Yehuda Lave is an author, journalist, psychologist, rabbi, spiritual teacher and coach, with degrees in business, psychology and Jewish Law. He works with people from all walks of life and helps them in their search for greater happiness, meaning, business advice on saving money, and spiritual engagement.
I have the day off and my wife is busy, anyone for going on the free train to Tel Aviv and joining me for a bike ride on the Yarden River in Tel Aviv? Call me 058-5043210
A man has joy in the utterance of his mouth, and a word at the right time, how good it is (Proverbs 15:23)
As a rule, silence is golden, and generally we do not regret having held our peace. But exceptions exist to every rule, and sometimes not saying the proper thing is wrong.
We often keep silent because we do not know what to say. Especially in cases where others have suffered great personal losses, what can we say? Every conceivable remark seems so inadequate.
Not only do we tend to remain silent, but the awkwardness of keeping silent may cause us to avoid the discomfort of such a situation. Suppose we hear that an acquaintance lost a child in a traffic accident or to a serious illness. What can we say? It is one thing to pay a condolence call to someone who has lost a parent and say, "Please accept my sympathies." It is the way of the world that parents die before their children. These words are so empty, however, to grieving parents who have lost a child. Since we do not know what to say, we may simply avoid the bereaved family and thereby add loneliness to their suffering.
May God spare us all from such experiences. But if, God forbid, we have heard of a tragedy, we should not stay away or keep silent. If we feel another's pain, we should not hesitate to say so. "I feel along with you" are simple words, and when said in sincerity, can support distressed spirits.
Words cannot restore anyone's loss, but there is truth in the adage that "A sorrow shared is halved."
Today I shall ... ... try to be of help to people who are suffering, if only to let them know that I sincerely feel along with them.
Love Yehuda Lave
Arbor Day (Tu Bishvat) Guide for the Perplexed, 2019
Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, "Second Thought: a US-Israel Initiative" January 18, 2019, https://bit.ly/2Fzc3S3 1. The Jewish Arbor Day, Tu Bishvat (ט"ו בשבט) highlights human gratitude for the creation of the fruit-bearing trees. Jewish tradition stipulates a one-sentence-blessing before consuming any fruit.
2. The centrality of trees is reflected by the date of Tu Bishvat, which is during the week when Jews commemorate the receipt of the Torah (the Five Books of Moses), including the Ten Commandments (Exodus chapters 13-17).
3. Tu Bishvat (the 15th day of the month of Shvat – full moon, just like the holidays of Passover, Tabernacles, Purim) is one of the four Jewish New Years:
*The first day of the Jewish month of Nissan - the month of Passover, the Exodus from Egypt and the birth of the Jewish people.
*The first day of the Jewish month of Elul – the tithing of cattle during the days of the ancient Temple.
*The first day of the Jewish month of Tishrei – Rosh Hashanah.
*Tu Bishvat, the 15th day of the Jewish month of Shvat (January 21, 2019), whose zodiac is Aquarius (water bucket in Hebrew, דלי), is the New Year of the trees, highlighting the rejuvenation of trees. The cold, rainy season is winding down, sap starts to rise and fruit begins to ripen. Israel's Legislature (the Knesset) was established on Tu Bishvat 1949.
4. The Hebrew word for tree – Etz (עצ) - is the root of the Hebrew words for independence (עצמאות), strength/viability (עוצמה), substantial (עצום), identity/selfhood (עצמיות), essence (עצם) and bones (עצמות).
5. Another Hebrew word for tree is Ilan (אילן), whose Hebrew root is ,איל which means (in Hebrew) awesome/mogul as well as the majestic Ram. The first and third letters (אל) mean God and the second letter (י) is an acronym for God. The Hebrew spelling for the rugged, Biblical terebinth and oak tree is אלה and אלון, both starting with the two letters, אל (God in Hebrew).
6. According to Deuteronomy 20:19/20: "When you besiege a city... you shall not destroy its trees….; for you may eat from them, and you shall not cut them down, since the human-being is a tree of the field… Only the trees which you know are not fruit trees you shall destroy and cut down…." Psalms 1:3 states: "He shall be like a tree planted by the brooks of water, that brings forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he does shall prosper."
7. Human-beings are better off emulating trees: deep roots and a strong trunk to grow and withstand threats and challenges; humility; extending shade and fruit to the needy; long-term thinking; patience in face of adversity.
8. Proverbs 3:18 refers to the Torah as "the tree of life to those who cleave to it." The Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge are mentioned in Genesis 2:9 (the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden).
9. Trees were created on the third day of Creation, the only day which was blessed twice by God (Genesis 1:11). Leviticus 19:23 stipulates: "When you come to the Land, you shall plant fruit trees."
