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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I recently went to a new doctor and noticed he was located in something called the Professional Building. I felt better right away. George Carlin
There's no present. There's only the immediate future and the recent past. George Carlin
Don't sweat the petty things and don't pet the sweaty things. George Carlin
There are nights when the wolves are silent and only the moon howls. George Carlin
May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house. George Carlin
The other night I ate at a real nice family restaurant. Every table had an argument going. George Carlin
One can never know for sure what a deserted area looks like. George Carlin
Most people work just hard enough not to get fired and get paid just enough money not to quit. George Carlin
The Peter principle is a concept in management developed by Laurence J. Peter, which observes that people in a hierarchy tend to rise to their "level of incompetence": an employee is promoted based on their success in previous jobs until they reach a level at which they are no longer competent, as skills in one job do not necessarily translate to another. The concept was elucidated in the 1969 book The Peter Principle by Dr. Peter and Raymond Hull. The Peter Principle was published by William Morrow and Company in 1969. Peter and Hull intended the book to be satire, but it became popular as it was seen to make a serious point about the shortcomings of how people are promoted within hierarchical organizations. Hull wrote the text, based on Peter's research. The Peter principle has been the subject of much later commentary and research.
Time to Bar the Joint Arab List By Dr. Martin Sherman
A candidates' list shall not participate in elections to the Knesset, and a person shall not be a candidate for election to the Knesset, if the objects or actions of the list or the actions of the person, expressly or by implication, include one of the following: negation of the existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state; incitement to racism; support of armed struggle, by a hostile state or a terrorist organization, against the State of Israel. Israel's declaration of Independence:
On the 29th November, 1947, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution calling for the establishment of a Jewish State in Eretz-Israel. … This recognition by the United Nations of the right of the Jewish people to establish their State is irrevocable. This right is the natural right of the Jewish people to be masters of their own fate, like all other nations, in their own sovereign State. … Accordingly, we, members of the People's Council, representatives of the Jewish Community of Eretz-Israel and of the Zionist Movement … hereby declare the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz-Israel, to be known as the State of Israel.
Two recent events underscored just how distorted the democratic practice in the nation-state of the Jews has become, and how detached it has become from the laws that are purported to regulate it. The sacrosanct taboo? The first was the unanimous disqualification by the Knesset's Central Election Committee of the newly formed party of Larissa Trimbobler-Amir, wife of Yigal Amir imprisoned for the assassination of for Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. As heinous one might believe the actions for which Amir was convicted may be, questioning the official version is not by any stretch of the imagination an expression of support for a foreign power or a terror organization, a denial of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, nor an incitement to racism. However, articulating any doubt as to the validity of the official version of the Rabin assassination is a sacrosanct taboo in Israeli society. Violating it almost inevitably imperils both the professional and personal standing of any foolhardy heretic—as the unfortunate Islamic scholar Mordechai Kedar recently discovered. (Indeed, I might be skating on thin ice myself by merely writing these innocuous few lines.)underscored just how distorted the democratic practice in the nation-state of the Jews has become, and how detached it has become from the laws that are purported to regulate it. The sacrosanct taboo?
