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Sunday, August 31, 2014

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Reveling in our Failures

an article on Mystical Paths by Reb Akiva…

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There are those who revel in the failures of the holy Jewish communities.  I’m not talking about the enemies of the Jewish people, not the anti-semites nor the murderous barbarians.  THEY don’t need a failure to hate nor reality to motivate to kill and destroy.

No, I speak of the revelers from within.  They point out every failure in the synagogue, in the rabbi’s actions, in the prayer service, in the charitable organizations, in the religious schools, teachers and administrators.  Rebbe’s are not immune, nor great yeshivas and their rosh yeshivas. 

They speak with shock and horror… and glee, at serious failings found.  The Jew who is arrested, or the charity that did something improper, the school that discriminated, or immoral failings that damaged lives or innocence (G-d forbid).

And these things truly are terrible.

But they fail in a most critical way.  While Torah is min hashamayim, while Torah is Divine and came down from Heaven, it came down to EARTH.  Here there are no angels, just humans struggling in the battle between the G-dly soul and the animal soul, between the good inclination and the evil inclination. And yes, there are people with severe challenges – those who perform criminal acts and severe immoral acts.  Because we are humans on Earth, and human societies have a full range of human foibles and struggles.

They cannot understand… if Torah is Divine and the religious Jewish community is fully devoted to it, why do Jewish religious communities still have… struggling failing humans?  They cannot forgive Torah for not bringing perfection on Earth!

Yet Torah was not given in Heaven.  It was given here on Earth, here where free will exists, where the possibility of acting against the Will of G-d is not only possible – it’s easy!  Rather following the Will of G-d is hard.

This is the Divine plan, for one can only be rewarded if there is effort, which means the other path must not only exist but be a viable option.  The evil therefore serves a purpose. but that doesn’t make it good – it’s still evil.

Reveling in the failure doesn’t help… neither the community, society, religion, or the world.  It is it’s own special negative path.  Rather, be a part of making things better!  And remember, who says you would have done any better in the same circumstances? 

To merit acceptance of our teshuva, we must be willing to forgive.  If we want a better world, we must be willing to do our part to fix the failings.  Then we truly are bringing Heaven down to Earth.

The Month of Elul is here.  The King is in the Field.

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Here’s an Interesting Spot in the Old City

This looks interesting in the Old City, Jerusalem… and different…

Direct video link.

 

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Big Three!

Big Three!

 by Reb Gutman Locks


      This gorgeous Jewish boy is celebrating his third birthday. It is a milestone in his life. He is now old enough to wear tzitzis (fringed garment), and he begins his study of Torah, the Aleph Bet. That is why he is wearing a crown, the crown of Torah. His family has a beautiful tradition for the boys to come to the Kotel on this day, and to hand out candies to the other young boys there. It is a special way to introduce a boy to the Torah, teaching him to show thanks by sharing with others.

     "Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace." [i]

 

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Saturday, August 30, 2014

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Yay, Bankruptcy in Israel!

imageBelieve it or not, bankruptcy did not exist in Israel until this year.  People finding themselves in crushing debt situations basically had no way out, and often the easiest result was to leave the country.

An Israeli lawyer emailed the blog to let us know this is no longer the case…

Long-awaited reform in Israeli bankruptcy laws are effect.  If old debts are preventing you from returning home to Israel, you now have the bankruptcy mechanism to restart your life in Israel.

One feature in the reform is that Israelis living abroad can file for Israeli bankruptcy while living abroad.  If old debts are preventing you from returning home to Israel, you now have the bankruptcy mechanism to restart your life in Israel.

The plan has two aims: to create an effective mechanism to distribute the assets of the debtor who is requesting bankruptcy, and to allow him to start over, to begin a new page, with the exact knowledge of when the procedure will end.  A bankrupt person is called “poshet regel” in Hebrew.

The bundled debts are wrapped by a single payment by the court. Today the minimum monthly payment set by the court is around 200 Shekels and the highest is 5,000 Shekels.

Debts to banks, credit card companies, cell phones companies, municipalities, private individuals and other businesses are covered by this procedure.  Taxes, fines, VAT, some National Insurance (Bituach Leumi) will not be totally pardoned by the procedure, but most of the increases due to the index and interest can be cancelled.

This is not an inexpensive or quick procedure, but it could be the difference between staying away from Israel forever, or coming back and starting over fresh.  Or, for those living in Israel, between having to leave the country or being able to stay and start over.

The lawyer who shared this information can be contacted here.

