Friday, April 7, 2017

Christopher Columbus Was a Jew Fleeing Inquisition, Language Scholars Suggest and all you  need to know for Passover on  this  Sabbath called the Great Sabbath

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Rabbi Yehuda Lave

Obstacles In Helping Others

Don't regret good deeds when you end up suffering. In every business there are negative aspects. When you do acts of kindness, realize in advance there are likely to be some unpleasant aspects and accept them.

Realize that when you help others you are helping yourself. You will find it easier to tolerate difficulties.

Love Yehuda Lave

Christopher Columbus Was a Jew Fleeing Inquisition, Language Scholars Suggest

The more historians research Christopher Columbus, the more they question the true origins of the great explorer credited for discovering America. In fact, there is growing speculation that Columbus was a Jew fleeing the Spanish Inquisition rather than an Italian hired by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella to find riches in Asia.

"There is a lot of evidence that Christopher Columbus was a man of faith seeking to help his brethren escape certain death or conversion in Spain and even that he dreamed of rebuilding the third holy temple in Jerusalem," noted Roni Segal, academic adviser for The Israel Institute of Biblical Studies, an online language academy, to Breaking Israel News.

"For starters, Georgetown University linguist Estelle Irizarry has analyzed hundreds of Columbus's handwritten letters, diaries and documents. She found that Columbus's primary language was Castilian Spanish, the 'Yiddish' of the day for Spanish Jews, otherwise known as Ladino."

Ladino is a language spoken by Jewish people from Spanish countries. Its vocabulary is made up of words from Spanish, Turkish, Greek and Hebrew. When Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492, their Spanish language went with them, binding them to their heritage and Spanish origins. Today, it is estimated that between 160,000 and 300,000 Sephardic Jews (Jews of Middle Eastern or Spanish origin) worldwide have some knowledge of Ladino.

Also striking is that at the top left-hand corner of all but one of 13 letters Columbus wrote to his son, he included the Hebrew letters beit-hay (ב"ה). "Even today, observant Jews put these Hebrew notes on their documents," continued Segal. "It stands for b'ezrat Hashem (בעזרת השם), which means 'with God's help'. Columbus did not include these Hebrew letters when writing to outsiders and certainly omitted them from the letter he wrote to King Ferdinand."

It has long been assumed that Columbus was an Italian explorer from Genoa who set sail for Asia in 1492 to supply the Spanish monarchs with gold and spices. However, the the new theory holds that Columbus' actual name was Cristóbal Colón, the name signed on his letters.

It is believed that he was from Spain, the child of Domingo de Colon and Suzana de Fonterosa, Jews forced to convert to Christianity, referred to as Marranos, who were makers and sellers of nautical maps. Many Jews at the time feigned conversion to save their lives. They practiced Catholicism in public and Judaism in private.

Several Spanish scholars, including Jose Erugo, Celso Garcia de la Riega, Otero Sanchez and Nicholas Dias Perez, believe that Columbus was actually a Marrano seeking to escape persecution.

His famous voyage left Spain the day after Tisha B'Av (the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Av, or August 3, 1492). Historians believe that Columbus was scheduled to sail on Tisha B'Av but put it off in order not to leave on the tragic day in Jewish history when both the first and second Temples were destroyed. The auspicious date also coincided with the four-month deadline proposed by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella for the Jews in Spain to either convert to Catholicism or be killed.

There are several other interesting factoids related to Columbus which highlight the strong possibility that the explorer was Jewish. In his last will and testament he asked that a tithe of one-tenth of his income go towards the poor and provide a dowry for needy brides. This is a common Jewish custom. Additionally, he left money to a Jew who lived in the Lisbon Jewish Quarter, something that would have been unheard of from a Catholic Spaniard.

Columbus also left money to other explorers with the belief that his successors would eventually liberate the Holy Land. Simon Weisenthal writes in his book "Sails of Hope" that Columbus' voyage was motivated by a desire to find a safe haven for the Jews suffering from the Spanish Inquisition. Echoing this sentiment, Carol Delaney, a cultural anthropologist at Stanford University, believes that Columbus was a deeply religious man who sought riches in order to finance the return of Jerusalem to the Jewish people and the rebuilding of its holy Temple.

Perhaps even more telling, Columbus signed his last will and testament with a triangular signature of dots and letters similar to what is inscribed on gravestones in Spanish Jewish cemeteries. In fact, he ordered his heirs to use this symbol in perpetuity.

Though history claims that Columbus' voyage was funded by Queen Isabella, in actuality it appears that Jewish Conversos (those who converted by force to Catholicism) and prominent Jews gave the explorer an interest-free loan. These investors included Louis de Santangel, Gabriel Sanchez and Rabbi Don Isaac Abrabanel, a known Jewish statesman. Indeed, Columbus' initial letters discussing his journey were sent to Santangel and Sanchez, thanking them for their support and telling them what he had found.

"Irizarry also notes that Columbus occasionally included Hebrew in his writings and references the Jewish High Holidays in his journal during his first voyage," continued Segal to Breaking Israel News. "Wiesenthal postulates that Columbus sailed west to reach the Indies because of his Biblical faith, including from the Book of Isaiah, which he repeatedly cited in his writings.

