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
Love Yehuda Lave
Avoid Conflict By Rosally Saltsman
Here are some ways to keep the peace, whether we are coming or going.
1. G‑d wants peace so much that we are permitted to "alter" a narrative in order to keep peace. A lot of people end up sacrificed on the altar of truth when it's not necessary. I'm not saying that you should lie outright—Don't reveal the whole truth if it isn't critical and it will lead to strife.
2. People are fond of having the last word in an argument. By doing so, they feel as if they've won (even if they haven't). Yet the opposite is true; the person who has the last word is left with a lack of closure if the other person doesn't respond. If you stop arguing, it doesn't mean that you agree with the other person; it just means that you don't feel that arguing is worthwhile.
3. Stay clear of incendiary topics of conversation, especially on social media, where it's so easy to get into conflict. And when someone offers it, don't take the bait.
4. Be respectful and polite. Derech eretz kadma l'Torah—"Good manners are prerequisites for a Torah life." Even if you disagree, be gracious about it. Conflicts arise more because of how something is said than what is said. Speak clearly, calmly, gently and succinctly. And, of course, don't insult anyone.
5. We often act as if the person who disagrees with us can change reality simply by virtue of their differing opinion. They can't. The fact that they believe something different from you doesn't suddenly make it true. True, it may be annoying to hear, but if someone says something disparaging about you or something you believe in, it doesn't actually change anything. That is their opinion. You can try and change it, but you probably won't succeed.
6. If you want to influence someone to do something you feel is beneficial, do it in a loving, positive way. The words of the wise are heeded when spoken pleasantly. The more positive a person you are, the more people will want to agree with you. Be the kind of person people love and admire, and they will be more prone to agree with you. Abraham managed to get so many followers to Monotheism because he looked and acted like a prince of G‑d, and so others flocked to him to listen to his views.
7. Work towards a common goal. Focus on what you do agree with rather than what you disagree with. When you shift the focus, the conflict dissipates.
8. There are people who feast on conflict. They fight for the sake of it, not for truth. Stay away from these people. Far, far away.
9. When you are at fault, mistaken or wrong, admit it, and if necessary, apologize. Don't dig in your heels even when you are in the wrong. King David is praised for admitting his error when the prophet Samuel chastised him. His predecessor, King Saul, lost his kingdom because not only did he disobey G‑d, but he tried to justify it.
10. There are some things worth fighting for. Money and honor are not two of them. Anything involving defending your honor or fighting over money will end badly even if you win. We are taught to actively flee from honor, and, that ultimately, money comes from G‑d,who decides exactly how much we should have.
11. Make sure that you have your facts straight before you enter into an argument. So many arguments could be avoided if people actually knew what they were talking about. You will be able to converse with greater conviction and less vitriol.
12. Give to others and desire their good. If they feel that you truly care about them—that even in disagreement you are emanating love, acceptance and concern—they're less likely to see you as an opponent and will be willing to consider your views. At the very least, they won't argue with you.
13. Look at other people not only as physical beings, but as having an inner Divine soul. If you see beyond their superficial faults to the core of their beautiful soul, it will be easier to accept and love them, and avoid conflict with them.
Love Yehuda Lave
things to think about
"You can say any foolish thing to a dog, and the dog will give you a look that says, 'Wow, you're right! I never would've thought of that!'" —Dave Barry
There is no limit to the amount of good you can do if you don't care who gets the credit. Ronald Reagan
Praying for rain starts on Monday night
Monday night, as the 7th of Marcheshvan begins, we pray for the first time this year: "Bless this year and all its produce for the good for us, O Hashem our G-d, and grant dew and rain as a blessing on the face of the earth
We recited תְּפִלַּת הָגֶּשֶׁם, the Prayer for Rain, the day after Sukkot, on Shmini Atzeret. The same day, we began adding the phrase מַשִּׁיב הָרוּחַ וּמוֹרִיד הָגֶּשֶׁם, "He causes the wind to blow and the rain to fall", in every Amidah (which we will continue to do until Pesach). However, this phrase is not a request for rain; it is, rather, recognition that G-d provides us with the wind and the rain which are necessary for our survival.
