Sunday, January 31, 2010

Moses and the Mountain and Peru--is this how civilization started??

Climb up the mountain and you will see what the land is like (Numbers 13:17-18)

These words are the instructions which Moses gave the spies when he sent them to scout Canaan for the Israelites.

On a visit to a salmon hatchery, I witnessed a wonder of nature. Salmon swim upstream, against the current, to reach the spawning place where they were born. To get there, they must jump against powerful cascades. It is fascinating to observe how they struggle to overcome both the pull of gravity and the force of waterfalls. Nothing stops the salmon from getting to where they "know" they must go.

While humans do not have an instinctual goal, we do have the capacity to discover our goals by the use of our intellect. We must often overcome many hurdles and obstacles to reach our goals, and we must not allow ourselves to be discouraged by the struggles we encounter. Those who do not have the courage to overcome the challenge are likely to rationalize their retreat by saying that the goal is not worth the sacrifice. Instead of admitting their reluctance, they devalue the goal.

Moses knew that the land which was promised by God to Israel was the spiritual goal of the Jewish people, but he knew that when confronted with the difficulties of acquiring the land, some people might retreat and rationalize their reluctance by disparaging the land.

"Only if you are ready to climb mountains," said Moses, "will you be able to truly see what the land is like." The truth can be appreciated only by those who are ready to sacrifice for it."

Love Yehuda 

Documentary by the BBC in English with Spanish subtitles about the beginning of civilization

Friday, January 29, 2010

Solutions versus Blaming and underwater slide show

Solutions Versus Blaming

When you find yourself in a conflict with someone, focus on finding solutions. This is in contrast to thinking and speaking in terms of blaming.

The question to ask yourself whenever you find yourself in a conflict is, "What can I say or do that might be a solution to this situation?"

In the vast majority of situations, refraining from blaming prevents a situation from getting worse. And then your mind is more likely to be free to think of potential solutions.


Enjoy the beautiful underwater slides

Thursday, January 28, 2010

live is short and the New Year for Trees on Saturday

Today's Message of the Day is:

Life is short, Break out of the box(with compassion and thought for what you are doing), Forgive quickly, Kiss slowly, Love truly, Laugh uncontrollably, And never regret anything that made you smile (unless it hurt someone else).

Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we're here we should dance.

Love Yehuda

Tu B'Shvat, the New Year for the Trees, is this Friday evening, January 29, 2010.

Happy New Year!

No, I'm not locked in a time warp. Tu B'Shvat, the 15th of the Hebrew month Shvat, is the New Year for Fruit of the Trees.

And according to the mystic tradition, Tu B'Shvat is a day of great significance. Why?


Let us begin in the Torah itself. The Torah admonishes us not to destroy anything needlessly. Even when besieging an enemy city, fruit trees may not be destroyed.

Unlike the terseness that so frequently characterizes the written Torah, a reason is explicitly stated. The Torah tells us that human beings are like the trees of the field (Deut. 20:19).

Our roots are securely embedded in terra firma. Our first experiences with reality are physical and tangible. Then we grow beyond our roots. We extend our branches toward the heavens as we search for connection and meaning. We devote our lives to the production of fruit. We yearn to leave an enduring mark that we too were here.

A tzaddik -- a holy person -- is compared to an inverted tree. He draws his sustenance from the heavens and gives his fruit to the earth itself, and to any one who is of the earth.

We all wish for lives of substance, but we grow weary. The mystic scholars ask: How does the tzaddik draw his strength? The answer (given in the classic Meor VaShemesh ) is that he draws his strength from the Tree of Life itself.

What is the Tree of Life?


The answer lies in the Garden of Eden, where there were two trees -- the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life. When Adam and Eve were banished from Paradise, angels armed with fiery swords prevented them from returning to the Tree of Life. (Genesis 2:9 and 3:22-24)

The literal meaning of Eden is the Garden of Refinement. There, the inherent link between G-d and His creation was apparent. There was no shell of coarseness -- no human superficiality or human arrogance to conceal Him. All of nature revealed its source.

The Tree of Life was in the center of the garden. It gave us the spiritual nurture that made us not only human, but also enabled us to be holy. It had the power to do so because it was the mystic embodiment of the Torah, before that holy book was put into words.

We no longer live in a world characterized by refinement. Instead of being nurtured by the Tree of Life, we are all too conscious of the taste left by the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. That other tree offered us the desire for evil that is as vivid as our desire for good.

Tu B'Shvat is the day we learn once more how to cultivate ourselves. How do we tap into the power of the day?


Let us look at the structure of the day in  consciousness.

First, this is the traditional day that G-d instructed Moses to begin the process of explaining the Torah very well (Deut. 27:8). What aspect of Moses explanation does this refer to? Rashi teaches that the words very well mean that Moses explained the Torah in 70 languages.

The depth of this teaching is that it is possible to find the truth of Torah from any possible way of looking at life (which is of course the source of language), as long as we remain honest.

Yet our emotional agendas sometimes fool us. We think we are searching for the Tree of Life, but we wouldn't see it if it poked a branch directly at us. We are too busy looking at everything else. We are, after all, only human. We have already partaken of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and find it almost impossible at times to tell the two trees apart.

It is for this reason that the Sages of the Talmud tell us that on this day, we should pray for a good Esrog -- one of the four species that are taken and blessed on Sukkot. Yet Sukkot has already faded into the past. Why are we thinking of an Esrog?

The simple reason is that at this season the sap is rising, and the tree is beginning the process of eventually giving fruit. This is true of all trees. So why is Tu B'Shvat special to the Esrog?

Because of its shape, the Esrog represents the symbol of the heart. This is the day we can pray for purity of the heart.

We are fragile and fail. But the power of prayer can move us it its source -- to infinity, to God. It can give us access to the Tree of Life.