10. Tu Bishvat is not mentioned in the Bible, but in the Mishnah – the collection of Jewish oral laws, compiled by Rabbi Yehudah HaNassi, the Chief of the Sanhedrin (Judiciary and Legislature) around 200 AD.
11. The almond tree, which blossoms earlier than most trees/fruit, ushers in Tu Bishvat. The almond tree commemorates the rods of Moses and Aharon (the symbol of shepherds' authority), which were endowed with miraculous power during the Ten Plagues which afflicted Pharaoh, the ensuing Exodus and the Korach rebellion against Moses.
12. On Tu Bishvat, it is customary to eat - for the first time - fruit of the new season, particularly the 30 types of fruit growing in the Land of Israel, while maximizing happiness and minimizing sorrow.
Top Jewish Stories of 2018--a little warning-Author is a Rabbi and Comedian
2018 was an amazing year. Even for the Jews. Let's look back at some of the top Jewish Stories of 2018
JEWISH ENTERAINMENT & FOODJewish Music
Another Jewish a cappella group started up this year and also wrote a Chanukah song to somebody else's' tune.
The Maccabeats and the YStuds are not enough. The Jewish community will not be complete until each one of their boys is singing in an a cappella troupe. It is important that these kids have a chance to be part of a band with no instruments. A cappella is the perfect outlet for the non-musically-capable to express themselves and to not have to write original music. As it happens, I was speaking with the human beatboxer's parents. The naches that they expressed for their child who refused to take drum lessons was such a joy to see.
The Chasiddic world of Jewish music also wrote a great new song with the lyrics "Nay Nay Nay."
The Great Pastry Scare of 2018
The biggest blow to the American Jewish community almost led to a mass American Aliyah. It was rumored that Entenmann's was going to lose its kosher certification. Without that, Jews would be left without very dense chocolate hardened sponge cake donuts. Thank God, news reports are indicating that the certification will remain, and people will be able to still purchase pastries that do not go bad, ever. Do not worry, Jewish life is still a joy in America, you can hold off on grocery shopping.
There were also rumors that Temp Tee cream cheese was going out of business. Our people did not allow for that, as we insisted that it still spreads better on Matzah than Philadelphia whipped soft cream cheese.
COMMUNITY Single Population Went Up
Yes. The Jewish singles crisis is getting worse. Jewish singles are pushing off marriage for as long as they can. It appears that the average age of a Jewish first marriage is now 55.
A New Year's resolution you should probably make: "I will do a better job with my marriage, so that it doesn't look like an extremely painful incident. I will not yell at my kids in shul or around single people. We will only express our oppression and suffering to our married friends."
Record Attendance in Jewish Day Schools
Rising tuition costs are paradoxically drawing in more students. This is perfect. Now Jewish schools will be able to hire more principals. Each Jewish child deserves their own principal.
There is still a Building Fund at the Shul
The thermometer is still standing right at the entrance of the chapel. This year, the shul's fever went up to two million dollars.
The idea behind this very exciting initiative is to encourage Shabbat observance around the Jewish world once a year. Having to do it every week was not working, so the South African Jewish community decided we should only do it once a year. Low expectations is the key to success.
Now, thanks to the Shabbat Project, one day per year there are more challahs being made than ever before in the history of humanity.
More Jewish Families than Ever Attended Pesach Hotels
Jews are no longer willing to clean their homes. The thought of cleaning is scarier than ever. So in 2018 the Jewish people have decided that they are willing to spend $15,000 for eight days rather than being forced to sweep their kitchen.
Sukkot Decorations Were the Same Ones As Last Year
We all used the same paper chain and gourd in our Sukkahs as we did last year. The only thing that changed was my niece's art project. Like last year, it rained and her picture of the 12 tribes got ruined again so it looks more like 12 tribes tie dye.
I Received a Chanukah Gift That Was Not Useful
Just because we are celebrating the same religious event each year doesn't mean we have to give each other the same presents. Mom, enough with the crocheted socks already!
ISRAEL American Embassy Move to Jerusalem
This announcement made some American Jews happy, others angry. Most Israelis were pleased by the move but not me. Don't get me wrong – I am happy the Embassy is in Jerusalem but they moved it to
Talpiot somewhere and I can't find it.
Every day of 2018 Israel was boycotted by another musician, global conglomerate, or random friend of mine living in America.
2019 is sure to bring fewer boycotts on Israel as there are less than three hundred companies worldwide that have not boycotted Israel yet.
Airbnb Boycotts Israel
Now people aren't allowed to sleep in Israel… Wait some people say they rescinded their announcement, others say they didn't rescind. It's like a Talmudic argument. Suddenly, Airbnb's boycott attempt has become very Jewish.
Now, thanks to the Jewish people, fathers in Gaza are bonding with their kids.
That seems to still be a thing. Nothing about 2018 changed their minds.
