10 Sacred Texts of Judaism By Menachem Posner and Watch: 600 Holocaust Survivors and Their Families Sing “We Are Alive and German Christians deliver a 265 pound Menorah yesterday and Gooogle celebrates Independence Day
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
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WHAT WERE THE MACCABEES FIGHTING FOR? And what are we risking our lives for today?
It is ironic that Hanukkah is so widely observed in America, because it's not clear that Jews today would side with the Maccabees. The Jews didn't battle the Greeks for political independence and Hanukkah can't be recast as an early-day version of Israel against the Arabs. Hanukkah commemorates a religious war.
The Greeks were benevolent rulers bringing civilization and progress wherever they conquered. They were ecumenical and tolerant, creating a pantheon of gods into which they accepted the deities of all their subjects. Their only demand was acculturation into the melting pot of Greek civilization and religion.
The Jewish community was divided in response to this appeal. Some believed assimilation as a positive and modernizing influence and they welcomed the release from Jewish parochialism. Led by Judah Maccabee was a small group opposed to the Greek ideal, and prepared to fight and die to preserve the exclusive worship of Judaism. (The name "Maccabee" is an acronym for the Torah verse "Who is like You amongst the gods, Almighty.")
This was no war for abstract principles of religious tolerance. It was a battle against ecumenicism fought by people to whom Torah was their life and breath. Would we have stood with the Maccabees or would we too have thought assimilation was the path of the future? Would we fight for Judaism today, prepared to die to learn Torah and to keep Shabbat?
Today we face a crisis of identity as serious as the one confronted 2,500 years ago. Will we survive this century as a religious community or merely as a flavor in the American melting pot? Hanukkah calls to us to combat assimilation and to fight for our heritage.
Besides those who actively supported assimilation there were many who passively acquiesced. What is the use in opposing the force of history, they reasoned. We can't halt assimilation any more than we can stop the tides or the passage of the seasons. Who would be so foolish as to oppose the inevitable? Today, too, there is paralysis before the apparently inevitable progress of assimilation. What chance do we have of convincing our children not to intermarry? Jewish particularism is a past value swept away on the tides of liberalism. With the barriers of anti-Semitism down and the land of opportunity beckoning, the day of cohesive Jewish community seems gone. It's with resignation that we accept the spiraling intermarriage rate which spells our destruction as a people. Not so the approach of the Maccabees.
Remember the end of the story? Finally triumphant, Jews captured Jerusalem and rededicated the Temple. (The word Hanukkah means dedication and refers to this act.) They found just one flask of oil but the flame which should have lasted one day burned for eight as if to testify that our determination was enhanced by some ineffable power suffusing our efforts with transcendent glow and power. Light the candles, says the holiday to us. Act vigorously, teach, reach, courageously and with determination, and God will invest our efforts with a power, a permanence, and a glow, far beyond our capacity to convey.
GOOGLE DOODLE CELEBRATES ISRAEL'S INDEPENDENCE DAY
Google's May 9 Doodle shows an Israeli flag in celebration of Israel Independence Day.
Google is celebrating Israeli independence alongside the Jewish state. On May 9, the search giant changed its homepage Doodle to an Israeli flag. When clicked, it links to news and events taking place throughout the country.
The Doodle came as a bit of a surprise, after last week, the company ignored Holocaust Memorial Day.
The mayor of Ramat Gan, Carmel Shama Hacohen, last week sent a letter to Google Israel asking for the addition of a Doodle to commemorate the solemn day.
"Google makes sure to commemorate far less important occasions, so it is only expected that Google would lower its 'virtual flag' to half-mast and put a picture of a candle in memory of six million Jews," Hacohen wrote.
10 Sacred Texts of Judaism By Menachem Posner
Known as the people of the book, Jews are inextricably bound to the sacred texts of Judaism, ranging from the Biblical canon that dates back to the dawn of our people-hood to the novellae produced by contemporary scholars.
1. Five Books of Moses (Torah) (Photo: Beis Yisroel Torah Gemach)
Often referred to simply as the Torah, especially when in scroll format, the Five Books of Moses are the foundation of Judaism. Until this very day, the text—which was written in Hebrew over 3,000 years ago—has been carefully preserved by the Jewish people. It is also known as the Chumash or Pentateuch (related to the respective Hebrew and Greek words for "five").
