Friday, September 14, 2018

Dennis Prager on the Left and the new Pew report on Judaism and The Blue Danube Tower

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Yehuda Lave, Spiritual Advisor and Counselor

Stormy Emotions

We all have stormy emotions at times. The next time you feel unwanted, unloved, lonely, scared, enraged, powerless or insecure, rate the inner storm like weather reporters do.

Sometimes, it feels like a category FIVE hurricane raging through our minds. We have no direct control over our feelings any more than we can control the weather. We can only control our beliefs and behaviors

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. This is the last set of pictures from our last night together in Vienna. Maybe the most beautiful, looking our over the Blue Danube

Shabbat Shuvah

Special Shabbatot are Jewish Shabbat days, on which special events are commemorated. Variations in the liturgy and special customs differentiate them from the regular Sabbaths and each one is referred to by a special name. Two such Sabbaths, Shabbat Mevarchim, which immediately precedes a new month, and Shabbat Rosh Chodesh, which coincides with the new month, can occur on several occasions throughout the year. The other special Sabbaths occur on specific sabbaths before or coinciding with certain Jewish holidays during the year, according to a fixed pattern.

Shabbat Shuvah Shabbat Shuvah or Shabbat T'shuvah ("Sabbath [of] Return" שבת שובה or "Sabbath [of] Repentance" שבת תשובה) refers to the Shabbat that occurs during the Ten Days of Repentance, but is between (i.e. not including) the two consecutive Days of Rosh Hashanah, and the Day of Yom Kippur. The name Shabbat Shuvah comes from the first word of the Haftarah that is read on that day, a combination of Hosea 14:2-10, Joel 2:11-27 (Ashkenazim only) and Micah 7:18-20, and literally means "Return!" It is alternately known as Shabbat T'shuvah owing to its being one of the Aseret Y'may T'shuvah (Ten Days of Repentance).

Shabbat Shuvah

The Shabbat between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is called Shabbat Shuvah, Shabbat of Return because its special haftarah reading begins with the words Shuvah Yisrael "Return O Israel," from the prophecy of Hoshea. It is also referred to as Shabbat Teshuvah because it falls during the Ten Days of Repentance.

The prayer service on this Shabbat is the same as on an ordinary Shabbat with the exception of the additions that are made to the Amidah throughout the Ten Days of Repentance. Avinu Malkenu is not recited. In the blessing at the end of the Magen Avot prayer following evening services on Friday night, the words ha-Melech ha-Kadosh are substituted for ha-El ha-Kadosh.

It is customary in almost all Jewish communities for the rabbi of the city or congregation to expound on teshuvah, and to emphasize the severity of transgression so that the people turn their hearts toward repentance. Our Sages have said that when the wise address the people, G‑d forgives the sins of Israel.

The Shabbat was given to Israel as a time for Torah study and prayer, and, although one should always take care not to pass the time idly or in inappropriate conversation, on Shabbat Shuvah one should be especially careful to concentrate entirely on Torah, prayer, and reflection on repentance, thereby attaining forgiveness for whatever unfitting behavior may have marred other Sabbaths.


Amazing Frank

A  man walked out into the street and caught a taxi just going by. He got in, and the cabbie said, "Perfect timing.  You're just like Frank.

"Passenger: "Who?"

Cabbie:  "Frank Feldman.   He's a guy who did everything right all the time.  Like my coming along when you needed a cab, things happened like that to Frank Feldman every single time.

"Passenger:   "There are always a few clouds over everybody

"Cabbie: "Not Frank Feldman.  He was a terrific athlete. He could have won the Grand-Slam at tennis. He could golf with the pros.   He sang like an opera baritone and danced like a Broadway star, and you should have heard him play the piano. He was an amazing guy."

Passenger:   "Sounds like he was really something special.

"Cabbie:   "There's more. He had a memory like a computer. He remembered everybody's birthday. He knew all about wine, which foods to order and which fork to eat them with. He could fix anything. Not like me. I change a fuse, and the whole street blacks out. But Frank Feldman could do everything right."

Passenger: "Wow, what a guy!"

Cabbie:  "He always knew the quickest way to go in traffic and avoid traffic jams. Not like me, I always seem to get stuck in them But Frank, he never made a mistake, and he really knew how to treat a woman and make her feel good. He would never answer her back even if she was in the wrong; and his clothing was always immaculate, shoes highly polished, too. He was the perfect man! He never made a mistake.  No one could ever measure up to Frank Feldman."