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

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Three Generations


Three Generations

 by Reb Gutman Locks


     The 86-year old grandfather, the father, and the son came to Israel from America for a wedding. The grandfather said that he had not put on tefillin in well over 20 years, the father had not put them on for even longer, and the son had never put them on. The boy did not even know what I was doing when I pulled him over and slid the tefillin on his arm. The fathers refused, but I insisted, pulling on them with a smile.

      You can see from the picture that once you talk them into doing it they have a wonderful time. Someone is not doing their job over there or these Jews would be waking up early in the morning looking forward to putting on tefillin.

 

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

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Help Alerts Come Faster, Save a Life

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Monday, August 25, 2014

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Muslims Attacking Jews in Amsterdam!

We previously wrote “A Visiting Chossid is Frightened in England”, about a chossid having daily confrontations in England (outside of London or Manchester).  Several people challenged some of what he wrote, written first hand, though it was major news the following week when, as he wrote he saw, stores were pulling out kosher products.

Here is another first hand account from a friend of ours, a family with children living in Holland.

Yesterday the first big rocks were thrown over the rooftops of the lower surrounding buildings in front of our synagogue.

On their way to a big rally which today was described as an "orgy of hatred" by a local newspaper, Muslims threw big rocks over the low roofs into the inner yard surrounding the ESNOGA (Portuguese Israeli Synagogue in Amsterdam) WHILE they heard small children playing there.  Attempted mass murder, though we know from Israel that rocks and bricks don’t kill Jews (so the local news tells us about such attacks there).

It still is an enigma how they found the strength to physically do so given the size of rocks – boulder almost applies. They must have brought those rocks just for this purpose.

My daughters who where helping preparing the kiddush for 120 guests in the diary kitchen at that time heard the first rock smashing down rushed outside to get the small children into the safety of the kitchen (which has bulletproof windows – guess why a synagogue in Amsterdam needs bulletproof windows) . Right away a rain of more rocks fell into the yard. The children were very upset of course, though thankfully not killed or injured which they surely would have been if they hadn’t been rushed to safety.

The police did nothing to prevent or end this. They were sitting in a high positioned police tower erected after what had happened in June in Brussels (Jews shot) in front of the synagogue; actually facing this crowd coming towards them.  They were well positioned to see exactly what was happening.

After service and kiddush we heard a loud voice which seemed to come from huge loudspeakers in the inner city, and seemed to predict nothing good at all.  I walked towards this sound of anger and hatred to find a large crowd of people standing and ranting in front of the King’s palace, all covered in huge Palestine banners.

What a noise! Unbelievable!

These thousands of people then started to make a u-turn and walked from the King’s palace over to a broad boulevard, shouting their disappointment and hatred with large megaphones into the city of Amsterdam.

Because I was one of the last to arrive at the rally, I decided to walk my way up to the head of the marching crowd because I wanted to look these people in the eye. I wanted to see their faces and fathom what kind of people are shouting slogans like : "Death to the Jews, Netanyahu is the devil , don't buy from the Jews, boycott all Israeli products."

I wanted to look people in the eye who dared to risk the life of small kids playing in the yard of our synagogue only hours before, marching in this rally, shouting for our death, trying to convince the public that they are the poor underdog and looking for sympathy. (Reminds me of "Sympathy for the Devil" song by The Rolling Stones).

I saw at least 1000 people or more, faces bent by their hatred, many, many Muslims, but also the "normal Dutch Jan-alleman", some Neo-Nazis, and policemen / and women, almost all of them Muslims too. Thousands of tourists standing by, watching , taking pictures with their smartphones, nobody said a word.

The aggression, the hatred were palpable.

Bewildered I watched some very young Muslims totally covered in veils and burkhas running up and down the marching crowd, covering the protesters and bystanders like bloodhounds sniffing rodent. These were the ones with the high-pitched voices and one could see their exhausting engagement and willingness to give all to their cause. The low demeanor flashing out of the corners of their eyes like blizzard and lightning.

I wanted so much to call out to these people : " Stop! Listen to me, please. I want to explain, it's not true what you are saying", and so on. But I was a cowered. Instead of stopping them, I watched and kept quiet. There were so many fanatics, they would have just pushed me to the ground and stepped on me. What would my words have solved?

A few years ago Theo van Gogh was killed one morning while biking to his job by just these kind of people. While I never agreed with Theo I certainly never thought that he should have been punished and slaughtered like this!

After yesterday I don't believe any longer in discussion and well built arguments with these kind of people. I don't believe any longer in education and understanding for these people. They don't believe in discussion and solutions. Hatred and a lust for blood have taken possession of them.

All that is dear to us and different from them and their ideology is condemned and will be rooted out.  Everybody has to give in to them and their doctrine.

