Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Twenty-five reasons to live in Israel by a non-religious Jerusalem writer and Destroying America’s Children By Dennis Prager and On Aliyah Day, Israel Celebrates 28,000 New Olim in the Past Year

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Yehuda Lave, Spiritual Advisor and Counselor

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

When a person looks through a colored lens, everything seems to be that color. If the lens is tinted yellow or blue, everything seems yellow or blue. A person who looks at life through the lens of gratitude will always find things to be grateful for.

Character is developed one positive action at a time. Therefore nothing is actually trivial in our lives. To grow in character development, pay attention to seemingly trivial matters. Someone who grows from each minor life event will eventually reach high levels of character perfection.

We never had it so good: Every person alive today derives great benefit from comforts and pleasures that were not available in the past. All of the latest technological advances serve us to a remarkable degree. For all this, we should be full of appreciation and gratitude.

Love Yehuda Lave

Twenty-five reasons to live in Israel by a non-religious Jerusalem writer

I don't like the opinions of this writer as he makes fun of Religious people in his writings, but I thought even for a non-religious writer who has lived in Israel for 25 years, his list of things he likes about living in Israel were interesting to look at

'There's nothing quite as lovely as walking in short sleeves on a temperate summer night in Jerusalem.'

Yesterday was our "aliyah-versa." A quarter of a century ago, o
So, on this, the silver anniversary of our Israeli citizenship, I present 25 reasons to make aliyah (not in any particular order).

1.     Bilingual children. For every moment I'm frustrated that I can't speak Hebrew decently, I am so proud of my children for being completely comfortable in both languages. Even if it's difficult for me, I appreciate the unprecedented renaissance of our ancient tongue.
2.     National health insurance. Whenever I hear a story of a friend in the US having to fork out a huge co-pay or being denied coverage for a critical cancer treatment, I am grateful for the universal healthcare we have here. I've never been turned down for medicine and I don't stress about $15,000 deductibles.
3.     Properly spiced food. We took a luxury cruise out of Miami earlier this year. The food was plentiful and prepared beautifully. But it was always missing something. Israeli food – whether it's local or an Israeli fusion spin on an international delicacy – is always a well-spiced delight for the palette. Also: falafel.
4.     Tel Aviv as the vegan capital of the world. In a Jewish world where the rabbinate's kashrut department has become irredeemably corrupt, vegan is the new kosher.
5.     The Start-Up Nation. Israel's bustling hi-tech scene always gives me plenty to write about. Plus, making aliyah no longer entails career suicide.
6.     Dress code. Admittedly, no one in Silicon Valley wears ties anymore, either. But I love not having to dress up to go to work or a wedding.
7.     Medical breakthroughs. CAR-T was invented here. It's saving lives for people with blood cancers. Maybe someday it will save mine.
8.     Mandatory army service. After nearly three years in the army, our young people enter college older and having shouldered incredible responsibility compared with their peers elsewhere. The army is also Israel's ultimate melting pot.
9.     Proximity to cool travel destinations. We're just a few hours from nearly everywhere in Europe, on the same time zone as Africa and there are direct flights to all over Asia. Ben-Gurion Airport is manageable, efficient and attractive. And you don't have to take your shoes off or dump your water at security.
10.    The cost of education. $3,000 – that's all it costs for a year of school at a top university. Public elementary and high schools are also so much less expensive than Diaspora Jewish day schools.
11.     Israeli television. Netflix just can't get enough: Fauda, Shtisel, False Flag, Prisoners of War. Move to Israel and you can watch them here first.
12.     Religious pluralism. Yes, despite the Orthodox monopoly, post-denominational congregations across the country are reinventing pluralistic prayer, with rock & roll piyyutim moving onto the bima.
13.    Datlashim. When you leave religion, it's a statement of status, a shift still within the national-traditional spectrum, rather than a pejorative like "Off the Derech."
14.     The weather. There's nothing quite as lovely as walking in short sleeves on a temperate summer night in Jerusalem. And when much of the world is buried in snow, Tel Aviv is still warm in the winter.
15.     A kid-centric country. Our children walk to school, take the bus, go camping alone at age 15 and hang out until the wee hours of the night without fear of kidnapping. Strangers care about your kids (sometimes too much).
16.     The calendar. The national and Jewish holidays are one and the same. Shabbat is (mostly) a day off. You don't have to burn your vacation days to take off for the Jewish holidays. And keeping two Passover Seders – forget about it.
17.     The Israel Trail. One-thousand kilometers winding through deserts, forests and cities. Hiking is a national pastime shared by young and old.
18.     Jacob's Ladder. This musical weekend at the Sea of Galilee has been a huge part of much of our aliyah. It lives up to its reputation as Israel's friendliest festival.
19.     The Yuri Shtern Holistic Center and Refanah Healing Holidays. If you have to get cancer, these two organizations can make a huge difference, with discounted massages and free vacation nights in Israeli hotels.
20.     Being part of something greater than ourselves. Israel as a national project began before we were born and will end (hopefully) long after we're gone. That gives intrinsic meaning to life here.
21.    Pardes. Pluralistic, egalitarian Torah learning in Jerusalem. It's where Jody and I met.
22.     History. Every time you pick up a rock, you might discover a new archaeological site. We don't go to the Western Wall much these days, but we're glad it's still there after 2,000 years.
23.     Israeli music. Attending a concert in Israel, where everyone knows and loudly sings along to the lyrics in Hebrew, is an unmitigated blast. Bands like Kaveret and Gazoz stand up to the best of '60s and '70s Brit pop.
24.     Gun control. It's remarkably difficult to get a gun license, and mass shootings at schools are virtually unheard of.
25.     Friends and community. This is a hard one to quantify, but we have undoubtedly made the best friends of our lives in Israel and found supportive Jewish communities of interest. I don't know if that would have happened everywhere.
Bottom line: after 25 years, this is home.

