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
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Everybody is unique. Compare not yourself with anybody else lest you spoil God's curriculum.
German archive uploads details of millions of Nazi victims
Arolsen organization publishes 850,000 documents collected after the end of World War II in US-occupied zone of Germany containing 'immense' informationBy AP and TOI STAFF
BERLIN — Germany's International Center on Nazi Persecution has uploaded some 850,000 documents with information on ten million people collected after the end of World War II in the American occupied zone of Germany.
The Bad Arolsen-based archive said in a statement Tuesday that the documents contain information about victims of Nazi persecution that was collected in the winter of 1945/46 in Germany based on orders by the four occupying powers — the US, Britain, France and the Soviet Union.
They issued orders to German local authorities, companies and others requiring them to draw up lists of foreign nationals, German Jews and stateless people who were registered with them.
A large collection of these documents as well as other lists from the American Zone of Occupation can now be viewed online.
Rebecca Boehling, acting director of the National Institute for Holocaust Documentation at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, said in the archive statement that because the American Zone was the largest of the four the information gathered there is "of exceptional significance for the search for missing persons and for determining the path of persecution of both survivors and those whose lives were stolen."
The online documents will make available "an immense amount of information about survivors and victims of the death marches and concentration camps as well as about forced labor," Boehling said.
The Arolsen Archives said that it will soon publish a further list of documents taken from the British Zone.
WATCH: Rabbi Pinchas Winston Urges Diaspora Jews to Make Aliyah – 'We're Clearly Reaching the End of History'
International lecturer and author Rabbi Pinchas Winston of Thirtysix.org speaks about the importance of the Land of Israel and what it means to Jews in the Diaspora in a brief video he has recorded as part of a project to encourage aliyah from the observant Jewish sector called, "Bring Them Home – Aliyah Now!"
The rabbi is one of a group of prominent English-speaking rabbonim and rebbetzins who themselves have fulfilled the mitzvah of coming to live in the Land of Israel, and have each taken the time to share their thoughts about that experience and its importance in Torah.
"We're clearly reaching the end of history. For all we know, Moshiach is here right now NOW, about to reveal himself any moment in time," Rabbi Winston points out in his video.
"And that door closes, between making Aliyah before Moshiach comes, and making Aliyah after Moshiach comes," the point being, he says, in one's spiritual status depending upon when one arrives in the Holy Land, relative to the arrival of the Messiah.
"We still have the opportunity. We should do it. We should take advantage of it, because later on, when we finally have clarity, about what life is truly about, we'll understand the importance of living in the Land that our forefathers found to be so extremely important to their lives and growth and their completion – and it is to us as well.
"As somebody who's made Aliyah, I can tell you personally that the experience is beyond comprehension. It's not something you can tell somebody else who hasn't gone through it. It's not something that you can really share with people who are 6,000 miles away.
"But I will tell you that to follow that lead, to walk in the footsteps of our ancestors, but most important of all, to be in the place that God calls home?"
A smile. A deep breath.
"There's nothing like it. And we have to appreciate that and take advantage of this situation while we can."
Is Wearing Black at a Funeral a Jewish Thing? By Yehuda Shurpin
Yes and no. At one point in Jewish history, some had the custom to wear black as a sign of mourning. However, in the words of Gesher Hachaim, the classic work on the laws of mourning, "Nowadays, scrupulous people don't have the custom to wear black during mourning."1
But let's back up a bit.
Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman (Nachmanides), quoting Rabbi Yitzchak ben Yehuda ibn Ghiyyat (1038–1089), cites a number of examples of mourners specifically wearing black. Here are some of them:
The "Old Man" in Black
The year in which [the high priest] Shimon HaTzaddik died, he said to them: "In this year, I will die." They said to him: "How do you know?" He said to them: "On every Yom Kippur, upon entering the Holy of Holies, I was met by an old man who was dressed in white, and his head was wrapped up in white, and he would enter the Holy of Holies with me, and he would leave with me. But today, I was met by an old man who was dressed in black, and his head was wrapped up in black, and he entered the Holy of Holies with me, but he did not leave with me." Indeed, after the festival of Sukkot, he was ill for seven days and died.2
Fitting Into the Crowd
Rabbi Yannai say to his sons: "My sons, do not bury me in black cloths nor in white cloths. Not in black, lest I be acquitted in judgment and I will be among the righteous [in the World to Come] like a mourner among the grooms. And not in white, lest I not be acquitted in judgment and I will be among the wicked like a groom among the mourners. Rather, bury me in the cloths of the bath attendants who come from overseas, which are neither black nor white [but rather grayish in color]."3
(The Code of Jewish Law notes that the actual custom follows the Jerusalem Talmud4 that all are buried in white.5)
Additionally, Nachmanides quotes an unknown Midrash that says Moses told his successor before his passing that he should wear black as a sign of mourning for him.6
This custom to wear black is mentioned in various later sources as well;7 however, as noted, it is no longer the custom to do so.
So what happened?
The Customs of the Nations
The Torah in a number of places warns against "following the customs of the nations."8 Although there is much discussion regarding the meaning and parameters of this prohibition, Rabbi Yechiel Michel Tucazinsky (1871–1955) explains that once non-Jews adopted the custom of wearing black as a sign of mourning, for one to specifically wear black nowadays can be an issue of following the custom of the nations.9 He adds that this is despite the fact that wearing black as a sign of mourning used to be a Jewish custom, for the Talmud tells us that the prohibition of not following the customs of the nations applies even to old Jewish customs and rabbinic enactments that were later adopted by other nations (as long as they aren't explicit commandments, in which case we would continue to do them even if they had become common).10
On the other hand, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef writes that, in his opinion, wearing black would not fall under the category of prohibited "customs of the nations of the world," for it was originally a Jewish custom that was only adopted by non-Jews. However, he adds that, in practice, the custom is not to specifically wear black as a sign of mourning.11
It should be noted that the above discussion is about one who wants to specifically wear black as a sign of mourning, as is the social norm. If one ordinarily wears black, or wants to wear conservative-colored clothing—which just happen to be black—to attend a funeral, it would not be an issue.
May we merit the day when death and mourning are no longer a part of our reality, when G‑d "will destroy death forever. My L‑rd G‑d will wipe the tears away from all faces and will put an end to the reproach of His people over all the earth."12