Breaking news:Israeli rabbis are divided over temperature checks on Shabbat, a tool to stop the spread of disease and can the Bible teach us about the riots today and high-class insults and Three Talks about Death You Should Have Now By Rabbi Benjamin Blech and behind Coronavirus’ Cover, Ramallah Dumps 2.2 Millions Gallons of Garbage in Binyamin By David Israel
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
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Can the Bible teach us anything about the Riots today?
Can the Bible teach us anything about the Riots Today?
The name "Korach," which in translates from the Hebrew means baldness, ice, hail, or frost, is the 38th weekly Torah portion (פָּרָשָׁה, parashah in Hebrew) in the annual Jewish cycle of Torah reading and the fifth in the Book of Numbers. It tells of Korah's failed attempt to overthrow Moses.
It constitutes Numbers 16:1–18:32. The parashah is made up of 5,325 Hebrew letters, 1,409 Hebrew words, 95 verses, and 184 lines in a Torah Scroll (סֵפֶר תּוֹרָה, Sefer Torah) It is generally read in the synagogue in June or July.
The study of the biblical account of Korach's rebellion against Moses, and of the numerous Midrashim and Commentaries describing Korach's personality and actions, yields a complex, even contradictory picture. Korach was no ordinary rabble-rouser. He was a leading member of Kehatites, the most prestigious of the Levite families. Joining him in his mutiny against Moses and Aaron were "two hundred and fifty men of Israel, leaders of the community, of those regularly called to assembly, men of renown." Korach's difference with Moses was an ideological one, driven by the way in which he understood Israel's relationship with G‑d and by the manner in which he felt the nation ought to be structured.
Yet Korach is regarded as the father of all quarrelers: his very name is synonymous with disharmony and conflict. The Talmud goes so far as to proclaim: "Anyone who engages in divisiveness transgresses a divine prohibition, as it is written: 'And he shall not be as Korach and his company.'" But if there is more to Korach — the person and the idea — than a jealousy-drive power struggle, why does every petty squabbler fall under the umbrella of "Don't be like Korach"?
Obviously, there is something at the heart of Korach's contentions that is the essence of all disunity.
The particulars of Korach's campaign also require explanation. What exactly did Korach want? His arguments against Moses and Aaron seem fraught with contradiction. On the one hand, he seems to challenge the very institution of the kehunah ("priesthood"), declaiming to Moses and Aaron: "The entire community is holy, and G‑d is within them; why do you raise yourselves over the congregation of G‑d?"
(Moses had divided the people of Israel into several classes of holiness: "ordinary" Israelites, Levites, Kohanim ("priests") and, at the pinnacle of this pyramid, the Kohen Gadol ("High Priest"). The Israelites — the farmers, merchants, craftsmen, soldiers, and statesmen of Israel — were to pursue the "normal" existence of physical man — a life and vocation that involve the bulk of a person's time and talents in the material world.
The tribe of Levi, however, was "distinguished by the G‑d of Israel from the community of Israel, to be brought closer to Him," to serve as spiritual leaders and priests, "instructing Your laws to Jacob and Your Torah to Israel; placing incense in Your nostrils and burnt offerings upon Your altar" (Numbers 16:9; Deuteronomy 33:10). Within the tribe of Levi itself, Aaron and his descendants were consecrated as "Kohanim" and entrusted with the primary role in serving G‑d in the Sanctuary. Aaron himself was appointed Kohen Gadol, "the greatest of his brethren" in this hierarchy of holiness. Korach seems to be objecting to this spiritual elitism.)
But from Moses' response ("Is it not enough for you that the G‑d of Israel has distinguished you from the community of Israel... that you also desire the priesthood?") we see that Korach actually desired the office of the Kohen Gadol for himself!
This paradox appears time and again in various accounts of Korach's mutiny in the Midrashim and the commentaries. Korach comes across a champion of equality, railing against a "class system" that categorizes levels of holiness within the community. Yet, in the same breath, he contends that he is the more worthy candidate for the High Priesthood. Do we find anything like that today in the claims for equalism in the riots going on?
Our Sages have said: "Just as their faces are not alike, so, too, their minds and characters are not alike." Such is the nature of the human race: individuals and peoples differ from each other in outlook, personality, talents, and the many other distinctions, great and small, which set them apart from each other.