Direct Flights To Israel from Latin America
We have all been dreaming of this day since the reestablishment of the State of Israel. Finally, you can travel from Israel to almost anywhere in the world and not have to stop in New York. The time of redemption is upon us.
2018 has brought much joy to somebody. I hope that somebody was you. Wishing you the best for 2019!
Rare Kindness: Kidney Donor Rabbi Now Donates His Liver
Among a handful of dual-organ donors, New Jersey rabbi saves a man's life By Menachem Posner
January 1, 2019 4:58 PM Rabbi Ephraim Simon and Adam Levitz after the partial liver transplant that saved Levitz's life.
Adam Levitz, a 44-year-old married father of three, was in liver failure. Things were getting worse and he knew it. On Dec. 20, he received a new liver and a new lease on life. His donor, Chabad Rabbi Ephraim Simon, is one of only a handful of individuals to have ever donated both a kidney and a liver, a procedure most hospitals won't even allow.
The two men had never met until just days before the lifesaving surgery, but Simon says that's exactly what he was looking for.
"As a rabbi, I do a lot of talking about love, doing things for others and altruism," says the 50-year-old father of nine who co-directs Chabad of Bergen County in Teaneck, N.J., with his wife, Nechamy. "A rabbi's greatest sermon and a parent's greatest lecture is the way they live their lives," says the rabbi, who is still in Cleveland for observation following the surgery. "The Rebbe imbued his Chassidim with Ahavas Yisrael [love for a fellow Jew]. It's something we all speak about, but how often do we have the opportunity to really set ourselves aside for another? This was my opportunity to do that, and I didn't want to let it go. Adam allowed me to actually give the gift of life, perhaps the greatest chesed, kindness, I can imagine."
The rabbi's route to donation was not an easy one.
It was a circuitous chain of kindness that involved many, most notably Chaya Lipschutz, a woman from Brooklyn, N.Y., who donated a kidney to a stranger and devoted her life to matching kidney donors and recipients.
Since she had matched him up with the recipient of the kidney he donated in 2009, he approached her again and asked if she was aware of anyone who could make use of his liver.
"Rabbi Simon approached me in 2012 and told me that he wanted to donate a portion of his liver altruistically," says Lipschutz. "That is unique. It is extremely rare for someone to donate a kidney and then a liver, but he was so very motivated to give this gift to someone."
While Lipschutz is aware of two individuals who donated kidneys and then went on to donate their livers to children (who require just a small portion of an adult liver), at the time Simon was the only kidney donor she encountered who wanted to give his liver to an adult.
Nechamy Simon and Stefanie Levitz embrace a few days before the surgery.
Through the introduction of Chanie Wilhelm of Chabad of Milford, Conn., Lipschutz had been aware of Levitz, a resident of Long Island whose parents were leading members of Wilhelm's congregation.
Diagnosed with Crohn's disease at age 15, Levitz was no stranger to pain and medical complications and managed to live a productive life despite the condition, which has no known cure. However, when the disease affected his liver, things got much worse. Levitz had been working in finance until his health prevented him from continuing. "Around nine years ago, the Crohn's caused PSC, short for 'primary sclerosing cholangitis,' and I was hospitalized numerous times in the past three years."
Levitz was placed on a donor registry in several places and had even rushed twice to Philadelphia in the hopes of receiving livers from deceased donors, but both times, his hopes were dashed. In one case, the liver wasn't in good enough condition, and the other was too large.
In retrospect, Levitz reflects, it was all G‑d's hand since his doctors had advised him that he really needed a liver from a living donor.
In the meantime, Simon had his share of false starts as well, prospective liver recipients who turned out not to be suitable for him. "For years, Rabbi Simon kept on hoping that there was someone out there who could use his liver, and he was so grateful every time we thought we found someone," says Lipschutz, who has been making donor-recipient matches since 2005. "He just so wanted to help others."
Through Lipschutz's networking, the shidduch was made, but things were far from simple. As a previous donor, Simon was considered by most hospitals to be high-risk, and so they refused to consider him as a candidate. In addition, donors who do not know their recipients are viewed with suspicion and often categorically rejected on those grounds alone.
Cleveland Clinic's Unique Philosophy Rabbi Ephraim Simon and Adam Levitz meet before the surgery.
The only place in the country they were able to find that would do the surgery for them was Ohio's acclaimed Cleveland Clinic, which has a unique philosophy about working with people to save lives at all costs.
The date for the surgery was set for Dec. 20, but the rabbi had a lot to do before he would be able to check himself into the hospital for several weeks.
"Giving a liver makes donating a kidney look like a walk in the park. With liver donation, the surgery is very invasive and the recovery can take several weeks. It's a very big deal." Since he would be out of commission for the last few weeks of 2018, when he traditionally raises the funds needed to cover the year's operating expenses for his Chabad House, he hustled to get things set up several weeks earlier.
