Is the Fast of Esther cancelled today because of the Virus-Arguments for and Against (especially if you are over 60) and A Special prayer against the CoronaVirus and Anne Frank’s Amsterdam By Saul Jay Singer and Happy Purim tomorrow in most of the world with Chabad of Rehavia AZZA ZAZA Purim schedule
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. Now also a Blogger on the Times of Israel. Look for my column
Love Yehuda Lave
SPECIAL PRAYER composed by The Rishon L'Tzion, Israel's Chief Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef to help stop the COVID-19 coronavirus epidemic.
May it be Thy Will our G-d and G-d and our ancestors, that You be overcome with mercy upon all the world's inhabitants and upon the inhabitants of this land, and protect them from all the harsh and evil decrees that may visit the world, and rescue us from every sickness, disease, plague, and epidemic.
May all patients infected with the disease be completely cured. To You O G-d is the Greatness and the Rigor, the Splendor and the Eternity and the Majesty, because all in Heaven and Earth to You do individually concede the Kingship and the Authority, and in Your hands is the soul of all living and the spirit within all flesh, and it is in your Power and Strength to grow and strengthen and cure humanity to the utmost, to the most minuscule reaches of the spirit, and nothing is beyond Your Ability.
Therefore, may it be Thy Will O Faithful G-d, Father of Mercy, Healer of all ills among His People Israel, You Who are the Faithful Healer: Send healing and cure, and act with the utmost kindness, pardon, and compassion to all patients infected with this disease.
Please O G-d, may Your Mercy awaken upon all inhabitants of the world and all Your People Israel. Please alight Thine Throne of Judgement and sit upon the Throne of Mercy, and go beyond the letter of the law to abolish all harsh and evil decrees. "And Pinchas arose and prayed and the plague was halted."
And decree upon us good judgments, salvation, and consolation for the sake of Thy Mercy, and tear up our evil decree, and may our good points hold prominence before you; Arise, help us and redeem us for the sake of Your Kindness.
Hear now please the voice of our plea, for You hear the prayers of all; Blessed is He Who hears prayer.
May the utterances of my mouth and the reasoning within my heart find favor before You, O L-rd my Rock and Salvation.
And may it be fulfilled within us the Bible verse that says: "All the sickness I placed upon Egypt I shall not place upon you, for I am the L-rd your Healer," Amen.
A Brave Woman
Ethel and Herman Epstein interrupted their vacation to go to the dentist. "I want a tooth pulled, and I don't want any freezing because I'm in a big hurry," Ethel said. "Just extract the tooth as quickly as possible, and we'll be on our way."
The dentist was quite impressed. "You're certainly a courageous woman," he said. "Which tooth is it?"
Ethel turned to her husband Herman and said, "Show him your tooth, dear."
Ideas, that help explain how the world works
Buridan's Ass: A thirsty donkey is placed exactly midway between two pails of water. It dies because it can't make a rational decision about which one to choose. A form of decision paralysis.
Is today's fast cancelled --Pros and Cons on the idea
Sorry to bring this subject up at the last minute, but because of the speed of the Virus news, I didn't consider this until the last minute.
This is the last minute, today is the fast, do you need to fast or not? Like everything else in the world, it depends on who you are.
Only a Jew has to keep 613 mitzvahs, a Gentile does not. A women keeps less stringencies than a man about many religious practices as she is not obligated in many (some she is) time bound mitzvah, and a Slave (though we don't have any more) even less.
Judaism is the world's oldest monotheistic religion, dating back nearly 4,000 years. Followers of Judaism believe in one God who revealed himself through ancient prophets. The history of Judaism is essential to understanding the Jewish faith, which has a rich heritage of law, culture and tradition.
Over the 4000 years we have had many times questions about whether a fast is cancelled or not either for medical conditions or over the safety of the Jewish People as other nations like to threaten us with either loss of life or property.
Judaism believes in the principle that life comes first in most instances (not all as there are three primary exceptions--violating believes in Idolatry, Harming others, or sexual immorality may supersede life).
So when life is at stake, the fast may have to go. The fast of Esther is a Rabbinic Fast, not a Torah Fast, so since it was created by the Rabbis, the Rabbis have the right to make the rules about who has to keep it.
So to answer the question, about keeping the fast we turn to history. The Place we start is about the most serious Torah Fast, Yom Kippur. If that fast can be put off, than certainly a less serious fast can be put off.
Rabbis and doctors have always considered the weighty issue of fasting.
Whether an elderly person should eat or drink on Yom Kippur depends on whether he is healthy or fragile.
Although religion should promote good health, sometimes the two can clash. In such cases – for example, religious fasts – clergymen and doctors should intervene to ensure that patients are not harmed.
"The fast was initiated by the G-d (or in the case of Tannit Esther the Rabbis), "but it is meant for healthy adults, not for the sick or for children or pregnant or lactating women. If you can't fast for health reasons, it's just as good to give charity instead."
