Monday, April 30, 2018

What's the purpose of the Universe? and Dore Gold on Jerusalem

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Yehuda Lave, Spiritual Advisor and Counselor

Fulfill the Will of the Creator

 When someone's total focus is on fulfilling the will of the Creator, he will be free from all worries and anxieties. He constantly fulfills the will of the Creator with sublime ecstasy and joy. A wise person makes this his life-goal.

This is such a powerful message that it is worth rereading over and over again. Integrating this into our consciousness is life-transforming. Print this out and put it in a place where you will remember to read it daily for at least one week.

Love Yehuda Lave

Yehuda and Alan Kessel at the Dore Gold Lecture

The Jerusalem Center event at the Israel Museum featuring a presentation by Dr. Dore Gold

Gorge Michael & Luciano Pavarotti Don't let the sun go down on me

For your pleasure

What's the purpose of the Universe?

That's a lot of criminal records

In Honor of Independence Day: Police to cancel 300,000 criminal records

'Israel Police helping citizens prevent mistakes, and assisting those who committed an offense to return to the fold.'

Contact Editor Uzi Baruch, 17/04/18 12:03Share
Alsheikh and ErdanHillel Meir/TPS

Police will cancel some 300,000 criminal records of Israeli citizens on the occasion of Israel's 70th Independence Day celebrations.

Police Superintendent Roni Alsheikh presented the plan, explaining that there are clear criteria that will enable the automatic deletion of files closed for lack of evidence or lack of public interest.

"Israel Police is acting for situational prevention - to assist normative citizens in preventing mistakes and the committing of offenses, and sometimes also to assist those who committed an offense to return to the fold and lead lives of law-abiding normative citizens," Alsheikh explained.

Criminal records will be deleted for citizens whose data in retrospect indicate that they are normative citizens who might have been suspected and had not succeeded in refuting the suspicions against them or had faltered on a one-time basis, but who do not fit the definition of an offender. The outline is called "New Chance."

As a matter of course, this procedure is given to the citizen applying to police with a request to cancel a record. On the occasion of the 70th anniversary, police decided that it was appropriate to take exceptional steps, regardless of the citizen's appeal.

Within the framework of "New Chance," the cancellation authority given to police will be expanded as mentioned above, and 339,000 investigation files involving some 300,000 citizens of the State of Israel, residents of the region, foreigners and tourists, of whom some 34,000 are minors, will be removed from the registry. Implementation of the outline will begin in the coming weeks.

It should be emphasized that within the framework of the outline, closed investigation files will not be canceled for serious offenses of violence, serious sexual offenses, security offenses, murder offenses and offenses under section 17 of the Crime Register and Rehabilitation of Offenders Law. Police will carry out cancellation of the files through a computerized mechanism.

Minister of Public Security and Strategic Affairs, Gilad Erdan, said that "this is very good news for civilians who have been interrogated on suspicion of criminal activity, which will remove the stain on their past. The Ministry of Public Security accompanied the initiative, which is in accordance will similar processes that I advanced in the past, with an approach viewing preservation of the rights of citizens, even those investigated by police, as a supreme value."

"There is no reason that a cloud of suspicion should hover for years over the heads of citizens never charged with a criminal offense. I see great importance in the initiative to delete records, and welcome the fact that hundreds of thousands of citizens will be given the opportunity to open a new page on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the state of Israel," Erdan added

Standing for the Siren

Rationalist Judaism: Standing for the Siren


In my younger years, when I was a charedi yeshivah student, I would not stand silently during the sirens on Yom HaShoah and Yom HaZikaron. After all, I reckoned, those are non-Jewish, meaningless customs. Instead, I would recite Tehillim, the traditional Jewish way of memorializing the deceased, which I was taught actually helps them in the Upper Worlds. (Of course, if I was in public, I would nevertheless stand in silence out of respect for others.) Such is still the normative attitude in the charedi world.

But after careful study of this topic, I realized that this is entirely backwards.

The practice of sounding the siren for two minutes of silence has its roots in South Africa. During World War I, a businessman in Cape Town suggested that his church observe a silent pause in memory of those who fell in battle. Subsequently, the Mayor of Cape Town instructed that at noon on May 14, 1918, the daily firing of the Noon Gun (for the ships to set their chronometers uniformly) would serve as the signal to begin two minutes of silence in memory of the fallen. This custom later spread throughout the British Empire, and eventually to many different nations and cultures. The Jews living in Palestine adopted this custom and observed a minute or two of silence in response to tragic events. After the War of Independence, the Rabbinate of Israel decided to set Memorial Day on the day before Independence Day. The newly installed national system of air-raid sirens provided a means to simultaneously alert everyone in Israel to observe the silence at the same time.

There is a prohibition in Judaism of following in the ways of gentiles. But the practice of standing silent for a siren would not fall under that prohibition. The prohibition does not refer to any practice which happens to originate with non-Jews. It only refers to practices which are idolatrous, or a practice for which the reasons are unknown and thus potentially originate in idolatry. As per Rema to Yoreh Deah 178:1, any practice which has a sensible rationale is permitted to be adopted, even if it originates with non-Jews.

This even includes practices which relate to the religious sphere. Ketav Sofer permits the innovative non-Jewish practice of carrying the dead on wagons. In the Orthodox Jewish community today, everyone refers to verses in Scripture via chapter numbers, even though these were introduced by non-Jews. And, of course, we refer to the months of the Hebrew calendar with names that originated in Babylonia. Rabbi Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe, Orach Chaim 4:24) even permitted Jewish schoolchildren in public schools to participate with Christian schoolchildren in non-denominational school prayer!

