Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Is There Anything That Vick's VapoRub Can't Be Used For?

It seems that what people fear more than anything is not crime, illness or even death. The greatest fear is their own feelings, especially the "big three": loneliness, helplessness and insignificance.
Although we all feel them at times, few people know how to cope with their presence. As children, these feelings seemed scary because we identified with them; they represented our reality, our very identity. They seemed enormously important. We talked about them for hours with anyone who would listen. We had no idea what else to do with what seemed like intolerable pain.

No one told us that it was okay to simply feel them. Rather, we may have been ridiculed as immature.We are programmed to think that to feel anything other than happy, confident and successful means that we must be lacking in faith or suffering from an emotional disorder.

Most of us learned to valiantly stifle feelings, put on a happy face and act as if "It doesn't hurt," No wonder people try to numb feelings with drugs or addictions!However, there is a better way. Emotional multi-tasking means giving yourself permission to feel, without shame or guilt, and identify what messages the painful feelings have come to give you.
Love Yehuda Lave

Why Is the Rainbow a Sign of Peace?

First, let's clear up a misconception. Although many see the rainbow as a beautiful symbol of peace, its biblical origin is not all that positive. Let's take a look.

The Basic Story

After years of watching the moral decay of civilization, G‑d had had enough. He brought about the Great Flood, from which only Noah and his family were saved by entering the ark. After the water subsided, Noah left the ark and brought sacrifices to G‑d. G‑d then made a covenant with Noah and his descendants (i.e., all of mankind) that He would never again bring forth a flood to destroy all of civilization. G‑d then said:

This is the sign I am making, testifying to the covenant between Me and you and all living souls, forever: I have put my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between Myself and the world. When I send clouds over the earth, the rainbow will be seen in the clouds, and I will remember the covenant between Myself and yourselves and all living souls, and there will never again be a flood to destroy all life. The rainbow will be in the clouds and I will see it and remember the eternal covenant between G‑d and all the living souls on earth. 1

The rainbow is a sign that despite the fact that mankind is sinning and may deserve another deluge, G‑d remembers His promise. Thus, it is considered a very positive sign when no rainbow is seen for an extended period of time, since it implies that we are not sinning and not deserving of a flood. 2

Now let's address the question of why, of all phenomena, G‑d chose the rainbow to signify His oath not to destroy the world.

The King in All His Glory

The Divine Glory is compared to the appearance of the rainbow. In the words of the prophet Ezekiel, "Like the appearance of the rainbow that is in the cloud on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the brightness round about; that was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the L‑rd´. . ." 3

When a mortal king is angry, he hides from his people. Thus, through showing us a rainbow (His image, as it were), G‑d is saying, "If it were My intention to destroy you, I would not first show you a semblance of My glory." 4

A Reversed Bow

Nachmanides points out that the rainbow is like a bow pointing upward, trained toward the heavens. When warriors want to show that they have peaceful intentions, they reverse their weapons away from those in front of them and point the weapons toward themselves. So too, G‑d turns His "bow," the rainbow, away from humanity and towards the heavens, demonstrating that He will not use the weapon of water to destroy civilization again. 5

Rain Tapering Off

The rainbow is only seen in the sky once the rain tapers off or stops altogether. Thus, the rainbow is a sign that any rain will eventually stop and there will not be a flood like in the days of Noah. 6

Fire and Water

A rainbow is formed due to the combination of both fire (light) and water. Thus, the rainbow symbolizes peace, harmony and positive synergy. 7

The Ability to Refine the World

You may now be wondering whether the rainbow existed before the Flood. Some commentaries explain that although in theory the rainbow could have appeared before the Flood, the clouds were much thicker then and rainbows were never actually seen. It was only after the Flood that G‑d refined the atmosphere and rainbows became visible. 8 (Learn more: What Is the Significance of the Rainbow?)

The Lubavitcher Rebbe explains that the physical is a reflection of the spiritual. Before the Flood, the clouds—which are formed by the mist that rises from the ground—were thicker because the world in general was more coarse. After the Flood, the clouds became more refined and one could see a rainbow, a sign that man now had the ability to refine the coarse materiality of the world. 9

It is no wonder that the Zohar states that "one should not expect the coming of Moshiach until the rainbow is seen . . . in shining colors." 10

May it be speedily in our days!


See Talmud, Ketubot 77b.


Chizkuni and Bechor Shor on Genesis 9:13.


Ramban and Rabeinu Bechaye on Genesis 9:12.


Ralbag, Parshat Noach.


Rabbi Moshe of Coucey, quoted in Riva on Genesis 9:13.


See Abarbanel on Noach; Ohr Hatorah Breishit, vol. 3, p. 648.


Likutei Sichot, vol. 15, p. 52. For more on this, see Colors: On the mystical significance of the rainbow.


