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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Do you have to suffer to be Jewish
Do you have to suffer to be Jewish
Unlike Christianity, Judaism generally does not believe that suffering brings redemption. However we do believe that suffering has a purpose. In our religion, there is not someone who has to die in order for humankind to be redeemed. A good and innocent man need not be nailed to a cross by a brutal Roman occupier in order for God's children to be forgiven for sin. We Jews do not seek or find any blessing in, suffering. To the extent that our people have been subject to persecution for thousands of years, it has been against our will. We do not relish dying for our faith. The Torah says, "And you should live through My commandments." Martyrdom was forced upon us, against our will.
However, Nothing in life is random. Judaism does believe that G-d sends suffering to accomplish a specific purpose. We must realize that there are reasons for our difficulties. By working to uncover the reasons, we will grow from and transcend our challenges.
While our efforts are important, clearly, the reason G-d sends adversity is not to cause people to wait on long lines for scarce supplies, frequent doctors or worry over their finances, or be locked-down as has been the case with the Coronavirus.
Ignoring the underlying spiritual cause of our difficulties is an exercise in futility; we cannot override G-d's purpose in sending us challenges. When we also focus on the spiritual, we give our material efforts much-needed potency.
The Jewish messianic dream – going back millennia to Isaiah, Jeremiah, Zechariah, and Micah – is not a world illuminated by the wisdom we gain from illness but a world purged of all disease. There is nothing positive suffering or death brings to our lives that cannot be attained through positive means.
Judaism is a religion of life, not death. We bury our dead outside our cities. We pray to a living God, not one martyred on a cross. And we pray for a time of eternal life when all humanity will be healed when there will be an abundance of food and plenty, and peace will cover the earth so that the blessings of life can be absorbed, appreciated, and internalized forever.
So what are some of the possible reasons for our suffering and is it necessary to suffer if you are Jewish?
To strengthen our faith and acceptance of G-d's will. Underlying all the reasons below is one fundamental truth: The purpose of our challenges is to benefit us (Tractate Berachot 60b). Difficulties serve as a training ground to strengthen our belief that G-d guides our lives for our highest good. Sometimes, later in life, we realize how we benefited, or we will discover the benefit in the Next World.
To help us grow and improve. Generally, we learn more from our failures and challenges than we do from our successes. Suffering teaches us important lessons, e.g., humility, empathy, patience, and perseverance. Through suffering, we discover our hidden strengths and abilities we did not know we possessed.
Suffering can also help us improve by reminding us to increase our repentance, prayer, and charity. A key High Holiday prayer states that by enhancing these three components we can annul a harsh decree. Use suffering as a catalyst to repent for misdeeds, pray with greater fervor, and give charity more generously.
To help others, by giving them the opportunity to be kind, appreciate their blessings, and learn from our example. In Heaven, there are no needy, sick, or discouraged people. This world is the world of opportunity, the place where we can accomplish great good and earn the bliss of Heaven. Therefore, in this world, to provide opportunities to do acts of kindness there must be people who suffer and struggle.
When people see someone with significant difficulties, it reminds them that their own problems are not so bad, and to appreciate the blessings in their lives. If we accept our struggles with grace, we'll be rewarded for serving as role models to others, showing them that one can still maintain faith and accomplish great things even amidst towering challenges.
Suffering also reminds us not to take our blessings for granted, to appreciate what is going right in our lives, and to be thankful to G-d. We can realize that even with all our difficulties, in many ways we are fortunate and there are still opportunities for us to help others.
Whatever spiritual level we reach at the end of our lives is the level of bliss we will receive in Heaven and the way we will remain – forever. The temporary difficulties we experience in this world benefit us eternally by enhancing our spirituality.
Do not think the reason for your suffering is that G-d abandoned you. Nothing could be further from the truth. During times of difficulty, G-d is with you in your pain. He is by your side holding your hand, strengthening, and encouraging you. He knows that with His/her assistance, you will make it through and emerge even stronger and better off than before.
Frequently, before engaging in soul searching, people wait for suffering to be intense and to exhaust all other options. As soon as the difficulties ease up they call off the search. There is a famous story about the person who was searching for a parking space and promised G-d many things if she found one. A parking space showed up and she said, never mind my promises G-d, I found a space.
How many of us did not appreciate going to synagogue enough when shuls were open? Did we need them to close to miss them? And how many of us, before the pandemic, spent an extra hour at the office rather than coming home to eat with our kids. Did we need lockdowns to remind us we were parents and that the synagogue was a place to connect with G-d? No you don't have to suffer to be Jewish, but it has a place in spirituality.
