Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

World War Z 
September 26, 2017

By Royi Israel Shaffin

Inspired by the films “Madagascar” and “World War Z”.  Originally published in “City Beat Magazine”.
I declare World War Z 

Z is not for zombie

It is for zebra
I declare World War Z

The war to make us realize 

that we are all zebras

To make us see our black stripes

And our white stripes

I declare World War Z

Go ahead and check your DNA

No one is just one thing

We are all zebras 

Black with white stripes

Or White with black stripes

I declare World War Z

When we shout against that person 

Who we think is so different 

Or inferior

Or an enemy

Just remember

We carry that person inside of us

That person is a stripe or two or three 

on that coat of many stripes 

that makes us who we are
I declare World War Z

A war of words

A war of ideas

A war of love vs hate

Compassion vs anger
I declare World War Z

We are all Black

We are all White

We are all Mediterranean 

We are all Iberian

We are all East Asian

We are all Jewish

We are all Arab

We are all Hispanic 

We are all Indian 

We are all Native American 

We are all Aboriginal Australian

We are all Inuit 

We are all humanity

We are more than 99% identical in every way

In the beginning God made 

one man and one woman 

So that no one could say

My ancestors were greater than yours
I declare Wold War Z

So go ahead and get that DNA test

Science doesn’t lie

And you will see

That you too are a zebra

And the next time you see

Someone who looks and acts

So different from you

You will remember that

That person is a part of you 

And you are a part of them 

Because we are all zebras

I declare World War Z

Advertisements

Introducing: “The Hollywood Bible” by Rabbi Royi Shaffin
September 19, 2017

https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/1935604139/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1505489269&sr=8-1&pi=AC_SX236_SY340_QL65&keywords=shaffin&dpPl=1&dpID=41n1oLyeXvL&ref=plSrch

Wisdom for Life From the Source: Each of Us Has a Choice to Make
May 14, 2017

Originally published in “City Beat Magazine”.

By Royi Shaffin

Each of us has a choice to make 

Every hour of every day

Between good and bad

Between right and wrong 

Each of us has a choice to make 

Every minute of every day

In what we do and what we say 

What we give and what we take

Each of us has a choice to make

When we go to sleep and when we wake

To be real or to be fake

To unleash the monster within or our wild animal to break

Each of us has a choice to make

Every second of every day

Over our emotions to reign

Our superiority to feign

Or our rightful place to claim

Each of us has a choice to make

To run away… to return

To feel hunger… to let it burn

To cling to doubt or for faith and hope to yearn

Each of us has a choice to make

Life or death, good or evil

Climb the ladder or stay at level 

Choose life!!! Choose life!!! And you will never…

Each of us has a choice to make

Wisdom for Life from the Source:Teachings that will make you a better person and the world a better place.
May 14, 2017

Originally published in “City Beat Magazine”

By Royi Shaffin
1) Whenever you feel like saying something negative, don’t!!!
Stop yourself before it comes out of your mouth. You can do it. Once it is out, it can’t go back in. Once you have blemished someone’s good name, you have damaged their reputation forever. It is like tearing open a feather pillow and letting the feathers out to the wind. If you change your mind, you will never be able to gather all of the feathers.
If you are a person that people listen to, your responsibility is even greater. Don’t use foul language because it pollutes the world and lowers your esteem in people’s eyes. A debate is about ideas. Criticize ideas, not people. Don’t reduce yourself to the level of a school playground. Don’t be a bully. Don’t be a victim either. Seek peace, always.
2) Wear a reminder on your hand, between your eyes, on the corners of your garments, or whatever it takes… to spread only positive energy and to protect you against the negative.  
Place words of goodness and blessing, gratefulness and thankfulness, kindness and mercy upon your body. Wind them around your arm. Place them at the entrance to your home. Speak words of blessing day and night. 
3) Be the source of the positive.
Find teachers and friends. In a world where a role model is hard to find, you be the role model. Create a family. Love someone. Pass your legacy on to children. Have faith in the future.

