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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For any of us to come to the understanding that we are common and unlearned is the accomplishment of a lifetime.
Q: Why do you say "Jewish Communities" and not "settlements," and why not "West Bank?" A: "Settlements" implies that they are outside of Israel. "Communities" is neutral. "West Bank" is a name invented by the Jordanians in 1950, after they ethnically cleansed the area of Jews and illegally annexed it to Jordan, an action recognized only by the UK and possibly Pakistan. "Judea and Samaria" is the traditional name used from biblical times, even by the UN before 1950.
Q: The Arabs, the EU and the UN often say that "settlements" are illegal under international law. What international law are they talking about? A: Usually they mean the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prescribes conditions for a belligerent occupation. Article 49, paragraph 6 says "The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies." There are also other limitations on what an occupying power can do in the Geneva Conventions and the Hague Convention of 1907, roughly based on the idea that the territory doesn't belong to the occupier unless or until a formal treaty establishes its status.
Q: Why did the American government agree with them? A: The State Department had been wedded to the idea that Israel should return to her pre-1967 borders since the oil shock of the 1973 war. The requirement for "secure and recognized boundaries" in UNSC resolution 242 in 1967 receded into the background, disappearing entirely by the time of Barack Obama.
Naturally settlements were a problem. President Carter very much wanted to include Israeli withdrawal from Judea, Samaria and Gaza in the Camp David agreement that returned the Sinai to Egypt, but was unable to do so; the Camp David talks did produce a "Framework for Peace in the Middle East," but it did not mention settlements, and was scuttled anyway by the PLO and the UN. The arguments that settlements were inconsistent with international law were set out in an opinion written for President Carter in 1978 by State Department legal advisor Herbert J. Hansell, and never changed until Pompeo's announcement.
Q: Why do you disagree? A: Two reasons: first, it is a misapplication of 4th Geneva 49-6, which was intended to prevent forced transfers of population such as Germany's deportation of Jews to occupied Poland, and not the voluntary movement of people. Second, because Israel's legal claim on the territory is stronger than that of any other country, there is no belligerent occupation: the land is more properly considered disputed rather than occupied.
Q: What do you know? You're not an expert in international law! A: No, but Eugene Kontorovich is. And here is what he said about this issue:
Under international law, occupation occurs when a country takes over the sovereign territory of another country. But the West Bank was never part of Jordan, which seized it in 1949 and ethnically cleansed its entire Jewish population. Nor was it ever the site of an Arab Palestinian state.
Moreover, a country cannot occupy territory to which it has sovereign title, and Israel has the strongest claim to the land. International law holds that a new country inherits the borders of the prior geopolitical unit in that territory. Israel was preceded by the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine, whose borders included the West Bank. Hansell's memo fails to discuss this principle for determining borders, which has been applied everywhere from Syria and Lebanon to post-Soviet Russia and Ukraine.
Even on its own terms, [Hansell's 1978] memo's conclusions no longer apply. Because occupation is part of the law of war, Hansell wrote, the state of occupation would end if Israel entered into a peace treaty with Jordan. In 1994 Jerusalem and Amman signed a full and unconditional peace treaty, but the State Department neglected to update the memo.
Even if there were an occupation, the notion that it creates an impermeable demographic bubble around the territory—no Jew can move in—has no basis in the history or application of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Almost every prolonged occupation since 1949—from the Allies' 40-year administration of West Berlin to Turkey's 2016 occupation of northern Syria—has seen population movement into the occupied territory. In none of these cases has the U.S., or the United Nations, ever claimed a violation of this Geneva Convention provision.
Q: But what about those countless UN resolutions condemning Israel? Didn't the Security Council pass a resolution (2334) that clearly declared Israeli settlements illegal? A: General Assembly resolutions are non-binding, and even Security Council resolutions do not have the force of international law unless they are passed under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, "Action With Respect to Threats to the Peace, Breaches of the Peace, and Acts of Aggression." Resolution 2334 – which passed because the Obama Administration abstained in December of 2016 – was not such a resolution.
Q: But the UN, the EU, the New York Times, and many other organizations say Jewish communities are "illegal" or (as Obama liked to say) "illegitimate." Doesn't the international consensus count for something? A: International law isn't a popularity contest, and the UN is not a world government that can make or (except in special circumstances) enforce laws. The fact that many nations and individuals dislike Israel as a result of their religious beliefs, the remnants of cold-war Soviet propaganda, their relationship with oil providers, their desire to stick it to the US, or plain old Jew-hatred, does not matter.
