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
Sins that are between a man and his fellow man are not forgiven on Yom Kippur unless he has appeased him (Yoma 85b).
One Sabbath day, the aged Steipler Gaon insisted on going to a particular synagogue some distance away. His family tried to dissuade him because the long walk would be too taxing, but he insisted and in fact made the difficult walk.
The Gaon later explained that some time earlier, he had reprimanded a young boy for putting a volume of the Talmud into the bookcase upside down, which is considered to be disrespectful handling of a sacred book. The boy then showed the Gaon that the volume was bound incorrectly; the cover was upside down, but the book itself was put away upright. The Gaon then apologized to the young boy.
"But because this young boy was not yet bar mitzvah," the Gaon explained, "he was a minor who was unable (according to Jewish law) to grant forgiveness. When I heard that he was to become bar mitzvah this Sabbath, I had to avail myself of the opportunity to obtain proper forgiveness."
Everyone at some point says or does something that offends another person. Too often, we dismiss the incident without giving it a second thought and so are unlikely to remember it so that we will apologize when the opportunity arises. The above incident should help us realize the seriousness of offending a child, and the importance of obtaining proper forgiveness.
Today I shall ... "... try to make amends to anyone whom I have offended, and make certain that I do more than lip service in apologizing.
Love Yehuda Lave
The Rockets from Gaza today began in Oslo
Yehudit Katsover and Nadia Matar
Leftist commentators, its spokesmen and other supporters of withdrawal and concessions hear the sounds of rockets exploding; they see the sights, the spectacle of funerals and frightened residents but they resume their biased positions as if nothing is happening around us. "It's not because of the Disengagement", they say, declaring that "even before the Disengagement there were missiles" presenting data and numbers. The time has come to answer these claims, to put an end to the tendentious information that they serve up to us.
Let us refresh our memories:
Indeed, the attacks of missiles and rockets on the Israeli home front did not begin with the uprooting of Gush Katif. There were such attacks before then, but an examination of the facts from a much earlier time will allow us to come to a true understanding and draw conclusions for the future:
As long as the IDF controlled the entire Gaza Strip there were no missiles. Indeed, in 1987 there was the first Intifada, but the weapons that the Arabs used on us then were stones and sometimes even Molotov cocktails. Nothing more than that. The IDF monitored the roads and had a presence in the cities. The security forces had comprehensive intelligence and many terror attacks were prevented while even in their planning phase. Attempts to smuggle weapons were thwarted. The reason for this is simple: the IDF was there.
And then, instead of putting down the intifada once and for all, some leaders dreamed up withdrawals and concessions with the idea of rewarding the attacker and signed the Oslo Accords. The Gaza-Jericho accord was signed in May 1994, and the IDF left most parts of the Gaza Strip; they withdrew from the cities and the villages except for Gush Katif, Netzarim, Kfar Darom, Eli Sinai and Dugit, and the area was abandoned to the control of the Palestinian Authority.
It began with aging mortars , remember? "Patzmarim" in Hebrew. When the first mortar was launched at Netzarim in January 2001, we deluded ourselves with the sentence "Well – it's just a mortar" but since then, they have only become more sophisticated and we have tied our own hands with the question, "What – are we going to reconquer Gaza?" And we made ourselves powerless. Some of these problems were corrected in Judea and Samaria during Operation Protective Wall, when the IDF presence returned to all of the cities and the villages. In Gaza, on the other hand, there was no such operation. This is the reason that there are no rockets from Judea and Samaria, but from Gaza there are so many.
From then on, the Arabs had the freedom of action and the calm to plan escalation, raising the level, improving their rockets and missiles, arming themselves and organizing their military. No one disturbed them. The first rockets were primitive; they were much less destructive and less accurate, but step by step the terrorists improved and the rockets began to reach the communities of Gush Katif and later to Sderot and even further.
Even these painful signals did not arouse the Israeli leadership and did not cause it to change its policy. Then came the Disengagement plan and the uprooting of the communities of Gush Katif and northern Samaria with the delusional and baseless hope that the enemy would turn the Strip into a Singapore of the Middle East. The withdrawal of the IDF from the Strip gave the Arabs of Gaza even more freedom of action. Hamas brutally and violently took over the leadership of the Gaza Strip from the PA and expedited the development of rockets and missiles to the present situation in which they can reach Tel Aviv and its suburbs.
Along with all of this, Hamas' capabilities have grown underground and it began digging terror tunnels many kilometers in length with the aim of carrying out abductions and strategic conquests. In the absence of an Israeli presence in the Strip Hamas caught us off guard and prepared its underground terror.
