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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On Shabbat something happens to the world - the world becomes infinite again.
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S FAVORITE YIDDISH PROVERB OF THE WEEK
"Shlof gicher, men darf di kishn" - Sleep faster, we need the pillows.
Jerusalem's 'Tomb of the Kings' opens to the public for the first time in a decade
Israeli Foreign Ministry hails the opening of the contested Roman-era site as the result of "long and strenuous" negotiations with France, which has owned the site since the late 19th century.The "Tomb of the Kings" in Jerusalem, is believed to be the burial site of Queen Helena of Adiabene, a Mesopotamian monarch who converted to Judaism in the first century BCE.
(November 10, 2019 / JNS) French authorities have opened Jerusalem's ancient "Tomb of the Kings" to the public for the first time in 10 years, the AP reported on Friday.
Limited numbers of visitors are now being allowed to visit the site, which was closed in 2009 for an extensive, $1.1 million restoration, following several abortive attempts to open it to the public in recent months.
The tomb, which is located in eastern Jerusalem, is believed to be the burial site of Queen Helena of Adiabene, a Mesopotamian monarch who converted to Judaism in the first century BCE. While access to the burial chambers remains prohibited, visitors can now tour the tomb's impressive courtyard, which dates back over 2,000 years.
There is an ongoing dispute over ownership of the site between France and Israeli religious and nationalist groups, according to the report. In addition, religious Jewish Israelis have protested outside the tomb's gates since 2009, demanding it be opened for those who want to pray at the site.
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French officials have voiced concern regarding the possibility of the tomb, which is located in the primarily Arab eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, becoming a Jewish holy site.
Entrance to the site is currently limited to 60 people on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and visitors, including those intending to pray, must pre-purchase tickets online and register with a passport or ID card. According to some Orthodox Jews, these rules are designed to deter worshipers, as many ultra-Orthodox Jews avoid Internet use and object to paying entry fees to a place of worship.
The site was first excavated by Frenchman Felicien de Saulcy in 1863, who mistakenly identified the tomb as belonging to biblical kings. He took two sarcophagi found inside, as well as human remains, back to Paris, despite protest by the local Jewish community. They remain in the collection of the Louvre. A French Jewish woman, Amalya Bertrand, bought the site in 1878 through the French consul in Jerusalem, and one of her heirs later donated it to the French government.
France's Consulate General said in a statement that the reopening was the "fruit of restoration and security work conducted by the French authorities over the past 10 years" and that it was committed to "visits by small groups in accordance with the rules," according to Israel Hayom.
Israel's Foreign Ministry hailed the move as a product of "long and strenuous" negotiations with French authorities, but did not elaborate, according to the report..
France has managed the tomb since the late 19th century. A Frenchman excavated the site in 1863 and took two sarcophagi and human remains to Paris and which remain in the Louvre's collection despite Jewish protest at the time, the report noted. A French Jewish woman bought the site in 1878 and one of her heirs granted it to the French government.
Sometimes you have to suffer for Hesced
From: Rabbi Jeff Bienenfeld
With our Parsha, we come to the end of the remarkable life of Avraham and Sarah and commence the story of Yitzchok and Rivka. And as different as these fascinating narratives are, there is a common thread that runs through them – the fundamental importance of the chesed ethos. Indeed, when we reflect upon the deeds of Avraham, the hallmark of chesed shines forth as the central ethical attribute defining the character of the Jew of antiquity and continuing until today. Of course, the singular charisma of the Jew contains other virtues as well (Yevamos 79a), but as the Kli Yakar discusses in his commentary (24:14), while there are clearly many important מידות טובות that must be cultivated (such as patience, modesty, diligence, etc.), the fact that Eliezer tested Rivka only regarding this ethical ideal demonstrates that chesed is the foundational attribute of all the others.
Rav Soloveitchik, however, appears to have a slightly different view. To be sure, the chesed of Avraham was of a magnitude of such righteous proportions that the Midrash makes the incredible claim that HaShem Himself admits that with the advent of Avraham, there was no longer a need, as it were, for Him to implement His own chesed. "For Avraham stands there in My stead!" (Sefer HaBahir 191, p.86) To this truth, all agree. The Rav, though, wishes to add another dimension to Avraham's chesed by wedding it to the great norm of kedusha, holiness. Chesed is an outward movement of boundless kindness and altruism. It is charity and benevolence, hospitality and empathic concern for the "thou." But for chesed to accomplish its supreme goodness, it requires the sacrificial commitment to the imperative of kedusha. (Abraham's Journey, pp. 106-109)
The Rav illustrates this critical point by sharing a story about his illustrious great-grandfather, his namesake, the Beis HaLevi.
