Who incites the protesters against US Jews? and When Abba Eban Met René Magritte By Saul Jay Singer and The Blessing of Love By Rabbi Jonathan Sacks and Rabbi Kahane on Emergency Aliyah and Zedekiah's cave -one of Jerusalem's Greatest Mysteries
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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Zedekiah's Cave one of the Great Mysteries of Jerusalem
Zedekiah's Cave one of the Great Mysteries of Jerusalem
Zedekiah's Cave, also known as Solomon's Quarry, is a five-acre underground limestone cave under the Muslim Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem.
It was carved over a period of several thousand years and is a remnant of the largest quarry in Jerusalem, stretching from Jeremiah's Grotto and the Garden Tomb to the walls of the Old City. The cave has great historical importance in Freemasonry.
This quarry under the northern wall of Jerusalem's Old City lay buried for more than 300 years until, in 1854, an American missionary's dog dug through dirt near the wall and disappeared through an opening.
The entrance to Zedekiah's Cave is just beneath the Old City wall, between the Damascus and Herod Gates, about 500 feet (150 m) east of the former. Beyond the narrow entrance, the cave slopes down into a vast 300-foot-long auditorium-like chamber. Drops of water, known as "Zedekiah's tears", trickle through the ceiling.
Beyond the "auditorium" are a series of artificial galleries hewn by ancient stonecutters into chaotic, sometimes bizarre, patterns and formations. Paths give access to every corner of the quarry system, which takes at least 30 minutes to explore thoroughly. Chisel marks are visible in many sections and in some galleries huge, nearly finished building blocks destined for some long-ago structure are locked into the rock where the stonecutters left them centuries ago. In a few places the stones are marked by Arabic, Greek, Armenian and English charcoal and engraved graffiti (e.g., "W. E. Blackstone Jan. 1889"). Several plaques explaining some of the myriad legends associated with the site have been mounted on the cave walls.
From the entrance to the farthest point, the cave extends about 650 feet (200 m). Its maximum width is about 330 feet (100 m) and its depth is generally about 30 feet (9.1 m) below the street level of the Muslim Quarter, although there are several lower levels and blocked tunnels too.
Only the mouth of Zedekiah's Cave is a natural phenomenon. The interior of the cavern was carved over a period of several thousand years.
Legend has it that this was the cave through which biblical King Zedekiah unsuccessfully attempted to flee Jerusalem when the Babylonians conquered the city in 586 BCE.
The cave's other nickname is Solomon's Quarry. The Freemasons of Israel hold an annual secretive ceremony here as they consider King Solomon the original freemason. But it's more probable that stones cut here were used for the fourth-century BCE Second Temple of Herod rather than Solomon's ninth-century First Temple.
Adding to the cave's allure, in 1968 a Jerusalem resident claimed his grandfather had buried three cases of gold in Zedekiah's Cave. He offered a quarter of the loot to the government if it would finance a dig. Nothing was found.
Zedekiah found like Sol Epstein that You Can't Take It with You
Sol Epstein made millions in the garment business. And when he died he wanted to take some of his money to heaven with him. So just before his 120 years were up Sol talked to God about it. Sol told God that he had lived a good life and all he wanted was to bring a little of his fortune with him. God finally relented, but told the millionaire he must limit the amount to whatever he could fit into one suitcase.
Sol wondered if he should take American Dollars, British Pounds. or Euros but because of inflation, he thought his best bet would be to fill his suitcase with gold.
When Sol finally died and arrived at the gates of Heaven, the administering angel asked Sol what was in the suitcase. Sol explained that down on earth he had been a millionaire and that God had given him permission to bring some of his fortunes with him, as long as he could fit it into one suitcase.
The angel told Sol this was most unusual and he would have to take a look inside the suitcase. Sol unzipped his suitcase, revealing the gold and smiled broadly.
"What's that?" the angel asked.
"What do you mean?" Sol responded. "It's gold!"
The angel looked a little closer and then revealing the gold-lined streets in Heaven he said, "Oh, you mean pavement!"
Ideas, that help explain how the world works
If you haven't forgiven yourself something, how can you forgive others?" -- Dolores Huerta
"We must use our lives to make the world a better place to live, not just to acquire things. That is what we are put on the earth for." -- Dolores Huerta
That's the history of the world. His story is told, hers isn't." -- Dolores Huerta
The events of the past few days show that the phenomena of the Jewish scapegoat is alive and well.
With US cities on fire as a result of rioting and looting following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, anti-Israel groups are doing their best to compare or even blame the Jewish State for Floyd's death and the state of race relations in the US.
At the same time, Jewish stores and businesses were ransacked in Los Angeles, along with graffiti calling on Americans to "kill the Jews."
