Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Is the Western Wall Judaism's holiest site? And Rosh Hashanah Seating request (fun)

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Yehuda Lave, Spiritual Advisor and Counselor

Do the diffiucult first and get it out of the way

One tip to being successful is to do the difficult and do it first. For example, if exercise is hard for you, exercise in the morning.

Love Yehuda Lave

HaKodesh Baruch Hu is not only "our GD", but "our father" as well

. And we are considered not only "His nation", but also "His Children", "Banim Atem La'Ha'Hasem" (Devarim 14:1). A father can love his child; a mother can love her child, even if they have never seen each other. The first time they meet they will be immediately drawn to one another. The natural connection between parent and child will bridge any gap that may exist.


It was recently reported that her adoptive parents told a 49-year-old adopted woman in California, that she originally came from Israel. The woman had always noticed that she looked different from her parents, and she began to investigate her background. At about the same time, an Israeli journalist was doing an investigative article on a scandal involving Moroccan Jews who first arrived in Israel in the early 1950's. Many Moroccan mothers, who could not speak the language and had no connections in the country, were told that their children died during childbirth. But in fact, these children were sold for adoption, mostly overseas. The woman from California traveled to Israel and met with the journalist. They uncovered certain documents, and found their way back to the hospital where she was born. The DNA testing enabled the woman to find her Moroccan mother, who had been told that her child had died during delivery, 49 years earlier.


These two women came from completely different cultures, obviously, had nothing to do with each other for almost 50 years. Yet when they met for the first time, they fell into each other's arms and began kissing each other and crying uncontrollably. The mother did not know the daughter, and the daughter did not know the mother. They did not know each other's language and could not communicate verbally, only through tears, hugs and kisses. How were such feelings possible? They reacted simply because they were mother and daughter.

What is true about flesh and blood relations is also true between the reunion (Teshuva) between Avinu Sheh'ba'shamyim, our Father in Heaven and His wayward children. I have seen people in Israel, at the Kotel or elsewhere, who have had nothing to do with Judaism, break down with uncontrollable tears when they put on Teffilin for the first time in their lives. The matter is readily comprehensible. The bond between parent and child is easily re paired and can never be permanently broken.


This is true for all of us. We can always improve our relationship with Avinu Sheh'ba'shamayim, and He is always ready for us with an outstretched hand to meet us

 From Rabbi Ziegler

Puns For Higher IQs


 Accupuncture is a jab well done

A man's home is his castle, in a manor of speaking

Dijon vu - the same mustard as before

Practice safe eating - always use condiments

Shotgun wedding - A case of wife or death

A man needs a mistress just to break the monogamy

A hangover is the wrath of grapes

Dancing cheek-to-cheek is really a form of floor play

Does the name Pavlov ring a bell?

Condoms should be used on every conceivable occasion

Reading while sunbathing makes you well red

When two egotists meet, it's an I for an I

A bicycle can't stand on its own because it is two tired

What's the definition of a will? It's a dead give away

Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana

In democracy your vote counts. In feudalism your count votes

She was engaged to a boyfriend with a wooden leg but broke it off

A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion

If you don't pay your exorcist, you get repossessed

With her marriage, she got a new name and a dress

The man who fell into an upholstery machine is fully recovered

You feel stuck with your debt if you can't budge it

Local Area Network in Australia - the LAN down under

Every calendar's days are numbered

A lot of money is tainted -Taint yours and taint mine

A boiled egg in the morning is hard to beat

He had a photographic memory that was never developed

A midget fortune-teller who escapes from prison is a small medium at large

Once you've seen one shopping center, you've seen a mall

Bakers trade bread recipes on a knead-to-know basis

Santa's helpers are subordinate clauses

Is the Western Wall Judaism's Holiest Site?

By Middle East Forum - 19 Elul 5777 – September 10, 2017 0Share on Facebook Tweet on Twitter   Photo Credit: Wikimedia CommonsJewish worshipers at the Western Wall in the 1870s.