Zohar 1:72b. For more about why a rainbow will herald the messianic era, see Zot Ot HaBerit, 5743 by the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

Is There Anything That Vick's VapoRub Can't Be Used For?

 Is there any product in your medicine cabinet that is more versatile than Vick's VapoRub? We certainly don't think so, and we're about to show you why! Keep scrolling to find out 7 awesome uses of this medicine cabinet staple:



1. Soothe Earaches

For mildly painful earaches, put some VapoRub onto a ball of cotton and insert it into your ear to reduce the discomfort. Be careful though, it should merely sit gently in the cup of your ear. Whatever you do, do not push it all the way into your ear canal!

2. Aromatherapy

If your humidifier has an aromatherapy function, then you can add some VapoRub to it, so that it can circulate around your whole room. This is the perfect way to get rid of congestion if you're ill, or simply to freshen up a room with the soothing smell of Vick's.


3. Ease muscle pain

If your muscles are sore and achy, rubbing a bit of VapoRub on your muscles after an intense workout will help you feel a lot better. Trust us, it really works!

4. Lip balm

Apply a bit of VapoRub to your lips to make them fuller and softer. VapoRub contains menthol, which is known to be a natural lip plumper. Since it is also made out of petroleum jelly, it will make them a lot softer at the same time. Be sure not to apply this to cracked or chapped lips, as this may cause some irritation.

5. Cover up bad smells

If you're surrounded by terrible odors, simply put a little VapoRub under your nostrils. However, take care not to get it inside your nose! The powerful and unique smell is actually really effective at blocking out those smells we'd rather not experience.

6. Soothe tennis elbow

Your forehand on the court was the bomb, but unluckily, all you've got to show for it is your throbbing in your elbow. Rubbing a little VapoRub onto your elbow will ease your aches and pains, and get you back on the court in no time at all.

7. Soften your heels

If you have got dry and cracked heels, there's no need to despair! Simply rub some VapoRub onto your heels before going to bed and wrap them in a pair of soft socks to seal in the amazing moisturizing properties.

If you can't get enough of Vick's VapoRub, then here are 8 more uses for it!

What Is a Balabusta?


Balabusta (pronounced ba-la-BUST-ah) is the Yiddish term for "homemaker," generally denoting a woman who is exceptionally skilled at maintaining her home.

The (imaginary) balabusta can host 20 guests for Shabbat dinner in an immaculately clean home, while keeping her kids entertained and well-behaved, simultaneously maintaining a calm composure and a perfectly clean outfit.

The Etymology of Balabusta

To understand the meaning of balabusta, we must first learn some Hebrew words:

Baal (בעל) is Hebrew for "master."

Bayis (בית), or bayit in modern Hebrew, means a house.

Put them together and you get a baal habayis.

The Talmudic Baal Habayis

The baal habayis is the master of the house. A classic example in Talmudic parlance can be seen in the opening paragraph of Tractate Shabbat. Discussing instances where passing from a private home to public domain are prohibited on Shabbat, the example used is a baal habayis passing charity to a pauper outside his door. 1

Beyond the context of home ownership, the baal habayis can refer to an employer, 2 a host, 3 or an amateur. 4

The Yiddish Balabos

In Yiddish, baal habayis was contracted into a balabos (pronounced ba-la-BUSS) .

In this context, the balabos can also refer to a layperson (as opposed to a learned scholar), or a well-heeled individual (in contrast to the poor schnorrer), or a married man (no longer a yeshiva student). (Something pertaining to a balabos is balabatish. Thus, the unsophisticated logic of a layperson would be balabatish, as would be the creature comforts of the bourgeoisie.)

The Balabusta

In Yiddish, masculine Hebrew words are often made feminine by adding the suffix "te." Thus, a shadchan (matchmaker) becomes a shadchante, and a balabos becomes a balabuste (or balabusta, as it is often spelled in English). 5

Like balabos, balabusta can refer to a landlady or female employer.

By far the most common application of this word (among English-speaking Jews) is in reference to a homemaker who has mastered her craft—ably running her household in the most optimal manner.

At times, balabusta can be a euphemism for a wife. So if a man is unsure if there is room at the table for one more guest, he may say that he needs to consult his balabusta.

The True Balabusta

Most of us may never master the many skills known to the balabustas of yesteryear (do you really want to know how to pluck a chicken?). At the same time, natural competitiveness and one-upmanship (or is that womanship?) have made the ideal balabusta an unrealistic goddess of feminine skill. Yet, there is an element of balabatishkeit we can (and should) strive to achieve—mastering ourselves. We control our thoughts, speech, and actions, and in that way, each and every person is the ultimate balabos or balabusta.


Shabbat 2a.


