Aaron, Moses' brother, was a master at making peace between people. He had intense love for everyone, and with this great love he was able to motivate other people to love each other. Flames of love came from his heart, and this entered the hearts of everyone else.
Today, think of two people you know who need to make peace, and use Aaron as a model.
Love Yehuda Lave
Get Ready for Wednesday's Once-in-150-Years Blood Moon that's also Super Moon, Blue Moon, Lunar Eclipse and Tu B'Shvat
Photo Credit: Illustration using copyright-free moon image by Alfredo Garcia, Jr. and tree silhouette
Lunar eclipse on Tu B'Shvat
It's going to be a packed Wednesday night for moon-loving earthlings of every persuasion, including the atheists among us – our silvery satellite will have something for everyone, for the first time since 1866.
First, Tuesday night and Wednesday mark the fifteenth day of the Jewish lunar month of Shvat, otherwise known as Tu B'Shvat, the new year for trees. Tu B'Shvat as the cut-off date for calculating the age of a tree until it is permissible to eat its fruits in its fourth year. If the tree were planted before Tu B'Shvat, that time counts as one year by the time to holiday arrives – even if we planted it one day before the new year. Other commandments also depend on Tu B'Shvat, but they involve bringing the first fruit as sacrifice in the Temple.
Then there's the moon eclipse, visible in the US before sunrise on Wednesday, and in the Middle East, Asia, eastern Russia, Australia and New Zealand during the moonrise on Wednesday morning. According to Gordon Johnston, program executive at NASA, "Weather permitting, the west coast, Alaska and Hawaii will have a spectacular view of totality from start to finish," everyone else's view won't be quite as spectacular.
But then there's the fact that lunar eclipses are associated with the Blood Moon: due to its reddish color, a totally eclipsed moon is referred to with that ominous name. When sunlight passes through the earth's atmosphere, it filters and refracts in such a way that the green to violet lights on the spectrum scatter more strongly than the red light. This results the moon looking redder.
The blood moon prophecy was a set of apocalyptic beliefs pushed by Christian ministers John Hagee and Mark Biltz, who suggested that the Tetrad—four consecutive lunar eclipses coinciding on Jewish holidays with six full moons in between, and no intervening partial lunar eclipses, which began with the April 2014 lunar eclipse—was a sign of the beginning of the end of times as described in the Book of Joel 3:4. The Christian biblical translations misplace this prophecy, a reference to which appears in two New Testament books. The following is a translation of the original Hebrew text, Joel 3, verses 1-5:
"After this, I will pour out my Spirit on all of humanity, your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. And also on male and female slaves in those days I will pour out my Spirit. I will show wonders in the sky and on earth – blood, fire and columns of smoke.
"The sun will be turned into darkness and the moon into blood before the coming of God's great and terrible Day.
"At that time, whoever calls the name of God will escape, for on Mount Zion and Jerusalem there will be refugees, as God has promised: among the survivors will be those whom God has called."
The Hagee and Biltz Tetrad ended with the lunar eclipse on September 27-28, 2015, and a year later, in November 2016, the world began to change, possibly. Or not – you decide. Prophecies are very flexible.
Finally, Wednesday also offers a Blue Moon, which is a strictly solar-calendar event: a blue moon is an additional full moon that appears in a given month of the common calendar. According to American astronomer Phil Plait, the term has traditionally referred to an "extra" full moon, where a year which normally has 12 full moons gets 13 instead. The "blue moon" reference is applied to the third full moon in a season with four full moons, thus correcting the timing of the last month of a season that would have otherwise been expected too early. This happens every two to three years, with a total of seven times in the solar-lunar cycle of 19 years.
All of the above may remain invisible should the heavens be clouded over, for which we apologize in advance.
Tu BiShvat ( Hebrew: ט״ו בשבט) is a Jewish holiday occurring on the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shevat (in 2018, Tu BiShvat begins at sunset on January 30 and ends at nightfall on January 31). It is also called "Rosh HaShanah La'Ilanot" ( Hebrew: ראש השנה לאילנות), literally "New Year of the Trees." In contemporary Israel, the day is celebrated as an ecological awareness day, and trees are planted in celebration. Its role is important to the concept of Chadash.[ citation needed]
The name Tu BiShvat is derived from the Hebrew date of the holiday, which occurs on the fifteenth day of Shevat. "Tu" stands for the Hebrew lettersTet and Vav, which together have the numerical value of 9 and 6, adding up to 15. Tu BiShvat is a relatively recent name; the date was originally called "Ḥamisha Asar BiShvat" (חמשה-עשר בשבט), which means "Fifteenth of Shevat".
