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
Create a Courage Part of you
If you are not yet able to access a powerful courage state at will, the good news is that you can create a "courage part." Even if you do not feel that you are a courageous person, you can still have one part of you that acts from a place of courage.
If you do not yet have a "courage part," make one. Do a single act of courage, even a minor one. If this does not come easily, use the entire force of your will to say or do something that is difficult for you. Then presto! Your "courage part" is now a reality.
If you cannot yet do this in reality, create your "courage part" by utilizing your power of imagination. Imagine yourself talking and acting with courage. Then your "courage part" can be applied in real life.
Love Yehuda Lave
This article is about the romantic holiday and liturgical celebration
Valentine's Day, also called Saint Valentine's Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine, is celebrated annually on February 14.
Originating as a WesternChristianfeast day honoring one or two early saints named Valentinus, Valentine's Day is recognized as a significant cultural, religious, and commercial celebration of romance and romantic love in many regions around the world, although it is not a public holiday in any country.
Martyrdom stories associated with various Valentines connected to February 14 are presented in martyrologies, including a written account of Saint Valentine of Rome imprisonment for performing weddings for soldiers, who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians persecuted under the Roman Empire. According to legend, during his imprisonment Saint Valentine restored sight to the blind daughter of his judge, and before his execution he wrote her a letter signed "Your Valentine" as a farewell.
The day first became associated with romantic love within the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th century, when the tradition of courtly love flourished. In 18th-century England, it evolved into an occasion in which lovers expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards (known as "valentines"). Valentine's Day symbols that are used today include the heart-shaped outline, doves, and the figure of the winged Cupid. Since the 19th century, handwritten valentines have given way to mass-produced greeting cards. In Europe, Saint Valentine's Keys are given to lovers "as a romantic symbol and an invitation to unlock the giver's heart", as well as to children, in order to ward off epilepsy (called Saint Valentine's Malady).
There is nothing about the contemporary traditions of Valentine's Day — cards, flowers, chocolate –that seems overtly religious. But the holiday's full name of St. Valentine's Day certainly implies that it has Christian roots.
Thus, the question of whether it's appropriate for Jews to celebrate Valentine's Day is reasonable. The answer would seemingly be tied to the true origins of the holiday and the history of the saint for whom it's named.
St. Valentine and the Day's Origins
Valentine's Day was first instituted by Pope Gelasius I in 496 C.E. to commemorate the martyrdom of St. Valentine. Yet scholars know almost nothing about this St. Valentine. Most believe that Valentine lived in the late 3rd century C.E. However, the name Valentine (derived from the Latin word valeo meaning strong) was common in the ancient world. There are at least 30 mentions of the name in historical documents from this time period.
The stories associated with St. Valentine are not historical, but rather originate in a number of polemical legends written during the 6th and 7th centuries. According to these legends, Valentine was a priest who was arrested by the Emperor Claudius. Following a theological debate about the merits of Christianity, Valentine was sentenced to live with a noble by the name of Asterius in a form of house arrest. With the help of God and true faith, Valentine miraculously restored the sight of his master's adopted daughter and, in doing so, converted Asterius and the 24 members of his house. When Emperor Claudius heard of this miracle and the subsequent conversions, he had Valentine killed.
Another legend from roughly the same time period, The Passion of the Bishop Valentine of Terni, is a longer and more complex version of the same story. These two renditions of the Valentine legend have a number of factual and stylistic problems that have led scholars to agree that they are not reliable sources of historical information. And the fact that these legends do not connect the martyrdom of St. Valentine and the themes of love and fertility have raised questions about the origins of the themes of Valentine's Day.
Some have suggested that Valentine's Day is a Christian reconstruction of a pagan fertility festival known as Lupercalia. However, in his paper St. Valentine, Chaucer and Spring in February, 20th-century literary scholar Jack B. Oruch debunks this theory, showing that it was based on a mistaken understanding of Church chronology put forth by the English antiquarian Alban Butler in 1756 and propagated by other scholars in the 19th century.
Academics aren't the only ones who have recognized the dubious historical basis for Valentine's Day. Vatican II, the landmark set of reforms adopted by the Catholic Church in 1969, removed Valentine's Day from the Catholic church's calendar, asserting that "though the memorial of St. Valentine is ancient… apart from his name nothing is known…. Except that he was buried on the Via Flaminia on 14 February."
