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
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We have an obligation to Huminity to get it done!- The new Trump Peace deal
President Trump Delivers Joint Remarks with the Prime Minister of the State of Israel
US President Donald Trump unveiled his Middle East Peace Plan on Tuesday evening a few minutes after 12 noon Eastern Time together with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu standing right beside him.
Can You Really Become as Great as Moshe Rabbeinu? By Shmuel Reichman
In parshas Shemos, we are introduced to Moshe Rabbeinu, perhaps the greatest person who has ever lived. Moshe not only led the Jewish people out of Mitzrayim, but also received the Torah on Har Sinai. He fasted for 40 days and 40 nights, surpassing all human boundaries and limitations, and the Torah itself testifies that no one reached the level of nevuah that Moshe was able to attain. Yet, the Rambam (Teshuva 5:2) says something absolutely shocking. He claims that everyone is capable of becoming a tzaddik like Moshe Rabbeinu. How is this possible? Not all of us are able to become leaders, let alone become the greatest leader in human history. So what does the Rambam mean?
Are We All Capable of Greatness?
We can take this question a step further. The Gemara in Niddah 30b includes a cryptic and perplexing line. The Gemara says that just before each of us are born, we are forced to take a neder, an oath, that we will become a tzaddik. Once again, we face a problem. An oath is a guarantee, a promise. How can we promise that we'll be a tzaddik? Not all of us are cut out to be great, to be a tzaddik. How can we understand this strange Gemara? Let's begin by going back to the beginning of this Gemara in Niddah 30b.
Your Origin Story
The Gemara discusses a very enigmatic tale describing the initial stage of our formation. The Gemara explains that when you were just a fetus, you were in a perfected and transcendent state of being; a malach taught you kol ha'Torah kulah, the entirety of Torah, and you saw all of reality with a crystal-clear lens. However, the Gemara continues with an anticlimactic punch (literally): just before you were born, this malach struck you on the mouth, causing you to forget everything you learned.
Two obvious questions arise: Why does the malach make you forget what you've learned? But more importantly, if he's going to cause you to forget it, why teach it to you in the first place?
The Vilna Gaon answers as follows: When the Gemara states that the fetus learns all of Torah, it doesn't mean that you were learning basic Chumash with Rashi. Rather, it refers to the deepest realms of Torah, a transcendent Torah that is beyond this world. This Torah is the very root of reality, and you understood every aspect of it clearly. Not only were you shown this level of Torah, but you were also learning your specific share of Torah- you were being shown your unique purpose in the world, and how your unique role fits into the larger scheme of the human story as a whole. You were given a taste of your own perfection, of what you could, should, and hopefully will become.
But most importantly, when the malach struck you, you didn't lose this Torah; rather, you lost access to it. Instead of it disappearing completely, this state of self became buried deep within your subconscious. The reason is as follows: What you received in the womb wasn't real, it was merely a gift; something unearned and undeserved. The goal of life is to come into this world and rebuild all that you once were in the womb. However, this time, it will be real, since you've built it yourself. In essence, your job in this world is not to create yourself, but rather to recreate yourself; to re-attain your original state of perfection, as you were shown by the malach. This time, however, it has to be done through free will, by choosing to become great. Only by overcoming challenge and difficulty, and asserting your will-power, can you fulfill your true potential. In essence, our entire life is a story of teshuva- returning to our original, higher, and true self.
Your Life is Uniquely Designed For You
We can now begin to explore the nature of the human condition. As the Ramchal explains, everything in your life is here to help you fulfill your unique role. Many people are unhappy with the life they have, constantly comparing their lives to those around them, always searching for another reason to complain. If only we understood that we were each given a unique package, we'd find so much more joy in life. Your body is the exact body you need to carry you through this world. Your psychological clothing, which includes your intellect, imagination, memory, emotions, and personality, were perfectly crafted and designed for you and your unique role in this world. You were born into a specific family at a specific time period, were sent to a specific school, in a specific community, and were exposed to a particular set of social influences. All of these things make you who you are.
Everything in your life is there only to help you grow and become the person you were meant to become, to manifest what you were shown in the womb, to recreate your ideal self. Your job isn't to become great, it's to become you! That is true greatness. Many people struggle to find their tafkid- their purpose in the world- because they're looking in the wrong place. You can't find your role by looking outside, you can only find it by looking deeper inside, within yourself. True growth requires us to grow from within. We need to go into a room, by ourselves, and ask the difficult and key questions: Who am I? What drives me? What makes me unique? What are my talents? What are my passions? What can I contribute to the Jewish people and the world as a whole?