Tu BiShvat appears in the Mishnah in Tractate Rosh Hashanah as one of the four new years in the Jewish calendar. The discussion of when the New Year occurs was a source of debate among the rabbis: "And there are four new year dates: – The first of Nisan – new year for kings and festivals – The first of Elul – new year for animal tithes. Rabbi Elazar and Rabbi Shimon say: – The first of Tishrei– new year for calculation of the calendar, sabbatical years and jubilees, for planting and sowing – The first of Shevat, according to the school of Shamai; The school of Hillel says: the fifteenth of Shevat" ( Rosh Hashana:2a).
The rabbis of the Talmud ruled in favor of Hillel on this issue. Thus the 15th of Shevat became the date for calculating the beginning of the agricultural cycle for the purpose of biblical tithes.
Orlah refers to a biblical prohibition ( Leviticus 19:23) on eating the fruit of trees produced during the first three years after they are planted.
Neta Reva'i refers to the biblical commandment (Leviticus 19:24) to bring fourth-year fruit crops to Jerusalem as a tithe.
Maaser Sheni was a tithe which was eaten in Jerusalem and Maaser Ani was a tithe given to the poor ( Deuteronomy 14:22–29) that were also calculated by whether the fruit ripened before or after Tu BiShvat.
Of the talmudic requirements for fruit trees which used Tu BiShvat as the cut-off date in the Hebrew calendar for calculating the age of a fruit-bearing tree, Orlah remains to this day in essentially the same form it had in talmudic times. In the Orthodox Jewish world, these practices are still observed today as part of Halacha, Jewish law. Fruit that ripened on a three-year-old tree before Tu BiShvat is considered orlah and is forbidden to eat, while fruit ripening on or after Tu BiShvat of the tree's third year is permitted. In the 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th years of the Shmita cycle Maaser Sheni is observed today by a ceremony redeeming tithing obligations with a coin; in the 3rd and 6th years, Maaser Ani is substituted, and no coin is needed for redeeming it. Tu BiShvat is the cut-off date for determining to which year the tithes belong.[ citation needed]
Tu BiShvat falls on the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shevat and begins a three-month series of mid-month full moons that culminate in Passover.
Kabbalistic and Hassidic customs
Dried fruit and almonds traditionally eaten on Tu BiShvat
In the Middle Ages, Tu BiShvat was celebrated with a feast of fruits in keeping with the Mishnaic description of the holiday as a "New Year." In the 16th century, the kabbalist Rabbi Yitzchak Luria of Safed and his disciples instituted a Tu BiShvat seder in which the fruits and trees of the Land of Israel were given symbolic meaning. The main idea was that eating ten specific fruits and drinking four cups of wine in a specific order while reciting the appropriate blessings would bring human beings, and the world, closer to spiritual perfection.
In Israel, the kabbalistic Tu BiShvat seder has been revived, and is now celebrated by many Jews, religious and secular. Special haggadot have been written for this purpose.[ citation needed]
In the Chassidic community, some Jews pickle or candy the etrog ( citron) from Sukkot and eat it on Tu BiShvat. Some pray that they will be worthy of a beautiful etrog on the following Sukkot.
Customs in Israel
On Tu BiShvat 1890, Rabbi Ze'ev Yavetz, one of the founders of the Mizrachi movement, took his students to plant trees in the agricultural colony of Zichron Yaakov. This custom was adopted in 1908 by the Jewish Teachers Union and later by the Jewish National Fund (Keren HaKayemet L'Israel), established in 1901 to oversee land reclamation and afforestation of the Land of Israel. In the early 20th century, the Jewish National Fund devoted the day to planting eucalyptus trees to stop the plague of malaria in the Hula Valley; today the Fund schedules major tree-planting events in large forests every Tu BiShvat. Over a million Israelis take part in the Jewish National Fund's Tu BiShvat tree-planting activities.
In keeping with the idea of Tu BiShvat marking the revival of nature, many of Israel's major institutions have chosen this day for their inauguration. The cornerstone-laying of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem took place on Tu BiShvat 1918; the Technion in Haifa, on Tu BiShvat 1925; and the Knesset, on Tu BiShvat 1949.
Tu BiShvat is the Israeli Arbor Day, and it is often referred to by that name in international media. Ecological organizations in Israel and the diaspora have adopted the holiday to further environmental-awareness programs. On Israeli kibbutzim, Tu BiShvat is celebrated as an agricultural holiday.[1
K A H A N E The magazine of the authentic Jewish Idea Shavat –5737 February – 1977
"And Pharaoh called to Moses, saying: Go and worship the L-rd. Only your sheep and cattle will remain – your children will also go with you. And Moses said: You will also give us offerings and sacrifices for the L-rd our G-d, and our flocks will go with us…" (Shmot 10:24-26)
The ninth plague-darkness – has struck Egypt with a vengeance and Pharaoh breaks. Step by step he has retreated and after the eighth plague – locusts – he was prepared to allow the Jews to leave except for their children. Now he surrenders almost entirely as he agrees that all the Jews can leave. He only asks one thing, one compromise, one small victory for himself, that the Jewish cattle remain behind.
