Friday, November 22, 2019

The kindness of Avrum Avinu and this is Chaya Sarah Shabbat in honor there will be an Exciting Hebron tour by Shalom Pollack - Still time to sign up!

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Yehuda Lave, Spiritual Advisor and Counselor

Yehuda Lave is an author, journalist, psychologist, rabbi, spiritual teacher and coach, with degrees in business, psychology and Jewish Law. He works  with people from all walks of life and helps them in their search for greater happiness, meaning, business advice on saving money,  and spiritual engagement

Love Yehuda Lave

Exciting Hebron tour by Shalom Pollack - Still time to sign up!

A lot of people will be visiting Hevron this Shabbat for Parasha Chaya Sarah. Personally I love Hevron, but I don't love crowds. I will be going (bli -neder) with Shalom Pollock next Wendesday with out the crowds and coming home to sleep in my own bed. Let me know if you sign up and if you are coming please.Yehuda

 

Hevron as never before.
 Wednesday, November 27
  We will visit the  Hevron that most do not see or experience.
 Besides the Patriarchs and Matriarchs tombs, we will visit:
 - The recently excavated remains of Second Temple Hevron including the largest ritual baths ever found.
- The remains of the city from the times of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs.- The new audio-visual presentation and the refurbished history museum. - The renewed Jewish quarter including the redeemed "Avraham Avinu" synagogue. - View of the city from the roof of the rebuilt  "Shavei Hevron yeshiva"
-  Visit with a pioneer family of the renewed ancient Jewish quarter. We will have lunch in the "pioneers cafeteria". You can purchase food there or bring your own. 
On the way back to Yerushalayim we will visit Rachel's tomb.
 Departure at 9:00 from the Inbal hotel Return around 5:00
Cost: 200 shekels
shalompollack613@gmail.com

New Record! 40,000 Visit Hebron for Shabbat Chayei Sarah last Year!

Festive atmosphere amid prayer and celebration at Tomb of the Forefathers.

Over 40,000 people visited Hebron for Shabbat Parshat Chayei Sarah last year making it the biggest turnout of the 24-year-old event. The giant tent sponsored by Chabad of Hebron ranks as arguably the largest Shabbat kiddush in the world.

The Jewish Community of Hebron offers its thank to the security forces who maintained order for the event and all the organizations and individuals who helped with logistics such as the Hebron Fund, Chabad of Hebron, the staff of the Cave of Machpela historical site, the Israel Defense Force, Israel Police, Egged bus company, Egged Taavura, the Kiryat Arba municipality, the Knesset Ministry of Religious Affairs and of course all the individuals who came to make this day so special.

Photo credits: Night time photos were taken by non-Jewish IDF personnel. Other photos taken Friday afternoon.

Chayei Sarah

Chayei Sarah, Chaye Sarah, or Hayye Sarah (חַיֵּי שָׂרָה — Hebrew for "life of Sarah," the first words in the parashah) is the fifth weekly Torah portion (פָּרָשָׁה, parashah) in the annual Jewish cycle of Torah reading. It constitutes Genesis 23:1–25:18. The parashah tells the stories of Abraham's negotiations to purchase a burial place for his wife Sarah and his servant's mission to find a wife for Abraham's son Isaac.

The parashah is made up of 5,314 Hebrew letters, 1,402 Hebrew words, 105 verses, and 171 lines in a Torah Scroll (סֵפֶר תּוֹרָה, Sefer Torah).[1] Jews read it on the fifth Sabbath after Simchat Torah, generally in November, or on rare occasion in late October.[2]

The Beatles - I Feel Fine

24,036,216 views• The Beatles performing I Feel Fine. © 2015 Calderstone Productions Limited (a division of Universal Music Group) / Subafilms Ltd

In Chicago, Reclaiming Jewish Identity Through Adult Circumcision By Menachem Posner

Standing in the sun-drenched sanctuary, large windows showing manicured lawns framed by verdant shrubbery, we could just feel that something special was happening.