As their name indicates, the books were written by Moses, as dictated by G‑d Himself. Jewish people view every letter and nuance as a sacred communication from G‑d, laden with meaning and significance. They contain 613 mitzvahs—Divine commandments which shape the lives of Jewish people everywhere.
The Five Books of Moses are followed by 19 other books which comprise the Writings (Neviim) and Prophets (Ketuvim). Collectively the set is known as Tanach. Each of these books is a treasured revelation of the Divine Wisdom, but one in particular has found a special place in the Jewish heart: the Book of Psalms (Tehillim). Its 150 chapters—compiled by King David—express the deep faith, yearning, and joy that are part and parcel of being a Jew. Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Lubavitch (1789-1866) once said that if we only knew the power of Psalms, how the words break through all barriers and ascend unimpeded to the Heavenly Throne, surely we would recite them all day!
One of the last books added to the Biblical canon is the Book of Esther, also known as the Megillah ("Scroll"). One of five megillahs included in the canon, Esther is the only one commonly read from a handwritten parchment scroll. It tells the dramatic Purim story, in which Queen Esther is the Divinely-placed heroine through whom the Jewish people who live in the sprawling Persian empire are saved from Haman's evil scheme of annihilation.
The Megillah is read twice every Purim, once in the evening and again in the morning.
Moses received the Torah along with the Oral Torah—which unpacks and elucidates the somewhat terse language of Scripture—and a set of laws through which it could be analyzed and expounded.
Throughout the years, the sages developed a body of oral traditions to accompany the laws of the Torah. In the tumultuous years following the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, Rabbi Judah the Prince compiled many of these rabbinic traditions into a wide-ranging text, known as the Mishnah ("repetition" or "learning"). Divided into six "orders" (volumes), the Mishnah is the foundational text of rabbinic law.
5. Talmud A complete set of the Babylonian Talmud. (Photo by Wikimedia)
Over the course of several hundred years, the sages (mostly in Israel and Babylon) studied and analyzed the Mishnah alongside other rabbinic texts (beraiotot) that were not included in the compendium.
In time, this crystalized into two distinct bodies of tradition: the Jerusalem Talmud and the Babylonian Talmud. Spread out over many volumes, the Babylonian Talmud is the most widely studied Jewish text—a labor of love that can take a lifetime.
The traditional Aramaic Talmud text is printed alongside the tightly-packed commentaries of Rashi, Tosafot, and others, each of which adds crucial perspective.
6. Zohar A page of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak's notes on Zohar, written in exile with ink prepared by Rebbetzin Chana. Notice the various colors of this homemade ink.
One of the preeminent sages of the Mishnah was Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai, who flourished in Israel during the era of Roman oppression. He was also a master teacher of the Kabbalah, the "hidden" part of Jewish tradition.
Many of his teachings, especially those from right before he passed away, were collected into the Zohar, an Aramaic text that typically fills three volumes and has been arranged to correspond to the weekly Torah portions.
7. Mishneh Torah The opening of Maimonides' "Mishneh Torah", copied and illuminated in northwestern France. MS Kaufmann 77A, Library of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest. (Photo by Wikimedia)
As rabbis and learned Jews continued to refine and revisit the rulings of the Talmud, the discussions grew so vast and intricate that the average layman could not access practical guidance for day-to-day living (halachah).
To remedy this, Rabbi Moses Maimonides (known as Rambam) compiled what he called Mishneh Torah ("Torah Review"), a clearly organized encyclopedia of halachic rulings culled from all of rabbinic literature. This set the standard and formed a platform for many important rabbinic works to follow.
As part of a unifying effort to master the entire Torah, many study Mishneh Torah (or its companion, Sefer Hamitzvot) on an annual or tri-annual cycle.
8. Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law) The first page of the Shulchan Aruch, printed in Venice during the lifetime of the author.