4) Give people the benefit of the doubt.
We are all human. We all make mistakes. Try to see the good in people. Believe that people have the best of intentions unless conclusively proven otherwise.
5) Be grateful for all that you have.
Pay attention to everything that people do for you and for others. Say daily affirmations for that which is good and right in the world and that for which you are grateful.

Be mindful when you eat and drink and breathe. Be grateful even when you go to the bathroom. These are all gifts. A functioning body, food to eat, clean water to drink, air to breathe, healthy lungs to breathe it with are all gifts. Do not take them for granted. Pay attention to the tastes in your mouth when you eat.

Someone put time and energy and TLC to make sure that your food tastes good.
6) Be in touch with nature.
Go outside. Take off your shoes and run around in the grass. Pay attention to the feeling of grass in between your toes. Watch the sunrise. Watch the sunset. Be grateful for being able to enjoy the beauty of the world.
Cherish animals. Make a new friend who just so happens to be a dog or a cat. Listen to the songs of the birds.
Protect the planet. Recycle. Do not waste. Don’t throw away food.

Travel the planet. Experience different people, different cultures, and different plant and animal life.
7) Be of outstanding character.  
Mean what you say. Say what you mean. Don’t lie. Be a person of truth that people can depend on. Pay workers on time. If you owe money, pay on time. If you owe rent or mortgage, pay on time. If you have credit cards, pay on time. If you owe someone a phone call, call them. If you owe someone an apology, apologize.
8) Be generous with your money, your compliments, your positive facial expressions, your time, your talents, and your good will.  
Visit the sick, the old, the dying, and the bereaved and send positive energy their way. Put your arm around someone who needs a hug.
9) Learn, study, read, teach, play, explore, investigate, think, be open-minded, train your brain, try new things, and try to improve as a human being.  
Make yourself smarter, faster, more knowledgeable, healthier, more active. Become the best you that you can become and then try to become even better than that and while you are doing that, teach others to do the same.
10) Remember that we are all one. The entire universe is One.
The divisions between us are just an illusion. Treat your fellow human being as a brother or sister. We all come from the same place and our destiny is to all return to that place. So be kind, compassionate, loving, caring, and understanding.
May whatever positive energy you send out be returned to you seven fold.

WISDOM FROM THE SOURCE: There Are Angels Among Us     
May 14, 2017

By Royi Shaffin

Originally published in “City Beat Magazine”.

There are angels among us

They are inconspicuous 
They do not call attention to themselves 
But they are there nonetheless 
There are angels among us
They help us out when we are carrying huge loads by ourselves
They save us when we are in danger
They show us the way home when we are lost
They speak words of comfort when we are distressed 
There are angels among us
They might not have wings 
At least not that are visible to us
They do not necessarily have halos 
But they walk among us
They bring light where there is darkness
Hope when there is none
Faith to those who find it hard to believe 
There are angels among us
They are black
They are white
They are brown
The next time someone comes out of nowhere to help you
Your prayers are answered through a stranger 
You sit next to someone on the bus who just seems to illuminate the world 
Look closely and remember 
There are angels among us

CUT IN HALF
February 10, 2017

A poem for Parashat BeShalach

By Rabbi Royi Shaffin

I am that fish

The fish that was cut in half when the sea parted

You never think about me when you read the story 

But I was cut in half

To this day I swim in the sea

They call me the Moses Fish

Why didn’t God move me away from the edge before the Sea parted?

I don’t know

Why did I have to be cut in half?