Significantly, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, who last year recommended precluding right-wing Otzma Yehudit candidate Michael Ben-Ari, from participating in the April 2019 elections, actually suggested that Trimbobler-Amir's party be permitted to participate in the March 2020 elections. His opinion was, as mentioned, unanimously rejected by the Central Election Committee. Of course, not all challenges to judicial verdicts (even when underpinned by defendants' confessions) elicit such apoplectic responses. Thus, for example, the more than decade of doubt that surrounds the grisly 2006 murder of schoolgirl Tair Rada has been the subject of much public debate and even a four-part prime-time TV series (now on Netflix), despite a confession of the convicted suspect and a High Court rejection of his appeal. As usual, the Central Election Committee's decision will be appealed in the High Court, which will be the ultimate arbiter of Trimbobler-Amir's candidacy. " … on the altar of annexation … " The second event was the ramming attack against Israel Defense Forces' soldiers in the early hours of Feb. 6, 2020, when a Palestinian Arab drove his vehicle into the group, injuring at least 12, one seriously. Ofer Kassif, the sole Jewish Knesset member of the dominantly Joint Arab List, responded to the attack as follows: "The liters of blood that was split last night was not the result of a divine decree but of Balfour [a reference to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's residence] with the collaboration of the White House. Netanyahu is heating up the situation, and he will sacrifice both Palestinians and Israelis (including soldiers) on the altar of annexation. They are all needless victims of the [Israeli] occupation and repression." From this, we are apparently supposed to believe that on hearing about the "deal of the century" recently aired by the White House, the driver became uncontrollably enraged that he simply had no other option but to hop into his car and drive it headlong into the nearest group of IDF servicemen he came across—all this, of course, after the Palestinians steadfastly refused to engage in any discussion on the US initiative. But this is not the only instance of naked anti-Israel animosity from the Joint Arab List and its pernicious components. Indeed, only a few days ago in a TV interview, Ayman Odeh, head of the list, reiterated his oft expressed condoning of attacks against IDF soldiers serving across the 1967 Green Line. Innate and enduring enmity, both individual and collective In previous columns, I have cataloged the innate and enduring enmity shown by the Knesset members of the Arab parties comprising the Joint List towards the founding ethos of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, and their unequivocal identification with Israel's most vehement enemies (see for example here). For additional chronicles by others, see here and here. Such malfeasance included, among other things: spying for Hezbollah in 2006; smuggling mobile phones to convicted terrorists in prison; consorting with leaders of enemy states; expressing support of terrorist organizations and justifying attacks against IDF personnel and civilians across the 1967 Green line. However, it is not only individual acts of specific Knesset members that should be cause for concern. Indeed, even a cursory perusal of the official platforms both of the Joint List itself and its component factions reflect a stark rejection of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people as set out in the Declaration of Independence and an equally stark violation of the letter (and spirit) of the Basic Law: Knesset stipulating the conditions for participating in the national parliamentary elections. Thus, for example, the Balad platform on the faction's official site devotes almost 500 words to the transformation of Israel from a Jewish state to a state of all its citizens, including a procedure for the acquisition of Israeli citizenship that would ensure an Arab majority, if it were adopted. Clear contravention of conditions For example, the Hadash faction platform declares: "… Israel cannot be a democratic state if it continues its policy of discrimination against the Palestinian-Arab population within Israel [i.e., Israel's Arab citizens]. National and civic equality is the incontrovertible right of the national Arab minority in Israel, based on its right to justice in its homeland. Perhaps even more perturbing is the platform of the Joint List itself, today the third-largest party in the Israeli legislature, which promulgates: "… rejection of the Israeli demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state, and the exposure of the danger this entails to the standing and the rights of the Arab citizens [of Israel] and the rights of the [Palestinian-Arab] refugees." Elsewhere it proclaims: "We will work to enact a Basic Law, whose fundamental principle will be civic equality for all citizens based on individual and group human rights, separation of religion from state and the prohibition of all forms of discrimination on the basis of race, nationality, religion, gender, faith or political affiliation; and will provide the legal basis for egalitarian political participation in a state-of-all-its-citizens." In addition, the Joint List commits "to work to annul the Nationality Law [Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People] and all laws intended to provide legal legitimacy to racism and any racist policy." Significantly, the Nationality Bill was passed specifically to ensure the status of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people—so the intention to annul