And make no mistake. These are absolutely NOT uneducated fools. These Muslims parents came to Europe for a better life. They grew up in Europe attending schools and universities here. They know the laws and their rights.  All the freedom you can possibly think of, they demand for themselves. They use freedom, democracy and modern law for their dubious goals.   All chances given to them by this government to built a new and better life for themselves are trampled upon; they spit on this government, this democracy and on the Dutch people in the face.

Freedom of religion to them is a choice between Sharia / Kalifat (and the Caliphate) and Death.

I looked into the eyes of fanatics and I saw : a catastrophe unfolding.

kind regards from a Jewess in Amsterdam.

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Going to College?

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Sunday, August 24, 2014

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No!


No!

 by Reb Gutman Locks


     He was the warmest, nicest, Israeli guy you could ever meet, even though he would not put on tefillin. When he first came into the Kotel area I tried to get him but he laughed at the idea and hurried by.

     A few minutes later, as he was leaving, I tried again. Same response; "No Way!, with a big smile.

      He kept walking away, but I didn't give up.

      I called after him, "Come it only takes a minute. It won't hurt! It's a good thing."

     I yelled at least a half a dozen things that have sometimes worked in the past. Nothing got him. He kept walking away. Then, for whatever reason, even though he was already way past me, he stopped, looked back and said, "I don't know how."

     "That's what I'm here for."

     He came back, and I helped him. He read the prayers, and prayed for his family, and for the soldiers. He didn't rush. When he finished he told me, "I haven't put them on since my bar mitzvah."

     I asked him how old he was.

     He said, "Sixty"

 

     Like any other "business," you learn what works and what doesn't work, and you use the tools that work.

     Just then, a fine young rabbi who just started working a couple of hours a day at the Kotel came over. His job is to try to get men to start learning Torah with a study partner over the telephone. They can learn as few or as many hours as they want. It's really a wonderful idea. Yeshiva students call them at the times they set, and they learn a page or two of the Talmud, or whatever they are interested in learning. Whoever dreamed this one up surely has a nice place reserved in the World to Come.

     He asked, "Is it better to try to get them when they are coming in, or when they are going out?"

     I told him, "When they come in. Then, if you don't get them, you get another shot at them when they are on the way out. Each time you try it softens them up, so the more you try the better."

     I gave him a couple of other little "hints". "Remember, you're not allowed to push, but you are allowed to pull. Don't give them a chance to say 'no.'"

     He didn't understand so I explained, "Instead, of asking, 'Do you want to do this? say, 'Come do this.' If you ask, 'Do you want to?' they will be truthful and say 'No,' because they really do not want to. But if you say, 'Come do this,' there is a better chance to get them to agree. This is pulling, but not pushing.

     It's like being a salesman for Hashem, only you get paid whether you make the sale or not, just so you try.

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Friday, August 22, 2014

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Comments now Registration Free

Avoiding comment spam is a battle between how inconvenient to make commenting versus making it so inconvenient that nobody bothers to comment.

We’ve turned off requirements to be a registered person to comment though we’ve put back the Captcha.  Hopefully that will make it easier to comment but sufficiently deter the spammers.

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

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KILL THEM ALL

I’m told we must worry about our enemy’s children.  We must worry about their suffering.  Innocent civilians must be spared, and it’s a tragedy if they are injured or killed.  Of course Hamas is playing on these sensibilities, showing pictures of every destroyed building, every injured or killed child, every woman with a bruise.  (Somehow pictures of dead or injured terrorists never seem to appear.)

And while they are trying to kill us, we (as a society) are providing them free electrical service, free water service, free phone service, plus operating an entry and exit port providing the vast majority of food, medicine, and consumer products.  We further operate a free medical facility for them on the border, allow treatment of seriously ill patients in Israeli hospitals, and have even facilitated the transfer of Palestinian patients to Turkey.

But what do we receive for our concern, our kindness to those trying to kill us?

ROCKETS.  Hundreds of them every day fired at our homes, our women, our children.  Homes hit, schools hit, kindergartens hit.

Rambam – Guide to the Perplexed (Part 3, Chapter 39) : On Shemos (21:14), “If a person willfully schemes to kill his neighbor – he shall be (even) taken from my altar and put to death”, the wicked and calculating person (who killed intentionally and was sentenced to death) – if he seeks sanctuary among us, we must not provide him with asylum and not have mercy upon him...because compassion towards the wicked – is cruelty to all beings.

