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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Death is not extinguishing the light; it is only putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.
Every child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged of man.
The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.
You can't cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water.
Everything comes to us that belongs to us if we create the capacity to receive it.
Let your life lightly dance on the edges of Time like dew on the tip of a leaf.
Depth of friendship does not depend on length of acquaintance.
Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.
Love does not claim possession, but gives freedom.
Purim is coming-Iran threatens to raze Esther Tomb
Alliance for Rights of All Minorities in Iran claims formidable Basij paramilitary force attempted to raid the historic site in what it called "an act of revenge against the Israelis Palestinian peace plan by President Trump."
Iranian authorities are threatening to destroy the historic tomb of Esther and Mordechai in the city of Hamedan, 200 miles west of Tehran, in favor of constructing "a consular office for Palestine," ARAM, the Alliance for Rights of All Minorities in Iran, said in a Twitter post on Sunday.
The organization claims that members of Iran's formidable Basij paramilitary force attempted to raid the historic site in what it called "an act of revenge against the Israeli-Palestinian peace plan by President Trump."
"Ester and Mordechai were biblical Jewish heroes who saved their people from a massacre in a story known as #Purim. Their burial site has been a significant Jewish landmark for Jews and history buffs around the world," ARAM said.
In December 2010, Iranian protesters tried to breach the compound citing fears that Israel might damage the Al Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
The Mausoleum of Esther and Mordechai (unknown age)
This site marks the traditional location of the graves of Mordechai and Esther, two cousins who played a pivitol role in the Book of Esther (also known as the Megillah). The saga of Mordechai and Esther form the basis for the Jewish celebration of Purim; hence, the site is of deep historical significance to Iranian Jews and the wider world wide Jewish community.
Mordechai and Esther lived during the rule of Ahasuerus, a Persian king who is also identified as Artaxerxes (possibly Artaxerxes II, who lived from 435 or 445 to 358 BCE).
The Book of Esther records that during a feast in Shushan, the capital, Ahasuerus asks his wife Vashti to display her beauty to the assembled guests. She refuses, and he subsequently removes her as queen. He then orders that the provinces of the kingdom be combed for beautiful girls to be brought before him, so that he may select one as his new queen. One of the women shown to him is Esther, a child being raised by the care of her cousin Mordechai. Entranced, the king selects her as his queen.
Mordechai earns favor in the king's eyes when he catches word of a plot to assassinate the king, but meets resistance from Haman, a newly-appointed prime minister. Mordechai earns Haman's wrath when he refuses to bow down to him in obedience. When Haman discovers that Mordechai is Jewish, he hatches a plot to execute not just Mordechai, but all Jews in the empire. Haman brings his plan to the attention of the king, who agrees with the decision, not having been told of Mordechai's ancestry. The king advances Haman ten thousand talents of silver as payment, and Haman casts lots to determine which day to execute his plan. He settles on the thirteenth of the month of Adar.
Meanwhile, Esther and Mordechai hear of the plot to exterminate their people. She asks that all Jews in the empire pray and fast for three days together with her. During the night following the fasting, Ahasuerus has difficulty falling asleep and asks that the court's records be read to him aloud to help him sleep. One of the passages happens to mention Mordechai's prior service in uncovering the plot against the king, which Ahasuerus had not been aware of.
Surprised, Ahasuerus asks if Mordechai had been rewarded for his service, and is told that he had not. Just at that moment, Haman enters the room and is asked by the king what treatment should be given to a man the king wishes to honor. Thinking that he is the one, Haman instructs the king to mount the man on a royal horse with royal robes while a herald calls out praises. To his embarrassment, Haman is asked to provide this very treatment to his enemy Mordechai.
Mordechai's prior service to the king appears to tip the balance in his favor. His cousin Esther declares her Jewish ancestry to the king with fear for her life, and she informs the king of the reasons why Hamadan hatched his plan against the Jewish people. In anger, he orders Hamadan's execution on the very gallows Hamadan had prepared earlier for Mordechai. However, due to a peculiar feature of Persian law, the prior edict against the Jews cannot be rescinded. The king issues a second decree allowing the Jews to defend themselves as they see fit.