For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former things shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. Isaiah 65:17

Surely the isles shall wait for Me, and the ships of Tarshish first, to bring thy sons from far, their silver and their gold with them, for the name of Hashem thy God, and for the Holy One of Yisrael, because He hath glorified thee. Isaiah 60:9

Given these facts, Columbus' discovery of America, a country symbolized by religious tolerance and freedom, goes hand in hand with his Jewish heritage.





The signature of Christopher Columbus. (Wikimedia Commons)

"The Return of Christopher Columbus". Eugene Delacroix, 1839. (Wikimedia Commons) christopher-columbus-jew-led-belief-prophet-isaiah

What Is Passover (Pesach)?The holiday's history and observances

The eight-day festival of Passover (seven days in Israel) is celebrated in the early spring, from the 15th through the 22nd of the Hebrew month of Nissan (April 10–18, 2017). It commemorates the emancipation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt. It is observed by avoiding leaven, and highlighted by the Seder meals that include four cups of wine, eating matzah and bitter herbs, and retelling the story of the Exodus.

In Hebrew it is known as Pesach (which means "to pass over"), because G‑d passed over the Jewish homes when killing the Egyptian firstborn on the very first Passover eve.

The Passover Story in a Nutshell

After many decades of slavery to the Egyptian pharaohs, during which time the Israelites were subjected to backbreaking labor and unbearable horrors, G‑d saw the people's distress and sent Moses to Pharaoh with a message: "Send forth My people, so that they may serve Me." But despite numerous warnings, Pharaoh refused to heed G‑d's command. G‑d then sent upon Egypt ten devastating plagues, afflicting them and destroying everything from their livestock to their crops.

At the stroke of midnight of 15 Nissan in the year 2448 from creation (1313 BCE), G‑d visited the last of the ten plagues on the Egyptians, killing all their firstborn. While doing so, G‑d spared the children of Israel, "passing over" their homes—hence the name of the holiday. Pharaoh's resistance was broken, and he virtually chased his former slaves out of the land. The Israelites left in such a hurry, in fact, that the bread they baked as provisions for the way did not have time to rise. Six hundred thousand adult males, plus many more women and children, left Egypt on that day and began the trek to Mount Sinai and their birth as G‑d's chosen people.

In ancient times the Passover observance included the sacrifice of the paschal lamb, which was roasted and eaten at the Seder on the first night of the holiday. This was the case until Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in the 1st century.

Passover is divided into two parts:

The first two days and last two days (the latter commemorating the splitting of the Red Sea) are full-fledged holidays. Holiday candles are lit at night, and kiddush and sumptuous holiday meals are enjoyed on both nights and days. We don't go to work, drive, write, or switch on or off electric devices. We are permitted to cook and to carry outdoors (click here for the details).

The middle four days are called Chol Hamoed, semi-festive "intermediate days," when most forms of work are permitted.

No Chametz

To commemorate the unleavened bread that the Israelites ate when they left Egypt, we don't eat—or even retain in our possession—any chametz from midday of the day before Passover until the conclusion of the holiday. Chametz means leavened grain—any food or drink that contains even a trace of wheat, barley, rye, oats, spelt or their derivatives, and which wasn't guarded from leavening or fermentation. This includes bread, cake, cookies, cereal, pasta, and most alcoholic beverages. Moreover, almost any processed food or drink can be assumed to be chametz unless certified otherwise.

Ridding our homes of chametz is an intensive process. It involves a full-out spring-cleaning search-and-destroy mission during the weeks before Passover, and culminates with a ceremonial search for chametz on the night before Passover, and then a burning of the chametz ceremony on the morning before the holiday. Chametz that cannot be disposed of can be sold to a non-Jew (and bought back after the holiday).

For more on this topic, see Operation Zero Chametz.



Instead of chametz, we eat matzah—flat unleavened bread. It is a mitzvah to partake of matzah on the two Seder nights (see below for more on this), and during the rest of the holiday it is optional.

Click here for more on matzah.

It is ideal to use handmade shmurah matzah, which has been zealously guarded against moisture from the moment of the harvest. You can purchase shmurah matzah here.

The Seders

The highlight of Passover is the Seder, observed on each of the first two nights of the holiday. The Seder is a fifteen-step family-oriented tradition and ritual-packed feast.

The focal points of the Seder are:

A Passover Message

Passover, celebrating the greatest series of miracles ever experienced in history, is a time to reach above nature to the miraculous. But how are miracles achieved? Let's take our cue from the matzah. Flat and unflavored, it embodies humility. Through ridding ourselves of inflated egos, we are able to tap into the miraculous well of divine energy we all have within our souls.

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D I V R E I  T O R A H

 The Great Sabbath 

It is the necessary, the indispensable preface and introduction to Passover.  It is the explanation that cries out the ultimate message of the holiday, the basic lesson of the feats of our freedom.  It is the foundation of foundations that raises Passover from an insipid, saccharine social custom beginning and ending with recipes printed in the New York Times women's section; from a golden opportunity for Manischewitz to return to Jewishness through capitalist Passover profits even as the truly frum, raise their level of religiosity by raising the level of prices; from a Jewish people that marches on its Seder stomach even as it moves on to the annual national lie. "Next Year in Jerusalem."  It is the Great Sabbath, which attempts to save Judaism from myopic ritualism, to make the Jew, Jewish and the Orthodox, religious.