In the floor above us, a circumcision was taking place. After nearly 60 years of life, Ilya would soon fulfil the first mitzvah given to Abraham, finally claiming the Jewish heritage that had been his all along.

Rabbi Shmuel Notik, who directs F.R.E.E., the Russian Jewish community of Chicago and Suburbs, says he facilitates an adult circumcision every few weeks, usually a Soviet-born male between the ages of 40 and 80, who has chosen to enter into the Covenant of Abraham.

"In the early '90s when people were streaming out of Russia by the thousands, we would have as many as 10 circumcisions a week," recalls Notik, who was born in Moscow and raised in the clandestine Chabad-Lubavitch underground community in Samarkand before emigrating to the United States as a teen. "Several years ago, we began a campaign to provide circumcisions for those who didn't do it when they first arrived, and we now have, thank G‑d, another circumcision or two every few weeks."

All told, he estimates that 6,000 Jewish men and boys have been circumcised through his organization.

While Ilya was being operated on, his wife, Alina, shared their life story.

She told how her father had become a member of the Communist Party in order to become a factory manager in her hometown of Bender, then part of the Soviet Union, now in the contested area of Moldova claimed by the mostly unrecognized state of Transnistria. Yet, even his professional accomplishments were not enough to secure his daughter a spot at university in a system that discriminated against Jews.

With no recourse, at the age of 17, she traveled to Kharkov in Soviet Ukraine to further her education. And it was there that she met Ilya, one year her senior.

Like her, Ilya was Jewish (his great-grandfather had been a well-known rabbi of Kharkov, author of the ethical work, Shem Tov, Vilna, 1913), but he knew little about his heritage other than the fact that he was different. Alina said her parents always made sure to get matzah for Passover, and celebrate with honey strudel and attend synagogue on Rosh Hashanah. It could have cost them their careers, but they took that risk and did what they could.

They pair felt an instant kinship and, after several years of courtship, decided to marry. In a dramatic story that spanned three decades and three continents, the two parted ways, married, had children with their respective spouses, divorced and reunited. By that time, her family was in Israel and his in Chicago. To further complicate things, he knew no Hebrew, and she knew just a little English.

But they finally accomplished their dream of building a home together in Chicago.

Rabbi Levi Heber, who flies to Chicago from New York once or twice a month to perform circumcisions, prepares for the brit milah. 'Every Jewish Milestone Should Be Celebrated Beautifully'

We interrupted our conversation when the rabbi came down to inform us that the bris had been completed. As Notik and the mohel heartily congratulated Ilya with lively calls of mazal tov, he smilingly told his wife that he was feeling great.

Then, holding a cup of wine, the rabbi recited the traditional blessings, including the prayer in which the celebrant was given his new Hebrew name, Yosef Yitzchak Meir, after his two grandfathers: Yosef and Yitzchak Meir. Yosef Yitzchak, the rabbi pointed out, was also the name of theSixth Chabad Rebbe, who had battled valiantly for the survival of Judaism during the darkest days of Stalinist oppression.

We then proceeded to the adjoining room for the traditional festive meal, and I was struck by how elegant it all was. It turned out that Shternie Notik, who has been spearheading FREE together with her husband since 1981, puts special emphasis on celebrating the circumcisions in a most appealing fashion. "Every holiday or Jewish milestone should be celebrated beautifully," she says, "and especially when an adult Jew reclaims his identity by having a bris. We make sure that a special feeling pervades the entire event, and over time, that itself has inspired many of the guests to go ahead with their own circumcisions."

As we feasted on an abundance of steak, turkey breast, challah and salads, the rabbi shared that he recently facilitated a circumcision for an 84-year-old man, along with his son and his grandson. Another man at the celebration, David, used the Russian term maladets, "hero," to describe the men who undergo circumcision in adulthood.