Ideas, that help explain how the world works
Puns for today 1. The fattest knight at King Arthur's round table was Sir Cumference. He acquired his size from too much pi. 2. I thought I saw an eye doctor on an Alaskan island, but it turned out to be an optical Aleutian. 3. She was only a whiskey maker, but he loved her still. 4. A rubber band pistol was confiscated from algebra class, because it was a weapon of math disruption. 5. No matter how much you push the envelope, it'll still be stationery. 6. A dog gave birth to puppies near the road and was cited for littering. 7. A grenade thrown into a kitchen in France would result in Linoleum Blownapart. 8. Two silk worms had a race. They ended up in a tie. 9. Atheism is a non-prophet organization. 10. Two hats were hanging on a hat rack in the hallway. One hat said to the other: 'You stay here; I'll go on a head.' 11. I wondered why the baseball kept getting bigger. Then it hit me. 12. The midget fortune-teller who escaped from prison was a small medium at large. 13. The soldier who survived mustard gas and pepper spray is now a seasoned veteran. 14. A backward poet writes inverse. 15. In a democracy, it's your vote that counts. In feudalism, it's your count that votes. 16. When cannibals ate a missionary, they got a taste of religion. 17. If you jumped off the bridge in Paris, you'd be in Seine. 18. A vulture boards an airplane, carrying two dead raccoons. The stewardess looks at him and says, 'I'm sorry, sir, only one carrion allowed per passenger.' 19. Two fish swim into a concrete wall. One turns to the other and says 'Dam!' 20. Two Eskimos sitting in a kayak were chilly, so they lit a fire in the craft. Unsurprisingly it sank, proving once again that you can't have your kayak and heat it too. 21. Two hydrogen atoms meet. One says, 'I've lost my electron.' The other says 'Are you sure?' The first replies, 'Yes, I'm positive.' 22. Did you hear about the Buddhist who refused Novocain during a root canal? His goal: transcend dental medication. 23. There was the person who sent ten puns to friends, with the hope that at least one of the puns would make them laugh. No pun in ten did.
Moshe Dayan: The Hero AND VILLAIN of Jerusalem Day By Jeff Dunetz -
Thursday evening, May 21 begins the annual day-long holiday of Yom Yerushalayim, which celebrates the reunification of Jerusalem during the Six-Day-War in 1967. Many people remember the picture of "hero" Moshe Dayan entering Jerusalem signaling the return of the "old city" of Jerusalem to the Jewish state. Moshe Dayan is recognized as the hero of the reunification of Jerusalem but left unspoken is the fact that he's also the villain.
Jerusalem became the capital city of the Jewish people in the time of King David. David conquered it and made it the seat of his monarchy in approximately 1000 B.C.E. After the Romans conquered the city in 70 C.E., the Jewish people mourned the loss of the city and the site of the Holy Temple in the city for the next nineteen hundred years.
After Israel's War of Independence in 1948, the Jewish State was control of the newer half of the Holy City. But on day three of the Six-Day-War Israeli forces were able to reunify their capital. Finally, after almost two millennia, the Jewish people were able to control the Temple Mount, the site of both of the Holy Temples… until Moshe Dayan took it upon himself to give control of the Temple Mount back to the Muslim Waqf under Jordanian control.
Made Defense Minister just before the start of the June 1967 War, Israel's quick victory in the war made Dayan an international hero. But if it were not for the progressive hubris of the man considered to be the hero of Six-Day-War, the Kotel (Wailing Wall or Western Wall) in Jerusalem, and the Temple Mount would not be as divisive of an issue between Israel and its neighbors that they are today.
Jews were denied access to the Holy Sites in the Old City Jerusalem since when Jordan gained control of the "Old City" during the 1948 war.
During the intervening 19 years, the Jordanians waged systematic destruction, desecration, and looting of Jewish sites. But 53 years ago the I.D.F. liberated the Old City of Jerusalem, and Jews were allowed to approach the Temple Mount.
Even if you cannot understand the Hebrew in the short video below, you can appreciate the joy, and reverence as Jews approached the Temple mount for the first time since 1948.
