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. Now also a Blogger on the Times of Israel. Look for my column
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A Bracha from the Rebbe
David and Sarah Emanuel went to visit a Rebbe known for his powerful blessings.
"Rebbe," David said. "We really want children and the doctor just told us we might not be able to have any. What should we do?"
The Rebbe gave them some money and told them to find a certain poor widow and give it to her. "In the merit of the mitzvah of tzedakah, Hashem will bless you with children"
Ten years later David ran into the Rebbe on the street. David had about twelve kids in tow.
"Baruch Hashem!" the Rebbe cried out. "But tell me, where's your wife?"
"Oh, she's trying to find the widow. She wants to ask for the money back."
Ideas, that help explain how the world works
System Justification Theory: Inefficient systems will be defended and maintained if they serve the needs of people who benefit from them – individual incentives can sustain systemic stupidity.
Are you scared enough yet? What does it mean to see G-d's back?
We are in the middle of the first meltdown of the world since WWII. While those of us in Israel are used to meltdowns every few years, this is the first time the meltdown has gone world wide since WWII.
In Israel, we are used to bombs dropping on us, buses being blown up and Jewish life considered cheap as everyday occurrences, but this is the first time the world is having it happen to them since WWII. At this writing on March 13, 2020, no one has any idea whether we meltdown further or this will be a little burb that no one remembers. One thing is certain, that people learn from experience, and the next time, if there is one, people will look back on this experience to guide themselves.
A Jew turns to the Torah for advice on handling a new situation, that requires creative thinking. This week in the synagogue (those that came and weren't afraid of the virus-can you imagine the unimaginable-the head Rabbis told us not to come to pray, because of the risk), heard the section of the week read (the Parsha of the week) which was Parsha Ki Tisa.
HaShem responds by disclosing to Moses, who asks Him in 33:18, to show Moses His Glory. G-d says no, no one can see G-d and live, however, He will show Moses His Back. It is only after HaShem passes and Moses sees His back (33:22-23), as it were, that His inscrutable wisdom begins to become clear.
A fundamental religious perspective on life. G-d's involvement in the affairs of man is not always discernible during the unfolding of present events. The "crucible of afflictions" (Yeshayahu 48:10) and the "iron furnace of Egypt" (Devarim 4:20) were necessary to purge the Nation and enable them to receive the Torah. And the subsequent sin of the עגל הזהב - its punishment and G-d's forgiveness - would all provide powerful lessons for imperfect man's struggle against his demons and the amazing efficacy of teshuvah – repentance. All this, we gratefully perceive, but only with a backward glance as we ponder the lessons of G-d in history.
Now we are in the middle of this "pandemic". The above thoughts surface as the world convulses under the threat of the coronavirus pandemic. Its sheer randomness and unpredictability and the rapidity of its contagion are unnerving and intimidating. To attempt to grapple with the "why" of it all will inevitably lead to disappointment bordering on despair.
Only the Omniscient Almighty can answer the "why" question. Last week I wrote the following: NO PLANES-NO JEWS CAN COME TO ISRAEL-PREDICTION OF Messiah TIMES Classical Jewish texts depict a Messiah who will come to redeem the Jewish people, gather the exiled to the land of Israel, and rule over a prosperous nation, and relate other more detailed (and diverse) traditions about the Messiah's arrival as well as the conditions of the messianic era. According to the Talmud ( Babylonian Talmud Rosh Hashana 31a and Sanhedrin 97), Midrash and the Zohar the 'deadline' by which the Messiah must appear is 6000 years from creation (approximately the year 2240 in our calendar though calculations vary So before we are able to see G-d's back, is this Messiah times, or another in our many thousands of disappointments. Is this not a utopian dream? No! Judaism fervently believes that, with the correct leadership, humankind can and will change. The leadership quality of Moshiach means that through his dynamic personality and example, coupled with manifest humility, he will inspire all people to strive for good. He will transform a seemingly utopian dream into a reality. He will be recognized as a man of G‑d, with greater leadership qualities than even Moses. In today's society, many people are repulsed by the breakdown of ethical and moral standards. Life is cheap, crime is rampant, drug and alcohol abuse is on the increase, children have lost respect for their elders. At the same time, technology has advanced in quantum leaps. There is no doubt that today man has all the resources—if channeled correctly—to create a good standard of living for all mankind. He lacks only the social and political will. Moshiach will inspire all men to fulfill that aim. Why the belief in a human messiah? Some people believe that the world will "evolve" by itself into a messianic era without a human figurehead. Judaism rejects this belief. Human history has been dominated by empire builders greedy for power. Others believe in Armageddon—that the world will self-destruct, either by nuclear war or by terrorism. Again, Judaism rejects this view. Our prophets speak of the advent of a human leader, of a magnitude that the world has not yet experienced. His unique example and leadership will inspire mankind to change direction. So the Messiah is predicted to come before Passover, according to the scriptures. By the time Passover ends, we will know if we have seen G-d's back or another false hope. Love Yehuda Lave
Your smartphone is gross. Learn how to clean it properly
Everything you've touched is now on your face. Think about it.
