Rabbi Akiva spoke up: "Suffering can be precious" (Sanhedrin 101a).
Rabbi Akiva made this point when he and a group of colleagues visited their revered teacher, Rabbi Eliezer, who was gravely ill. When all the other students heaped abundant praise on Rabbi Eliezer, he turned a deaf ear to them. Only Rabbi Akiva's remark elicited a response. "Let me hear what my son Akiva has to say," he said.
When we have our health and full capacities, we can do countless things and make all kinds of choices. This personal freedom gives life so much of its meaning. But if we are gravely ill and bedridden, and disease has drained all of our energies, we can do virtually nothing and are no longer free to make any choices. This loss of personal freedom can be felt as a loss of our very humanity.
Rabbi Eliezer, in his state of severe illness, felt that his loss of freedom had cost him his human identity. His students' praises were empty to him, for even a glorious past could not give him the freedom of choice so vital to his being.
Rabbi Akiva pointed out that he still had one choice: a choice of attitude. Although all other choices had been taken from him, Rabbi Eliezer could still choose to either accept his suffering with serenity, or swallow it with bitterness. Rabbi Akiva had restored his freedom to him.
Today I shall ... ...
realize that even when many things in my life are not subject to change, how I accept them is a freedom that no one can take from me.
Love Yehuda Lave
Israel (Jerusalem) Aquarium
The gang takes a tour to the new Israel Aquarium in the Jerusalem Zoo. Very nice and we had a good time in a two hour tou
UC Berkeley Offers Class in Erasing Jews From Israel, Destroying Jewish State
The campus of the University of California, Berkeley. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.
I, for one, am not upset that the University of California, Berkeley is offering an anti-Israel course so biased that it mocks the very purpose of a university.
Typically, in the leftist-dominated university, the prevailing paradigm of the Arab-Israeli conflict is that Israel is the last bastion of British imperialism and needs to be eradicated, with every Jew either thrown into the sea or sent back to Europe, even if their families have been living in the land of Israel for 1,000 years.
Most university courses on the conflict hide this from public view.
So, the new course offering at Berkeley should be praised, not condemned, for publicly announcing that its goal is to explore how Israel might be destroyed. This is incredibly refreshing, a peeling away of the sensitivity and compassionate newspeak that so shelter the reality of universities as cesspools of leftist propaganda.
And who better to be the faculty sponsor of the course than Cal's own Dr. Hatem Bazian. In the current environment at Cal, Bazian is the poster child for what an academic should be, a person who departs from the norms of dispassionate scholarship and replaces them with the Marxist vision of praxis, the unity of theory and practice.
Bazian has impeccable credentials for this role, credentials earned not by merely sitting through preliminary examinations and writing a scholarly dissertation, but through his activism. Bazian is co-founder of the militant Students for Justice in Palestine, an organization so virulently anti-Israel that it can shut down any speaker it disagrees with on almost any campus even before you could enunciate the monosyllabic word "Jew."
Bazian is a street orator whose disgust with America is such that he called for an American Intifada. He is a major supporter of the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, and a one-time fundraiser for KindHearts, which the US government shut down for its alleged ties to the terrorist organization Hamas.
Bazian denies he is an antisemite, but he blocked the appointment of a Jewish student to San Francisco State University's Student Judicial Council on the grounds that the individual supported the State of Israel and was thus a racist by definition. Of course, in contrast, Bazian's support of the terrorist organization Hamas would be considered an embrace of social justice.
In public lectures, Bazian refers to the modern-day Palestinians as the descendants of the Philistines. The historical basis of this is nonexistent. The Philistines were an Aegean people related to the Ancient Greeks and bore the phenotypic characteristics of a tall, fair-skinned people. Bazian himself resembles the Philistines with the same proximity as Hitler, Goering, and Goebbels represented the Aryan superman, who was as blond as Hitler, as slim as Goering, and as tall as Goebbels.
So the new course will simply be the same themes with a different font. The students who enroll in it will already be true believers in the Palestinian point of view. Serious students, even serious pro-Palestinian students, tend to be dismissive of intellectual nonsense.
Because universities grant great license to what passes for scholarship today and there is neither so much as a pretense of objectivity nor a concern for it, the new pro-Palestinian course will be indistinguishable from so many other indulgences in propaganda that dominate the liberal arts and social sciences. And this colors not just the study of the Middle East specifically or international relations generally but also scores of subjects that are defined in terms of simple categorical concepts, such as class, race, and gender. All of these are subsumed under the broader category of oppression studies. And from the perspective of oppression studies, America really is the Great Satan.
The world is divided between the oppressed and the oppressor. This paradigm is so integral to the contemporary university that it is difficult to find liberal arts and social science faculty that do not subscribe to it.