The events of the past few days show that the phenomena of the Jewish scapegoat is alive and well.
All of this and the latest news from Israel on this week's edition of Israel Uncensored with Josh Hasten.
Michael Chabon won the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Literature
Michael Chabon won the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Literature (fiction) for his novel "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay".
Michael Chabon just finished adapting his incredible novel, 'The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay', into a screenplay. It took eight drafts. American novelist, screenwriter, and short-story writer, the son of a pediatrician and a lawyer, he grew up in Columbia, Maryland.
Louis Pasteur said, 'Chance favors the prepared mind.' If you're really engaged in the writing, you'll work yourself out of whatever jam you find yourself in. Michael Chabon
That's the best thing about writing when you're in that zone, you're porous, ready to absorb the solution. Michael Chabon
I wanted to give readers the feeling of knowing the characters, a mental image. Michael Chabon
The First Amendment has the same role in my life as a citizen and a writer as the sun has in our ecosystem. Michael Chabon
Nothing ever comes out the way I hope it will. That first vision, that initial vision you have of a book, what it's going to be like when it's done, it begins to go wrong the second you start to write. Michael Chabon
Rabbi Meir Kahane's last speech - Warnings to American Jews! He spoke the truth for all to hear!
Rabbi Meir Kahane's last speech - Warnings to American Jews!
He spoke the truth for all to hear!
"…So You Shoot The Messenger"
[These are Rabbi Meir Kahane's, may G-d avenge his blood, last words to the Jewish people, whom he devoted his life fighting for, going to prison for, trying to warn them of all the dangers they are facing and will eventually face. Twenty-eight years ago, after these words that you will read, he was viciously gunned down byEl Sair Nosair an Arab terrorist in Marriot East Hotel, N.Y.C.] November 5, 1990 – Cheshvan, 18, 5751
Rabbi Meir Kahane's last speech urging American Jews to make emergency Aliyah(excerpts of speech)
I was born in this country, and I can't recall ever, in my life, as much open and vicious Jew-hatred as I have seen in our time right now, in this country. I travel around from city to city, and in every city Jews tell me it is unbearable. Attacks upon synagogues, attacks upon Jews, all of which are of course buried. Because the synagogue doesn't want it to be known. The ADL wants to report "there were 55 incidents this year in the United States", when actually, there were 55 incidents in one hour in the United States. On radio programs which I am on – the telephone calls – open, open (anti-Semitism).
Two Reasons for Increased Anti-Semitism
What has happened? What has happened in natural terms? Of course, in divine terms, the Almighty is ending it for us. But what is happening in natural terms? Two basic changes have taken place in this country over the last twenty years. It began slowly, now it is reaching its crescendo. We have seen the death of what I call the "Auschwitz syndrome". What is the "Auschwitz syndrome"? After World War II, it was hard to be an anti-Semite, even for an anti-Semite. It was just difficult.
And then the years passed – ten years, twenty years, twenty-five years, thirty years, and a generation arose which was not born at that time. And the "Auschwitz syndrome" began to fade away, and the guilt began to fade away. No matter how many Holocaust programs were shown on television, every year they had less and less impact. Indeed, they reach a point whereby they encourage anti-Semitism, whereupon the anti-Semite says: " Hey, you know, I know Jews, and the Nazis and they were probably right." That's what happens today. It fades away. And to help things along, there was the rise of a strong Israel. Suddenly, Israel was winning. And that allowed the anti-Semite to cut the albatross. Now it was OK. You see, the Jew are Nazis, and they persecute the Palestinians, and now it was OK.
So the "Auschwitz syndrome" faded, and it's gone for all practical purposes. And you hear people speak about the holocaust that the Israelis are perpetrating upon the Palestinians. A Holocaust…So all the Israelis and all the Jews who ever called me a Nazi and didn't realize that when you call a Jew a Nazi, you cheapen the Holocaust. And you cheapen the concept of Nazi, which is a very unique thing. And by you calling a second Jew a Nazi, what you are telling the world is" Jews can also be Nazis. Foolish people and tiny dwarfs and pygmies, grasshoppers.