"In my experience, everyone eventually comes around and does the circumcision," asserts the mohel, Rabbi Levi Heber, who flies to Chicago from New York once or twice a month to perform circumcisions. "The Jewish soul is deeply connected to this mitzvah, and that comes through."

The conversation flowed naturally between Russian, English and Hebrew.

Having lived in Kharkov until 1995, when he came to the United States for work reasons, Yosef Yitzchak Meir heaped high praise on Rabbi Moshe Moskovitz and his fellow Chabad rabbis in Kharkov, who have rebuilt Jewish life in the city, which has approximately 30,000 Jews. One of his sons, then a student in the Chabad preschool in Kharkov, was circumcised as a child.

"My parents don't know about my bris yet," he continued. "They survived the Holocaust by escaping Kharkov until the Russians beat back the Nazis and lived most of their lives under the Communists, and they are still afraid."

Notik is no stranger to observing Judaism in spite of danger. His grandfather perished in Soviet prison for the "crime" of upholding Judaism, and he vividly remembers the fright his family experienced when a drunk banged on their door late one night. They were sure the secret police were coming for them, too.

In true Russian Jewish fashion, the meal was punctuated with frequent "lechaims" in which blessings were heaped upon those present, their families and anyone else. The blessings for the rabbi included wishes that he soon succeed in procuring the funds to build a new community center—one that would be the pride and joy of the entire Russian-speaking Jewish community in the area.

"The Russian culture is very rich and very strong," the rabbi explains, "and even children born in America still identify as Russian Jews. They enjoy Russian cuisine, Russian literature, playing chess and everything that they got from their parents."

'The Feeling of Coming Home' Celebrating the brit Milah.

A big part of that culture, I learn, is celebrating milestones like this one in an unhurried fashion. As a very occasional drinker, the extra Scotch was beginning to have its effect on me, but I couldn't leave until I had completed my interviews.

As we concluded, the mohel, who had a few minutes before David would take him to the airport,told me how he was exposed to the world of circumcision. "In 1990, I went to Moscow to serve as head counselor in the Jewish summer camp," he recalls. "We knew very little Russian and the kids knew virtually no English, but they so wanted to embrace Judaism."

With just poor Soviet-era anesthesia, boy after boy committed to undergo circumcision—no easy feat for a young man entering adolescence. "They saw how we lived as Jews, and they wanted it for themselves."

Upon returning to America that fall, Heber observed how circumcision was being done for the many Russian Jews then arriving in New York. He returned to Moscow the following summer with state-of-the art anesthetics, sutures, fine needles and medical know-how, which he passed on to the longtime mohel of Moscow, Avrohom Genin.

Today, he has the pleasure of performing circumcisions on the sons of his erstwhile campers, seeing how the seeds of Judaism planted nearly three decades ago have grown into vibrant family trees.

Even though he has performed thousands of circumcisions—sometimes in three states in a single day—he says that each one is special, especially when it involves an adult. "There is the feeling of finally coming home, fixing something that has been waiting to be corrected all along."

The greatness and kindess of Avraham Avinu

From: Rabbi Jeff Bienenfeld 

There is no question that Avraham was extraordinarily unique in his greatness. If HaShem, Himself, chose to speak about Avraham – and only Avraham - as אוהבי, as one who loved Me (Isaiah 41:8), it certainly points to something quite special about HaShem's relationship with him. How might we understand this relationship?

 

Rav Soloveitchik proposes that, unlike Moshe and the other Patriarchs, it was Avraham who found Gd and not the reverse. When the presence of Gd in the world was eclipsed and hidden by the rampant worship of idols, Avraham courageously pioneered what then appeared to be the outrageous notion that the universe had only one Creator. (see Rambam, Avodah Zara 1:1-3) But Avraham's greatness went beyond his discovering and promulgating a monotheistic belief. His singular distinction was in his insistence that wedded to this monotheism was the moral law. Belief in one Gd ineluctably demanded a certain code of behavior, and central to that moral code was the radiant virtue of chesed, loving kindness. In this attribute, Avraham was preeminently supreme. Avraham not only preached the ethic of chesed, he practiced it as he related to others. As such, if Gd built the entire universe upon chesed,""עולם חסד יבנה (Tehilim 89:3), then living a life of chesed surely warranted HaShem's portrayal of Avraham as one who truly "loved Me."