A rule that your grandmother may have told you (as mine did) is when you ask for something, be sure that you want it. And if you really want something, what are you doing about it?

On Tu BShvat we ask: Do we really want purity of the heart?

We demonstrate our sincerity for a pure heart and our search for the Tree of Life by not corrupting our physical experience. One way to do this is to change our attitude to food, since eating is the most primal of our physical desires.

We consume an enormous amount a food in the course of a lifetime. It is part of G-d's plan to let us come into contact with His kindness and generosity, and what we eat and the way that we relate to eating impacts the way we experience life. God is either in the picture or out of it.

On Tu BShvat, we redefine how we regard the world by committing to sanctify our eating. We try to eat less impulsively and more with higher awareness.

This striving is articulated in many communities by sitting down together and having a Tu B'Shvat Seder.

At such a seder, fruit is eaten. (Some have the custom of tasting 15 different types, since this on the 15th of Shvat.)

While savoring the fruits, try to envision their root, the source of all life. Let your self savor the spiritual essence of the Land of Israel, by eating its produce.

Most of all, have a Happy New Year!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Snatch Growth from Defeat and Hebrew from 3000 years ago

Snatch Growth From the Jaws of Defeat

"Everything in life serves as a challenge and test to elevate us" (Path of the Just, ch.1). For those who develop a comprehensive spiritual awareness there is not a major difference between victory and defeat. Both are potentially elevating tests. It's not the external event that counts. Rather, it's your growing from this event.

Defeat is your opportunity to speak and act in ways that express your awareness that the purpose of life is to connect with the Creator in this world and for all eternity. Although the defeat will have an effect on your present emotional state, ultimately your spirit will be raised

With that thought in mind, think about what happens when you make a mistake. Will you let it define you, or grow from it? The Bible tells this story:

Aaron was ashamed [and was reluctant to assume the position of High Priest] because of his role in the Golden Calf episode, and Moses said, "This is why you were selected" (Rashi, Leviticus 9:7).

Dr. Tiersky was once asked to see a student nurse who was beside herself because she had made an error in medication. While this particular error was harmless, she felt that she lacked the competency to be a nurse, because she saw that she was capable of making even more serious errors.

He told the young woman that he did not know of anyone who can go through life without making any errors. Perfection belongs to G-d alone. If all nurses who became so upset because of a medication error would leave the field, the only ones who would remain would be those indifferent to making errors, and that would be the worst disservice to mankind.

We must try to do our very best at everything we do, particularly when it concerns others' welfare. We must not be lax, negligent, nor reckless. We should of course be reasonably upset upon making a mistake and learn from such experiences how we might avoid repeating them. However, if in spite of our best efforts we commit errors as a result of our human fallibility, we should not give up. Allowing a mistake to totally shatter us would result in our not doing anything in order to avoid mistakes. This non-action would constitute the greatest mistake of all.

Love Yehuda

King David Era Pottery Shard Supports Biblical Narrative

by Avi Yellin Pottery Shard Supports Bible

A breakthrough in the research of the Hebrew Scriptures has shed new light on the period in which the Bible books of the Prophets were written. Professor Gershon Galil of the Department of Biblical Studies at the University of Haifa has deciphered an inscription dating from the 10th century BCE (the period of King David's reign) and has proven the inscription to be ancient Hebrew, thus making it the earliest known example of Hebrew writing.

The significance of this breakthrough relates to the fact that at least some of the Biblical scriptures are now proven to have been composed hundreds of years before the dates presented today in research and that the Kingdom of Israel already existed at that time.

The inscription itself, which was written in ink on a 15x16.5cm trapezoid pottery shard, was discovered a year and a half ago at excavations that were carried out by Professor Yosef Garfinkel near the Elah valley, south of Jerusalem, and west of Hevron.

The researchers dated the inscription back to the 10th century BCE, which was the period of King David's reign, but the question of the language used in this inscription remained unanswered, making it impossible to prove whether it was in fact Hebrew or another Semitic language.

Professor Galil's deciphering of the ancient writing testifies to it being authentic Hebrew based on its use of verbs particular to the Hebrew language and content specific to Hebrew culture not adopted by other regional cultures at the time.

"This text is a social statement, relating to slaves, widows and orphans. It uses verbs that were characteristic of Hebrew, such as "asah" (did) and "avad" (worked), which were rarely used in other regional languages. Particular words that appear in the text, such as "almana" (widow) are specific to Hebrew and are written differently in other local languages. The content itself was also unfamiliar to all the cultures in the region besides the Hebrew society: The present inscription provides social elements similar to those found in the Biblical prophecies and very different from prophecies written by other cultures postulating glorification of the gods and taking care of their physical needs"

Galil added that once this deciphering is received at research centers, the inscription will become the earliest Hebrew inscription to be found, testifying to Hebrew writing abilities as early as the 10th century BCE. This stands opposed to the dating of the composition of the Bible in much current academic research, which does not recognize the possibility that the Bible or parts of it could have been written during this ancient period.

Galil also noted that the inscription was discovered in a provincial Judean town, explaining that if there were scribes in the periphery, it can be assumed that those inhabiting the central region and Jerusalem were even more proficient writers. "It can now be maintained that it was highly reasonable that during the 10th century BCE, during the reign of King David, there were scribes in Israel who were able to write literary texts and complex historiographies such as the books of Judges and Samuel." He added that the complexity of the text, along with the impressive fortifications revealed at the site, refute theories that attempt to deny the existence of the Kingdom of Israel at that time.

The contents of the text express social sensitivity to the fragile position of weaker members of society and the inscription testifies to the presence of strangers within the Israeli society as far back as this ancient period, calling on native Hebrews to provide support for these strangers. It advocates care for widows and orphans and encourages the king – who at that time had the responsibility of curbing social inequality – to be involved in improving Israeli society. This inscription is similar in its content to Biblical scriptures (Isaiah 1:17, Psalms 72:3, Exodus 23:3, and others), but according to Galil it is not copied from any Biblical text.