Shmuel Alef 15:9 – (I Samuel 15:9), “And Saul and the nation spared Agag,” the Midrash says (Tanhuma, Parashat Mezora,1) R’ Elazar said: One who becomes compassionate to the cruel will ultimately become cruel to the compassionate, as it is written, “And Saul and the nation spared Agag and the best sheep and cattle.”, and it is written (Ibid. 22:19) “And Nov, the city of priests, he smote with the edge of a sword.”

…We give a humanitarian cease fire, they use it to attack and kill our soldiers.

…We give a longer ceasefire, rocket fire doubles when it ends as they’ve used the time to reload.

…They use the gift of electricity to run arc welders to make rockets.

…They use the gift of cement to build tunnels to INVADE our towns and commit either mass slaughter or mass kidnapping.

…They bomb the cargo terminal we are using to deliver them food, medicine and consumer goods WHILE those goods are being delivered! (Because killing us is more important than getting food to their children.)

…They booby trap medical clinics, transport fighters in ambulances, store rockets in mosques and hospitals, launch rockets from schools, refugee areas, UN facilities, and hotels.

We try to reduce enemy casualties, while they try to increase ours, avoiding bombing those attacking us (if children area nearby), avoiding attacking ambulances and hospitals, avoiding targeting homes in civilian areas.  Our soldiers hesitate in their firing to avoid civilians, AT THE RISK OF THEIR OWN LIVES, while they fire from within civilians – using our kindness and humanity as a defensive technique.

imageENOUGH!  Our kindness has not only become cruelty to our own people, but it has become a weapon being used against us.

: I will not cry for their women and children while they refuse to stop firing.

: We must stop delivering goods while they are trying to kill us, and even kill those delivering in the midst of delivery.  Every time they fire at the cargo terminal, it should shut down for 1 month automatically.

: We must turn off the electricity and water (and they’ve even tried to kill those repairing electrical lines that have been damaged) while they are firing.  Every time they fire, turn off the electricity and water for 2 days.

: The army must be given an open hand to do everything necessary to stop rocket fire and attacks on Israel.  If that requires artillery fire until a neighborhood is no longer usable as a launch pad, so be it.  If that involves indiscriminate fire into a populated area – EXACTLY AS THE ENEMY IS DOING TO US – so be it.

An enemy is defeated when they either no longer have the ability to fight or when they feel sufficient pain to no longer have the will to fight. 

Everything I have written is LEGAL according to international law and the laws of war, and APPROPRIATE according to halacha.  Our compassion is killing us, and actually even hurting the enemy.  How the enemy?  By prolonging the conflict and setting up for yet another round. 

IT IS NOT COMPASSION to prolong a war.  And this war will only end when they are thoroughly defeated.  So have compassion on the enemy and KILL HAMAS, ALL OF THEM.

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What Does It Mean to be a Jew?


What Does It Mean to be a Jew?

 by Reb Gutman Locks


     Jews are an interesting people, to say the least. We always hear about the famous Jews because they do the most amazing things. But what about the "regular," average Jew whom you never hear about?

     Late last Shabbos afternoon, I was sitting at the Kotel waiting for maariv (evening prayers) when a young, not so Jewish-looking man came over and sat next to me. He was wearing a brand new pair of tzitzis (Torah fringes) over his shirt. He is from Barcelona, but spoke fluent English, albeit with a Spanish accent.

     He told me that his grandmother is an 86-year old holocaust survivor from Poland. After she was rescued, she fled Poland and settled in Spain. She married a non-Jewish man, and for the most part hid the fact that she is a Jew. They had a daughter, who grew up, and like her mother, she also married a non-Jewish man, but he was a religious Catholic.

     This young man from Barcelona is their son. He told me that his father tried to train him to be a religious Catholic. He said that he learned it, but it did not seem right to him. Then he found out that since his mother is a Jew, he is a Jew, so he started studying Torah and he discarded all of his Catholic training.

     He is now in Law school in Barcelona and came to Israel for the summer as a volunteer on a Kibbutz. I asked him why he found Torah to be right, but not Catholicism. He put his hand on his chest and said, "I don't know, but it's something inside of me."

     I told him that he would get a lot more out of going to the yeshiva for the summer then he would by washing dishes in a kibbutz. He agreed and we are making arrangements for him to study in a beginners' program for the next month or so.

     What did he feel inside his heart?

     He left, and an elderly, America Jewish man who has been living in the Rova (Quarter) for many years sat down.

     He told me that he was on vacation in Holland when the Gaza war broke out. He said, "It didn't feel right for me to be in Holland with a war going on here, and even though I'm not in the army I wasn't going to sit in a hotel when everyone here's in danger."

     He canceled his vacation and came back two weeks early. He said, "It wasn't a problem getting a flight back to Israel because everyone was canceling their tickets."