 

Of course, the message in this observation is obvious. The Midrash states (Tana d'Bei Eliyahu 22:2) that "Everyone is obligated to say, 'When will my deeds resemble the deeds of my Forefathers.'" This means, in our context, that everyone must strive to be like Avraham and the other Patriarchs as well. Living a life of chesed, in addition to its own reward, mysteriously ripples across the lives of people with incredibly amazing consequences.

 

Here are two true stories, among so many, that illustrate this beautiful truth.

 

Sixty years ago, in Yeshivas Ponovezh in Bnei Brak, there was a rebellious youngster who not only was not learning, but was insolent to his teachers and was on the verge of abandoning his Torah observance altogether. And then once, he went too far. When the Rebbe was in middle of teaching, this student made a paper airplane and sent it flying only to crash-land on the Rebbe's face. The Rebbe furiously demanded, "Who threw the airplane?" No one stirred. "If you don't tell me who threw the airplane, I will punish everyone. Now tell me, who threw the airplane?" No one responded. Finally, the Rebbe declared, "Whoever threw the airplane should get up right now and leave the yeshiva. He can't come back." No one stirred. Then Reb Nachman Galinsky zt'l (son of the maggid, Reb Yankele Galinsky zt'l) stood up and left the room. Matters in the classroom settled down. Reb Nachman Galinsky didn't throw the plane, but he accepted the blame to save a fellow classmate from shame. (A couple of days later, his father, Reb Yaakov Galinsky zt'l spoke with the yeshiva heads and with the Rebbe and settled the matter so that Reb Nachman could return to yeshiva.)

 

Now, the guilty student witnessed this totally unexpected and outstanding act of chesed and concluded that only Torah can bring a person to such righteous behavior. With that sudden realization, this fellow turned his life around. He began studying Torah, became a talmid chacham and eventually headed up his own yeshiva in America with a large kollel for his alumni. Years later, Reb Nachman Galinsky was diagnosed with cancer and needed significant funds for his medical care. His friends traveled to America to collect the necessary money. They arrived at a yeshiva and explained to the Rosh Yeshiva why

they came. "Can we collect money among the kollel students?" The Rosh Yeshiva readily agreed, and asked for the name of the ill man as he wished to also pray for him. When he heard the name of the person, he asked them, "Is his full name Reb Nachman Galinsky?" "Yes! How did you know?" He told them, "You don't have to do anything. I will raise all the money you need." He gathered his entire student body and said, "If it weren't for Reb Nachman Galinsky, I wouldn't be a rosh yeshiva today. I wouldn't even be religious today" and he told them the entire story. "That is why I decided to raise all the money needed for this tzaddik's recovery."

 

Reb Nachman helped a rebellious student and years later the chesed was repaid. When one does chesed for others, Heaven does chesed for him.

 

The second story told by none other than the great Chofetz Chaim.

 

There was a blind, poor widow who would walk through the streets of Vilna, led by her dear son. Most people didn't pay attention to them. At best, they would cluck their tongues when they saw this unfortunate sight and then continue on their way. But the Dubno Magid (18th C.), who cared about every Jew, greeted them warmly. They told him about their great poverty, how their home was cold because they couldn't afford firewood, and about the little food they had. The Dubno Magid took them into his home and they warmed up by the fire and ate dinner. The Dubno Magid noticed that the son was very wise, so he hired a melamed to teach him Torah. They eventually became part of the Dubno Magid's household. This child became Reb Shlomo Kluger zt'l, one of the outstanding gedolei hador, whose Torah continues to illuminate the world. The Chofetz Chaim would say: "Many people saw the blind widow and her son walking around the streets of Vilna. They shook their heads and said, 'nebach! What a rachmanus!' and that's about all. But the Dubno Magid took action. He fed them, paid for a tutor for the child, and earned the merit of raising one of the great rabbinic luminaries of all times …"