Q: What exactly did Pompeo do? A: Pompeo made it clear that the US did not intend to judge whether any particular community was legal (I presume he meant that one built on land that was privately owned by someone else would be illegal), but that it was no longer the case that the US would consider a Jewish community illegal simply because it was located in Judea/Samaria – or, to put it another way, that a community in Judea/Samaria would be considered illegal simply because it was composed of Jews.
Q: Does this actually matter? A: Yes, for two reasons. One is that various groups are taking actions (boycotting products from the communities or requiring special labeling on them) on the basis of their opinion that they are illegal. The fact that the US does not agree is a powerful argument that these actions are unfairly discriminatory, and might be a basis for legislation against them in the US.
The other reason is that the idea that these communities are illegal presupposes a certain view of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs, in which land east of the Green Line is "Arab land" rather than a disputed territory on which both sides have claims. This clearly prejudges the outcome of any negotiations, and leads to the Arabs demanding the freezing or evacuation of Jewish communities as a precondition for negotiations. One might reasonably ask how the illegal ethnic cleansing and 19-year occupation of Judea and Samaria by Jordan converted the land set aside for "close settlement" by Jews in the Palestine Mandate into "Arab land."
Here is a special question for extra credit:
Q: What has Trump and his administration done for Israel so far? A: As of today, the Trump Administration has finally fulfilled the promise of the US Congress to move the US Embassy to our capital and has asserted – as previous administrations would not – that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. It cut funding for the Palestinian Authority while it continues to pay terrorists, and reduced the amount sent to UNRWA, the UN agency that nurtures and perpetuates the Palestinian refugee problem. It recognized Israel's annexation of the Golan Heights. It took the US out of the Iran nuclear deal, and re-imposed sanctions on Israel's most serious enemy. It spoke out strongly for Israel in the UN, in the voice of Ambassador Nikki Haley. And now it has separated America from those who have dishonestly accused Israel of violating international law.
All of these actions are reasonable and should have been taken by prior administrations, which often voiced their support of Israel but did little to change wrong or discriminatory policies toward her. It's been suggested that they are all cheap, merely "symbolic," and have little effect on the ground. But if this is so, then why didn't previous presidents act?
The Jewish Way to Argue With Your Husband And the mystical significance of mikvah By Rochel Holzkenner
The upside of a good argument is standing up for what's right!
The downside is that I tend to be a little insulting.
The upside is that, honestly, he deserves to be put in his place.
The downside is that he'll be too defensive to open his heart to my hurt.
The upside is that I am seething with anger and need to vent.
The downside is that I may walk away even angrier.
What is the Jewish way to argue with your husband (or wife)? Would the super Jew just swallow their hurt and never argue?
Swallowing hurt is a Jewish virtue. The Talmud1 highly praises those who "hear their insult and do not retort," and promises that "whoever overlooks his (hurt) feelings all his sins are overlooked (by G‑d)!" Swallowing hurt because you are afraid of your voice isn't what the Talmud is talking about; rather, the Talmud is encouraging us not to take things so personally and not to become so easily wounded.
But what if you can't seem to swallow your hurt feelings? What if you don't address it, and it happens again. Then by all means, argue. Just argue with class.
There is something to be learned about disagreement in marriage from the mikvah. The mitzvah of monthly mikvah immersion is a cherished focal point of a Jewish relationship. It is a law that transcends human understanding (a chok), and yet the more deeply we learn about it, the more wisdom we can glean about relationships.
What is the mystical significance of the mikvah? In his famous book The Waters of Eden,2 Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan links the waters of the mikvah to the river that flowed out of Gan Eden, the Garden of Eden. Rabbi Kaplan asks this question: Why does the Torah interrupt the narrative about Adam and Eve to tell us about the river that flowed out of the Garden of Eden? The answer is understood by the subsequent story of Adam and Eve, after being driven from Eden, sitting by this river and repairing themselves. This river became their only link to the Garden, and through it, they could access their previous utopian world.
Circling back to the mikvah, Rabbi Kaplan tells us that all water in the world ultimately has its root in the river that emerged from Eden. This explains why the natural waters of the mikvah have their roots to the water that flowed out of Eden. A woman immerses in Garden of Eden-infused water every month and then brings that energy back into the relationship. Just as Adam repaired his relationship with G‑d through that water, the mikvah brings constant repair to a relationship.
We can even compare a couple's initial infatuation to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve let their guard down (and literally wore no clothes) and were not embarrassed or protective over themselves. They were humble. In a fresh relationship, the couple often has their guard down. They aren't worried about being taken advantage of. They give to each other purely without much fear.