I don’t know

Maybe because the entire story is about being cut in half

Moses was cut in half between his Egyptian family and his Hebrew family

The Israelites were cut in half between the comforts of Egypt, even as slaves, and the promise of a better life in the promised land

The people were cut in half between worshipping God and worshipping a golden calf

I am that fish that was cut in half

I was not the first to be cut in half 

Abraham cut his sacrifices in half

Isaac was almost cut in half

Joseph’s coat was cut in half

Samson’s hair was cut in half

Samuel’s coat was cut as the kingdom was taken from Saul

I am that fish that was cut in half

On the eighth day they cut their children 

On the Sabbath they cut their bread

Their meat they cut in their own special way

I am that fish that was cut in half 

I swim through the Sea

And every so often 

People see me and are reminded of that day that cut me in half

When the Sea was cut in half and the Children cut through on dry land 

I am that fish that was cut in half

Yankel the Red Nose Dreidel (sung to the tune of Rudolph)
December 15, 2016

Original Chanukah carol by Rabbi Royi Shaffin

Yankel the red nose dreidel

Had a very shiny nose

And if you ever saw it

You would even say it glowed 

All of the other dreidels

Used to laugh and call him names

They never let poor Yankel

Join in any dreidel games 

Then one foggy Chanukah eve

Kids sat down to play

Yankel with your nose so bright

Won’t you lead our games tonight

Then how the dreidels loved him

And they shouted out with glee

Yankel the red nose dreidel

You’ll go down in history

The Cave
November 29, 2016

By Rabbi Royi Shaffin

Dr. Barnaki gasped for breath. He could not believe he was actually entering the forbidden cave. Fear gripped his heart as he remembered all of the myths and stories that he had heard as a child. Like archaeologists before him who had entered the tomb of Tutankhamen, the great Pharaoh of Egypt, he now was entering the cave of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs, the cave of the royalty of Israel …  and of Islam.  

A professor of archaeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Barnaki understood the full significance of his expedition into this underground dwelling. Above the cave, the area was divided into two prayer spaces, a synagogue and a mosque. Holiness radiated from this place on Earth. Whether one was a believer or secular, the intensity of the energy was palpable.

His expedition was illegal and done under the cover of night through an unknown entry-way. After capturing the city of Hebron and its religious and archaeological treasures during the 1967 Six Day War, including the Cave of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs, also called Machpelah, Israel’s Defense Minister, Moshe Dayan, gave the keys to the holy center to the Muslim Waqf, which held that non-Muslims were forbidden to enter.

This was a contentious place indeed, disputed territory claimed both by Israel and by the Palestinian Arabs. This site in the middle of Hebron, also called Kiriat Arba, was in the heartland of biblical Israel. It was also a place where the Arabs are a majority of the population.  Nevertheless, a small group of religious Zionists had founded a settlement in this area to claim a Jewish stake in this land. Heavily guarded and constantly fearful of terrorist attacks from the surrounding Palestinian Arab areas, this was a gated community in the most extreme sense of the term.

This was also the place of the most infamous violence between Jews and Arabs. “Pogrom” is a term usually reserved for anti-Jewish violent riots in Eastern Europe. Hebron was an exception for there had been a violent pogrom in Hebron in which many Jews were mercilessly murdered by marauding Arabs. It was also the place where a Jewish doctor, who had immigrated to Israel from the United States, decided to take matters into his own hands and spray bullets at Muslims praying in the mosque above the cave. Much blood had been spilled above this cave over the question of its ownership and, indeed, ownership of the entire land. Beneath the mosque and the synagogue was Machpelah, where Isaac, the father of the Jews and Ishmael, the father of the Arabs had buried their father Abraham together as bothers. Barnaki could almost sense Abraham’s heartache that his children were killing each other. Also buried in this cave were Sarah, Isaac, Rebecca, and Leah. Rachel died while on the road and was buried on the way to Bethlehem where Jewish tradition teaches that she cries on behalf of her exiled and suffering children and pleads with God on their behalf.

This cave existed and was a burial place before Abraham bought it from Efron the Hittite for 400 shekels of silver, an exorbitant sum for those days, in order to bury his wife Sarah and to establish this cave as an ancestral plot. One wonders who was buried in this cave before Sarah. One wonders why Abraham paid so much money for this cave and plot of land. Abraham was a businessman and a military general, after all. One finds it hard to believe that he would be so easily swindled.

