Happiness is more precious than wealth. Commit your total self to master it.
What will it take to make a strong commitment? Be aware of all the benefits of living a joyous life. Beyond all emotional, health, and material benefits, when you experience happiness and joy, you will be able to attain profound spiritual awareness and love for the Creator.
As the revered Chazon Ish wrote, "When a person merits becoming aware of the reality of the Almighty's existence, he will experience limitless joy. All of the pleasures of this world are as nothing compared to the intense pleasure of a person cleaving to his Creator." (Emunah U'bitochon 1:9)
Love Yehuda Lave
I returned August 15 to Jerusalem after a 16 day absence from Israel. I visited over 100 synagogues, graves and holy spots throughout Czech and Vienna, along with castles and tourist spots. My friend the Cabalist, says like the Bal Shem Tov, I was gathering up the holy sparks of Jewishness that has been trapped there and bringing the spiritual energy back to Jerusalem. I hope I have accomplished that goal, but I know for sure that I brought back lots of pictures. There are too many to share at one time so I am trying something new and sharing them day by day as experienced with a 16 day delay. I will repeat this introduction each day. I have been studying Jewish history and Israel in my time in Jerusalem, but the history of the Jewish people in modern times from 1492 to 1945 was in central Europe where the majority of the Jewish people lived. It is worth studying and knowing about and by sharing it with you my friends, I hope I am expanding your knowledge as well. It is also no accident that I chose to put a piece by Rabbi Kahane about not forgetting what Germany and Austria did to us in the Holocaust at the bottom of this piece. All food for thought.
Love Yehuda Lave
Czech Brno and First day in Vienna
We travel by car to Brno and by train to Vienna. Of course I had mixed feelings going to Vienna but it turns out to have the strongest Jewish community in Central Europe
Quotes on Compassion
Children, even infants, are capable of sympathy. But only after adolescence are we capable of compassion. Louise J. Kaplan Louise J Kaplan is a psychoanalyst, author, and feminist scholar.
Compassion will cure more sins than condemnation. Henry Ward Beecher Henry Ward Beecher was a prominent Congregationalist clergyman, social reformer, abolitionist, and speaker.
It is not until you become a mother that your judgment slowly turns to compassion and understanding. Erma Bombeck Erma Louise Bombeck was an American humorist.
Why does God endow us with compassion? Franz Schubert Franz Peter Schubert was an Austrian composer.
Wisdom, compassion, and courage are the three universally recognized moral qualities of men. Confucius Confucius was a Chinese thinker and social philosopher.
Guilt is the price we pay willingly for doing what we are going to do anyway. Isabelle Holland Isabelle Christian Holland was an author of children and adult fiction.
Repentant tears wash out the stain of guilt. Saint Aurelius Augustine After his conversion to Christianity and baptism Augustine developed his own approach to philosophy and theology, accommodating a variety of methods and different perspectives.
If hunger is not the problem, then eating is not the solution. Anon
We never repent having eaten too little. Thomas Jefferson Thomas Jefferson was a leading American opponent of the international slave trade, and presided over its abolition in 1807.
Anton Chekhov was one of 19th C. Russia's most celebrated literary figures
Anton Chekhov was one of 19th C. Russia's most celebrated literary figures, a master of the short story. In his "Rothschild's Fiddle," he tells the story of a certain Yakov Ivanov who has just buried his wife. The poignant depiction of his emotional state and its connection with our Parsha will soon become evident.
"But as he was going back from the cemetery he was overcome by acute depression. He didn't feel quite well: his breathing was labored and feverish, his legs felt weak, and he had a craving for drink. And thoughts of all sorts forced themselves on his mind. He remembered again that all his life, he had never felt for Marfa [his wife], had never been affectionate to her. The fifty-two years they had lived in the same hut had dragged on a long, long time, but it had somehow happened that in all that time he had never once thought of her, had paid no attention to her, as though she had been a cat or a dog. And yet, every day, she had lighted the stove had cooked and baked, had gone for the water, had chopped the wood, had slept with him in the same bed, and when he came home drunk from the weddings, [she] always reverently hung his fiddle on the wall and put him to bed, and all this in silence, with a timid, anxious expression."
As we approach the Days of Awe, a certain trepidation grips us, as it should. Have we frittered away our time, squandering opportunities that, but for our failure to act, might have been beneficial to us? Have we failed to appreciate, ignored or even dismissed, the many small acts of kindness we've received by family and friends? Have we chosen to be oblivious to the innumerable ways we might have cheered and brightened up someone's day, offered an encouraging word, taken notice of a spouse's small accomplishments, complimented a child, smiled at a stranger?
