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
Palestinian's Now Claim that the Western Wall is their MOST Sacred Shrine By Elder of Ziyon
This passage is from the very beginning of an article in the Fatah website denying any Jewish connection, and claiming ancient Palestinian ties, to Jerusalem:
"Hundreds of millions of Muslims across the globe have no doubt that Palestine is Arab from eternity, and that Jerusalem is its eternal capital … and that there is no meaning to Palestine without Jerusalem, no meaning to Jerusalem without the Al-Aqsa Mosque, no meaning to the Al-Aqsa Mosque without the Al-Buraq Wall…"
The "Al Buraq Wall" is what Palestinians have called the Kotel, the Western Wall, for only the past century. Before that there was no consensus of which wall surrounding the Temple Mount was considered to be the one that Mohammed supposedly entered in his night journey, although evidence points strongly to the southern wall, with its double gate, as described by Charles D. Matthews in 1932:
The evidence of Muqaddasi (985 A. D.), a citizen of Jerusalem itself, is unquestionably for the southern location. Muqaddasi speaks of the "Two gates of the Prophet," Babai an-Nabi, in such a way as to make the identification with the Double Gate quite positive. The descriptions of Nasir-i-Khusrau, a Persian historian who visited Jerusalem in 1047 A. D., is quite arresting. He says (as quoted by the English scholar Le Strange, in his very excellent book, "Palestine Under the Moslems," p. 178) : "One such as these (gates) is called Bab an-Nabi (or the Gate of the Prophet)-peace and blessing upon him, which opens toward the Qiblah point-that is, toward the south (toward Mecca). . . . The Prophet. . . on the night of his ascent into heaven passed into the Noble Sanctuary through this passageway, for the gateway opens on the road from Makkah." What could be clearer? And from the hand of a Jerusalemite and reputable historian!
Either way, no Muslim would ever say that the Buraq Wall is more sacred than the Al Aqsa Mosque. To say that the mosque has no meaning without the Kotel – the one place that Jews have venerated for centuries when banned from even visiting the Temple Mount itself – is proof positive that the entire Palestinian narrative is a series of lies.
Is there any clearer evidence that the entire Palestinian claim is not meant to assert any historic or legal rights, but to destroy Jewish rights? Literally every Jewish shrine in the Holy Land is claimed by the Palestinians to be their own, which is a hell of a coincidence. And they have been strident in saying that the Kotel was theirs as well, the Palestinian TV only recently telling viewers that Palestinians must defend their rights to the site with their lives.
The rest of the Fatah article is filled with such lies, as in this section still in the first paragraph, where it says "history proves that Palestine with its capital, Jerusalem, is Arab before the feet of the first Jew entered (Joshua bin Nun.)" The Palestinians now claim to be descended from the Jebusites, a tribe that has no evidence of existence beyond the Jewish Scriptures, who have no evidence of being Arab.
Beyond the obvious fact that Jerusalem wasn't the capital of any other nation besides Israel/Judah and there was never a "Palestine."
The Ten Commandments That Shook the World
As the Jewish people gathered at the foot of Mount Sinai, they heard the voice of G‑d speaking the Ten Commandments. The Torah describes the awesome experience:
And all the people saw the voices and the torches, the sound of the shofar, and the smoking mountain, and the people saw and trembled; so they stood from afar.
What is the meaning of the words "and all the people saw the voices"? How can voices be seen? The Midrash tells us that there is a disagreement regarding this verse. Rabbi Yishmael believes that the Jews did not see anything unusual. They saw the torches and heard the voices (in which case the word "saw" refers to the torches.) Rabbi Akiva, however, insists that the verse must be read literally—they actually saw the voices. In the words of Rabbi Akiva: "They saw that which is usually heard, and they heard that which is usually seen."
According to Rabbi Akiva, the experience at Sinai was much more than just receiving ten moral instructions for life. Sinai was a spiritual revelation that changed the way the Human Beings perceived the meaning of existence. In general, the world can be divided into that which is "seen" and that which is "heard." The concrete, physical needs, desires and experiences are "seen"; they are experienced as the ultimate reality. That which is abstract, theoretical and spiritual is "heard." The intangible spirit is not something we can see with our naked eye. To experience it, we need to "hear" and "listen." We must use our mind to discover truths that are not obvious to the observer.
According to Rabbi Akiva, at Sinai they "heard that which is usually seen." In other words, the physical matter, which is usually perceived as absolute reality, became an abstract idea, while spirituality, "that which is usually heard", became real and obvious.
The experience of Sinai was not merely a one-time event. Every time we study Torah, we are recreating the revelation of Sinai. We are not only hearing the words of G‑d being spoken directly to us, but our perception of what is meaningful and worthy is enhanced. When we study Torah, our priorities are realigned. The sublime ideas in life—meaning, holiness, transcendence—become real and tangible. For each time we study Torah, we are standing at Sinai and "seeing the sounds.