But soon enough, the couple gets kicked out of that Garden. The starry-eyed bliss is over, and so they cover up their innocence and naivete with sophisticated defense mechanisms. The ego becomes very protective, and hurtful words or actions become loaded with significance.
How dare he blame me after all I do for this relationship?
She's a spendthrift because she doesn't value how hard I work and doesn't respect me.
The fighting becomes a hot mess. We protect our egos, convinced that if we don't protect ourselves well, then we will be depleted.
To push back on this natural decay, the marriage needs monthly repair. Differences and hurt feelings are to be expected, and won't break down the love as long as the spouses can rebuild it. The mikvah represents access to the Garden of Eden, even if we can't live there permanently. The waters are infused with humility from the Garden of Eden, and humility is just the right backdrop of a good (effective) argument.
The mere commitment to do a mikvah-centered marriage takes humility. Naturally, a couple wants to be intimate when they are in the mood, whatever time of the month. Following G‑d's timeline for intimacy is totally pushing back against our desire for immediate pleasure. "Don't tell me when I can and can't touch my girl!" the ego shouts. The mikvah marriage begins with a more humble premise; this is G‑d's girl (or guy), this relationship is a gift from G‑d; I'm grateful for the opportunity to be intimate with this girl when the time is right for it. It's the Garden of Eden attitude, where it's more about what G‑d wants from us than about what I'm entitled to have.
What about arguing? Can you argue with a humble attitude? I think so, especially if you don't dive into the argument when you feel most angry. That often takes more self-control than holding back fromCan you argue with a humble attitude? cheesecake or caffeine. It's so hard it hurts! But like any good diet, you really enjoy the benefit of holding out. Repair rarely comes in the heat of the moment, when your tongue is way too loose and his ego is still sore. But an argument a day or two later can be more like a heated conversation, and real progress can be made.
And one more tip for classy arguments is scaffolding. Can you anticipate what your spouse will say in his defense when you share your hurt? If you can, say it for him. If possible, support him by showing him that you get where he was coming from. And that you don't think he's a horrible villain, misogynist and abuser. The ego resists scaffolding much; it feels like we are excusing the inexcusable and defending the enemy. Plus, it drains the argument of its drama. But the upside to supporting his side before stating your case it that it can bring repair that can be sustained.
I hope I haven't given you the impression that I've mastered the Jewish way to argue with my husband. But I have seen these Garden of Eden skills work wonders in my life, and I hope they are useful to you, too. And the next time you find yourself angry at your husband, remind yourself that effective repair is the secret to every great marriage. So argue with class!
Art by Rivka Korf. Rivka uses her creativity and expertise to create masterful compositions and illustrations. She shares her love of coffee with her husband, and passes on her appreciation of art and design to her children.
Our Dreams - A Portal to Eternity!by Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher
Sefer Bereshis contains many dreamers and their dreams. First we have Yakov's dream followed by Yosef's dreams, Pharaoh's dreams, and the Butler and the Baker's dreams.
There was a popular song called "Life is but a Dream." Why do we dream? What is the meaning of our dreams? The Mishnah in Avot states, "One moment of pleasure in the After-Life is better than all of life in this world."
How can we have confidence that another world awaits us after death? The answer is dreams! Have you ever had a dream that was so vivid, that you experienced it as if it were reality, but then you woke up and realized that it was all an illusion?
Dreams remind us that this world is not the ultimate reality. After death, we will awake to an even more real existence, and our experience in this world will be like a dream to us. That is why the Talmud in Berachot describes sleep as one sixtieth of death, so that we can taste the After‑Life in this world. And that is why there are two events in life that one cannot predict when they will occur – Sleep and Death!
The Zohar teaches that everything in this world serves to teach us about the ultimate reality of the Spiritual World.
This world is really just an illusion and the Next World is the ultimate reality. That is why the Talmud calls this world Olam Hashekr (World of lies – fake news) and the After Life is called Olam Ha‑Emet (World of Truth). This world may seem real, but one day, we will leave this physical dimension and enter an entirely different spiritual dimension, which I call the Fifth Dimension!
A dream is a humbling experience, and it is the key to belief in the After‑Life. So even a dream, the experience of illusion teaches us about the ultimate reality of the World To Come. This is what the Mishnah in Avot means, "This world is compared to a foyer or lobby before the World To Come. Prepare yourself in the foyer, so that you may enter the banquet hall of the After‑Life."
As the Chinese Philosopher Chuang Tzu wrote twenty six hundred years ago "In the midst of a dream, we cannot know it's a dream. Only after we are awake, do we know it was a dream. But only after the GREAT Awakening can we understand that all of this life is just a great dream."