You can't see it with the naked eye, but your smartphone is likely to be crawling with bacteria—perhaps even with more than your toilet seat. Yes, that's a lot of dangerous microbes floating around, and yes, it is gross.
Besides the potential health risks of a dirty phone, the gathering of gunk and dust in your phone's ports or around the buttons, can have an impact on its normal operation.
Then there's the simple annoyance of looking at a screen covered in fingerprint marks and other oily smudges that come with the daily grind of life with a smartphone. In short, you've got plenty of reasons to regularly give your phone a thorough clean. It would be ideal to do it every day, but doing it as often as possible is good enough.
With most phones now at least water-resistant—if not waterproof—and designed to take a few knocks, cleaning your phone won't be difficult, so you won't accidentally end up with an overpriced paperweight. But it is a good idea to keep most of your normal cleaning products and any abrasive materials in the cupboards.
You can use the products you already have around. Paper towels, alcohol, and cotton swabs can come in handy.
The first step is to fully power down your handset and remove any accessories you've got plugged in, whether that's charging cables or headphones. Take off the case as well if you use one, so you've got full access to all sides of the phone.
Next, you need a soft, lint-free cloth. Apple recommends a lens cloth for the job, but anything similar—like microfiber—that won't scratch or damage your phone, will do.
Dampen the cloth with a little water and wipe down the front and the back of your handset using steady, circular motions to lift off the accumulated dirt. It's a good idea to keep one end of your cloth dry or have a separate dry cloth at hand to remove excess moisture at the end. This is especially important near ports and buttons, where water might interfere with your phone's normal operation.
If your phone is fully IP68 rated for waterproofing (check the specs list if you're not sure), feel free to dunk your phone in a bowl of clean water for a minute or two. You can then dab off the moisture with a cloth, cleaning it at the same time.
If you're annoyed by your oily fingerprints all over your phone, you're not going to like lint sticking to your screen. Prevent that using a microfiber cloth.
For more persistent marks and dirt, you can upgrade the strength of your cleaning with some gentle face or baby wipes, or a little bit of household hand soap. If you do opt for cleaning wipes, use them sparingly and make sure they're approved for use on electrical devices.
Some experts also recommend mixing a half-and-half solution of rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol at around 60-70 percent) and water. Spray it onto your cleaning cloth rather than directly to your phone to get rid of the rest of the bacteria. As long as you use these substances in small amounts and avoid harsh chemicals, you're not going to damage your device.
Next, for getting dust and particles out of ports, use cotton swabs and just aim a few sharp puffs of air from your mouth. Avoid cans of compressed air though, as the pressure can interfere with the insides of your phone.
If your charging cable hasn't been juicing up your phone as quickly as it normally does, a build-up of gunk around the main port might be one of the reasons why. Again, your microfiber cloth can come in handy here—you can use the tip of it to tease out any accumulated dirt or dust, or wrap part of it around something small and thin (like a toothpick) for the job.
Cotton swabs can help you get the gunk out of ports, speakers, and all the nooks and crannies at the border of your screen.
Those are some general tips, but we'd encourage you to look online for any instructions specific to your phone. Your device's manufacturer might have some particular tips that don't apply more broadly, or certain warnings about what not to do.
Vatican unseals secret archive on Holocaust-era Pope Pius XII
Archives on controversial World War Two-era pope unsealed.
The Vatican unsealed its secret archive relating to the controversial Holocaust-era Pope Pius XII.
Critics accuse Pius of having turned a blind eye to Jewish suffering, and researchers hope the archive will reveal why the pope did not intervene to help the Jews during the Holocaust. The Vatican maintains that Pius worked behind the scenes to save Jews.
Jewish and other scholars have long called on the Vatican to open its secret archives to clarify the issue.
The archive was unsealed Monday after archivists spent 14 years taking inventory of its contents, the French news agency AFP reported. Some 200 researchers requested access to the archive before its opening.
Pius was the pope from March 2, 1939 to Oct. 9, 1958, and his role during the Holocaust has been a bone of contention for years.
Pius, when he was still Eugenio Pacelli, served as the Holy See ambassador to Germany in 1917-29, where he witnessed the beginning of the rise of Nazism.