The narrative you are about to read is unique in the history of mankind. It is an event never repeated by any other nation or religion.
Dateline: The 6th of Sivan, 50 days after the Exodus.
Year: 2448 from Creation.
Day and Time: Shabbat morning at sunrise.
Place: Mount Sinai in the Sinai desert.
Scene: The entire world is silent. All of nature is on hold. Not a bird chirps! Not a frog rivets! The Jewish people (who somehow slept that night!) are en route to their divine encounter at the mountain.
Soon will be enacted the most important event in human history.
Suddenly there is thunder, lightning and a loud shofar blast. The mountain is smoking like a furnace and trembling like a volcano. The people are terrified. The Divine Presence descends on the mountain in the form of a great fire.
All the people hear Moses being summoned to converse with the Almighty. They have clear evidence, without doubt, that Moses is the prophet of God.
God tells Moses to fence off the mountain so the people cannot run up.
The first Commandment is proclaimed. The entire nation attains prophecy by hearing the words of the Almighty directly. But they cannot absorb the intensity and their souls "pop out" of their bodies.
The angels resurrect them, and the people run for their lives. The angels return the people to the mountain, and the second Commandment thunders forth. Again their souls "pop out," again the angels revive them, and again they flee in fright (Talmud - Shabbat 85b).
Finally the people request that Moses transmit the remainder of the Torah because they are afraid of death (Exodus 20:16). They tell Moses: "You have had your credentials established. We know you are in contact with God and we trust you." (Notice how the first two commandments are given in the 2nd person, and the last 8 in the third person.)
* * *
TO SEARCH FOR TRUTH
This reading, perhaps the most important in the Torah, is named after a convert, Yitro, who also happens to be Moses' father-in-law. Why did Yitro merit such honorable mention?
Yitro was a searcher for truth. He resigned his prestigious position as Pharaoh's advisor when his advice to spare the Jews was not heeded. Yitro investigated every form of idol worship and tried out every cult, even fattening up animals to sacrifice them to the gods.
In the end, Yitro rejected all idolatry, and when he heard about the miracles of the Exodus, he ran to the wilderness to join the Jewish people.
This Parsha (Torah reading in the Synagogue tomorrow) is named Yitro to teach us that the way to acquire Torah is to follow the ways of Yitro. Search for truth and be critical. Reject falsehood. And when you discover truth, be ready to sacrifice everything for it! (Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe)
Yitro says that upon hearing the details of the Exodus, he was greatly inspired to the point of goose bumps (Rashi). Yitro recognized the "measure-for-measure" punishment of each and every plague, and decided to become a Jew.
The people welcomed Yitro with a banquet in his honor -- and Moses serving as the waiter. As the Talmud says: When you partake of a meal with Torah scholars, it is compared to dining with the Divine Presence.
The next day, Yitro begins criticizing Moses, and as a result advises him to create the first Supreme Court system. Yitro departs to convert his family (mentioned here, although it didn't occur until much later).
EVENTS LEADING UP TO THE REVELATION (based on Midrash)
(1) The people arrive at Mount Sinai and encamp across from the mountain (Exodus 19:2).
(2) God tells Moses to call all the women together and gently explain to them the significance of the holy Torah they are about to receive. (Exodus 19:3, Rashi)
Only afterward does Moses call the men together and spell out the Mitzvah responsibilities. The women went first because of the tremendous influence they have on the Jewish family. A mother's approach is the most significant factor in creating a peaceful and stable home.
(3) God proclaims the goal of the Revelation:
"You shall be My treasured nation (like the special treasure room of the palace) if you obey My commandments." (Exodus 19:5)
(4) God then says:
"You shall be a kingdom of Priests and a holy nation." (Exodus 19:6)
No intermediaries are necessary; every Jew stands 3 times a day before the Creator and addresses Him directly.
(5) The people hear Moses conversing with God and believe in Moses forever.
Even later generations who did not personally witness the national revelation will believe it, because it is a claim that cannot be fabricated, and the Jewish people are (and will always be) the only ones to make the claim (Nachmanides, see Deut. 4:32).
RESPONSE OF THE PEOPLE
(6) The Jews respond:
"Whatever God says we will fulfill." (Exodus 19:8)
This was the first time in Jewish history that the Jews unanimously agreed about anything!
Later, the Jews add "and we will hear" - meaning we will try to understand. But first we will do. (E.g., If you trust the doctor, you first take the prescription and then go to medical school.)
Did you ever hear the anti-Semitic ditty: "How odd of God to choose the Jews"?
The Sinai experience helps provides an answer: "It's not so odd. The Jews chose God!" (heard from Rabbi Yaakov Weinberg zt"l)
(7) First the Almighty went to all the nations of the world (or their guardian angels) and offered them the Torah.
"What does your Torah say?" they demanded to know. "We don't sign blank checks!"
