It’s a Balancing Act: The Masculine and Feminine in Each of Us By Hanna Perlberger and Tu BiShvat starts Sunday Night and 6 significant Jewish moments in Trump's 2020 State of the Union speech and a Eulogy for my Mother
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 Yom Kippur, during the afternoon break between prayers, a Jew walking home from the synagogue passes by the golf course. He is overtaken by an urge to play some golf, and he says to himself, I'll play just one hole and the return to the synagogue. Amazingly, for the first time in his life he hits a hole-in-one. The angels cry out to God: "How can you do this? A Jew desecrates the holiest day, and you reward him with a hole-in-one?!" God responds: "True, but who is he going to tell?"
Tu BiShvat starts Sunday Night
Tu BiShvat ( ט״ו בשבט) is a Jewish Holiday occurring on the 15th day of the Hebrew Month of Shevat (in 2020, Tu BiShvat begins at sunset on February 10 and ends in the evening of February 11). It is also called "Rosh HaShanah La'Ilanot" ( ראש השנה לאילנות), literally "New Year of the Trees." In contemporary Israel, the day is celebrated as an ecological awareness day, and trees are planted in celebration.
The name Tu BiShvat is derived from the Hebrew date of the holiday, which occurs on the fifteenth day of Shevat. "Tu" stands for the Hebrew Letters Tet and VuV which together have the numeral value of 9 and 6, adding up to 15.
Tu BiShvat appears in the Talmud in Tractate Rosh HaShanah as one of the four new years in the Jewish calendar.
The first of Nisan is the "new year for kings and festivals".
The first of Elul is the "new year for the tithe of cattle"
The first of Tishrei is the "new year for years" (calculation of the calendar),
The first of Shevat is the "new year for trees" according to the
In the Middle Ages, Tu BiShvat was celebrated with a feast of fruits in keeping with the Mishnaic description of the holiday as a "New Year." In the 16th century, the kabbalist Rabbi Yitzchak Luria of Safed and his disciples instituted a Tu BiShvat seder in which the fruits and trees of the Land of Israel (the seven Species) were given symbolic meaning. The main idea was that eating specific fruits and drinking four cups of wine in a specific order while reciting the appropriate blessings would bring human beings, and the world, closer to spiritual perfection.
In modern times, Tu Bishvat has become a symbol of both Zionist attachments to the land of Israel as well as an example of Jewish sensitivity to the environment.
Early Zionist settlers to Israel began planting new trees not only to restore the ecology of ancient Israel but as a symbol of the renewed growth of the Jewish people returning to their ancestral homeland. American and European Jews observe Tu Bishvat by contributing money to the Jewish National Fund, an organization devoted to reforesting Israel.
For environmentalists, Tu Bishvat is an ancient and authentic Jewish "Earth Day" that educates Jews about the Jewish tradition's advocacy of responsible stewardship of God's creation as manifested in ecological activism. Among them, contemporary versions of the Tu Bishvat seder, emphasizing environmentalist concerns, are gaining popularity.
It's a Balancing Act: The Masculine and Feminine in Each of Us By Hanna Perlberger
n addition to having to shepherd three million men, women and children out from enemy territory, G‑d gave Moses a very strange commandment: to create a calendar. And not just any calendar, but a strange and unique calendar that is based on both the lunar months and the solar year. Early civilizations were What's easier than looking up in the sky?based on a lunar calendar. After all, when marking the passing of time, what's easier than looking up in the sky? With the advent of agriculture, however, lunar-based calendars were inadequate for informing farmers when to plant their crops, and so the solar calendar, which is seasonal, became dominant.
These two systems (lunar and solar) are not in sync, however, and it requires complicated adjustments to reconcile the two over a perpetual 19-year cycle. As interesting an endeavor this may have been, what was so significant about this calendar that it had to be commanded at such a precarious moment?
The Hebrew word for Egypt is Mitzraim, from the word meitzar, which means "narrow" and "constricted." In leaving Egypt, the Jewish people were going from a place of narrowness to expansion, from a bounded country to an endless open desert, from slavery to freedom. And that entails a major shift in thinking, which is necessary to cultivate both individual and relationship potential.
Jewish mysticism teaches us that the differences between the sun and the moon are not just physical, but spiritual. This polarity is not merely about being a man or a woman; rather, these energies and qualities are present in everyone.