The deciphered text:



1' 'l t'ś w'bd '[t ….

2' špt [ w'lm[ špt yt[

3' [gr [b 'll rbl w

4' '[mn šqm ybd mlk

5' '[yn ['bd šk gr t[m



1' you shall not do  but worship the [Lord}.

2' Judge the s and the widow Judge the orphan

3' [a the stranger. [Plead for the infant / plead for the poor a

4' the widow. Rehabilitate [the poor at the hands of the king.

5' Protect the poor a the slave / [support the stranger.}

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Moral for Today and the beginning of wisdom is the fear of G-d

The beginning of wisdom is the fear of God (Psalms 111:10).

Would it not have been more appropriate to refer to the fear of G-d as the beginning of piety rather than wisdom?

One of the Sages

interpreted the above verse most uniquely. "The fear of God," he said, "refers not to man's fear of God, but to God's fear." It might seem strange to speak of God as having fear, but his explanation helps quell this objection.

God has decreed that people have free will. Although everything else in the universe is under Divine control, God wishes our moral choice to be free, and He therefore does not intervene to influence our moral decisions. Since God wishes us to be just and virtuous, He thus has a fear that we will harm ourselves by sin. This fear is similar to that of parents who fear that their young children may harm themselves by doing things that they do not recognize as dangerous.

If we would realize that everything else in the universe is controlled by God, and that only our moral choice is not under Divine control, we would then concentrate on moral choices and leave everything else up to God. It would be wise, therefore, if we had the fear that God has for us; namely, that we might sin. We show wisdom, not just piety, if we devote our attention to what is not under Divine control.

Love Yehuda

Today I shall ...
... try to turn my attention and efforts to my moral choices, since these are really the only things that are decided by my choice.


One day a farmer's donkey fell down into a
well. The animal cried piteously for hours as
the farmer tried to figure out what to do. 

Finally, he decided the animal was old, and the
well needed to be covered up anyway;
it just wasn't worth it to retrieve the donkey.

He invited all his neighbors to come over and 
help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began
to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the
donkey realized what was happening and cried
horribly. Then, to everyone's amazement he
quieted down.

A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally 
looked down the well. He was astonished at what
he saw. With each shovel of dirt that hit his
back, the donkey was doing something amazing.
He would shake it off and take a step up.

As the farmer's neighbors continued to shovel 
dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it
off and take a step up.

Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey
stepped up over the edge of the well and
happily trotted off! 
Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds 
of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well
is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of
our troubles is a steppingstone. We can get out
of the deepest wells just by not stopping,
never giving up! Shake it off and take a step up. 

Remember the five simple rules to be happy:

Free your heart from hatred - Forgive.

Free your mind from worries - Most never happen.

Live simply and appreciate what you have. 

Give more.

Expect less 

NOW .......

 The donkey later came back, 
and bit the farmer who had  tried to bury him. 
The gash from the bite got infected and
the farmer eventually died in agony from septic shock. 


When you do something wrong, and try to cover
your ass, it always comes back to bite you.





Monday, January 25, 2010

PERFIDY and setbacks are part of the process.

Setbacks are Part of the Process

When you try to make peace, either for yourself or between two other people, expect setbacks. They are part of the process.

Many people are happy, even excited, to make peace when they see steady progress. Even if progress is slow, they are patient. But when they are faced with setbacks, they easily give up. When you realize that setbacks are an integral part of making progress, you realize that this is just another step that you have to make. It's like climbing a mountain path. The path doesn't always go straight up. At times it goes around the right and at times it goes around the left but the focus is on eventually getting to the destination. And therefore even if part of the path seems to be descending, it is a descent for the sake of ascent. This, too, is getting you closer to where you want to end up.

Love Yehuda

On Saturday night I saw a documentary called Killing Kastner. It is the family's side of the story of their father and grandfather from the Kastner's side of view. From watching this movie I had the privilege to talk with my friend Mr. Middleman who is holocaust survivor from Czechoslovakia and one of the most brilliant men I have ever met. He told me a different side of the story is in the famous book by Ben Hecht which was banned in Israel for many years. I got it last night and I don't know what my final read on the story will be, but the introduction, from which I quote from below, is very powerful. Let me know what you think.

From the book Perfidy (meaning treason according to Webster's dictionary) by Ben Hecht.

There were scores of these dream salesmen, all men and women of purity of mission. They were out to change the identity of the Jews from a people of the Torah, to a people of the Zion, a nation. There was much outcry form the orthodox at this seeming demotion. During the centuries in which other peoples had taken turns riding in armadas of power, the Jews had remained forever bobbing along on a raft of a book, their Torah. They were reluctant to leave the raft, to exchange the only greatness they had known-the words of G-d for some dubious political status.

The dream of a new land of Israel had flickered in the Jews for the nineteen centuries of their search for unmenacing places to live. The sighed the phrase, "Land of Israel," during this long time and felt refreshed. And certain that G-d would return them to their original habitat and make them a great nation again.

I have sometimes wondered, while reading their histories, how the Jews could believe themselves the Favored of G-d despite the calamities that endlessly fell on them. But it is not a Jewish quirk, alone. Christianity is based on the belief that the crucifixion of Jesus proved him the Son of God. By a similar logic the Jews have remained convinced the the crucifixion of their kind was proof that they were very dear to G-d.......portions of page 11

portions of page 12

During the creating of Israel by the Herzl Zionists, the Jews of the world heard rumors. Their basic reaction was that something absurd and a little sad was going on in Jerusalem. And possibly a little dangerous. This reaction was only natural for their had been no good tidings for Jews out of Jerusalem since the crucifying of one of their young rabbis—by the Romans. The Jewish hell born of that misreported incident had never cooled off.

