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
A Lack In Perspective
Some people make themselves sad over trivial matters. Any objective observer will look on in amazement.
This person had the ability to live his life with feelings of happiness, since he truly does have what he needs.
Yet he feels miserable because of minor and unimportant things. He views what he is missing as extremely important -- and what he does have pales in comparison! He even thinks that life is not worth living without what he's presently missing!
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TZITZIT - Buy One, Get 613 by Rabbi Ephriam Sprecher
"When You see the TZITZIT, you will remember all the Mitzvot of G-d, in order to perform them" (Bamidbar 15:39).
Rashi comments on this verse that the GEMATRIA of the word TZITZIT equals 600, and eight strings of the TZITZIT and five knots, all together equaling 613, corresponding to the 613 Mitzvot of the Torah. But why do we need the garment to which the TZITZIT are attached? Why not just carry the TZITZIT themselves?
The Lubavitcher Rebbe explains that the answer lies in the significance of garments. The difference between food and clothing, our two main necessities is that food becomes a part of us when we eat it, while clothing always remains outside of us. Food therefore alludes to the aspects of the Torah that we can comprehend and "digest", while clothing alludes to that part of the Torah which remains beyond our grasp.
The Mitzvah to attach the TZITZIT to our garments indicates that it is not simply sufficient just to remember the Mitzvot. Wearing a garment with TZITZIT helps us remember that the Torah and all of its Mitzvot are G-d's Own Wisdom, which transcends the limitations of our human intellect.
Rav Soloveitchik explains that the blue Techelet of TZITZIT is a symbol that all events in life are as profound and mysterious as the deep blue sky. The Talmud in Menachot states that the blue techelet of TZITZIT reminds us to look up at the blue heavens and admire the incredible, vast expanse of endless space, leading to its Source which is the Ein Sof – G-d Himself!
As Tehillim 19 states, "The Heavens tell the glory of G-d's Incredible Greatness." By admiring and appreciating G-d's Greatness, we can achieve and attain our own greatness as well!
1...The official Israeli flag is 220 cms long, and 160 cms wide.
The proportions must be 8:11.It can only be flow - from a pole and only horizontally
2...The two blue stripes of Sky-blue color can only be 25 cms wide and must be 220 cms long.
3...The Magen David Star-officially called a hexagram-is in the exact center between the two horizontal blue stripes. The point of one of the triangles must be upwards -when the flag is flown horizontally.
4...The Magen David must be made up of 6 sections each 60 cms long and 5 cms wide. All the 6 sections must touch and must be symmetrical. Thus the Magen David is 69 cms high when the flag is flow horizontally.
5...The area of the flag is 35200 sq cms.The area of the two stripes -together is 11000 sq cms.The area of the Magen David is 1800 sq cms.The two blue stripes make up 31.25% of the flag area.The Magen David makes up 5.113% of the flag's area.
6...All the blue colors must be the same.The Blue on the flag is 36.363% of the whole surface area.
7...Any other addition to the flag as a color, a shape, a symbol or eve graffiti is illegal;-it makes the flag illegal in Israel.
8...There is a suggest that the rope holding the flag to the pole be white. This official flag was adopted by the Israel Knesset on 28th October 1948- 188 days after Israel was born.
9...Notes: The blue colour is described as "dark sky-blue", and unofficially !!! varies from flag to flag, ranging from a hue of pure blue, sometimes shaded almost as dark as navy blue, to hues about 75% toward pure cyan and shades as light as very light blue. The flag was designed for the Zionist Movement in 1891. The basic design recalls the Tallit (טַלִּית), the Jewish prayer shawl, which is white with black or blue stripes. The symbol in the center represents the Star of David (Magen David, מָגֵן דָּוִד), a Jewish symbol dating from late medieval Prague, which was adopted by the First Zionist Congress in 1897.
In 2007, an Israeli flag measuring 660 m × 100 m and weighing 5.2 tonnes was unfurled near the ancient Jewish fortress of Masada, breaking the world record for the largest flag. Since then this record has since been surpassed several times.
Politics, and Islam:-
10..."Nile to Euphrates"A traditional tallit with the blue stripes
A popular myth in the Islamic world is that the blue stripes on the Israeli flag actually represent the rivers Nile and Euphrates as the boundaries of Eretz Yisra'el, the land promised to the Jews by God according to the Bible. Those making this allegation insist that the flag "secretly" represents the desire of Jews to conquer all of the land between the Nile and Euphrates rivers, which would involve conquering and ruling over much of Egypt, all of Jordan and Lebanon, most of Syria, and part of Iraq. Yasser Arafat, Iran and Hamas also made the allegation, and repeatedly tied this notion to the stripes on the Israeli flag.