Passenger: "How did you meet him?"

Cabbie: "I never actually met Frank.   He died, and I married his wife.


The Famous Blue Danube Tower

Serving G-d with joy

RABBI ELI MANSOUR Happiness   Parashat Ki-Tavo describes the ninety-eight Kelalot (curses) that God threatens to bring upon Benei Yisrael should they disobey the Torah.   At one point in this section, the Torah informs us of the particular cause of these calamities: "Tachat Asher Lo Avadeta Et Hashem Elokecha Be'simcha" – "on account of the fact that you did not serve Hashem your God with joy" (Devarim 28:47).   Surprisingly, the Torah here does not refer to a generation that simply disregarded the Mitzvot; it speaks of a generation of Jews that are indeed loyal to God's laws, but begrudgingly, without joy and enthusiasm.   The Torah demands not only that we obey the Mitzvot, but that we rejoice and take pleasure in the performance of Mitzvot; in other words, the Torah demands that we be happy.   This requirement is expressed in other contexts, as well.   King David famously wrote (Tehillim 100:2), "Ivdu et Hashem Be'simcha" – "Serve God with joy."   He didn't instruct simply, "Serve God," but rather than we must do so "with joy."   The Gemara in Megila presents the famous rule, "Mi'shenichnas Adar Marbim Be'simcha"  – "When [the month of] Adar comes, we increase our joy."   Conversely, in Masechet Ta'anit we read, "Mi'shenichnas Av Mema'atim Be'simcha" – "When [the month of] Av comes, we decrease our joy."   These two passages work  off the basic assumption that a Jew must constantly live in a state of happiness.   Halacha requires increasing or decreasing the level of joy at different periods of the year, but some level of Simcha (joy) must be maintained at all times.   Rabbi Shimon Schwab compared the requirement of Simcha to a pilot light on a gas range.   The flame must always remain lit, and one lowers or raises the fire as needed.   Similarly, a Jew must live each day of the year with a certain degree of happiness, which he increases or decreases depending on the particular season.   Every person on earth spends his life pursuing happiness, but, unfortunately, few of them actually achieve happiness.   If the Torah demands that we live and serve God with joy, then it clearly assumes that we are capable of achieving a state of happiness.   But how is this achieved?   What is the Torah's "secret" to attaining true joy and contentment?   In Sefer Melachim I (8:66), the prophet tells that after the fourteen days of celebration for the inauguration of the Bet Ha'mikdash, Benei Yisrael returned home happy.   What was the cause of their happiness?   As Rabbi Avraham Pam noted, it could not have been just the delicacies and fine wine they enjoyed during the celebration.   Many among Benei Yisrael lived a distance of several days' travel from Jerusalem, and yet the prophet tells that they felt joyous upon returning home –long after the pleasure provided by the food and wine had subsided.   They were happy because of the spiritual elevation they had just experienced during the inauguration of the Temple.   As the Yalkut Shimoni remarks on this verse, they rejoiced "because they enjoyed the glory of the Shechina."    True joy results from spirituality, not from material gain.   King Shelomo, the wisest and wealthiest of all men, commented in the Book of Kohelet (1:14), "I have seen all the creations that were made under the sun – and behold, it is all vanity and worthlessness."   Kohelet enjoyed all the luxuries and pleasures of life, and concluded that this does not bring a person happiness.   The Rabbis remarked, "A person who has one hundred – he wants two hundred."   Material wealth can  never bring contentment, because the more one has, the more he desires.   Ultimately, as the Rabbis comment in a different context, "A person does not die with half of what he desires in his possession."   There will always be a wide gap between the wealth one has achieved and the wealth he still desires, and this gap leads one to depression and frustration.       Important as it is to earn a respectable living, wealth alone will not make a person happy; only religion and spirituality can bring true happiness and contentment.     Rabbi Samson Refael Hirsch claimed that the word "Samei'ach" ("happy") is etymologically related to the verb "Tz.M.Ch.," which means "grow."   What brings a person joy is growth, spiritual advancement.   When a person is stagnant, when he is not growing or progressing, he feels frustrated and depressed.   Children are happy and excited by nature, because they are constantly growing at an accelerated rate.   They are always learning new information and coming upon new experiences.   Herein lies the key to happiness: spiritual growth.   To the outsider, the Torah life might seem burdensome and restrictive.   To those who experience it, however, it is the greatest source of joy and accomplishment in the world.   A person who spends his time and energy solely on material gain and physical indulgence will never feel happy. A swimmer submerges his entire body in water and works to move forward, but he must occasionally come up for air.   Similarly, although a person must "submerge" himself in a career and work hard to earn a living, he cannot survive spiritually unless he "comes up for air," unless he designates sufficient time for Torah and Mitzvot.   Otherwise, he can never achieve genuine happiness, which can come only through spiritual growth and elevation.