It should be noted that despite what commentators and the mainstream media will tell you, the Kotel (the Wailing Wall) is not the holiest site in Judaism—it is the retaining wall for the most sacred site in Judaism, the Temple Mount. The Kotel is the closest place to the holiest spot for Jews that Jews are allowed to pray. Thanks in part to Moshe Dayan, Jews are not permitted to pray atop the Temple Mount (Christians aren't allowed to pray either).
When Israel gained possession of the Temple compound during the Six-Day-War, Prime Minister Levi Eshkol wanted to create a multi-faith council to run the Temple Mount. The Muslim Mosque would not have been touched, but all faiths would be allowed up on top of the mount, and it would "belong" to all three religions.
Dayan didn't like that idea. He thought the Temple Mount should remain in Muslim possession. In his biography, Dayan clearly stated that he was worried that Jews would try to rebuild the Beit Hamikdash (the Jewish Temple), and that was the last thing he wanted.
Of course, there was no way a third Temple would be built—well built then. By Jewish tradition, it won't be built until the coming of the Moshiach (Messiah). And at that time it won't matter.
But that didn't stop Dayan. Like most progressives, he felt he knew better than anybody. He didn't consult the Prime Minister or the Knesset, nor did the Israeli people have a say.
Found By the Southern Wall of the Temple Mount-From Second Temple Inscribed, "To the Place of Trumpeting." The spot where the Priests blew the Shofar to announce the beginning and end of the Sabbath and Holidays.
Dayan took it upon himself, he "gave" control of the Temple Mount back to the Arabs because he wanted to make sure that there wouldn't be a third Temple. And there was nothing that Prime Minister Eshkol could do about it, after all, Moshe Dayan, was a war hero.
The Jewish people have lost possession of the Temple Mount three times since King David purchased the site 30 centuries ago. Only once was the site given away voluntarily. That was when Moshe Dayan gave it away 53 years ago. Moshe Dayan should go down in history as the man who gave away the Temple Mount, providing the Palestinians the opportunity to make the site of the Holy Temple an Issue:
………."It's true," [Knesset member Aryeh Eldad] said, "that the original sin was when the Jewish People, immediately after the Six Day War in 1967, ceded its hold on the Temple Mount in an unholy alliance between the Chief Rabbinate and Moshe Dayan – each side for its own reasons – but now the danger is that the Arab sovereignty on the Temple Mount will spill over to the Western Wall plaza, and from there to other places."
Then-Defense Minister Dayan, just days after Israel's liberation of the Old City, informed the Muslims running the Temple Mount that they could continue to run the mosques there – and later went further by preventing Jewish prayer all over the Mount.
"It was evident that if we did not prevent Jews from praying in what was now a mosque compound," Dayan later wrote, "matters would get out of hand and lead to a religious clash… As an added precaution, I told the chief of staff to order the chief army chaplain to remove the branch office he had established in the building which adjoins the mosque compound."
Since they control the Mount, the Muslim Waqf, "conducted illegal renovations on the Temple Mount and disposed of over 9,000 tons of dirt mixed with invaluable archaeological artifacts. Though Israeli antiquities law requires a salvage excavation before construction at archaeological sites, this illegal bulldozing destroyed innumerable artifacts: veritable treasures that would have provided a rare glimpse of the region's rich history." But the Waqf was trying to destroy any proof that there were Jewish Temples atop the mount.
A bronze coin bearing the face of Antiochus IV, the king whose edicts brought about the revolt of the Maccabees in 167 B.C.E. Discarded by the Muslim Waqf, found by the Temple Mount Sifting Project
Thankfully an organization called the Temple Mount Sifting Project has been going through the "dirt" for the past 20 years and has found incredible artifacts from both the first and second Temples.
The evening of May 21 until sunset the next day, Jews across the world will celebrate Yom Yerushalayim commemorating the day Jews once again had access to their holy sites in East Jerusalem. But Thanks to Moshe Dayan, the most sacred site in all of Judaism is off-limits. That is what Jews call a shanda (a shame).
Moshe Dayan hero and villain
On Taking Risks In Life By Dennis Prager
n a recent "Fireside Chat," my weekly talk show on the PragerU platform, I commented on society's increasing fixation on being "safe." The following is a condensed version of what I said:
We have a meme up at PragerU: "Until it's safe" means "never."
The pursuit of "safe" over virtually all other considerations is life-suppressing. This is true for your own individual life, and it is true for the life of a society.
I always give the following example: I have been taking visitors to Israel for decades, and for all those decades, people have called my radio show to say, "Dennis, I would so love to visit Israel, but I'm just going to wait until it's safe." And I've always told these people, "Then you'll never go." And sure enough, I've gone there over 20 times, and they never went.