"On one erev Shavu'ot, late in the afternoon, on his way to the synagogue, he (R. Yoshe Ber of Brisk) noticed a flower stand that was still open. He went over to the woman and said: 'My dear, it is late. We will usher in the Yom Tov pretty soon. Why don't you go home to your family?' 'Yes, Rabbi,' the woman answered, 'but I haven't sold any flowers … What shall I do, Rabbi? There is nothing in the house, no food, no wine, no candles! I have nothing to look forward to.'
"R. Yoshe Ber told the woman to step aside. He took her place and began to announce aloud how beautiful the flowers were, how tender and green the twigs and leaves. People suddenly encountered a strange scene. Their world-renowned rabbi, in his festive garments, was zealously selling flowers – and charging exorbitant prices. Of course, all the flowers were sold quickly despite the prohibitive prices."
To this story, the Rav makes this sharp observation. There are times that in order to perform acts of chesed, "you must sacrifice not only your money [and time], but your very dignity and pride. This conception is the product not of the idea of tzedakah [and chesed], but of kedusha. To help others is not only an ethical act, but also a great experience through which you come one or two steps closer to the Almighty. Serving one's fellow man is eo ipso the most sublime service to Gd." In other words, if a person wishes, say, to organize Shabbos meals for those in need, it will require not only the giving of oneself to the cause, but will also inevitably require sacrificing, sacrificing some personal conveniences and pleasures. At times, acting with chesed toward the unfortunate may even invite scorn and ridicule; a person may have to suffer indignities and derision, but if it is right and just, this is precisely this sort of sacrifice that the kedusha ethic demands and expects of the Jew.
Avraham certainly excelled in his chesed, but that chesed was only able to take flight in the extreme because he was possessed of the sacred kedusha instinct. "[And] there, he [Avraham] built an altar." (Bereishis 12:7). He sacrificed nothing tangible on those altars, but he did sacrifice something even more precious. He sacrificed himself; he surrendered totally to the Will of HaShem so that he might act with righteousness and justice to all (Bereishis 18:19).
Avraham surely set the chesed bar quite high, and even if we cannot emulate his high standard in the fullest, we can at least understand this truth: It is easy to display chesed to friends and family; it is not much of a challenge to put ourselves out for those we like and respect. But what about the stranger, what about the person who, while basically decent and upright, may have crossed us, slighted us, on occasion? Would we be willing to extend the chesed hand to him as well?
On the tombstone of the great rabbinic genius, R. Chaim Soloveitchik, zt"l, his epitaph extols his genuinely "true" chesed. "רבנו הגדול, רב חסד, שר התורה, הגאון החסד האמיתי של כל ישראל" His brilliant rabbinic scholarship and his pathbreaking creative method of Talmudic study are only mentioned secondarily. His grandson, the Rav, often commented that, by nature, Rav Chaim was innately not blessed with a chesed personality. But he worked on himself, transformed himself into one of the most generous and kind rabbinic figures of his generation. Foundlings were left on his doorstep knowing full well that Rav Chaim would care for them no matter the cost and effort. The poor, the orphan and widow were always welcome in his home. We may ask: What was it that impelled this rabbinic giant to embark on this difficult self-purging journey? The answer is plain. Rav Chaim was determined to live a life of kedusha, and once that commitment was engaged, the result was the beautiful emergence of a great human portrait of chesed.
And so, as we take leave of Avraham's extraordinary life, let us not take leave of his ethical legacy of chesed and kedusha. As our first Forefather, his life and deeds can teach us still!
The grandeur of the site led to the belief that the tombs had once been the burial place of the kings of Judah, hence the name Tombs of the Kings; but the tombs are now associated with Queen Helena of Adiabene. According to this theory, Queen Helena chose the site to bury her son Isates and others of her dynasty.
The site is located east of the intersection of Nablus Road and Saladin Street. The gate of the property is marked "Tombeau des Rois," French for "Tomb of the Kings."
On May 15, 2019, Hekdesh, a Jewish organization (Association Hekdesh du Tombeau des Rois), hired Gilles-William Goldnadel, a French lawyer, and took the French government to court to prove that the site was purchased in 1878 by a Jewish woman, Berthe Amélie Bertrand  Goldnadel also hopes to reclaim the sarcophagus of queen Helena of Adiabene, presently housed at the Louvre Museum.