Both Zionist and anti-Zionist authors have debunked the claim that the stripes on the flag represent territorial ambitions. Daniel Pipes notes "In fact, the blue lines derive from the design on the traditional Jewish prayer shawl", and Danny Rubinstein points out that "Arafat ... added, in interviews that he gave in the past, that the two blue stripes on the Israeli flag represent the Nile and the Euphrates .... No Israeli, even those who demonstrate understanding for Palestinian distress, will accept the ... nonsense about the blue stripes on the flag, which was designed according to the colours of the traditional tallit (prayer shawl)". Israel and Zionism critic Israel Shahak states in his The Zionist Plan for the Middle East he states:
...the persistent, and completely false declarations, which were made by some of the most important Arab leaders, that the two blue stripes of the Israeli flag symbolize the Nile and the Euphrates, while in fact they are taken from the stripes of the Jewish praying shawl (Talit).
Saqr Abu Fakhr, an Arab writer, has also spoken out against this idea. He writes that the "Nile to Euphrates" claim regarding the flag is one of seven popular misconceptions and/or myths about Jews which, despite being unfounded and having abundant evidence refuting them, continue to circulate in the Arab world.
Nevertheless, the Hamas Covenant states "After Palestine, the Zionists aspire to expand from the Nile to the Euphrates," and as recently as January 29, 2006, Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar issued a demand for Israel to change its flag, citing the "Nile to Euphrates" argument.
Social Security Is Staring at Its First Real Shortfall in Decades
President Ronald Reagan signing 1983 legislation that he negotiated with the House's top Democrat, Thomas P. O'Neill Jr., behind his left shoulder, to preserve Social Security
A slow-moving crisis is approaching for Social Security, threatening to undermine a central pillar in the retirement of tens of millions of Americans.
Next year, for the first time since 1982, the program must start drawing down its assets in order to pay retirees all of the benefits they have been promised, according to the latest government projections.
Unless a political solution is reached, Social Security's so-called trust funds are expected to be depleted within about 15 years. Then, something that has been unimaginable for decades would be required under current law: Benefit checks for retirees would be cut by about 20 percent across the board.
"Old people not getting the Social Security checks they have been promised? That has been unthinkable in America — and I don't think it will really happen in the end this time, because it's just too horrible," said Alicia Munnell, the director of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. "But action has to be taken to prevent it."
While the issue is certain to be politically contentious, it is barely being talked about in Washington and at 2020 campaign events. The last time Social Security faced a crisis of this kind, in the early 1980s, a high-level bipartisan effort was needed to keep retirees' checks whole. Since that episode, the program has often been called "the third rail of American politics" — an entitlement too dangerous to touch — and it's possible that another compromise could be reached in the current era.
Benefit cuts would be devastating for about half of retired Americans, who rely on Social Security for most of their retirement income. A survey released in May by the Federal Reserve found that a quarter of working Americans had saved nothing for retirement.
The shrinking of Social Security's assets expected in 2020 would mark a significant change in the program's cash flow, one that could complicate Americans' retirement planning — even for the many relatively affluent citizens for whom Social Security is still a major source of income in old age.
"Fifteen years is really just around the corner for people planning their retirements," said John B. Shoven, a Stanford economist who is also affiliated with the Hoover Institution and the National Bureau of Economic Research.
"The cuts that are being projected would be terrible for a lot of people," he said. "This needn't happen and it shouldn't happen, but we've known about these problems for a long time and they haven't been solved. They're getting closer."
Social Security has a long-known basic math problem: more money will be going out than coming in. Roughly 10,000 baby boomers are retiring each day, with insufficient numbers of younger people entering the work force to pay into the system and support them.
And life expectancy is increasing. By 2035, Social Security estimates, the number of Americans 65 or older will increase to more than 79 million, from about 49 million now. If the program has not been repaired, they will encounter a much poorer Social Security than the one seniors rely on today.
Representative John Larson and Senator Richard Blumenthal discussing their Social Security legislation at a senior center in Bristol, Connecticut.CreditMonica Jorge for The New York TimesImageRepresentative John Larson and Senator Richard Blumenthal discussing their Social Security legislation at a senior center in Bristol, Connecticut.CreditMonica Jorge for The New York TimesHow cuts would affect a typical person
Under current law, cuts would start in 2034, when the main trust fund is expected to be depleted, or in 2035, if Congress authorizes Social Security to pay old-age benefits through the Disability Insurance Trust Fund.
Consider a woman with average annual earnings of $51,795 (in current dollars) over the course of her career, who retires at age 67 in 2037. The latest Social Security study indicates that she will be entitled to $27,366 in inflation-adjusted benefits. But if the trust fund shortfall has not been remedied, Social Security would be permitted to pay her only $21,669 — a 21 percent cut.