To one nation, God said, "Do not murder." "Such a Torah is not for us!" they cried.
To another nation, God said, "Do not commit adultery." "Wrong address" they replied.
To another nation, God said, "Honor your parents." "Come on! Isn't Mothers' Day good enough??"
Only the Jews accepted God's word unconditionally. ("How much does it cost? It's free! In that case, we'll take 10!") (Midrash - based on Deut. 33:2)
Question: Why did God tell these nations all the things they didn't want to hear? Did He purposely want them to refuse?
Answer: They already rejected the Torah as soon as they asked what it says. It is wrong to judge Divine values based on one's own narrow value system.
It's like if I say: "I am offering you absolute truth. Do you want it?"
"What do you mean, 'It depends'!? That's like if I offer you the results of your medical exam. It depends - can I still drink and smoke?" Therefore God made sure they refused (heard from Rabbi Motty Berger).
TEN COMMANDMENTS EXPLAINED
(The first five pertain to Man and God.)
COMMANDMENT #1: "I am the Lord your God who took you out of the land of Egypt."
Question: What is the commandment here? It seems to be a statement! There cannot be a commandment to believe in God. If you don't believe, then who would be commanding you to believe? And if you already believe, what do you need a commandment for?? (Rabbi Yaakov Weinberg, based on Maimonides)
Answer: The first commandment is to know there is a God (Maimonides). After you "believe," you need to use your mind and "know." See the design in Creation, the genius of the Torah etc., until you are convinced intellectually as well as emotionally.
COMMANDMENT #2: "You shall have no other gods before me."
Do not make or worship idols. Idolatry means to bring God, the ultimate value, down to us - i.e. to humanize God instead of elevating man to spiritual heights.
Idolatry (in its broader sense) also includes making any physical act a goal, instead of a means. Food, money, sex, power and sports can all be idols if they become ends in themselves.
The first Mitzvah applies to our mind; the second Mitzvah applies to our actions.
COMMANDMENT #3: "Do not take God's Name in vain."
A false or unnecessary oath is taking the Almighty as a witness in vain. Even secular courts make a witness put his right hand on a Bible. "Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?" ("I didn't do it!" Do you believe him?)
The Talmud says that when the 3rd commandment was uttered, the entire world trembled and all of the nations heard it as well.
This commandment applies to speech.
COMMANDMENT #4: "Remember the Shabbat day to sanctify it."
In order to concrete our belief in one God, we must dedicate one day a week to Him.
In Deuteronomy Chap. 5, when the Ten Commandments are repeated, it says "Keep the Shabbat day holy."
God said both "remember Shabbat" and "keep Shabbat" simultaneously (Talmud, Shabbos).
The duel aspects of Shabbat are the positive aspect ("remember") and the negative aspect ("keep").
The negative is compared to Rockefeller Center in New York donated to the public but still owned by Mr. Rockefeller. It is closed to the public one day a year in order for him to retain his private ownership. Similarly, the world belongs to God and He allows humanity to manage the world. But to prevent anyone thinking erroneously that the world is ours to do as we please, one day a week we "give the world back to God" by not doing any act that demonstrates our mastery of the world.
Why are so many activities prohibited on Shabbat? "Years ago it took much work to rub two sticks together and make fire, but today we just scratch a match or push a button!" so goes the old rationale. It isn't physical labor that is forbidden, but creative activity. However if one would spend the entire Shabbat in bed he would not have broken the negative aspect.
The positive aspect is compared to someone lost in the woods. Which way should he turn? First open your map and get out your compass. Get your bearings and decide where to go. Similarly in life we need time to focus ourselves, unpressured by the demands of daily activities (teachers, boss, schedules) - to get a true picture of our accomplishments and goals.
COMMANDMENT #5: "Honor your father and mother."
Question: The first tablet contains laws between humanity and God. The second tablet is between one person and another. Thus it would seem that Commandment #5 - honoring parents - is on the wrong tablet!
Answer: The example par excellence of the relationship we have with God is the parent-child relationship. It is based purely on gratitude. With God, it is abstract; with parents it's concrete. Parents brought you into the world and changed your diapers! They bought you food, clothes, and toys and stayed up when you were ill. If we don't honor our parents, how will we be able to transfer this respect to our Creator?
The transmission of our tradition is only possible out of respect for the previous generation. They are one link closer to the source! All Jewish tradition is based on this.
The last five commandments pertain to human relations:
COMMANDMENT #6: "Do not murder."
Some confuse this with "do not kill." There are times when one must kill - e.g. self defense, or in wartime. We are not idealized pacifists! Only what the Torah declares to be murder is "wrong."
In a pagan world of gladiators and coliseums, of human sacrifice and infant and mercy killing, the value of human life was very cheap. The Torah considers the preservation of life to be an ultimate value. The punishment for murder (with witnesses and a proper warning) is the death penalty.