Consider; the Jews have been slaves for 210 years. They have lived in misery and persecution. They suffered decrees such as the one casting their male children into the sea. They cried out unto the L-rd for freedom and salvation. Now, apparently the great moment has arrived! Pharaoh agrees that they shall go free! What does it matter that he asks for their cattle? Give it to him! The main thing is peace and salvation and we are willing to give up cattle for peace!
But Moses knows that this is not the purpose of the freedom of the Jewish people and of the story of the slavery and exodus. He is not prepared to compromise one inch because he knows what the purpose of G-d is. When Moses first entered the presence of Pharaoh and said: "The L-rd, G-d of the Hebrews, has said: Let my people go!" Pharaoh contemptuously answered: "Who is the L-rd? I know not the L-rd and will not let Israel go!" Here is where the battle was joined. Here is the purpose and aim of creation – to have the world recognize the dominion and kingship of the L-rd being challenged. Pharaoh must be made to recognize and totally acknowledge the sovereignty of the L-rd over him and his people. He cannot make compromises; he cannot strike bargains. He must submit totally!
"And I shall be glorified through (the defeat of) Pharaoh and his army and Egypt shall know that I am the L-rd." Only the total defeat of the wicked can raise and honor the name of the L-rd, says the Biblical commentator Rashi. This is why there will be no compromise with Pharaoh. He must totally submit, he must totally surrender.
And even when he apparently does this, after the plague of the first born, when he runs to Moses and says: "Get out, take your flocks with you, just leave and ask the L-rd to bless me!" Moses refuses and in the words of the Mechilta; "And he called unto Moses and Aaron in the middle of the night and said: get up and leave! Said Moses unto him: No, we have been ordered not to leave our houses until morning. What are we, thieves that we should slink out in the night? No, we will leave only in the morning with an upraised arm before the eyes of all the Egyptians!"
Not one inch of retreat here. The lesson of the L-rd being the Omnipotent, king of the universe must be seen and acknowledged.
The lesson is an eternal one and must be learned in our time, too. The question of peace in the Middle East is a question of the Arabs and the world acknowledging the total sovereignty of the All Mighty. There can be no compromise on this. It is only a peace that comes with Arabs submitting to the yoke of the heavenly kingdom that will be a permanent one and the Jew who gives up part of his land as a compromise, violates the entire purpose of the rise of the Jewish State and the demand of the All Mighty that the nations acknowledge Him as King. There can be no retreat from land because that is in essence a retreat also from the Kingship of the L-rd.
Jews around the world ushered in the new month of Shevat on the night of January 16, 2018. While not as well known as the Hebrew months of Tishrei or Nissan, when we celebrate the High Holidays and Passover, Shevat is a month rich in symbolism and meaning.
The Torah doesn't give names to the months of the year. Instead, it calls Nissan, the month of spring, the first month. Counting from Nissan, then, makes Shevat the 11th month.
2. It's All Babylonian to Me:
The name first appears in the Book of Zechariah, and is believed to be a loan word from ancient Akkadian. Related to the word lashing, the name refers to the heavy rains of the season as winter draws to a close. Rain, in Jewish tradition, is tied with blessings.
(The reason why we use Babylonian names is explained here.)
The sign for the month of Shevat is Aquarius, the waterbearer. This further ties Shevat to the rainy season, reflecting the Biblical verse, "Water will flow from his wells."
4. Make Like a Tree
Shevat is well known as the month of Tu B'Shevat, that is today, January 31st, 2018the new years for trees, but according to the Mishnah, there's an opinion that the new year should be celebrated on the first of the month, not the 15th.
5. The King's Speech
(Image: James Tissot )
The month of Shevat was when Moses prepared for his passing in the following month on 7 Adar. He took the opportunity to rebuke the children of Israel, as recorded in Deuteronomy. Out of honor for the Jewish people, Moses saved these words of rebuke and heartfelt criticism until right before he passed away.
As a general rule, even if the Torah forbids a certain food, one is still permitted to eat kosher food that has been artificially flavored to taste like that food. However, if it closely resembles the actual non-kosher food, it may be necessary to mark it as an imitation so no one will be confused.
