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 am starting to include pictures from my two week spiritual enlightment trip for the summer of 5779.
I went first with my Rabbi to Northern Israel and saw the 10,000 foot Mount Hermon and Nimrod's castle, places in Israel most people don't get to. Then it was on to Czech to be with my wife's family. We spent Shabbat in Brno, the second large city in Czech that most people have never heard of, but it has a long Jewish History. From there I went on to Poland to see the Death Centers, but first we started in Warsaw and due to the generosity of my brother we had a first class trip. The first day was in Warsaw and I have the pictures below, with also some pictures from my day before Shabbat in Burno. Warsaw has a 100 million dollar new museum on the Polish History of the Jews, more than worth seeing, although I think they should have built it in Israel, and not Poland.
Love Yehuda Lave
What is free will?
It is not deciding whether you want chocolate or vanilla ice cream. That is weighing your desires. It is not deciding which road you'll take to get home. That's calculating the benefits of each alternative. Free will is the ability to choose between moral choices -- right and wrong.
Ever caught up in your own angst that you failed to see the bigger picture?
What does the Torah teach us regarding free will? In Deuteronomy 30:15-19 the Almighty says, "See, I have put before you, life and good, death and evil ... choose life so that you may live..." Why does it say "choose life" and not conclude with "choose good"?
The answer: Every human being thinks he is doing the right thing -- especially the evil ones! They simply rationalize their evil activities as "good." As an extreme example, Adolph Hitler, may his name and memory be blotted out, once made a speech claiming that the German people were the only truly moral people. What was his proof? They set up societies to take care of our pets while sending us to the gas chambers.
The Torah says the problem isn't that we choose evil. The problem is that we choose death. What does the Torah mean when it uses the term "choosing death"? We can gain an understanding from looking at why a person commits suicide. He wants to avoid or escape from pain. Often this is not just from physical pain, but the pain of facing problems, challenges or embarrassment. The death the Torah refers to is the escape from pain of life.
"Death" is a choice that is available to all of us, every second of the day. Every time we decide to avoid facing an issue or dealing with responsibility it is a form of death -- it is an escape. In life, there are many ways we choose to escape. Drugs are one form of escape. Killing time is an escape. If you're turning on the TV just because you're bored, isn't that a form of suicide? We could be using our time to live and grow. But we quit because it's too difficult.
We all choose to escape, now and then, from the effort that's involved in accomplishing the goals and ambitions that we have for ourselves in life. We all want to be great; we all want to change the world. It's just that we don't always feel like putting in the effort. So, we distract ourselves and escape from who we really are and what we want to achieve.
Rabbi Noah Weinberg, the former Rosh Hashiva of Aish HaTorah, wrote: "Greatness lies in how we resolve conflicts - in using our free will to grow - not to quit. To face reality - not to escape. To live and not to die. When we escape problems, we escape the chance of becoming great. It's a constant battle every moment of our lives."
Every moment we're alive, we're using our free will to choose between life and death, reality or escapism. It's a constant choice. We are either making the choice to take the pain in order to grow, or we're quitting. How we resolve that conflict is where our greatness lies. Our greatness is found in using our free will to live, fight and accomplish - rather than run away. To choose to live is to choose to embrace life and choose to better ourselves and the world!
Love Yehuda Lave
First day in Warsaw 082519
Due to the generosity of my brother, who I hadn't seen in 7 years, we go on a Jewish tour of Warsaw. This was the first day. I saw the outside of the famous Nozyk Synagouge . I had dinner at the Kosher Delight restaurant near the shul. At the beginnning of the video is a few pictures from the community at Brno Czech
Voting in Israel can be confusing, we have put this guide together to explain the process as simply as possible.
Election day is September 17 and is a paid vacation day so there is plenty of time to vote and relax but we do suggest allowing plenty of time to vote as some polling stations can be very busy.
Find out where your polling station is:
To vote, go to the polling station with your card between 07:00 and 22:00 – some polling stations do have different hours so double check your card.