So the "Auschwitz syndrome" is gone. And another thing has happened. After World War II, and until perhaps ten years ago, the American people lived in an economic luxury such as we have not seen ever in world history. No Roman emperor lived as well as the average American did from World War II on, until fairly recently. Life was good. And when life is good, the anti-Semite hates Jews quietly. It's not a big deal to him. He hates Jews, but he's too interested in the Monday night football game. I myself am amazed that so many people are here tonight that don't want to see the Giants massacre the Colts…
The Economic Crises
So when times are good and he has his job, he has his beer and he has his TV set, he has everything – he hates Jews, but it's not that important to him. But as the economic sands of time begin to run out, and as things get bad and they get worse and suddenly there is a chill, there is a fear. I can sense a fear in this country – people are afraid of what is going to happen, and they have every right to fear it. This is a country that is on the verge of economic horror, horror. In two years they expect the national debt to go from 3.7 trillion to 5 trillion dollars, so they work for months and months – this fiasco between Congress and this administration – and they say, "we are going to cut 500 million dollars in five years". Five years! It is a joke – It's a drop in the bucket. This is a country which is dying because the thing that was saving it was the fact that the Japanese are buying Rockefeller Center, Rockefeller Plaza – don't be angry. If they stopped buying it, no one is going to cover the national debt. And they are stopping.
The dollar is a weak dollar today. Can you imagine: The Israeli shekel has held its own against the dollar now for a year. Don't clap! It doesn't mean that the Israeli shekel is strong. The shekel is weak; the dollar is just as weak. The Japanese don't want dollars anymore, they want German marks. And they're investing now in South Korea, Thailand, Singapore. The banks here are shaking, they're tottering. In their greed, in the 1960s and '70s, they gave loans to anybody. The Congo came – you want money, take the money. Mexico came – take 100 million dollars – take, take it, take. Suddenly, the Congo couldn't payback. If that's what a banker is…did he expect the Congo to ever pay back in total? So hundreds of millions of bad loans are being held by major banks: Chase Manhattan, Citicorp – and they are in deep, deep trouble today. And on top of that, suddenly the real estate market has collapsed and they are now holding several more hundred million dollars of bad mortgages. That's the tragedy. That's why suddenly, there's a hurry talk about Chase merging with City.
There's a myth that your money is insured for $100,000. If the FDIC had 60 cents for every hundred dollars that you have, I'll swim back to Israel. There is a myth that they are going to bail out the Savings & Loan with 40 billion dollars. If they can make it with less than half a trillion, it will be a miracle.
So for years, the new economists said, "Don't worry about deficits, it doesn't matter. Deficits don't matter? I know that when my bank account is in deficit, it matters to me. The bank calls me up and says, "Rav Kahane, we have a little problem. Would you like to come and cover it?" A city can go a little deeper into debt than I can, and a state deeper yet, and a country can go a little deeper yet; but, in the end, you have to pay the piper. So, America has lived beyond its means – extra credit, credit cards – and give anybody credit, give kids credit cards – anybody. Now it's time to pay the piper, there is no money, there is no money. And should the economic collapse come it is the Jew who will be blamed. It is the Jew. You can hear it already. You can smell it in the air.
The Racial tension – In all Colors
I was on a radio program in Chicago. Every single caller blamed the Gulf oil crisis on the Jews. Every single call. What you have now is the getting together of all these crises – the economic crisis, the racial crisis – and there is a serious racial crisis in the country. It's a serious one. It is a dangerous one. Whites hate Blacks and Blacks hate Whites and they both hate Jews. It is a terrible, terrible thing. It's not just Whites and Blacks. Now in the West, it's the Hispanics and the Anglos – tremendous crises, which only proves all the more the myth of the melting pot. Uh, nechtiga tag –what melting pot? A melting pot is fine until there is a terrible crisis and then two "objects' occupy the same job at the same time. That's a law of physics, which I've changed a bit…
So it's not an accident that Jesse Helms is now putting on TV ads talking about the unfairness of quotas. Quotas are unfair. Of course, that is his trump card. People are angry about quotas and affirmative action, etc. And Blacks are angry. Do you think that Blacks have no argument? Do you think they are all bad? – that everything the Blacks do is wrong? Do you think that Bob Grant is your kind of guy? G-d forbid! This Jew-hating fascist type. That he says something good many, many times –you're right. Do you think that bad people don't often say correct things? Of course, they do – but watch him, watch him and be careful of such people! People who are anti-Black will always be anti-Jewish too. One doesn't have to love Farrakhan or Jesse Jackson to realize that he should be careful of racism of all kinds – White and Black – be careful, because we get stuck in the middle. Because the Whites and Blacks hate us both.
The Pre-War Depression: Not a Criteria
We have a serious problem – the economic crisis cannot be averted. There is no way. This country is in for terrible, terrible times. People tell me in the depression it was also bad. It's true. But first of all, who knows what would have happened in this country if World War II had not ended the depression? If you think that Roosevelt ended it, you don't know the history. World War II ended it. It gave jobs finally, but more to the point, it was a different era back then. The American people at that time were much stronger people in character. Today, after 40-50 years of the good life and soft life, and the materialistic life, people are into themselves. Unbelievable ego. Everything is me, me – my life, my body, my-me, my-mine.