Bava Metzia 76a.


Brachot 46a.


Bava Metzia 23a.


It is interesting to note that in the plural, the male balabos becomes baalei batim, reverting to proper Hebrew grammar. The balab usta, however, is so far removed from the Hebrew original that the plural form is balabostes.

Lessons From an Aging Mother

During the last four years, my first teacher—my mother—has been suffering from vascular dementia. Its onset has been gradual and at times even imperceptible, as is often the case. Of course, I wish life was easier for my mother; that she still had full use of her memory, language and rational faculties. But given the realities, I am also grateful for the opportunity to learn new lessons that my mother's aging and illnesses present.

Unlike some of my friends, I haven'tShe has never stopped being my teacher had to step into full-time caretaker shoes. My mother has been blessed with the means to live into old age on her terms: without needing to rely on her children to take care of her. With the help of a home health-care policy and 24-hour-aides, she is able to live independently in her own apartment.

Still, opportunities for patience, understanding and love abound. I have willingly stepped into the shoes of care manager, calling daily, flying from New York to Florida every six weeks or so trying to help ensure her health, happiness and safety in these not-always-so golden years.

Even so, she has never stopped being my teacher—in some ways, perhaps more so now than ever. These lessons test my mettle, sometimes on a daily basis. They better help me define my evolving relationship to my mother as I age: both the qualities we share and our individual differences. They teach me when to guide and when to take a deep breath, when to give my mother a large hug and when to quietly weather the storm. They constantly challenge me to act patiently and wisely so her needs are properly met, and yet still step back so I don't rob her of her independence. To act like a daughter fully on behalf of her mother.

My mother has always been active, always giving to others, and she still insists on doing what she can for herself: making her own breakfast and bending to throw out or pick up whatever falls on the floor. I inwardly flinch whenever I see these movements, which often makes her scoliosis-related pain in her crooked, even Dali-esque-appearing body more acute. When it's time to bring her empty tea mug into the kitchen, she insists on holding her walker with one hand and the mug in another—a balancing acts that sends chills down my spine. Like her aides, I closely shadow her so she doesn't fall. When I'm not having a meal with her or looking at family picture albums with her, I keep a careful eye open so that she doesn't forget her walker, or worse, begin rearranging the heavy plates in her credenza.

I've made some additional adjustments in order to do things my mother's way. If my mother hasn't been 20 minutes early for an appointment, she considers herself late. Generally, if f I am 15 minutes late, I consider myself on time (and sometimes, even early). I've now trained myself to learn to be on "mom time," at least when I'm with her (and sometimes when I'm not.). To see that she's ready with her walker, her pocketbook and a sweater in case the air-conditioning is too strong. All so that she will be her usual early self. When she rushes me, which she still occasionally has to do, I no longer feel put off. In fact, the buttons that I once allowed to be pushed have faded from existence through an emotionally loving embrace.

There are times, of course, thatThere are times, of course, I've had to stand my own ground I've had to stand my own ground. There are also times when my mother gives in to preserve my happiness. Sometimes, these times are one and the same. When my mother began to leave her bed at night—uncertain as to where she was or what she was hearing—my brother and I insisted on her having nighttime aides. My mother objected vehemently, feeling that such help would further compromise her selfhood. Finally, when logic failed, it was an appeal to her heart: my professed love for her that led to her reluctant consent. "I never want to hurt or worry you," my mother says. It's true. She has always approached me with only the best of intentions.

Although they're not mutually exclusive, with my mother's lessening reliance on logic, she has also put more trust in faith. We often talk about the Jewish view of the afterlife: what might happen when my mom exhales her last breath. She wants to be prepared. She openly broaches funeral plans (which she pre-paid), the award-winning pictures she painted and her treasured photo albums that she'd like to remain part of her legacy. Sensing my own lack of ease with the subject, she tells me, "She loves me as high as the sky." I see in those moments my well mother, still trying to comfort her vulnerable daughter.

Despite also loving life, she assures me that whatever happens, whenever it happens, she'll be ready, making the prospect of her leaving just a little easier. In time, I've come to realize that our visits are equally essential for me. The Torah commands us to honor and respect our parents at all times, but for me, it is a privilege to still have my mother and to continue to be with her.

Even as my mother loses her ability to speak, to remember and to reason, I need only, in turn, look with loving eyes, and a patient mind to find that neshama, soul essence, the part that will always remain my mother.

Meanwhile, to have her here, in whatever form, is a gift to treasure.

Money Matters in Relationships

What's wrong with materialism, whose fault is it, and how can we fix it? Materialism is by no means a modern phenomenon; its roots are biblical.