Nearly every older American would be affected, but those at the lowest income levels would be hurt the most. Social Security benefits are progressive, providing greater assistance for those with greater need. A worker with average career earnings of $12,949 until 2037 is entitled to receive the equivalent of 75.6 percent of that income, but with mandatory cuts, this person would have to survive on just 59.9 percent, the Social Security report says.
According to a study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 9 percent of all retirees lived in poverty in 2017 — but the figure would have been 39 percent if not for Social Security.
For African Americans, the study found, the anti-poverty effect has been even greater: 19 percent lived in poverty, but 52 percent would have done so if they had not received Social Security payments. For Hispanics, the numbers were 17 percent and 46 percent.
The reductions of roughly 20 percent on average are just a starting point. If current laws are unchanged and current economic projections remain intact, the cuts would rise to 25 percent in later years, a New York Times analysis of Social Security data indicates.
Unless Congress and the White House reach an agreement before the trust funds are emptied, most Americans will face hard choices: delaying retirement and working longer if they can, or simply surviving on less.
The Social Security mess already complicates some commonly accepted retirement-planning wisdom — such as the advice to delay claiming benefits until age 70.
People who do so are entitled to an 8 percent annual increase in benefits. That makes Social Security "the best annuity that money could buy," said Wade Pfau, a professor of retirement income at the American College of Financial Services, in a 2015 report. But he redid his calculations at the request of The Times, and for workers who are 55 now, statutory benefit cuts just when they turn 70 could make that approach far less attractive, Professor Pfau said.
The 'third rail'
Cutting the Social Security checks of people in retirement is, to say the least, politically dangerous.
David Stockman, President Ronald Reagan's budget director, tried to do just that in 1981. What happened in that episode gives some clues for a possible solution today.
Like other conservatives of that era, Mr. Stockman viewed Social Security as a form of "closet socialism" that needed to be scaled back. With the program facing a solvency crisis, he proposed immediate reductions in retirees' benefits.
Older Americans rebelled, and members of Congress listened to them. "I just hadn't thought through the impact of making it effective immediately," Mr. Stockman observed ruefully in his 1986 book, "The Triumph of Politics: Why the Reagan Revolution Failed."
Rosly Ray in a Social Security Administration video kiosk room at a public library in Quincy, Florida, last year.CreditMark Wallheiser for The New York TimesImageRosly Ray in a Social Security Administration video kiosk room at a public library in Quincy, Florida, last year.CreditMark Wallheiser for The New York Times
A nimble politician, Reagan rejected Mr. Stockman's recommendations and formed a bipartisan commission to study the issue. Ultimately, Reagan reached a long-term agreement with the Democratic speaker of the House, Thomas P. O'Neill Jr., who viewed the preservation of Social Security as essential.
While they made no immediate cuts in Social Security checks, they reduced benefits in more subtle ways, using measures that are still being used, like gradually delaying the standard retirement age from 65 to 66, where it stands today, and eventually to 67.
Taxes increased, too — bolstering cash flows and creating the trust fund surpluses that have given retirees and current politicians some breathing room.
But in ways large and small, the Reagan-O'Neill Social Security fix is coming undone. Notably, the hefty balances in those trust fund accounts today — some $2.9 trillion — may be having an unintended consequence.
"The trust fund surpluses were intended to provide a buffer that would give politicians enough time to show some fiscal responsibility," said Robert D. Reischauer, a former Social Security trustee who was also head of the Congressional Budget Office and is now president emeritus of the Urban Institute. "But the problem is that without an immediate crisis, the politicians don't have to act. And really, they would rather sleep. So when the crisis eventually comes, as it will, it is likely to be much, much worse because of the delay."
John Cogan, a professor of public policy at Stanford, said Social Security's fundamental problem was that benefits had been rising faster than revenue. Cuts, he said, will be unpalatable but inevitable.
"The solution, I think, is to slow the growth in real benefits promised to future recipients," he said.
Democrats in Congress have suggested an increase in Social Security benefits, accompanied by higher taxes for the wealthy. In combination, the bill's various measures would eliminate the program's financial shortfall, according to projections by Stephen C. Goss, the chief actuary of Social Security.
Conservatives continue to push for sharp reductions in the size of Social Security as well as Medicare, saying the United States can't afford the growing burden of the two "entitlement programs."
"Entitlement programs in the United States have expanded more than tenfold since their inception, but workers are nowhere near 10 times better off as a result," the Heritage Foundation said in a May 20 policy proposal. The conservative think tank favors cuts to benefits and siphoning money from payroll taxes into individual investment accounts. That echoes an initiative that President George W. Bush once embraced but Democrats blocked.
There are no signs of an imminent breakthrough, though Professor Cogan said that, as in the past, the impending prospect of benefit cuts "is likely to change the political atmosphere and make it possible to find a compromise."