People are incapable today of making sacrifices and that's the great, great difference between today and what happened in the depression. The person who is fairly poor and gets poorer – not so terrible. The person who has it and lost it becomes a wild animal, a raging animal. He'll not accept it and will look for a scapegoat. He'll look for some target to blame. We Jews are the most visible, the most highly visible in terms of power, in terms of money. Of course, Wasps have more money than Jews have. Certainly, Jews are not into U.S. Steel and banking, and so on, and the real, real money is not Jewish money, but that doesn't matter because Jews are in those professions that are most visible.
How to Gauge anti-Semitism: Go to a Bar
So in the bars, it sits the jealousy and the envy of the Jews which leads to hate. The tragedy as I've said a million times is that the average Jewish leader in this country has no idea what people say ago about Jews in bars because the average Jew doesn't go into a bar – and he should; he should be compelled to go into a bar. Every rabbi before getting "smicha", before being ordained, should be compelled to go into a bar and find out what the real world is like. It isn't a joke. I'm serious. To hide in some little ghetto, you never know what the world is. They hate us with a passion out there, with a virulence which is frightening to see and to hear. On every radio program, I go on, I hear, "why should we give you guys three billion dollars a year"? Anytime some fellow from the Israeli consulate is asked that question, he comes up with the answer, "well, we help you too, etc." Baloney! The only way to get rid of that question is to answer as I do, "I don't want the money! I want Israel to be a free enterprise state and allow private enterprise to flourish and then we don't want your money, I don't want your charity." So, that of course gets rid of the question, but it doesn't get rid of the anti-Semite. He'll go home mutter in his beer and pretzels. He's still there. He's still there.
Role of the Prophet – To See It and say It
The rabbis tell us that G-d told Moses and Aaron. "I'll make you Jewish leaders on one condition that if they throw stones at you, you'll accept it." Rather to be pelted with stones and not with dollars. That's what a Jewish leader has to be! Say the bitter truth, even though they won't like you. They won't like you; they'll attack you, but tell the Jews the truth if you love them. If you love Jews, tell them the things which will make them angry, but which can save their lives. That's what you have to do! Think carefully about what I'm saying, and that is why we created this group called ZEERO, Zionist Emergency Evacuation Rescue Organization. It's a name that provokes. And we hope that as we spread this idea it will provoke Jewish leaders to attack so we can debate the controversy that arises. People will say he's right; he's wrong, and so on. Of course, this is probably the worst thing you can ever tell any Jewish leader, any Federation leader – that he should leave here, and go to Israel. What'ill do there?
The rabbis say: "Who is wise? He who sees the future". It's no big deal to see "today." A Jewish leader has to see tomorrow.
Living in Israel – Difficult; Living Elsewhere – Impossible
It is coming here! It is coming here! Friday night I spoke in Brooklyn in shul, and I had to walk through Bensonhurst, a white neighborhood – nice people, because they're white…Watching the people, the kids, you can smell the violence, you can see the hate, you can see the envy – frustrated, bored, looking for action. You can see it. Those are the potential mobs. And G-d forbids, we will see it. So ZERO is a very serious project of Kach, and I mean a serious one. And I know how hard it is to go to Israel – it is really hard. Hard to make a living. My son goes into the army every single year. It's dangerous and so on. All of it is true. Everything that's all true. That's all true. It's hard to live in Israel, but it will be impossible to live here, and if we go to Israel, at least there we can change the country. Of course, we can change it and make it better and make it tremendous and make it safe. Of course, we can do that if we have the power in the government, but here there is nothing you can do to change it, it's out of our hands. We are a minority and we are strangers here. We're stranger in this land, no matter how many years we've been here.
It's not an accident that so few German Jews survived the camps. The Polish Jew did better. Why? Because the Polish Jew wasn't surprised. It didn't shock him that gentiles could behave like this. It didn't surprise him, so he wasn't shattered inside, he wasn't' broken. But the German Jew was psychologically shattered. How could this be? I'm a German. I'm a German. How could it be? How can you do this to me? The Pole knew he was a Jew. The German was broken because his whole illusion was shattered. And that's how the American Jew lives. "I'm an American". It's the gentile who will teach you so quickly that you're a Jew.
It's not just in the bars, in the working-class bars the anti-Semitism that you see. When you see the news media and their attitude towards Israel; it's not anti-Israel – it's anti-Semitism. Do you know why they hate Jews? Because among intellectuals there is jealousy of Jews. When Truman Capote, the famous author, a sickness, a disease who represents all that is sick about Western culture – when he spoke about the publishing business being a Jewish mafia – you can see the jealousy. [He writes] how Jews are over-represented in publishing, in broadcast, in movies, etc. Of course, it's so – they have talent. Untalented people don't like to think it is because of talent. They like to think they run it because their friends, their uncles, their aunts and so on and so forth. The hate runs across the board. You can see Peter Jennings' anti-Semitism. You can see it! And when I hold press conferences in Israel and I see them sitting around, you can watch them all – the hatred.