In Israel, we begin requesting rain from G-d tonight, on the start of the 7th of Marcheshvan. In the ninth Brachah of the Amidah of the Evening Service Monday night, as the 7th of Marcheshvan begins, we pray for the first time this year: "Bless this year and all its produce for the good for us, O Hashem our G-d, and grant dew and rain as a blessing on the face of the earth…"
And we will recite this prayer three times a day until Pesach.
This follows the Mishnah:
"On the 3rd of Marcheshvan we pray for rain; Rabban Gamliel says, on the 7th thereon, fifteen days after the Festival [Sukkot] ends, so that the last Jew can reach the River Euphrates" (Ta'anit 1:3).
The Talmud specifies that in this dispute, "the halachah follows Rabban Gamliel" (Ta'anit 10a). Even though the rainy season in Israel should ideally begin immediately after Sukkot, we delay praying for rain to give time for the last Jewish pilgrim who had come to Israel for Sukkot to reach the River Euphrates, so that their journey home should not be made unduly uncomfortable or dangerous by muddy roads and swollen rivers (following Rabbi Ovadiah of Bartinura's Commentary to the Mishnah ad. loc.).
The Tosafot Yom Tov (commentary to the Mishnah by Rabbi Yom-Tov Lipmann ben Natan ha-Levi Heller, central and eastern Europe, 1578-1654) adds: "Because sometimes they would tarry a little in Jerusalem, until the entire Festival had finished".
And then the Talmud notes the exception: "However, in the exile, [we pray for rain] sixty days after the Autumn equinox" (Ta'anit 10a).
Rabbi Ovadiah of Bartinura concurs (Commentary to Mishnah Ta'anit 1:3): "All this applies in the Land of Israel; however in the exile, they only begin praying for rain sixty days after the Autumn equinox". And indeed, this is the Halachah in practice (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 117:1; Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 19:5).
The Talmud (Ta'anit 10a) explains that they would start praying for rain sixty days after the Autumn equinox because that was the time when Babylon needed its rainy season to begin.
And about other countries whose rainy season does not begin at the same time of the year?
– Rashi (commentary to Ta'anit 10a, s.v. תתאי לא בעו מים), the Ritv"a (Chidushai ha-Ritv"a to Ta'anit 10a, s.v. תניא חנניא אומר), and other commentators explain that the entire exile follows the Babylonian practice.
The Rosh (Rabbi Asher ben Yechi'el, Germany and Spain, c.1250-1328) tried to change this practice, such that Jews, wherever they may be, would pray for rain in the season that their host countries would need it. However, great though the Rosh indisputably was, the opposition was so determined that he did not succeed in persuading Jewry to change the ancient practice.
And so until today, Jews outside of Israel continue to pray for rain according to the needs of Iraq. In the southern hemisphere (South Africa and Australia, for example), Jews begin to pray for rain in the middle of summer, because that is when the rainy season begins in Iraq.
And we find another peculiarity: the Autumn equinox varies between September 22nd and 23rd, so sixty days later falls on November 21st or 22nd. Why, then, do Jews throughout the exile begin saying וְתֵן טַל וּמָטָר לִבְרָכָה ("and grant rain and dew as a blessing") on the evening of the 4th of December (or the 5th of December in the year preceding a civil leap year)?
– Well, this goes back to the Talmudic sage Shmuel, a first-generation Amora, one of the greatest of the Babylonian Amora'im, often called Mar Shmuel. Shmuel determined the solar year at precisely 365¼ days (called the Tekufat Shmuel). In honour of his calibration of the calendar, Shmuel was awarded the honorific title "Yarchina'ah", "the Month-reckoner" or "the Moon-understander" (Bava Metzi'a 85b).
However, since 365¼ days is about 11 minutes and 15 seconds longer than the actual solar year, the calculation of when the Autumn equinox falls has drifted forward by about one day every 128 years, which is why by now, the halachically-calculated equinox falls some two weeks after the actual astronomical equinox.