If you have not received your card that information is available at https://www.gov.il/apps/moin/bocharim/. You will need to enter your ID number, confirm that you are not a robot and then note down the address, ballot box number and hours of your polling station. Bringing your polling card is advised but not necessary.
People with disabilities are entitled to vote in any ballot box designated for disabled persons. The full list of these stations can be found here. You can read more about the accessible polling stations here.
You will need to present a valid or form of Israel photo ID so make sure to bring either your Teudat Zehut, Driving license or Israeli passport. Other ID's are not accepted.
If you bring weapons or bags to the polling station you may have to leave them outside or not bring them in. It is also illegal to campaign within 20 meters from any polling station so if you are campaigning on election then hide your leaflets and T-shirt on your way in
Upon arrival, there is an attendant to direct you to the correct room and voting box where you will present your ID and receive an envelope. Take the envelope you are given to the booth and select the note that corresponds to your party and place it in the envelope that you received.
Notes contain one, two or three Hebrew letters and it is important to know which letters correspond to your party. That information can be found here.
There are also blank notes available – this is for you to write in the election symbol of your chosen party if they have run out of them. If you can't see the notes of who you want to vote for then alert the staff at your polling station and they might tell you to fill it in yourself if you have to do this then make sure it is clearly legible.
If you decide to write in a party or person that is not registered to run then your vote is marked as invalid and not tallied up so voting for Donald Trump or Jeremy Corbyn is not as funny as you would think.
Double check that you have only put in one note, more than one note – even of the same party invalidates your vote. If your note has any faint pen or pencil marks on it then it is also invalid. In the past people have drawn on notes in their ballot box to invalidate notes of rival parties – check your note is clean and if you notice that anything has been written on any notes then alert the staff at the polling station.
Seal the envelope and place it in the ballot box. Sometimes in polling stations, they tell you not to seal your envelope – you do not have to and should not listen to that instruction.
Jack Benny and Humphrey Bogart
Humphrey Bogart in his ONE and ONLY sketch comedy performance on live television. He was really good! Great comic timing. What a pro.
Double-Billing Travel Expenses by Rabbi Meir Orlean
Mr. Lazer began working as an independent consultant and would travel nationwide to clients from his home in New York. In addition to his regular fee, Mr. Lazer would charge the clients for his travel expenses.
"We would like to book a meeting next Wednesday morning," said one client in California.
"I can do that," replied Mr. Lazer. "I'll put it in my schedule."
Shortly afterward, Mr. Lazer received a call from another client in California. "We would like to arrange a meeting with you sometime next week," they said.
"I can be there on Tuesday or Thursday," replied Mr. Lazer.
"Thursday works fine for us," said the client.
The phone rang yet a third time, from a client in Chicago. "When can we schedule a meeting?" they asked.
"Next Tuesday would be good for me," said Mr. Lazer.
"That works for us, as well," said the client.
"That's a pretty efficient week," Mr. Lazer said to his wife. "Tuesday in Chicago, Wednesday and Thursday in California, and back home for Shabbos." He booked a flight to California with a stop-over in Chicago.
"Who are you going to charge for the flight?" asked Mrs. Lazer.
"My contract with each client stipulates that they pay travel expenses," replied Mr. Lazer. "I guess I can charge them all. What difference does it make to them whether I have one appointment or three?"
"But how can you ask for reimbursement of an expense that was already covered?" asked Mrs. Lazer.
"I hear your point," acknowledged Mr. Lazer. He decided to consult with Rabbi Dayan, and asked:
"Can I charge the travel expenses to multiple clients? If not, how do I bill the cost?"
"Usually you cannot double-bill, but this depends on the contractual arrangement or local common practice of travel expenses," replied Rabbi Dayan. "In some places, travel expenses are figured on a standard basis, with no expectation of presenting a receipt. This is common in Israel, where the monthly salary contains a daily travel component based on the cost of public transportation or kilometer distance from home (C.M. 331:2).