What unknown qualities did this cave hold? Legend holds that there is magic to this cave, perhaps even a doorway from this world into Eden. Some believe that this is a place where one could come into contact and speak not only with those buried in the cave but with all of the ancestors. According to legend, one who entered too far deep into the cave risked never returning to our world. “Could this be true or was this just a story to keep out grave robbers and the like?” Barnaki thought to himself. “How similar were these stories to those told about the pyramids of the Pharaohs.”   

As Barnaki entered the cave, darkness fell over his eyes and a new type of light illuminated his way. It was as if he was in another world. His eyes no longer worked and yet he knew exactly where he was, where he was going, and what was in front of him. He had studied the site using photographs and maps provided by those who had entered the cave before him. For various reasons, they could only go so deep, but he planned to go even deeper.  

Deeper and deeper he went. He arrived at a circular room with coins and pieces of broken pottery on the floor. The pottery contained inscriptions in ancient Hebrew script. This script had not been used in over two thousand years and yet here it was before him, an archaeological treasure. Barnaki picked up coins that lay upon the ground. He placed them in the palm of his hand. Among the coins were modern Israeli liras and shekels. This made sense since it was customary to throw coins deep into the cave like into a wishing well.  

What surprised Barnaki were the other coins he had in the palm of his hand; a Maccabean coin, a coin from the Bar Kochba rebellion against the occupying Romans and a coin with an inscription in ancient Hebrew which read 
שנת ג למלכו של המלך שלמה
The third year of the rule of King Solomon. This was a First Temple period coin, undeniable proof of the Jewish people’s long history in and claim to the land.

Upon the ground were also notes such as people also place in the Western Wall with people’s hopes that God will read their prayers and answer them. From the circular room, Barnaki entered a long corridor which led to a staircase. He climbed up the stairs only to be blocked by a stone wall in the middle of the stairs.

“Who would place a wall here?” Barnaki thought to himself, “During which historical period was the wall built?”  The materials and design of this wall identified it as neither the biblical architecture that he had encountered in the cave so far nor of the architecture of King Herod of Judaea nor of the Muslim minarets built after the Muslim conquest from the Crusaders under the leadership of Salahadin. This wall stood on its own as a unique structure.  Barnaki pushed against the wall and it moved to reveal a small space, barely enough for a small person to maneuver through. Barnaki was no body builder and his small frame came in handy that day as he slid through the small space.

As he crossed to the other side, Barnaki could not believe his eyes. Before him was a beautiful carob tree and a river with waters as blue as the sky, flowing through the cave, but with no end. It just flowed and flowed as if there was no end to the cave, no walls, no beginning and no end. He walked forward and as he did so, the cave became less dark and more full of light, less brown and more green with grasses and shrubbery. It was as if he was no longer in the cave. The river continued to flow through the most beautiful, greenest garden he had ever seen. He saw trees all around him with fruits that seemed to glow. The aroma, the fresh air, and the beauty were exhilarating. In the far off distance, Barnaki saw that the river converged with three other rivers. Thirsty, he put his hands into the river to gather water to drink. Below the river, he realized, was Lapis Lazuli, also called Shoham, a beautiful, semi-precious stone of blue with bubbles of white, like a pure blue sky with fluffy white clouds floating through it. His perception of his surroundings changed as Heaven and Earth, the blue river and a miraculous blue sky above, became one.  

Suddenly, he felt something on his shoulder. He looked down to see a hand. He turned around and before him stood an old man with a white beard and the kindest face he had ever seen. Isaac Barnaki immediately felt connected to this stranger. “Come, walk with me,” said the man.  
For hours they walked and talked. Barnaki now understood everything; why he was there, who he was, where he had come from, the meaning of his life, and the meaning of all existence. They reached an opening and the old man said, “And now you must go back to where you came from and remember little of our conversation and of what you have just experienced.” “Why?” Barnaki asked. “It is not your time,” answered the wise face before him. “Who are you?” Isaac asked, even though he already knew the answer. “I am Abraham, your father.” 