(According to Rabbi Moshe Feinstein ztz"l in Igrot Moshe, Orach Chaim 4:17, Shmuel was fully aware that his calculation was imprecise; however, it was simpler for ordinary people to understand than the more accurate and correspondingly more complex calculation of Rav Adda.)
This encapsulates the difference between prayers in exile and prayers in Israel: The prayer-calendar of exile is calibrated according to a calculation which was known to be inaccurate; the prayer-calendar of Israel keeps in step with the seasons.
The Jews of exile, whether in the USA, Britain, Iran, or Australia, still pray for rain according to the needs of Iraq. One wonders if Saddam Hussein ever felt any gratitude to the American Jewish community for this, or if indeed Iraq's current President Barham Salih and Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi will ever thank the Jews throughout the world for their prayers.
The Jews of Israel, by contrast, show their concern for and solidarity with the Jews of exile, by delaying their prayer for rain until the last of those Jews who came to the Land of Israel for the Sukkot pilgrimage have reached home in Babylon.
It is no coincidence that the single most central declaration of Judaism, the Shema, includes G-d's promise that "if you diligently hearken to My mitzvot…then I will grant the rain of your Land in its appropriate season – the first rain and the last rain – so you will gather in your grain, your wine, and your oil" (Deuteronomy 11:13-14).
This is the direct continuation of the depiction of the Land of Israel, scant weeks before entering it: "The Land to which you are coming to inherit is not like the land of Egypt which you have left, in which you can sow your seed and water it on foot like a vegetable garden. The Land to which you are passing to inherit is a Land of mountains and valleys; you will drink water from the rain of Heaven. It is a Land which Hashem your G-d constantly looks out for; Hashem your G-d's eyes are upon it from the beginning of the year until the end of the year" (Deuteronomy 11:10-12).
What, then, is the difference between Egypt and Israel? What is the very essence of the Land of Israel?
The S'forno (Rabbi Ovadiah S'forno, Italy, c.1470-1550) writes, sweetly and simply, that Egypt "has no need for rains" (commentary to verse 10).
The Malbim (Rabbi Meir Leibush ben Yechi'el Michael Weiser, Volhynia, Poland, Romania, France, and Ukraine, 1809-1879) writes: "The Land of Israel is 'a Land of mountains and valleys', so it is impossible to drink water from a river which irrigates by overflowing, because that only happens in flat countries. So you will have to 'drink water from the rain of heaven' – and the rain depends upon Divine providence and G-d's good will" (commentary to verse 11).
The Ba'al ha-Turim (Rabbi Ya'akov ben Asher, Germany and Spain, c.1275-1343) picks up on the continuity, noting that immediately after "…from the beginning of the year until the end of the year" the Torah continues "if you diligently hearken to My mitzvot…", and explains: "This implies that if you hearken until the end of the year, then He will grant the rains in their appropriate seasons and in the places where they are needed; if the people are righteous at the beginning of the year and G-d decreed rain, but later they begin to sin, then the rains will fall at uncomfortable times and in the deserts" (commentary to verse 12, loosely based on the Talmud, Rosh Hashanah 17b).
The S'forno comments on this verse: "'a Land which Hashem your G-d constantly looks out for' – He watches over the deeds of its inhabitants, determining whether or not they are worthy of rain".
The Ramban (Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman, Spain and Israel, 1195-c.1270) explains: "'you will drink water from the rain of heaven' – and not from any other source. And Hashem has to constantly look out for its rain because it is a very thirsty Land, needing water throughout the year. And if you transgress G-d's will and He will not look out for it with rains of blessing, then it is a very bad Land which 'cannot be sown and which does not sprout, nor does any herb grow' on its mountains" (commentary to Deuteronomy 11:10).