it (not modify it) is clearly a repudiation of Israel as such—and thus also a blatant violation of the letter (and spirit) of the Basic Law: Knesset, stipulating the conditions for participating in the national elections for the Knesset. Undermining national security But the Joint List's platform does not only focus on legislation that defines the dominant Jewish nature of Israel. It also promotes actions that would undermine its national security. Thus, for example, its platform declares that: "The Joint List will act to annul all the laws and programs entailing enlistment in the military or for national service"; and elsewhere: "the Joint List will act to annul the law for compulsory service of the Arab Druze community and oppose any law or program for military or civilian service in Arab society." This clearly underscores two perturbing factors. The first is that, given the range of threats facing Israel (from the surrounding Arab/Muslim world), the IDF—and hence, the security of the nation—is critically dependent on compulsory conscription. Accordingly, the call to annul such subscription is tantamount to crippling the Israeli military and exposing the country to existential threats. The second is by utter rejection of participation of Arab society, not only in any format of collective contribution to the security of the state, but also to the wider civil society of Israel, the Joint List unambiguously endorses the detachment of Arab society, as a whole, from any role in shaping the fate of the country and the eschewing of any partnership in a shared destiny for the future. Time for defensive democracy to kick in Commitment to the tenets of democratic governance, societal pluralism and sociocultural tolerance is not a suicide pact. Indeed, as one prominent philosopher of the last century astutely pointed out: "In order to maintain a tolerant society, the society must be intolerant of intolerance." It is time for defensive democracy to kick in. It is time to apply the letter and the spirit of the laws that are purported to set out the rules for the democratic process in the country. It is time to preclude parties, who would undermine the foundations of Israeli democracy by exploiting the freedoms those foundations afford them. This of course, does not mean that the Arab citizens of Israel should not be permitted to vote, only that they will not be able to vote for parties that reject the very basis on which the state was founded. Any further leniency in this regard will lead to disaster—for Jew and Arab alike.
The Jewish Soul Of Baron Maurice De Hirsch By Saul Jay Singer
Maurice (Tzvi) de Hirsch (1831-1896) was a German financier and philanthropist who is perhaps best known as the originator of the Jewish Colonization Association (ICA) and the first Jewish benefactor to plan and finance the large-scale resettlement of Jews and to address the sorry plight of oppressed European Jewry.
Hirsch was the grandson of Baron Jacob von Hirsch, founder of the family fortune and the first Jewish landowner in Bavaria. Jacob's father served as banker to the Bavarian king, who made him a nobleman, and the family occupied a prominent position in the German Jewish community for generations. Maurice's family maintained a small synagogue in their home, and his mother made certain that he received high-level instruction in Hebrew and Judaism.
At age 13, Maurice was sent to Munich and then to Brussels to pursue his education and established his own business four years later. After joining the banking firm of Bischoffsheim & Goldschmidt (1851) – one of Europe's most prominent banking enterprises with branches in London and Paris – and marrying the daughter of the head of the firm (1855), he established his own banking firm and accumulated a large fortune, primarily through sugar and copper speculating and purchasing and working railway concessions in Austria, Turkey, and the Balkans.
Hirsch's most famous and visionary project was the Oriental Railway, a scheme to link Constantinople to Europe. He shrewdly obtained a contract for construction from the Turkish government, skillfully negotiated its terms, and financed the venture by floating Turkish Lottery Bonds on Europe's financial markets. Hirsch completed much of the work by 1874, but the final link was delayed due to financial setbacks sustained by Turkish government.
Through close personal supervision, however, and skillful engineering in the face of widespread skepticism – some characterized it as sheer lunacy – the railroad was finally completed nine years later and became the first route from Europe to the East. The venture, which became a huge financial success, made Hirsch a very wealthy man.
The railway project and pioneer enterprises in the sugar and copper industries brought his fortune to over $100 million by 1890 – consider how much money that was at the time! – and gained him an international reputation as an outstanding industrialist and financier. Nonetheless, he was sometimes the victim of anti-Semitism; for example, he was turned down for membership by the French Jockey Club because he was a Jew.
Some of Hirsch's notable gifts include £500,000 for the establishment of primary and technical schools in Galicia and Bukovina, a donation made in honor of the 40th anniversary of Emperor Francis Joseph's accession to the Austrian throne; field hospitals for both sides during the Russo-Turkish War (1877-1878); and a £1000 donation to The Chelsea and Westminster Hospital (1891). But it was his philanthropy on behalf of Jewish organizations and causes that were particularly generous and noteworthy as, among other things, he sponsored the first organized mass migrations in history.