{Written by  F.M. Loewenberg and originally posted to the MEF website}

Few beliefs have resonated more widely, or among a more diverse set of Israelis and Jews, than the perception of the Western Wall as Judaism's holiest site, the place where they feel the greatest sense of sacredness, "the holy of holies of Jewish national unity" to use the words of the Wall's rabbi, Shmuel Rabinowitz. Chief rabbi of Jerusalem Shlomo Amar has similarly asserted that "no one can annul the holiness of the Western Wall, not the government, not the courts."[2]

But when did the Western Wall become the holiest Jewish site? Historical evidence suggests that the Temple Mount was actually Judaism's "holy of holies," and that the Western Wall's venerated position is a relatively late development with a more prosaic and even non-Jewish origin. Would these facts change the tenor of the debate about the Western Wall's future status? And can they help ameliorate the widening schism between Israel's Orthodox religious establishment and the Diaspora Conservative and Reform movements over this holy site?

An artist's reconstruction shows where today's Western Wall (the area between the two dark vertical lines) lies in relation to the temple complex of antiquity. For centuries, it was the upper portion, the Temple Mount, where Jews made their pilgrimages and prayers, even when it lay in ruins.Worship Sites, Post-Temple

The Second Temple in Jerusalem was for centuries the central site for Jewish worship, which was mainly sacrificial at that time. Although the temple itself was built and completed in 515 B.C.E. by Judeans who had returned home from the Babylonian exile, a major refurbishing of the temple was begun by the Roman client-king Herod the Great around 19 B.C.E. Today's Western Wall is actually only a small portion of the retaining wall erected by Herod to encase the natural hill known as Mount Moriah or the Temple Mount in order to allow for the creation of an enormous platform upon which the revamped temple stood.

Once the Second Temple was demolished by the Romans in the year 70 C.E., prayer replaced sacrificial worship. Most scholars agree that Jews offered prayers on the Temple Mount even after the destruction of the Second Temple. "During the first period after the destruction of the Temple of Herod, the Jews continued to go and weep at the ruins of it," read a report by the British Royal Commission, established in 1930 to determine the claims of Muslims and Jews at the Western Wall. The report also noted that "the Jews' wailing-place at that time seems to have been the stone on Mount Moriah where the Mosque of Omar [in the Christian Quarter] now stands."[3]

Roman emperor Hadrian put down a bloody Jewish insurrection in Judea, circa 132–36 C.E. The emperor punished the Jews by barring them from the Temple Mount for their prayers. Yet there is no indication that they prayed at the Western Wall of today.

But before long, all this changed. Early in the second century the Roman emperor Hadrian prohibited Jews from worshipping on the Temple Mount. They were permitted to assemble for prayer only on the Mount of Olives from where they had an unobstructed view of the ruins of the Second Temple. The prohibition to ascend the Temple Mount was strictly enforced during Hadrian's lifetime, but the periodic need to re-issue the decree by subsequent emperors suggests that enforcement was often lax after his death. In fact, Jews did pray on the Temple Mount during the remainder of the second and most of the third centuries, but even when they were prohibited from doing so, there is no indication that they chose instead to pray at today's Western Wall.[4]

Once the Roman Empire adopted Christianity as its official state religion in the fourth century, the situation of Jerusalem's Jewish community became precarious. During most of the next three hundred years, Jews were not permitted to live or visit Jerusalem, but there were periods when this anti-Jewish policy was relaxed, and Jews were permitted to live in or visit the city. Yet there are no records of Jews praying at the Western Wall during those years. After the Persian and Arab conquests of the city in the seventh century, Jews were again allowed to reside in Jerusalem. They chose to live on Mount Zion where they had a number of synagogues. They even had a synagogue on the Temple Mount but no prayer services were conducted at the Western Wall.[5]

In the mid-11th-century, Jews prayed at all of the retaining walls of the Temple Mount. The Western Wall was not accorded any preference.

An eleventh-century document, found in the Cairo Geniza describes how Jewish pilgrims frequently circled the Temple Mount (from the outside), stopping at each of the gates to recite specific prayers. Moshe ben Yitzhak, a mid-11th-century pilgrim, is reported to have prayed daily at one of the Temple Mount gates. At that time, Jews prayed at all of the retaining walls of the Temple Mount. The Western Wall was not accorded any preference. When they prayed at the Western Wall, they did not worship at the site that nowadays is known as the Western Wall Plaza but rather north of this area because, at that time, buildings prevented access to the area currently used. This same geniza manuscript from 1057 confirmed that the Jews paid special taxes for the privilege of praying at the Temple Mount gates and on the Mount of Olives.[6]