COMMANDMENT #7: "Do not commit adultery."
This Mitzvah addresses the sanctity of married life. Instead of seeing one's spouse as a jail keeper preventing him from enjoying other liaisons, the Torah sees a spouse as a provider exclusively for him, in order to prevent him from even thinking of others.
Solid family life and a stable home is the bedrock of society. To infringe on the husband-wife relationship is to endanger the microcosm of the home, and ultimately society at large. The positive marital relationship is embedded in this strong prohibition, whose punishment (with witnesses and warning) is the death penalty.
COMMANDMENT #8: "Do not steal."
This verse refers to "do not kidnap" (stealing money is mentioned elsewhere), which is a capital punishment if there are witnesses and warning (Talmud).
COMMANDMENT #9: "Do not bear false witness."
Human beings are enjoined to keep their speech pure. One of the worst injustices is to pervert a verdict.
COMMANDMENT #10: "Do not covet."
This commandment applies to the mind. It is a uniquely God-given law. No other law book mentions it. Just try prosecuting someone for "coveting!" Except for the all-knowing God, there's no way to know another person's thoughts - and whether he's coveting the other person's house, spouse, and money.
Question: Why do the laws between humanity and God have thoughts before words and actions, and the laws between people have actions first?
Answer: When it comes to humanity and God, the most important thing is your intention. First the mind, then actions and words. Let everyone know what you believe and then apply it to your life. Actions without beliefs are meaningless, like putting Tefillin on a monkey!
When it comes to the laws between people, the actions come first, and then speech and mind. "I don't care if you hate his guts, but don't murder!"
Israeli Development to Assist in Early Diagnosis of Breast Cancer
Ten Hacks for Mental Control That Every Human Being Should Know
Culled from the wisdom of the classic Jewish work called the Tanya By Tzvi Freeman
Plenty of personal coaches, psychologists and consultants will provide you with advice and techniques for mental control, each teacher providing what works for him or her. But in Jewish circles we have a small book called the Tanya, a classic work of spiritual guidance by a great tzaddik and teacher building upon an ancient tradition—and it's chockful of how thoughts work and how to reach great heights by learning to control them.
Here are a few mind-hacks from the Tanya, gently rendered 21st-century friendly
1)Thoughts are a touchscreen display for your psyche.
Think of the display on your smartphone (hey, maybe you're looking at that right now!). By touching that display, choosing what you want to observe and manipulating the symbols, you have control over your device.
Same with your thoughts—they're not just a window into your brain and heart. They also allow you to manipulate that brain and heart.
Your smartphone is manipulated by touch and voice. Your thoughts are manipulated by simply detaching yourself a little, observing what's up on the display and choosing which thoughts you want to invest in.
2. Mental control is really heart control.
If I tell you I'm sad, don't tell me I shouldn't be sad. I am sad.
But if you offer me some happy thoughts to think, pretty soon I may not be so sad.
You can't choose how you feel, but you can choose what you think, and what you think has the power to change how you feel.
That's what the Zohar means when it says that the mind innately rules over the heart. Not the way a dictator rules by stern command; nature requires no commands. Rather, wherever your thoughts travel, your emotional state naturally follows close behind.
Ever been to one of those guided relaxation classes? Your mind observes "I'm breathing"—and your breathing falls into a steady rhythm. Your mind observes "my fingers are tense"—and without any order or command, your fingers release their clasp and relax.
Herbert Benson deemed it "the relaxation response." Any part of the body that comes into direct connection with the mind becomes mindlike—calm, steady and detached.
So too, when the mind applies itself to matters that concern the heart, the childlike heart responds by growing up a little and becoming a more mindful heart.
3. Your thoughts never stop.
Stop and listen to the thoughts running through your mind. Yes, we all have them. Everyone describes them differently, and some are more aware of them than others, but they're there, buzzing nonstop.
If you don't hear your thoughts, try this simple, well-known hack: Stop everything you're doing and listen to your breathing. Within a short while, as your breathing becomes more rhythmical, your thoughts will seem to become louder. Now you can start observing them.
You'll notice that your thoughts are quite similar to your breath. You can control your breath, but when you let go of the reins, the breathing continues all on its own.
The same with your thoughts. You can choose what to think, but when you let go, your thoughts don't stop. They never do. You may be thinking about nothing, but you're never not thinking.
Now that's important to know. Because the autopilot function in your brain is not the pilot of choice in anyone's cockpit. And it's easily hijacked by your worst enemies.
So keep a vigilant watch over what's happening up there. The more mindful you are of your thoughts, the better you're going to feel about yourself and about life.
4. Your thoughts are not you, and you are not your thoughts.
It's natural to observe those thoughts buzzing in your brain and say, "Oh, that's me."
But it's not you. If it were you, then who's the one observing those thoughts and saying "That's me"?