The characteristics of masculine energy are "top-down" and proactive. The predominant energy is to decisively and quickly impose external solutions. When my husband was admitted to a hospital emergency room with a gastric bleed, for example, he needed masculine-energy medical intervention to save his life. Had the doctor not immediately located the site of the bleed, started transfusions and sent my husband off for surgery, my husband would have died on the spot.
The characteristics of feminine energy, on the other hand, are "bottom-up" and receptive. When feminine energy interacts with the world, it sees potential; by cultivating, building and revealing innate qualities, it engenders transformation. And so, after the medical crisis and other complications had passed, my husband was totally debilitated, and it was almost a year before he regained his former vigor and health. During that time he benefited from feminine-energy medical support, utilizing a holistic approach to restoring his body from the inside out, bringing his body into balance and letting the Natural Healer take over.
Both masculine and feminine energies are equally dynamic and vital, and we need access to both ways of being. To be a free and fully functioning person, however, we need to know when to be what. Not only do we get into trouble when we employ the wrong energy for the task, our relationships suffer when we are out of balance.
For In its unbridled extreme, masculine energy is tyrannicalexample, in its unbridled extreme, masculine energy is tyrannical. Pharaoh exemplifies the unhealthy aspects of masculine energy in that he saw reality as an either/or, black-or-white proposition. He reduced reality to one dimension: "my way or the highway." That kind of thinking will defend distorted and warped viewpoints to the death. No wonder it's a relationship killer.
Similarly, feminine energy in its unhealthy extreme creates submissiveness to the extent where such a person cannot act or think on his or her own, and thus doesn't even have a point of view. It's not slavery per se, but the willingness to remain a slave out of choice is to reject the idea of self-efficacy. As we know from biblical commentary, most of the Jews wanted to stay in Egypt. And disconnection from one's identity and personal power is anathema to a vibrant bond, in our relationships both with each other and with G‑d.
Thus, this is not a call for androgyny, unisex blandness, or the homogenizing of identity and dissolving differences. Rather, true freedom comes from the ability to bring the cosmic forces of masculine solar and feminine lunar energy into balance and harmony on an individual level, and ultimately on a global one. Being tasked with being a light unto the nations calls for a balancing act that awakens us to the full power of our being, realizes the richness of relationship potential, and creates the joining of heaven and earth.
6 significant Jewish moments in Trump's 2020 State of the Union speech
There were a few moments of Jewish significance, from the Middle East peace plan the president unveiled last week to an unusual disruption to what went unsaid.
We are moving forward at a pace that was unimaginable just a short time ago, and we are never going back!" he said on Tuesday night.In an unusually partisan address, Trump lashed out at the administration of his predecessor, Barack Obama, and took shots at the social democracy embraced by one of his potential Democratic rivals, Sen. Bernie Sanders.
There were rehearsed surprises redolent of the reality TV that earned Trump much of his fame, moments of real drama and no discussion of Trump's soon-to-conclude impeachment trial.
And there were a few moments of Jewish significance, from the Middle East peace plan the president unveiled last week to an unusual disruption to what went unsaid.
Here's what you need to know.One sentence about Israel: Three times, Trump conjugated "fail" to ding the Obama administration. Once was when he touted the peace vision that his adviser son-in-law, Jared Kushner, rolled out last week at the White House, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in attendance."Last week, I announced a groundbreaking plan for peace between Israel and the Palestinians," Trump said. "Recognizing that all past attempts have failed, we must be determined and creative in order to stabilize the region and give millions of young people the chance to realize a better future.
It's been critical for Kushner and Trump to note that the plan, which sanctions Israel's partial annexation of the West Bank, comes in the place of failed initiatives by Obama and two other presidents, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. The plan thus far is stuck in neutral: The Palestinians have rejected it outright, while Israeli action is likely delayed until after next month's elections
.Bipartisan applause for Iran intervention: Trump celebrated his administration's most notable kill, the assassination in December of Qasem Soleimani, the top Iranian general. That brought one of the rare moments of applause from both sides of the aisle.Trump also extended the possibility of peace with Iran if the country capitulates to his demand that it halt its nuclear program entirely (Iran insists it is not a weapons program) and cease its adventurism."The Iranian regime must abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons, stop spreading terror, death and destruction, and start working for the good of its own people," Trump said. "Because of our powerful sanctions, the Iranian economy is doing very poorly. We can help them make it very good in a short period of time, but perhaps they are too proud or too foolish to ask for that help.