RABBI YOSEF Zvi Rimon, the rabbi of JCT (The Jerusalem College of Technology, an Orthodox Jewish educational institution in the Givat Mordechai neighborhood) and head of its Beit Midrash, noted that "medicine develops all the time. Doctors may have said something 20 years ago, and rabbis gave halachic rulings on the basis of that, but maybe the information is obsolete. The principles of Jewish law are the same, but conclusions may be wrong because doctors made statements based on medical evidence and research at the time
One has to go deeper." The rabbi produced a pamphlet with guidelines for patients on Yom Kippur fasting."It there is doubt, one must consult with a rabbi. If it is impossible and there is a real doubt [about whether the fast will cause harm], one should not fast and not endanger life, even if there is no immediate danger but only one that is distant. A patient must not risk his or her health and fast in contravention of doctor's orders."
The rabbi added that if one's doctor and rabbi say the patient can fast, except to drink small amounts of water every nine (or even six) minutes, the permitted amount of water is easy to measure. Fill your mouth with as much water as you can and then spit it out into a cup. Half of that amount can be drunk every nine minutes by chronic patients who need to hydrate themselves. The average amount is 38 milliliters and should be less than 44 milliliters.
If necessary, to provide sick people with more energy, they can drink a sweet beverage or soup in intervals, Rimon continued. If a patient has to eat at intervals as well, the food should be able to fit inside an Israeli-style matchbox. A patient is allowed to take a shower on Yom Kippur to refresh himself (it is forbidden to healthy people) if he needs it to fast, and is advisable over eating and drinking if the doctor permits.
It is preferable to stay home, pray and fast, if permitted by a doctor or rabbi, rather than go to synagogue and forgo the fast. Pregnant and lactating women who are healthy usually are bound to fast (unless the new mother cannot produce enough milk for the baby), but pregnant women should consult with authorities on whether going without food and drink would harm them or the fetus. Chronically ill patients who must take pills during the fast are advised to take them without water, but if this is impossible, they should do so in a different way, such as adding a bit of salt or something bitter, the rabbi suggested.
DR. EPHRAIM Jaul, director of complex geriatric nursing at Jerusalem's Herzog Hospital, said that ironically, there were many recommendations for vaccination for babies and children up to the age of 18, but only one recommended vaccination (against pneumonia) for those over 65.
"Old age is the most heterogeneous condition, but it is treated as homogeneous." He urged pensioners to walk fast to improve their heart, brain and gastrointestinal systems, as well as to do mental exercises.
CALLING A person "old" should not be determined by his chronological age but more exactly by his biological age, said Prof. Tzvi Dwolatzky, an expert in geriatrics and internal medicine at Haifa's Rambam Medical Center. "It used to be that kidney-failure patients were not sent to dialysis after the age of 75. Today, one can be 85 or more and still undergo it. The decision is made according to the biological age of the patient," he said, showing a photo of an 89-year-old woman who piloted a plane, and of Jeanne Louise Calment, a French woman who lived to the age of 122 and of a Holocaust survivor and Israeli named Yisrael Kristal, who died recently at the age of 113.
Whether an elderly person should eat or drink on Yom Kippur, said Dwolatzky, depends on whether he is healthy or fragile (living at the edge of his abilities and could fall at a slow walking speed). "From my experience, most old people fast better than young persons.
" DEHYDRATION FROM fasting is a significant risk in elderly patients, noted Dr. Ephraim Rimon of the Hartzfeld Geriatric Hospital in Gedera, who happens to be the older brother of Rabbi Rimon.
"One should drink three liters of water during the 24 hours before a fast, but it's hard for the elderly to drink so much. If a patient is dehydrated, the risk of a heart attack or stroke is higher. An elderly person who wants to fast and drink at intervals may forget to drink water and them harm himself.
"He told the story of Rabbi Chaim Sonnenfeld of the Eda Haredit who learned of a blind woman who was fasting and endangered her health. "He came to her and blew the shofar during the fast and told her it was night and the fast was all over.
But every case is different."DR. RABBI Mordechai Halperin, head of Jerusalem's Schlesinger Institute for Medical-Halachic Research, added that a patient with irregular heartbeats can even die if he fasts.
"If we make an error in our guidelines, we are spilling blood. If a person is sick and at risk, he doesn't need to drink at intervals. He should eat. If based on medical evidence, a person could be harmed by the fast, he must eat.
"THE ONLY part of the body that needs carbohydrates is the brain, said Prof. David Zangen, a senior endocrinologist at Hadassah University Medical Center."When you haven't eaten for hours and the blood sugar level is low, the liver will release sugar from the liver to reach the brain rather than to remain in storage.
If there isn't enough, a patient can fall and be seriously hurt."Working with observant adolescents with type-1 diabetes, Zangen asked if they intended to fast on Yom Kippur. Thirty-nine of 190 said they would fast no matter what the doctor said.
"They want to be like all the others, but it could be dangerous. Those who nevertheless insist on fasting are advised to check their blood sugar every 2.5 hours and to start eating if they have nausea, vomiting or hyperglycemia. A diabetic should always consult their personal physician, as he or she knows the medical condition well."