This is the reality and this is history. Anyone who takes the primitive drizzle of rockets before the Disengagement as proof that it was not the Disengagement that caused the present rounds of disaster we are experiencing, are lying in their souls and deceiving all of us. If the government of Israel had not signed the Oslo Accords and abandoned the Gaza Strip to the terrorists, and if we had not added to this disastrous agreement, a total disengagement from the Gaza Strip, which, as we know, is also part of the Land of Israel - if we had then already applied our full sovereignty over Gaza, we would not have come to the difficult situation in which we are now.
Now, shortly before Trump's plan is publicized, we must remember the facts and acknowledge them and internalize the fact that peace and security will only be brought about by Israeli control of the entire territory. Abandoning any territory to Arab rule will bring about more and much more destructive rockets, this time from the hills of Samaria to Gush Dan, Jerusalem and more.
(Our thanks to historian Hagai Huberman for refreshing our memory with the dates)
Women In Green For Israel's Tomorrow.
Grandson of Mengele Twin Moves to Israel and is a Paratrooper in the IDF
Eva Slonim was a victim of Mengele's horrific experiments in Auschwitz. Her grandson Ronen's revenge is proudly defending the Jewish People.
When Eva Slonim was a 12 year old girl, she was tortured by the notorious Josef Mengele in Auschwitz. Stories of her harrowing years in the Shoah and her defiant path to rebuilding her life after the war left an indelible mark on her grandson Ronen. Last year, at age 24, Ronen left his comfortable life in Melbourne Australia and moved to Israel where he is serving in the Paratrooper unit. From his army base where he is mid-way through advanced combat training, Ronen spoke to Aish.com about his life, his decisions and the relationship with his grandmother that has guided him every step of the way.
I knew my grandmother had a story to tell
Growing up in the leafy Melbourne neighborhood of Caulfield, one of five siblings, Ronen says he was in his teens when he first understood his grandmother Eva had an important story to tell. "We lived nearby," he says, "I would visit every Shabbat and usually during the week as well. We talked about our lives, what was going on during the week. Sometimes, as Shabbat was drawing to an end and we were sitting together, she would open up about some of the things she went through."
Eva Slonim, 88, was born Eva Weiss in 1931 to a religious Jewish family in the Slovakian capital Bratislava, then a major city in Czechoslovakia. Her father owned a successful textile business, she attended a Jewish day school and enjoyed happy times in what was then one of Europe's thriving Jewish communities. The second oldest of five children when Hitler rose to power, Bratislava was part of a protectorate which aligned itself to Nazi Germany. Amid a steady rise of anti-Semitic legislation and attacks, she witnessed her brother assaulted in broad daylight and her grandfather's front teeth knocked out when officials stormed into their family home. Her father was also arrested with no reason given, released two weeks later for a heavy ransom which her mother managed to pay.
Understanding that things were only getting worse, the Weiss family separated and went into hiding, but their former nanny betrayed them. Eva was 12 in 1943 when she and her younger sister Martha, were deported to Auschwitz.
Nightmare as a Mengele twin
Guards at Auschwitz had specific instructions to pull identical twins from the crowds of confused arrivals at the camp. Although escaping the immediate death sentence that awaited most others deemed useless to the Nazi regime, these children were to become human guinea pigs at the disposal of the notorious Dr. Joseph Mengele.
Although three years older than Martha, Eva looked very similar to her younger sister and they were pulled aside. It was under Mengele's cruel watch that she sustained a series of often daily examinations and injections leaving her weak and ill, as the so-called medical team at Auschwitz noted the daily effects of their tests on her. Never told the reasons of what was being done to her, she saw other inmates fall sick and die around her, never knowing what the next day would bring. On one occasion her number was called and she had four bottles of blood removed, leaving her already frail body on the brink of collapse and even more exposed to disease.
Eva and her sister (center) united with other survivors pictured on their liberation
By the time of her liberation she was suffering from tuberculosis, typhoid and dysentery. Together with her sister she was one of ten children photographed behind barbed wire by the Soviets as they liberated the camp on January 27 1945. It was to become an iconic image, which Yad Vashem later recreated, bringing together Eva, her sister and the other surviving children pictured beyond the barbed wire.
A member of Bnei Akiva, a Zionist youth movement from age six, Eva has said that even during her most difficult experiences a great love of the land of Israel kept her alive. "It gave me enormous hope and aspiration to the future. It was something I could really cling to."
She made a pact with God after seeing the horrific state of the inmates on her arrival to the camp. "I saw women standing against a barbed wire fence looking emaciated," she said in testimony. "They looked more like caged animals than humans." Terrified that she would become one of the inhuman mass of bodies she was looking at, Eva turned heavenward, "One day, I will have a large family and try and rebuild all that has been destroyed," she said, "But only if you don't deprive me of my feelings."