"The overture to Iran, however cautious, fit into an overarching theme of the foreign policy portion of Trump's speech: the need to end U.S. involvement in overseas conflicts."It is also not our function to serve other nations as a law enforcement agency," Trump said. "These are war fighters, the best in the world, and they either want to fight to win or not fight at all.
"Support for private schools: One rehearsed surprise reality TV-friendly moments came when Trump announced that Janiyah Davis, a fourth-grader from Philadelphia who was present, would receive an "opportunity scholarship" — money to attend whichever schools she prefers, public or private.Trump used the moment to tout his administration's signature education legislation, a bill that would expand the scholarships.
That was music to the ears of many Orthodox Jews who favor increased public funding of Jewish day schools. The legislation, which Congress has not advanced despite Trump's urging, would create a national version of programs that exist in 18 states.Trump also declared that he would protect "the constitutional right to pray in public schools," but mentioned only Christian symbols, such as crosses.
A Jewish parent in the 1960s spearheaded the case that led the Supreme Court to restrict organized school prayer.
Renewed attacks on undocumented immigrants: A big chunk of Trump's speech was a vivid and grim depiction of migrants as criminal threats. He was touting a Republican bill that would allow victims to sue cities that had offered sanctuary to migrants who go on to commit crimes."The United States of America should be a sanctuary for law-abiding Americans — not criminal aliens!" Trump said.
Jewish groups, particularly HIAS and T'ruah, have been at the forefront of the sanctuary movement since Trump first cracked down on undocumented migrants. They note that the crimes cited by Trump and his aides are not representative of a population numbering in the millions.
Disruption by a grieving Jewish father: When Trump spoke about protecting the Second Amendment, which guarantees the right to bear arms, one person in attendance shouted out in protest and was quickly escorted from the room.That person was Fred Guttenberg, the father of Jaime Guttenberg, one of 17 students and teachers murdered during the school shooting two years ago in Parkland, Florida.
Guttenberg, who has dedicated himself to protesting for gun safety, had been present as a guest of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif."Tonight was a rough night. I disrupted the State Of The Union and was detained because I let my emotions get the best of me. I simply want to be able to deal with the reality of gun violence and not have to listen to the lies about the 2A as happened tonight," Guttenberg later wrote on Twitter."That said, I should not have yelled out. I am thankful for the overwhelming support that I am receiving. However, I do owe my family and friends an apology. I have tried to conduct myself with dignity throughout this process and I will do better as I pursue gun safety.
"What went unmentioned: Jewish defense groups say anti-Semitic expression has spiked, including two violent attacks in New Jersey and New York in the final weeks of 2019. Yet antisemitism went unmentioned."We were disappointed that the president did not acknowledge the alarming rise of antisemitism in the United States," B'nai B'rith International said in a statement that praised Trump's foreign policy initiatives. "With Jews under attack — physically as well as through relentless social media assaults — a plan to combat antisemitism would have fit in well with his overall themes of security and equality.
"The theme of combating anti-Semitism may have been absent from Trump's speech, but it was in the chamber. Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J., brought as his guest Rabbi Zev Reichman of the East Hill Synagogue in Englewood, a beneficiary of nonprofit security grants championed by Pascrell. The grants have helped numerous Jewish institutions add security protections.
EULOGY FOR my Mother written 9 years ago on her death by my sister
Thursday, February 09, 2012 11 am Funeral Service
My mother was a clothes horse with exquisite tastes. If she were coming here today for any other reason than her own funeral, she would be worrying about what she was going to wear. Her bags, her scarves, her purses, and her jewelry meant a great deal to her.
I once attended a party that celebrated local authors, artists, and assorted ilk. We were asked to introduce ourselves as we went around the room. I knew that I would say that I was a writer. But, my Ruth, my guest, I could see was sweating bullets. She was wearing a beautiful fur coat. One of the other attendees insisted that Ruth had just come in from New York City because she looked so chic.
When the circle stopped at Ruth, she stopped the show. She said she was a theater critic from New York, which was all true. She had found her perfect calling. Ruth was born in Wiessenbron, Germany, on a farm in a small village. Her father, Sol the grandfather that I never knew, was a cattle rancher. Her mother, Emma traced her heritage back to the 1700's.
She had one younger sister, Katy. She studied English as a foreign language as much as we do here in high school. In 1937, she was able to escape from Germany with just the clothes on her back on a ship because a relative in New York City was willing to sponsor her. She left her whole immediate family behind. She never learned their fate until many years later.