Now let us turn to the current issue, not just of health, but of an epidemic condition (Bibi reports today in the Paper that this is an epidemic Condition-good enough for me). One of the most famous cases was:
Following Shacharit on Yom Kippur of 5610, in
September 1849, Rabbi Yisrael Salanter, the famous
and pious Vilna rabbi -founder of the Mussar Movement,
dedicated to injecting the pursuit of ethical excellence
into traditional Jewish observance, ascended to the bimah of the Vilna synagogue.
He explained to the congregation that because of the
raging cholera epidemic in Vilna,
they must not spend the day gathered together
in the synagogue, but should leave the building and walk
outside -fresh air was believed to prevent the spread of
Furthermore,he said, it was imperative that everyone
maintain their strength so that they would not fall victim
to disease. And so, on that Yom Kippur, Rabbi Yisrael
Salanter explained, everyone should break their fast,
eat and drink so that they could protect their health
and survive the disease.
Cholera is a horrific disease. It is painful, terrifying,
and deadly. The Hebrew word for cholera- רעחולי sounds
similar to "cholera" but more literally can be translated
as "evil disease."
Over the course of the 19thcentury, modern medical
science learned how to prevent the spread of cholera,
and also how to effectively treat cholera.
However, in 1849, in Eastern Europe, nobody knew how
the disease spread and there were no effective
Rabbi Yisrael Salanter was one of the most
famed rabbis of Vilna.
He threw himself into the fight against the disease.
He volunteered to care for the sick, and was
instrumental in organizing the Jewish community
to take care of the sick and to watch over orphans
left behind in the wake of the disease
Harav Yosef Ote says
Ta'anit Esther begins at 4:45. Ends at 18:10.
Concerning Ta'anit Esther, a person in isolation should not fast, so as not to weaken his immune system, since there is a chance that he is infected or can infect others
Other Doctors and Rabbis have stated that anyone over 60 is at great risk from the new flue (younger people don't seem to be as effected). It is not much of a stretch than to Poskin, that even if you are in good health, anyone over 60 should not fast, and of course if you are not in good health, no matter what your age you should not fast. Either go to the synagogue or not (some are afraid of the potential virus in crowds), but as my Grandfather who lived to a ripe old age used to tell me, Stay home, take a bath, safe money and be healthy!
Rabbi Yehuda Lave
9 Common Purim Myths and Misconceptions By Menachem Posner
Myth: Mordechai Was Esther's Uncle
The Jewish holiday of Purim was established during the Persian exile, after the Jews had been saved from the genocidal scheming of Haman, advisor to King Achashverosh. The main heroes are Esther, the Jewish wife of the king, and her relative Mordechai. In many books and audio retellings of the Purim story, Mordechai is presented as Esther's uncle, who had raised her after her parents' passing.
Fact: Mordechai Was Esther's Cousin and Husband
It is true that Mordechai raised Esther. However, the Megillah (Scroll of Esther) clearly states that he was her cousin, not uncle.1 Interestingly, the sages tell us that Esther was not just Mordechai's cousin—she was also his wife!
2. Myth: Haman Had a Three-Cornered Hat and Pointy Ears
On Purim, it is customary to eat a three-cornered pastry often filled with poppy seeds (fruit jams are also common), known as hamantaschen ("Haman pockets") in Yiddish, and oznei haman ("Haman ears") in Hebrew.
Urban legend (as supported by many illustrated editions of the Megillah) is that the cookies' shape commemorates the three-cornered hat Haman wore. Another legend, especially popular in Israel, is that the tasty treats reflect the shape of Haman's ears.
Fact: We Know Nothing About Haman's Wardrobe or Auricles
There is no evidence whatsoever suggesting that Haman's hat had three corners, nor is there any credible tradition about his ears.
In fact, the pastry's most important feature is not its shape, but its traditional seed filling, called mon in Yiddish. Eating seeds on Purim recalls the devotion of Daniel (and later, Esther) who subsisted on seeds while living in royal surroundings to avoid eating anything non-kosher.2
Mon (poppy) is preferred3 because it is homonymous with the manot ("portions"), which we send each other as part of the Purim celebration.
So why are the hamantaschen sometimes called "ears"? Well, "oznayim" (ears) can sometimes refer to non-Purim pastries. In describing the manna which fell from heaven while the Jews were in the desert, both Rabbi Yosef ibn Kaspi (1279-1340) and Rabbi Don Yitzchak Abarbanel (1437-1508) describe a pastry called oznayim, with no mention of Haman or Purim at all. (And in many Eastern European cultures, there are stuffed dumplings referred to as "little ears.")
3. Myth: Haman's Sons Were Hanged on the Gallows He Had Prepared for Mordechai
A major focal point of the Megillah is the part where we read of Haman and his ten sons being strung up on the gallows ("tree" in Hebrew) that he had prepared for Mordechai. When asked how Haman's sons died, many people would probably answer "hanging."