Hearing dimly of a new Zion being hatched in that same territory, and of the trickle of settlers heading for the new Zion, the Jews of the world stuck to their troubles at hand. They remained steadfastly in all the cities of the world were they were not to wanted or too esteemed. They were content to accept the inferiority or unpopularity of Jewishness, rather than to go wrestling with deserts.

I say this with no derogatory overtone. You can't blame Jews for fancying themselves part of the human family, despite its inhuman protests now and then. Protest, pogrom, ostracism, disdain—the Jews accepted these gentile tricks and manners with an indifference that was gift of time.

And Hecht says, "I understand these Jewish world squatters, for I was born one of them, and remain one. I was for the first forty-five years of my life as unaware of Jewishness as I am now of outer space problems. Happily preoccupied elsewhere (AS One of the greatest American Hollywood writers of his time) I stayed out of synagogues, lodge meetings, and the philanthropy get-togethers dear to Jews.

Portions of page 14

Here is the point of my interlude. How different it is now! With all of the Jews of the world who were unaware of the Eretz-Israel, who made no personal sacrifices for it, and who denounced the fighters for its freedom—patting themselves on the back for the State of Israel. Their baby!

I have heard them in London, Paris, Rome, North Africa. I her them constantly in New York, Chicago, Hollywood and wherever else I run into Jews. And not religious or "organization" Jews, but assimilated American ones who usually go to to Temple only in a coffin. They boast of having been to Israel as they used to boast of having basked on the Rivera. Their eyes gleam. They used to feel this way when a Jew became a World's Ring champion or when Einstein's name appeared in the newspapers.

It is a new high in diplomatic representation. Although the State of Israel is a strip of land hardly big enough for a railroad line, it has some eleven million ambassadors-at-large. This is roughly, the number of Jews the Germans left on the planet, counting the dark ones of Africa. And all as ignorant of what is going on-or went on-in Israel as if it were a foothold on the moon. But still Ambassadors.

Here is the problem. Is it better to let illusion thrive than (try to) expose it? Plato wrote that the only sound way to ensure people's happines was to let them sup on sweet lies rather than bitter truth.

It is not entirely bad advice. But it is like a medicine that permits the patient to die without too much pain.

I vote otherwise (says Hecht). I end my interlude with the hope that fraction of the myriad ambassadors may get a clearer line of the their duties after attending the case of "The Government of Israel versus Malchiel Greenwald."

Sunday, January 24, 2010

WINTER SPORTS and Success is tons of discipline---JUST SHOW UP

Why are some people more successful than others? Why do some people make more money, live happier lives and accomplish much more in the same number of years than the great majority?

 One quality that most philosophers, teachers and experts agree on is the importance of self-discipline. As Al Tomsik summarized it years ago, "Success is tons of discipline.

Kop Kopmeyer had written four large books, each of which contained 250 success principles that he had derived from more than fifty years of research and study.

 "Of all the one thousand success principles that you have discovered, which do you think is the most important?"

He smiled at me with a twinkle in his eye, as if he had been asked this question many times, and replied, without hesitating, "The most important success principle of all was stated by Thomas Huxley many years ago. He said, 'Do what you should do, when you should do it, whether you feel like it or not.'"

He went on to say, "There are 999 other success principles that I have found in my reading and experience, but without self-discipline, none of them work."

Self-discipline is the key to personal greatness. It is the magic quality that opens all doors for you, and makes everything else possible. With self-discipline, the average person can rise as far and as fast as his talents and intelligence can take him. But without self-discipline, a person with every blessing of background, education and opportunity will seldom rise above mediocrity.

Love Yehuda

Subject: Fw: The Joys Of Ice Fishing--these picutures are embded so they may not work for some of you--this is different than an attachment so if they are not there, they are pictures of people out on the ice enjoying themselves and losing their trucks into the water




 Okay   - we got the car  - now where the heck is  that  snowmobile  ?

  Right -  now we can FISH !!!    
  Hey, Joe -  where did you  park?   I got a great spot, not far from here  ...




Friday, January 22, 2010

Currencies update and Love & Pursue Peace

Love And Pursue Peace

The great Sage Hillel tells us to: "Be a student of Aaron: love peace and pursue peace." (Pirkei Avos 1:11)

When you love someone or something, the object of your love is a high priority for you. In the Bible we read how Jacob, the father of the 12 tribes,  was willing to work seven full years in order to marry Rachel whom he loved. The Torah tells us that these seven years were considered as just a few day in his eyes. Imagine loving peace to this same extent.

When you've integrated a love for peace, you will be willing to put in much energy and effort to attain it. You might have to make sacrifices. These sacrifices come in many forms. When love is a motivating factor, you are more likely to make the necessary sacrifices.

Love Yehuda

The English Penny

EU Directive No. 456179

In order to meet the conditions for joining the Single European currency, all citizens of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland must be made aware that the phrase 'Spending a Penny' is not to be used after 31st December 2009 .

From this date, the correct terminology will be: 'Euronating'.

Thank you for your attention.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Dollar Bill - Designed by a Humble Jew and would you like to talk with G-d??

GOOD MORNING! If you had the chance, would you like to talk with G-d? Maybe ask God a few questions: Why was humankind created? What is the purpose of my life? Why do people get sick?  How do I get the most pleasure out of life? Are there absolute truths? What is love? How do I get my prayers answered? I would.

  Second best to talking to G-d is that we have the bible. it is comprehensive and deep, yet understandable wisdom about life. The book presents Seven Keys to Life Fulfillment: (1) The Five Levels of Pleasure, (2) Prayer, (3) Knowledge, (4) Happiness, (5) Free Will, (6) Intellectualism, (7) Love.