The Blessing of Love By Rabbi Jonathan Sacks
At 176 verses, Naso is the longest of the parshiyot. Yet one of its most moving passages, and the one that has had the greatest impact over the course of
Naso is the longest parshiyot history, is very short indeed and is known by almost every Jew, namely the priestly blessings:
The L‑rd said to Moses, "Tell Aaron and his sons, 'Thus shall you bless the Israelites. Say to them:
May L‑rd bless you and protect you; May the L‑rd make His face shine on you and be gracious to you; May the L‑rd turn His face toward you and give you peace.'
Let them set My name on the Israelites, and I will bless them."1
This is among the oldest of all prayer texts. It was used by the priests in the Temple. It is said today by the cohanim in the reader's repetition of the Amidah, in Israel every day, in most of the Diaspora only on festivals. It is used by parents as they bless their children on Friday night. It is often said to the bride and groom under the chuppah. It is the simplest and most beautiful of all blessings.
It also appears in the oldest of all biblical texts that have physically survived to today. In 1979 the archeologist Gabriel Barkay was examining ancient burial caves at Ketef Hinnom, outside the walls of Jerusalem in the area now occupied by the Menachem Begin Heritage Center. A thirteen-year-old boy who was assisting Barkay discovered that beneath the floor of one of the caves was a hidden chamber. There the group discovered almost one thousand ancient artifacts including two tiny silver scrolls no more than an inch long.
They were so fragile that it took three years to work out a way of unrolling them without causing them to disintegrate.
It took three years to work out how to unroll them Eventually the scrolls turned out to be kemayot, amulets, containing, among other texts, the priestly blessings. Scientifically dated to the sixth century BCE, the age of Jeremiah and the last days of the First Temple, they are four centuries older than the most ancient of biblical texts known hitherto, the Dead Sea Scrolls. Today the amulets can be seen in the Israel Museum, testimony to the ancient connection of Jews to the land and the continuity of Jewish faith itself.
What gives them their power is their simplicity and beauty. They have a strong rhythmic structure. The lines contain three, five, and seven words respectively. In each, the second word is "the L‑rd". In all three verses the first part refers to an activity on the part of G‑d – "bless", "make His face shine", and "turn His face toward". The second part describes the effect of the blessing on us, giving us protection, grace and peace.
They also travel inward, as it were. The first verse "May L‑rd bless you and protect you," refers, as the commentators note, to material blessings: sustenance, physical health and so on. The second, "May the L‑rd make His face shine on you and be gracious to you," refers to moral blessing. Chen, grace, is what we show to other people and they to us. It is interpersonal. Here we are asking G‑d to give some of His grace to us and others so that we can live together without the strife and envy that can so easily poison relationships.
The third is the most inward of all. There is a lovely story about a crowd of people who have gathered on a hill by the sea to watch a great ship pass by. A young child is waving vigorously. One of the men in the crowd asks him why. He says, "I am waving so the captain of the ship can see me and wave back." "But," said the man, "the ship is far away, and there is a crowd of us here. What makes you think that the captain can see you?" "Because," said the boy, "the captain of the ship is my father. He will be looking for me among the crowd."
That is roughly what we mean when we say, "May the L‑rd turn His face toward you." There are seven billion people on the face of the earth. What makes us anything more than a face in the crowd, a wave in the ocean, a grain of sand on the sea shore? The fact that we are G‑d's children. He is our parent. He turns His face toward us. He cares.
The G‑d of Abraham is not a mere force of nature or even all the forces of nature combined. A tsunami does not pause to ask who its victims will be. There is nothing personal about an earthquake or a tornado. The word Elokim means something like "the force of forces, cause of causes, the totality of all scientifically discoverable laws." It refers to those aspects of G‑d that are impersonal. It also refers to G‑d in His attribute of justice, since justice is essentially impersonal.
But the name we call Hashem – the name used in the priestly blessings, and in almost all the priestly texts – is G‑d as he relates to us as persons, individuals, each with our unique configuration of hopes and fears, gifts and possibilities. Hashem is the aspect of G‑d that allows us to use the word "You". He is the G‑d who speaks to us and who listens when we speak to him. How this happens, we do not know, but that it happens is central to Jewish faith.