The Antidote for Jealousy
With this in mind, we can now understand why comparison and jealousy are completely illogical. If each of us are unique and different, how can you compare yourself to anyone else? As Einstein famously said, "if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing it's foolish". You can't compare yourself to someone else, as you are two completely different people. If we genuinely understood this, we would never be jealous. Once you realize that everything in your life is exactly what you need to fulfill your unique potential, you'll stop looking around at what other people have, and start utilizing what you have. To take it a step further, you can actually begin to be happy for other people's success, as you will realize that we aren't competing with each other; we're all on the same team, we're all part of the cosmic symphony of life. Your ear would never be jealous of your hand, since they're both part of the same body; so too, if you realized that we're all part of the same "body", you'd never be jealous of anyone else.
Answering Our Questions
We can now return to our original question. A tzaddik doesn't refer to an objective image of greatness, rather a tzaddik is one who fulfils his or her role and actualizes their unique potential. Tzedek literally means "correct" and refers to truth. Becoming a tzaddik means living your truth and bringing your unique potential into actuality. When the gemara says that we each made an oath to become a tzaddik, it's referring to our promise to fulfill our unique role in this world.
We each have our mission. Some will be on the front lines, while others may be more behind the scenes. Both are tzaddikim, both are fulfilling their unique role. As Rav Elchanan Wasserman explains in his Ma'amarim, when the Rambam explains that each of us can be a tzaddik like Moshe Rabbeinu, he specifically uses the word "tzaddik". We may not be able to become as objectively great as Moshe, but we can each become subjectively as great. Just as Moshe fulfilled his unique potential, so too, we can each fulfill our unique potential.
It's time to take the next step in your journey through life. It's time to say "Yes, I can!" We need to stop holding ourselves back from our own greatness. You've got greatness within you, and it's your responsibility to bring that greatness to the world! For in truth, we can all become a tzaddik like Moshe Rabbeinu.
Am Yisrael Chai by Rabbi YY Rubinstein
A few weeks ago, my wife and I traveled to Israel for a two-week stay. I was scheduled to speak at various venues, but the main purpose of my visit was to meet a young lady who came into the world around one year ago.
She is my newest grandchild and, even leaving aside a grandfather's natural bias, I would still insist she is one of the most beautiful young ladies I have ever seen.
She is named after my daughter-in-law's grandmother who was a Holocaust survivor and whom I had the privilege to meet on two occasions.
I suppose there can be few more terrible ironies than the fact that she was born in a Polish town called Oświęcim. It became better known by its German name, Auschwitz, because of the death camp the Nazis built next to it. She would eventually be sent back to die in the place she was born, but somehow, inexplicably, she survived.
I used to travel regularly from England to Antwerp, Belgium to give shiurim. I stayed with someone who recalled a surprising incident from his youth.
He was walking with his father to shul one Friday night when he saw a man walking towards them. He carried a newspaper under his arm and my host, who was then nine years old, assumed he was a non-Jew.
As they passed, the man stopped and addressed my friend's father by name and, continuing in Yiddish, asked, "Reb Shmuel, vu geist du?" (Where are you going?).
My friend's father replied, "Reb Yankel, ich gei tzu shul. Heint iz Shabbos Kodesh!" (It's Shabbos, I'm going to shul).
The man shook his head as he replied. "Shabbos? Ich hob nit di velt oder di vat tzu kumen." (Shabbos? I have neither this world, nor the world to come.) And he walked on.
My friend's father explained to his puzzled son that the man was a grandson of one of the great Rebbes of the Sansz chassidic dynasty. His wife too came from chassidic "royalty."
Both had gone through the horrors of the Holocaust and both had survived, but they had lost their faith after the indescribable hell that was Auschwitz.
The Rebbes of Satmar and Belz said that anyone who went through that horror and lost their faith would not be held to account by heaven's beth din. It was simply too big a test.
Yet many, in fact, very many, inexplicably, impossibly survived Auschwitz with their faith intact and whole.
My new granddaughter's great-grandmother was one of those.
When I first met her in Bnei Brak 10 years ago, there was simply no way of knowing that the old lady with the warm smile had experienced a life that was in any way out of the ordinary.
And I simply do not know how she and those like her could have survived, let alone moved on, built a life, brought children into the world… and learned to smile again.
How many long lines of the young and the old had she witnessed trudging their way to where their souls flew back to heaven among the smoke and ashes of the crematoria's chimneys?
Another of my daughters-in-law is the deputy head of the IVF laboratory in Jerusalem's Shaare Tzedek Hospital. During our trip, she offered my wife and me the opportunity to come and see her lab and the work carried out there. This turned out be a unique and breathtaking experience.
Looking at a screen on a state-of-the-art incubator and watching a cell become two and then four and then finally enough to be transferred to its mother, where it will hopefully grow into a child, is beyond exciting. It is witnessing a miracle and arguably the greatest one of all. I'm still not sure if I have fully come to appreciate what I saw and its significance.
I was invited to look into a large pot-like container filled with liquid nitrogen. Inside, thousands of potential lives lay sleeping and dormant.
I pictured thousands of souls in heaven, fervently hoping that these tiny potential babies will wake and allow them to travel to this world to fulfill their promise and potential.
And I wondered how many couples sitting nervously outside would have their sadness and worry swept away by the astonishing skill of the people who work so dedicatedly to bring those souls into the world.