The very essence of the Land of Israel is that it is dependent upon G-d's constant care. And the most immediately obvious expression of that care is the rain that He grants (or withholds) from the Land. As the Talmud (Bava Kama 17a, Avodah Zarah 5b et al.) and the Midrash (Eliyahu Zuta 1; Yalkut Shimoni, Isaiah 437 et al.) tell us, "there is no water other than Torah".
Just as we depend on water for our very existence, so too we depend upon the Torah for our very existence. But this only becomes clear in the Land of Israel, where G-d's providence and supervision are clear.
And how revealing it is that throughout exile, Jews pray for rain according to a calendar which is no longer accurate and no longer relevant, for the needs of a country in which there are no longer any Jews – while in Israel, and only in Israel, we pray for rain according to the calendar which is precise, and according to the needs of the Land of Israel, while still showing consideration for Jews who came on pilgrimage from other lands.
Aurora Borealis Observatory
Sometimes god shows up to paint sunset sky!
The Jewish Soul Of Meyer Lansky By Saul Jay Singer -
Meyer Lansky was a legendary organized crime leader who co-founded and headed the notorious "enforcement" syndicate "Murder, Inc.," which emerged in the early 1930s as successor to the warring Prohibition gangs and the old-line mafia.
Known as the "Mob's Accountant," he was universally recognized as one of the most powerful men in the United States, as he played a major role in the development of the National Crime Syndicate. He also managed (and laundered) mafia funds, financed major endeavors, bribed and extorted authority figures and key individuals, and developed an international gambling empire. A member of both the Jewish and Italian mafias, he played a large role in the consolidation of the criminal underworld.
Born Meyer Suchowljansky to a Polish Jewish family, Lansky (1902-83) attended cheder in his native Grodno as a child and carried the family's cholent to the baker where it would be stored until the Shabbat afternoon meal. Suffering under the Russian pogroms, the Lansky family immigrated to America and settled on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in 1911, where Meyer became childhood and lifelong friends with Benjamin ("Bugsy") Siegel, with whom he later formed one of the most violent Prohibition gangs, and Charles ("Lucky") Luciano, who first met Lansky while trying to extort "protection" money from him.
Lansky played an unsung and largely unknown role in stemming the spread of fascism in America during the rise of the Third Reich and in protecting America against Nazi stealth attacks, as he battled American Nazis and their sympathizers and used violence to disrupt the activities of the Nazi Bund and other Nazi groups.
In the 1930s, pro-Nazi groups – including Defenders of the Christian Faith, the Christian Front, the Silver Shirts, the Knights of the White Camelia, and the Friends of the New Germany (a.k.a. the "Nazi Bund"), the largest American anti-Semitic group, with some 20,000 members – began to proliferate in the United States. American Jews, who were intimidated by the groups' parades and rallies in which they openly proclaimed their hate for Jews, were fearful that any defensive measures would stir up even greater anti-Semitism – a sad 2,000-year refrain the merits of which are best left for another day.
Determined to address this daunting problem, Nathan Perlman, a judge and former Republican congressman, asked Lansky to enlist the mob to intimidate Nazi supporters by any means necessary (except killing) in exchange for cash and some protections from the court system. Lansky readily agreed to become involved, but refused to take any money. He said, "I was a Jew and felt for those Jews in Europe who were suffering. They were my brothers."
Lansky did, however, have one condition: His sensitivity to his own Judaism was such that while he was unconcerned with public opprobrium about his criminal gangster activities, he was deeply concerned about condemnation he might receive from the Jewish press for attacking the Nazis. As such, he asked Judge Perlman to do his best to protect him from criticism by the Jewish press.
When the press later reported critically on his anti-Nazi activities and Jewish leaders refused to defend him, Lansky furiously stated, "They wanted the Nazis taken care of but were afraid to do the job themselves. I did it for them. And when it was over, they called me a gangster. No one ever called me a gangster until Rabbi [Stephen] Wise and the Jewish leaders called me that."