 

One can never know the extraordinary goodness that an act of chesed can generate. And it was this lesson that our Forefather Avraham taught us and the world. He loved HaShem deeply and no doubt the affection was reciprocated. When we choose to follow in the footsteps of Avraham's life of chesed, not only do we benefit everyone, but we proudly discover that we are emulating Gd, Himself.

 

We can do no better!

See you Sunday bli neder- Enjoy shabbat CHaya Sarah

Love Yehuda Lave

Rabbi Yehuda Lave

PO Box 7335, Rehavia Jerusalem 9107202

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Thursday, November 21, 2019

25 Reasons You Should Live In Israel By Tzvi Fishman (A Religious writer) and Secular Shabbat bus service fails

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Yehuda Lave, Spiritual Advisor and Counselor

Yehuda Lave is an author, journalist, psychologist, rabbi, spiritual teacher and coach, with degrees in business, psychology and Jewish Law. He works  with people from all walks of life and helps them in their search for greater happiness, meaning, business advice on saving money,  and spiritual engagement

Love Yehuda Lave

The world is full of wonders and miracles but man takes his little hand and covers his eyes and sees nothing.

Baal Shem Tov

From every human being there rises a light.

Baal Shem Tov

The world is new to us every morning - and every man should believe he is reborn each day

Baal Shem Tov

FAIL: 'Shabus' Chillul Shabbos Bus Service Discontinued in Jerusalem Due To Lack Of Use

It appears the initiative named 'Shabus' to provide limited bus service to residents on Shabbos R"L has failed in Yerushalayim and as a result, the service is being halted. The service was launched to bring people to and from beaches and entertainment centers on Shabbos.

According to a Kikar Shabbos report, the initiative failed in Jerusalem as well as in other cities and therefore, it is being halted in the capital. The other cities offering the service include Ashdod, Rishon L'Tzion and Tel Aviv.

There are only two trips, one going and one coming and vans and minibuses are used, not buses due to the lack of response.

In Jerusalem, the request for the Chilul Shabbos service is so minimum that it has been decided to halt the service.

According to the report, the notices received by those operating the service simply states "the service is being temporarily halted" until the organization running the service holds a gathering in Jerusalem, which is set to take place on Shabbos, November 30, 2019. At that time, they hope to design a new route for the service in the capital. "The service in Ashdod, Rishon L'Tzion and Tel Aviv continues" the notice concludes.

The organization, which also funds the service, is now asking for donations to assist in financing it. It is a private initiative which is not funding by any government agency. Organizers also claim credit for the Shabbos public transportation in some Gush Dan areas on Shabbos.

The organizers also point out that if the secular residents of Jerusalem left the city, numbering 200,000, adding 45,000 students, and the Arab residents and the 'traditional residents' who travel on Shabbos, they would comprise one of the largest cities in the nation.

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)

25 Reasons You Should Live In Israel By Tzvi Fishman (A Religious writer)

Recently I published 25 reasons to live in Israel by a non-religious writer. Now I publish 25 reasons by a religious writer--these are better:

The last time I happened to be in America, it was around Parshat Lech Lecha. On Shabbat, I prayed in three different shuls and heard three different sermons. Not one of them mentioned Eretz Yisrael.

In one opulent shul, there were a plethora of free brochures in the lobby on the fundamental building blocks of Judaism – talmud Torahtefillin, Shabbat, kashrut, family purity, and the like. A brochure on the Land of Israel, though, was nowhere to be found.

I glanced through some of the books in the shul library. In many of the scholarly English books on Jewish philosophy and belief, Eretz Yisrael didn't even appear in the table of contents or index.