Standing silent for the siren may have been introduced into Israel as a copy of procedures done in non-Jewish nations, but it is not a non-Jewish procedure. It is simply a natural human expression of solemnity in the face of tragedy.

In fact, not only is there nothing specifically non-Jewish about the practice, it even has conceptual roots in Judaism. Such a response to death goes back to the Torah itself. When Nadav and Avihu were killed by fire, it says vayidom Aharon, "Aharon was silent." While some see this as meaning that he uttered no complaint about God's judgment, others see it as expressing a natural response in the fact of tragedy. Likewise, we find that Iyov's friends sat in silence with him for seven days. The Talmud (Berachos 6b) says that "the merit of attending a house of mourning lies in maintaining silence." Silence expresses both commiserations and solidarity with others, and contemplating matters in our minds. This is something that is very much part of traditional Judaism.

What about the siren? The siren was instituted simply as a way of alerting everyone to this avodah, just like the Shabbos siren. It can even be seen as very similar to the shofar blast, another type of horn which sounds and to which in response we stand in silent contemplation. Standing silent for the siren, then, does not only reflect basic human attitudes, but it even echoes traditional Jewish practices. It is not something that is copying non-Jewish practices of questionable theological basis, like schlissel challah, pouring lead, and many other popular rituals in frum society.

On the other hand, just how traditional is it to say Tehillim on behalf of the dead, and what does it accomplish? We do not find any mention of such a thing in the writings of Chazal and the Rishonim. In classical Judaism, one gives charity for the dead and one prays (such as with the Yizkor prayer, which is recited at Yom HaZikaron events). For one's ancestors and teachers, one learns Torah and does good deeds as a credit to them. Saying Tehillim for strangers does not appear to have any basis in classical Judaism. As I discuss at length in my essay What Can One Do For Someone Who Has Passed Away?, the earliest sources to discuss such things indicate that one cannot actually accomplish anything for the deceased in such a way.

So which is the traditional Jewish way of commemorating those who died in tragic circumstances, and which is the meaningless custom of recent origin? Like so many other topics, this relates to whether one follows the rationalist approach of the Rishonim or the more recent mystical approach. Similarly, it also depends on whether one defines Jewish tradition as starting in Biblical times and carrying on through the Sages of the Talmud and the Rishonim, or whether one defines it as starting about a hundred years ago.

(Note that in this post I am just addressing the arguments that charedim give for not standing quietly during the siren - and which I believed to be the reasons back when I was a naive yeshivah student. This is not the same as the actual reason why they do not stand for the siren, which I will address in a future post.)

mariah carey and luciano pavarotti - hero

here is quite the contrasting pair

The Year's Best 'Only In Israel' Moments Zev Stub

  For almost a decade Chelm-on-the-Med Online ( has been collecting and sharing in English the wildest and wackiest news stories about Israel 'hiding' in the country's mainstream Hebrew press in order to balance overly conflict-driven news that warps perceptions of life in Israel.  


Every year, the Chelm Project announced in late-December early-January the best of the lot in a given year by giving out annual Chelm Awards for the best of the bunch in a host of categories ranging from nutty antics by politicians and incredulous actions by public bodies, to zany behavior by run-of-the-mill Israelis, including special recognition of the most audacious case of chutzpa and an 'Honorable Menschen[1]Award' for extraordinary gestures…every year but this one,  when due to an extended medical emergency in the family, the Chelm Project grounded to a halt in late December 2017.  


In honor of Israel's 70th Independence Year[2] Chelm-on-the-Med Online has chosen to celebrate this landmark by sharing a medley of landmark moments over the past year that are not only the epitome of unforgettable Chelm-like-but-true moments in Israel during 2017, Almost all of the events below could equally qualify as Only-in-Israel moments that speak volumes about the true flavor of life in Israel over the past seven decades[3] and in the subtext – reflect how Israeli society ticks.  




The Israeli Diplomacy in Action Award goes to Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu who in a stroke of genius and fitting response to UNESCO's declaration of the Temple Mount as a Muslim world heritage site with no ties to the Jews, ordered a replica of the relief that adorns the Arch of Titus in Rome depicting Roman soldiers carrying away the seven-branch menorah (candelabra)[4] and other spoils from the Temple Mount after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE. Netanyahu is giving the 45,000 NIS ($11,842) replica to the director-general of UNESCO Irina Bokova as a gift, to be placed on permanent displayed at UNESCO headquarters in Paris.


This year's Most Telling Decision by an Israeli Ministry went to the Ministry of Health for a surely Only-in-Israel step. Israeli cities are so alley cat friendly that many municipalities provide ground level water troughs[5] for cats and dogs as an integral part of water fountains for people, but in 2017 the Ministry of Health was forced to distribute a directive to Israeli hospitals specifying employees should not encourage feral felines to 'set up house' on hospital grounds where the stray cats could be found not only wandering about the lobby and gathering outside kitchens, and occasionally strolling down the corridor of a ward.  Rumor has it the last straw for senior health officials was a report that at one unnamed Israeli hospital a cat 'fell' through an acoustic ceiling into the lap of a dialysis patent.