Until the thirteenth century, prayer on the Temple Mount was sporadically possible. Benjamin of Tudela (1130-73 C.E.), the famous Jewish traveler who visited Jerusalem during the Crusader years, wrote in his travelogue:

In front of the [Dome of the Rock] is the Western Wall. This is one of the [remaining] walls of what was once the Holy of Holies. … All the Jews come there to pray before this wall.[7]

The wall that Benjamin described was not the present Western Wall (which, as previously noted, is part of the outer retaining walls of the Temple Mount) but the ruins of the western wall of the Second Temple, which were apparently still standing in his days. Maimonides, who arrived in Jerusalem in 1165, also prayed on the Temple Mount, but his letters make no mention of praying at the site where the Western Wall is now located.

Rabbi Shmuel ben Shimshon, who arrived in Jerusalem in 1211, describes in great detail his first days in the city. He ascended the Temple Mount soon after arriving and often prayed on "the Mount of Olives, the place where they used to burn the [Red] Heifer."[8] But on "Shabbat we prayed the afternoon prayer [on the Temple Mount], on the very place where the uncircumcised used to erect their idols."[9] Again, no mention is made of praying at the Western Wall of our days.

A circa fourteenth-century book of Holy Land geography states that Jews prayed at the eastern wall and outside the gates of the southern wall.

Early in the fourteenth century, Jews were barred from entering the Temple Mount by the Mamluks, who ruled Jerusalem from 1250 to 1516. Ishtori Haparchi (1280-1366), author of one of the earliest books of the geography of the Holy Land, Kaftor v'Ferah, wrote that in his day, Jews prayed at the eastern wall and outside the gates of the southern wall. He describes the geography of Jerusalem in great detail but makes no mention of a holy site at the western wall.[10]

An Italian Jewish pilgrim, Meshulam Da Volterra, visited Jerusalem in 1481. He reported that on Tisha b'Av, the annual day of mourning for the destruction of the Temple, the Jews of Jerusalem went "up to Mount of Olives from there they see the Temple Mount, and there they weep and lament the destruction of this house."[11]

What is currently known as the Western Wall then is not mentioned in any source prior to the sixteenth century. It was not mentioned even once in either the Babylonian Talmud (completed in the fifth century C.E.) or the Jerusalem Talmud (completed about a century earlier). There exists an ancient tradition that "the Shechina [God's presence] will never move from the Western Wall."[12] This saying could not refer to the present Western Wall but, instead, described the ruins of the western wall of the Second Temple building mentioned by many pilgrims, including Benjamin of Tudela. Over time, as the visible ruins of the original temple walls disappeared, this saying was applied to the current Western Wall.

The Western Wall Becomes a Prayer SiteSuleiman the Magnificent ordered improvements, including clearing an area around the western side of the retaining wall that contained the Temple Mount, which he assigned to the Jews as a place for them to pray. Before that, today's Western Wall held no religious significance.

In 1517, the Ottoman Empire captured the city of Jerusalem, bringing to an end almost three hundred years of Mamluk rule. Sultan Suleiman I the Magnificent, whose reign from 1520 until his death in 1566 was the longest reign of any Ottoman ruler, was among the most prominent monarchs of his day. He conquered many Christian strongholds in Europe and was stopped only in 1529 when he failed to conquer Vienna. He subsequently turned his attention toward consolidating his gains in the Middle East. In 1536, he ordered the restoration of Jerusalem's city walls, which had been in ruin since the thirteenth century. Later, he undertook an extensive renovation of the Dome of the Rock.

Suleiman adopted a positive attitude toward the Jews of his realm. He persuaded many who had been expelled from Spain and Portugal a generation earlier to settle in Jerusalem. Some believe that he encouraged Jewish immigration in order to limit the influence of the local Arabic-speaking population.[13] Whatever his motives, Jerusalem's Jews benefited from his benevolence toward them.