On June 27, 2019, the French consulate in Jerusalem reopened the site to visitors purchasing tickets in advance. 
The tomb is mentioned by the Roman-Jewish historian Josephus in the first century C.E. He writes about Queen Helena of Adiabene who came to Jerusalem from Kurdistan, northern Iraq. Her family converted to Judaism and built a palace in the City of David at the end of the Second Temple Period. Helena's son Monobaz II had her remains and those of his brother buried "three stadia from Jerusalem." Medieval Europeans mistakenly identified the tomb as belonging to the Kings of Judah.
In 1847, the Turkish governor ordered a search for treasures in the tomb but none were found. In 1863, the French archaeologist Felicien de Saulcy was given permission to excavate the tomb. The German architect Conrad Schick drew up a map of the site. De Saulcy found sarcophagi, one of which was inscribed with a Hebrew inscription, "Queen Tzaddah." He believed this was the sarcophagus of the wife of Zedekiah, the last king of Judah.
After human bones were found, the Jewish community appealed to Sir Moses Montefiore to persuade the Ottomans to halt the excavations. De Saulcy smuggled out some of his findings, which are now in the Louvre in Paris.
In 1864, the French-Jewish banker Isaac Péreire attempted to purchase the site but without success. In the 1870s, a French Jewish woman, Amalya Bertrand, paid 30,000 francs for it. It was registered as French property under the trusteeship of the French consul. Bertrand declared: "I am of the firm opinion that this property, the field and the burial cave of the kings, will become the land in perpetuity of the Jewish community, to be preserved from desecration and abomination, and will never again be damaged by foreigners."She had a wall and guard post built around the site. In 1886, Bertrand's heirs gifted it to the French government(pour le conserver à la science et à la vénération des fidèles enfants d'Israël).
The Jews of Jerusalem referred to it as the "tomb of Kalba Savua," Rabbi Akiva's father-in-law. According to another tradition it was the tomb of Caleb son of Jephunneh, one of the Twelve Spies in the Bible. The tomb has also been called the "tomb of the Sultans."
A small stone house was built on top of the tomb by Irhimeh (Arabic: ارحيمه), a Jerusalemite family.
Archaeological findings Tombs of the Kings, 1842 Tombs of the Kings, 1903
From the house there is a 9 meter wide staircase (23 steps) that was originally paved and leads to a forecourt. The rain water is collected in baths, which are carved in the steps, and carried via a channel system to the water wells. At the bottom of the stairs there is a stone wall to the left with a gate. This gate leads to a courtyard that was cut from the rock at the same date. The dimensions of this courtyard are roughly 27 meters long from north to south and 25 meters wide from west to east.
The entrance to the tombs is via this courtyard. The tombs are entered via a rock-cut arch (facade) in the western side. The 28-meter facade was crowned with three pyramids, which no longer exist, and decorated with reliefs of grapes, plexus leaves, acorns and fruit, reflecting the Greek architectural style. The architrave was originally supported by two pillars, fragments of which were found in the excavations.
The tombs are arranged on two levels around a central chamber, with four rooms upstairs and three rooms downstairs. The central chamber itself is entered from the courtyard via an antechamber that goes down into a dimly lit maze of chambers. The access from the antechamber to the exterior courtyard could be sealed closed by rolling a round stone across it, and the stone still remains in-situ. In the first century C.E., a "secret mechanism" operated by water pressure moved the stone. Probably a small amount of water pressure activated a system of weights to open the tomb. Two of the eight burial chambers have arcosolia, resting places made of a bench with an arch over it. Some of the arcosolia have triangular niches where oil lamps were placed to give light during the burial process.
The two most common types of tombs in the first century CE are found in this tomb complex. Shaft tombs were long narrow shafts in which the deceased were placed and closed with a stone slab which probably had the name of the occupant inscribed on it. Channels in the center of the shafts were probably carved to drain the water that seeped through the rock.
Purported sarcophagus of Helena of Adiabene, Louvre.
The tombs are now empty, but previously housed a number of sarcophagi; they were excavated by a French archaeological mission headed by Louis Felicien de Saulcy, who took them back to France. They are exhibited at the Louvre.