No Chelm Award event would be complete without a Chelm Award for Chutzpa whose primary recipient this year reflects the over-the-top nature of political discourse in Israel:The winner is a senior Haaretz journalist Rogel Alpher, who called on Israelis to boycott the nation's much-loved HaShachar HaOleh chocolate spread, branding the Haifa-based brand "a supporter of 'the Occupation" claiming the iconic snack item was – I quote – "a racist-fascist chocolate spread" (because the factory owner Moshe Veidberg believes Jews have the right to settle in Judea and Samaria). Sales of HaShachar HaOleh chocolate spread skyrocket at some supermarkets with one angry customer purchasing six cartons…giving containers away to other shoppers and the rest to a food bank for low-income families… Co-recipients for unadulterated chutzpa are regular patrons of the upscale Tel Aviv Asian restaurant "Zepra" who lodged a class action suit after they ordered horridly expensive beef filet and veal dishes, while a food lab subsequently showed the orders were made of less expensive…pork. The plaintiffs not only want their money back for everything they'd ever ordered over the past seven (!) years…they cried crocodile tears claiming such underhanded behavior damaged their "freedom of choice and autonomy…desecrated their personal dignity, and forced them to break the halachic prohibition on eating pork"…rather overblown considering the eatery in question is not kosher and has pork, and shrimp and soft-shelled crabs prominently featured on the menu.


Alas, this year nobody topped Hadera installing singing traffic lights in 2013, nor Natanya's leaders ordering the main drag painted purple in 2009 (only to have it fade in the Israeli sun). Nevertheless, there is a winner of the Quirkiest Municipality AwardTel Aviv-Yafo, where city hall believes they can provide relief from sky-high rents and real estate prices due to a shortage of apartments with a mere stroke of the pen. How? Double built-up areas by changing building codes to permit "a 100 percent increase in building presently above ground – underground." Sublevel 'digs' in each and every building could be used to enhance residents' security with a bomb shelter, ease occupants parking nightmare (some report circling for 40 minutes to an hour-and-a-half in search for a vacant spot at the end of a long workday), or create joint sunken assets for condo owners with sublevel flats 'under' their existing building or by renting out space for other uses (commercial or public).


The Strangest Court Case in 2017 is but another Only-in-Israel nugget. After traffic attorney-at-law Asaf Oren (of all people) got socked with ticket for failing to pay for parking in a municipal lot where the sign stating paid parking was in force between 09:00-19:00 hours on weekdays and 09:00-14:00 hours on Fridays and holidays[6], the scrappy young lawyer successfully argued in an appeal to the Rechovot Municipality that since Hebrew is written from right-to-left, he had every right to assume the sign meant motorists had to pay for parking between 7 PM and 9 AM…not 9 AM to 7 PM. Rechovot is changing its Hebrew sign language accordingly…probably thoroughly confusing everyone except Asaf Oren.


In a Jewish state, no annual Chelm Awards would be complete without a Religious Oddities Award. The winner in the corporate category is an NGO that assists soldiers in the exclusively ultra-Orthodox Netzach Yehuda NACHAL battalion.[7] When they learned some young ultra-Orthodox (haredi) men who join the IDF rather than taking an automatic exemption had a hard time finding marriage partners, the NGO hired a matchmaker who has already paired up dozens of such men with women who are also considered 'tainted merchandise' within their insular community: haredi girls who have gone to study at secular universities and baalei tshuva (women raised secular, who have adopted a haredi lifestyle).  In the indie category of odd religious conduct, Ramle resident Haim Israel (38) hobbled off with the same honor after claiming he suddenly "felt as if his two legs had been re-amputated" almost two decades after he lost both his legs in a road accident at age 19. Phantom limb pains were sparked by the discovery that "his legs had disappeared from the Ramle cemetery" – where his father had insisted on burying them next to Haim's grandfather's grave 'in advance' believing that in order for Haim's soul to ascend to heaven, a Jew must be buried with all his body parts intact' (or at least everything present and accounted for...).


Encapsulating the fighting spirit of the IDF, the Only-in-the-IDF Citation this yearwas won by a group of reservists from the elite Egoz commando unit who fired off an angry letter to top brass and the Minister of Defense protesting a "grave incident of discrimination that was totally in contradiction to IDF values" after their commanding officer prevented one of their buddies from partaking in a joint military exercise in Cyprus with a Greek Cypriot commando unit charging "he wasn't presentable enough" in his long dreadlocks although the reservist in question had been deemed fit to do battle - dreadlocks and all – in the 2014 Protective Edge campaign in Gaza. Minister of Agriculture Uri Ariel was a close runner-up for this coveted prize after he took to new heights the IDF's "dual-role military" format (i.e. performing nation-building functions in the civil domain – from immigrant absorption to remedial education for marginalized youth, parallel to its professional soldiering duties).  Faced with an unexpected surplus of carrots,[8] the Minister of Agriculture appealed to Minister of Defense Avigdor Lieberman and IDF Deputy Chief-of-Staff Yair Golan to increase consumption of carrots on IDF military bases to combat the glut.


The Chelm Project's Crime of the Year for 2017 is bizarre by any yardstick: The prize goes hands-down to two incredible assault and battery charges written up by over-zealous cops in Tzfat in the space of 12 months both  in the line-of-duty when  investigating domestic quarrel complaints from neighbors: In the first, the 'blunt instrument' allegedly employed by the assailant was a pita filled with fragrant fresh-fried felafel balls, which an angry 55-year-old grandmother of three threw at her already smashed husband; in the second incident, a 59-year-old man armed with a pita filled will shawarma shavings and diced salad was hauled into the station for a similar attack on his wife. 