Fourteen years after he had ordered the rebuilding of the city walls, Suleiman instructed his court architect to prepare the area that came to be known as the Western Wall as a place for Jewish worship. Such a move became possible because on January 14, 1546, a severe earthquake hit the region. Hundreds of people were killed. The flow of the Jordan River was stopped for two days by a landslide. A tsunami battered the Mediterranean coast from Acre to Gaza. The area hardest hit by this earthquake in Jerusalem was the Temple Mount and the quarters surrounding it, including many of the houses that had been built along the western wall.[14] These were the houses that had prevented access to most of the western wall. Now that the approach was blocked by ruins rather than by houses occupied by many people, Suleiman felt ready to instruct his engineers to clear the ruins and to prepare a Jewish prayer site at the western wall.[15]

This was a brand new prayer-site that Jews had not known previously. As noted earlier, Haparchi, an early Holy Land geographer, in his comprehensive survey of fourteenth-century Jerusalem, did not mention the Western Wall as a Jewish prayer site because it did not then exist as such. A footnote by Abraham Moshe Lunz, the editor of the 1899 edition of Haparchi's book, states:

in the author's day, and for many years thereafter, the Western Wall (where we pray nowadays) was covered with earth, and all the Jews went to pray at the eastern wall of the Temple Mount and outside the gates of the southern wall.[16]

The sacredness of the Western Wall is a relatively recent phenomenon and an outgrowth of Sultan Suleiman I's (r.1520- 66) rebuilding activities in Jerusalem. The site was originally just a narrow alley (above) that restricted its usage by the city's Jewish worshippers.

Once the Western Wall had been properly prepared as a prayer site, Suleiman issued a firman (decree) that established the right of Jews to pray there for all times. There are those who claim that this royal decree was issued to compensate the Jews for relinquishing their legal rights to pray on the Temple Mount, but there is no record that Jews ever relinquished those rights voluntarily. This firman was still in effect in the nineteenth century. In 1840, Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt (who was also the governor of Jerusalem) allowed the Jews "to pay visits to [the Western Wall] as of old" but forbade them to pave the area in front of it and cautioned them against "raising their voices and displaying their books there." Subsequent governors reissued this firman in 1841, 1889, 1893 and 1909.[17] The nineteenth-century geographer Joseph Schwartz noted the importance of this decree even in his days, three hundred years later:

No one is molested … by the Mahomedans, as we have a very old firman from the Sultan of Constantinople that the approach [to the Western Wall] shall not be denied to us, though the Porte [the Ottoman government] obtains for this privilege an especial tax, which is, however, quite insignificant.[18]

Although Sultan Suleiman designated the Western Wall as a central locus of Jewish prayer, for more than four hundred years, this site was quite unlike the Western Wall that we know today. From the time of its inception in the sixteenth century until 1967, the site was only a narrow alley—on one side were the houses of the thickly settled Arab neighborhood known as the Mughrabi Quarter and, on the other, the retaining, western wall of the Temple Mount. The prayer area was only 4 meters wide and 28 meters long, occupying less than six percent of the western wall's total length of 488 meters. This small area could barely accommodate a few hundred people.

Prayers at the Western Wall

In the first few centuries after the designation of the Western Wall as a place of prayer, it was utilized infrequently by its intended users. Early descriptions indicate that people came to the wall to pray for divine help only when they faced very critical problems.[19] Another early custom was for some Jews to assemble at the wall during the nine days prior to the anniversary of the destruction of the First and Second Temples (Tisha b'Av) to recite the evening prayer and elegies.

Others had the custom to come to the Western Wall on Thursday nights to recite tikkun hazot, a special prayer recited at midnight to ask for God's mercies. Another practice reported by some nineteenth century European travelers was for the pious to assemble on late Friday afternoon near the Western Wall to welcome the Sabbath. All of these customs make it clear that for many centuries the Western Wall was not used as regularly as it is nowadays when it is a bustle of activity, every day, all day long, and into the late evening hours.

A pilgrimage account from October 1700 provides a description of the role that the Western Wall played in Jerusalem's Jewish life at the beginning of the eighteenth century. According to Reb Gedalyah, the author of Massa'ot Eretz Yisrael, some Jews, especially women, came to the wall to pray on the eve of the new moon, on fast days, and on Tisha b'Av. However, there were no regular daily prayer services at this site in his time—not even on the Sabbath. Instead, in Gedalyah's words:

Every Shabbat morning, immediately after leaving the synagogue, [Jerusalem Jews] walked to the Western Wall, but actually [they did] not walk to the Western Wall because it was far away, and it was necessary to walk through the alleys and market places in white Shabbat coats … but [they] walked to a certain alley where Jews live and, from a high spot one can see, beyond the Western Wall, the place of the Temple … and there [they recited] those psalms that mention Jerusalem and Zion.[20]