I have never led my life on the basis of "until it's safe." I do not take ridiculous risks. I wear a seatbelt whenever I'm in a car because the chances are overwhelming that in a bad accident, a seatbelt can save my life. But I get into the car, which is not 100 percent safe.
You are not on earth to be safe. You are on earth to lead a full life. I don't want my epitaph to be, "He led a safe life." It's like another epitaph I don't want: "He experienced as little pain as possible."
The nature of this world is such that if you aim for 100 percent safety and no pain, you don't live. I have visited 130 countries, some of which were not particularly safe. Safe, as in "no risk," doesn't exist. Accepting there are degrees of safety and balancing risk with reward are part of the reason I've led a rich life.
I'll give a personal example. I started teaching myself to conduct an orchestra when I was in my teens. I have conducted orchestras periodically for much of my adult life. As a guest conductor, I raise funds for orchestras, as I did two years ago at the Disney Concert Hall, where I conducted a Haydn symphony with the Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra.
Now, I rarely get nervous. But the first time I conducted, I was so nervous I was actually dripping sweat onto the score – and it was only a rehearsal. What I did was not play it safe. Playing it safe would have meant I wouldn't have accepted the invitation to conduct.
All of life confronts you with this question: Are you going to take risks or play it safe? If you play it safe, you don't get married. If you play it safe, you don't have kids. There are real risks in getting married; there are real risks in having children.
Take the issue of the word "safe" on campuses. "Safe" is used to suppress freedom of thought: "If we have a conservative speaker on campus, we need a 'safe space' where we can avoid feeling discomfort from exposure to ideas we don't like." A conservative speaker comes to campus and some students go to a "safe space" where they're given Play-Doh, hot chocolate, and stuffed animals. I'm not joking. That's what they do at some colleges – for people who are 18 and older.
That's why Adam Carolla and I named our movie about free speech "No Safe Spaces" (which you can and should watch at NoSafeSpaces.com).
"Safe" has become a dirty word. I rarely use it in the context of living life. It's one of the reasons I'm a happy person and have led a full life. I'm thinking of a trivial example, but life is filled with trivial examples. Most of life is not major moments. If I am at a restaurant and my fork or knife falls, I pick it up and use it. They rush over to give me a new one, like I am flirting with death if I take the fork from the floor.
My view is there's no reason to come over. The fork fell on the floor. What did it pick up – diphtheria? Am I going to get pancreatic cancer from a fork that fell? I'm not troubled by these things.
"Safe" is going to suppress your joy of life. When I was 21 years old, I was sent to the Soviet Union to smuggle in religious items for Soviet Jews and to smuggle out names of Jews who wanted to escape the Soviet Union.
It wasn't safe. I was in a totalitarian state, smuggling things in and out. But it was one of the most important things I've done in my life. Not to mention a life-transforming experience.
Before I went, I told my father about my plans. We both knew it wasn't safe. I'll never forget what my father said: "Dennis, I spent two and a half years on a Navy ship in World War II, fighting in the Pacific. So, you can take risks for a month."
Yes, he was worried. But this was a man who, despite having a wife and child, enlisted in the U.S. Navy to fight in World War II. He was an officer on a troop transport ship, a prime target of the Japanese. He wasn't safe. The World War II generation has been dubbed "the greatest generation." Part of what made them great was the last thing they would ever ask was, "Is it safe?"
If you want to lead a good and full life, you cannot keep asking, "Is it safe?" Those at college promoting "safe spaces" are afraid of life, and they want to make you afraid of life.
We're going crazy on the safe issue. It is making police states. That's my worry: In the name of safety, many Americans are dropping all other considerations. "Is it safe?" shouldn't be the overarching element in your life. Pick the fork up. Wipe it off. And use it.
Postscript: Some left-wing media cited the remarks about picking up a fork (transcribed above word-for-word) in order to smear me and the message. The Daily Beast led with this mendacious headline: "Dennis Prager Licks Dirty Forks To Show COVID Who's Boss." And the Daily Mail offered its attack with this headline: "Right-Wing Radio Host Dennis Prager Boasts About Using Dirty Forks From Restaurant Floors in His Latest Rambling Message Downplaying Dangers of Coronavirus That Has Now Killed 88,000 Americans." As is obvious, my talk was about "being safe," not the coronavirus.