The Chelm Project's annual Honorable Menschen Award was well earned by unnamed public-spirited individuals who came to the rescue of disabled persons issued 500 NIS ($143) fines for "obstructing traffic" on Route 1, the main artery between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem during demonstrations geared to force the government to raise disability pensions.  The ad hoc group launched a crowdfunding campaign to pay the fines – collecting 82,558 NIS ($23,588)…almost three times their original goal, allowing the protesters to carry on their struggle. The runners-up as honorable menschen are Dr. Khalil and Dr. Reem Bakly – a Muslim Arab dentist couple from Upper Nazareth who built a 100% kosher sukkah on their balcony with a stunning view of the Galilee, ordered a ton of kosher food, and invited their neighbors – Jews and Arab – to drop in during the week-long holiday, and Ehab, a Muslim Arab Egged bus driver from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Ras al Amud, who turned his public bus which plies the route to and from the Kotel (Western Wall) into a sukkah on wheels, decked out in decorative fruits and tinsel hanging from the roof.


Only-in-Israel Holiday Traditions have been marked in the past by a host of 'buy such-and-such - receive such-and-such for free' campaigns, from foodstuffs to furniture and appliances such as the classic 'gem' in the 1990s when a ready-made salad maker and an appliance chain joined forces offering 'buy four 500 gram containers of our brand of Kosher-for-Passover humous/tchina/eggplant salad and be eligible to buy a major home appliance at half price. In the same spirit, this year's strangest combina (deal) appeared in a full-page ad in the major dailies just before Passover: Buy a kolnonit – a battery-powered senior mobility cart from kibbutz Afikim…and receive for free a 3,985 NIS (+$1,000) value battery-powered Apollo moped for the grandkid who finds the afikomen


And speaking of holidays, the Ultimate Israeli 'Anything Goes' Award – celebrating Israelis' unbridled individuality and originality that knows no bounds – went to a couple in their early 40s, Galit and Ofer Mordechai, who stunned their friends with a one-of-a-kind Purim costume…Ofer arriving at their Purim party lying on a canvas hand stretcher covered with a tallis[9]  accompanied by Galit decked out in mourning dress and carrying a black umbrella and obit notice.[10] Also short-listed for 'following his own inclinations" was a man who needs no introduction: Ehud Barak… Spotted in Tel-Aviv carrying a woman's clutch in his hand. the former Chief-of-Staff/Defense/Foreign/Prime Minister explained the odd fashion choice was not a sign he'd taken to cross-dressing at age 75; the No Nonsense ex-commando revealed he no longer had a bodyguard with a Klatch, so he was carrying his own 'piece' in that innocuous-looking clutch.


What was the Wackiest Archeological Discovery of 2017?  The prize goes to excavators at the Banot Yaakov Bridge dig at the foot of the Golan Heights where archeologists surmise that our prehistoric ancestors may also have been smitten by the Munchies, after apparently discovering by chance 780,000 years ago that some of the 55 plants and seeds found at the site could be roasted and some popped like popcorn.


As for the Israel Ingenuity Award the past year, it goes to an Israeli design and technology company called Knut Studios that's turning 'the best laugh on earth (chosen from among recordings submitted by the public) into a 'laugh star'[11] (i.e. a human laugh, visualized as 3-D one-of-a-kind sculpture)…actualizing an idea dreamed up by Israeli digital conceptual artist Eyal Gever who when queried – "What would you do if you could create art in zero gravity?" – said laughter, something intrinsically human…universal and free-floating – is absent in soundless space. The winning laugh is to be created on a zero-gravity 3D printer on the International Space Station, then released in space…like some interstellar message in a bottle. This honor dovetailed the Craziest 'What Was He Thinking' Award (sometimes dubbed the Schlemiel Prize) which was awarded to a 48-year old Ramat Gan resident who told National Insurance authorities that he planned to kill himself because he wasn't happy with the way they were handling his case, leading to police being sent to the suicidal fellow's apartment where the cops found the flat owner safe and sound in the living room…and a pot-processing operation full of cannabis plants and processing gear in an adjoining room, giving the flat owner ample reason to want to shoot himself.


Undeniably, the Wildest Only-in-Israel Life Story Award belongs to an East Jerusalemite named Muhammad  who in his late teens had throw rocks at Israeli Border Police, but now wants to join the Border Police stressing he "speaks fluent Arabic and knows all the alleyways of East Jerusalem." Mohammad recently changed his name to 'Israel' – a role reversal sparked by the 21-year-old floor tile layer discovering by chance that he was registered in Israel's Population Registry as a Jew because his late mother, who died when he was a preschooler, had been Jewish.


Last but not least, my favorite Chelm story of all times - In the Dark (circa 2000) - about the IDF draftee who was afraid of the dark and called his mom to sneak in and out of boot camp to accompany him whenever he drew night patrol duty – isn't merely a weird blip on the radar!  Again underscoring the unbreakable bond between Israeli parents and their kids in uniform,  the 2017 definitive Only-in-Israel Award  goes to the dad of a 19 year-old IDF female soldier assigned a month's guard duty whose father Nissim stood guard every night between 6 and 10 PM (out of uniform, he stressed)  just outside the base[12] on the outskirts of Afula while his daughter stood guard at the entrance because she was afraid of the dark and it was very important to him that his daughter have 'a successful national service experience.'



[1] Yiddish for 'a decent person.'