After being liberated, both sisters were reunited with their parents, moving to Australia, far away from Europe's blood-soaked shores. It was there that Eva kept her part of the promise.
In 1953, aged 22, she married Ben Slonim, and together they set about raising a family built on the strong Jewish values Eva had remembered from her own childhood. "We joined my grandparents every Friday night," Ronen says, "The Shabbat meals were full of singing and there was always a warm atmosphere. Judaism played a central role in our family."
Before going into hiding, Eva's father had buried a Torah scroll the family had owned. He managed to dig it up after the war and take it with him to Melbourne. "Every simcha the family had," Ronen says, "we would read from it in the synagogue. It still gives my grandmother great joy to hear one of her grandson's read from it."
"My grandparents had a big influence on me when I was growing up," Ronen says. "It was quite difficult to hear the things that she had been through," recalling that he sometimes woke up with nightmares. "The stories of how she managed to stay connected to her Judaism also had a big effect on the way I saw Israel and the heavy role in its importance," he adds.
He visited Israel with his family to mark his bar mitzvah. "It was a very special experience," he says, "especially to be there with my grandparents. There were lots of family and close friends there, and I read from a Torah scroll at the Western Wall."
Dreaming of aliyah
After finishing school, Ronen returned to Israel, this time to pursue his Jewish studies at the Har Etzion yeshiva south of Jerusalem where his love of Torah learning grew alongside his desire to one day make Israel his home.
"It was something I thought a lot about then," he says but shelved for a few years as he returned to Australia to complete a degree in Economics at the University of Melbourne.
Ronen with his aunt and grandparents
"I'd always thought that if I made aliya I would also serve in the army," he said. "But I was getting close to my mid-twenties." Realizing he was running out of time if he wanted to join a combat unit, it was Seder night during a family trip to Israel in 2017, when things finally crystalized. "It was the moment I knew that Israel was where I belonged," he said. "I told myself, enough, I'm going to do this."
Finding it hard to break the news to his mother, he wrote her a letter. "It was the easiest way to express it," he said, adding that the decision was made harder because his father had passed away when he was just 14. "She was very supportive," he said, adding, "Melbourne is a great place to live. I just wanted to be a part of what I saw and felt in Israel."
Telling his grandmother he was leaving Australia was one of the hardest things Ronen says he has had to do. "We are very close; even now we speak every week and catch up. She is a big supporter of Israel and after everything she went through she is very proud to have a grandson serving in the army."
Joining the paratroopers
When he made known his plan to volunteer two years in a combat unit where he would be five years older than his commanding officers, Ronen recalls there were many naysayers. "'You won't cope being told what to do by 18 year olds,' people told me. But it hasn't been further from the truth," he says. "I have really bonded with the soldiers around me."
Ronen with his younger brother.
The only lone soldier in his unit, Ronen says, "It is immensely satisfying and meaningful to be here. It is an honor to be serving in the IDF. I am privileged to be able to play a small part in protecting the Jewish People. When there are tough moments, I just have to remind myself of that."
One of a handful of religious soldiers in his unit, he is given time to pray three times a day in accordance and says he always finds times to study Torah every day. "When we are on the base, I can do a little more, and when we are out in more rugged terrain, I may do a little less, but I always learn. It's become an essential part of me which I couldn't be without."
Looking up at the stars.
"One thing that has always stuck in my mind from my grandmother's experience," Ronen says, "was something her father told her before they separated to go into hiding. 'Who knows long it will be before we can speak to each other again,' he told her. 'Every night, look at the stars and speak to them. Tell them your worries, speak about your day, what's on your mind, and I'll also look to the stars, and will do the same. This way we'll stay in contact.'"
Those words, "Gazing at the stars" would later become the title of Eva Slonim's memoir, a chilling and inspiring account of her life before, during and after the Holocaust. The words have also left their mark on Ronen.
"When I'm training at night, trekking through terrain," he says, "I often also look up at the stars. Sometimes I think about my grandmother and what she described, sometimes I think about my father and my family, and sometimes I just pinch myself wonderidng if this is all real. I am living a dream serving in the Israeli army."
AS HEARD FROM RABBI AVIGDOR MILLER Z'TL
"You shall be holy for I Hashem Your G-d am holy". 19:2 Fundamentally this means: ' Think as I Think'. The most important part of the personality is the mind. Therefore we can most effectively emulate the holiness of Hashem by means of emulating His thoughts.