Hirsch began his philanthropic activities by aiding Oriental Jews, whose poverty struck him while on a visit to Turkey; he gave the Alliance Israelite Universelle – a political organization founded in France in 1860 to assist Jews – $200,000 for the creation of Jewish schools and other funds for the creation of Jewish trade schools in Turkey and the Balkans. When the Alliance experienced regular annual shortfalls, Hirsch made up the difference for several years and, in 1889, set up an endowment fund that gave it an annual income of 400,000 francs.
Hirsch also established the Baron de Hirsch Foundation for educational work in Galicia and Bukovina (1888) and the New York Baron de Hirsch Fund (1891) to assist and help settle immigrants to the United States (and later Canada). The Fund also purchased 5,000 acres in Cape May County, NJ, to establish an agricultural colony (1891) and, a few years later, he established the Baron de Hirsch Agricultural College there, the first American secondary school dedicated exclusively to the study of the agricultural sciences.
But his greatest charitable undertaking was undoubtedly with respect to his tireless and persistent efforts to alleviate the suffering of Jews in the Jewish Pale of Settlement, which included parts of Russia and much of Poland and Lithuania. He began with a gift of £10,000 to repatriate Jewish refugees (1882), but he quickly realized that donation, though large, constituted a mere drop in the bucket in addressing the incredible breadth of Jewish hardship and need.
When the reviled Czar Alexander III issued his "May Decrees" severely limiting Jewish access to secondary education (1897), Hirsch offered the czarist government $10 million to endow a separate system of schools, workshops, and farms for Jewish youth in the Pale. (Orthodox rabbinic leaders strongly opposed Hirsch's proposed plan to provide secular education to Jewish children.)
Original vintage Victorian carbon print cabinet card photograph of the Baron de Hirsch Trade School, photographed at the Trans Mississippi Exhibition in Omaha, Nebraska (1899).
Although the government was willing to accept the money, it refused to permit Hirsch or any other foreigner to exercise control in the administration and distribution of the funds. As such, Hirsch – astutely understanding that, absent control, his largesse would end up enriching the czar and his thousands of civil servant minions, who were vastly experienced in pocketing charitable donations intended for distribution to others – withdrew his offer and decided to use the money to fund an emigration and colonization program pursuant to which persecuted Jews would be afforded the opportunity to establish themselves in agricultural colonies outside Russia.
Toward that end, Hirsch founded the Jewish Colonization Association (JCA), which he personally endowed with £2,000,000, followed by a £7,000,000 donation, making it the greatest charitable trust in the world. The JCA was managed by delegates of various Jewish societies, principally the Anglo-Jewish Association of London and the Alliance Israelite Universelle of Paris. A central committee was formed in St. Petersburg to organize the emigration of Russian Jews (1892), and a governing body was established in Argentina to direct work in the colonies.
The JCA, which owned large agricultural colonies in Argentina, Canada, and Eretz Yisrael, also managed a complex system for dealing with Jewish persecution, which included emigration bureaus, distributing agencies, technical schools, co-operative factories, savings and loan banks, and model lodgings. It also assisted many societies all over the world whose work related to the relief and rehabilitation of Jewish refugees, including a benevolent trust in the United States, which he endowed with £493,000, and engaged in philanthropic efforts on behalf of Jews throughout Eastern Europe. (Today, the accumulated JCA funds are largely directed to agricultural projects in Israel.)
When Herzl began to seek supporters for his bold Zionist dream, one of the first people he thought of was Hirsch. Seeking a meeting with him, Herzl wrote, "You are richer than the French, the entire French nation in 1871" and, "[Y]ou are the great Jew of money, I am the Jew of the spirit." The two met on June 2, 1895 at Hirsch's palatial Paris mansion, an unsuccessful meeting which a disappointed Herzl later described in his diary.
Herzl began the meeting by criticizing Hirsch's resettlement program – probably not the best strategy to employ when seeking support from a benefactor – before suggesting that they jointly ask the German Kaiser to participate in the establishment of a one billion-mark Jewish National Fund Loan. Hirsch responded that the "Jewish problem" had its origins in Jews' overly cerebral tendencies – "we have too many intellectuals" – and all but called Herzl delusional; as Herzl later wrote in his diary, "ironically and sadly, he regarded the creation of a Jewish homeland as a fantasy and refused assistance."