Known in Hebrew as Shulchan Aruch ("Set Table"), the Code of Jewish Law provides day-to-day instructions extracted from Maimonides' code and other commentaries. It was written by Rabbi Yosef Caro (1488-1575), a Sephardic sage who lived in the holy city of Safed in the north of Israel. Shortly after it was published, Rabbi Moshe Isserles, an Ashkenazi rabbi in Krakow, Poland, added glosses in which he notes anytime Ashkenazic tradition differs from Rabbi Caro's rulings.
The unified text became accepted by all segments of the Jewish world; its very name has become synonymous with Jewish law. When one wishes to describe a Jew whose every move is in sync with halachah, one could call him or her a "Shulchan Aruch Yid."
The Jewish prayers were composed by the Anshe Knesset Hagedolah,"Men of the Great Assembly"—a panel of 120 prophets and sages comprising the ultimate religious authority at the onset of the Second Temple Era. In addition to the Amidah ("Silent Prayer") and other compositions, the Jewish prayers include sections of Scripture, notably the Shema and a selection of Psalms.
Since the times of Saadya Gaon (882-942), the Jewish prayers have been recorded in the Siddur (prayerbook). There are thousands of Siddurim on the market, reflecting the different traditions of diverse Jewish communities as well as various styles of translation and layout.
The Chabad Siddur (Nusach Ari) was compiled by the first Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, based on the teachings of the Arizal, the foremost of the renaissance-era Kabbalists.
In modern times, the Siddur is a staple of the Jewish home and the indispensable companion of the observant Jew.
The primary text of Chabad Chassidism's approach to life, the Tanya provides a roadmap to the soul and invaluable advice for maintaining joy, inspiration, and consistency throughout life's challenges. Authored by Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, it is studied by Chabad chassidim on a daily basis.
A group of 11 pro-Israel German Christians left on a boat for Israel Monday, bringing with them a 5-foot, 265-pound gilded menorah. A life-size replica of the Temple lamp, the menorah is traveling from Germany via Rome to the port of Haifa. It will arrive on May 5 and be presented to the public on May 9 at a special ceremony in Jerusalem.
The group of independent Germans, who call themselves simply "The Menorah Project," said they have been working on the piece for a year and a half. They raised 120,000 euros (about half a million shekels) in private donations to fund the initiative.
The full-size replica of the Temple candelabra measuring 150 cm. is being shipped from Germany to Haifa port via Rome to the port of Haifa. It will arrive on May 5, and be presented on May 9 at a ceremony in Jerusalem.
The group of independent Germans, who call themselves simply "The Menorah Project," said they have been working on the piece for a year and a half. They raised €120,000 in private donations to fund the initiative.
"The seven-branched menorah is a symbol of the State of Israel," said Luca-Elias Hezel, who initiated the project. "For us, it is a symbol that speaks louder and more meaningful than all words."
He said the menorah, modeled after the menorah depicted on the Arch of Titus in Rome, is being given to the Jewish people with "a broad heart and in solidarity" and as a gift on Israel's 71st Independence Day.
On its website, the Menorah Project explains its vision: "As the Jewish people need to publicly deal with injustice and robbery, we want to publicly bring back the menorah from Rome to Jerusalem.Today, in Rome, one can still see a replica of the menorah at the Arch of Titus, which serves as a reminder of the Roman Empire's triumph over the Jews in Judea and their conquest of Jerusalem. The Romans destroyed the Jewish Temple in 70 CE.
The robbery, according to the website, symbolically stands for the distance between the early church and its Jewish roots, which ultimately led to what is known as Replacement theology: the idea that God replaced Israel with the Church, and the original Bible (Old Testament) with a new one. Replacement theology is often blamed as the root cause of antisemitism, including the Holocaust.
"The church never returned the holy instruments back to the Jewish people," the Menorah Project explained. "Instead, the church saw itself as the new spiritual Israel… We want to set a statement. We want to accept our failures as a church and set a sign of return. "It is a public statement towards the Jewish people and an act of asking for forgiveness as well," the project continued in a statement.
"The replica of the menorah is not meant to be a cult-object but shall find its place as a memorial in Jerusalem."