The pope may have alluded to the systematic murder of the Jews during his Christmas radio message on Dec. 24, 1942, according to AFP.
Without naming Jews specifically, Pius referred to "hundreds of thousands of people who, without any fault of their own and sometimes for the sole reason of their nationality or race, were doomed to death or gradual extermination."
The decision to open the archive was announced a year ago.
AIPAC'S Moment of Truth
The pro-Israel lobby group can either be allied with the progressive wing of the Democratic Party or unabashedly pro-Israel, but cannot be both. It is time for AIPAC to decide.
The long-simmering estrangement between the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a pro-Israel lobby, and progressive Democrats, such as Sen. Bernie Sanders, who now leads the quest for the Democratic presidential nomination, broke into open warfare over the weekend.
Sanders, in deciding not to appear at AIPAC's annual conference next weekend (March 1-3) in Washington, D.C., issued a harsh statement bashing AIPAC for providing a platform "for leaders who express bigotry and oppose basic Palestinian rights." In an unusually sharp rebuke, an AIPAC spokesman called Sanders' comments "outrageous" and further declared that "by engaging in such an odious attack on this mainstream, bipartisan American political event, Senator Sanders is insulting his very own colleagues and the millions of Americans who stand with Israel."
With this background, what was once a routine annual event has turned into a battlefield where the future of the relationship between the Democratic Party and Israel and its supporters will be decided.
Since its founding in 1951, AIPAC has adhered to two fundamental principles: bipartisanship and unabashedly pro-Israel policies. Suddenly, due to the ascendency within the Democratic Party of progressives such as Sen. Sanders who hold, at best, unsympathetic views on Israel, the notion of bipartisanship within AIPAC is about to collapse. The question AIPAC faces this election year is whether, in the interest of bipartisanship, it can stretch itself to accommodate the Democratic Parties' progressives and yet still fulfill its primary mission of advocating on behalf of Israel's peace and security.
The Democratic Party historically has been the bedrock of support for Israel and AIPAC. President Harry Truman, with the support of the Democratic Party, made the pivotal decision in 1948 to support the U.N. Partition Plan recognizing the new state of Israel in the face of stiff opposition from his own State Department. Historians consider President Johnson to have been Israel's greatest friend and during his term Israel became the chief ally to the United States in the Middle East. Sen. Scoop Jackson was a lover of Israel and the Jewish people who helped facilitate emigration from the Soviet Union to Israel. Numerous pro-Israel resolutions sponsored by a broad array of Democrats have passed Congress.
But that was then and this is now. Today's Democratic Party is not your father's Democratic Party and has shifted dramatically on Israel. Today's party is held hostage to a coalition of "progressive" Democrats led by "the Squad": Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Ayanna Presley (D-Mass.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.). This quartet is hostile to the very notion of a Jewish state and espouses policies that would undermine its legitimacy and existence.
Before her election to Congress, Rep. Omar tweeted that "Israel has hypnotised the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel." After her elevation to Congress, Omar tweeted that support for Israel by U.S. politicians was "all about the Benjamins," a reference to U.S. $100 bills that feature a picture of Benjamin Franklin. In doing so, Omar spread one of the most nefarious anti-Semitic libels: that Jewish people use money to wield global power.
Rep. Tlaib advocates the "one-state solution" to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict—a final settlement in which there would no longer be a Jewish state and the territory that is now Israel would gradually become Palestine. Both Tlaib and Omar have spoken in support of the BDS movement, which amounts to an economic war against Israel.
Traditionally, in an election year, presidential contenders of both parties have spoken at AIPAC's annual convention. In 2016, both Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican contender Donald Trump were keynote speakers. This year, however, in an extraordinary move, none of the leading Democratic candidates is presently scheduled to appear at the convention.
As discussed above, Sen. Sanders declined to appear at this year's conference in a blistering attack upon AIPAC which the lobby group labeled "shameful." But even before this latest barrage, the leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination has repeatedly maligned Israel. He has called Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a "racist." He even accused Israel (falsely) of killing some 10,000 people in the 2014 Gaza war. During the fifth Democratic debate, Sanders proclaimed that "what U.S. foreign policy must be about is not just being pro-Israel. We must be pro-Palestinian as well."
Sanders is also one of several Democratic presidential candidates, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who go so far as to support conditioning U.S. aid to Israel on Israel's being more compliant in its negotiations with the Palestinians.
Warren has spoken out against what she calls the "far right wing policies" of Netanyahu's government, has called for making aid to Israel conditional on its settlement policies, and when the House voted on a resolution to condemn anti-Semitism, she slammed it, saying it was an attempt to silence debate.