Barnaki walked through the opening to the world that he was a part of, but he was forever changed. He had touched Eden. He had been touched by Abraham. He had entered the cave of Machpelah and returned to our world to tell the tale.

My Brother’s Keeper
November 17, 2016

A modern midrash for our time based on Parashat Vayera, Parashat Toldot, Rashi’s commentary, Talmud Tractate Sanhedrin 89b, and current events
By Rabbi Royi Shaffin
Isaac and Ishmael were playing together. They played hide and go seek. They built sand castles. They laughed together and played together and loved one another, but their mothers hated one another. They were half brothers of the same father, Abraham, but not of the same mother.

One day, the rumor was running through the camp that Abraham was sending away Hagar and her son, Ishmael. The boys were playing when they overheard people talking about it from a nearby tent. Tears started to flow from Ishmael’s eyes. “Our father loves you more than he loves me,” Ishmael said in a tearful voice. “No, this can’t be right. Our father wouldn’t do such a thing,” said Isaac in an attempt to comfort his brother. “It is true. It is true,” said Ishmael, “Your mother made him do it. Why does your mother hate my mother so much?” “I don’t know,” Isaac replied.
“I have an idea,” Isaac said excitedly, “I will pretend to be you. That way, no one will be able to tell us apart. He will not be able to send you away. I will put goat skin on my arms so that I will appear hairy like you and I will wear your clothes so that I will smell like the fields in which you work. I will try to speak with your deep voice and I will tell him that I am you.”
Some time later, God wished to elevate Abraham so God told him, “Take your son.”

Abraham replied, “I have two sons.”

God said, “The one”.

Abraham replied, “I love each of them as if he were my only child.”

God said, “The one you love the most.”

Abraham insisted, “I love them both equally.”

God finally clarified, ” Isaac.”

God continued, “And elevate him to a higher status upon one of the mountains that I will show you.”

Abraham went searching for Isaac, but he could not find him. What he found were two Ishmael’s.  
“Which of my sons are you?” He asked one of them.
“I am Ishmael,” he answered.  
“And who are you?” Abraham persisted.
“I am also Ishmael,” the other one said.
Frustrated, Abraham demanded, “Which of you is Isaac? A great honor awaits you. Come with me.”
Silence.
Abraham turned around to go back to his tent and try again later.
With his father’s back turned so that he could not see him and distinguish him from his brother, Isaac called out, “Father, I refuse to be honored while you send away my brother and he suffers in silence. God has taught me that…
I AM MY BROTHER’S KEEPER.”

Lech Lecha – A Poem In Search of Oneself
November 13, 2016

By Rabbi Royi Shaffin
Lech Lecha
Go to you 
Go for you
You! Go out yonder.
Lech Lecha
Walkety walk
Walkie Talkie
Lech Lecha
Go out
Go in
Go deep inside yourself
To find your self 
Turn yourself
Inside
Outside
Like Origami
Twist and turn
Wear your inside on the outside 
Lech Lecha
Show your emotions 
Be real
To yourself
And to others
Lech Lecha
Go to a place you have never been before
A place you have never seen
Trust in God
Lech Lecha
Try new things
Explore the world 
Meet new people
Find commonality with people you think you have nothing in common with
Lech Lecha
Feel emotion 
Feel other people’s emotions 
Be an open heart
Lech Lecha
Be like Abraham
Do that which is right 
Smash idols of apathy and immorality 
Lech Lecha
Don’t just sit there
Don’t just sit in one place 
View life as a gift, a journey, an adventure 
Sieze every moment 
Lecha Lecha
Dream
Pray
Hope 
Go out and make your most fantastic dreams come true 
Lech Lecha to a place that only God can show you… and you shall be a blessing.