Pew's New Analysis Shows 42% of US Jews Reject their Religion

By JNi.Media - 19 Elul 5778 – August 30, 2018

The Pew Research Center on Wednesday published an analysis of beliefs and behaviors across denominations that identifies important traits that unite people of different religious affiliations—or divide people who share the same affiliation – producing a new and revealing classification of religion in America (The Religious Typology – A new way to categorize Americans by religion).

The survey divided the US population, represented by 4,699 respondents in late 2017, into seven groups: Sunday Stalwarts – the most religious; God-and-Country Believers – less active in church hold traditional religious beliefs and tilt right politically; Diversely Devout – believe in God "as described in the Bible" as well as in psychics, reincarnation and spiritual energy of physical things; Relaxed Religious – believe in the God of the Bible, and some of them pray daily, but few of them attend religious services; Spiritually Awake – many do not believe in the biblical God, hold some New Age beliefs such as some higher power, rarely attend religious services; Religion Resisters – believe in some higher power or spiritual force but not the God of the Bible, and consider themselves spiritual but not religious, with strongly negative views of organized religion, generally liberal and Democratic in their political views; Solidly Secular – the least religious of the seven groups, relatively affluent, highly educated, mostly white and male, reject all New Age beliefs as well as belief in the God of the Bible or any higher power at all.

We recommend you read the survey's results, which represent a valid and as such exciting effort to gauge the American religion using current analytical tools.

What emerges from the data, in the case of the Jews of America, is an exceptionally massive pull away from the "old-time religion" on the part of close to half of those who identify themselves as Jewish.

Close to 17% of the Jewish respondents identified themselves as Sunday Stalwarts (Shabbes stalwarts, obviously); about 8% each said they were God-and-Country Believers, Diversely Devout, Relaxed Religious, or Spiritually Awake; 17% said they are Religion Resisters, and a whopping 25% called themselves Solidly Secular.

No other religious group came even close in terms of the number of members born to the group who want to have nothing at all to do with its beliefs.

The report also clarifies something intriguing: "For the purposes of this analysis, Jews are defined as people who identify their religion as Judaism – what sociologists call "Jews by religion" – and not those who say they have no religion but identify as Jewish in other ways, such as culturally or ethnically." Meaning, those Jewish respondents reject Judaism, God, ritual, prayer and religion, but still defined themselves as Jewish in terms of their religion.

Out of the 9 Christian groups altogether, only 3.5% said they were Religion Resisters; and 4% chose to define themselves as Solidly Secular.

Among the members of the Christian group with the least ability to retain its followers – the Catholic Church, about 7% identified themselves as Religion Resisters and another 7% as Solidly Secular.

Among Muslims, under 9% suggested they were Religion Resisters and the same percentage said they were Solidly Secular.

As we noted, not one of these groups comes even close to the percentage of Jews who have completely abandoned their tradition – a stunning 42%, or, were we to still accept the figure of 6 million American Jews as having anything to do with reality, then the past few decades have witnessed a mass migration of more than 2.5 million Jews away from their Judaism.

Bon voyage?

Rabbi Richman on Parshat Ki Tavo

The people of Israel enters the land of Israel by virtue of the Torah of Israel and thereby becomes the nation of Israel, beloved by the G-d of Israel. This is the message, the entire message, of parashat Ki Tavo, from beginning to end, a message for Israel today, and a message for the world. Ki Tavo (Deuteronomy 26:1 - 29:8) Parashat Ki Tavo is read on Shabbat: Elul 21, 5778/September 1, 2018

Explaining The Left (Part III)By Dennis Prager

 it remains a best-seller 59 years after it was first published – is Man's Search for Meaningby Viktor Frankl.