That we call G‑d Hashem is the transcendental confirmation of our significance in the scheme of things. We matter as individuals because G‑d cares for us as a parent for a child. That, incidentally, is one reason why the priestly blessings are all in the singular, to emphasize that G‑d blesses us not only collectively but also individually. One life, said the sages, is like a universe.
Hence the meaning of the last of the priestly blessings. The knowledge that G‑d turns His face toward us – that we are not just an indiscernible face in a crowd, but that G‑d relates to us in our uniqueness and singularity – is the most profound and ultimate source of peace. Competition, strife, lawlessness and violence come from the psychological need to prove that we matter. We do things to prove that I am more powerful, or richer, or more successful than you. I can make you fear. I can bend you to my will. I can turn you into my victim, my subject, my slave. All of these things testify not to faith but to a profound failure of faith.
I can make you fear. I can bend you to my will.
Faith means that I believe that G‑d cares about me. I am here because He wanted me to be. The soul He gave me is pure. Even though I am like the child on the hill watching the ship pass by, I know that G‑d is looking for me, waving to me as I wave to Him. That is the most profound inner source of peace. We do not need to prove ourselves in order to receive a blessing from G‑d. All we need to know is that His face is turned toward us. When we are at peace with ourselves, we can begin to make peace with the world.
So the blessings become longer and deeper: from the external blessing of material goods to the interpersonal blessing of grace between ourselves and others, to the most inward of them all, the peace of mind that comes when we feel that G‑d sees us, hears us, holds us in His everlasting arms.
One further detail of the priestly blessings is unique, namely the blessing that the sages instituted to be said by the cohanim over the mitzvah: "Blessed are you … who has made us holy with the holiness of Aaron and has commanded us to bless His people Israel with love."
It is the last word, be-ahavah, that is unusual. It appears in no other blessing over the performance of a command. It seems to make no sense. Ideally we should fulfill all the commands with love. But an absence of love does not invalidate any other command. In any case, the blessing over the performance of as command is a way of showing that we are acting intentionally. There was an argument between the sages as to whether mitzvoth in general require intention (kavanah) or not. But whether they do or not, making a blessing beforehand shows that we do have the intention to fulfill the command. But intention is one thing, emotion is another. Surely what matters is that the cohanim recite the blessing and G‑d will do the rest. What difference does it make whether they do so in love or not?
The commentators wrestle with this question. Some say that the fact that the cohanim are facing the people when they bless means that they are like the cherubim in the Tabernacle, whose faces "were turned to one another" as a sign of love. Others change the word order. They say that the blessing really means, "who has made us holy with the holiness of Aaron and with love has commanded us to bless His people Israel." "Love" here refers to G‑d's love for Israel, not that of the cohanim.
However, it seems to me that the explanation is this: the Torah explicitly says that though the cohanim say the words, it is G‑d who sends the blessing. "Let them put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them." Normally when we fulfill a mitzvah, we are doing something. But when the cohanim bless the people, they are not doing anything in and of themselves. Instead they are acting as channels through which G‑d's blessing flows into the world and into our lives. Only love does this. Love means that we are focused not on ourselves but on another. Love is selflessness. And only selflessness allows us to be a channel through
To bless, we must love which flows a force greater than ourselves, the love that as Dante said, "moves the sun and the other stars," the love that brings new life into the world.
To bless, we must love, and to be blessed is to know that we are loved by the One vaster than the universe who nonetheless turns His face toward us as a parent to a beloved child. To know that is to find true spiritual peace.
When Abba Eban Met René Magritte By Saul Jay Singer
To many Jews and Americans, Aubrey ("Abba") Eban (1915-2002) came to symbolize Israel's struggle to survive during its critical first 10 years as he helped Ben-Gurion defend Israel's difficult position through several international crises, including the 1948 War of Independence and the 1956 Sinai War with Egypt. A brilliant orator, he is perhaps best remembered, though, as the leader of Israel's struggle in the UN before and after the 1967 Six-Day War.
Eban, Israel's most powerful advocate during that war, played an important part in shaping UN Security Council Resolution 242 in 1967 and, after the 1973 Yom Kippur War, in shaping the disengagement of Egyptian and Israeli forces in the Sinai. He was generally perceived as the spokesman for moderation in foreign policy, preferring the use of diplomacy rather than military force to meet the many crises confronting the nation. He was also a passionate supporter of returning the "occupied territories" in exchange for peace.
Born in Capetown, South Africa, Eban moved as a child to England, where he was an honors student at Cambridge University and later taught Arabic (1938-40). During World War II, he served in the British Army in Egypt and Eretz Yisrael and became an intelligence officer in Jerusalem, where he served as a liaison officer for the Allies to the Yishuv and trained volunteers for resistance in the event of a German invasion.