By the nineteenth century, there appeared to be a greater use of the Western Wall for prayer, but still, for the most part, not for regular, organized, daily public services. As Joseph Schwartz wrote:

This wall is visited by all our brothers on every feast and festival; and the large space at its foot is often so densely filled up that all cannot perform their devotions here at the same time. It is also visited, though by less numbers, on every Friday afternoon and by some nearly every day.[21]

Albert Rhodes, U.S. consul in Jerusalem in 1863-65, described the prayers at "the wailing-place of the Jews … [as] a spot of interest to every traveler" on Friday afternoon when "every available spot along the foot of this wall is occupied by weeping Jews." He added that "the greater part of these are women, who often sit in little circles around a Talmud-learned Jew, who reads to them … portions of the Jewish chronicles." He also noted that "those [women] who arrive early … commence at one end of the wall and kiss and touch every stone within reach, from one end of the wall to the other."[22]

Regular, daily, public prayer services, three times a day, did not take place at the Western Wall until late in the nineteenth century or early twentieth century.[23] By 1941, they had become established and so popular that British-appointed chief rabbis Yitzhak HaLevi Herzog and Ben Zion Uziel felt it necessary to issue regulations for proper behavior at the wall. These rules included a prohibition against riding a bicycle through the alleyway; the strict separation of men and women (even though the Mandatory government did not permit the erection of the traditional barrier that separates the sexes in Orthodox synagogues); and an admonition not to start a second prayer service while a prior prayer service was already under way.

After the Six Day War

The importance of the Western Wall as the most sacred Jewish site grew immeasurably in the days and weeks after the June 1967 Six-Day War. During Israel's 1948 war of independence, the Jordanian army occupied East Jerusalem and the Old City. The armistice treaty between Jordan and Israel required free access to the Western Wall for everyone, including Jews.[24] However, between 1949 and 1967, Jordan violated this provision and prevented any Jew from approaching the Western Wall. An entire generation of Israeli Jews grew up without access to this holy place. The Israeli government tried to provide alternate sacred sites, such as King David's tomb on Mount Zion and the military cemetery on Mount Herzl, but the inability to access it made the Western Wall an even more venerated place.

Then all of a sudden, in June 1967, the Israeli army recaptured the Old City, and the Western Wall once again became accessible to Jews. On June 7, 1967, the third day of the war, Israeli paratroopers recaptured the Temple Mount and immediately afterward descended to the Western Wall. They were soon joined by Rabbi Shlomo Goren, the chief army chaplain, who blew a resounding blast on the shofar (ram's horn) and said a prayer: "This is the day we have been yearning for. Let us rejoice in it." A few hours later, Israel's two chief rabbis and other senior rabbis came for a festive thanksgiving divine service. On this day, everybody who came to the Western Wall came by way of the Temple Mount because most of the Old City had not yet been cleared of Jordanian snipers.

On the following day, while Israeli paratroopers were clearing the last pockets of resistance, David Ben-Gurion, who had retired four years earlier as Israel's first prime minister, came to the Western Wall accompanied by Jerusalem's mayor Teddy Kollek and Yaakov Yanai, the chairman of Israel's Nature and Parks Authority. Ben-Gurion, the mythological founder of the state of Israel and an avowed secularist, laid his head on the Western Wall and wept bitterly. Once he calmed down, he ordered one of his bodyguards to remove the sign reading "al-Buraq," the Arab name for the Western Wall. He then turned to Yanai and asked him, "Aren't you ashamed? Look—toilets next to the Western Wall." Yanai told Kollek about Ben-Gurion's comments and added, "We need to clean up this place. We need to get the Wall in shape." Kollek promised to take care of it. And he did. Within days the houses of the Mugrabi Quarter were leveled by bulldozers, and the narrow alleyway was turned into the open area known today as the Western Wall Plaza. Instead of the small area that could barely accommodate a few hundred worshippers, a new site had been prepared to accommodate many thousands. Some 370,000 people visited the new site during its first week.[25]

A week and a half after the Temple Mount and the Western Wall were recaptured, Moshe Dayan, Israel's defense minister, met with the Muslim religious authorities of Jerusalem in al-Aqsa Mosque. At this meeting, he announced that the Muslim authorities would be in complete charge of all religious activities in the mosques on the Temple Mount. Jews would have free access to the Temple Mount but would not be allowed to pray there. Instead he directed Jews to pray at the Western Wall.[26] The Israeli government subsequently accepted Dayan's decision that forbade Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount. The rule was that Muslims pray on the top of the mountain while Jews pray below at the Western Wall.