Lansky recruited Bugsy Siegel and Mickey Cohen to send well-trained teams to bludgeon and bloody Bund speakers on the stage and beat up Bund event attendees, carefully keeping his promise that no one would be killed. He rejected his buddy Luciano's offer to help, maintaining that it was a "Jewish fight" and said he "wanted to show them that Jews would not always sit back and accept insults."
Lansky and his associates achieved dramatic results in spreading fear amongst the Nazis; many suddenly became disinclined to attend Nazi rallies and demonstrations, the Bund virtually disappeared, and public pro-Nazi rallies essentially ceased.
During World War II, Lansky also played a key role in assisting the Office of Naval Intelligence's Operation Underworld's recruitment of criminals to guard against German infiltrators and submarine-borne saboteurs. With the American government worried about Allied shipping vessels being sunk by German subs all along the eastern seaboard and the Caribbean coast, and with spies still regularly sabotaging chemical plants, railroad lines, and warships in New York Harbor, the U.S. Navy turned to Lansky because of his important connections to shipping and dock workers and unions.
Lansky successfully negotiated a deal pursuant to which the mafia would provide security for the warships being built along the New York docks in exchange for the government releasing Luciano from prison. (Luciano's sentence was commuted by New York Governor Thomas Dewey, and he was deported to Italy.)
* * * * *
A lifelong Zionist who saw himself as a Biblical-like defender of the Jews, Lansky could not stand by and permit the country where his refugee grandparents were buried (his grandparents had fled Russia for Eretz Yisrael) to be destroyed by the Arabs. A passionate supporter of Jewish charities, including synagogues and an assortment of Jewish causes, he made significant financial contributions to the Yishuv and helped to arrange and finance gunrunning operations to the Haganah.
In 1946, Lansky ordered his men to help bring Holocaust survivors to Eretz Yisrael and facilitate the establishment of the Jewish state. Toward that end, he raised millions of dollars to purchase the ships that would bring the survivors to Eretz Yisrael, and transferred vast sums to arm, train, and equip the military.
At a time when the American government maintained an arms embargo against Israel but permitted arms shipments to Egypt, Lansky – with help from Albert Anastasia and Joe Adonis, who controlled the longshoremen's union and the docks – helped Israeli agents conceal arms purchased for Israel and helped get illegal military hardware onto ships bound for Israel. At the same time, arms bound for the Arabs were "mysteriously" lost.
Since Israel's founding, some leading Jewish-American mobsters, including Joseph ("Doc") Stacher – who built up Las Vegas by pairing the Jewish and Italian mafias into a national organized crime syndicate – have sought to flee criminal prosecution by using Israel's Law of Return (passed July 5, 1950), pursuant to which "every Jew has the right to come to this country as an oleh [immigrant]" and gain Israeli citizenship.
When Lansky sought to employ that very tactic, Prime Minister Golda Meir, haunted by visions of "an army of Wise Guys at the Wailing Wall," sought to prevent him from coming to Israel under an exception to the Law of Return that grants governmental discretion to exclude citizenship applicants with a criminal past.
Golda's problem, however, was that Lansky was a brilliant criminal mastermind who was always one step ahead of the law. For example, to protect himself from the type of prosecution that had sent Al Capone to prison for tax evasion and prostitution, he transferred the illegal earnings from his growing casino empire to an anonymous Swiss bank account and purchased an offshore bank in Switzerland to launder money through a network of shell and holding companies.
Although he faced countless indictments and accusations of major crimes, and despite a half-century as a leading organized crime figure, Lansky was acquitted of every charge he ever faced, except one: a minor conviction for illegal gambling in 1950.
In this December 21, 1970 correspondence to his daughter, Sandra, and her husband, Vince Lombardo, Lansky notes arrangements for his personal financial records to support his petition to immigrate to Israel under the Law of Return and mentions payment to David Rosen, the attorney who would later represent him in his skimming and tax evasion trials:
I paid a check to [tax defense lawyer] David Rosen Dec. 15 $1000.00. I don't think I have notified you about it. Did my last letter state 2 checks that I made out here one cash; the other for my bank in Tel-Aviv … Ben Messinger [a New York attorney] will be in Miami Dec. 28. Uncle Jack [Lansky's brother] can inquire where he is staying. He will need my records: deposit slips; check book and cancelled checks. Don't let him tear the pages out of the check book of my withdrawal – let him copy it. It is better for my records to have the check book in tack [sic] … You also inquire what a boat charges I want you to send me some things; I have plenty of time for the need so I may have you ship it by boat … It is important to see Messinger it will save you a lot of bother later.
