHL), steals the puck for an unbelievable breakaway and scores.
Fifteen seconds later, the Penguins have officially won the Stanley Cup for the second consecutive season.
This was not a new experience for the five-time Stanley Cup champions. In 2016, the Penguins defeated the San Jose Sharks in six games to earn the Stanley Cup for the first time since their win over the Detroit Red Wings in 2009.
Few players were traded or acquired during the Penguin's two-year Stanley Cup run, and it was to their benefit. However, during free agency in the summer of 2017, several players who were integral during the Stanley Cup process both years were picked up by other teams. Key players including winger Chris Kunitz, center Nick Bonino and defenseman Trevor Daley were seized by various teams in the NHL. In addition, goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, an irreplaceable player both on and off the ice, was sent to the Las Vegas Golden Knights because of the expansion draft (a draft of NHL players initiated in order to fill the roster of the league's expansion team for the 2017 - 2018 season, the Vegas Golden Knights).
These losses left many open spots on the team for other aspiring hockey players. The new, younger players were a bit inexperienced, so the training camp did not show much unique skill. This forced the Penguins to trade several players in exchange for more capable ones - specifically veterans who get a higher salary - which decreased the salary cap space for the Penguins. With less space, the Penguins can be severely damaged in the future if more trades are necessary. Although losing players is quite common in the NHL, the Penguins' recent deduction of players may prevent them from winning again and being the first team to three-peat since the New York Islanders from 1980 to 1983.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have not only won three Stanley Cups in four Stanley Cup Final appearances since 2008, but are also the first team in 19 years to win the Stanley Cup in two consecutive seasons. In the NHL, the chance to make it up to three consecutive Stanley Cup wins is becoming rarer and rarer as teams keep on developing. Unfortunately, the beginning of the 2017-18 hockey season was immensely grueling for the Penguins, losing their first two games, the second a ten-one loss to the Chicago Blackhawks which was an embarrassment to the five-time Stanley Cup champions.
Since then, the Penguins have improved and started having a more balanced amount of wins and losses. While they continue to enhance various details to put them back on track, the Penguins will be looking more and more like the team they were these past two years, as they try to win their third title in a row.
The Story of Magic
By Chana Kaminsky
To me, the greatest superpower of all is the power of words. To be able to write, to manipulate minds. To tell wonderful stories of Once Upon a Time and Happily Ever After. To weave intricate tales of the deepest magic, its purples and blues. Mysterious corridors, long and dark. Circuses with elephants and clowns, whose white faces match the white of their wide staring eyes. Like the glassy eyes of dusty dolls in an old storage attic.
Tales of wizened old owls swooping across the starry night sky, and the lone flame of the candle flickering in the window of the abandoned mansion.
Tales of the snow falling light and fluffy, till the howling wind sends it tumbling down with the sun as dusk falls. Forests of trees, thick and dense, black except for the occasional glint of a hungry yellow eye, the hair-raising yowl as the full moon appears. Goosebumps, like long nails screeching across the chalkboard. Fear of saliva dripping from gnashing fangs.
Tales of fire, bright and blinding, reds and yellows and wisps of blues, with a mind of its own, hot flames blaze, licking the night sky. Destroying, leaving behind their trails of despair.
Tales of wizards. And sorcerers, witches, enchanters, and necromancers. For good, or for evil. You see the broom fly high above, old and rickety. Closer she comes, her ugly green face, warty hands extend to touch you, long pointy nails, the most pure of hatred in her eyes, the most evil cackle....
Tales of mythical creatures. Unicorn foals, cute and dainty, fur that's soft and silvery. The mighty pegasus, pure and white, it soars up to the clouds, to the heavens and into a world beyond. Dragons, with their exquisite coat of dazzling green and golden scales, faithful and true. But nearby zooms the vampire, as night settles in, turning the air frigid as it passes, its cry bloodcurdling as it hunts down its unsuspecting prey at this late hour.... And the zombie down below, deep under the ground, awakens once it senses that the world has gone to sleep. Rolls over in its grave and slowly creeps out, ready to terrorize....
Tales of rivers, rapids raging as unwary travellers are thrown and tossed about. Empty dark oceans, waves crashing and furious, while beneath lies the remains. A sail. A mast. A small upturned kitchen table, and dinner for two carried mercilessly away by the fierce stormy waters. Up and beyond, on the surface of calmer seas, lurks another ship, this one looming and dangerous. "Yo ho ho" comes from aboard, followed by the rough laughter and drunken hiccups and the shattering of glass and more laughter. Then the boom of an exploding cannon, so loud it shakes your world, and a splash somewhere off into the distance.
Tales of music. Wonderful music to merry dancing, flying on toes to the top of the world. Or sad lonely music of a sole violin, beckoning tears. They flow out, unstoppable, all sorrow and grief and relieving the pain. Revealing the truth.
Tales of the circus, the crowds, and the fun. The deep fried foods and the smells in the air. And the shows, oh those spectacular feats to view in the wide spacious rings! Humans soaring through the air, balancing on ropes. They cut men in half, rabbits appear from the hats on their heads, they read minds. One tent is different. Inside it is dark, not bright. Serious, not cheerful. Crowded, still, but quiet. Shadows, spirits and ghosts, whisper together, of the bygones of the living. The line is filled, with mothers and children, old men and curious teens. A small boy licks a lollipop, sticky, and bright blue, like his wide, questioning eyes. You reach the front of the line, where an ancient women sits, in the dim corner, behind her fogging crystal ball, in which only she can perceive the mysterious secrets of what is yet to come.
Tales of parties. Of dancing and balls. Princes, noble and handsome, sweep young maidens off their feet and carry them away to be made queen. They smile back, young beauty, smooth skin, long flowing hair, or sometimes done up elegantly, jet black or chestnut or golden or auburn. Ball gowns flowing and twirling to the music, eyes sparkling, young and energetic and full of life. Castles, with towers so high, looking down upon the vast gardens filled with color, and with trees and flowers, hummingbirds and blue jays and cardinals. Sunlight shines over it all, bright and happy and warm in the early afternoon. The smell of spring is in the air. It is fresh and tells tales of new beginnings. A new king and queen. It is the perfect day for a wedding.
Catching Up With...The Nim Twins!
By Rachel Cohen
Where do you live?
> We live in San Antonio, Texas.
Were you affected at all by the flooding in Houston?
> Thankfully no, we experienced a couple storms, winds and blackouts, but nothing too major.
How long were you at Hillel Academy?
> Not long enough.
What are your plans for next year?
> We plan on spending a year in Israel for seminary.
What do you miss the most about Hillel Academy (Your class perhaps? Ahem!)?
> Shira: The classes with amazing teachers and students. And the Rosh Chodesh lunches.
> Liora: I miss coming to school each morning and spending the entire day with people I loved to be around. And LL3. I miss LL3 too.
What is the most interesting thing your family has done?
> Have twins
What is your favorite thing about Chanukah? Any family traditions?
> Shira: Roasting marshmallows outside and mystery matana (which is when we buy presents for each other, but no one knows who anyone has to give to...like secret Santa).
> Liora: Donuts.
What is the meaning of life?
> Shira: The meaning of life is for us to give it meaning.
> Liora: According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary the meaning of life is, "the quality that distinguishes a vital and functional being from a dead body."
Jello or pudding?
> Shira: Jello
> Liora: Thanks to Jim Halpert, Jello. . . just pudding it out there.
Finally, pen or pencil?
> Shira: Pencil. Because of that satisfying feeling you get when it goes from being a stump to a beautiful sharp unicorn horn.
> Liora: Life's too short not to live it in pen. #noregrets #yolo