Although no kings are known to have been buried here, one of the sarcophagi bears two Aramaic inscriptions and is thought to be that of Queen Helena of Adiabene; the one inscription which reads, Ṣaddan Malkata (Palmyrene: צדן מלכתא), and the other, Ṣaddah Malkatah (Aramaic: צדה מלכתה), interpreted by scholars to mean: "Our mistress, the Queen." The sarcophagus is now at the Louvre Museum in Paris. The decorative architecture of the tomb complex is Seleucid, which would fit with this identification.
Michelson, Menachem (1996). מקומות קדושים וקברי צדיקים בארץ ישראל [The Jewish Holy Places in the Land of Israel] (in Hebrew). Milner, Moshe; Salomon, Yehuda. Israel: Israel Ministry of Defense. p. 59. ISBN965-05-0836-8. בלובר שבפריס מוצגים ארונות קבורה, ממצאים ושרידים שנמצאו בקברי המלכים – מערת הקברים הידועה בירושלים המזרחית.
The new Rabbi was in the middle of a sermon when he suddenly beckoned to the shammes to come over. The Rabbi said to him, "That man in the third row is asleep. Wake him up." The shammes replied, "You put him to sleep. You wake him up."
Izzy is sitting in synagogue one Shabbat morning when he falls asleep and starts to snore. The Gabbai quickly comes over to him, taps him softly on his shoulder and says, "Please stop your snoring, Izzy, you're disturbing the others in the shul." "Now look here," says Issy, "I always pay my membership in full, so I feel I have a right to do whatever I want." "Yes, I agree," replies the Gabbay, "but your snoring is keeping everybody else awake."
A reform Rabbi was having an argument with an orthodox Rabbi. He asked him, "Why don't you let the men and women of your congregation sit together as they do in my congregation?" The orthodox Rabbi (who had a mischievous sense of humor) replied, "If you want to know the truth, I don't really mind them sitting together at all. The trouble is, however, that I give sermons and I can't have them sleeping together."
Moshe was talking to his psychiatrist. "I had a weird dream recently," he says. "I saw my mother but then I noticed she had your face. I found this so worrying that I immediately awoke and couldn't get back to sleep. I just stayed there thinking about it until 7am. I got up, made myself a slice of toast and some coffee and came straight here. Can you please help me explain the meaning of my dream?" The psychiatrist kept silent for some time, then said, "One slice of toast and coffee? Do you call that a breakfast?"
Ben Cohen had been drinking at a pub all night. The bartender finally said that the bar was closing. So Ben stood up to leave and fell flat on his face. He tried to stand one more time; same result. Ben figured he'll crawl outside and get some fresh air and maybe that would sober him up. Once outside, Ben stood up but fell flat on his face again. So he decided to crawl the 4 blocks to his home. When he arrived at the door, Ben stood up and again fell flat on his face. He crawled through the door and into his bedroom. When he reached his bed Ben tried one more time to stand up. This time he managed to pull himself upright, but he quickly fell right into bed and fell sound asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow. He was awakened the next morning to his wife, Yente, standing over him, shouting, "So, you've been out drinking again!" "What makes you say that?" Ben asked, putting on an innocent look. Yente replied "The bar called - you left your wheelchair there again."
Its 3:00 A.M. and Goldie wakes up to see her husband pacing the floor."Melvin, why can't you sleep?" she asks him. "You know our next door neighbor, Sam. I borrowed $1,000 from him, and it's due tomorrow morning and I don't have the money. I don't know what I'm going to do." Melvin replies.Goldie gets out of bed and opens the window. "Sam," she shouts, and several times more, "Sam, Sam."Finally a very groggy Sam opens the window opposite her and yells back, "What, what is it...it's 3 AM, what do you want?"Goldie says, "You know the $1,000 my husband owes you? He doesn't have it."She then slams the window shut, turns to Melvin and says, now you go to sleep, and let Sam pace the floor."
And of course the old classic… A Rabbi dies and goes up to the gates of heaven. Before he's let in, the angel in charge has to consult with God for a long period of time if he deserves a place in heaven. As the Rabbi is waiting, an Israeli bus driver approaches the gates of heaven. Without a second thought, the angel who was consulting with God let the bus driver through. The Rabbi points at the bus driver and yells, "Hey! How come he gets in so quickly? He's a simple bus driver, while I'm a Rabbi!"The angel explains, "Dear Rabbi, you don't understand. When you would be giving your sermon during the prayer services, your whole congregation would fall asleep. When this bus driver drove towards Tel Aviv, all his passengers would be at the edge of their seats praying to God!"