Herzl followed up with several letters seeking a second audience with Hirsch, arguing that a powerful idea could be more influential than money. Although Hirsch indicated a willingness to host a second meeting, he unambiguously advised Herzl that he would not change his position, and no further meeting took place.
Few people know that it was Hirsch's rejection that prompted Herzl to write Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State, 1896), considered the seminal screed of modern Zionism. However, despite Hirsch's negative attitude toward the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Eretz Yisrael, he remained firmly convinced that "the Jews had not lost the agricultural qualities of their forefathers" and that the Jewish future was, once again, as an agricultural people who could best become self-sufficient through farming.
1991 Israel stamp commemorating the centennial of the Jewish Colonization Association. Inset features a photograph of Hirsch.
Some commentators argue that, in truth, Hirsch and Herzl were both avid Zionists and that the only substantive difference between them was Herzl's embrace of territorialism, binding himself to Eretz Yisrael as the place of Jewish settlement, while Hirsch remained open to any number of other possibilities. (Some suggest that Hirsch was against a Jewish homeland being established in an Arab-populated land where Jews would be a permanent minority, rendering them unable to maintain their Jewish agricultural settlements and become self-governing.)
This theory seems to ignore Herzl's advocacy for the controversial Uganda Program, pursuant to which Britain offered a portion of British East Africa to the Jews as a homeland, which Herzl supported at the 6th Zionist Congress (August 1903). Others note, however – correctly, in my opinion – that Herzl's embrace of the Uganda Program was only as an interim solution to anti-Semitism and that he never abandoned the ultimate dream of a Jewish homeland in Eretz Yisrael.
At the end of the day, Hirsch's project to settle thousands of long-suffering Russian Jews onto the vast Argentine pampas – his most significant relocation effort – met with very limited success. Although he successfully negotiated with the Russian government to allow Jews to leave Russia, which was then forbidden under law – a remarkable achievement – only about 10,000 Jews ever went to Argentina, and most of those remained in Buenos Aires. (Most Jews who left Russia were wholly uninterested in farming and went to the United States.) Nonetheless, Hirsch's philanthropic enterprises and his lifelong personal efforts played an important role in changing the immigration policies of several nations to be more favorable to Jews.
In an article on his charitable work, Hirsch explained that his philanthropic impetus had its roots in Judaism:
In relieving human suffering, I never ask whether the cry of necessity comes from a being who belongs to my faith or not, but what is more natural than that I should find my highest purpose in bringing to the followers of Judaism, who have been oppressed for a thousand years, who are starving in misery, the possibilities of a physical and moral regeneration?
At the time of his death in 1896, Hirsch left a $45 million bequest to the JCA. He was among the five richest people in all of Europe and perhaps the single greatest benefactor of his age, having donated an estimated $100,000,000 to charitable causes. Herzl eulogized him by saying "among the rich Jews, he was the only one ready to do something big for the poor," and eulogists and obituaries across the world viewed his passing as the end of a golden age of philanthropy.
His wife, Clara, had also been involved with great charitable works even before meeting her husband, including supporting almshouses and soup kitchens and distributing clothes for children, and she played a major role alongside Maurice in his charitable activities, including donating some $40 million of her own money. After Hirsch's death, she dedicated her efforts to continuing their charitable work.
Pursuant to Clara's will – she died three years after her husband – most of her estate went to the JCA which, for many decades, was the world's wealthiest charitable trust, and a special bequest went to the Pasteur Institute in Paris for the construction of its biochemistry building. Even today, the Hirsch Fund continues to support the Jewish Agricultural Society.
There are several "Baron Hirsch" synagogues, perhaps the most famous one situated in Memphis, which is the largest Orthodox congregation in North America. (For trivia enthusiasts, the largest synagogue in the world is the Belz Great Synagogue in Jerusalem, whose main sanctuary seats 10,000 people.)