When the 13th of Adar arrives, the Jews rise up against their attackers without fear of official sanction. During the battle Haman's ten sons are killed, along with 500 other attackers. In the aftermath, Mordechai is promoted and institutes an annual commemoration of the event which becomes the festival of Purim.
It is not known if the tomb of Mordechai and Esther is the actual site where they were buried. A parallel tradition holds that their bodies were brought to Baram, a site now in Israel, for burial. In any case, the site in Hamadan has been revered for at least eight centuries. Iranian Jews traditionally travel there to read the Megillah each Purim.
And now that we talked of Purim let's tell a short story of Passover:
21st Century Chametz Cleaning Tips
1.. Open a new file in your PC.
2.. Name it "Chametz."
3.. Send it to the RECYCLE BIN.
4.. Empty the RECYCLE BIN.
5.. Your PC will ask you, "Are you sure you want to delete Chametz permanently?"
6.. Calmly answer, "Yes," and press the mouse button firmly….
7.. Feel better?
It works every time!
Hail the Trump Plan By David Weinberg
When it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, any movement away from antiquated formulas – most of which have been based in maximalist Palestinian demands deemed holy by the international community – is a huge achievement.Which is why the Trump Plan should be welcomed.
Alas, much of the global diplomatic community and the Israeli left-wing scoff at the notion that anything other than the "Clinton parameters" can serve as the basis for Israeli-Palestinian accommodation.
Those parameters dictated establishment of a full-fledged Palestinian state based on Israeli withdrawal to the untenable 1949 armistice lines, with minor land swaps, a division of Jerusalem, and dismantlement of most Judea and Samaria settlements.
Instead of this timeworn, even dangerous, paradigm, the Trump administration is now moving to reset the Mideast diplomatic table – based on historical truths and concrete realities.
Washington is wholly rejecting the notion that an Israeli-Palestinian solution should begin from any 70 year old armistice line forced upon Israel by Arab aggression; or from the defensive "security barrier" forced upon Israel by Palestinian terrorism; or from any borders dictated by politicized international organizations and jaundiced legal tribunals.
Washington also is rebuffing the Palestinian notion that Israel can be coerced into wide-ranging withdrawals by appealing to international courts to criminalize Israel. Rejecting the canard that settlements are illegal was an important part of denying this Palestinian offensive.
Implicit in the Trump administration's approach also is the understanding that Israeli claims to Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) are at least as valid as Palestinian claims, and that Israeli rights are richly buttressed by political experience and security necessity.
Moreover, the Trump team seems to understand that the Clinton parameters for an Israeli-Palestinian deal were never fair to, or wise for, Israel. As mentioned, they didn't sufficiently consider Israel's historic and national rights in Judea and Samaria. They certainly didn't consider, and today cannot adequately accommodate, the dramatically changed security environment in the Mideast since the Arab upheavals began and Iran began its march to Israel's borders.
Worst of all, those parameters insufficiently contemplated the irredentist nature of the Palestinian national movement. We now know that the Arafat- and Abbas-led Palestinian Authority isn't anywhere near becoming the stable, moderate, democratic State of Palestine that was promised to Palestinians and Israelis alike.
Instead, one part of the Palestinian-claimed area is run by a corrupt secular dictatorship that "pays for slay" (i.e., it funds terrorism against Israel), and which would fall to Hamas without Israel's military presence; while the other part is occupied by a radical Islamist dictatorship that is armed to the teeth by Iran, has fought three wars against Israel over the past ten years, and is openly committed to Israel's destruction.
Therefore, the Trump team apparently has reached the logical conclusions that: 1. Israel must maintain security control of the entire West Bank envelope. 2. Jerusalem will remain united and under effective Israeli control. 3. Approximately half of Area C (including all Jewish settlements and the Jordan Valley) will become Israeli sovereign territory, perhaps immediately.
In addition, and most importantly: 4. The only Palestinian government/state in Judea, Samaria and Gaza that Israelis can be expected to live with over the long term must agree to a permanent end to the conflict and all claims on Israel – meaning that it must inculcate peace (and not genocidal anti-Semitism) in schools and media, reconcile with Israel as the nation state of the Jewish People, and of course, completely disarm Hamas and other terrorist armies in its midst.