Who cannot feel pangs of misgivings, a deep sense of loss and waste – guilt, as we await and anticipate the Day of Judgement?!
At the end of our Parsha, we read of the laws of eglah arufah. When a murdered man is found and the murderer is unknown, the scholars of the closest town sacrifice an animal and declare: "Our hands didn't spill this [man's] blood…" (21:7). Rashi comments, "Does anyone suspect that the scholars …were the murderers?" Why must they confess that they did not kill him? The answer: They were proclaiming that they were not guilty of taking no notice of him as he was departing, that they were not remiss in allowing him travel without food and escort. Therefore, they were not responsible for his murder.
Rebbe Tzaddok HaCohen offers an insightful psychological explanation of this episode. It is known that a person's stamina and strength are influenced by his state of mind and heart. A happy person is a confident and energetic one. Therefore, when a person leaves a city amidst gestures of kindness, he is buoyed by this communal display of caring and affection when bidding him farewell. Thus, should he be attacked, he will presumably be able muster the toughness to escape or fight back. If, however, the people of the city, in their benign neglect, ignore and do not equip him with food and levayah (escort), they will be answerable for his death because the feelings of dejection he experiences might so enervate his fortitude that when thieves or murderers confront him, he will not find sufficient courage to fend them off.
The lesson here is clear. The importance of giving chizuk to our fellow man is no small matter. Many people suffer silently, and when through small gestures of kindness, we telegraph to the "thou" that they are noticed and not alone, we empower them to face the many challenges in their life. The sheer magnitude of this mitzvah can be huge and of incalculable value!
Reb Yisrael Salanter taught that someone who goes around with a grimace, a perpetual frown, a sour face will be held accountable for all the people who become distressed because of that demeanor whether consciously displayed or not. Reb Yisrael attributes to him the halachic label of a "pit in a public domain, bor be'reshus ha'rabim." The Talmud rules (see Bava Kama 27a ff) that if one is responsible for placing an obstacle in a public area, whether intentionally or otherwise, he is liable for any injury incurred. Analogously, Reb Yisroel maintains that one who neglects to be concerned about how his expressions and actions can affect others, may be guilty of "damaging" them. An apathetic, dismissive wave, a rolling of the eyes, a coarse word, etc., all have the potential of spiraling down a person's mood into one of melancholy and gloom. By contrast, when a person is acutely aware of how his behavior can affect another and deliberately chooses to behave in a pleasant and amiable fashion, only Gd Himself can calculate the wonderful ripple effect this behavior can have, and if it was your decision, it redounds all to your credit!
Reflecting back on his life, Chekhov's Yakov could not suffer the painful remorse he felt in the bitter realization that he could have done more and didn't. And he dies.
Thankfully, that need not – must not - be our fate. We can elect to integrate the message of the eglah arufah into our daily lives and learn to be more aware, more attentive, more caring and sensitive, especially to those to whom we are closest.
And just as the eglah arufah ritual brought about atonement for the community, our acts of kindness can elicit a similar response from HaShem. We can be forgiven for our mistakes and happily enter a New Year new and better people.
Kahane on the Parsha
Rabbi Meir Kahane Parshat Ki Teitzei
"Remember what Amalek did to you...do not forget."--Deuteronomy 25:17-19
"Remember." "Do not forget." Strange. If we are commanded to remember what Amalek did unto us, why the added admonition- "do not forget"? Let me explain by way of a parable, but a parable that really happened. The place was the Jerusalem Press club, Beit Agron. Kach had called a press conference for the foreign news media to present to them some of the main candidates for the Knesset on its list. With the polls showing a sharp upsurge in support for Kach, curiosity and interest in the candidates were high.
As usual, the correspondents were asked their names and affiliations, and one replied: "Unger, from Europa." Europa? Unfamiliar but perhaps a small freelancer. The press conference began and sailed along with nary a hitch. The candidates spoke briefly, politely, impressively. And then it was time for questions and answers. The first to raise his hand was the gentleman from Europa. A yarmulka-wearing man, I must add. This time, however, he said: "My name is Unger and I represent the German and Austrian press." Hearing this, I said to him: "Had I known that, I would not have allowed you in. We have a firm policy of not allowing representatives of the German and Austrian news media interviews, or to attend our press conferences. Please leave."