You can't directly observe the raw perceptions and feelings that form your current character and personality, just like you can't directly see your own eyeballs. Your thoughts act as a wondrous kind of mirror—but a crude mirror, displaying only a very muddy reflection of what your brain and heart are up to. It may display ideas and emotions, but its fabric is the language(s) you've learned, things you've seen and sounds you've heard.
Think of thoughts as a kind of clothing. Just like you can change your clothing whenever you wish, so you can switch uncomfortable, unbefitting thoughts with thoughts that bring out your inner resilience and beauty.
So don't say, "What can I do? Those are my thoughts. They're miserable thoughts, so I'm depressed."
Instead, say, "Hey, what's the point in wearing these depressing thoughts? They're not helping me. They're not providing anything worthwhile. I could think positive, uplifting thoughts instead."
Now that's power—power to change. And the ability to always be changing is a key to a good life.
5. Keep a set of healthy thoughts always in your pocket.
What do we think about? Whatever we experience, talk about and read about.
So if you make it a habit to keep a small set of wholesome things that you're talking about, reading about and thinking about, you'll always have something good to switch your mind to when toxic thoughts invade.
Even better, memorize. For thousands of years Jews have memorized the Psalms, key passages of the Torah, the Mishnah and other key works, and repeated them over and over every day and even while at work. Memorizing means to engrave the words in your heart. They become a component of your psyche. When you've achieved that, you'll find those words spontaneously and almost effortlessly running in the background.
But Jews have always also pondered the meanings of everything they set to memory, extracting new lessons from the weekly Parshah, wrestling with the debates of the Talmud, contemplating the secrets of the Kabbalah and, most importantly, applying the wisdom of Torah to their daily life.
We have inherited a wealth of magnificent wardrobes for the soul. Everyone can find beautiful thoughts hanging in those wardrobes to dress up in, to provide strength in times of challenge, comfort in times of distress, and joy and peace at every point in life.
The Baal Shem Tov taught that where your head's at, that's where you're at, all of you. Find good thoughts to fill your head with, and keep them always handy. When you take a break, go for a walk or find yourself cruising down a clear highway, take out one of those thoughts and chew on it.
6. Your reactions feed your thoughts.
Let's say some thought jumps into your mind and scares you. Maybe it was a nasty thought about a good person. Maybe it was some low-life fantasy. Or a memory of some experience you thought you had already put out of your mind.
You're thinking, "How could I have even thought such an ugly thought?!"
You just put that thought on steroids.
Thoughts are fed by our reactions to them. Don't react, and the thought dies.
The only effective strategy with unwanted thoughts is to stay a cool, impartial observer of that thought, just long enough to notice that it's something to steer away from. Then bounce off into one of those wholesome, healthy thoughts you've stored for just such a moment as this.
That strategy actually makes you stronger each time. And you can thank those ugly thoughts for challenging you so you can further develop your mind power.
Later, you can ask advice from a mentor, who might tell you that . . .
7. Not all thoughts come from thinking.
Ugly, toxic thoughts are symptoms of an emotional whirlpool—and we all have those whirlpools. Those emotions are you, but you can't pull yourself up by tugging at your own heartstrings. You don't want to step near there without a mentor or a good and wise friend who can pull you out.
It may be that some anxiety-provoking issue is swirling around in your life, and you just need to talk it through with someone who knows you well and cares about you.
Or it may be that you've just become more sensitive to your thoughts, and now you're noticing the junk that's been lying around up there all along.
In many cases, however, you need to surrender to the fact that it's perfectly natural to have such thoughts, and now you need to flood your mind with more healthy thoughts, speak more healthy words and do more healthy things.
8. Practice whenever the opportunity arises.
Switching thoughts in midstream is not always easy. It's certainly easier to switch actions or choose which words to say—and which not. And by practicing self-control in those easier situations, you'll find yourself in a far better position when wrestling with your thoughts.
For example, say you just saw a chocolate bar, and your impulse is to grab it and stuff it in your mouth.
Instead, pick it up and stare at it for a short while. That's right—just delay your gratification. Slowly and deliberately say the blessing over chocolate. Now you can put a small piece in your mouth.
What was the point of all that? Besides cultivating a more mindful, human existence, you are also exercising your muscles of mind control.
Or say you're sitting with your friends, and you have an urge to blurt out a few words that you think will make them laugh. Hold on to those words. Just stay quiet. Then, a few minutes later, if it's still appropriate, say what you had to say.
You just made yourself a mighty master of the mind. You may have also avoided inadvertently hurting someone's feelings.
Actions and speech are much easier to control than thoughts. Gain some control over what you do and how you speak, and controlling your thoughts will become oh-so-much easier.
9. Healthy thoughts are deep thoughts.
Learn to think long and deep nourishing thoughts. The only time your brain is truly engaged is when it's fully engaged for more than a few seconds. Only then can those thoughts make any dent in the way you feel.