Fact: They Were Already Dead
A careful reading of chapters 8 and 9 of Esther tells us that the king ordered Haman to be strung up on the tree he had prepared for Mordechai immediately after the plot was discovered (on Passover eve).4 His sons' deaths, however, took place nearly a year later on Adar 13, when they were killed by sword among all other enemies in the city of Shushan.5 Only after they were dead, did the king give permission to have their bodies hung on the gallows.6 Haman's sons were thus hung but not hanged.
One of the four Purim mitzvahs (along with listening to the Megillah, giving gifts to the poor, and feasting) is to give mishloach manot: (at least two) portions of food. The source for mishloach manot is in the Megillah. "Mordechai... enjoined the [Jews] to make the fourteenth day of the month of Adar... feasting and joy, and sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor."7
A common misconception, propagated by preschool teachers and others, is that the two portions must warrant distinct blessings (brachot). Thus, an orange (over which we say "ha'eitz") can be combined with a candy bar (over which we say "shehakol"), but pasta salad and a danish would be problematic, since they are both "mezonot."
Fact: The Blessing Is Not Relevant
The halachah is that one must send two food portions, but they can be of the same blessing. In fact, the example given in the Code of Jewish Law is "two portions of meat." Now, the blessing on all meat is "shehakol," so there is surely no requirement for the two food items to have different blessings.
The sages say that a person should drink on Purim to the point that they "don't discern between 'cursed be Haman' and 'blessed is Mordechai.'" Some take this quite literally and drink so much wine that they lose awareness of their surroundings. In some communities (especially among the young), people may feel pressure to drink so much that they act inappropriately and even harm themselves and others.
Fact: Maintaining Your Mental and Physical Health Takes Primary Importance
For someone battling addiction, even the smallest sip can be life-threatening. Drinking, according to the sages of the Talmud, can heighten the joy and excitement of Purim, so they declared it an actual mitzvah—as long as you are confident that your behavior will remain at the high standard expected by the Torah. If you are planning to drive, or you know that drinking can otherwise get you in trouble, then alcohol might as well be pork juice.
One of the four Purim mitzvahs is to listen to the Megillah being read in Hebrew from a handwritten parchment scroll. The other three mitzvahs (sending food portions, giving gifts to the poor, and enjoying a feast) are all done only on Purim day. The Megillah, however, is read once at night and then again the next day. There is a popular misconception that hearing it once is enough.
Fact: You Need to Hear It at Night and Again During the Day
The sages of the Talmud tell us that we need to hear the Megillah twice.8
Rabbi Joshua ben Levi taught that this is a reflection of the verse in Psalms, "O my G‑d, I call in the daytime . . . and in the night I am not silent,"9 which is part of a chapter that the sages of the Talmud associate with Queen Esther.10 As the threat of genocide loomed, the distressed Jews of the Purim story cried out to G‑d during the day and night. As such, we recall His kindness on the eve of Purim and then again the following day.
Rabbi Chelbo would quote Ula of Biri, who associated this practice with the verse in Psalms, "So that my soul will sing praises to You and not be silent . . . I will thank You forever."11 Reading the Megillah twice is thus an expression of thanksgiving to G‑d, as well as a testament to His everlasting kindness.
A beloved Purim tradition is to twirl graggers (ratchets), bang, shout, stamp our feet and generally make a ruckus when Haman's name is mentioned in the course of the Megillah reading.
Some people are so overzealous in "stamping out Haman" that they don't hear his name chanted aloud by the reader.
Fact: You Need to Hear Every Word of the Megillah
We are required to hear every word of the Megillah, even those that refer to unsavory folk. In many communities, the reader will pause after saying Haman's name to give everyone a chance to make noise before repeating it once again and continuing the reading. It is important not to make any noise during this repetition. After all, if someone misses even one word, they need to hear the entire reading again!
A beloved Purim custom is to don masks and dress up in costume. This has led many to erroneously label it the "Jewish Halloween."
Fact: Halloween Doesn't Hold a Candle to Purim
The custom to dress up on Purim was recorded as many as 500 years ago—long before the modern holiday of Halloween took shape.
But the difference runs far deeper than that. What do Jewish kids do when they put on their costumes? They give out treats to their friends and hand coins to beggars. Quite the polar opposite of Halloween, when children are taught to cause mischief and beg for treats.
Along with Chanukah, Purim is often dismissively referred to as a minor holiday, since it was instituted hundreds of years after Moses communicated G‑d's command to keep Shabbat, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Passover, and Shavuot. This can send the (not so subtle) message that its observance is not terribly important.
Fact: Purim is Mandated in the Bible and Its Message Is Vital
In a sense, Purim has a relevance and urgency to us, above all other holidays. Purim developed bottom up, the product of the faith and prayers of the Jewish nation then living outside of Israel, under a foreign power. They had every reason to abandon Judaism to save their lives, but they chose to proudly maintain their commitment, even though it put them squarely in Haman's crosshairs.
20 Ways to Increase Your Happiness in the Month of Adar By Yehudit Garmaise
When Adar comes, we increase in joy, Mishenichnas Adar marbim b'simcha, but exactly how? We have laws for the month of Av to help us mourn the destruction of the Temple, but how can we become happier in Adar?