After the Flood, lone survivors Noah and his family stepped out of the Ark into a pristine world. They were tasked with beginning the story of Man again. And it didn't go well. Noah became intoxicated, and while he was lying naked in aMaterialism is by no means a modern phenomenon; its roots are biblical drunken stupor, he was castrated by one of his three sons, Ham. In the first known act of forced population control, Ham robbed Noah of the ability to procreate. With the entire world (literally) before his feet, Ham was nevertheless driven by the insanely delusional belief that the world was not big enough to accommodate a fourth son.

There is a well-known Jewish adage, " middah keneged middah," which means, "measure for measure." As punishment for not understanding the very purpose of life, Ham's descendants were cursed with slavery—a state of existence devoid of that which makes life worth living.

The Money Monster

It's a given that money issues and financial stress can cause strife in a relationship. Modern life can drive bad decision-making, inducing us to buy things we don't need with money we don't have. Mistakenly believing that it is getting whatever we happen to want that will truly make us happy, we enslave ourselves in this futile pursuit, oblivious to the joke that all the rat race is good for is making faster rats.

Being flush, however, doesn't prevent marital discord. As a matter of fact, studies show that when both spouses in a marriage are highly materialistic, they struggle more emotionally, report more anxiety and depression, and have less life and relationship satisfaction. One reason is that excess materialism drives couples to externalize their priorities, therefore spending less and less time nurturing their relationship.

One antidote is to break the materialistic mindset. Family researcher James Carroll said, "I think it's about people stepping back and taking an inventory of their values and what is important to them. Are we allowing some of our materialistic ambitions to get in the way of things that, at the core, matter a lot to us?" When we don't understand the real cost of materialism, sadly, our relationships pay the price.

The Happiness That Money Can Buy

On the other hand, if we spend money on what truly matters, it's possible that money can buy happiness. Research shows that buying experiences as opposed to things create more long-lasting happiness. Furthermore, buying experiences with the people we love builds connection and creates an upward spiral of positivity. A good friend of mine plans her family vacations with one goal in mind: "I want to have experiences, and I want to create memories."

Happiness is not based on monetary affluence, but rather, time affluence. Before making a purchase, ask yourself whether this will change the way you use your time. Focusing on time, rather than money, will help you choose activities that focus on well-being. One of the biggest complaints of unhappy couples is that they don't spend enough time together. Eventually, failing to invest time makes it impossible to keep a marriage healthy and loving.

The Lesson of the Fourth Son: An Attitude of Gratitude

Our matriarch, Leah, is the first person in recorded history to have expressed gratitude to G‑d, and she did that when she gave birth to her fourth son, Yehuda, whose very name means "thank you." This seemingly small shift created cosmic consequencesFeeling unloved by Jacob, she gave her first three sons names designed to arouse Jacob's love for her. With her fourth son, however, Leah shifted her attention, and instead of focusing on the negative, she embraced an attitude of gratitude, which opened her up to the positive in her life.

This seemingly small shift nevertheless created cosmic consequences. Ham's warped views prevented the birth of a fourth son, and with descendants who created wicked and brutal empires, he unleashed untold misery into the world. Leah, on the other hand, opened up the spiritual channel of gratitude and from that act, blessings ensued. It is from Yehuda that King David descended, and ultimately, it is from Yehuda's lineage that the Messiah will be born.

Developing an attitude of gratitude can break us free from voluntary servitude to the "Money Monster." And since our very well-being depends on relationships, spending time—our most valuable currency—on our relationships, measure for measure, yields the greatest return on our investment.

The Story of Noah and the Ark in the Bible

The Great Flood (known as the mabul in Hebrew) was sent by G‑d in the year 1656 of Creation (2105 BCE), to cleanse the earth of mankind's corrupt ways. The only survivors were Noah, his family, and representatives of every living species, who found refuge in a specially designed ark.

The story is told in detail in Genesis 6-11, which form the Parshah of Noach. 1

The Pre-Flood World

The world preceding the Flood was marked by abundance, health, and prosperity. The average human lifespan lasted many hundreds of years, and the climate across the globe was temperate and pleasant. 2

Unfortunately, mankind took advantage of this blissful lifestyle, and corruption became rampant. With the exception of a few select individuals, 3 society indulged in theft, idolatry, and incest. This all came to a head in the year 1536 of Creation (2225 BCE), when G‑d first foretold the events that would come to pass.

Noah Builds the Ark

Scripture tells us that Noah, a ninth-generation descendant of Adam and Eve, was a righteous and upright man. G‑d informed Noah of his plans to eradicate mankind due to their evil ways, and instructed him to build an ark, in which he and his family were to take refuge. Joining them in the ark would be a select few creatures of every species (other than fish, that survived the Flood unscathed): two from every non-kosher animal, and seven (or fourteen 4) of every kosher animal.