It is only natural to expect these differences to give rise to animosity and conflict. And yet, at the core of the human soul is the yearning for peace. We intuitively sense that despite the tremendous (and apparently inherent) differences between us, a state of universal harmony is both desirable and attainable. Let us hope that the differences between us can soon stop and the world can finally achieve peace. This is why we pray for the Moshiach to come daily, as it looks like that is what it will take to bring peace.
Israeli rabbis are divided over temperature checks on Shabbat, a tool to stop the spread of disease
The Zomet Institute, a non-profit Israeli organization dedicated to designing electronic equipment and other equipment that are permitted on Shabbat, has developed a digital thermometer that has been approved for use on Shabbat. (Zomet Institute website)
JERUSALEM (JTA) — Top Haredi Orthodox rabbis in Israel and the Sephardic chief rabbi of Israel are split over the use of thermometers on Shabbat as part of health checks to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
In Israel, the thermometers are used at the entrance to hospitals to make sure that people who enter do not have fevers, one symptom of the coronavirus. The thermometers could also be used by synagogues around the world to measure the temperature of worshippers arriving for Shabbat services.
Last week, five senior Haredi rabbis said in an official letter that the temperature checks mean that it is forbidden to enter the hospital on Shabbat, unless it is a life-threatening situation, Ynet reported.
"There are concerns about the prohibition of work on Shabbat in both the heat measurement and the writing generated on the monitor," read the letter. The letter said hospitals could circumvent the issue by having non-Jews perform the checks.
But Israel's Sephardic chief rabbi, Yitzhak Yosef, ruled on Sunday that it is permitted to enter a hospital on Shabbat if a person's temperature is automatically taken, the Jerusalem Post reported.
The Zomet Institute, an Israeli nonprofit that designs electronics and other equipment that can be used by observant Jews on Shabbat, recently developed a digital thermometer that does not require users to engage in activities prohibited on Shabbat. The thermometer detects a temperature every four seconds, so no one needs to operate the electronic device to take a measurement, and the way the readings are displayed are designed not to constitute writing.
These glorious insults are from an era before the English language got boiled down to incomprehensible jiberish
"He had delusions of adequacy"-Walter Kerr"
He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire."- Winston Churchill
"I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure."-Clarence Darrow
"He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary."-William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway)
"Thank you for sending me a copy of your book; I'll waste no time reading it."-Moses Hadas
"I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it."-Mark Twain
"He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends."-Oscar Wilde
"I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a friend, if you have one."-George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill
"Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second... if there is one."-Winston Churchill, in response
"I feel so miserable without you; it's almost like having you here."-Stephen Bishop
"He is a self-made man and worships his creator."-John Bright
"I've just learned about his illness. Let's hope it's nothing trivial."-Irvin S. Cobb
"He is not only dull himself; he is the cause of dullness in others."-Samuel Johnson
"He is simply a shiver looking for a spine to run up."- Paul Keating
"He loves nature in spite of what it did to him."-Forrest Tucker
"Why do you sit there looking like an envelope without any address on it?"-Mark Twain
"His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork."-Mae West
"Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go."-Oscar Wilde
"He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts... for support rather than illumination."-Andrew Lang (1844-1912)
"He has Van Gogh's ear for music."-Billy Wilder
"I've had a perfectly wonderful evening. But I'm afraid this wasn't it."-Groucho Marx
"As in water, face reflects face, so the heart of a man to a man
"As in water, face reflects face, so the heart of a man to a man" (Proverbs 27:19). This statement has a biological basis.
Deep in the lower brain is a tiny almond-shaped area called the amygdala (ah-MIG-dala), which is the fear-processing center.The amygdala contains "mirror cells" which cause us to reflect what others are feeling. If someone smiles at us, we tend to smile back. But if someone is hostile, we tend to feel scared and defensive, often wanting to hurt back due to the pain we are feeling.
Behind Coronavirus' Cover, Ramallah Dumps 2.2 Millions Gallons of Garbage in Binyamin By David Israel
While the entire world was holding its breath following the progress of the coronavirus pandemic, with millions of Israeli citizens in quarantine and law enforcement authorities reducing their activity, the Palestinian Authority seized the opportunity to illegally dump millions of gallons of garbage in Area C, which is under full Israeli control (we wish), Regavim reported Sunday.