Tastes Like Milk and Meat
Our first port of call is a fascinating incident in the Talmud:
Yalta once said to her husband, Rabbi Nachman: "Now, let us see, whatever G‑d forbade us, He permitted us something corresponding. He forbade blood but permitted liver. . . . He forbade pork but permitted the brains of a shibuta. 1 . . . I would like to eat something that has the taste of meat cooked with milk."Rabbi Nachman ordered the chefs to skewer [cow] udders and roast them. 2
The commentaries explain that for every forbidden food or act, G‑d provided another similar permitted food or act with the same pleasurable sensation as the forbidden one. Why? Because G‑d is not out to deny us the pleasure inherent in that food or act; rather, the sin itself is essentially forbidden. 3
But there are a few important caveats before you dig in.
As always, you need to make sure the product has a reliable kosher certification. In fact, there is imitation crab on the market that actually contains real crab. (It is mostly made of white-fleshed fish, but is flavored with real crab.)
What Will People Think?
There is a concept in Jewish law called mar'it ayin (lit. "appearance to the eye"). Certain acts are prohibited just because observers mistake them for different, forbidden acts, causing them to either think that the act is in fact permissible or to view the person negatively. Generally, even if something is forbidden because of mar'it ayin, it may not even be done in the privacy of one's home. 4
However, since the reason for this prohibitionis only because of how the act can appear to others, if one takes certain necessary precautions, one is permitted to do the act. 5
Meat and Non-Dairy Milk
For example, if one wishes to drink almond milk while eating meat, he needs to indicate that it is in fact almond milk, not regular milk, which is forbidden. In the olden days, this was done by popping some whole almonds into the milk. Today, this can be achieved by having the container on the table, making it clear that it is almond milk. 6
The same would need to be done in order to serve a veggie burger that resembles meat, topped with real cheese, or to serve a beef burger under a slice of imitation cheese. It's fine to eat, provided that the package is nearby and visible, or its parve identity is spelled out on the menu, receipt, etc.
This principle would also extend to foods that were made to resemble pork. If it is certified kosher, you can eat it if the viewer can easily see evidence of its non-porcine provenance.
Parve Ice Cream
In the event that the imitation item has become ubiquitous to the point that observers would not assume you're doing something forbidden, it is permitted to eat it even without any special markers. Thus, according to many, there is no issue with a parve ice cream dessert after a meat meal. 7 Many kosher certifiers are of the opinion that the same holds true for surimi (mock crab). Since many, both Jews and non-Jews, know that surimi exists, it does not need to be marked when served on a kosher table.
Nevertheless, if you're eating one of these imitation foods in the company of people who are unaware that these products exist, make it a point to inform them so that that they do not jump to conclusions.
The Real Thing
These days, imitation products approximate forbidden foods, but believe it or not, the real thing won't always be off the table. As the Midrash says: "Why is the pig called [in Hebrew] chazir? Because in the future, G‑d will return [lehachazir] it to Israel." 8
In other words, in the messianic era, the world will be purified and elevated to the extent that the pig will become permissible to eat. (While there is a rule that the laws of the Torah will never change, commentaries explain that G‑d will alter the pig's physiology so that it will chew its cud and therefore bear both kosher signs. 9)
Talmud, Shabbat 64b. It should be noted that this applies only to actions that are actually forbidden (rabbinically) because of mari't ayin. However, actions that were never officially prohibited only need to be avoided in situations where there is a fear of mari't ayin. When the problem is absent, there is no prohibition.
This, of course, assumes that eating the imitation food or developing a taste for the forbidden food will not be detrimental and lead to actual sin. However, if acquiring a taste for pork, crab, etc. would lead one to gradually begin eating non-kosher (either when the kosher version is not available, or because eating the non-kosher food allows for more social activity), then one should of course abstain from eating any of these imitation foods. Along the same lines, the rabbis tell us that "a person should not say, 'I find pork disgusting,' or 'It is impossible for me to wear a mixture [of wool and linen],' but rather, one should say, 'I indeed wish to, but what can I do—my Father in heaven has imposed these decrees upon me' " (Torat Kohanim 20:128, cited in Rashi Leviticus 20:26). This implies that it is OK to like the taste of something prohibited as long as you don't eat it. Nevertheless, the Maggid of Mezritch explains that this only applies to one who is certain that he will not come to actual sin. However, one who may come to sin should indeed bring himself to find it "disgusting," which in our case would mean to abstain from eating so he does not come to enjoy the taste (see Likutei Torah, Va'etchanan 9d; Keter Shem Tov 2:998b).
This is cited in in the name of the Midrash, in various medieval biblical and Talmudic commentaries (see, for example, Rabeinu Bechaye, Leviticus 11:7; Responsa of Radbaz 2:828); however it is not found in any existent Midrashic source. See Likkutei Sichot 29, p.128, and postscript on fn. 58 for a list of sources that cite this Midrash.