Last year, The Jewish Press published a list of top excuses for not making aliyah, such as: taxes are too high, we don't want our children to serve in the army, the government is too secular; the hot water takes too long to heat up, etc. etc.

The truth is, though, that the mitzvah of aliyah is not dependent on the level of religious observance in Israel or whether you can find a New York bagel there. Avraham Avinu made aliyah when only idol worshipers filled the land. He came even though there were no deluxe apartments, no Jewish army, no flourishing yeshivot, no synagogues, and no kosher pizza shops as there are in abundance today.

He came because he believed in Hashem. Therefore, in honor of Avraham and Parshas Lech Lecha, let me list some of the top reasons to make aliyah:

  • To come closer to Hashem.
  • To perform, according to the vast majority of poskim, a biblical mitzvah incumbent on everyone.
  • To live in the place where the commandments were meant to be performed.
  • To dwell in the land of our forefathers.
  • To live in the land of prophecy.
  • To actualize our daily prayers for the in-gathering of the exiles.
  • To play an active role in the redemption of Israel.
  • To make the proclamation "Next Year in Jerusalem" a reality.
  • To live under a sovereign Jewish government.
  • To have the privilege of serving in the Israeli army.
  • To live in a country run according to the Hebrew calendar, where Christmas and Easter decorations are hardly seen.
  • To live in a country where Hebrew is the official language.
  • To live in a place where your children and grandchildren won't intermarry.
  • To live amongst Jews.
  • To live in the place where prayer ascends in purity to Heaven without the spiritual pollution of chutz l'aretz.
  • To live in the place of the Shechinah – in the land that Hashem watches over from the beginning of the year to the end of the year (Deuteronomy 11:12).
  • To live in the land where the patriarchs and matriarchs of the Jewish nation lived and are buried.
  • To live in the Torah center of the world where there are more gedolim than anywhere else in the world.
  • To live where frum communities are everywhere, with an endless choice of yeshivotcheders, Talmud Torahs, religious colleges, and religious ulpanot for girls.
  • To live in the only place where kohanim bless the congregation each day because of the unique simcha of living there.
  • To perform the extra mitzvot you can only fulfill there.
  • To live in a place where your taxes support yeshivot, Tzahal, Jewish charities, Jewish hospitals, the city of Jerusalem, and the ingathering of the exiles.
  • To be near Jerusalem, the Kotel and the Temple Mount.
  • To live in a country where the national radio station begins broadcasting with "Shema Yisrael" in the morning.
  • To live in the place where Jews truly belong and where Hashem wants them to be – as the Torah states over and over and over again.

 

RABBI SCHWARTZ'S TERRIBLE TRAVEL JOKES OF THE WEEK

 Why are mountains the funniest place to travel? They're Hill Areas

Where do math teachers go on vacation? Times Square

What do you drink while traveling through the desert? Camel-mile tea

Where do sheep go on vacation? To the baaaaaahamas

 I never travel to Finland, I'm afraid I'd disappear into…FinnAir!

I'd love to go to Holland one day …Wooden Shoe?

A time traveler was in a restaurant. He liked it so much …He went back four seconds.

My friends were concerned that my old car may break down during our road trip throughout Canada. I told them not to worry. I have Triple Eh.

I refuse to take my dog on road trips any more…He can be such a bark seat driver 

A group of college buddies were about to graduate, and near the end of their exams, they decided to live it up on the weekend, so they took a little roadtrip to a resort town nearby. They laughed, drank and partied hard. They had a final exam Monday morning, so late Sunday night they packed it up and drove home. Monday morning rolls around, and they all sleep in and miss the exam. When they wake up, phone calls are made, and they decide that they will tell their prof. about the weekend road trip, but tell him that they got a flat on the way home on Sunday afternoon, didn't have a spare, and could not get back in time for the exam, since there were no tire shops open to fix their flat.