Under investigation for tax evasion, Lansky fled in July 1970 to Herzliya Pituach in Israel, hoping to avoid prosecution. Seeking citizenship under the Law of Return, he wished to set his financial records straight back in Miami as this historic letter confirms.
After Israel's Interior Minister, Yosef Burg, barred Lansky from obtaining Israeli citizenship, Lansky appealed to Israel's Supreme Court, and a highly-publicized trial began on March 23, 1972, after Lansky had been in Israel on a tourist visa for almost two years. Asked by Justice Chaim Cohen if he considered Lansky's criminality to be proven, government prosecutor Gavriel Bach stated that he would be satisfied with even "hearsay evidence" in Lansky's case.
Without a shred of proof, Bach argued that Lansky was acquitted of all serious crimes only because law enforcement officials were allegedly under his influence and witnesses were afraid to testify, adding disingenuously that, although Lansky was never convicted, "evidence" built up over years of Senate hearings in the United States "proved" that Lansky was a prominent gangster.
Original newspaper photograph, March 30, 1972: "TIME OUT FOR LANSKY – Meyer Lansky, reputed American underworld figure, takes a break outside High Court of Israel in Jerusalem where he is appealing for permission to stay in the Jewish state as an immigrant. The Israeli government argues Lansky's presence in Israel would "endanger public welfare."
America had threatened to withhold much-needed Phantom jets from Israel unless it expelled Lansky, and Israel found it expedient to sacrifice an old friend. In a travesty of justice, the Israeli Supreme Court unanimously rejected Lansky's petition on September 11, 1972 based upon his "reputation" as an elusive and dangerous mob kingpin, and ordered his extradition back to the United States.
After being denied entry to several countries, he returned to Miami in November 1972 and was immediately arrested aboard the plane. One consequence of this affair was that Lansky's idea to turn Eilat into "the Las Vegas of the Middle East" was never developed.
Even after his deportation by Israel, Lansky continued his support for the Jewish state. In a December 20, 1972 correspondence, he wrote, "I was much disheartened when I read the article in our newspapers about the $10,000 reward for the Eichmann case. I wish I would have known about it. I would raise the money myself." In a poignant August 20, 1973 letter, he wrote with respect to the Yom Kippur War:
Say what you may and blame whomever you want – you are a great people a heroic people. The World will never forget when History is written the Military Strategy this little Army has shown. Also the Military bravery of its men. We saw a picture on television of a group of prisoners with a Torah; that picture will never leave my mind.
Following the resolution of all his legal problems in his favor toward the end of 1974, Lansky renewed his efforts to settle in Israel, but not if doing so would harm the Jewish state:
I'm anxious to visit Israel but not on the strength of publicity. Publicity will not help my return. I also don't have a desire to create any friction in Israel. Israel has enough problems without me. I also don't intend to beg for permission to visit Israel. Regardless of what may be the outcome my second land is Israel, I would love to visit my friends again next year in Jerusalem.
Lansky never did get back to visit his beloved Israel, and he was buried at Mt. Nebo, an Orthodox cemetery in West Miami.
To be clear, it is not my intent here to laud Lansky, who was a brutal thug who committed atrocious acts during his long life of crime. However, I do believe that it is important to recognize his generally unknown contributions to the Jewish people and the Jewish state, particularly because Israel understandably sought to suppress them lest its early history be tainted by an association with criminals. Indeed, anti-Semites continue to falsify history by alleging that "mobsters built Israel."
World's best magic trick
Watch, and try not to blink: This is the world's best magic trick.