Right today, we are in contact with the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC, getting bits and pieces of information about their tortured existence in the concentration camps. She lost her parents, her sister, and her grandparents. Most of all, my mother lost her connection with the foreign world she left behind when she immigrated to the United States.
Ruth loved horses, traveling, writing and supporting Jewish causes. She was a member of a Temple in Chicago, Temple Har Zion, where she was an active participant in the Sisterhood, B'nai B'rith Women, and the PTA. She always had chronic health problems, which limited her view of the world that most of us, love. Colitis, a disease of the colon, prevented her from ever eating out in restaurants. She cooked her own food at home. Her kids and her husband would tell you honestly that she was a lousy cook. She never used spices, she would cook three types of meat together so none of them tasted like anything identifiable, and never used salt, sauces, or any such stuff. It was pretty boring.
The one dish that I, her daughter, really enjoyed were her hamburgers, though. We were a family of six meat eaters and everyone wanted their meat cooked individually. Ruth did accommodate us by broiling the hamburger patties and removing them according to taste. So we could have rare, medium, or well done; some had onions and some were bland. That was the one family meal that her daughter looked forward to.
Her greatest heartache was the loss of her first-born child,, at the young age of 39 in 1985 due to his health problems. Stephen was one of the inventors of the home smoke detector. Ruth complained bitterly that none of her family would visit her often enough, stay with her long enough, or be friends with her deeply enough. She was a difficult person to get close to, physically and emotionally. She drove her own car and she liked doing things her way. She made friends easily with people outside her family, of any age. As she grew older, naturally, her friends grew younger. But, she always concentrated on sharing what she had in common with her friends, which brought them closer to her. She liked animals and enjoyed visits from dogs and cats alike.
Ruth's home was always filled with music. She encouraged all of her children to take piano lessons. She was a lover of Country and Western music. She was thrilled to visit the Grande Ole Opry and often told of her adventure. She drove through Canada with Sidney. She drove to Florida with Stephen and with Andrew. She took a trip with Sidney once trying to find missing relatives long before there was a Facebook.
Ruth felt she was too set in her ways to learn to use a computer. She clung to her Smith-Corona typewriter, refused to have a fax machine, and had a computer printer for her copies only. Ruth had her own desk, filing cabinets, the whole works in her own home office. She liked taking photographs and she loved being the subject of photographs.
Ruth had bonus time but it was never enough. She outlived many of her friends. As she declined physically, she remained sharp as a tack, lucid, voracious, and condescending. But, she lost her ability to do the things that she always liked to do. This was depressing to her.
We tried to remind her of the good times and tried to keep her mood up. My mother, was a very private, very proud, very courageous woman. She would have been 96 years old next month. She saw so much change and progress and often felt left behind. She believed staunchly in her Jewish faith and was so disappointed at how we Jewish People have been treated, but she never gave up on her faith.
Ruth read a daily newspaper every day. She paid her bills on time and hated late fees. She loved pink and enjoyed the variations on the theme. She liked art fairs and outside summer concerts. She liked a tidy home. She lived with my father for over 50 years. She ate apple butter, animal cookies, and Stella Dora biscuits.
She had a button collection you would not believe. She never did any gardening but enjoyed her backyard's flora. She used to brush her teeth for 30 minutes every night. Ruth was a robust, vibrant woman, who was often hard to keep up with. She loved all of her children equally and drove them all crazy. She never paid attention to freshness dates on canned items but was always looking for the freshest dates on dairy items. If she wanted one item, she would shop at six stores to get it. She would order bulk items of things she wanted long before there was a Costco.
On her 90th birthday, I took her to the Rancho Bernardo Library to get her an email address. I was very surprised that she had been planning her Internet adventure and was just waiting for someone to give her the opportunity.
That is what I liked best about my mother. She always had a sense of adventure, a longing, a desire, an interest in the what was happening today and tomorrow. I wanted my mother to be happy and I am sorry that she has left us. Only in the physical sense which we all have to do sometime. Ruth G., as I lovingly called her, suffered a lot of pain and misfortunes but she had a lot of opportunity for joy and happiness. She loved my cat, Violet, and always liked to visit with her. She left a legacy of peace and a place in society. I will miss her three times every day and whenever I feed the cat. Shalom, Ruth. Love, your Daughter, the Writer