Everything in the Torah is an example of Hashem's thoughts, as He wishes us to think. Therefore we study His words in order to acquire (what He shows us to be) His attitudes. He regards Man as "the image of G-d" (Beresheet 1:27), and we should train our minds to think likewise. He considers the people of Israel as His sons (Devarim 14:1), and we must gain that same attitude.
He desires kindliness (Shemot 36:6; Michah 7:18) and so should we. He hates immorality (Sanhedrin 93A), and so should we. He considers His world as "Very Good" (Beresheet 1:31), and so should we. "And before a blind man you shall not put a stumbling-block" 19:14 Even unintentionally.
Thus this verse admonishes against leaving objects in places where persons could be caused to fall, or leaving small objects or medicines that little children may ingest. At night, all people are unable to see the stumbling block which you leave on the sidewalk.
This Mitzvah includes the countless ways by which men cause hazards to the safety of their fellowmen. Carelessness is not excused, and a man is answerable for whatever harm he causes to others & their property by his negligence or breach of circumspection. Included in this is the matter of wrong advice. Just as the unthinking man is held responsible for casting a fruit peel on the sidewalk, so is he held responsible for careless advice that could be a stumbling block, even worse than a peel on the street. Quoted from "A Kingdom of Cohanim" by Rabbi Avigdor Miller ZT'L
What Is Lag BaOmer?
Lag BaOmer, the 33rd day of the Omer count—this year, May 23, 2019—is a festive day on the Jewish calendar. It is celebrated with outings (on which children traditionally play with bows and arrows), bonfires, parades and other joyous events. Many visit the resting place (in Meron, northern Israel) of the great sage and mystic Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, the anniversary of whose passing is on this day.
Lag BaOmer is always on the 18th day of the month of Iyar. So what's up with the name? The word "Lag" is made of of the Hebrew letters lamed (ל) and gimel (ג), which together have the numerical value of 33. "BaOmer" means "of the Omer." The Omer is the counting period that begins on the second day of Passover and culminates with the holiday of Shavuot, following day 49.
Hence Lag BaOmer is the 33rd day of the Omer count, which coincides with 18 Iyar. What happened on 18 Iyar that's worth celebrating?
What We Are Celebrating Bonfires are a traditional Lag BaOmer feature.
Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, who lived in the second century of the Common Era, was the first to publicly teach the mystical dimension of the Torah known as the Kabbalah, and is the author of the classic text of Kabbalah, the Zohar. On the day of his passing, Rabbi Shimon instructed his disciples to mark the date as "the day of my joy."
The chassidic masters explain that the final day of a righteous person's earthly life marks the point at which all their deeds, teachings and work achieve their culminating perfection and the zenith of their impact upon our lives. So each Lag BaOmer, we celebrate Rabbi Shimon's life and the revelation of the esoteric soul of Torah.
Lag BaOmer also commemorates another joyous event. The Talmud relates that in the weeks between the Jewish holidays of Passover and Shavuot, a plague raged among the disciples of the great sage Rabbi Akiva (teacher of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai), "because they did not act respectfully towards each other." These weeks are therefore observed as a period of mourning, with various joyous activities proscribed by law and custom. On Lag BaOmer the deaths ceased. Thus, Lag BaOmer also carries the theme of loving and respecting one's fellow(ahavat Yisrael).
Since this is the day of joy of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, there are major festivities in Meron, the mountain village in northern Israel where he is buried, with tens of thousands of pilgrims pouring in from all corners of the world to rejoice together in unity. Read more about Meron.
The mourning practices of the Omer period (see above) are lifted for this day. As a result:
music is playing and people are singing and dancing with abandon.
little boys who turned three during the Omer period but did not have their first haircut (upsheren) due to the mourning laws, have them today, often at Meron.
weddings are held.
Recognizing the fiery spirit of the mystical teachings that are celebrated today, bonfires are kindled. Get some friends (and a guitar) together, and it becomes a wonderful opportunity for singing, sharing and enjoying each other's camaraderie.
Beginning in the 1950s, the seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, encouraged Jewish children to join together in grand Lag BaOmer parades as a show of Jewish unity and pride. Held in front of the Lubavitch World Headquarters in Brooklyn, New York, the parades attracted—and still attract—thousands of children from all walks of life.
In 1980 the Rebbe gave instructions that Lag BaOmer parades and children's rallies should take place not only in New York, but across the world, especially in Israel. Thousands of children participated in the tens of rallies that took place that year, and to this day, Chabad organizes hundreds of Lag BaOmer parades around the world every year.
A 1992 Lag BaOmer parade outside the iconic portico of the Moscow Choral Synagogue in the center of the city. Chabad's Jewish day school was housed at the Moscow Choral Synagogue until space ran out in 1993. Links for More on Lag BaOmer