On Aliyah Day, Israel Celebrates 28,000 New Olim in the Past Year

The Ministry of Immigration and Absorption on Monday evening launched events celebrating Aliyah day in honor of the Olim, new immigrants to Israel.

During a special ceremony, Minister of Immigration and Absorption Yoav Galant awarded a prize to Olim whose special achievements were determined as "an extraordinary contribution to society and the country."

The winners included Professor Karl Skorecki, a world-renowned physician and scientist in the field of genetics, Yaakov Friedman, the coach of Israel's national fencing team, and Ronit Avera, who has developed a culture-oriented program to prevent and contend with domestic violence in the Ethiopian community.

"On Aliyah Day we honor the immigrants to Israel through the generations – the people who left everything and immigrated to Israel," Galant stated. "The bravery, determination and unique contribution of each one is felt very well in all aspects of life in the country."

He said that "every Jew around the world should see his home and his future in the State of Israel, even if his current place of residence is different."

Established in 2016, Aliyah Day is celebrated on the seventh day of the Hebrew month of Cheshvan, coinciding with the reading of the "Lech Lecha" Torah portion in which Avraham is told by God to leave his home to go to Israel. The day is marked with celebrations in the Knesset, a special cabinet session, and events at the president's residence, schools, and army and police facilities.

The past year saw an increase in the number of Olim to Israel. Since the beginning of 2019, more than 28,000 new immigrants from all over the world immigrated to Israel and the positive trend continues. In 2018, 26,000 Olim came to Israel. The majority of Olim this year came from Russia and Ukraine.

Some 3.5 million Jews have made Aliyah since 1948, making up 42 percent of the total population.

In 2019, over 70 years after the Holocaust, the world's largest Jewish population lives in Israel. This figure represents 43 percent of world Jewry.

Destroying America's Children By Dennis Prager

A rule of life is that everything the left touches it ruins: art, music, Christianity, Judaism, race relations, male-female relations, universities, high schools, elementary schools, late-night comedy, sports, liberty, journalism, the Boy Scouts, national economies, language, and everything else it influences.