[2] Photo credit: Israel Poste Commemorative Stamp

[3]  Even the 1948 War of Independence – the bloodiest war in Israel's history – was peppered by piquant Chelm-like-but-true episodes and bizarre situations that capsulated the flavor of life in the Jewish state. In February 1948, in the twilight hours of the British Mandate, the EZEL attempted to rob a major branch of Barclay's Bank in Tel Aviv parading as British soldiers. The members of the radical Jewish militia closed off a section of Allenby Street with a large number of jeeps and barbed wire. Cursing like true troopers, in 'Hinglish' –  fooling nobody, 15 of the gang walked into the bank demanding the keys to the vault…but due to bad timing, no combination of keys opened the safe.  It was 8 AM - well before banker's hours. See Daniella Ashkenazy, "There's No News Like Old News,"  Jerusalem Post,  

For the judgment belongs to God (Deuteronomy 1:17).


When the Tzaddik of Sanz assumed his first rabbinic position, he was approached by someone who wished to sue in the rabbinical court the wealthiest, most powerful person in the community. The Tzaddik sent a court summons to this man, but the shammash (bailiff) returned saying that the man had very rudely turned him away.

The Tzaddik sent a second summons. The defendant responded with a message, "You are new here and very young. You may not be aware that I am the one who supports all religious activities in the community. To be a rabbi in the community requires my approval. Be aware of this and retract your summons."

The Tzaddik sent a third summons, warning that failure to honor it would result in dire consequences. The rich man then came and surprisingly brought the plaintiff with him. He explained that the entire thing had been a sham that he had staged simply to test whether the new rabbi would have the courage to implement the law, even when his own position was in jeopardy.

The community's number one citizen welcomed the rabbi, stating, "You are the kind of rabbi we need."

Not everyone feels this way. Some people try to use "pull" to receive preferential treatment. They should realize that when justice is the issue, it is corrupt to seek preferential treatment and corrupt to give it.

The judgment belongs to God, and when litigants and judges are engaged in a din Torah, they are in the immediate Divine Presence, and there can be no favoritism.

Today I shall ...
remember not to show favoritism, even when under pressure.

What's significant about the number 70 in Judaism and what lessons can we learn from that today for the State of Israel moving us forward to the next 70?

The Mishna in Pirkei Avot (6:24) say that 70 represents, 'Seyvah' - a ripe old age.
Furthermore, we know that there were 70 years between the destruction of the 1st Temple built by King Solomon by the Babylonians in 586 BCE and the rebuilding of the 2nd Temple in 516 BCE.
We also know that in the Torah, in Shemot 1:5, that Yaakov took with him, ' 70 souls' to Egypt. But, interestingly enough the Torah uses the singular tense when describing the number 70 here - 'Nafesh' and not the plural,' Nefashot'.

So, what are the lessons from the number 70 for the State of Israel, on its 70th birthday?

70 in Judaism represents unity and focusing on what we have in common and binds us together.
Yaakov wanted his sons to stick together in Egypt so the Torah uses the singular, 'Nefash' when describing them. 70 also represents  the next stage, moving on to the next level, new beginnings after destruction, the end of Exile - the Second Temple started to be rebuilt, 70 years after the destruction of the 1st. 70, as I said above is described in the mishna in pirkei avot as, 'seyvah' - a level beyond wisdom and understanding.  

In order for the State of Israel to reach 'seyvah', which is beyond mere wisdom and understanding and now move on to the next level - to the next 70 years, beyond survival, all Jews in Israel need to value the importance of unity - like Yaakov saw, hence the singular, 'Nafesh' and learning to get on with one another and look beyond our differences and what divides us.

70 represents the end of one period and the beginning of the next, maturation and looking forward to the next stage of rebuilding - But, that's all based on the basic appreciation of unity, togetherness and focusing on what we have in common!

See you tomorrow

Love Yehuda Lave

Rabbi Yehuda Lave

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Sunday, April 29, 2018

Israel-100 years in a flash and Pesach Shanie is today

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Yehuda Lave, Spiritual Advisor and Counselor

Do More than the Minimum

When a person does more than was expected or demanded of him, that is a sign of love. On the other hand, the surest sign that someone is doing something begrudgingly is when he does the minimum and no extra.

This principle applies to the good deeds we do in helping others. When you take on more than the minimal requirements, it manifests your loving attitude.

Today, think of some area in which you have been trying to just "get by" with the minimal requirements. What more can you do in that area?

Love Yehuda Lave

Chaim David Eric Targan

Why is there no public korban (offering) on Yom HaAtzmaut as Hashem surely knew the future ....

Because it was determined from the highest worlds that it would be a day of private korbanot - aka BBQs

Pesach Sheni 2018 is observed on April 29 (14 Iyar).

It is customary to mark this day by eating matzahshmurah matzah, if possible—and by omitting Tachanun from the prayer services.

How Pesach Sheni Came About

A year after the Exodus, G‑d instructed the people of Israel to bring the Passover offering on the afternoon of the fourteenth of Nissan, and to eat it that evening, roasted over the fire, together with matzah and bitter herbs, as they had done the previous year just before they left Egypt.

"There were, however, certain persons who had become ritually impure through contact with a dead body, and could not, therefore, prepare the Passover offering on that day. They approached Moses and Aaron . . . and they said: '. . . Why should we be deprived, and not be able to present G‑d's offering in its time, amongst the children of Israel?'" (Numbers 9:6–7).

In response to their plea, G‑d established the 14th of Iyar as a "Second Passover" (Pesach Sheni) for anyone who was unable to bring the offering on its appointed time in the previous month.

What Pesach Sheni Means

The day represents the "second chance" achieved by teshuvah, the power of repentance and "return." In the words of Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak of Lubavitch, "The Second Passover means that it's never a 'lost case.'"