"Many authorities allow the daily travel reimbursement there even if the person walked or received a ride to work. Moreover, if a person had two jobs in the same location, some allow receiving the travel reimbursement from each, since both employers committed independently to provide the travel expenses as a standard salary component (see Kesubos 101b; E.H. 114:8; Techumin 19, p. 271).
"However, if the employee has to provide a receipt or a precise reckoning of his travel expenses and the reimbursement is in accordance, as in the case of consultants, the nature of this reimbursement is usually for actual expenses. Therefore, if the expense was already covered by another party, it is not permissible to submit a copy to another client and ask for double reimbursement."
"How should the expense be divided among the clients?" asked Mr. Lazer.
"Ideally, the cost of each leg of the journey should be split between all relevant clients," replied Rabbi Dayan. "Thus, the trip to Chicago should be divided in thirds, and the additional cost to California divided in half. This is similar to people who have a joint need to fix a blocked river or sewage line. Each person must share in the cost of repairing the stretch of river or sewage line relevant to him, but he does not have to share in areas that are not relevant to him (B.M. 108a; C.M. 161:6, 170:1).
"However, this is not realistic in many cases. Therefore, you could submit the travel cost to either company, since all were willing to cover the travel expense. Fairness would dictate to charge the first company who scheduled, alternate the billing between the companies over time, or submit it to the company that primarily gained from that leg of the journey" (see E.H. 114:9).
Verdict: If the travel reimbursement requires submitting receipts or precise reckoning, presumably it is only for actual expenses, and you may not double-bill multiple clients.
Clarifying the Palestine Saga Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger,
"Second Thought: a US-Israel Initiative" , https://bit.ly/2lYTD4F The Palestinian leadership is rehashing the notion that Palestine has been Arab/Muslim from time immemorial. But, is such a claim consistent with historic documentation?
According to Brown University Prof. David Jacobson, "the Greek Palaistine and the Latin [Rome] Palaestina… appear to refer not to the Land of the Philistines [Pleshet in Hebrew], but to the Land of Israel…. The Philistines [Plishtim in Hebrew] arrived on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean from Greece or Cyprus in approximately the 13th century BCE…. The Israelites' traditional foes, the Philistines lived in a small area along the Mediterranean coast south of what is today Tel Aviv, an area that embraced the five towns of Gaza [hometown of Delilah], Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gath [hometown of Goliath] and Ekron….
"As early as the Histories of Herodotus [the Greek founding father of Western historians] written in the second half of the 5th century BCE, the term Palaistine is used to describe not just the [Philistines'] geographical area, but the entire area between Phoenicia and Egypt – in other words, the Land of Israel [including the Judean Hills, referred to by some as the 'West Bank']…. Like Herodotus, Aristotle [along with his teacher, Plato, the founding fathers of Western philosophers] gives the strong impression that when he uses the term Palestine, he is referring to the Land of Israel…. In the 2nd century BCE, a Greek writer and historian Polemo of Ilium made a similar link between the people of Israel and Palestine….
"The early 1st century Roman poet, Ovid, writes of 'the seventh day feast [the Sabbath] that the Syrians of Palestine [the Hebrews] observe….' Another Latin poet, Statius, and the writer Dio Chrysostom use 'Palestine' and 'Palestinian' in the same sense…. "Likewise the early 1st century CE Jewish philosopher, Philo of Alexandria, occasionally, uses the name Palestine when referring to the Land of Israel….
"'Palestine' is the Greek equivalent of 'Israel.'" The Greek word 'Palaistine' is remarkably similar to the Greek 'Palaistes', meaning 'wrestler'…. The name 'Israel' arose from the incident in which Jacob [the Patriarch] wrestled with an angel (Genesis 32-25-27). Jacob received the name Israel because he wrestled successfully (sarita' in Hebrew) with the Lord (El in Hebrew)….
"The striking similarity between the Greek word for wrestler (palaistes) and the name Palaistine – which share seven letters in a row, including a diphthong – is strong evidence of a connection between them…. The central event of a wrestling contest by the ancestor of this Semitic people against a divine adversary is likely to have made a deep impression on the Greeks [who admired wrestling, which took place in structures called 'palaestra']….