So, they all troop down to the prof's office, tell him their tale of woe, and ask to be allowed to write the exam the next day. The Prof agrees to let them, and they head home feeling pretty good. Tuesday morning comes around, and the buddies show up for their exams. The prof sets them up in four separate study rooms, and gives them each a test. The first page is some pretty basic multiple-choice questions, worth 10%. At the top of the second page, it says:

WRITTEN RESPONSE, 90%. WHICH TIRE? 

A group of hikers were being led through the wilderness by a guide. On the third day, the hikers noticed that they had been traveling in circles."We're lost!" One of the hikers complained."And you said you were the best guide in the United States.""I am," the guide answered, " but I think we may have wandered into Canada."

 Yankel gets on a plane and sits next to the window. A few minutes later, a big, heavy, strong mean-looking, Skinhead plops down in the seat next to him and immediately falls asleep. Yankel starts to feel a little airsick, but he's afraid to wake the big guy up to ask if he can go to the bathroom. He knows he can't climb over him, and so Yankel's sitting there, looking at the skinhead, trying to decide what to do. Suddenly, the plane hits an air pocket and an uncontrollable wave of nausea passes through him. He can't hold it in any longer and he pukes all over the heavy guy's chest. About five minutes later the big guy wakes up, looks down, and sees the vomit all over him. "So," says Yankel, "are you feeling better now?" 

Taxiing down the tarmac, the jetliner abruptly stopped, turned around and returned to the gate. After an hour-long wait, it finally took off. A concerned passenger asked the flight attendant, "What was the problem?" "The pilot was bothered by a noise he heard in the engine," explained the flight attendant, "and it took us a while to find a new pilot." 

A plane was taking off from Kennedy. After it reached a comfortable cruising altitude, the captain made an announcement over the intercom, "Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. Welcome to Flight number 293, non-stop from New York to Los Angeles. The weather ahead is good and therefore we should have a smooth flight, Now sit back and relax. – OH MY GOD!" Silence Then, the captain came back on the intercom and said: "Ladies and Gentlemen, I an so sorry if I scared you earlier, but while I was talking the flight attendant brought me a cup of coffee and spilled the hot coffee in my lap. You should see the front of my pants!" A passenger in Coach said: "That's nothing. He should see the back of mine!"

Why Are We Embracing Tohu Va'vohu? By Helena Hawkins

There are no boundaries anymore.

Life used to be simpler. A man was a man, and a woman was a woman. They would marry, procreate, and pass on. The same cycle would then repeat itself, over and over again, in much the same way.

Over the last 50 years or so, barriers between men and women have been torn down, leading to a loss of respect for others and oneself. Procreation is now delayed or completely neglected, gender is considered fluid, and marriage is no longer exclusive to a man and a woman.

Rather quickly, our society has been transformed into an Orwellian dystopia. Language is usually the first element in society to be poisoned; the rest follows. In Orwell's 1984:

WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

In our society:

EVIL IS GOOD
UNGODLINESS IS SACRED
VIRTUE IS SIN

A society in which words are stripped of their meaning is a society that has reintroduced tohu va'vohu into the world. Tohu va'vohu – that initial formless void, a kind of unfathomable chaos that existed before creation.

In essence, we have rejected the act of creation by embracing the tohu va'vohu that preceded it, in which distinctions and boundaries didn't exist – in which male and female were one, heaven and earth were one, and light didn't exist.

We have even rejected the act of creation in our own selves, treating the murder of fetuses in the womb as though it were nothing. We treat our own wombs, pregnant with the ripening fruit of human life, as a formless void, devoid of meaning or substance. We conveniently hit the "delete" key on our mistakes, turning the other cheek to our own perversions.

Two weeks ago was Parshat Bereshit. We read:

In the beginning, G-d created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was unformed and void (tohu va'vohu), with darkness over the surface of the deep, and the spirit of G-d was hovering over the face of the water. And G-d said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light. And G-d saw the light that it was good, and G-d separated between the light and between the darkness." (Genesis 1:1-4)

The first act of creation involved making boundaries. What does this mean? That without boundaries – without distinctions between light and dark, heavens and earth, man and woman – we live in chaos. In tohu va'vohu. We, as a society, have thrown away the very first lines of Bereshit.