Marx saw man's primary drive as economic, and what Freud saw it as is well known. But Frankl believed – correctly, in my opinion – that the greatest drive of man is meaning.

One can be poor and chaste and still be happy. But one cannot be bereft of meaning and be happy – no matter how rich or libido-fulfilled one may be.

The greatest provider of meaning for the vast majority of human beings has been religion. In the West, Christianity (and on a smaller scale, Judaism) provided nearly all people with the Bible to guide their lives; a religious community; answers to life's fundamental questions; and, above all, meaning: A good God governs the universe; death does not end everything; and human beings were purposefully created.

In addition, Christianity gave Christians a project: Spread the Good News, and bring the world to the savior. And Judaism gave Jews a project: Live by God's laws of ethics and holiness and be "a light unto the nations."

All this has disappeared for most Westerners. The Bible is regarded as myth, silly at best, malicious at worst. There is no God, certainly not the morality-giving and judging God of the Bible; there is no afterlife; human beings are a purposeless coincidence with no more intrinsic purpose than anything else in the universe. In short: This is all there is.

So, if the need for meaning is the greatest of all human needs and that which supplied meaning no longer does, what are millions of Westerners to do?

The answer is obvious: Find meaning elsewhere. But where? The church won't provide it. Nor will marriage and family – increasingly, secular individuals in the West eschew marriage, and even more do not have children.

It turns out, to the surprise of many, that marriage and children are religious values, not human instincts. In the West today, love and marriage (and children) go together like a horse and a carriage for faithful Catholics, Orthodox Jews, religious Mormons, and evangelical Protestants – not for the secular.

I know many religious families with more than four children; I do not know one secular family with more than four children (and the odds are you don't either).

The answer to the great dearth of meaning left by the death of biblical religion in the West is secular religion. The first two great secular substitutes were communism and Nazism. The first provided hundreds of millions of people with meaning; the latter provided most Germans and Austrians with meaning.

In particular, both ideologies provided the intellectual class with meaning. No groups believed in communism and Nazism more than intellectuals. Like everyone else, secular intellectuals need meaning, and when this need was combined with intellectuals' love of ideas (especially new ideas), communism and Nazism became potent ideologies.

With the fall of communism and the awareness of the extent of the communist mass murder (about 100 million non-combatants) and mass enslavement (virtually all individuals in communist countries – except for Communist Party leaders – are essentially enslaved), communism, or at least the word "communism," fell into disrepute.

So, what were secular intellectuals to do once communism became "the god that failed"? The answer was to create other another left-wing secular religion. And that is what leftism is: a secular meaning-giver to supplant Christianity. Left-wing religious expressions include Marxism, communism, socialism, feminism, and environmentalism.

Leftism's guiding principles – notwithstanding the principles of those Christians and Jews who claim to be religious yet hold leftist views – are the antitheses of Judaism and Christianity's guiding principles.

Judaism and Christianity hold that people are not basically good. Leftism holds that people are basically good. Therefore, Judaism and Christianity believe evil comes from human nature, and leftism believes evil comes from capitalism, religion, the nation-state (i.e. nationalism), corporations, the patriarchy, and virtually every other traditional value.

Judaism and Christianity hold that utopia on Earth is impossible – it will only come in God's good time as a Messianic age or in the afterlife. Leftism holds that utopia is to be created here on Earth – and as soon as possible. That is why leftists find America so contemptible. They do not compare it to other nations but to a utopian ideal – a society with no inequality, no racism, no differences between the sexes (indeed, no sexes), and no greed in which everything important is obtained for free.

Judaism and Christianity believe God and the Bible are to instruct us on how to live a good life and how the heart is the last place to look for moral guidance. Leftists have contempt for anyone who is guided by the Bible and its God, and substitute the heart and feelings for divine instruction.

There may be a clash of civilizations between the West and Islam, but the biggest clash of civilizations is between the West and the left.

See you Sunday, Shabbat Shuvah Shalom

Next week on Wednesday (starting Tuesday night) is Yom Kipper. I will stories about Yom Kipper next week.


Love Yehuda Lave

Rabbi Yehuda Lave

2850 Womble Road, Suite 100-619, San Diego
United States


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