"The Roman Emperor, Hadrian, officially renamed Judea Syria-Palaestina after his Roman armies suppressed the [Jewish] Bar-Kokhba Revolt in 135 CE. This is commonly viewed as a move intended to sever the connection of the Jews to their historic homeland. However, that Jewish writers such as Philo and Josephus used the name Palestine for the Land of Israel in their Greek works, suggests that this interpretation of history is incorrect.
Hadrian's choice of Syria-Palaestina may be more correctly seen as a rationalization of the name of the new province, being far larger than geographical Judea. Indeed, Syria-Palaestina had an ancient pedigree that was intimately linked with the area of Greater Israel…. The term Palaistine denoted both the Land of the Philistines [who were a minority in the area named Palestine] and the much larger entity, the Land of Israel…."
In addition to Prof. Jacobson's essay, the Jewish/Israeli roots of the name Palestine were further highlighted when the Anglo-Palestine Bank was established on February 27, 1902 as a subsidiary of the Jewish Colonial Trust, evolving into Bank Leumi, a leading Israeli bank.
The November 2, 1917 British Foreign Minister Balfour Declaration reaffirmed, officially, the national Jewish nature of Palestine: "His Majesty's government views with favour the establishment, in Palestine, of a national home for the Jewish people…. Nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious [not national] rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine…."
The Balfour Declaration commitment to establish a Jewish national home in Palestine was an integral part of the April 19-25, 1920 San Remo Conference, which determined the borders of the land captured by the allies during WWI, while laying the foundation for the establishment of 22 Arab countries and one Jewish State. Britain's Foreign Minister, George Curzon, defined the San Remo Conference as "the Magna Carta of the Jewish People."
The July 1922 Mandate for Palestine, granted to Britain by the League of Nations, recognized "the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine," and called upon Great Britain to facilitate the establishment of a Jewish State in Palestine. In September 1922, Britain violated the Mandate for Palestine, transferring ¾ of Palestine to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
Furthermore, the Jewish nature of Palestine – historically, nationally, culturally and religiously – is documented by a multitude of archeological findings, mostly in the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria, which are the cradle of Judaism, the Jewish people and the Jewish State. Thus, it refutes the assertion that Palestine has been Arab/Muslim from time immemorial.
Justice, Justice Shall You Pursue! By Hanna Perlberger
"I am the L‑rd, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight." —Jeremiah 9:23
If you are a Jewish kid who graduated law school and actually got a job, chances are that your proud parents gave you a picture to hang on the wall of your office (or windowless cubicle) with the famous quote "Justice, Justice Shall You Pursue," which comes right at the beginning of the Torah portion Shoftim, meaning "Judges."
As I type the words of this chapter, Microsoft Word, programmed to assume that I have made a typo by repeating the same word, highlights the second "justice" in red for me, alerting me to my "mistake." If only Moses had a laptop with spell-check and typo correction, he could have fixed a lot of "typos," because we see this same duplication in other places in the Torah, such as when G‑d calls out Abraham-Abraham or Jacob-Jacob or Moses-Moses. Is it bad editing—or is it deeply meaningful and transformational? And is there a connection between the phrase "justice-justice" and the duplicative names?
When G‑d says, "Abraham-Abraham" or "Moses-Moses," it is tender and intimate. Think of cuddling a baby or speaking the name of your beloved; we often say their names twice because, well, once is just not enough to convey the depth of the emotions we can feel. Repeating a first name in that manner is a verbal caress.
"As Above, So Below"
There is another concept at work in this double name-calling that is more applicable here, and that is the idea of "as above, so below." There is a heavenly version of ourselves, and there is an earthly version of ourselves. The heavenly version represents our potential—the person we could be. The earthly version, on the other hand, is who we are and how we are showing up in the world as the sum of our choices. Think of two portraits: one is hanging on heaven's walls and the other one is you, walking around.