On Purim day, we increase our happiness by reading Megillat Esther and learning about G‑d's hidden miracles, giving gifts to the poor and to our friends. We create a celebratory atmosphere with costumes, festive meals, festive drinks, singing and dancing. But what about the rest of the month of Adar?
We all need to work to create a joyous atmosphere in our homes and in our lives. But before we can create the right atmospheres, we often have to adjust our attitudes.
Joy breaks down all negative decrees, so happiness is crucial not just for Adar but for every month. The Baal Shem Tov teaches that when we create joy in our lives, we arouse G‑d's joy, who sees that we are living properly, which causes Him to open up the channels of even more blessing, which make us even happier!
Here are 20 ideas for increasing your joy this Adar! C'mon, get happy!
1. Live, dance and celebrate as if you have everything you need and want.
Joy is not only the result of being in a good situation. When we feel we lack something, a sure way not to get the things we want is to focus on the lack and to complain or blame others. We may find it difficult to feel joyful, but by making the effort to live as if our prayers have been answered, we can help ensure that prayers will be answered. Think good, and it will be good!
2. Know your mission.
Value yourself, your talents, strengths and skills, just as G‑d does. The Baal Shem Tov taught, "You should realize that everything depends on you: With your every mitzvah, the universe resonates in blissful harmony that heals and nurtures." Imagine your power!
3. Remember G‑d follows us like a shadow.
"G‑d is your shadow at your right hand" (Psalms, 121). The Baal Shem Tov explains that just as our shadows follow all of the movements of our bodies, so, too, G‑d's responses to us and echoes our emotional state. This means that the way we present ourselves to G‑d elicits similar responses from Him. When G‑d sees that we are living joyfully, He responds with goodness and blessing.
4. Start your day positively and gratefully.
Say the "Modeh Ani" morning prayer even before getting out of bed. This will start your day by taking the focus off of yourself and right onto your gratitude to G‑d for waking you up, returning your soul to you and for creating our beautiful world. Ask G‑d to help you feel joyous throughout your day. As you wash and get dressed for the day, remind yourself that G‑d wants you to be joyful. Before you even see anyone else, remind yourself to remain cheerful.
5. Speak cheerfully.
Practice speaking respectfully and cheerfully to others, and watch your whole day change for the better! People will reflect back your courtesy and good cheer. Pirkei Avot, Ethics of Our Fathers, tells us to greet everyone with a pleasant face. We should especially exercise our pleasant faces in our own homes!
6. Increase your sense of awareness and appreciation.
Feel grateful for what you hear, feel, see, smell and feel. Do you love the comfort of your bed? Do you hear the relaxing sounds of rain falling or the comforting sounds of the trees' leaves rustling as the wind blows? Can you see G‑d's breathtaking, colorful sunrise or sunset? Do you look forward to your first warm cup of tea or coffee? Nurture those moments and feel grateful for life's "small" treasures. Note that it's great to be alive.
7. Enjoy community.
Celebrate your friends' and family's birthdays (and know when they are). Get together with friends on Shabbat, for learning or for coffee. Value the spiritual benefits of gathering together. When a group of Jews convenes, it creates a joyful atmosphere, both for the people in the group, and also for G‑d. Make sure to create special joy for Shabbat, holidays, homecomings, birthdays and anniversaries. Collect special decorations, make favorite foods, bake a cake, play holiday-specific music, buy flowers to grace your table. Do whatever it takes to create an environment of joy, peace and contentment.
8. Dress the part.
Most people feel better about themselves and about their day when they are wearing clothing, styles and fabrics that makes them feel good (and also aren't ripped, damaged or dirty). Make work or boring errands more fun by dressing up and taking your role as a daughter or son of G‑d seriously.
9. Take care of yourself by properly eating, sleeping and exercising.
Eat slowly, sit down and don't eat meals on the run or in the car. Out of convenience, parents will sometimes eat their children's leftovers. Instead, prepare what you actually want to eat for your meals and try to make those meals happen in a nice way, on a plate. Take care of yourself by making healthy, nurturing food (it doesn't need to be difficult to prepare!), by going to sleep early so you'll get enough rest, and by exercising. Set a goal to walk 10,000 steps a day or dance, sign up for a yoga class, take a walk or jog around the block, go for a swim, start weightlifting—just do anything that gets you moving almost every day.
10. Adjust your attitude.
When faced with unexpected inconveniences, train yourself to see the hidden benefits. The Shela haKadosh notes that when the letters of arbeh, the destructive plague of locusts, is rearranged, we see the word, harbeh, or "bounty." In everything in life, we can see arbeh, a destructive plague that has come to ruin everything and to sap our energy and resources, or, we can see harbeh, the bounty, the beautiful crop. Retrain your brain to see bounty.
11. Keep a Jewish book handy in your purse, on your phone, on your Kindle.
Make it a habit to read an inspiring Jewish book about faith, Jewish history, biographies of great inspiring people, or uplifting quotes or words of Torah. Pull out your book in waiting rooms, at carpool, before bed or at long checkout lines, and anytime you need to sit down and relax for a little bit. When you are stressed or feel you are going "negative," say a positive verse from the prayers or the Torah. Here are some examples: "Serve G‑d with joy," "In lush meadows He lays me down/Beside tranquil waters He leads me," "My G‑d, the soul You placed within me is pure." Find lines you love and write them on Post-its or memorize them.