As has been made abundantly clear, there is no ancient Jewish tradition that designates the Western Wall as a sacred site. Instead, it was designated as a place of prayer less than five hundred years ago by a Muslim ruler. It took more than three centuries for the wall to attract the Jewish masses, and only in the last 150 years, has it become Judaism's "most sacred site." Yet, even if this place was not intrinsically holy (let alone as holy as the Temple Mount), or even if it had not been so designated by Suleiman the Great, it has become sanctified over time as Jews have increasingly utilized it for prayer.[27]

Whether this historical survey can help resolve the intra-Jewish dispute over the Western Wall, and whether it will affect the far more bitter feud between Israel and the Palestinians over the future of Jerusalem's holy sites remains to be seen.

F. M. Loewenberg is professor emeritus at Bar-Ilan University's School of Social Work. Since his retirement, his research interests have focused on the history of the Temple Mount and the Western Wall.



 The Jewish calendar is full of notations, red letter days that are meant to be both particular reminders as well as part of a uniform one:  time is passing; the sands of life have run out just a bit more; the beard is a little grayer and the limbs just a touch heavier.  Time.  The Jewish calendar is a watchman of time, ram's horn that blows not once a year but every time that a new time cycle begins.


Every week is marked by a Sabbath that notes not only the end of the week passed but the beginning of a new one. It is both a reminder of seven full days passed out of our life – so soon! – as well as the opportunity to make the next period fuller, more meaningful, a reason for being.


Every month is marked by a Rosh Chodesh, the consecration of the new beginning of yet another lunar cycle.  The wheel of heaven has revolved yet another thirty days – so soon! – and we are that much older.  The L-rd now gives us another month to prove that we are also that much wiser.  It is not only another month, it is a new month.   Above all, it is called Rosh Chodesh, the "head" of the month.  Is there perhaps here a hint to see how much wisdom has filled our heads during the mistakes and sins of the past one…?


And every year has its Rosh Hashana, that peculiarly Jewish day in which there are no parties and drinking and abandonment of restraint; in which there is no hilarious laughter and noise that is a frantic and frenetic attempt to convince all (and oneself) that he is happy; there is no frantic clutching at pleasure before it escapes and – worse  - before I pass on; too soon, too soon.  There is Rosh Hashana, the time past.  Another year gone by – already?  So soon! – and it is a time to see what the gray hairs and the added wrinkles and the slower reflexes have taught us.  Rosh Hashana is one step closer to the gateway out of this world and into the next one.  It is a time to rehearse the speech that we will make – all of us – some day, before the Supremest of Courts, as we attempt to explain the meaning of our lives below.


Life is too short for fools.  It is too long for those who know it was not given for happiness (if that comes, how wonderful, but how often does it appear, only in insignificant measures and at rare times, as drops of rain that fall on a parched desert leaving no impact, changing nothing so that the traveler never knows it fell).  Life was given for holiness and sanctity, so that we might rise above ourselves; so that we might consecrate and hallow that animalism within us that threatens at every moment to escape and express itself in selfishness, ego and greed – sins that are themselves only the corridors to the crimes of cruelty and hurting others.  Life is not a happy thing – it is a beautiful thing, and when one becomes the artist and artisan of that beauty that is called holiness, when one practices the supreme holiness that comes of loving and giving of oneself.


"Ani  l'dodi  v'dodi li…"  "I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine…"  the words of the greatest of love poems, Song of Songs; great because it is that purest of love, between the Almighty and the House of Israel.  Consider them, for do they not contain the essence and the secret of true love?  "I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine."  When I am my beloved's, when I give to her and give of myself and live to do for her and make her happy – then I am guaranteed that she is mine for she will, in turn, be doing the same for me.  The lovers who think of giving to each other must receive from each other.  This is love, this desire to give, this desire to sacrifice and do for the other.