Israel: 100 Years in a Flash

Quite a Civil Engineering challenge and accomplishment.


The Karakoram Highway, extending from Pakistan to China, is fast becoming recognized as the 8 th man-made  wonder of the world.


Known informally as the KKH, it is the highest paved international road in the world.


At its peak, near the China/Pakistan border, it is considered to be one of the world's hardest alpine climbs.


The Karakorum Highway connects China and Pakistan across the Karakoram mountain range via the Khunjerab Pass.  It's maximum elevation is 4,693 meters (15,397 feet) above sea level.


810 Pakistani and 82 Chinese workers lost their lives in landslides and falls while building the highway.


The route of the KKH traces one of the many paths of the ancient Silk Road, and has a total length of approximately 1,300 Km. (800 miles).  887 Km. (551 miles) in Pakistan and 413 Km. (257 miles) in China.  It was started in 1959, and completed 27 years later in 1986.

Seven days shall you celebrate before Hashem, your God ... and you shall only be joyous (Deuteronomy 16:15).


Many people think of Judaism as being extremely solemn, perhaps not realizing that the essence of Judaism is simchah, joy, and that whatever solemnity there is, is in reality a preparation for joy.

Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch points to a simple fact. The Torah designates one day each for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (the second day of Rosh Hashanah is of Rabbinical origin), whereas Succos, the festival of rejoicing, is of seven days' duration.

The Gaon of Vilna was asked which of the six hundred thirteen mitzvos he considered the most difficult to observe. He answered that it was Succos, because for seven consecutive days a person must be in constant joy. Regardless of what might occur during these days that might make it difficult for a person to feel happy, the mitzvah to rejoice requires him to overcome all obstacles to joy.

The Torah's position is that joy is not simply a spontaneous feeling that accompanies pleasant experiences. Joy requires work: meditation on why a person who is privileged to serve God should rejoice. Joy can be achieved even under adverse circumstances. This is something which is expected not only of great tzaddikim, but also of every Jew.

On Succos we must make the necessary effort to be in constant joy throughout the entire festival, and we should learn therefrom how to generate joy all year round.

Today I shall ...
try to find ways to bring more joy into my life, and strive to achieve joy even when circumstances are not conducive thereto.

By Air, Land, and Sea: Aliyah under the British Mandate

Toldot Yisrael ( presents the dramatic stories of Jews from Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Iraq who overcame great obstacles in their efforts to reach the Land of Israel. For 2,000 years, Jews around the world dreamed about returning to the Land of Israel. But the rise of antisemitism in the 1930s and 40s made the need to return to Israel far more urgent. Jews fled their homes in Europe and Arab Lands seeking refuge in Palestine but found the British Mandate had all but closed the doors to aliyah, forcing them to find dangerous and illegal methods to immigrate - by air, land, and sea. This movie is the fifth episode in the "Eyewitness 1948" short film series produced by Toldot Yisrael. It is the centerpiece of an educational pilot program made possible through the generous support of the Jim Joseph Foundation, the Alexander Family, and others. Producer Eric Halivni (Weisberg) Director and Editor Tal Ella Production and Research Peleg Levy Cinematography and Interviews Peleg Levy Eytan Nadel Moshe Shikler Eitan Wetzler Narrator Michael Greenspan   Editor Nahum Grinberg    Original Score and Sound Editor Uri Kalian

Whitney Houston & Michael Jackson - One Moment In Time & You Were There

Sammy Davis Jr. - Live '89 60th Anniversary Celebration

Matzah on Pesach Sheini: When and Why? By Yehuda Shurpin


There is a widespread custom to eat matzah on the 14th of Iyar, known as Pesach Sheni (the "second Passover"), the day when those who were impure and/or unable to bring the Paschal lamb on Passover were given a second chance to do so.1 Just as the matzah eaten as the afikoman by the Seder commemorates the matzah and Paschal offering eaten in Temple times, so is this matzah a remembrance of the second Passover.

But if this is the case, a question arises: The Paschal lamb (and its accompanying matzah) was consumed on the evening of Iyar 15, but the widespread contemporary custom is to eat matzah on the day of Iyar 14, when the Paschal lamb was slaughtered and prepared. Why?

Now, it should be noted that some do in fact have the custom to eat matzah on the eve of the 15th rather than on the day of the 14th of Iyar. But why are they in the minority?

It's All in the Prep

Rabbi Zvi Elimelech Shapiro of Dinov, known as the Bnei Yissachar, writes that although he himself ate matzah on the eve of the 15th, the main, public feasts are held on the day of the 14th, as per the custom of the Baal Shem Tov and his students.

On a somewhat mystical note, he explains that in the time period between Passover and the holiday of Shavuot, the emphasis is on the work of preparing and refining ourselves. Thus, we count the Omer, each day taking another step closer to the holiday of Shavuot, when we received the Torah. Appropriately, when it comes to celebrating the second Passover, the main emphasis is on the time of preparation, Iyar 14.2

The Last Remnants of the Miracle

Rabbi Yaakov Emden, known as the Yaavetz (1697-1776), writes that it was "revealed to me from heaven" that Jews were given a second chance to bring the Paschal offering specifically on the 14th of Iyar because that was the last day the Jews still had leftover matzah from when they left Egypt on Passover. After eating the last bit that night (eve of the 15th), the Jews complained to G‑d, "What will we eat?" and it was on the day of the 15th of Iyar that the manna began to fall. Thus, in a certain sense, the 14th marked the culmination of the miracle of the Exodus, while the 15th marked a new phase of the miracles in the desert.3