12. Do something every day just to make you happy.
We need to make the time to engage in self-care daily. Do you feel happier when you listen to music, bake, go to a great Torah class every week? Do you feel happier when you eat green vegetables, get your hair or nails done, or take a weekly painting or art class? Make time for creativity by making your own greeting cards, inventing new muffin recipes or painting something beautiful. Every day, do one thing on your happiness list.
13. Breathe, stay cool and remain observational when you feel attacked.
If someone is behaving rudely or aggressively, keep unwanted thoughts at bay by taking your inner self and moving her to the role of a cool and impartial observer of that thought. This will help you train yourself to simply notice someone else's aggression without escalating emotions. Then you can access holy, helpful and positive lines or images that you have saved for these stressful moments. Each time you calmly redirect your thinking, you get stronger, more positive, and less negative and anxious.
14. Eschew whiners. Or minimize contact with them.
Spend time with positive, upbeat people. When your kids complain, tell them that instead of complaining , we can do something about it with action by redirecting our thoughts and words, or even by staying silent. Show them how you do this.
15. Train yourself to look for positive metaphors in the world.
Ask yourself what gift might G‑d might be giving you in each inconvenient or upsetting circumstance. What could He be showing you or teaching you? Rain could be bringing blessing. Winds could be bringing change, comfort, excitement. Use your sense of humor. "G‑d wants the best for me/us." Repeat throughout the day. You can also have handy thoughts that help you feel G‑d is always with you. Maybe you like the feeling that G‑d is giving you a warm blanket and calming you, or standing over you watching your positive reactions.
16. Don't blame or shame but apologize and move on.
When things go wrong, never blame or shame yourself or anyone else. Stuff happens. We are all trying our best. Have that ideal as a "family code." When you make a mistake, simply and sincerely apologize, and quickly move on. If someone made a mistake, listen to his or her apology and move on. If the person doesn't apologize, just move on; not everyone is an apologizer.
17. Reinforce positive action of other people in your life.
18. Doing acts of kindness is the secret of happiness.
Think of something you are good at and like to do, and volunteer to do it for someone or for a group. Also, try to carry change or small bills with you, and give charity to whomever asks. You'll get back even more happiness than you give.
19. Share at dinner highlights and stories that happened that day.
Jot down notes so you remember a funny thing someone said or something that happened so you can tell your family. And eat together. That's one of the most important gifts you can give your children.
20. Imagine you can.
"Open your eyes to see only the good in every person, the positive in every circumstance, and the opportunity in every challenge." — The Rebbe
Imagine ... and then try to open your eyes to see only the good!
Anne Frank's Amsterdam By Saul Jay Singer
For many people unable to come to terms with the annihilation of six million Jews, the diary of a young teenage girl is the only way to begin to comprehend the personal tragedies of the Holocaust.
Indeed, The Diary of Anne Frank has come to symbolize Nazism's malevolent destruction of innocent Jewish life and infinite Jewish potential. However, it is both interesting and instructive to understand the immediate history in Amsterdam that led to the tragic story of Anne Frank and her celebrated masterpiece.
Beginning with Hitler's rise to power in 1933 and accelerating dramatically after the outbreak of World War II in 1939, thousands of Jews sought refuge in the Netherlands. In response, the Dutch authorities established Westerbork as a central camp to hold them and, after Germany invaded the Netherlands on May 10, 1940, utilized Westerbork as a staging ground from which to deport Jews.
From July 1942 to September 1944, almost 100,000 were deported to concentration camps, most to Auschwitz (60,330) and Sobibor (34,313), where almost all were murdered upon arrival. (Westerbork's most notable prisoner was undoubtedly Anne Frank, who arrived there on August 4, 1944.)
At the very inception of their invasion of the Netherlands, the Nazis engaged in a vicious aerial bombardment that almost reduced Rotterdam to rubble and, fearing that this military tactic would be extended to other Dutch cities, the Dutch army surrendered only a few days later on May 14, 1940.
With Queen Wilhelmina having fled to Great Britain to establish a government-in-exile, Hitler lost little time in establishing a Nazi civil administration, which issued a series of anti-Semitic edicts beginning in autumn 1940, including the firing of all Jewish civil servants and the formal registration of all Jews with the government. (Pursuant to a 1940 census, there were 159,806 registrations, which included 19,561 people born of mixed marriages; a Jew was at that time defined in the Netherlands as any person with two Jewish grandparents.)
Eichmann had founded the first emigration office in Vienna in autumn 1938 to actually ease Austrian emigration requirements for Jews, thereby making it easier for them to leave. The office financed Jewish emigration by confiscating money and property from wealthier Jews and using it to expel their fellow Jews.