According to the Talmud, the written form of the explanations of the bible,  before we were born, when we were safely ensconced in the comfort of the womb, each of us had a personal angel to teach us all the wisdom we will ever need to know on this planet. Everything.

And then ... just before we are born ... the angel gives us a little "tap" between the nose and upper lip and everything he taught us is immediately forgotten. That is how all human beings receive that small indentation in the skin beneath the nose, anatomically known as the 'philtrum.'

Why would God send an angel to teach us everything we need to know, only to instruct him to then make us forget everything he just taught us? The answer: learning something once makes it so much easier for us to learn it for the second time. When we hear truth it has a harmonic ring that we recognize. (There is also another lesson to learn from the philtrum - every human being was touched by an angel sent to learn with him. We must respect every human being for he was lovingly created by the Almighty.)

I will share with you an insight regarding attaining pleasure in life. One of the greatest obstacles to achieving pleasure is the confusion between "comfort" and "pleasure." Writes Rabbi Weinberg, "What is the opposite experience of 'pain'? When asked this question, about nine out of ten people will answer, 'Pleasure.' Not only is this the wrong answer, but the belief that pleasure is the opposite of pain is, by far, the most destructive counterfeit concept that faces Western civilization! In truth, the opposite of pain is simply no pain, or comfort. And comfort is NOT at all synonymous with pleasure. Comfort is nice - it is a painless experience - but it is not pleasure, by any stretch.

"In fact, pain and pleasure actually go hand in hand! Pain, or effort, is the price we pay to get pleasure. Think about it. To achieve anything in life that's really worthwhile - good relationships, successful careers, the pursuit of meaning, all of life's lasting pleasures - requires a lot of pain and effort...

"If you ask parents what is their greatest pleasure, they are most likely to answer, 'My children.' If you then ask what their greatest pain is, they will probably give the very same response, 'My children.' It is not simply coincidental that the object of our greatest pleasure, our children, also happens to be the source of our greatest potential anguish. Pleasure and effort are far from being opposite constructs - they actually work together...

"If all you seek is comfort, it is true you'll be rid of pain, but you will also be robbed of almost any type of achievement. If you try to get pleasure by spending your life avoiding pain, you will only end up with the world's most prominent counterfeit - comfort. Without effort, you will never get real pleasure."

Love Yehuda

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Incredible Photos and building a spiritual perspective

Building a Spiritual Perspective

Building a spiritual perspective about life and its challenges will free you from self-pity. You'll realize that everything in life is meaningful and purposeful. Even if you don't yet know the true meaning of events, you know that all is for an ultimate beneficial purpose. This awareness makes it easier to cope.

Self-empowered people live meaningful lives. Their suffering makes them kinder and more compassionate. They understand life more profoundly.

People who have experienced difficulties and rough challenges can become the most heroic. Their life stories can be told as heroic models from which to learn.

Even if you have already engaged in many hours of self-pity, you can now think the thoughts of self-empowerment. You are always in the present, so you can select an elevating and empowering pattern of self-talk right now.

If it is difficult to speak to yourself in an empowering way, it's great to make a sincere effort to do it anyway. It is an important step in the right direction. You can have great self-talk about the current effort.

I recently had a talk with a new friend about do you look at life with the thought that everything is for the best or with a negative outlook. This one change in outlook in your philosophy will change the rest of your life.

Love Yehuda

Enjoy the pictures slide presentation attached

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Suffering In Haiti and These Caricatures of popular figures are spectacular!

Tragedies, particularly of this magnitude, often lead people to ask - at least for a fleeting moment - "Where's God in all of this?" "How could God let such a tragedy occur?"

What is fascinating, is that we only ask these questions because we intuitively believe three axioms about the nature of God. God must be: (1) all good, (2) all knowing, and (3) all powerful. If you remove any one of these attributes, the question disappears.

If God isn't all good, He can do evil and even enjoy inflicting pain. Is there any wonder why bad things happen to good people?

If God isn't omniscient, bad things occur because He doesn't know everything that's going on in the world. If He knew about it; He would certainly put a stop to it.

If God isn't omnipotent, bad things happen because there are forces beyond God's control. Diseases and natural disasters are too mighty for God. We can only call God to task for events that are in His hands.

If one believes in an omnipotent Being who is all good and all knowing, then the question "Why do bad things happen to good people?" poses a real challenge.

In truth, we should ask that question even regarding events of much smaller magnitude.

Just how much pain must occur to legitimately raise the question? The Talmud gives the example of a person who reaches into his pocket with the intention of getting a certain coin and instead pulls out a smaller coin. Forced to reach into his pocket a second time, he experiences minor discomfort. The Talmud declares that this added exertion is reason enough to necessitate asking, "Why is this happening to me? What did I do wrong to deserve this?" (Brachot 5a)

Any amount of pain or discomfort poses the same theological question, even the stubbing of a toe. Philosophically, the dull aches in life demand as much an explanation as the major crises. After all, if God is all good, all powerful and all knowing, why should my daughter get a paper cut? Why should my friend Stan, lose his voice?  Furthermore, minor examples of discomfort are perhaps more conducive to delving into the issue of suffering, since they diffuse the emotional tension, making it easier to focus on acquiring intellectual clarity.

While the topic, is too complex to clarify in this limited space, wrestling with suffering requires viewing all events as meaningful. Events in our life are not mere coincidences, random accidents that have nothing to do with a purposeful Being. If God is all knowing, all powerful and all good, nothing just happens. I would like to leave you with a thought from Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto:

"One who believes in God's oneness and understands its implications must believe that the Holy One, Blessed be He, is one, single, and unique, being subject to no impediment or restraint whatsoever, He alone dominating all ... there is no other beneath Him who exercises any dominion in the world ... He alone supervises all of His creatures individually, and nothing transpires in the world except through His will and agency - not through chance, and not through nature, and not through constellation; but He governs all of the earth and all that is in it, decreeing all that is to be done..." (Daas Tevunos).