Sabbath Hagadol, the great Sabbath.  The Sabbath preceding the Passover, the Sabbath that cries out the basic, the ultimate message of the enormous Exodus from Egypt, of Passover itself.  Sabbath Hagadol that gives us the lesson without which Passover, the Jewish people itself, lose all reason for being.  Sabbath Hagadol commemorating the basic lesson of Judaism: Faith, real faith, faith in G-d who really is greater than the mighty Pharaoh, or the regal Reagan or the burning-less Bush – Sabbath Hagadol. The great Sabbath, that began more than 3,000 years ago on a Sabbath in Imperial Egypt.


"Speak unto all the congregation of Israel, saying: In the tenth day of this month, they shall take to them every man a lamb…"


It is a special, an awesome commandment, one that is given to every Jew, hence the unique words "Speak unto all the congregation."  Take a lamb and bind it up for four days.


You believe that this is a simple commandment.  Hardly.  The lamb is more than an animal; it is the very god of Egypt.  It is a deity, a hallowed creature before whom the Egyptian bows and whose meat dare not touch his mouth.  And the Jews, "every man" thereof, are commanded to take this lamb, this Egyptian god, the deity of their masters, and tie it to their beds, to their posts, bind it up.  And when the astonished and outraged Egyptian masters will ask: "What are you doing? The answer shall be: We shall soon slaughter this lamb, the deity, your god, and eat it.


Do you still think this is a simple, bland commandment?  It is a commandment fraught with danger to life, a commandment that surely sent fear down the spines of the Jewish slaves, that, without a doubt, led scholars to rush and ponder whether pikuach nefesh, danger to life might perhaps demand the postponing of the dangerous commandment.


Nor does the Almighty stop there.  He insists on a policy of extremism, of goading the gentile.  Not content with a commandment that cries desecration of the Egyptian god, that taunts him with the sight of his deity bound up, the G-d of Israel insists that the Jew add salt to the wound.


"And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roasted with fire… eat it not partially cooked, nor boiled in water, but roasted with fire, its head with its legs and with its insides complete."


Awake and consider!  This is what Passover is all about; only this! This is Judaism what Judaism is all about; only this!  This is what the duty and the role and the essence of the Jew is all about; only this!  To affirm to the world, but first to ourselves that the L-rd, the G-d of Israel, is.  That He truly does exist, that He is the One, the only One, that He, only He, directs the world, the fate of man, the destiny of His people.  That whatever will be for the Jew will be only because He so decrees.  That the gentile has no relevance to the Jewish fate, that the Pharaohs of all time, the ones in Egypt and the ones in Washington are utterly irrelevant to what will be with the Jew.


On the Great Sabbath in Egypt, the L-rd taught us the lesson that we trampled in the dust, the dust of secularism and the dust of the yeshiva world alike: The lesson that the Jew must raise high, must flaunt the glory and Omnipotence of his G-d.  That the world must be compelled to see their deities, their gods and idols, bound up and humiliated and destroyed.  That one must goad the gentile in order to raise high the banner of the L-rd.  That Kiddush Hashem, the sanctification of the Name of the G-d of Israel, demands an open, fearless, flaunting sacrifice of the idols and deities of the gentiles that deny the uniqueness of the G-d of Israel, His exclusiveness, His Oneness!  The lamb is openly tied and those who tremble and whisper: "But we dare not goad the gentile," are silenced with thunderous contempt.  The lamb is slaughtered and roasted whole and fully and openly.  It cannot be hastily covered in a pot where it will not be seen.  Its identity cannot be disguised by cutting its body into pieces.  We cannot escape the danger of the gentile by avoiding confronting and goading him.  No.  Precisely the opposite!


The same gentile who thundered and thunders: "Who is the L-rd?  I know not the L-rd and will not let Israel go!" must be taught the eternal lesson of: "The L-rd is G-d, the L-rd is G-d!"  The gentile does not wish to "know" G-d, to acknowledge His exclusive kingship.  He must be taught that lesson in an open and bold and humiliating way.  He and his idols must be humbled and broken.  The lamb is taken openly.  The lamb is slaughtered openly.   And those who cringe in populism and whisper:  "But one dare not goad the gentiles…" are silenced by the thunder of the L-rd, whose commandment is eternalized by the Rabbis of the Great Sabbath, Sabbath Hagadol.  So, let that Sabbath be understood and appreciated and embraced.  For without it, there cannot be a Passover, an understanding of what that Passover really is.  And without that, when the Jewish child asks for the meaning of this night, the pathetic father who knows not what to tell him will doom his child to become a pathetic as he: practitioner of Jewish ritual, but never, never a religious Jews.

See you tomorrow Love Yehuda Lave

prepare for the Seder in both Israel and everywhere else on Monday Night

Rabbi Yehuda Lave

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