The left, not liberalism. (I have written a column and done a PragerU video on the differences between liberalism and leftism.)

To this list, we can now add childhood and children.

1) The left robs children of their innocence and has helped produce an unprecedented number of anxious and depressed young people.

Most of us are aware of how the left prematurely introduced sexuality into young children's lives under the guise of "education." That was just the beginning. Then the left changed same-sex college dorms, which had been the norm throughout American history, into co-ed dorms on virtually every American campus. Then came co-ed bathrooms.

And then the left introduced columns in college newspapers on male-female intimate relations. One is more graphic than the other. After reading such a column, a student could easily conclude that without "exploring" and becoming an expert in this field, life is neither exciting nor fulfilling.

There are many reasons a greater percentage of college students are more depressed than ever before. But the immersion in loveless and romance-less intimate relations is undoubtedly one of them. It certainly contributes to the especially high rate of female depression on campuses.

The same left, incidentally, that has hyper-sexualized colleges now laments that colleges are filled with a "rape culture."

2) The left has devalued marriage. An unprecedented large percentage of young Americans are not married, and more of them than ever do not consider marriage important. The left has indoctrinated a generation (or two) of young Americans into believing that marriage is unimportant – career alone is the road to a meaningful life for both men and women.

Throughout American history, until the left took over the culture and universities beginning in the 1960s, it was a given, as Frank Sinatra sang, that "love and marriage…go together like a horse and carriage."

3) The left has devalued having children: The left is ambivalent and often hostile to people having children. That's why people on the left have the fewest children of all political and religious groups.

The latest reason not to have children is that much of humanity is doomed if global warming is not immediately reversed. But since the 1970s, the left has offered other reasons not to have children including that the world would not produce nearly enough food and other basic resources to sustain the growing world population. Thus began the zero population growth (ZPG) movement.

But the left's ambivalence over having children isn't just hysteria over too many people, lack of food, or global warming. Many people on the left (again, unlike liberals or conservatives) just don't particularly want kids. Children are a nuisance: They interfere with one's career, they cost too much, and dogs and cats are perfectly acceptable substitutes.

4) The left is ruining the childhood of many children by depriving them of the joys and excitement of growing into men and women. The left has invented a new idea in history: that human beings are not born male or female but are "assigned" their sex at birth by sexist parents, physicians, and a society that is not yet "woke" to this "fact."

In schools throughout America, teachers are told to no longer call their students "boys" and "girls," just "students," lest they impose a gender identity on them. Mattel has released a doll that has no gender. A New York Times columnist whose photo shows him with a beard has requested that his readers refer to him only as "they," as he believes gender is useless.

Teenage girls who declare themselves boys are allowed to have their bodies surgically altered without their parents' permission. Divorced parents who tell their five-year-old male child who feels he is a girl that he is a boy risk losing custody or parental rights if the other parent says the child is a girl. Girls who compete in sports against boys who identify as females and complain that they're losing unfairly are attacked as "transphobic."

5) The left has convinced innumerable young Americans that their past is terrible and their future is terrible. The left tells American children that their past – the American past – is shameful and their future is even worse: They will likely die prematurely as a result of global warming.

Whatever the left touches it ruins. The latest example is children.

Small Miracles of the Holocaust


There is a powerful story I heard many years ago but never shared publicly, considering it too fantastic to possibly be true. But recently having read an accounting of it in Yitta Halberstam's Small Miracles of the Holocaust, (Dancing with G-d pp. 178-181) I had the opportunity to ask a Hungarian Auschwitz survivor who recalled that this story had made the rounds in Auschwitz. It is difficult for me to imagine that the story is true, and yet, who could make up such a story?  

Apparently, in the fall of 1944, as the last remaining Jews of Hungary were being sent to the gas chambers, a Commandant decided to consign every Jew under the age of 18 to their fate. Normally youth in their later teens were sent to the labor battalions, receiving a reprieve from the infamous selections, but for some reason this Officer was determined that all Jews under 18 should be gassed.