Living with this attitude enables us to see God's guiding hand in our daily life. When we realize that events carry divine messages, we are compelled to open them up and explore their contents.

Monday, January 18, 2010

where is g-d when it hurts

Where Is G-d When It Hurts?

"Tell me frankly, I appeal to you -- answer me: Imagine that it is you yourself who are erecting the edifice of human destiny with the aim of making men happy in the end, of giving them peace and contentment at last, but that to do that it is absolutely necessary, and indeed quite inevitable, to torture to death only one tiny creature, the little girl who beat her breast with her little fist, and to found the edifice on her unavenged tears -- would you consent to be the architect on those conditions? Tell me and do not lie!"

Ivan Karamazov, in The Brothers Karamazov by Feodor Dostoyevsky


A new teacher was trying to make use of her psychology courses. She started her class by saying, "Everyone who thinks he's stupid, stand up!"

After a few seconds, little Johnny stood up. The teacher was surprised, but realized this was an opportune moment to help a child.

"Do you think you're stupid, Johnny?" she asked.

"No, ma'am," Johnny replied, "but I hated to see you standing there all by yourself!"

Love Yehuda

Sunday, January 17, 2010

I-M-P-R-E-S-I-O-N-A-N-T-E and thou shall be a Mensch

Thou Shall Be a Mensch

"And you shall go in His ways."

The term mensch is a Yiddish compliment which has been adopted by many English speakers, and it even appears in some English dictionaries. This Yiddish compliment refers to a true human being - someone who is 
According to our tradition, one of the highest compliments one can give someone is to describe him or her as a true human being.
caring, giving and does the right thing. An example of how this Yiddish compliment is used in modern English can be found in the following quote from a CBS news story about Aaron Feuerstein, a seventy-year old Torah-observant Jewish businessman, who received international acclaim for preserving the jobs of his employees after a fire destroyed his textile factory, Malden Mills, in Lawrence, Massachusetts, United States:

"He kept his promises. Workers picked up their checks for months. In all, he paid out $25 million and became known as the Mensch of Malden Mills - a businessman who seemed to care more about his workers than about his net worth." (CBS News, July 6, 2003; the program was titled, "The Mensch of Malden Mills")

According to our tradition, one of the highest compliments one can give someone is to describe him or her as a true human being - a mensch. The following teaching of the Chofetz Chaim, a leading sage of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, can help us to understand why this term is actually a compliment: 

"Scripture records (Genesis 1:27) that, 'God created the human being in His image.' The commentators take the statement to refer to His attributes. He gave the human soul the capacity to emulate the attributes of HaShem, the Blessed One - to do good and act with loving-kindness with others; moreover, it is written in Scriptures (Psalms 145:9), 'HaShem is good to all and His compassion is on all His works,' and it also states (Psalms 136:25), 'He gives food to all flesh for His loving-kindness is eternal.' " (Loving Loving-kindness: Part 2)

True human beings - menschen - are those people who are developing their human potential to emulate the giving and caring Divine attributes. In fact, there is a mitzvah - Divine mandate - to become a mensch through emulating these Divine attributes. A source for this mitzvah is found in the words, "And you shall go in His ways." (Deuteronomy 28:9) 

Maimonides discusses this mitzvah in his Book of Mitzvos (#8), and he cites the following teaching of our sages: 

"Just as the Holy One, blessed be He, is called Compassionate, so should you be compassionate; just as He is called Gracious, so should you be gracious; just as He is called Righteous, so should you be righteous; just as He is called Chasid - devoted to acts of love - so should you be a chasid." (Sifri on Deuteronomy 11:22)  

When the Torah discusses the life of our forefather, Avraham, it focuses on the ways he emulated the Divine compassion, righteousness, and loving-kindness. He therefore became a true human being. In this spirit, Rabbi Mendel Kaplan, a noted 20th-century sage and educator, conveyed to his students the following message about Avraham's greatness: "He was simply a mensch. He was what a person is supposed to be." (Reb Mendel and his Wisdom by Yisroel Greenwald)

 The Midrash reveals the following deeper meaning of this verse: Rabbi Shimon Ben-Gamliel says in the name of Rabbi Yehudah Ben Lakish that the phrase "biggest human being" alludes to Avraham. He was the "biggest human being" in the spiritual sense, and Rabbi Shimon Ben-Gamliel concludes by mentioning that we, his descendants, will have great merit when we emulate Avraham's ways by doing acts of "righteousness and loving-kindness."

The Chofetz Chaim taught that we can all become menschen through emulating the Divine compassion, righteousness, and loving-kindness - not only through our deeds, but also through our speech. And he became a model of what he preached. As Rabbi Aryeh Leib Hakohen Kagan, a son of the Chofetz Chaim, writes: "It is well known among our generation that my father was not only one who preached well, but also one who beautifully fulfilled - with alacrity and a sense of mission - all that he sought from his listeners." (Chofetz Chaim - A Lesson A Day

One of the ways in which he became a model was to set aside a period each day for evaluating his behavior. In addition to this period of inner contemplation, he also kept a journal in which he entered his "spiritual accounts" every day, so that he would be able to review his progress. (The Chafetz Chaim by Rabbi Moses M. Yoshor; ArtScroll Publications)  