A number of
rulings have been written in response to questions of whether or not Jewish law allows for the celebration of non-Jewish holidays such as Valentine's Day. The most relevant is from the Rama (Rabbi Moshe Isserles, Poland, 1520-1572) who explains that there are four criteria that must be met in order to permit Jewish celebration of rituals initiated by Gentiles (Rama Y.D. 178:1 as interpreted by Rabbi Michael Broyde).
Does the debated activity have a secular origin or value?
Can one rationally explain the behavior or ritual apart from the gentile holiday or event?
If there are idolatrous origins, have they disappeared?
Are the activities actually consistent with Jewish tradition?
In the case of Valentine's Day, one may certainly argue that the rituals performed today do meet these criteria. Sending cards and chocolates and giving gifts can be explained as rational expressions of love and appreciation independent of possible Christian roots. In addition, these Christian roots have been questioned by scholars, as well as the Catholic church.
The academic work of Oruch and other scholars further proves that Valentine's Day is not derived from the pagan holiday Lupercalia. Finally, the desire to express love and to offer gifts as a symbol of those feeling is certainly in line with Jewish tradition and values. The idea of a special day set aside to encourage coupledom is also well rooted in the Jewish tradition: Tu B'Av, the 15th day of the Jewish month of Av, was an ancient day of matchmaking that has experienced something of a revival in modern times.
While it does not represent every opinion in Jewish literature, the source from the Rama does provide the most salient criteria for making this decision according to Jewish law and it is the basis upon which many rabbis allow Jewish participation in Valentine's Day rituals.
Israel to Officially Demand $250 Billion from Arab Countries that Expelled Jews
After 18 months of secret research with the help of an international accountancy firm, Israel is preparing to officially demand compensation for assets abandoned by Jews who were forced to flee eight Arab countries after the establishment of the Jewish nation, to the tune of $250 billion.
According to a report on Israel's Hadashot TV news, the demands are being finalized for the first two of eight countries. Israel is preparing to sue Tunisia for $35 billion in lost assets and Libya for $15 billion.
In total, Israel will demand $250 billion from Tunisia, Libya, Morocco, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Yemen and Iran.
Justice for Jews from Arab Countries (JJAC) has estimated that approximately 856,000 Jews fled from 10 Arab countries (including Algeria and Lebanon) as violent riots swept the region following the establishment of the State of Israel.
"The time has come to correct the historic injustice of the pogroms against Jews in seven Arab countries and Iran, and to restore to hundreds of thousands of Jews who lost their property what is rightfully theirs," said Israeli Minister for Social Equality Gila Gamliel, who is coordinating the compensation suits.
The compensation initiative is taking place as the U.S. administration plans to unveil an Israeli-Palestinian peace proposal. A 2010 Israeli law states that any peace deal must also include compensation for Jewish-owned assets that were stolen or abandoned by Jews who were forced to flee from their homes in Arab countries and Iran.
According to the report, if Israel succeeds in obtaining the reparations, they will be distributed by the state via a special fund.
This is how an Igloo is built
Harry Houdini's great-nephew explains why he wanted to explore late magician's secrets in docuseries
World-famous illusionist Harry Houdini passed away on Halloween 1926 despite cheating death numerous times with his jaw-dropping stunts — and nearly a century later, his great-nephew is looking for answers.
George Hardeen is teaming up with magician Lee Terbosic for the Science Channel docuseries "Houdini's Last Secrets," which aims to unravel the mystery surrounding a man who imprisoned himself inside a water tank, jumped off bridges while handcuffed, survived a live burial and even caught a speeding bullet — all for entertainment.
The show will also unveil the late magician's personal mementos, including scrapbooks, letters and rare photos.
Smithsonian Magazine previously reported Houdini largely avoided the patent process, kept secrets, copyrighted his tricks and concealed his inventions to protect his famous illusions.
Hardeen, 66, didn't always know he was related to arguably the most famous magician of all time. As previously reported by NPR, Hardeen's grandfather was Houdini's brother, Theo Hardeen, also an escape artist. The siblings originally performed together before Houdini found success on his own. Theo even named one of his sons – Hardeen's father – Harry Houdini Hardeen.