G‑d gave exact instructions how the ark was to be built. It was to be crafted of gopher wood 5 and sealed from both within and without with pitch. It was to comprise three stories: the top for Noah and his family; the middle for the animals; and the bottom for refuse. It was to measure 300 cubits in length, 50 cubits in width, and 30 in height. The ark was illuminated by a tzohar, which waseither a window through which light shone from the outside, or a radiant precious stone.

Read more: The Ark

The ark took Noah no less than 120 years to build, allowing plenty of time for onlookers to query his actions, be told of the impending calamity, and change their ways. Unfortunately, such repentance never came to pass.

Finally, in the year 1656 (2105 BCE), the day arrived when everything would change.

The Flood

On the seventeenth day of the Hebrew month of Cheshvan, rain began to fall. In addition, jets of steaming water shot forth from the depths of the earth. The downpour continued for forty days and forty nights, until the face of the earth was entirely submerged, covering the summits of the highest mountains with water 15 cubits deep.

Finally, the rain subsided, but the waters continued to churn for an additional 150 days. After this period of time, the water level slowly began to recede, until the ark rested on the mountains of Ararat. 6

To determine the extent of the water's retreat, Noah sent out a raven, but the bird did not fly that far and merely circled the ark. Next, Noah sent out a dove for a total of three missions. The first time the dove left the ark, it returned without any results. The second time, it returned with an olive leaf in its beak, indicating that new growth had begun to sprout. (Read more: Ode to an Olive Leaf.) The third and final time, it did not return, having found rest outside the confines of the ark.

Finally, on the first day of the Hebrew month of Tishrei of the year 1657 (2104 BCE), the water completely subsided. Close to two months later, on the twenty-seventh of Cheshvan, the ground fully dried, allowing Noah and the rest of the ark's inhabitants to emerge.

The total time Noah spent in the ark was 365 days (one solar year; one year and 11 days on the lunar calendar).

The Flood: A Timeline

The following is a chronology of the Flood, as indicated by the dates and time periods given in the Torah's account and calculated by Rashi: 7

Cheshvan 17 (mid-fall): Noah enters ark; rains begin.

Kislev 27 (early winter): Forty days of rain end; beginning of 150 days of water's swelling and churning.

Sivan 1 (early summer): Water calms and begins to subside at the rate of one cubit every four days.

Sivan 17: The bottom of the ark, submerged 11 cubits beneath the surface, touches down on the top of the mountains of Ararat.

Av 1 (summer): The mountain peaks break the water's surface.

Elul 10 (late summer): Forty days after the mountain peaks become visible, Noah opens the ark's window and dispatches a raven.

Elul 17: Noah sends the dove for the first time.

Elul 23: The dove is sent a second time, and returns with an olive leaf in its beak.

Tishrei 1 (early fall): Dove's third mission. Water completely drained.

Cheshvan 27: Ground fully dried. Noah exits ark.

(This chronology follows the opinion of the Talmudic sage Rabbi Eliezer. According to Rabbi Joshua's interpretation, the Flood began on Iyar 17, and all above dates should be moved ahead six months. 8)

Life in the Ark

Life in the ark was no picnic. The Midrash relates that throughout their year-long sojourn in the ark, Noah and his sons barely slept, as they were completely preoccupied with feeding the animals and birds. Each animal needed to be given its specific nourishment at an exact time during the day. 9

The tremendous workload and pressure caused Noah to cough up blood. What's more, Noah was once late in bringing food to the lion, and the angry cat bit Noah.

How did the ark manage to contain hundreds of thousands of species of animal life, not to mention the food necessary to feed them for a full year? According to one approach, the ark was miraculous in nature, allowing for a shipload far beyond the ark's dimensions. 10

Read more: Why Build a Too-Small Ark?

This also explains how carnivorous animals were able to coexist with their prey. Chassidic teachings explain that Noah's ark evoked the time of the future Redemption, when 11 "the wolf will dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall crouch with the kid." 12

Aftermath and Legacy

Upon leaving the ark, Noah erected an altar and sacrificed some of the kosher animals and birds to G‑d. Subsequently, G‑d promised to never again eradicate all of humanity. To this end, G‑d established a covenant with Noah and his descendants, and he strengthened the covenant by means of a rainbow. "Whenever humanity is unworthy," said G‑d to Noah, "and potential thoughts of destruction rise before Me, I will cause a rainbow to appear among the clouds. This will remind Me of My covenant, and I will hold back these thoughts from materializing."

Read more: Significance of the Rainbow in Judaism

Following the Flood, G‑d enjoined Noah and his children with the commandment of procreation. Additionally, G‑d granted allowance to Noah and his descendants to partake of animal meat (as long as the animal was not alive at the time of consumption), which had been forbidden up until that point.