When G‑d calls out "Abraham-Abraham," we are to understand that in the case of Abraham (and Jacob and Moses), these two versions are aligned. There is not a "heavenly Abraham" in contrast to an "earthly Abraham." The Abraham above was the same as below—congruent and unified between his ideals and his actions.
That's not true for most of us, however. On the other hand, that's why we're here—to close the gap and come as close to that heavenly portrait as possible. Living up to our potential, being congruent and authentic, and behaving externally in a way that mirrors our highest internal values is admittedly a big challenge. As a rabbi was fond of saying to me: "We are all works in progress."
But that idea doesn't work well with ideals. A society where earthly justice is really out of sync with heavenly justice is not a "society in progress"; rather, it is an unjust society. What we can tolerate in ourselves and on an individual level is intolerable when perpetrated on a grand societal scale. For justice to be "just," it has to be authentic, congruent and actualized. Like the proverbial pregnant woman, you can't have just a little bit of it.
But who must act justly? We must. And who enacts justice? We must. It's in our own hands. So can imperfect beings ever create an earthly justice that aligns with heaven? We imagine heavenly justice as strict and severe, and we tremble at the idea of facing the heavenly court, because that is one tough bench to get over.
Maybe there is another alignment going on. In Hebrew, the word tzedek, which means "justice," also means "righteousness." Perhaps the dual use of the word "justice" means that we cannot pursue "justice" without also being "righteous." That would be perverted justice. Think of the Nuremberg Laws that legitimized the Nazi regime. They were "codes of law," but utterly lacking righteousness and in no way aligned with heaven. And we cannot think we are "righteous" unless we are also "just." Yann Martel, the author of Life of Pi, wrote:
These people walk by a widow deformed by leprosy . . . walk by children dressed in rags living in the street, and they think, "Business as usual." But if they perceive a slight against G‑d, it is a different story. Their faces go red, their chests heave mightily, they sputter angry words. The degree of their indignation is astonishing. Their resolve is frightening.
This hypocrisy is perverted righteousness. The Hebrew word tzedakah, which means "charity," comes from the same word tzedek, which means "justice" and "righteousness." Thus, unless righteousness is rooted in kindness, in compassion, and in being a giver and caring for the poor and needy, etc., it is not "just." Being "right with G‑d" but not with your fellow man is not aligned with heaven.
In Shoftim, "justice" is not a single word because it is not a single concept. The double word is its own congruency. That's the alignment to strive for: justice that is righteous, and righteousness that is just—that is, rooted in kindness, caring and giving. Says Robert Frost: "Nothing can make injustice just but mercy."
And when we pursue that kind of justice here on earth, we are not only closing the gap between our earthly and heavenly selves, but maybe we are, in fact, mirroring the heavenly court. If only we could create such a society and live in such a world, truly, wouldn't it be like heaven on earth? Now how transformational is that?
Internalize & Actualize:
Can you think of a time you were just, but not righteous? Meaning that you may have done the "right" thing, but at the "wrong" cost? What was the outcome? In hindsight, how would you have handled it differently?
What about a time you may have been righteous, but not just? You may have had the right intentions, but still did the "wrong" thing. How could you have handled that differently?
How would you describe the "you" that is earthly, that is below? Now, how would you describe the "you" that is heavenly, above? What are some very practical ways that you can bridge the gap between the two of them?
The Jewish calendar is full of notations, red letter days that are meant to be both particular reminders as well as part of a uniform one: time is passing; the sands of life have run out just a bit more; the beard is a little grayer and the limbs just a touch heavier. Time. The Jewish calendar is a watchman of time, ram's horn that blows not once a year but every time that a new time cycle begins.
Every week is marked by a Sabbath that notes not only the end of the week passed but the beginning of a new one. It is both a reminder of seven full days passed out of our life – so soon! – as well as the opportunity to make the next period fuller, more meaningful, a reason for being.