In only a few weeks, millions of gallons of garbage from the Arab cities of Ramallah and Al-Bireh were dumped in an abandoned quarry near the Binyamin industrial area.
Thousands of Arab owned trucks took advantage of the temporary lull in law enforcement monitoring poured their contents from the top of a cliff straight into the quarry. Should the Israeli authorities not do something about it, thousands of tons of garbage will be set on fire that will burn days and nights, making the area's Jewish inhabitants' lives a living hell and creating a huge environmental damage to the air and soil.
2.2 Millions Gallons of Garbage / Regavim
The Regavim movement used advanced technological means, including drone photography, to measure the amount of garbage that was being dumped in the quarry, to assess just how miserable the situation was. The garbage, which had been accumulated in three huge piles, dozens of feet high, was estimated at about 10,000 cubic meters, or 2.2 million gallons.
"There is no doubt that today's technology allows us to be accurate and understand exactly what we are dealing with in the field," said Yishai Hamo, Regavim's coordinator in Judea and Samaria. "If in the past we had to guess, or try to estimate roughly the amount of garbage and filth found in pirate landfills across Judea and Samaria, today we deal with exact figures."
"Pirate landfills throughout Judea and Samaria are a challenge that reappears every summer, but this particular landfill is something we haven't encountered yet," Hamo said. "Enormous quantities of garbage have been piled up there in just a few weeks without anyone bothering to stop and check what's going on there. Such a large volume of garbage trucks traveling in the same direction is something that couldn't possibly go under the radar, and in any other reality would have had to turn on red lights for people on the ground."
Binyamin Council Head Israel Gantz said in a statement: "Garbage disposal pollution is an ecological terror attack. Apparently, the natural treasures in our area are of no interest to the Palestinians, some of whom use and enjoy them, and the State of Israel must take responsibility."
"I am confident that all environmental and green organizations will join in the fight, and I urge the Defense Minister, the Head of the Civil Administration and the IDF Environment Staff Officer in Judea and Samaria to act aggressively to prevent such incidents."
Three Talks about Death You Should Have Now By Rabbi Benjamin Blech
Until the current global pandemic made the angel of death an all too evident and unwelcome visitor in our midst, most people would have agreed with Roger Rosenblatt's observation that "Death is something that happens to others, you think, until it happens to you."
It seems we are biologically as well as psychologically oriented to deny our mortality. That's because, researchers say, our brains do their best to keep us from dwelling on our inevitable demise. A study found that the brain shields us from existential fear by categorizing death as an unfortunate event from which we ourselves are exempt. "The brain does not accept that death is related to us," in the words of Yair Dor-Ziderman, at Bar Ilan University in Israel. "We have this primal mechanism that means when the brain gets information that links self to death, something tells us it's not reliable, so we shouldn't believe it.
Unfortunately, death is all too real. All of us will die. And as has become tragically clear in the past few months it can come without warning, condemning the young as well as the elderly, the perfectly healthy together with the infirm and the sickly.
Strange then that so little preparation is made for a universal encounter which cannot be avoided, especially during this time of coronavirus when death's sudden appearance comes without allowance for preparation or prior discussion.
Dr. Laura Schellenberg Johnson, a palliative care doctor for Covid-19 victims, wrote of the difficulty in determining methods of care for those who become too sick too fast to make their own healthcare choices. "Recently, the son of a critically ill patient asked that we postpone major decisions about his father's care until he had improved enough to participate in the conversations. 'I'm not sure what he would want,' the son said. 'We never talked about it.' " Dr. Johnson concludes: "It is hands down the most common thing I hear from families."
90% of people say that talking with their loved ones about end of life care is important. Yet, only 27% have actually done so.
80% of people say that if seriously ill, they would want to talk to their doctor about wishes for medical treatment toward the end of their life. Only 7% report having had this conversation with their doctor. (Survey of Californians by the California HealthCare Foundation, 2012)
Research shows that as many as one third of seriously ill, hospitalized older people are receiving invasive treatments they don't want at end-of-life, because no one has talked to them about their wishes for future care.