It was a well-known fact that the Nazis would often look for ways to enhance the Jews' suffering during the holidays, and as it was the last day of Sukkot, the festival of rejoicing, the SS officer took special pleasure in condemning fifty more young Jewish men especially as they had thought given their age and relative good health that they would certainly be sent to work rather than death….   Thus it was that fifty able-bodied teens from a yeshiva in Hungary were all sent to the gas chambers. As the doors were closed and the reality of their situation began to sink in, for some reason there was a delay in the gas and the hundreds of Jews trapped in the gas chambers stood waiting…. By 1944 most of the Jews knew what was coming, and one could hear the silent sobs and painful mournful undertones as the Jews awaited their deaths…  

Finally, one young yeshiva student sprang up and shouted:   "Brothers! Today is Simchat Torah when we are meant as Jews to rejoice in the Torah! We have one last chance to celebrate the gift of Torah, let us celebrate Simchat Torah one last time!"   And with that he began to sing the well-known words of a song sung in many communities on Simchat Torah:                "Ashreinu, ma'tov chelkeinu, u'ma' naim goraleinu…"              "How happy are we, how good is our lot, and how pleasant is our fate…"   Incredibly fifty young voices joined in and began to sing…. And still the gas had not dropped into the gas chamber. And the same gas chamber whose walls had absorbed so much pain and sadness and had known only the agony of death and final goodbyes suddenly echoed with the sounds of song and joy.   Can you imagine? "… how pleasant is our fate…"? How could any human being find the strength to say, much less sing those words, in that place?   And as they were singing and clapping the same Commandant walked by and heard the joyous sounds emanating from the gas chamber. Confused, he ordered the doors opened and soon became enraged. Pointing at one of the young yeshiva boys, he demanded an explanation, at which point one of the yeshiva boys responded:

  "We are rejoicing because leaving a world where Nazi beasts reign is cause for celebration! We are soon joining our loved ones in the world of truth and leaving your murderous world behind…"   The Commandant was so infuriated at their joy he ordered them all taken out of the gas chamber. Promising them instead a world of pain and torture, he had them thrown in a shed to await their horrible fate.   But 'fate' had a different plan; a much higher-ranking officer arrived the next morning with orders to procure a few hundred laborers for an important Nazi project. Happening upon this young group he had them all loaded on trucks bound for safer work; legend has it they all survived the war …

.   So… how did a group of boys in Auschwitz find the strength not just to survive, but to actually rejoice, in a gas chamber in Auschwitz??   This week we leave the Sukkah, the booth we sit in for seven days every year, into Simchat Torah, signifying the celebration of the completion of the year-long reading of the Torah, the five books of Moses. One wonders why we celebrate the completion of the Torah specifically at the end of the festival of Sukkot? We literally go from sitting in the Sukkah straight into the dancing of Simchat Torah with our Torah scrolls; what is the connection?   Rav Moshe Feinstein, in his Darash Moshe, points out (quoting the Yotzer of the second day of Sukkot) that the mitzvah of the Sukkah (the huts we sit in) is equivalent to all of the Mitzvot in the Torah ("ke'neged kol hamitzvot shkulah…"), which is somewhat puzzling.

 One can understand why Shabbat or the prohibition against idolatry is such an important Mitzvah it is considered as important as all the Mitzvoth; but why would that be true for sitting in a hut for seven days? Indeed, what is sitting in the Sukkah all about?   What are we meant to be thinking and feeling?   Interestingly, unlike Passover and Shavuot with clear historical origins, the events which the festival of Sukkoth is meant to commemorate are not at all clear.   In fact, two of the most famous Rabbis in Jewish history debate the nature of these booths we call Sukkot.   According to the Talmud, (Tractate Sukkah 11b) Rabbi Eliezer says the Sukkot represent the clouds of glory (the ananei kavod) which miraculously protected the Jews in the desert.   Rabbi Akiva however believes we are commemorating actual sukkot (booths) the Jews dwelled in for forty years in the desert, which protected them from the elements until they finally entered the land of Israel, their permanent home.   A rather strange point of view to say the least; It is easy to understand why we would celebrate and commemorate the miraculous clouds of glory.   But what was so special about booths in the desert? Obviously if a nomadic people are wandering the desert for forty years, they will build huts and booths much like the Bedouin still do today. So, what is it we are celebrating?  