Finally, the Trump plan sets out a broad framework for Arab regional investment in Palestinian-Israeli joint projects. This is meant to give Palestinians and Israelis a concrete peace benefit; to set-out a pathway for renewing Palestinian leadership ranks with individuals hard-wired for peaceful compromise; and to allow Arab states to work more closely with Israel on a range of issues.
It needs to be stressed that these new parameters closely hew to the broadest political consensus in Israel. These are not "hard right wing" parameters, but rather a peace paradigm that makes eminent sense to at least 75 percent of Israelis, in my estimation. In fact, the State of Israel under any leadership is unlikely to agree, ever, to a plan that is dissimilar to these new parameters.
The Trump team also seems to have intuited the truth that aside from setting borders, the real challenge in Palestinian-Israeli affairs is to unleash long-term dynamics that can regenerate belief in the possibility of peace.
Alas, the Palestinians seem to have no identity other than as a community in conflict with Israel. In fact, the Palestinian Authority doesn't relate to the diplomatic process as a peace process but as a "decolonization process" where the colonizer and victimizer (Israel) is to be held responsible for his crimes. As a result, the Arafat-Abbas policy has been to reject most forms of engagement with Israel even when it comes to improving life for Palestinians.
Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas has repeatedly made clear that he wants a Palestinian state, but without an end to the conflict. He wants a state in order to continue the conflict against the "illegal Jewish settler presence in all Palestine," as he terms it.
It is time to move beyond the stalemate cause by such unremitting hostility and beyond the obsolete "solutions" that feed it. Consequently, Jerusalem should welcome the Trump initiative as a useful platform and act to swiftly lock-in the concrete diplomatic gains. Hopefully, over the long term, the Palestinians will come to see its advantages too.
Anti-Semitic Violence, Orthodox Influence & Childhood Innocence: An Exclusive Interview With Attorney General William Barr By Elliot Resnick and Shlomo Greenwald
On Tuesday, William Barr – the attorney general of the United States – visited Boro Park in Brooklyn, NY, where he discussed the recent rise in anti-Semitic attacks with seven Jewish communal leaders. Following that meeting, Barr sat down for an exclusive 20-minute interview with The Jewish Press.
Barr, 69, was born and raised in New York and received a Bachelor's and Master's degree from Columbia University in 1971 and 1973, respectively, as well as a Juris Doctor degree from George Washington University Law School in 1977. He served as the 77th attorney general under President George H.W. Bush from 1991-1993 and was confirmed as the country's 85th attorney general in 2019, becoming only the second person in U.S. history to be appointed to the position twice.
The Jewish Press: The U.S. Department of Justice, which you head, has recently targeted several perpetrators of anti-Semitic crimes in New York. Considering that these kinds of crimes are usually prosecuted on the local level, did you find the NYPD cooperative when you stepped in? Did it share information with your department the way you wanted it to?
Barr: I've found the New York Police Department to be exceptional. It's one of the best police departments to deal with, and I think it's concept of targeted policing has been very effective in New York.
I am worried about this legal reform [of New York criminal law]. I think the inability to either charge or hold [someone for] crimes that people might view as petty crimes is going to lead to a deterioration of conditions in neighborhoods.
During your meeting with Jewish community leaders this morning, you seemed to say that federal funding to protect Jewish houses of worship can only be increased if funding for all houses worship is increased. Did we understand you correctly?
What I meant was if you give [federal] money to a jurisdiction, it would probably have to be for the protection of [all] houses of worship.
Couldn't the department say there's a specific anti-Semitism problem it wishes to address?
I think you can say that for a period of time. So in response to a shooting at a Jewish school or something, you can focus on the risk…
But long term you can't.
Long term, you'd have to make sure that everyone has adequate protection. You may be able to do some kind of risk-based analysis…. I haven't thought through all of the details.
In some jurisdictions that I'm familiar with, there's a local police car in front of churches or synagogues on days of worship as a matter of course. Why can't all police departments do that? And if they can't, we [in the federal government] need to offer them [additional resources].
Much has been written about white supremacy as a cause of anti-Semitism. Almost without exception, though, the anti-Semitic incidents in New York have been committed by people of color. Do you think there's been too much focus on white supremacy?