Eichmann opened a second office in Prague before he established the Reich Central Office for Jewish Emigration in Berlin on January 24, 1939 under the direction of Reinhard Heydrich – who was charged with facilitating, coordinating, and accelerating Jewish emigration – which dramatically ramped up the Nazi effort to expel all Dutch Jews. The Central Office was also charged with establishing a Jewish organization that would assist the Nazis in expelling Jews from their homes and communities.
The situation of Dutch Jewry deteriorated in 1940; under the terms of an October 20 decree, all businesses in which Jews had any financial interest had to be officially registered and, on November 21, all Jewish civil servants were dismissed.
In December 1940, the Jews decided to establish the Jewish Coordinating Committee, an organization designed to represent all of the various Jewish communities in the Netherlands. They appointed as chairman Lodewijk Ernst Visser, who had been appointed Chief Justice of the Dutch Supreme Court in 1939 but was dismissed from his position by the Nazis in May 1940.
The year 1941 essentially marked the beginning of the end of Dutch Jewry, beginning with the Nazi order on January 10 that all Jews register with local branches of the census office. On February 12, 1941, in the wake of clashes between Jews and Dutch Nazis in old Jewish Amsterdam, the Nazis created the Joodse Raad ("Jewish Council") and ordered Abraham Asscher, a diamond merchant, and Professor David Cohen, a classics professor, to direct it.
Asscher (1880-1950), the proprietor of the most important diamond firm in Amsterdam, translated his success into political power, serving as chairman of both the Union of Ashkenazic Communities and the Amsterdam Jewish Community Council and as spokesman for the Dutch Jewish community.
During the massive influx of Jewish refugees from Germany in the mid-1930s, it was he and Cohen who directed the effort to assist the new arrivals. Under their management, however, the Joodse Raad, the only Jewish Council in the German occupation of Western Europe, became little more than a Judenrat charged with organizing the selection of Jewish deportees to be sent to work camps.
Cohen (1882-1967) was a professor of ancient history who became active in Jewish refugee work early in his life. He served as a member of many Dutch Jewish organizations, including the Jewish Council in The Hague, then in Amsterdam, and was a respected Jewish philanthropist. Unlike Asscher, however, he was a strong Zionist who sponsored and organized the Zionist Students Union and the Jewish Youth Federation.
On February 22, 1941, the Nazis arrested 389 young Jews and sent them to Buchenwald and Mauthausen. In solidarity with the deported Jews and in a final act of resistance, Dutch citizens went on a countrywide general strike, which effectively shut down the country's factories and transportation system, but the Nazis easily quashed it in three days. As punishment – and to send an unequivocal message – the Nazis imposed mammoth fines on participating cities and municipalities, including a 15 million-guilder fine on Amsterdam.
The strike had even more serious consequences for Amsterdam's Jews. The Dutch public had learned the lesson that resistance to the Nazis was futile and the Nazis, having effectively removed any Dutch opposition to its anti-Jewish policies, took the opportunity to double down and accelerate their implementation of the Final Solution in the Netherlands.
As such, during the summer of 1941, the Nazis banned Dutch Jews from public places and made them subject to extreme travel restrictions. In August, they expelled all Jewish students from public educational institutions and blocked Jews' access to all their assets. By the end of autumn, they commenced operation of forced labor camps and assigned responsibility to the Joodse Raad with staffing them with Jewish workers sufficient to fill drastically escalating labor quotas.
The devastation of Dutch Jewry commenced apace in 1942. In January, the Nazis began concentrating Jews in Amsterdam; in March, they began appropriating Jewish property; on April 29, they ordered that every Jew aged six and over must wear a yellow star inscribed with the word "Jood" on his left breast; and deportations to Westerbork (and then primarily Auschwitz) commenced that summer.
Visser, the former Dutch Supreme Court Justice who headed the Jewish Coordinating Committee, protested vociferously against Jews being forced to wear the star. A momentous and hostile philosophical battle ensued between Visser, who single-mindedly advocated non-cooperation with the Nazis, and Cohen and Asscher, who urged collaboration as the only way forward to maximize Jewish survival under the circumstances.
Visser, an authentic Holocaust hero unfortunately known to few Jews, persisted in advocating for non-collaboration until three days after he received a correspondence from the Nazis threatening to send him to a concentration camp if he persisted in his resistance, when he died from a sudden heart attack.
On Friday evening, June 26, 1942, after Shabbat had started, Cohen was summoned to Heydrich's Central Office for Jewish Emigration, where he was advised that entire Jewish families would be sent to labor camps in Germany; he was ordered to report the very next morning on the Joodse Raad's daily capacity to process Jews. On July 14, after several days of wrangling over numbers, the Nazis seized 700 Jewish hostages and threatened to deport them all to Mauthausen unless 4,000 Jews immediately appeared, ready to be transported to work in Nazi work camps.
Shown here is an incredible rarity from my collection, a July 14, 1942 flier issued on the very day of the Nazi deportation action as an extra edition of the Amsterdam Het Joodse Weekblad (The Jewish Weekly), perhaps the last Dutch newspaper produced for the Amsterdam Jewish community. The filer bears a terse announcement:
The Sicherheitspolizei informs us of the following: About 700 Jews have been arrested in Amsterdam today. If this week the 4,000 designated Jews do not leave for the labor camps in Germany, the 700 detainees will be transferred to a concentration camp in Germany.