During the long life of the Chofetz Chaim (1839-1933), the technological progress of humankind caused a growing number of people to adopt secular ideologies which denied the existence of God and which therefore viewed the human being as the owner and sovereign of the earth. A granddaughter of the Chofetz Chaim was greatly 
We can all become menschen through emulating the Divine.
influenced by these secular ideologies, and she abandoned the path of Torah. In her old age, she was able to leave Russia and come to Israel. Her cousin, Rabbi Hillel Zaks - a grandson of the Chofetz Chaim - welcomed her and with him was Rabbi Shimshon Pinkus. At the national convention of Agudath Israel of America in November 2000, Rabbi Pinkus shared with the audience the following story about that meeting:

About fifteen years ago, I met a granddaughter of the Chofetz Chaim who had recently come to Be'er Sheva from Russia. This elderly woman was completely irreligious. When I accompanied Rabbi Hillel Zaks, who is a grandson of the Chofetz Chaim, to visit his cousin, I heard the following story from this woman:

She told us that when she was eighteen years old, she had left home and went to study in a university. (I must add parenthetically that we cannot imagine the upheavals that were taking place in those tumultuous times.) She told us, "I went to my Zaide (grandfather) and told him, 'Zaide, why are you sitting in the dark? Come out into the world of light, and feast your eyes on the beginnings of the revolution of technology! It's a beautiful world out there!' "

"My grandfather pointed to an airplane flying by, and told me, 'You see those airplanes? During World War I, they used to throw a box of dynamite out of the window of a plane to bring destruction on humanity below. Someday they are going to reach the moon. And those bombs? They are going to create bombs that will be able to destroy the whole world. That is what they make. But we make menschen....' " (Jewish Observer, Sivan, 5761-May, 2001)

According to our tradition, the human being who was created in the Divine image - the mensch - was created at the site of the Temple in Zion. This tradition is cited by Maimonides in his famous code of halacha, Mishneh Torah, where he states that the human being was created at the site of the altar of the Temple on Mount Moriah (Beis Habechirah 2:2). The tradition that the human being was created at the site of the Temple is cited in Midrash Genesis Rabbah (14:8), and in Pirkei D'Rabbi Eliezer, at the beginning of Chapter 12.

At the dawn of the messianic age, all human beings will desire to develop their potential to become menschen. They will therefore journey to the site of Zion's Temple - the sacred place where the human being was created - in order to study and follow the Divine ways, as it is written:

"It will happen in the end of days: The Mountain of the Temple of HaShem will be firmly established as the head of the mountains, and it will be exalted above the hills, and all the nations will stream to it. Many peoples will go and say, 'Come, let us go up to the Mountain of HaShem, to the Temple of the God of Jacob, and He will teach us of His ways and we will walk in His paths.' For from Zion will go forth Torah, and the word of HaShem from Jerusalem." (Isaiah 2:2,3) 

The Prophet adds that before humankind will come to Zion to study and follow the ways of HaShem, the arrogance of humankind will be removed: "Humankind's haughtiness will be humbled and men's arrogance will be brought down; and HaShem alone will be exalted on that day." (Ibid. 2:17)

Humankind will then acknowledge that HaShem, the Compassionate and Life-Giving One, is the Sovereign of the world. This is why we chant the following verse towards the end of our daily prayers: "HaShem will be the King over all the earth; on that day HaShem will be One and His Name One." (Zechariah 14:9)

A Related Teaching
In the following message, the Prophet Micah reminds the People of Zion of the underlying principles of the Torah's path of mitzvos: "He has told you O human being, what is good, and what 
HaShem seeks from you: only to do justice, to love loving-kindness, and to walk humbly with your God." (Micah 6:8)

Why does the Prophet Micah address our people as, "human being"? I found the following answer in the commentary of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch on the above message: "The whole great content of the Torah, the Law of God, is given in the word adam. Here it is used not merely vocatively, as a term of address; it also expresses the goal and purport of God's Will which is contained in the Word of His Torah. Realization of the ideal of humanity, perfection of the human being is thereby presented as the result of carrying out the dictates of the Torah." 

Rabbi Hirsch's commentary reveals that we are addressed as "human being" in order to remind us that the goal of the Torah's path of mitzvos is to develop the ideal human being - the mensch

Love Yehuda

Friday, January 15, 2010

This is truly amazing & very touching.............and Incomplete Perfection

Can something be both complete and incomplete at the same time? Is perfection relative?

That depends on your vantage point.

Are three hairs a little or a lot?

That depends on whether they're on your head or in your soup.

The Midrash tells us that "everything created in the six days of creation needs fixing."

Sounds somewhat offensive to the Creator, doesn't it? Where's the source for this assertion?

The same Midrash that reports on the world's imperfection also describes the world as having been created perfect!"G‑d blessed the seventh day… because on it, He ceased from all His work which G‑d created to do."

If I were G‑d's publicist, I would have said, "G‑d blessed the seventh day… because on it He ceased from all of the work He had done." "Which G‑d created to do" indeed implies that G‑d created the world with some odds and ends left unfinished and in need of (what the Midrash calls) "fixing."

And yet, a few short chapters later, the Midrash states firmly that "the world was created complete."

How ironic that the same Midrash that reports on the world's inherent imperfection goes on to describe the world as having been created perfect!

The key to reconciliation in our case, as in many others, is to look at the timing of the contradictory statements.

"G‑d blessed the seventh day… because on it He ceased from all His work which G‑d created to do." Only on the seventh day of creation – on Shabbat – was reference made to the world's limitations.

Earlier that week no such talk was heard.

And that's not because something suddenly went wrong on Shabbat, changing things for the worse. "Which G‑d created to do" tells us that the imperfection of our world, or the "to do," was part of its creation. So why not mention it earlier, in the account of the world's creation in six days? Why wait until Shabbat, when the work of creation is already complete, to deliver the sobering news?