Well, I wouldn't say "too much." I would say we have to definitely broaden our focus. There are different strains of anti-Semitism. The new phenomenon is the emerging threat from the left and politicians who won't condemn clearly anti-Semitic activity, which never would have happened 20 years ago.
There may be historical factors and community frictions involved [in the anti-Semitic attacks] in New York, but I also think we have to [examine] the extent to which identity politics – the "them vs. us" kind of mentality – affects that and gives justification for and may be exacerbating the problem.
Many of our readers are concerned by anti-Israel animus on college campuses and were pleased when President Trump signed an executive order that tied federal university funds to tolerance of more conservative points of view (like support of Israel) on campus. What has happened since then? Has this order been enforced?
That's a good question and better directed to the Secretary of Education. I haven't discussed it with her, but it's an area of real personal interest to me. I felt marginalized [myself when I was a student] at Columbia University. Those were the days of the anti-Vietnam War riots and things like that.
I am stunned by the "great" diversity at a lot of these colleges. There's no diversity of thought. So it's not directly in my bailiwick, but I think it's important that we have academic freedom and free speech, and certainly not persecution or harassment of people because of their ethnicity or their ideas about the legitimacy of Israel.
In a recent op-ed in The New York Post, Sohrab Ahmari argues that America's obscenity laws should be revived to limit the exposure of youth to Internet pornography, which, needless to say, is highly corrosive to one's soul. Is there anything you can do as attorney general to protect children from this spiritual danger?
The Department [of Justice] for many years has focused its efforts on child pornography, and one of the alarming things I found when I returned [as attorney general] was that there's been an upsurge in it. So we have our hands full right now dealing with child pornography.
Regarding other kinds of pornography: You're dealing with legal issues like community standards, legal challenges relating to the First Amendment, and [the question of] whether local juries and prosecutors [would enforce such laws]. I think the first step would be to have more control of access rather than banning the material outright.
The next step would be to research and analyze its impact on the development of young people, especially, and trying to build a greater public consensus about its harms to society. Right now, given the crisis we're facing with child obscenity and child exploitation, I don't think there would be a broad consensus for a big crackdown on other kinds of pornography. I think it will take some time to develop more information about it and more of a consensus.
In his op-ed, Ahmari suggests making the default Internet clean with an "opt-in" option for people wishing to access a different kind of Internet.
Any young kid surfing the Internet today can come across some gross stuff, and so-called parental controls aren't really working, so the first step that I'd like to see is more control of access.
In a speech last year at the University of Notre Dame, you said, "Secularists, and their allies among the 'progressives,' have marshaled all the force of mass communications, popular culture, the entertainment industry, and academia in an unremitting assault on religion and traditional values." What advice would you give traditional-minded Americans who wish to combat this problem?
First, I would say continue to build a strong community and continue to educate your children in your faith. Second, be a strong voice in the marketplace of ideas as well as in legal forums where many of these attacks are launched.
I [have always found] in dealing with the Orthodox Jewish communities that they were very well-organized, very focused on the issues, and willing to weigh in to the public debate – and I think that's great.
Some might argue that weighing in so often causes anti-Semitism because it plays into the charge that Jews have too much influence.
Not outside New York [they don't]. I would like to see more influence of Orthodox Jews.
Historically, there have been many conspiracy theories about Jewish influence and so forth, but if you let that paralyze you and don't stand up for what's right and the rights of your community, you'll end up losing them.
I myself have been attacked as a member of a secretive Catholic cult, which I'm not [They say I belong to] Opus Dei or the Illuminati, pulling strings [behind the scenes], and so forth. That's one of their trademark modes of attack. It's their playbook.
Many conservatives today regard the Justice Department with a measure of cynicism after seeing the way it hounded Republicans like Paul Manafort and Roger Stone but not Democrats like John Brennan or Tony Podesta. Many Orthodox Jews likewise lost some faith in American justice after Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin was thrown in jail for 27 years for committing a relatively minor crime. What can you do to restore the public's faith in the Justice Department?
One of the hallmarks of many of these prosecutions that are perceived as unfair is that the investigations are done very quickly, the charges are very murky, and an unpopular person is put before a jury. I think a good investigation takes some time. You really need to have evidence that would objectively prove to a reasonable jury that the person is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
I think the single most important obligation of running the Justice Department is to make sure there's one standard for everybody. And I personally feel that standard was diluted and that there have been injustices.