In Winning the War Against Contemplation, I gave some advice on how to develop and sustain a thought. But the real hack is to just allow magnificent, deep and beautiful thoughts to hijack your mind. That's what the Tanya and Chabad thought are out to provide—thoughts that sweep you off your feet, if you'll only give them the chance.
Like anything good, it takes effort and practice to get yourself into the mode. But once you're in the habit of pondering these thoughts deeply, they return all on their own and grab the controls.
Here's a Tanya thought to try:
Fix your mind on the vastness of this creation, the depth of wisdom, ingenuity and beauty invested in its every particle. A great consciousness fills all this creation, much as your soul fills your body and directs it.
Now think of the core of that consciousness that lies infinitely beyond the entire creation. Envision this great Consciousness reaching out to you with unbounded love, asking you to join in a private relationship with Him.
As you bring Him into your life by pondering His wisdom and the beauty of His works, sharing with Him the innermost concerns of your heart, reaching back to Him in love and awe, your spirit bonds with His.
As you utter the words of His wisdom that flow to us through His Torah and its sages, your lips join with His in every word. As you fill the world with that infinite light by fulfilling your particular mission in this world, doing the mitzvahs He has entrusted into your hands, you embrace Him and you are embraced by Him from head to toe.
Hold on to that thought for long enough, says the Tanya, and the human heart cannot help but mirror that boundless love, and even the hardest heart will melt like wax before an intense blaze.
10. If your thoughts are ablaze . . .
What do you do when your brain has broken loose and has run off like a wildfire?
Sometimes it's an obsession that won't allow you to think anything else, or anger, or indignation. The author of the Tanya once asked, "What do you if you feel you're surrounded on all sides by a fire of passion? You should imagine yourself surrounded by a wall of fire. What would you do then? Well, you would walk right through it, of course. After all, it's just your imagination."
Sometimes it's just an exhausted, stressed-out brain that's demanding some free time. Hey, have some pity on your gray matter and give it a break!
But sometimes it's a deluge of crazy thoughts, and you can't do a thing about it. Then, advises the Tanya, throw yourself before your Creator, and plead to Him to save you from this deluge. Our Creator breathes within each one of us and cares for us, and as a parent runs to save a child, so light and inner strength will come to rescue you from the deluge.
No, it's not easy to stay in charge of your own thoughts, but it's certainly rewarding. It's your brain, after all, and the human brain is still the most sophisticated device we know of. Why shouldn't you be the exclusive user?
Olmert and Abbas: Laughing and Crying By Moshe Phillips
Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas will hold a joint press conference in opposition to US President Donald Trump's peace plan," according to Channel 12 News. Unbelievable, right? A former Israeli prime minister and a one-time star of the Likud party allied with Yasser Arafat's heir and protégé? It must be fake news. But, alas, it is not.
Perhaps more than any other leader in the State of Israel's history Olmert believes that his personal opinion of what Israel's borders should be set as is always correct.
When he was a hawk and advocated the retention of all of the lands liberated in 1967 and later, when as a dove when he showed a full desire to retreat from all of those same exact lands. The one thing that Olmert never wavered on was that his view of what to do with Judea and Samaria was the right way. Olmert's political journey from one camp to the other had been the story that dominated the public view of him at least until he was convicted of corruption in 2015.
At the time it was happening, Olmert's political metamorphosis was given nearly the same intense news coverage as former PM Ariel Sharon's was at the time. Was Olmert's story as straight forward as the media portrayed or was there something that the news outlets missed?
Perhaps with Olmert's decision to stand with Abbas against the Netanyahu government, it is now time to examine this all more deeply.
Sharon and Olmert did not come from the same ideological home. The ideology that Olmert was raised on – Jabotinsky Zionism – is where the Likud party originated. Likud's basis was Menachem Begin's Herut Movement and was led by what Begin called his "Fighting Family", the comrades who fought with him in the Irgun underground against the British in the 1940s.
Sharon came from a left, establishment background. He was not a veteran of the Irgun or the Stern Group, but rather a Palmach man, he was from the socialist-Zionist camp. Sharon advocated a Palestinian State before the 1973 Yom Kippur War and accepted the concept of a Palestinian People. To Begin and Jabotinsky there was no such thing as a Palestinian People.
Sharon was the first member of Knesset to call for a Palestinian State. His idea at first was that "Jordan is Palestine." By contrast, to the Fighting Family, both sides of the Jordan were historically Eretz Israel. News reports related that Olmert's wife and children have had a tremendous influence on his way of thinking. He had remarked that he was alone in his own home for years, with everyone else wanting to surrender the lands liberated in 1967.
Was it only the influence of Olmert's family and Sharon that caused these changes in Olmert?