Eban's signature – in both English and Hebrew – on his Delegation of Israel to the United Nations letterhead.
After the war, the Jewish Agency appointed him political information officer in London (1946), where he participated in the negotiations between the British government and the UN concerning the establishment of Israel.
Before serving as Israel's first UN representative to the UN (1950-59), Eban was liaison to the UN Special Committee on Palestine, where he successfully attained UN approval for the partition of Eretz Yisrael into Jewish and Arab territories. His polished presentation, grasp of history, and powerful speeches gave him authority in a UN that was antagonistic to Israel, and he served simultaneously as Israel's ambassador to the United States. In 1952, he was elected vice-president of the UN General Assembly before leaving the United States to serve as president of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel (1958-66).
Eban was elected to the Knesset on the Mapai slate (1959) and served in the cabinet as Minister without Portfolio. As Ben-Gurion's Minister of Education and Culture (1959-63), he sought to introduce educational reforms and increased opportunities for the growing number of Jewish immigrants from lesser-developed countries in Asia and Africa.
He subsequently served as deputy to Prime Minister Levi Eshkol (1963-66) and as Foreign Minister (1966-74), in which capacity he worked to strengthen relations with the United States and to associate Israel with the European Economic Community. In 1988, after three decades in the Knesset, he lost his seat over internal splits in Israel's Labor Party.
Fluent in 10 languages, Eban published meticulous and detailed historical works based on his vast knowledge and personal experience, including Voice of Israel (1957), My People (1969), My Country (1972), and Personal Witness (1992). He also created three major historical television documentary series about the Jewish people and Israel (see exhibit), in which his remarkable voice, filled with both style and grace, elevated the narrative. In 2001, he was awarded the Israel Prize, his country's highest honor.
Eban at the Western Wall.
In the original September 30, 1984 newspaper photograph exhibited here, Eban is shown at the Kotel as host of "Heritage: Civilization and the Jews," a series of nine one-hour TV programs that aired on PBS in October 1984. The documentary series captured more than 3,000 years of Jewish history within the context of other Western religious traditions and the development of Western civilization.
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Eban, a great aficionado of the arts, intervened on behalf of famous modernist sculptor George Segal in a 1972 freedom of expression dispute and, in the characteristic fashion for which he was known, came up with a diplomatic solution. Segal, who had been commissioned to make a public artwork for the city of Tel Aviv, chose to depict Abraham and Isaac as a memorial to honor his late father. Some Israelis, however, complained that the sculpture was critical of Israel's military policies and demanded that a different theme be selected for the piece.
According to Segal's own account, Eban shamed the Israeli authorities by arguing that Israel, as the only democracy in the Middle East, dare not censor freedom of artistic expression. As a result, the artist received governmental carte blanche for his commission.
Extremely rare photograph of President Truman and Eban, originally signed by both. Eban and Ben-Gurion visited with the president at the White House on May 1, 1951.
Decades later, Eban commissioned Segal to cast a plaster rendition of him for exhibition at the Abba Eban Center for Diplomacy (part of the Harry S. Truman Institute for the Advancement of Peace at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem), to which he had donated his papers; as one pundit delightfully described it, "Eban got plastered." The final sculpture depicts him seated before a wooden wall upon which a map of Israel was silkscreened – but even this proved controversial.
During the inaugural ceremony of the sculpture at the Jewish Museum, critics noted that the map featured conspicuous thick red lines separating Gaza and the West Bank from the rest of Israel, suggesting a formal territorial partition. Eban, a fervent supporter of "land for peace," confirmed that Segal had prepared the map in accordance with his wishes.
In his various capacities, Eban received many statesmen and leaders in the arts and sciences visiting Israel, among them famed Belgian surrealist René Magritte, several of whose works are prominently displayed in the Israel Museum. Magritte, who arrived in Israel for a short 10-day vacation on April 10, 1966, met with Eban, then serving as president of the Weizmann Institute in Rechovot.
Opening pages of Patrick Waldberg's René Magritte. The man at left is Magritte.
Exhibited here are the opening pages of Patrick Waldberg's René Magritte (Bruxelles 1965), which Magritte has inscribed to Eban and his wife, Suzy: "Hommage a S.E. Abba Eban et madame Suzi Eban, René Magritte Rehoboth, Avril 1966" – which translates as: "As an expression of gratitude to Abba Eban and Mrs. Suzy Eban, Rechovot, April 1966."
One of the most celebrated artists of the 20th century, Magritte (1898-1967) achieved great popular acclaim for his idiosyncratic approach to Surrealism in which he played with observers' expectations through his mischievous and stimulating sense of humor. His iconic style focused on the use of objects as something other than what they seem; thus, his works disorient viewers while simultaneously drawing them in.