At that point, there arose one of Israel's resident anti-Jewish foreign correspondents, Dan Fisher of the Los Angeles Times, who piously proclaimed: "He is a colleague." And he, too, left. He was followed by a number of others, including a clearly religious woman from Efrat, named Leslie Gottesman. End of "parable" and beginning of understanding.
That, dear Jew, is the reason why G-d wrote, "Remember," and knew that it was necessary to add: "Do not forget." Every Jew remembers what the Germans did unto us. Indeed, sad to say, the Holocaust has become, for huge numbers of Jews, a major reason for being Jewish. Perhaps THE major reason. There are men and institutions who make their living and their fame from the Holocaust, and what would Eli Wiesel be without it and where would Wiesenthal and those who run his center in Los Angeles be without it? And there are annual Holocaust Day memorials in both Israel and the Exile. And there are university courses given on the Holocaust. And everyone remembers. And, of course, everyone forgets. For one can remember and, at the same time, forget. What do we remember? That the "Nazis" (not the Germans) did horrible things to our people and we must always remember the events of the past. But what of the present? What do the sins and crimes of the German past mean for the present? Are the German sins limited to the genreation that lived at that time? Is Germany today not the Germany of yesterday, so that we are allowed to visit Germany, vacation in Germany, send Israeli children on cultural trips to Germany, to sporting events in Germany (even as we welcome German cultural and sports groups to Israel), greet the German president in israel as the Israeli army band plays the German national anthem, allow the Germans to open an embassy and consulate in Israel, and have the Germany flag fly over the Holy Land? Is this what we mean by the commandment to "remember"?
And if so, what in the world is this eternal guilt that the Torah places on an Amalek? Are the sins of the generation that attacked the Children of Israel so brutally, and with intent to wipe them out, to be eternalized forever more, unto generation after generation that did not participate in it? Was there an Amalekite embassy in the land and a president to visit us while the Children of Israel's army band played "Amalek Uber Alles"? And was there an exchange of cultural and sports groups with Amalek and did Amalekhantsa Airlines advertise its flights to their cities in the Canaanite Post of Eretz Yisrael? And did Israelites vacation and gamble and gambol in the Amalekite cities?
To remember IS NEVER ENOUGH. To remember is the GENERAL ADMONITION: Remember what they did to you, things so terrible and horrible. And consequently, do not forget. Do not forget that these are unforgivable sins and that they forever stain and tar and mark the nation itself and all who represent it. Remember the horrors and never forget that they are unforgivable.
That is the lesson for us as we contemplate Germany and its sister harlot, Austria. Remember what the German people did to us and never forget that it is a horror and crime that is permanent and unforgivable. It may be true that a particular or individual German who was not born at the time, or who was too young to have participated in the horrors, is not to be banned and barred on a personal basis. But, certainly, if he represents, in any capacity, Germany or anything German, he is to be barred and there can be no ties with him in that capacity. That is why a person who may not even be German himself, but who represents that accursed land, is forbidden to be seen in our midst.
Because one must always remember and, in addition, never forget.
The Jewish Press, 1988
If one brings peace to one's own household, it is as though one brought peace to all of Israel (Avos De R' Nosson 28:3).
A scourge has plagued our people throughout its entire history - internal strife. A unified Jewish people has such strength that the Talmud states that when there is brotherhood among all Jews, God overlooks even their worst transgressions.
How can such peace be achieved? The Talmud suggests a simple approach: start with the family.
Domestic peace is achieved only when husbands, wives, parents, and children learn to respect each other's wishes, to yield personal preferences, to listen to others' points of view, and to resolve differences amicably. Children who grow up in a family where there is no strife or envy and where everyone makes an effort to accommodate and maintain peace will incorporate these attitudes as part of their character. They will then practice them when relating to people outside the family.
Expecting people to behave in ways to which they have not been accustomed previously is unrealistic. Children who were raised in homes where there was frequent bickering, with no yielding and no compromise among the parents, and where sibling rivalry was not appropriately resolved are unlikely to build a harmonious and peaceful society.
Today I shall ... ... beginning with myself, try to establish peace within my home by avoiding harsh speech and actions, being tolerant of others' opinions, and being willing to compromise.
See you Sunday, Shabbat Shalom
Love Yehuda Lave
Rabbi Yehuda Lave
2850 Womble Road, Suite 100-619, San Diego United States