At the age of 20, Olmert publicly challenged Begin. The incident took place during the June 1966 Gahal party conference (Gahal was a forerunner to Likud) and Olmert demanded that Begin resign as head of the party due to the fact that Begin had not led his party to victory once in 18 years. Olmert had the podium at the Maccabiah Village meeting and declared that "With you sir, it won't work." By this Olmert meant that Gahal could never achieve victory with Begin as its leader.
Of course, Olmert was incorrect. Begin's 1977 victory changed the political landscape of Israel, and the nation itself, forever. Much more so than Ben-Gurion's Israel the state that Israelis live in is the state that Begin made it. Begin was the architect of the free-market economy and the startup nation, renewed respect for traditional religious values, massive aliyah from Ethiopia and the former Soviet Union, and the breaking down of the cultural and other barriers Sephardi Israelis faced.
And Olmert? He was not just wrong about Begin in the past. Today, he is wrong to embrace Abbas. Just as wrong.
Negativism is what has created Olmert's stance on Abbas just as it did his position on Begin.
Olmert is not optimistic about Israel's future and never has been. That is why he was not comfortable in the Jabotinsky movement. True students of Jabotinsky never lose hope and never stop trying to find a way to conquer the mountains that stand in our way. "To die or to conquer the mount!" Jabotinsky wrote in 1932.
Jabotinsky wrote his greatest novel about the Biblical hero Samson. In the most well-known passage of the book, Samson declares: "Tell them [the Jewish People] three things in my name, and not two: they must get iron [i.e. weapons]; they must choose a king, and they must learn to laugh."
What Jabotinsky meant, in part, by "learn to laugh" was the necessary development of confidence and optimism on a national level. With rapidly changing Middle East realities and the abuse of self-proclaimed visionaries such as Olmert, Israelis may need that message now more than ever. Or do they? After all, smart Israelis know that Olmert's gambit won't be remembered next year or ever make it into future Israeli history textbooks. Abbas has no place in Israel's future and neither does Olmert.
Israeli professor aims to make dialysis a thing of the past
Israeli doctors are aiming to regrow 'dead' kidneys. Prof. Benjamin Dekel has already managed to reverse kidney failure in mice.
But It Is MY Ox! January 19, 1990 - 22 Teveth 5750
[ I ask "why does President Trump not want to allow Muslims refugees from Muslim countries enter America? He wants strong vetting of all that enter. Of course, I agree with him, as he wants to stop all terrorist attacks and terrorists will come in with the refugees. So, I ask, why not allow all Muslims in and try to bring peace with the terrorists by "peace talks", giving them their own towns, cities and more as Israel has foolishly done and now Pres. Trump asks Israel to give them a Palestinian state. The answer: America is President Trump's OX! Israel is not Trump's OX!
Once upon a time, there was a man who owned several beautiful oxen. They were strong and well-mannered and just a delight. He had a neighbor, however, who was a bad man and very jealous of the beautiful oxen, because the bad man's oxen were ugly and ill-tempered. And the jealousy of the bad man gave him no rest, so that one day he deliberately let his ill-tempered oxen into the field where the beautiful oxen were grazing and they gored one of them, killing it. The owner of the dead ox was angry at this terrible and deliberate outrage that, in the middle of the night, he entered the field where the ill-tempered oxen were and killed one of them.
The neighboring villagers and cattle people were very moral and ethical people and they were aghast at the man who had taken revenge on the ill-tempered ox and its bad owner. Their leader, Mr. Morality, was especially indignant. "What you did was very immoral," he told the poor man. "You cannot sink to his level. And you cannot enter someone else's field even if there is a dangerous ox there. You cannot take the law into your own hands."
In vain did the poor fellow protest that someone had to teach the bad fellow a lesson and that unless that were done, he would do it again. Nothing helped. Mr. Morality was adamantly ethical: "You do not take the law into your own hands; you do not enter other people's property; you do not sink to his level." And with that, Mr. Morality and his merry band of ethical cattlemen walked off, heads high and breasts filled with a sweet sense of righteousness.
The poor man was so beaten that he could not bear the thought of continuing as before. He was so depressed that he decided to sell the rest of his beautiful oxen to anyone who would buy them. To be sure, there was no lack of buyers and, in the end; it was Mr. Morality himself who offered the highest price. Beaming, he took possession of the beautiful, quiet, well-mannered and delightful oxen.
But the change in ownership had not changed the way the bad man felt. Every time he would see the beautiful oxen, he was blinded by jealousy and envy. And so, one night, when he could no longer contain his jealousy, he sent his ugly and ill-tempered oxen into the field of Mr. Morality and they again killed one of the beautiful oxen.
When Mr. Morality heard of what had happened, his anger knew no bounds. And without a second thought, he took a number of his merry ethical friends, entered the field of the bad man and killed not one, but two of his oxen.
When the original owner of the oxen heard of this, he hurried over to Mr. Morality. "I do not understand. What did you do? When I did the same thing, you told me that one does not take the law into one's own hands; one does not enter other people's fields and one does not sink to their level. What happened now?"