He created poetic images by painting commonplace objects in unfamiliar places and, through the reshuffling of recognizable forms, he emphasized the inherent ambiguities between actual objects and their representations.
Magritte famously declared that no matter how naturalistically an artist may depict an object, the artist can never capture the item itself. He incorporated many recurring images into his work, including floating rocks, paintings within paintings, inanimate objects with human features, and a bowler-hatted man, which many pundits consider to be a self-portrait of the artist.
Some of the most common features in his work include the animation of the inanimate, such as birds growing out of vegetation; the enlargement of objects, such as an immense feather leaning against the Leaning Tower of Pisa; anomalous combinations, such as a road with a headless bust, a trombone, a lion, and a bicycle; comical images, such as a chicken having laid an egg on the ground behind it while contemplating an egg in a cup; sheer absurdities, such as a sitting man whose entire torso is a birdcage with birds; and, perhaps most frequently, physics-defying scenes, such as a locomotive exiting a fireplace.
Three of Magritte's most famous works have strong Jewish connections:
(1) Le Château des Pyrénées (The Castle of the Pyrenees), commissioned by Magritte's close friend Harry Torczyner;
(2) Portrait of Harry Torczyner, AKA Harry Torczyner: Justice has been Done; and
(3) Le Discours de la Méthode ("Discourse on the Method"), in which he depicts Israeli ambassador to Belgium Amiel Najar.
Magritte's Castle of the Pyrenees.
The Castle of the Pyrenees is based upon the title of a book by Jostein Gaarder and broadly considered to be Magritte's masterpiece, in addition to being perhaps his best known and most-reproduced work. Pyrenees exemplifies the artist's typical disturbing, yet poetic/mysterious, concurrence of familiar objects and his frequent theme of suspending the laws of gravity.
Employing his characteristic extremes of weightlessness and enormous mass, and incorporating his usual contradiction between non-science and photographic realism, it depicts a single huge rock upon which a mighty castle with fortified walls sits suspended in space high above the ocean below against a beautiful blue sky covered with white puffy clouds. The painting, completed in 1959, currently hangs in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.
Torczyner (1910-98), an internationally renowned lawyer, art collector, and writer, was an ardent Zionist and Israel supporter who donated important paintings from his collection to the Israel Museum. A Belgian native, he attended the University of Heidelberg and, after earning his law degree from Columbia University School of Law, practiced law in Belgium before escaping the Nazis and emigrating to the United States.
Signed Ambassador of Israel card.
He worked for the Office of War Information during World War II before setting up his law practice in New York in 1946, specializing in international and foreign law, copyright law, and general practice.
He is best known, however, as a friend, advisor, confidant, patron, and lawyer to Magritte. Torczyner commissioned works from him; arranged museum and gallery exhibitions of his work; donated his works to various museums, including the Israel Museum; and served as his American publicist.
He also wrote several scholarly books and articles on the artist, including Magritte: The True Art of Painting and Letters Between Friends, a meticulous record of their extensive communications which provides a unique insight into Magritte and his art. (This collection provides an important and irreplaceable record because Magritte did not retain letters he received or copies of letters that he wrote.)
Torczyner was also the subject of one of Magritte's most famous portraits, Harry Torczyner (Justice has been done) (1958), which depicts Torczyner wearing a toga with a hot-air balloon suspended above his head. Torczyner donated the painting to the Royal Museum of Fine Arts of Belgium in Brussels shortly before his death.
The Cairo-born Amiel E. Najar (1912-94) made aliyah to the new Jewish state in 1948; entered the Israeli foreign service and became a senior diplomat; and served as Israel's ambassador to Belgium (1960-68), minister to Luxembourg, representative before the European Economic Commission, and ambassador to Italy. An avid art collector, he befriended Magritte and, during the artist's 1965 visit to Israel, asked him to execute a painting of himself. Acceding to his friend's request, Magritte painted Le Discours de la Méthode (named after a famous essay by Rene Descartes), which he gifted to Najar.
In his renowned surrealistic style, Magritte combined Najar's likeness with other seemingly random objects. On the left of the painting, the bespectacled and mustachioed Najar's bald head, set against a background of blue mountains and aqua sky, bemusedly looks out at the viewer sideways from behind a horizontal brown counter or table. On the right, a bluish grey sphere with a large horizontal slot sits atop a narrow cedar closet.
What exactly was the artist seeking to portray? Perhaps some deep philosophical truth, perhaps nothing at all. That remains an important part of Magritte's allure; as one commentator cogently noted, "there is no easy way to 'decode' a Magritte painting" and his paintings are "insidious conundrums that can never be solved."