Read more: Judaism and Vegetarianism

In the days following the Flood, Noah planted a vineyard and made wine from its produce. He then partook of the wine and became intoxicated, causing him to lie uncovered in his tent. While Noah's sons Shem and Japheth took pains to cover their father's nakedness, their brother Ham and Ham's son Canaan disrespected him. This led Noah to curse Canaan, stating that he would be a slave to his brethren, and to bless Shem and Japheth.

Read more: Why Noah Planted a Vineyard and Got Drunk

The Flood was followed by a calamity of a different sort: the Dispersion. In the year 1996 of Creation (1764 BCE), a multitude of nations gathered in the valley of Babylon. With the joint goal of challenging G‑d, they began building a city, overlooked by a tower—the Tower of Babel—that was to reach the heavens. When G‑d saw their plans, he limited each nation to speaking and understanding a unique language. Unable to communicate, they disbanded their plans, and G‑d dispersed them over the face of the earth.

The Tower of Babel by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1563)
The Tower of Babel by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1563)

Read more: The Tower of Babel: What Was Up With It?

Deluge of Purity

At first glance, the Flood appears to have been an act of cosmic wrath. But Kabbalah teaches that the foremost energy that guides the cosmos is that of chessed, goodness and compassion. Wrath is incompatible with this spiritual posture. There is clearly something much more sublime in the account of the Flood.

Chassidic teachings describe the Flood as a cleansing process. The waters of the Flood are like the waters of a ritual bath—a mikvah—where the waters spiritually cleanse the one who enters it. The world similarly received a spiritual cleansing, setting the course of history on a course of hope and purpose. And just as a mikvah must contain 40 seah (an ancient measure of volume), so did the rains of the Flood last for forty days. 13

Read more: The Forty-Day Mikveh


Unless otherwise noted, the material in this article is gleaned from these chapters and their commentaries.


See Bereishit Rabbah 34:11. Midrash Tanchuma, Bereishit 12. Seforno to Genesis 8:22.


See Maimonides, Avodah Zarah 1:2.


See Siftei Chachamim to Genesis 7:2. Rabbi Abraham Ibn Ezra to Genesis 6:19. Nachmanides to Genesis 7:8-9.


The identity of this wood is unclear. Among the possibilities are cypress, boxwood, teak, brazil wood, and pine (see Zohar Amar, Tzimchei Hamikra pp. 198-199).


Popularly identified with the two peaks of Mt. Ararat known as Greater Ararat and Little Ararat, on the border of Turkey and Armenia (see Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, Living Torah Genesis 8:4).


For an alternative view, see Nachmanides to Genesis 8:4.


See Rashi to Genesis 7:11 and 8:5.


Midrash Tanchuma, Noah 2 and 9.


Nachmanides to Genesis 6:19. Kli Yakar to Genesis 6:21.


Likkutei Sichot vol. 25, pp. 29-30.


Torah Ohr 8c-d.

21 Talmud Quotes About Human Nature

The Talmud is a 2,000-page compendium that contains the wisdom and teachings of the Jewish sages. As a guide to Jewish law, it covers almost every area of life. Here are 21 quotes from the Talmud about human nature.

1. The liar's punishment is that even when he speaks the truth, no one believes him (Sanhedrin 89b).

2. Once a person has sinned and repeated the sin, [he treats it] as if it has become permitted (Rav Huna, Arachin 30b).

3. The inclination only desires that which is forbidden (Jerusalem Talmud, Nedarim 9:1).

4. No two minds are alike, [just as] no two faces are alike (Berachot 58a).

5. Do not celebrate among the mourners, and do not weep among revelers (Kallah 10).

6. There is no community where everyone is rich; neither is there a community where everyone is poor (Jerusalem Talmud, Gitten 3:7).

7. A person's true character is ascertained by three parameters: his cup (i.e., his behavior when he drinks), his pocket (i.e., his financial dealings), and his anger (Rabbi Ilai, Eruvin 65b).

8. Do not say something that should never be heard, because ultimately it will be heard ( Hillel the Elder, Avot 4:2).

9. Anyone who introduces excessive fear into his house will ultimately cause three sins: infidelity, murder, and Sabbath desecration (Gittin 6b).

10. Be wary of authorities who befriend a person for their own purposes. They appear loving when it is beneficial to them, but do not stand by the other person in his time of distress (Rabban Gamliel, Avot 2:3).

11. Youth is a crown of roses; old age is a crown of thorns (Rav Dimi, Shabbat 152a).

12. When we were young [we saw ourselves] as men, now [we are considered] children (Bava Kama 92b).

13. The world is a dark place for one who looks to the table of others [for his sustenance] (Rav, Beitza 32b).

14. No one is [truly] poor, save for someone who is ill (Nedarim 4a).

15. If a person says I have worked hard but have not found [success], don't believe him. [If a person says] I have not exerted myself, and I have found [success], don't believe him. [If he says] I gave it my all and I have found [success], believe him! (Megillah 6b).