And it will come back to bite us – hard. Fleeing from reality only works for so long. At a certain point, reality will hit us with more force than a bullet train in Japan. We will reap what we've sown, and if we've sown chaos, we will reap chaos. We have flaunted our new immorality with all the fervor of a child who has finally gotten his way. But that child inevitably later learns his lesson – and so will we.

Only when we finally learn to redraw G-d's boundaries will we prosper. At that point, we will become partners again in creation, and G-d will create a new heaven and a new earth – on a higher dimension. As the navi says, "For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the first ones shall not be remembered, neither shall they come into mind" (Isaiah 65:17).

May that day come soon.

The Left-Right Divide Is About Reality Itself

Dennis Prager
There is an unbridgeable divide in the way left and right perceive this reality.

The left-right divide in America is, unfortunately, unbridgeable. There are three reasons:

First, we are divided by our vision of what we want America to be. The right believes the founders' vision was brilliant and moral, that bourgeois middle-class values are superior to alternative value systems; that rights come from G-d, not man; and that the state must be as small as possible. The left (not liberals) shares none of those values.

Second, we are divided by the means we use to achieve our vision. Given their different ends, left and right obviously differ on what means to use to achieve their ends.

Third, and perhaps most troubling, there is a reality-perception divide. Left and right have different perceptions of reality.

I have been aware of this for many years, but it was dramatically brought home last week when I was a guest on "Real Time With Bill Maher." Given that the other two guests on the panel and more or less the entire studio audience were on the left, their reactions to what I said proved my point.

For example, I said that though there are, of course, racists in the United States, America is the least racist multiethnic and multiracial country in the world.

I was booed.

I said the United States military has brought so much liberty to the world it deserves the Nobel Peace Prize.

I was booed.

Clearly, there is an unbridgeable divide in the way we perceive the reality of the American military's role in the world.

I said that it turned out the Russia-Trump campaign collusion never happened.

I was booed.

There is an unbridgeable divide in the way left and right perceive this reality.

I said the Trump-Ukrainian president phone transcript did not show a quid pro quo.

I was booed, and one of the other panelists said it actually showed "extortion."

I said John Brennan, the former CIA director, has voted communist. (He admitted that he voted for the Communist Party USA presidential candidate Gus Hall in 1976.) I was dismissed as having made something up. Bill Maher sarcastically responded that he didn't recall Mao having been on any ballot.

On each of these issues – all the issues for which I was booed – right and left have different perceptions of reality. That – even more so than differing values – makes the left-right divide unbridgeable. When you cannot agree on what is real, there is no possible bridging of the gulf.

The left believes the president colluded with Russia to win the 2016 election. The reality is that there was no collusion. This is the conclusion of the Mueller report, but still, the left doesn't accept it.

The left is certain President Trump said the neo-Nazis are "very fine people" when referring to the protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia. The right is certain the president didn't say there are good neo-Nazis any more than he said there are good Antifa members. When he said there were "very fine people on both sides," he was referring to those demonstrating on behalf of keeping Confederate statues and those opposed. See "The Charlottesville Lie" by CNN analyst Steve Cortes.

The left believes socialism is economically superior to capitalism. But the reality is that only capitalism has lifted billions of people out of poverty. This is, therefore, not an opinion divide – "You prefer capitalism. I prefer socialism" – but a reality divide.

The reason this is so frightening is that it means one side has lost its grip on reality. If half of this country cannot distinguish truth from falsehood, that is not a good sign for the nation's future. On that point, ironically, left and right can agree.

See you tomorrow -bli neder

Love Yehuda Lave

Rabbi Yehuda Lave

PO Box 7335, Rehavia Jerusalem 9107202

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