A teacher asked her students what religious objects they had in their homes. Little Timmy answered, "We have a picture of a woman with a halo holding a baby and every day my mother kneels in front of it.
"Young Lee said, "We have a brass statue of a man seated with crossed legs and a Chinese face, and every day my parents burn an incense stick before it."
Then a Bereleh piped up, "In the bathroom we have a little platform with numbers on it. Every day my mother stands on it first thing in the morning and screams, "OH MY GOD!!!"
Thomas decided to live his life in service to the Lord. So he went to the nearby monastery to join the Benedictine order of monks there. Thomas was welcomed by Brother John, who gave him a tour of the monastic life. Thomas was excited and eager to join. Brother John laid out the conditions of induction into the order.
Before Thomas would be accepted he would need to complete a 3-year probationary period. During this time, Brother John explained, Thomas would have to strictly adhere to vow of silence and could not communicate in any way with anyone. At the end of each year, Thomas would be allowed to speak only one word. If he passed the 3 year probation satisfactorily, he would be become a full brother of the order.
Thomas, thinking, what is such a small sacrifice for service to the Lord, agreed and began his 3 year probation. Life is the monastery was calm, and Thomas passed his time with study of the monks and Benedictine order. Then, about halfway through the first year he ran out of toothpaste. What could he do? He had to suffer with nasty breath and teeth until when the year was up he was allowed to speak his one word for the year:"Toothpaste" he said. The other brothers understood and brought him some toothpaste.
The second year started well, but he popped a button off his tunic, and it let the cold air of winter in, chilling him to the bone. Finally the second year was up and his chance to say his one word. Thomas said, "Button." The bothers understood and sewed a new button on his tunic.
During his last year, Thomas thought he was in the home stretch and all would be fine when the buckle on his sandal broke and made a clanking sound whenever he walked. The noise worried Thomas, who was naturally humble and self-conscious. At last the 3rd year of his probation ended, and he spoke his one word, "Buckle." The bothers understood and fixed the buckle on his sandal. As it was the end of his probation, Thomas was brought before the council of monks where they reviewed his record.
After some deliberation and whispered discussion, Brother John looked at Thomas and said: "Well Thomas, we're afraid that you are not a good fit here. We've decided that you have failed your probation." Thomas was crestfallen. He'd done everything they wanted without error, and took great pleasure in the pious service of the Lord. Thomas pleaded, "Why?" Brother John looked at him and said, "The problem is, all you ever do is complain."
An English, Chinese, American and Mexican Guy climbed up Everest...They decide to sacrifice some things from their country in appreciation to God for having achieved their dream of arriving at the summit. as they are overflowing with these specific things. The English man grabs some tea and pours it off and says ' I have too much of this in my country' The Chinese takes a sack of rice and tosses it over and says "I have too much of this in my country". the Arab throws a bag of Hashish over and says ' I have too much of this in my country' and finally the Israeli grabs the Arab and throws him off and says ' I have too much of this in my country'.
ONE LINERS What is the difference between New Age and Pagan? Around $500.00 a weekend.
What is the definition of a saint? A dead liberal who is worshiped by living conservatives.
My deity ignored my prayers today. The sacrifice was a disaster. First, I didn't have the correct incantation, and then the goat knocked over the candles. I guess two wrongs don't make a rite
My wife cooks dinner for me. She treats me like a god........Everything is either burnt offerings or a bloody sacrifice.
My body is a temple. It requires frequent animal sacrifice.
You can safely assume you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do."
Watch: 600 Holocaust Survivors and Their Families Sing "We Are Alive
Abba's Rejects 10 Billion Dollars To Accept US Peace Dea
According to a report by the Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar, the Saudi Crown Prince reportedly offered the Palestinians $ 1 billion a year over 10 years, and provide approximately 4 billion dollars extra to expand control and support economic development in the West Bank's Areas B and C
The Palestinian leader reportedly rejected the offer by saying it would "mean the end of my political life".
"If you continue to pressure us, we will be forced to dissolve the Palestinian Authority and Israel will have to bear all the consequences," Abbas said.
See you Sunday
Rabbi Yehuda Lave
2850 Womble Road, Suite 100-619, San Diego United States