That is why, although the subject matter may be highly distasteful to many, I urge people – especially now – to make time for these three important talks:
1. Talk to Your Rabbi
Jews are very much aware that a fundamental tenet of Judaism is the sanctity of human life. The Sabbath, Yom Kippur, and almost all other religious laws may be violated to save and even to extend life or a brief period of time. From this many believe that according to halachah, Jewish law, all measures need to be taken to extend the dying person's life regardless of the prolonged suffering of the patient, financial cost, or emotional burden to family. In fact, in the case of a terminally ill patient, particularly one in pain, such life extending measures may not only fail to be mandatory but at in certain circumstances may even be forbidden.
It is not within the parameters of a short article with a wide and varied audience such as this to address serious life-and-death issues nor to render halachic decisions, but readers should at least be aware that Jewish law seriously considers a balance between preserving life and alleviating suffering. Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, the preeminent halakhic authority of the twentieth century, among others, allows for a significant role for patient autonomy. Factors to be considered include risks assessment and the emotional well-being of the patient.
Inasmuch as suffering is always the subjective experience of the person himself, nearly all authorities agree that a terminally ill patient can choose to tolerate suffering and to take interventions that will extend life. But in a case in which he would prefer a quick death or we cannot know his desires, some leading rabbis rule that one can allow natural death to take its course, and that one is not required to intervene in such a case.
Jewish law seeks to balance personal autonomy with the ideal of the priority of life. The delicate balance between the two needs to be formulated as result of a serious discussion with a knowledgable rabbi.
2. Talk to Your Doctor
Once you know the halachic parameters for death and dying, it is imperative to convey your religious beliefs to your doctor. Ideally this ought to be a conversation begun well before any signs of sickness. It should be part of your personal profile – and something well known to your family and loved ones to be used in the event that you are incapable of offering guidance for your wishes.
Unless instructed otherwise, doctors are very often guided either by their personal views about death and dying or fears about being criticized (or sued) for not following standard medical practice. Remarkably what doctors do for patients is in most cases not what they would choose for themselves. A 2013 JAMA study of Medicare patients found that despite the fact most seniors want to die at home or in the home of a loved one, only a third actually do. Many more die in nursing homes, hospitals or intensive care units hooked to machines and feeding tubes. Of those who do make it to hospice care, one third are there for less than three days before dying. Until then, many are subjected to aggressive end-of-life treatment.
Only if you have made clear to your doctor how you want to die – and that that is in accord with your religious values as per discussion with a knowledgeable rabbi – can you rest assured that you will pass away in peace, faithful to your Jewish values till the very end.
3. Talk to Your Children
Perhaps the saddest aspect of countless coronavirus deaths was their suddenness which prevented any meaningful parting words.
How precious were the deathbed scenes of Jacob and of Moses. To have some time with loved ones to give final instructions and blessings, to pass on the legacy of a lifetime's wisdom, to summarize values which gave meaning to one's life to the next generation – that is a divine gift which the Torah beautifully illustrates in the last stories of Genesis and Deuteronomy.
Yet none of us can be assured that death will allow us a final scene of parting.
That's why we have a beautiful tradition going back many centuries. Just as the world has made it a universal practice to write wills legislating proper dispersal of financial assets, Jews have for the longest time written ethical wills to their children sharing their wealth of wisdom as well as spiritual lessons they have learned over their lifetimes.
What a magnificent idea for the modern world. We hardly ever have time today for meaningful conversations. Children no longer sit and share meals with parents and if they do their cell phones take precedence over those sitting alongside of them. They may never know what was most meaningful to us, or our goals and our dreams, our hopes and our inspirations.
What if we were to suddenly die – and never have an opportunity to tell them?
Talk to your children by leaving a legacy of words in an ethical will, just as the sages of the Talmud, the wise men of the Middle Ages and victims of the Holocaust managed to do – and in that way to survive through their descendants.
These are the three talks I urge you to have because we are all mortal, yet through them we can gain a measure of immortality.
Do men's clothes have buttons on the right while women's clothes have buttons on the left?
When buttons were invented, they were very expensive and worn primarily by the rich. Since most people are right-handed, it is easier to push buttons on the right through holes on the left. Because wealthy women were dressed by maids, dressmakers put the buttons on the maid's right! And that's where women's buttons have remained since.