Not for nothing was the Song of Songs called by the incomparable Rabbi Akiva, "the Holy of Holies" of all the books of the Bible.  For the kind of love expressed in it IS holiness.  Holiness is to escape from the selfishness and greed of the animal; it is to smash the passions and desires of the ego; it is to master the will that makes man seek only his own gratification.  And is not love just that, in practice?  Is not love exactly that, if it is true love?


And not for no reason did the rabbis see in the Hebrew letters of the month of Elul the first letters of  "Ani l'dodi v'dodi li – I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine."  Elul is the month of Tshuva, return and introspection.  It is the month of scraping away the ego that has settled and crusted on our hearts and souls.  If Passover calls for searching out he leaven in the home, Elul decrees removing it – the yeasty and bloated ego – from the soul.  It is a time to note the calendar, the graying and aging, and to realize: Not for nonsense was I born and not with nonsense must they bury me.


Be good.  Love.  Love selflessly; cease speaking evil, cease thinking evil; cease searching out evil in your fellow human beings.  Cease seeking to grow at the expense of others.  For one who climbs on top of the man he has just chopped down is not taller.  He is the same dwarf standing on his victim's height.  Be wary lest you hurt the one you love.  Think before you act towards the other person.  Be good as a person, as an individual, and your part of the world will become holy.  Then, if others emulate you, the world will suddenly and automatically turn beautiful and hallowed.  It is Elul.  Think of your beloved – all the people of the earth – and think of your particular beloved.  Give of yourself and you will receive that which no amount of grasping and scheming can ever bring you: self-respect.  Love the other and you will learn to like yourself.  Be holy, for the One who made you is Holy and for this He placed you on this earth.  It is another Elul, yet another one.  How many more are left?


Herzliya Mayor Sends Letter of Apology to Late Lubavitcher Rebbe over Tefillin BrouhahaBy David Israel - 21 Elul 5777 – September 12, 2017

"A happy ending to the sad affair in Herzliya," Menachem Cohen, Editor of the weekly Kfar Chabad tweeted on Monday.

The sad affair took place a week ago, when Chabdnik Yosef Amitai set up shop on Sokolov Street in Herzliya and started offering Jewish men passing by an opportunity to put on tefillin. This common scene around the globe, inaugurated by the late Lubavitcher Rebbe Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson on the first Jewish month of Elul after the 1967 Six Day War, offended an inspector of the Herzliya municipality, who demanded that Amitai immediately remove his stall and stop the tefillin thing.


In the summons he issued the perplexed Amitai, the inspector wrote: "He was asked a few times to clear the table with the tefillin, but he refused to fold up." The inspector added that Amitai "harasses bystanders by asking them to put on tefillin," and set a fine to the amount of 730 shekel ($207.37), and ordered a police patrol car to assist with the removal of the stall.

Chabad Israel officials issued a statement saying "it is hard to believe that of all the places on earth where Chabad emissaries ask Jews to put on tefillin and connect to the tradition of their forefathers, in the State of the Jews this would entail a summons or an indictment. Not in New York, not at Red Square, not in London and not at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. Only in Herzliya, a city in Israel."

But, according to Menachem Cohen's tweet, the mayor of Herzliya "came to the office of Chabad emissary Rabbi Reli Halperin, put on phylacteries and announced the cancellation of the outrageous summons. The two parted with a hug."


But then the Mayor of Herzliya, Moshe Fadlon, did one better: he offered a letter of apology to the Lubavitcher Rebbe, which may be the thing to do within some Chassidic circles, but would certainly struck many Jews and gentiles alike as justa bit odd, seeing as the Lubavitcher Rebbe has been taken from us lo 23 year ago.

"I, Moshe Ben Tony Fadlon, the mayor of Herzliya, inform the holy Rebbe, King Messiah, that unfortunately there was a misunderstanding about the tefillin stand, I expresses my sorrow and announce that I cherish the activities of Chabad under the reign of His Holiness, and welcomes the continuation of Chabad activities throughout the city as yet, and request from His Holiness a blessing for success and for a good and sweet year. Signed with humility, Moshe son of Tony Fadlon," the Mayor wrote.

So far the Rebbe has not responded. But the mayor and local Chabadniks went out to dance in the streets of Herzliya, which did a lot to alleviate the tension. We are told that city inspectors opted not to fine them for the dancing.

See you tomorrow

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