The announcement is signed (in print) at the bottom by Asscher and Cohen who, as discussed, were heads of the Nazi-created Jewish Council in Amsterdam and were also publishers of the paper. The next day, the first deportees were on a transport and most of the Jewish hostages were released. Interestingly, the requisition of 4,000 Jewish laborers mentioned here was the catalyst that forced the Frank family into hiding after Anne's sister Margot was called up by the Central Office for Jewish Emigration on July 5, 1942.
1964 original newspaper photo of Otto Frank standing at the entrance to the secret annex in his Amsterdam home where the Frank family hid during World War II.
When the deportation of Jews from Holland began and the SS issued a warrant for the arrest of Otto Frank (Anne's father), his Christian friends, Miep and Jan Gies, hid the Frank family and others from the Nazis in a secret annex above Otto's business premises, where they remained from July 9, 1942 until someone betrayed them on August 4, 1944. (Few people know that Miep and Jan, a member of the Dutch resistance, also hid an anti-Nazi university student at their apartment, which was close to the secret annex.)
After the arrest of the Franks, Miep's offer to purchase their freedom was rebuffed by the Nazis. She escaped mandatory execution for harboring Jewish fugitives only due to a crazy quirk of fate: The police officer who came to interrogate her was from Vienna, her birth town, and, after screaming at her, he let her go.
The rest of the story is well known: The Frank family was transferred to Westerbork, from which they were forced onto the last train to leave the Netherlands for Auschwitz. Anne arrived in Bergen-Belsen in December 1944 and was murdered there in March 1945. Her mother died in Birkenau just after January 1, 1945; her sisters died at Bergen-Belsen; and Otto Frank, the only survivor of the Frank family, was liberated from Auschwitz on January 27, 1945.
After the arrest of the Frank family, Miep retrieved Anne's papers and kept them safe, hoping to return them to her. However, when Otto returned from Auschwitz and learned of Anne's death, Miep delivered Anne's papers to him, which he compiled into a diary first published in 1947. Many people do not know, however, that Miep never read the diaries before turning them over to Otto and that she later commented that, had she done so, she surely would have destroyed them to protect all the people who had assisted and supplied the Frank family.
Otto devoted the rest of his life to promoting Anne's diary and perpetuating her memory. In the February 24, 1965 correspondence exhibited here, he writes:
The work in Amsterdam is progressing steadily and I imagine you received from there the invitation to our International Youth Conference in July … I am sending you under separate cover a new pamphlet of the Anne Frank Foundation.
The Anne Frank Foundation was founded on May 3, 1957 to prevent the tearing down of the Frank house, which became a museum on May 3, 1960 and stands today as one of the outstanding Jewish Holocaust shrines.
Miep received many awards, including the Yad Vashem Righteous Among the Nations medal (1995). Very much a heroine of this story in her own right, she published her memoirs in Anne Frank Remembered (1987). Exhibited here is a title page of that book signed by her.
In October 1942, the expulsion of the Dutch Jews accelerated with 12,000 being sent to Auschwitz in one mass deportation. By Rosh Hashanah 1943, there were few Jews left in Amsterdam, as they had all been deported to Westerbork and then to Auschwitz. Overall, less than one-fourth of Dutch Jews survived the Holocaust. Some 100,000 were murdered and, of the 107,000 ultimately deported to Auschwitz, only 5,200 survived – one of the highest Jewish death rates in all of Europe.
This unusually high rate is attributable to the dense population in the Netherlands, with little open space or forest land for hiding, and to a civil administration that maintained extensive records of Jews, including where they lived. However, according to most scholars, the principal reason for these unenviable statistics was that the German police in the Netherlands, unlike in other countries, exercised sole authority over the deportations – independent of the occupying Nazi regime – which facilitated their ability to proceed slowly and to act with deception and duplicity so as to minimize Jewish resistance.
Asscher (Bergen-Belsen) and Cohen (Theresienstadt) were the only two of the 20 members of the Joodse Raad to survive Nazi captivity, and both returned to Amsterdam after the war, where the Dutch government investigated them for wartime collaboration.
In retrospect, it was indisputable that the Joodse Raad had abetted the Nazi mass-murder of Dutch Jews, but the question of what the Dutch population in general, and Asscher and Cohen in particular, knew at the time remains a matter of considerable historical dispute. Perhaps tilting the scale in their favor is the fact that the Nazis directed considerable resources to keeping the fate of the deported Jews from public knowledge.
In 1947, the Dutch Jewish Council of Honor barred Asscher and Cohen from ever holding public office in the Jewish community but, after Asscher's death in 1950, public pressure triggered the Council's reversal and the annulment of its decree. After the Council absolved them of all wrongdoing, the Dutch government followed suit and dropped all charges against them the following year.
See you tomorrow bli neder-Happy Purim tomorrow throughout the world except in walled cities (Jerusalem) Easy fast if you are under 60, if not don't fast.