Houdini and his wife Bess had no children. When Houdini died from appendicitis at age 52, he willed all of his props to Theo. It wasn't until Hardeen was about 10 when he became aware of his father's middle name.
"One day my sister saw a piece of mail addressed to my dad, but instead of just Harry H. Hardeen, which is how he went, it said Harry Houdini Hardeen," he recalled to Fox News. "We went to my dad and said, 'What is this all about?' He finally told us the story, that we are related to Harry Houdini. It was his uncle, he was named for Houdini and that he was my grandmother's brother."
NPR noted Houdini was actually born Ehrich Weiss in Budapest. However, he "borrowed" Houdini from the French magician Houdin. Theo picked the name "Hardeen" because it sounded like Houdini.
Magician Harry Houdini poses for a portrait in 1908. (Getty)
Since then, Hardeen wanted to learn everything about the great-uncle he never met. However, his grandfather had died before he was born. He asked his father numerous questions, but it wasn't enough. When given the opportunity to further investigate Houdini's famous stunts about a year ago, he didn't hesitate.
He also received a helping hand from Houdini himself.
"I was surprised that Houdini chronicled everything he did in his life," said Hardeen. "[He] carried a little notebook, created scrapbooks, wrote extensive articles in magic magazines. The guy was prolific. [And he] just kept everything. Receipts from when he was 20 years old."
In his quest to learn about Houdini while filming, Hardeen discovered many rumors that continue to haunt the icon's legacy. Some tales that have long persisted include Houdini could have been an informant for top spy agencies during World War I.
Harry Houdini holds onto a railing by his chin while tied up in a straight jacket. (Getty)
"We spoke to former CIA deputy director John McLaughlin, who has worked in espionage for 30 years," said Hardeen. "He told us that if there was someone like Houdini today he might want to recruit this guy because he was world famous. He had access to all kinds of things an ordinary person would not have access to. And he would hear conversations. People would tell him things and he would like to know what those conversations were all about."
And then there's Houdini's own death.
The New York Times reported that on Oct. 19, while in Montreal, Houdini commented to a class of students about the strength of his stomach muscles and their ability to withstand hard blows without injury. One of the students without warning struck Houdini twice over his appendix, not allowing time for Houdini to prepare. By the time he boarded a train for Detroit later that day, he was complaining of pain. His condition worsened with time.
History.com added what while doctors successfully removed his ruptured appendix, it had already poisoned his insides. Houdini clung to life until Oct. 31 when he died with Bess and his two brothers by his side. Still, some have speculated Houdini could have been murdered by enemies he made along the way after he tried to outlaw fortune telling.
Harry Houdini hangs upside down from a crane after freeing himself from a straitjacket. (Getty)
"Houdini's Last Secrets" is expected to address that shocking rumor.
"Houdini was interested in spirituality, but he was appalled that people would exploit a gullible public who sought to communicate with their loved ones who had passed on," said Hardeen. "So he wanted to expose the frauds. This is what he did. By doing that he created a lot of enemies who were making a lot of money at the time."
Houdini's widow would go on to hold séances in hopes of contacting her husband. She reportedly held one each year for 10 years. She allegedly told reporters later that "10 years is long enough to wait for any man."
Hardeen said while he hasn't held his own séance to contact Houdini, he did attend one in Detroit.
Harry Houdini in chains. — Getty
"We did not reach Houdini," he said. "I spoke to the guy who organized it, Sid Radner. And he said he didn't expect Houdini to show up, but he wanted to be there in case he did."
Hardeen said he was grateful for the opportunity to discover what exactly made Houdini so magical to his fans. It also made him appreciate his family lineage.
"Houdini embodied the American dream," he explained. "He came from Hungary, Budapest where he was born. He was poor growing up. He would go out and do tricks as a kid and bring coins home to his mother. He became the world's greatest superstar of his time. He was the highest paid entertainer of his time too. And here we are, still talking about this guy. Anybody can do anything and he embodied that."
George Hardeen (right) filming "Houdini's Last Secrets." (Science Channel)
"Houdini's Last Secrets" premieres Jan. 6 at 10 p.m. on the Science Channel.
See you tomorrow
Love Yehuda Lave
Rabbi Yehuda Lave
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