All of existence suddenly became aware. It dawned on the world that there was so much more it could beThat's because the world recognized its lack only with the coming of Shabbat. On the first six days of its existence, it lacked this awareness. On Shabbat, however, with the ascent of the world to a higher state of consciousness, with the presence of G‑d more palpable and real, all of existence suddenly became aware. It dawned on the world that there was so much more it could be, and there was so much more to be done.

So the world was both perfect and imperfect throughout its creation. Perfect relative to where it was, imperfect relative to where it could be.

The six days of creation represent the perfection of today; Shabbat represents the perfection of tomorrow.

Chasidim of old were wont to say, "Morgen vet zein gar andersh," Yiddish for, "tomorrow will be very different."

According to Chassidic teachings, even the perfect tzaddik, the most saintly individual, must repent. Not for sins he has committed today—for he has none; but for the perfect mitzvot he fulfilled yesterday—considered to be imperfect today.

Consider the man who makes one hundred dollars today day. He will give ten percent to charity. Consider the very same man, promoted, now making two hundred dollars. He will continue to give ten percent to charity, just as he did yesterday. But ten percent of today is far more than it was yesterday.

Could this shed light on our request for forgiveness in the amidah prayer, considered to be the most elevated segment of prayer? Aren't we beyond sin, and the need for forgiveness, at that point?

The perfect tzaddik must repent—for the perfect mitzvot he fulfilled yesterdayPrayer is likened to a ladder. The amidah is considered to be the highest rung, the loftiest point of communion. It is precisely when we reach that level that we see how deficient we used to be.

As we become bigger and better, so does the standard to which we are held.

We may have been perfect then, but we can be more perfect now, and yet more perfect tomorrow.

So would you say that the world was created perfect or imperfect, or both? 

Love Yehuda
This is truly amazing & very touching.............
they are pictures of a bird standing by his mate if they don't come out on your e-mail


Here his wife is injured and the condition is fatal.
She was hit by a car as she swooped low across the road.

Here he brought her food and attended to her with love
and compassion.

He brought her food again but was shocked to find her dead.

He tried to move her....a rarely-seen effort for swallows!

Aware that his sweetheart is dead and will never come back to him again,
he cries with adoring love.

He stood beside her, saddened of her death.

Finally aware that she would never return to him, he
stood beside her body with sadness and sorrow.

Millions of people cried after watching this picture in

America and Europe and even in Asia .
It is said that the

photographer sold these pictures for a nominal fee to the

most famous newspaper in France .  All copies of that  
newspaper were sold out on the day these pictures were published.

And many people think animals don't have a brain or feelings?????

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Re: Argentina and the person with a good heart has a continual feast!!!

On Thu, Jan 14, 2010 at 5:33 AM, Yehuda Lave <> wrote:
 The Sages  teach that all the days of a poor person are difficult,
 but someone with a good heart has a continual feast.
 The Maharsha explains that none of the Sages choose to explain this passage to be referring to a poor person, in the first part of the passage,
since the parallel line in the second half of the passage does not refer to someone with monetary wealth, rather to someone with a "good heart," i.e. someone who enjoys spiritual prosperity.

Other Sages explain that the poor person is one with an unhappy mate, and the person who is always having a party is the one with a happy mate.

In other words a "happy wife is a happy life!!"
Love Yehuda--enjoy the beautiful pictures of Argentina

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

How to wash your car with only one bucket of water and the bravery of Shabbat

How to wash your car with only one bucket of water

and now for something completely different (as Monty Python used to say)

Shabbat  requires bravery and daring.

It challenges the very notion of consistency, of constancy. It is an affront to normalcy. It threatens reality, sanity, of waking in the morning to see the sun arise each day.

It flouts planning. Steps. Control of the world, ourselves. Of believing there is a self that is ours.

Shabbat is unknown. A turning left. The untrod path. The creative life in-utero

It precludes tomorrow's monotony. Questions our next breath.

Shabbat reveals a world beyond. Of dreams. Where other forces rule. Where elephants climb through needles' eyes.

It is the pause between, the no-man's land, the dark of light, the in of out, the light of dark, the in-between.

Shabbat is vibration. The proof in rest of endless movement; the comma in perpetual




Shabbat takes planning, preparation for submission, a yielding to the unknown, the irrepressible. A readiness, as best we can, for that which is beyond, wild, in the hands of the Other.

It is an expedition, with tools of civilization discarded, of gadgets and comfort left behind. It leads, with faith, forward, leaving behind reality's rhythm, groping without light in a world not of our making, illusion laid bare for a day, as we journey into nothingness, the world left on its own to breathe, to rest, to linger in the void.

What will be? What will be?

Shabbat is Kabbalah's proof. G-d's hidden habit revealed of recreating every moment the world anew. The affirmation of nothingness and some other force behind.

The place where artists live. From where inspiration sprouts. To where dreams head.

From this void all things emerge. The blind fare best. And those who love to leap fly with closed eyes and held breath, anticipating their destination with uncertainty and thrill.

What will be?

Who will I be?

Will there be me?

This pulse is always there, everywhere. But on Shabbat it is ours. We enter cautiously its space, its time -- welcoming the Other in our lives. Affirming what we know deep in ourselves but lack the courage to replace with it the normality of our lives, the illusion of our continuity.

And at its end, we emerge, blinking, startled, curious, bewildered by the world anew. What's happened while we stayed away?

Strayed away?

Did something die?

Is there still me?

Without us, did it all go on?

Who mastered the world while we dreamt?

Or are we dreaming now?

Who mastered the world?


With miracles, and masters still.

Just for a moment, for these few hours in eternity, He let us in. We entered His reality. He allowed us to glimpse existence as it is when He blinks. He let us touch the place from which we too are born anew each moment, with infinite opportunity to become, to transform, to discover...

...with courage and daring.

The bravery of Shabbat.

The creative life sprung forth.

From nothing.

Love Yehuda