2 .. WHY?
Why do ships and aircraft use 'mayday' as their call for help?
This comes from the French word m'aidez - meaning 'help me' - and is pronounced, approximately, 'mayday.'
3 .. WHY?
Why are zero scores in tennis called 'love'?
In France , where tennis became popular, the round zero on the scoreboard looked like an egg and was called 'l'oeuf,' which is French for 'the egg.' When tennis was introduced in the US, Americans (naturally), mispronounced it 'love.'
4 .. WHY?
Why do X's at the end of a letter signify kisses?
In the Middle Ages, when many people were unable to read or write, documents were often signed using an X. Kissing the X represented an oath to fulfill obligations specified in the document. The X and the kiss eventually became synonymous.
5 .. WHY?
Why is shifting responsibility to someone else called passing the buck'?
In card games, it was once customary to pass an item, called a buck, from player to player to indicate whose turn it was to deal. If a player did not wish to assume the responsibility of dealing, he would 'pass the buck' to the next player.
6 .. WHY?
Why do people clink their glasses before drinking a toast?
In earlier times it used to be common for someone to try to kill an enemy by offering him a poisoned drink. To prove to a guest that a drink was safe, it became customary for a guest to pour a small amount of his drink into the glass of the host. Both men would drink it simultaneously. When a guest trusted his host, he would only touch or clink the host's glass with his own.
Why are people in the public eye said to be 'in the limelight'?
Invented in 1825, limelight was used in lighthouses and theatres by burning a cylinder of lime which produced a brilliant light. In the theatre, a performer 'in the limelight' was the Centre of attention.
8 .. WHY?
Why is someone who is feeling great 'on cloud nine'?
Types of clouds are numbered according to the altitudes they attain, with nine being the highest cloud. If someone is said to be on cloud nine, that person is floating well above worldly cares.
9 .. WHY?
In golf, where did the term 'Caddie' come from?
When Mary Queen of Scots went to France as a young girl, Louis, King of France, learned that she loved the Scots game 'golf.' He had the first course outside of Scotland built for her enjoyment. To make sure she was properly chaperoned (and guarded) while she played, Louis hired cadets from a military school to accompany her.
Mary liked this a lot and when she returned to Scotland (not a very good idea in the long run), she took the practice with her. In French, the word cadet is pronounced 'ca-day' and the Scots changed it into caddie.
10 ... WHY?
Why are many coin collection jar banks shaped like pigs.
Long ago, dishes and cookware in Europe were made of dense orange clay called 'pygg'. When people saved coins in jars made of this clay, the jars became known as 'pygg banks.' When an English potter misunderstood the word, he made a container that resembled a pig. And it caught on.
Bet you don't know "Big cheeks"
Big cheeks. A grandson of slaves, a boy was born in a poor neighbourhood of New Orleans known as the "Back of Town." His father abandoned the family when the child was an infant His mother became a prostitute and the boy and his sister had to live with their grandmother.
Early in life he proved to be gifted for music and with three other kids he sang in the streets of New Orleans. His first gains were coins that were thrown to them.
A Jewish family, Karnofsky, who had emigrated from Lithuania to the USA, had pity for the 7-year-old boy and brought him into their home. Initially giving 'work' in the house, to feed this hungry child. There he remained and slept in this Jewish family's home where, for the first time in his life, he was treated with kindness and tenderness.
When he went to bed, Mrs. Karnovsky sang him a Russian lullaby that he would sing with her. Later, he learned to sing and play several Russian and Jewish songs.
Over time, this boy became the adopted son of this family. The Karnofskys gave him money to buy his first musical instrument; as was the custom in the Jewish families.
They sincerely admired his musical talent. Later, when he became a professional musician and composer, he used these Jewish melodies in compositions, such as St. James Infirmary and Go Down Moses.
The little black boy grew up and wrote a book about this Jewish family who had adopted him in 1907. In memory of this family and until the end of his life, he wore a Star of David and said that in this family, he had learned "how to live real life and determination."
You might recognize his name. This little boy was called: Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong. Louis Armstrong proudly spoke fluent Yiddish! And "Satchmo" is Yiddish for "Big Cheeks"!!!