Interestingly, there is an entire curriculum of the oppressed that looks at society and through the prism of the people on the bottom of the social system and fantasizes about a society in which hierarchical relations do not occur. The reality is that all societies from time immemorial have been built on hierarchical relationships.
Outrage over courses is pointless and a waste of time. There are whole departments and curricula that are equally if not more worthy of outrage.
But good will come of this. Since there are no constraints on what universities do, they are increasingly moving toward the extremes. In doing this, they undermine their own legitimacy and their bogus claims of serving a societal good or promoting civic virtue.
Eventually, such a system will collapse because the larger society will recognize that it is paying for its own delegitimation and destruction through courses that view America and Western Civilization as the roots of all evil in the world.
Nothing will save the American university system faster than more Hatem Bazians calling for an American intifada while flashing their academic credentials and indulging in myth making.
The greater the outrage, the sooner we will reach that point. What we need is a lot more courses rooted in propaganda, speakers prevented from speaking, simple-minded concepts to explain complex problems, and the continual undermining of the very idea of a university.
Abraham H. Miller is an emeritus professor of political science, University of Cincinnati, and a distinguished fellow with the Haym Salomon Center. Follow him @salomoncenter. This article was originally published by The Observer.
Whoa! Crete Has Never Looked So Stunning...
If you've never visited any of the Greek islands then you have no idea what you're missing out on. To give you a little bit of inspiration, below you'll find a stunning video which shows you all of the highlights of Crete. Trust us, after watching this video, you'll want to book a flight to Greece!
Ever wonder why we exist?Ever wonder why there is a world? Instead of nothing?Ever wonder what it's all about? Is there a reason? Meaning? Hope?Well, I've heard a fascinating answer in the form of a parable from the ancient sages:Kindness appeared before G-d and said, "Why are You not kind?"Whereupon G-d created our souls.The parable continues:Kindness appeared a second time before G-d and said, "Why are You still not kind?"Then G-d hid himself and created this world.The explanation of the parable:G-d had a desire to be kind. But to whom could He be kind? He was the only being in existence. So He created our souls. Our souls had a tremendous pleasure just being in G-d's presence. But our souls could not be kind. Just spiritual beings, they could not do anything.So our souls experienced, "the bread of shame." When a person only takes and never gives, he experiences this shame. When a person lives exclusively on charity from others, without earning anything, he experiences this shame. So our souls said, "We also want to be kind."That is when G-d hid Himself and created this world, putting our souls in bodies, so we can be kind. We can be kind to one another. We can be kind to G-d. And that allows G-d to be kind to us, without being shamed, fulfilling His original desire for creating the world. As it says in the Book of Psalms, "the world was created by (or for or through) kindness."G-d created each of us with a spiritual side and an animal side. Our spiritual side is inclined to leave this world, to return to supernal spiritual worlds from which we came. Our animal side is inclined toward the pleasures of this world. Both inclinations are misguided. The objective is for the spiritual side to control the animal side to work to make this physical world a better, holier place.The world, from the time of creation, has traveled through a number of phases. The current phase is considered the penultimate. All three of the so-called major religions, teach that the ultimate phase will be ushered in by a man sent by G-d who is known as the Messiah. The ultimate phase of this world is the messianic era.The ancient prophets of thousands of years ago envisioned a time when -- to use their words –"people will not learn war any more" that means that people will have learned to control their animalistic emotions and desires. We will feel good about helping each other. That is a result of people learning of G-d's kindness, so that we do not feel the "bread of shame." We will not accept all this pleasure from God without doing something –anything- to earn it.From these lessons, we can understand socialism and its popularity, especially among young people. The theme of socialism is based on, "from each according to his ability; to each according to his need." Truly that is a wonderful ideal. In fact, that is what we expect and hope for every day. It is a description of how things will be in the messianic era.The problem is that in this phase of the world, socialism does not work. The reason is ego. If someone works hard and succeeds financially, he will typically want to share his fortune with those less fortunate. But if the government takes away (too much of) his fortune and gives it to poor people who may be poor because they are lazy, his ego tells him that is not fair. He feels cheated, not charitable. And rightly so.And at the same time, the poor people getting government handouts, know that they have not earned their sustenance. They may be pleased, but will ultimately be ashamed, resentful and indignant. Our youth tend to be impatient. They demand simplistic answers. It is difficult for them to wait for the messianic era to start. And they may be tempted to try to rush things, even resorting to violence. Their enthusiasm and energy must be carefully guided in productive avenues that will benefit society and help bring the long-awaited messianic era in reality!
See you tomorrow
Love Yehuda Lave
Rabbi Yehuda Lave
2850 Womble Road, Suite 100-619, San Diego United States