"I could never have done this without key partners," says the rabbi with characteristic humility. "First and foremost is my wife Nechamy, who has been with me throughout both of my donations. It is easier to be in pain than to have to sit there and watch someone you love suffer, so she is the one who deserves to be recognized. Then there are my children who have stepped up to take care of things in our absence. My 22-year-old son and 19-year-old daughter have taken over the household, and knowing that things are running smoothly at home has allowed us to focus on the surgery and recovery. And then there is the community—both our Chabad congregation and the broader Teaneck community—which has rallied around us and supported us with prayers, well wishes and more. And much of my day-to-day work has been taken over by my fellow shliach, youth and teen director Rabbi Michoel Goldin."
Before entering into surgery (the two men were operated in adjoining rooms), Simon and Levitz met for the first time, in an experience both described as "emotional."
The Simons are the proud parents of nine children, some of whom are married. 'He Was a New Person'
However, Simon says the more moving meeting took place two days after the procedure when he was able to see the effect of his gift. "His skin color, the light in his eyes, his movement, everything was new and different," says the rabbi. "You could tell that he was a new person. He was living again, and G‑d had allowed me to be a part of it."
During the procedure, when the doctors opened Levitz and removed his liver, they saw that it was even worse than they had previously estimated. Shrunken and hard, it was failing fast, and if they would have waited even another few days, it was not clear if the surgery would have still been viable.
"I am so thankful to G‑d and to Rabbi Simon, whom I call my guardian angel. He represents everything that I have grown to love and respect about Chabad. He never once asked me how religious I am or anything else. I was a fellow human being, a fellow Jew, and he was happy to be able to help me."
Simon, Levitz and members of Levitz's family gather at the hospital two days after the surgery.
Having grown up affiliated with an Orthodox congregation but not strictly observant, Levitz says many of his family members have recently become involved with Chabad in their hometowns. His youngest son currently attends Hebrew School at Town of Oyster Bay Chabad near his home in Woodbury, N.Y.
Despite his exposure to Chabad rabbis and their open approach, Levitz says he is still trying to "wrap [his] head around the rabbi's thought process. Every time we meet, he tells me how grateful he is for allowing him to save my life. With G‑d's help, I'm going to be able to watch my kids grow up because of the mitzvah he did. He saved me, and here he is thanking me."
n donation is truly overwhelmingly beautiful. The gift of giving a vital life source to another is so unique.
May HaShem bless you all with much love and happiness.
May we all learn from this huge act of loving kindness. Thank you. Reply
Sheina NY January 3, 2019
What an extraordinary example of Ahavas Yisrael. Please note that Rabbi Simon did not donate "a liver" - he donated part of his liver. Reply
Chaya Lipschutz Brooklyn, NY January 2, 2019
Need a kidney or liver donor? I have someone cleared to donate a kidney at Cedar Sinai & UCLA, but unfortunately, her recipient is now not able to have a transplant. If you or someone you know needs a kidney and with either hospital or willing to switch, please let me know. I also have a couple of people who also want to donate part of their liver. If someone needs a liver donor, they can contact me as well. Hopefully more lives will be saved in the future and maybe as a result of the Chabad.org! Thank you Mendy Posner for this great article you wrote! Awesome job!
Thousands flock to pray at grave of Maran HaBa'al HaTanya in Haditch in Ukraine on anniversary of his passing.
Despite the cold and the snow, thousands flocked from last night and until these hours to pray at the grave of Maran Ba'al haTanya in the town of Haditsch in Ukraine on the anniverasry of his passing.
Chabad hassidim headed by Rabbi Shneur Deitsch distributed food and hot and cold drinks as medics volunteered in the medical rescue rescue union to treat those in need. Prayer quorums took place in the Admur HaZaken hall nearby.
United Hatzalah Director Moshe Teitelbaum said: "In any medical emergency at the grave or on the roads leading to the town of Haditch, call 063-800-1221 (local number in Ukraine) and the United Hatzalah will send volunteers who came to Haditch from Israel."
United Hatzalah Ukraine region Director Rabbi Hillel Cohen said: "Emergency vehicles of United Hatzala paramedics arrived in the area on the occasion of the mass influx. Medics are prepared to provide a quick medical response when needed in the coming day."
Uman Express CEO Raphael Touboul says: "Thousands of flights from Israel, Europe, and the United States arrived also this year, with pickups, buses, and Uman Express vehicles transporting worshipers straight to the holy grave of the Ba'al HaTanya in the town of Haditch, to pray at the holy grave of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov in the city of Uman and at graves of other tzaddikim throughout Ukraine."
See you Tomorrow
Love Yehuda Lave
Rabbi Yehuda Lave
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