     What does it mean to be a Jew? Well, beside the fact that you have a Jewish mother, there's a feeling inside.

 

 

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

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What’s it Like when they’re Trying to Kill Me

imageThe terrorists – militants – unhappy people compensating for something - broke the ceasefire this evening with 3 rockets fired at Be’er Sheva, a city of 200,000 (with no military facilities in the city). They followed up with a heavy rocket bombardment of many Israeli cities, towns, and villages following a few hours later.  Our city was targeted multiple times, as was Jerusalem (we are on that flight path).  One home in town was hit with shrapnel from a rocket interception, damaging a retaining wall.

BOOM. Shook my windows with no siren.  That means it was probably on it’s way to Jerusalem and intercepted near us.

Three of my children are having bad reactions. One with a near panic attack and won't go to sleep, one is obsessing watching multiple channels and online info sources, jumping and shouting about every bit of info, and one has gone hyper nasty ripping everyone's heads off (but did go to sleep).

Here’s other comments that applied…

-- “Hamas are incapable of observing a ceasefire because they exist to fire. Would anyone expect ISIS to cease their fire? Or Al Qaeda?”

-- “Some of the Red Alert apps aren’t working.  Here’s what I recommend:

. for Android,  “Real Time Red Alert”, starts in Hebrew but has an English option, or RED Red Alert System, starts in English but has a Hebrew option.

. for iPhone / iPad, RED Red Alert System.

. from a browser, http://IsraelSirens.com

-- “I always give masked gunmen the benefit of the doubt.”

-- “Don't let news outlets get away w/ saying the ceasefire "collapsed." It didn't collapse. It was deliberately blown up by rockets from Gaza.”

-- “#Hamas says it has fired a rocket at #Israel's Ben Gurion airport again. Waiting for UN to condemn. Or maybe not.”

-- “Dear Israel bashers: When rockets rain down on Israeli woman and children, do you want Israel to: A. Do nothing? B. Stop the rockets?”

-- “Remember that time Israeli soldiers beheaded a Muslim and broadcast the video? Me either.”

-- “This isn't a war of civilizations. ISIS and Hamas aren’t a civilization. They’re the paradigm of barbarism.”

-- “My Father (not mine, the source of this comment) used to say: "They would gladly slit their throats if they could only get blood on your shirt and ruin it"

-- #RocketUpsides #Israel Being under attack is good because... It really gets the juices pumping. No boredom or depression running for shelter.

-- #RocketUpsides #Israel Being under attack is good because... Serious increase in prayer intensity without even trying!

-- #RocketUpsides #Israel Being under attack is good because... You finally get your teens to sit and chat...in the bomb shelter.

-- “Guys, I'm starting to think maybe Hamas doesn't want a ceasefire.”

-- “The silence of world leaders & human rights org to condemn #Hamas for breaking cease fire & renewing rocket attacks on #Israel is deafening.”

-- “No rocket fire in the last 20 minutes. Terrorist coffee break? #IsraelUnderFire #HamasSucks

image

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

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What's Wrong with Smoking?



 
by reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths
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What’s Wrong with Smoking?


    
Jewish Law forbids using a shaky ladder. The obvious reason why we are
not allowed to go onto a shaky ladder is because it is weak. It might break and
we would fall. The Torah is a way of life, not death, so no Torah observant Jew
would ever climb onto a shaky ladder. Falling from a shaky ladder is a
possibility, not a given.
    
Smoking is a given. Smoking causes cancer to the smoker and to those who
breathe the smoker’s second hand smoke. It also causes heart disease, stroke,
lung diseases (including emphysema, bronchitis, and chronic airway obstruction,
and diabetes.) Five million people die every year from smoking, and this number
is increasing!
     And
now they have found out something else very interesting about smokers. 
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What’s Wrong with Smoking?


What's Wrong with Smoking?

 by Reb Gutman Locks 


     Jewish Law forbids using a shaky ladder. The obvious reason why we are not allowed to go onto a shaky ladder is because it is weak. It might break and we would fall. The Torah is a way of life, not death, so no Torah observant Jew would ever climb onto a shaky ladder. Falling from a shaky ladder is a possibility, not a given.

     Smoking is a given. Smoking causes cancer to the smoker and to those who breathe the smoker's second hand smoke. It also causes heart disease, stroke, lung diseases (including emphysema, bronchitis, and chronic airway obstruction, and diabetes.) Five million people die every year from smoking, and this number is increasing!

     And now they have found out something else very interesting about smokers.

 

See:  What's Wrong with Smoking?   for the latest discovery.

 

 


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