Seeing such a lab would be breathtaking wherever in the world you visited it; seeing it in the place I did, was infinitely more astonishing.
Some rabbinic voice said that the souls that were so cruelly taken from the world by the Nazis came back in the years since then to continue their journey. Some might even say that the little girl named after her saintly great-grandmother whom I think (without bias) is one of the most beautiful young ladies I have ever seen actually shares her soul.
I am not qualified to know if they're right, but as we drove into Ben Gurion airport, I saw that someone had sprayed on a wall, "Am Yisrael Chai!"
That graffiti is absolutely right. Against all odds, sleeping Jewish lives continue to wake and souls travel to join them, now once more in their own land. They are keen to live and, like us, be part of a miraculous and inexplicable story, the story that is Am Yisrael Chai.
Why Did G-d Create the Universe? by Rabbi Gutman Locks
Did G-d need something, and that is why He created the world? Does G-d have needs?
Stop Harassing Residents By Esther Cameron
The problem with "administrative orders" in Judea and Samaria was dramatized recently when Neria Zarog decided to protest an order distancing him from his home on Kumi Ori Hill in Yitzhar for three months. Zarog, a goat farmer and the father of two, was arrested in Yitzhar during the last week of the three-month period after chaining himself to an iron frame. (He is now back home.)
According to Honenu, a legal aid organization, there are still some 50 administrative orders currently in force. "This is a recurring nightmare for Jews in Judea and Samaria," notes Nati Rom, a Honenu attorney who represented Zarog.
Administrative orders are issued by the Civil Administration without any judicial proceeding or attempt to prove wrongdoing. An administrative order can mean expulsion from one's home, house arrest, or even imprisonment ("administrative detention").
Administrative orders are also often enforced by brutal police methods. Zarog received multiple injuries during his arrest, and settlers have been brutally interrogated and subjected to humiliating conditions – on par with those reserved for the most hardened terrorists – after being arrested.
Zarog was served with a distancing order (tsav harchakah), a common type of administrative order requiring the recipient to stay out of Judea and Samaria and/or not to contact certain people for a given period of time. The person who receives a tsav harchakah has to leave his home and job and relocate, usually to a place within the Green Line, thus suffering loss of income, added rental expenses, and disruption of family life unless he can afford to move his family with him.
In democratic countries, a person's home is considered his castle. Therefore, if a government banishes a citizen from his home, the expulsion must be based on clear legal grounds. He must present a clear and present danger ("a ticking bomb").
This principle is clearly understood in Israel when it comes to persons other than Jewish settlers. In the case of Ajuri v. IDF Commander, for example, the IDF sought to compel three individuals who had been involved in terrorist activity to move from Shechem to Gaza for two years. They might well have constituted a clear and present danger, but appealed their expulsion and, in July 2002, the Supreme Court ruled in their favor.
Israeli Chief Justice Aharon Barak stated, "In principle, removing a person from his dwelling place and forcibly moving him someplace else causes serious harm to his self-respect, his freedom, and his possessions. A person's home is not only a roof over his head; it is the means for establishing physical and social relationships. A number of a person's basic human rights are harmed when he is forcibly removed to another place, even if such a move does not involve an international crossing."
Even B'Tselem, an organization whose declared goal is "to end Israel's occupation," has spoken out against administrative orders. In 2011, B'Tselem issued a statement saying, "Undoubtedly the state should act determinedly against 'settlers' who harm Palestinians and their property, but the way to achieve this is via criminal proceedings and not administrative orders that are based on confidential information."
The use of administrative detention is based on regulations enacted by the British Mandate government in 1945. Under current law, it empowers military commanders in Judea and Samaria to detain a person for a maximum of six months where there is a "reasonable basis for believing that the security of the region or public security necessitates." It may be extended for an additional six months, and there is no maximum cumulative period.
Administrative detainees must be brought before a military judge within eight days. However, hearings are held in camera and the regular rules of evidence don't apply; a judge may admit evidence without revealing it to the detainee or the detainee's representative.
Administrative detention is a necessary weapon in fighting actual terrorism – e.g., plots to carry out suicide bombings and the like. But Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria may be served with administrative orders for nothing more than being active in the settler cause – e.g., distributing posters (this happened to Akiva HaKohen, a resident of Yitzhar).
In the words of Louis René Beres, professor emeritus of political science and international law at Purdue University, "The point of these orders, of course, has been to quash anti-government dissent in various West Bank Jewish communities." In essence, those who are adamantly opposed to the ideology of "land for peace" are being persecuted for thought crimes.
Let's hope that the release of Neria Zarog will be followed by an end to the use of administrative orders against Jews who represent no danger to the community, and whose only "offense" is their determination to build up the land of Israel.
Jewish Reincarnation by Gutman Locks
What happens when a Jew dies? Is that the end for him, or do things still go on?
See you tomorrow, bli neder
Love Yehuda Lave