Every month is marked by a Rosh Chodesh, the consecration of the new beginning of yet another lunar cycle. The wheel of heaven has revolved yet another thirty days – so soon! – and we are that much older. The L-rd now gives us another month to prove that we are also that much wiser. It is not only another month, it is a new month. Above all, it is called Rosh Chodesh, the "head" of the month. Is there perhaps here a hint to see how much wisdom has filled our heads during the mistakes and sins of the past one…?
And every year has its Rosh Hashana, that peculiarly Jewish day in which there are no parties and drinking and abandonment of restraint; in which there is no hilarious laughter and noise that is a frantic and frenetic attempt to convince all (and oneself) that he is happy; there is no frantic clutching at pleasure before it escapes and – worse - before I pass on; too soon, too soon. There is Rosh Hashana, the time past. Another year gone by – already? So soon! – and it is a time to see what the gray hairs and the added wrinkles and the slower reflexes have taught us. Rosh Hashana is one step closer to the gateway out of this world and into the next one. It is a time to rehearse the speech that we will make – all of us – some day, before the Supremes of Courts, as we attempt to explain the meaning of our lives below.
Life is too short for fools. It is too long for those who know it was not given for happiness (if that comes, how wonderful, but how often does it appear, only in insignificant measures and at rare times, as drops of rain that fall on a parched desert leaving no impact, changing nothing so that the traveler never knows it fell). Life was given for holiness and sanctity, so that we might rise above ourselves; so that we might consecrate and hallow that animalism within us that threatens at every moment to escape and express itself in selfishness, ego and greed – sins that are themselves only the corridors to the crimes of cruelty and hurting others. Life is not a happy thing – it is a beautiful thing, and when one becomes the artist and artisan of that beauty that is called holiness, when one practices the supreme holiness that comes of loving and giving of oneself.
"Ani l'dodi v'dodi li…" "I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine…" the words of the greatest of love poems, Song of Songs; great because it is that purest of love, between the Almighty and the House of Israel. Consider them, for do they not contain the essence and the secret of true love? "I am my beloveds and my beloved is mine." When I am my beloved's, when I give to her and give of myself and live to do for her and make her happy – then I am guaranteed that she is mine for she will, in turn, be doing the same for me. The lovers who think of giving to each other must receive from each other. This is love, this desire to give, this desire to sacrifice and do for the other.
Not for nothing was the Song of Songs called by the incomparable Rabbi Akiva, "the Holy of Holies" of all the books of the Bible. For the kind of love expressed in it IS holiness. Holiness is to escape from the selfishness and greed of the animal; it is to smash the passions and desires of the ego; it is to master the will that makes man seek only his own gratification. And is not love just that, in practice? Is not love exactly that, if it is true love?
And not for no reason did the rabbis see in the Hebrew letters of the month of Elul the first letters of "Ani l'dodi v'dodi li – I am my beloveds and my beloved is mine." Elul is the month of Tshuva, return and introspection. It is the month of scraping away the ego that has settled and crusted on our hearts and souls. If Passover calls for searching out he leaven in the home, Elul decrees removing it – the yeasty and bloated ego – from the soul. It is a time to note the calendar, the graying and aging, and to realize: Not for nonsense was I born and not with nonsense must they bury me.
Be good. Love. Love selflessly; cease speaking evil, cease thinking evil; cease searching out evil in your fellow human beings. Cease seeking to grow at the expense of others. For one who climbs on top of the man he has just chopped down is not taller. He is the same dwarf standing on his victim's height. Be wary lest you hurt the one you love. Think before you act towards the other person. Be good as a person, as an individual, and your part of the world will become holy. Then, if others emulate you, the world will suddenly and automatically turn beautiful and hallowed. It is Elul. Think of your beloved – all the people of the earth – and think of your particular beloved. Give of yourself and you will receive that which no amount of grasping and scheming can ever bring you: self-respect. Love the other and you will learn to like yourself. Be holy, for the One who made you is Holy and for this He placed you on this earth. It is another Elul, yet another one. How many more are left?