Mr. Morality looked with pity on the poor, uncomprehending man. "I see that you really don't understand, poor fellow. Let me explain. There is a difference between your going into his field and my going into his field. In your case, you really should not have done such a thing. In this case, it was my ox…"
I wallow in glee over events in Panama and Romania. O, Panama! O, Romania! I watch as the United States troops go into someone else's field, invade a foreign country with 25,000 troops, shoot up its capital city, kill some 70 Panamanians, and install their own government.
And then I remember Israel's invasion of Lebanon after years of attacks on Jewish towns from that country; after scores of Jews were murdered by attacks launched from that land; after life was made a living hell for the Jews of Kiryat Shmona, one third of whom fled the city. And I remember Israeli troops reaching Beirut and installing their Lebanese as President in order to put an end to murder and attacks upon Jews.
And I remember Messrs. Morality! ALL of them! President Reagan, Vice-President Bush, the State Department, the Defense Department and all the merry, ethical Americans (and British and French and, and, and, ad infinitum. Ad nauseum). How they condemned and how they railed and how they moralized and how they ethicalized! Merrily. "You do not sink to the level of the PLO. You do not enter someone else's field (land). You do not take the law into your own hands." Messrs. Morality, Post Office Box One Million, Washington, DC.
And so now there is Panama. And should any simple-minded type ask President Morality, High-minded Bush of morality, why he did everything he told Israel it should not do – he would give a sympathetic nod to the poor simpleton who really does not understand, and the answer would be: But it is my ox…
I remember Israeli troops entering the field of Lebanon to capture a Moslem Sheikh who was leader of a group of Moslem Shiite thugs holding Israelis as hostages; and President Morality and his merry ethical State Department cattlemen with their shouts of condemnation! And now I see the same moralists invading the field of Panama to try and catch a thug named Noriega because he deals in drugs that harm Americans and because he tweaks America's nose. And I finally understand the difference and can even hear President Morality say it: But it is my ox…
And I remember the outcry by all the democrats and anti-racist equality types demanding that William Nakash be extradited from Israel to France and rising up in righteous indignation over the thought that just because someone is a Jew, he should not be extradited. After all, all human beings are equal and being Jewish is no reason to refuse to hand him over to strangers. And what would the world say to any such tribalism! And then I read that under Panamanian, law, a Panamanian cannot be extradited to a foreign county and I understand the difference: But it is my ox…
I watch as, in Romania, the dictator is captured and he and his wife are shot in secret trial, with summary justice dealt out within less than two days and no appeal allowed. And I know that Israel did not give the death penalty to any murdering terrorists and goes through elaborate procedures of "justice" in order that terrorists sit and eat and drink at our expense until they are exchanged for hostages. And I know what the outcry from Romania and other ethical nations would be if Israel would do to murdering terrorists what Romania did to its former President. But I have already learned the difference; THIS IS MY OX…
And having said all that, I do not – as so many professors and intellectual doers on the right – merely weep, complain and wring my soul. I have no intention of wasting a precious few moments of my finite life in the House of Eternal Kvetching, in which so many of the right-wing spend their lives. The lesson for me in this morality lesson of Whose Ox is gored? Is not that there are hypocrites in this world. Boker Tov! Good morning! There are hypocrites in the world! Surprise…
For me, the only lesson here is that there is, indeed, a difference. Not the one that the moralists of hypocrisy give, but the objective and eternally true one of divine Torah Law. There is a difference, the one that cannot be grasped unless one has knowledge and sense. In the words of the rabbis, "Im ein da'at havdala minayin?" "If one has no knowledge, how can he differentiate?"
The lesson is that there is objective good and objective evil, objective truth and objective falsehood, and the same action taken against the one is good while the same act done against the other is wrong and evil. Yes, it is good and right and a mitzvah to go into Panama to eliminate the slime named Noriega and yes, how much more so was it right and a mitzvah to enter Lebanon and eliminate the PLO and other Moslem terrorist swine. And yes, it was wrong and evil for the Russians to do exactly the same in Afghanistan and for the Chinese to invade Tibet. Yes, the German bombing of Coventry and London is not the same as the Allied bombing of German cities and yes, the hanging of evil criminals is good and that of decent people, bad, and anyone who does not understand this havdala, differentiation, needs a good grounding in knowledge. Divine knowledge. Torah knowledge.
Until then, at the very least, let the Jew learn the simple message of normal gentiles who – when their basic interests are threatened – do not hesitate to enter strange fields and to kill evil oxen. It is time the Jew learned there is nothing for which to apologize or retreat when his people are killed and his interest threatened. It is time that he learned to tell President Morality and any other merry ethical type: "But it is my ox and no one touches it; understand?"
See you Sunday Shabbat Shalom-Please go to hear the 10 Commandments on Shabbat in the Shul. It's a Mitzvah