16. Do not appease a person while he is still angry (Avot 4:18).

17. A prisoner cannot free himself (Berachot 5b).

18. Just as you are obligated to speak when your words will be heeded, you must remain silent when you know your words will be ignored (Yevamot 65b).

19. If you have guarded your mouth from evil speech, your days will be peaceful (Derech Eretz Zuta 9).

20. Silence is beautiful for wise people; it is all the more beautiful for fools (Pesachim 99a).

21. Even a poor person who subsists on the charity of others should perform [acts of] charity (Gittin 7a).

Rabbi Menachem Posner serves as staff editor for
Sefira Ross is a freelance designer and illustrator whose original creations grace many pages. Residing in Seattle, Washington, her days are spent between multitasking illustrations and being a mom.


The Magazine of the Authentic Jewish Idea

May-June 1989   Iyar-Sivan 5749


ISRAEL  (excerpts)


In the Jewish State, a dream of ages becomes a nightmare.  For 2,000 years the Jew had a dream.  No matter where he lived in the Exile – Morocco, Poland, Yemen, Russia, Iraq, Galicia – the Jew dreamed the greatest of all possible dreams – that of shivat Tzion, the return to Zion.  The Jew of the exile, of humiliation, of fear, of terror, of pogroms and death, dreamed that some day he would go up from the fear and terror and humiliation and degradation; that a day would come when he – the Jew – would come home, would come home to his land, would have a state of his own, would exchange fear and terror and humiliation for sovereignty and pride and strength.  A state in which never again would the Jew fear for his life or dread walking anywhere in his land.  A Jewish State!  The dream of generations!

               And so, today, we have a Jewish State.  Through G-d's mercies and Jewish sacrifice, there exists, today, a sovereign Jewish State. The dream.

               The dream?  There is no fear in the State of Israel?  There is no humiliation?  There is no terror?  There is no gnawing sense of foreboding?  Of "what will be?"

               Months and months, a year; more, of an Arab uprising.  And the army of Israel that was able to smash Arab armies, nations; that won a war in Six Days, is unable to put on end to rioting by Arab women and children!  They attack the soldiers with stones, with firebombs – unafraid, taunting, cursing, hating.  And the soldiers of Israel stand in frustration, hobbled by insane orders, drafted by confused politicians who are themselves, ideologically bewildered and guilt ridden, unsure of the justice of their own cause and fearful of world reaction.  The soldiers' hands are tied by insane limitations on their freedom to act in self-defense  (The Central Command insists that soldiers attacked by stone throwing Arabs only fire into the air and warn the mob to stand back; then, if still alive or not seriously hurt, to shoot at one of the stone throwers, and then – assuming G-d has been good – to shoot at the crowd).  Is it any wonder that so many soldiers simply do not enter areas of danger? Or, worse, back away from confrontation, knowing that if they do not shoot they may be seriously injured or worse, and if they do, they may be court-martialed, as so many of the finest elite soldiers have already been? 

               And as the Arabs see the soldiers back away; and as they see that army policy is to allow them, more and more, to do whatever they wish in their own villages – should it surprise us that they grow bolder and more confident, attacking soldiers and vehicles almost with impunity?  Is it surprising that little, autonomous Palestine "states" are springing up daily in various Arab villages where one can see PLO flags flying boldly from minarets and private "armies" of youths training openly with hatchets and swords?

               And is there anyone who should be shocked as more and more Jews are attacked as they drive along highways in the liberated areas as well as on roads inside the State of Israel itself?  And that is the greatest tragedy of them all!  A Jewish State that rose to free the Jew from terror and fear.  And today, in the Jewish State that did arise, there is terror; there is fear.  Jews are afraid in their own land.

               In Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, the Jewish holy city, Jews are attacked daily, with stones and firebombs.  Jews are murdered in cold blood by Arabs who are unafraid.  Jewish automobiles and buses are regularly attacked, with Jews injured – daily.  Jews fear to go into the Old City of Jerusalem through the Arab sections.  Rare are those who enter through Sha'ar Sachem (Damascus Gate).  In Jaffa, buses are routinely attacked. Jaffa is not in the "occupied territories" but is rather the home of Israeli Arabs – our Arabs, our loyal Arabs

               In the northern Israeli city of Acre, Jews are physically attacked and less and less dare to go into the Old City there.  Acre is a part of the State of Israel.  Automobiles driving along the Wadi Ara highway are targets of Molotov cocktails and rocks.  The number of Jewish automobiles using the highway has dropped by fully 50%.  Wadi Ara is not in the "occupied territories."   It is in the heartland of Israel, running between the cities of Hedera and Afula.  In the Galilee, Israeli Arabs attack Jews, a grenade is thrown at a police vehicle, and police arrest Arabs of Israel as members of terrorist groups.