But I think the solution is not to dilute the standard but to insist on a high standard for everybody. That's my basic approach. And I am committed to doing that.
19 Island vacations for US Citizens where they don't need a Passport other than their US Citizenship
Why Are So Many Young People Unhappy? (Part II) By Dennis Prager
I began part one of "Why Are So Many Young People Unhappy?" with data showing the apparently unprecedented high rate of unhappiness among young people in America (and elsewhere, but I am focusing on America).
The rates of suicide, self-injury, depression, mass shootings, and loneliness (at all ages) are higher than ever recorded. It seems that Americans may have been happier – and certainly less lonely – during the Great Depression and World War II than they are today, even with today's unprecedented high levels of health, longevity, education, and material well-being.
There is, of course, no single explanation for this unhappiness. I wrote, "Increased use of illicit drugs and prescription drug abuse and less human interaction because of constant cellphone use are two widely offered, valid explanations. Less valid explanations include competition, grades anxiety, capitalism, and income inequality. And then there are young people's fears that because of global warming, they have a bleak, and perhaps no, future."
But I do believe that the loss of values and meaning are the two greatest sources of unhappiness. Among the values lost are those of communal associations. As the great foreign observer of early American life Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville wrote in 1831, Americans' unique strength derived largely from their participation in innumerable nongovernmental associations – professional, social, civil, political, artistic, philanthropic, and, of course, religious.
But these have all dwindled as government has become ever larger. Whereas Americans got together and formed bonds of friendship through non-governmental associations, through what organizations will Americans form friendships today? In a video presentation at its 2012 national convention, the Democratic Party offered its answer: "Government's the only thing that we all belong to," the narrator said.
Then there are traditional middle-class values, like getting married first and then having children. Today, a greater percentage of Americans are born to unwed mothers than ever before, and fewer people are marrying than ever before. There are, for the first time in our history, more single Americans than married Americans. While it is certainly possible to feel lonely in a marriage, people are far more likely to feel lonely without a spouse, and increasingly without children, than with a spouse and children.
And now we come to the biggest problem of all: the lack of meaning.
Aside from food, the greatest human need is meaning. I owe this insight to Viktor Frankl and his classic work Man's Search for Meaning, which I first read in high school and which influenced me more than any book other than the Bible. Karl Marx saw man as primarily motivated by economics; Sigmund Freud saw man as primarily driven by the sexual drive; Charles Darwin, or at least his followers, sees us as primarily driven by biology.
But Frankl was right.
Poor people who have meaning can be happy, but wealthy people who lack meaning cannot be. People who cannot fulfill their sexual drive (such as priests, who keep their vow of chastity; many widowed and divorced older people; and others) but have meaning can be happy. Those who do fulfill it but lack meaning cannot be.
There is no evolutionary explanation for the need for meaning. Every creature except the human being does fine without meaning. But nothing has given Americans – or any other people, for that matter – as much meaning as religion. Yet, since World War II, G-d and religion have been relegated to the dustbin of history.
More than a third of Americans born after 1980 affiliate with no religion. This is unprecedented in American history; until this generation, the vast majority of Americans have been religious.
Maybe, just maybe, the death of religion – the greatest provider of meaning, while certainly not the only – is the single biggest factor in the increasing sadness and loneliness among Americans (and so many others). A 2016 study published in the American Medical Association JAMA Psychiatry journal found that American women who attended a religious service at least once a week were five times less likely to commit suicide. Common sense suggests the same is true of men.
The bottom line: The reason so many young people are depressed, unhappy, and angry is the left has told them that G-d and Judeo-Christian religions are nonsense; their country is largely evil; their past is deplorable; and their future is hopeless.
That seems to be a major reason, if not the reason, for so much unhappiness: not capitalism, not inequality, not patriarchy, sexism, racism, homophobia, or xenophobia but rather having no religion, no G-d, no spouse, no community, no country to believe in and, ultimately, no meaning. That explains much of the unprecedented unhappiness.
And it explains the widespread adoption of that secular substitute for traditional religion: leftism. But unlike Judaism and Christianity, leftism does not bring its adherents happiness.