Although Rabbi Emden is explaining the timing of the second Passover, and not the reason for eating matzah nowadays, some cite this explanation as an additional reason for eating it both on the day of the 14th as well as the eve of the 15th.4

Not to Add to Torah

Rabbi Meir Dan Plotsky (1866–1928), in his work Kli Chemdah, offers a somewhat novel explanation for the widespread custom to eat the matzah on the day of the 14th. He explains that ordinarily there is a concern of not adding to the mitzvahs of the Torah. Now, if one simply does a time-bound mitzvah on a different day of the year without intention of doing the mitzvah (e.g., it's a hot summer, so one builds a sukkah and eats in it), there is no issue of "adding to the Torah." However, if it is in theory the proper time for the mitzvah, then there is potentially an issue of adding to the mitzvahs—even if there wasn't any intention to do so.

Therefore, we specifically eat the matzah on the day of the 14th since the proper time to eat it really would have been the eve of the 15th (if someone were actually observing the second Passover because they were impure on the first Passover), and we wish to avoid making a custom to eat it specifically then. He writes that this is especially true in light of the Jerusalem Talmud's statement that if the Moshiach will come between the first and second Passover, then all Jews will have the opportunity to bring the Paschal offering on the second Passover.5 Thus, since the second Passover could be an actual holiday for all Jews—when we would all be obligated to eat matzah—we don't want to have a custom to eat matzah on the 15th, which gives the impression that we are adding to the observance of the day.

Others, however, question this explanation. They note that we eat matzah on all 7 (or 8) days of Passover even though there is no obligation to do so and there is no concern of "adding to a mitzvah."6

Mystical Numerology

Many have the custom that after counting the Omer, they recite (among other things) psalm 67. This psalm contains 49 words (not counting the introductory verse). According to the Arizal, each word corresponds to a different night of the Omer, and one should have that word in mind when reciting the Omer. The same applies to verse 5 of that psalm, which contains 49 letters,7 each one corresponding to another night. (This can be seen in the standard Kehot Siddur, which includes the word and letter corresponding to each night of the Omer).

Based on this, some point out that the 14th of Iyar, which is the 29th day of the Omer, corrosponds to the word תַּנְחֵם, tancheim ("comfort them"), and the letter yud. The word tancheim has the numerical value of 498: ת-400 נ-50 ח-8 ם-40. Add on the yud, which had the numerical value of 10, and you have 508. This is the same numerical value as Pesach Sheni (פסח שני). Thus, we see a hint in the verse itself that the main celebration of Pesach Sheni is on the 14th of Iyar.8

As noted above, there is good reason to eat matzah on the night of the 15th as well, so although the common practice in Chabad is to eat matzah on the day of the 14th of Iyar,9 the Rebbe also encouraged people to eat matzah on the eve of the 15th.10

Footnotes 1. See Numbers 9:6–7. 2. See Shaar Yissachar, Pischa Zeira 12; Darkei Chaim Veshalom 631-2, cited in Igrot Kodesh, vol. 2, p. 352. 3. Siddur of Rabbi Yaakov Emden, Shaar Hayesod, "Chodesh Iyar." 4. See Rabbi Yehoshua Mondshien in Otzar Minhagei Chabad, Pesach Sheini, "Achilat Matzah." 5.Kli Chemdah, Parshat Vaetchanan. 6. See responsum Kol Yisroel, Orech Chaim 130. He writes that although according to some, there is indeed a "mitzvah" to eat matzah the rest of Passover, the term "mitzvah" in that context is not meant as obligation, but rather as a positive, meritorious act.

Love is not enough

News | Rabbi Jonathan Sacks: Love is not enough (Acharei-Mot Kedoshim 5778)

The opening chapter of Kedoshim contains two of the most powerful of all commands: to love your neighbour and to love the stranger. "Love your neighbour as yourself: I am the Lord" goes the first.

"When a stranger comes to live in your land, do not mistreat him," goes the second, and continues, "Treat the stranger the way you treat your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were strangers in Egypt. I am the Lord your God (Lev. 19:33-34).[1]

The first is often called the "golden rule" and held to be universal to all cultures. This is a mistake. The golden rule is different. In its positive formulation it states, "Act toward others as you would wish them to act toward you," or in its negative formulation, given by Hillel, "What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbour." These rules are not about love. They are about justice, or more precisely, what evolutionary psychologists call reciprocal altruism. The Torah does not say, "Be nice or kind to your neighbour, because you would wish him to be nice or kind to you." It says, "Love your neighbour." That is something different and far stronger.

The second command is more radical still. Most people in most societies in most ages have feared, hated and often harmed the stranger. There is a word for this: xenophobia. How often have you heard the opposite word: xenophilia? My guess is, never. People don't usually love strangers. That is why, almost always when the Torah states this command – which it does, according to the sages, 36 times ­– it adds an explanation: "because you were strangers in Egypt." I know of no other nation that was born as a nation in slavery and exile. We know what it feels like to be a vulnerable minority. That is why love of the stranger is so central to Judaism and so marginal to most other systems of ethics.[2] But here too, the Torah does not use the word "justice." There is a command of justice toward strangers, but that is a different law: "You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him" (Ex. 22:20). Here the Torah speaks not of justice but of love.

These two commands define Judaism as a religion of love – not just of God ("with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might"), but of humanity also. That was and is a world-changing idea.