Rav Moshe Feinstein in his Darash Moshe suggests that we think or at least often behave as though the world as we see it is reality and that the mitzvoth and Torah Hashem (G-d) gives us are the illusion.   But in truth, this world, with its emphasis on materialism and the things we accrue, is the illusion and temporary, whereas Hashem, as represented by the clouds of Glory is the true reality.   If we could really know that this world is really like the blink of an eye, and that many of the things to which we ascribe so much significance are an illusion, then we would live entirely different lives.   As an example, suggests Rav Moshe, sometimes all the financial experts will recommend that a particular company or stock is almost a guarantee and a person as a result will invest heavily only to discover all the experts were wrong. And such a person overnight can lose everything. Conversely, sometimes a person will throw money at an idea which makes no sense or spend a fortune on lottery tickets and become wealthy overnight ….  

The Chofetz Chaim points out that all the earnings of a person are determined by Hashem in advance, such that even though we certainly have to do our bit to be partners in the world, that actually has little to do with how much we will actually earn….   And if a person could really own this idea, he would obviously not be stressed with the fluctuations of the stock market.   Imagine a Doctor tells a person he has six months to live: it is fair to assume such a person would re-prioritize his entire life, and all the endless email and social media, stock trading and board meetings, would seem so much less important. Indeed, for those six months what had appeared as a death sentence, would actually be a life sentence as this person would probably rediscover the true gift of life.   We forget that we have all been seen by the 'Doctor'. And it has already been determined how much time we have here; the only question is whether we remember this every day.   The clouds of glory, suggests Rav Moshe, represent the world and reality as it truly is, and the Sukkot, the actual huts Rabbi Akiva refers to, are the world as we see it. We move into our temporary huts to remember what our priorities should be, and what the world is really about.   This actually explains an interesting question:   During the festival of Sukkoth, we add a one-line prayer to the blessings after a meal:   "HaRachaman Hu' Yakim Lanu … Sukkat David Ha'Nofalet." "May the merciful one raise up the fallen Sukkah of David."   This is a prayer for the rebuilding of the Beit HaMikdash, the holy Temple, yet the Beit ha'Mikdash (the Temple) is referred to here as a Sukkah, a strange term to say the least. A Sukkah, after all, is a temporary hut, which the Temple certainly was not. In fact, if there was ever a structure in Judaism, which was not meant to be temporary, it was the Temple!   Unless of course that is the whole point: the Beit HaMikdash was meant to be an environment where we could so feel Hashem (G-d)'s presence we immediately understood what in life was important and what was temporary and a waste of time …  

We sit in our homes with the illusion that they are 'built to last'. And for seven days (or eight outside the land of Israel) we sit in what we consider to be a temporary hut. The message of Sukkoth is that our homes are really just Sukkoth; temporary huts, and our Sukkoth, representing the idea that we are under the clouds of glory, completely in G-d's hands, are really the homes we make for ourselves that are built to last.   Sukkot challenges us to consider what things in life really last forever.   Perhaps those boys in that terrible place in Auschwitz got a glimpse of what was really important in life, and what really is eternal….   And from this understanding, we are ready to embrace and dance with the Torah and see its recipe for a joy-filled meaningful life as the reality and priority and not just a temporary opportunity to rejoice  

See you tomorrow, bli neder

Love Yehuda Lave

Rabbi Yehuda Lave

PO Box 7335, Rehavia Jerusalem 9107202


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