               Soldiers are attacked as they hitch rides – attacked, kidnapped, murdered.  Women soldiers are forbidden to hitch rides and men are strictly limited.  This is the free Jewish State of which the national anthem Hatikva, says: "To be a free people in our own land…"

               The bitter truth is that the Jew is afraid in larger and larger areas of his own state land. And the bitterer truth is that the Arab is not.  There is no area in the land, no part of Israel that Arabs avoid.  They fear going nowhere – at any time, day or night.  Arab kiosks and stalls are to be found in every Jewish market place.  There are no Jewish market places in Gaza or any other Arab town or city in any of the liberated areas or, for that matter , in any Arab village in Israel itself.  The Arabs would never allow it….

               The intifada grows bolder.  And it will – it must spread into the State of Israel, reaching into more and more Jewish areas.  For in the Middle East, in the mind of the world of the Arab it is strength and weakness that set the tone. When the Arab sensed Jewish strength and a Jewish army unhobbled by anyone – he sat in fear and passivity.  When he began to sense – rightly – Jewish weakness, hesitation and fear, he rose up to carry out the never-ending dream – the return of "Palestine," a dream to be built on the ruins of Israel, the Jewish State.  The Arab sees Jewish weakness, hesitancy, impotence, indecision, fear – and he prepares the sharpened hatchet and knife.

               And as the Arab sense of power, pride, victory and, above all – justice of his cause –grows and flourishes, so does there arise, like some noxious weed, a growing number of Jews stricken with a sickness of soul that can only be termed a kind of spiritual and psychological AIDS.  Deeply troubled people, ridden with guilt, that time-dishonored Jewish disease, they were conceived in the psychoses of an exile of centuries, and born in the self-hate that afflicts so many of our people.

               Their guilt and self-hate drive them to question not only the justice of the Jewish presence in what they outrageously term the "occupied" lands, but even to doubt, in the recesses of their troubled minds, the very right of the Jew to have come to the Land of Israel in the first place, and take the land from the indigenous "Palestinians."  To be sure, they are not only afflicted with guilt and self-hate, they also lack the courage to cure their affliction, for if it is true for them that the Jews are thieves and have stolen the land from the Arabs, then is not the moral solution for the leftist to stand up and give up, give "back" his kibbutz?  Give it "back" to the poor Arabs?  Of course, that is the normal step for a "thief" whose conscience has been stricken.  But not only does the Jewish leftist and liberal in Israel suffer from a disease-ridden soul of guilt, he also lacks the courage to act on it by returning his "stolen" land. 

               They wallow; do the leftists and self-proclaimed moralists, in this vomit of guilt, their self-hate growing in proportion to their lack of moral courage.  And so, in a desperate effort to win a crumb of Arab forgiveness and to somehow soothe their own tortured soul, they are compelled to support the Arab position on every issue.  They become trumpets of shrill criticism and attack on the State of Israel, on the Army of Israel, on the People of Israel.  On themselves. They march for the poor "Palestinians," they bleed and weep for the "Palestinians," they demand a homeland for the poor "Palestinians."  "The poor Palestinians?"  Innocent victims of Israeli aggression?

               Land for peace?  By all means.  The Jews who were the victims of countless efforts to destroy them and who are the rightful owners will keep the land and be prepared to graciously give the murderous Arabs peace.

               And above all, no guilt!  What causes a Jewish people that has suffered thousands of dead and tens of thousands of wounded and maimed at the hands of the Arabs, fail to understand that they are a cruel enemy, bent on destroying Israel and decimating the Jews?  What causes Jews who see the brutality and treachery and viciousness with which Arabs massacre each other, refuse to see what our fate would be if we would be so mad as to give them the slightest opportunity to do to us what they dream to do to us? Above all, what makes a Jewish people that has only one land and has returned to that land, to feel guilty over it and to accept the myth of a "Palestine" and a "Palestinian people?"

               There are no Palestinian people and there is no Palestine!  There is not, there never was, and please G-d, there will never be.

               If something is really yours – you leap upon it, you proclaim it so and you take very step possible to insure that it will be yours forever.  If you do not, then your pious speeches about ownership will be met with doubt and disbelief.  And on the other hand, when the other side – the Arabs – daily, hourly, and loudly, And proclaim that the land is "Palestine" what the world sees is an apparent choice between Arabs who claim that the land is theirs and who fight and die for it, and Jews who keep a "status quo" which is nothing more than "the occupied territories." 

What do we expect from any objective person?


See you tomorrow

Love Yehuda Lave
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