But what calls for deep reflection is where these commands appear. They do so in Parshat Kedoshim in what, to contemporary eyes, must seem one of the strangest passages in the Torah.

Leviticus 19 brings side-by-side laws of seemingly quite different kinds. Some belong to the moral life: don't gossip, don't hate, don't take revenge, don't bear a grudge. Some are about social justice: leave parts of the harvest for the poor; don't pervert justice; don't withhold wages; don't use false weights and measures. Others have a different feel altogether: don't crossbreed livestock; don't plant a field with mixed seeds; don't wear a garment of mixed wool and linen; don't eat fruit of the first three years; don't eat blood; don't practice divination; don't lacerate yourself.

At first glance these laws have nothing to do with one another: some are about conscience, some about politics and economics, and others about purity and taboo. Clearly, though, the Torah is telling us otherwise. They do have something in common. They are all about order, limits, boundaries. They are telling us that reality has a certain underlying structure whose integrity must be honoured. If you hate or take revenge you destroy relationships. If you commit injustice, you undermine the trust on which society depends. If you fail to respect the integrity of nature (different seeds, species, and so on), you take the first step down a path that ends in environmental disaster.

There is an order to the universe, part moral, part political, part ecological. When that order is violated, eventually there is chaos. When that order is observed and preserved, we become co-creators of the sacred harmony and integrated diversity that the Torah calls "holy."

Why then is it specifically in this chapter that the two great commands – love of the neighbour and the stranger – appear? The answer is profound and very far from obvious. Because this is where love belongs – in an ordered universe.

Jordan Peterson, the Canadian psychologist, has recently become one of the most prominent public intellectuals of our time. His recent book Twelve Rules for Life, has been a massive best-seller in Britain and America.[3] He has had the courage to be a contrarian, challenging the fashionable fallacies of the contemporary West. Particularly striking in the book is Rule 5: "Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them."

His point is more subtle than it sounds. A significant number of parents today, he says, fail to socialise their children. They indulge them. They do not teach them rules. There are, he argues, complex reasons for this. Some of it has to do with lack of attention. Parents are busy and don't have time for the demanding task of teaching discipline. Some of it has to do with Jean-Jacques Rousseau's influential but misleading idea that children are naturally good, and are made bad by society and its rules. So the best way to raise happy, creative children is to let them choose for themselves.

Partly, though, he says it is because "modern parents are simply paralysed by the fear that they will no longer be liked, or even loved by their children if they chastise them for any reason." They are afraid to damage their relationship by saying 'No'. They fear the loss of their children's love.

The result is that they leave their children dangerously unprepared for a world that will not indulge their wishes or desire for attention; a world that can be tough, demanding and sometimes cruel. Without rules, social skills, self-restraints and a capacity to defer gratification, children grow up without an apprenticeship in reality. His conclusion is powerful:

Clear rules make for secure children and calm, rational parents. Clear principles of discipline and punishment balance mercy and justice so that social development and psychological maturity can be optimally promoted. Clear rules and proper discipline help the child, and the family, and society, establish, maintain and expand order. That is all that protects us from chaos.[4]

That is what the opening chapter of Kedoshim is about: clear rules that create and sustain a social order. That is where real love – not the sentimental, self-deceiving substitute – belongs. Without order, love merely adds to the chaos. Misplaced love can lead to parental neglect, producing spoiled children with a sense of entitlement who are destined for an unhappy, unsuccessful, unfulfilled adult life.

Peterson's book, whose subtitle is "An Antidote to Chaos," is not just about children. It is about the mess the West has made since the Beatles sang (in 1967), "All you need is love." As a clinical psychologist, Peterson has seen the emotional cost of a society without a shared moral code. People, he writes, need ordering principles, without which there is chaos. We require "rules, standards, values – alone and together. We require routine and tradition. That's order." Too much order can be bad, but too little can be worse. Life is best lived, he says, on the dividing line between them. It's there, he says, that "we find the meaning that justifies life and its inevitable suffering." Perhaps if we lived properly, he adds, "we could withstand the knowledge of our own fragility and mortality, without the sense of aggrieved victimhood that produces, first, resentment, then envy, and then the desire for vengeance and destruction."[5]

That is as acute an explanation as I have ever heard for the unique structure of Leviticus 19. Its combination of moral, political, economic and environmental laws is a supreme statement of a universe of (Divinely created) order of which we are the custodians. But the chapter is not just about order. It is about humanising that order through love – the love of neighbour and stranger. And when the Torah says, don't hate, don't take revenge and don't bear a grudge, it is an uncanny anticipation of Peterson's remarks about resentment, envy and the desire for vengeance and destruction.

Hence the life-changing idea that we have forgotten for far too long: Love is not enough. Relationships need rules.


[1] Note that some read these two verses as referring specifically to a ger tzedek, that is, a convert to Judaism. That, however, is to miss the point of the command, which is: do not allow ethnic differences (that is, between a born Jew and a convert) to influence your emotions. Judaism must be race- and colour-blind.

[2] Had it existed in Europe, there would not have been a thousand years of persecution of the Jews, followed by the birth of racial antisemitism, followed by the Holocaust.

[3] Jordan Peterson, 12 Rules for Life: an antidote to chaos, Allen Lane, 2018.

[4] Ibid., 113-44.

[5] Ibid., xxxiv.



  • Clear rules and proper discipline help to establish, maintain and expand order for more fulfilled children, families, and society. Love is not enough. Relationships need rules.

See you tomorrow-Happy Pesach Shanie

Love Yehuda Lave

Rabbi Yehuda Lave

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