For Americans in Israel: Update of Tax-Related Matters in the Age of Coronavirus By Jewish Press News Desk and Coronavirus: Trump calls himself 'wartime president' in battle with 'invisible enemy' and drunk elephants and balloon Tel Aviv and Into the Fray / Dr. Martin Sherman: Why Netanyahu Must NOT Step Down and I am more beautiful than you-the awaking of the I
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
Love Yehuda Lave
I am more beautiful than you-the awaking of the I
We finished last week the book of Exodus, 1/2 of which is the story of the Jewish Peoples exodus from Egypt and 1/2 of which is the story of the Temple in the desert before it was built in Jerusalem.
Every word of the Written Torah is special and unique and not one word is wasted. The Rabbis of Old were therefore fascinated by the fact that 1/2 the book of Exodus was filled with the reciting of the instructions to build the Desert Temple (the Mishkan) and then the retelling of the actual construction.
In Chapter 38:8, the written Torah tells of the architect of the Construction, Bezalel, receiving the mirrors of the women to make the laver. "And he made the laver of brass and its base of brass, of the mirrors of the serving women that did service at the door of the tent of the meeting.
Rashi, our prime explainer of the Torah says on this verse: The daughters of Israel had in their possession mirrors into which they looked when they adorned themselves; and even these they did not refrain from bringing as a contribution for the Mishkan.
But Moses was displeased with them for they were made for the Evil Inclination. So the Holy One, Blessed be He, said "Accept the Mirrors".
These mirrors are more beloved by Me than everything else for by means of them the women set up many babies in Egypt. When their husbands were fatigued from the rigorous labor, they would go and bring them food and drink and give them to eat; and they would take these mirrors and each one would look at herself, together with her husband in the mirror, and would entice him with words, saying "I AM MORE BEAUTIFUL THAN YOU." and they would bring their husbands to lust and they cohabited with them and conceived and gave birth there.
As it is said in Song of Solomon 8:5: Who is this coming up from the wilderness, leaning on her beloved? I aroused you under the APPLE TREE; there your mother conceived you and she travailed and brought you forth.
And that is the significance of what is said in verse 38:8 "of the mirrors of the serving women". And the laver was made of the mirrors, since it served to make peace between a husband and his wife.
Rashi says elsewhere (Talmud Eiruvin 100b) that normally a woman is not allowed to articulate her desire, as that would be a breach of innate purity of the desire itself. Her sin in the Garden of Eden was an overt expression of passion while engaging in martial relations: thus G-d said to Even in pronouncing her punishment: "you shall passionately desire your husband, but he shall rule over you. The implied curse is that the wife is no longer allowed to verbally request marital relations from her husband but must rather intimate her desire for relations non-verbally.
The Hebrew term for this mitzvah is Onah (עונה) which literally means "time" in the sense of frequency. This teaches us that the beginning of rectified consciousness with regard to marital relations is learning to recognize their appropriate time and frequency.
The first consideration in determining the proper timing for marital relations is, of course, whether or not they are halachically permitted. While Jewish Men and Women have the same physical bodies as non-Jews, Sex is regulated by the Jewish religion as to when it is allowed according to the timing of the woman's Menstrual cycle and whether she has used the mikvah at the end of her cycle.
Today's Jerusalem Post had an article about whether woman should use the mikveh's during this coronavirus crisis saying that Halacha strongly forbids sexual relations between husband and wife before the woman has immersed in a mikvah, and so access to mikavot is critical for normal maritial life.
This was wrong, it does not strongly forbid it, it absolutely forbids it under penalty of a heavenly death penalty for both parties. So for these reasons among others, the Jewish people did not practice these mitzvahs while they were slaves in Egypt while they did not have control over their lives or time.
The Jewish women came to the men in the slavery, and not under the restrictions that Jewish people are under since the Torah was given, were able to remind the Men of the "I". Have some self worth, I am more beautiful than You, because I have not forgotten the I, and its time you remembered it yourself.
Love Yehuda Lave
Ideas, that help explain how the world works
Normalcy Bias: Underestimating the odds of disaster because it's comforting to assume things will keep functioning the way they've always functioned.
Ballon Tel Aviv 030220
On the third election Day, the new train to Tel Aviv was free and Rabbi Sprecher and I investigate the Yarkon Park Balloon ride and take a put-put boat as well
Into the Fray / Dr. Martin Sherman INTO THE FRAY: Why Netanyahu Must NOT Step Down By Dr. Martin Sherman
indictment is not evidence of guilt and does not detract from the presumption that the accused is innocent –Nathan Lewin -a leading US attorney with over 55 years' experience in trial and appellate litigation in federal courts, March 6, 2020.
…the danger in the novel legal theories introduced by Mandelblit is stark. The criminal charges against the prime minister lack legal substance, and they threaten both the rule of law in Israel and the health of its democracy. – Prof Avi Bell, Tablet Magazine, February 28, 2019.
The coronavirus has largely overshadowed all other topics in the media and almost completely displaced any mention of Netanyahu's upcoming legal challenges.
Bibi must be complicit in COVID-19 outbreak…
Indeed, upon reflection, perhaps the strangest element of the media coverage of the looming epidemic is that no one has seriously suggested that the entire COVID-19 outbreak is a fiendishly cunning ploy by Netanyahu to deflect public attention from his imminent trial, set to open in the coming weeks.
After all, what better proof could there be that Bibi must be complicit in the global pandemic than the fact that it has eclipsed any almost any and all media coverage of the Prime Minister's impending trial?
As far-fetched as this tongue-in-cheek barb might appear, it does help convey just how outlandish the proportions to which the "Any-One-but Bibi" syndrome have grown and the unscrupulous lengths to which Netanyahu's chronically Bibiphobic political adversaries are willing to go in their anti-democratic efforts to remove him from office.
Indeed, flummoxed and infuriated by their inability to dislodge him from power via the ballot box and by their failure to find a candidate capable of displacing him on his/hers electoral merits, his political opponents have embarked on a sustained, seemingly obsessive effort to remove him from office by any other means they can concoct/conjure up.
If they were to succeed in this egregious endeavor, it would inflict a mortal blow on the fabric of Israeli democracy. But more on that somewhat later.
Suffice it to state at this stage that the attempt to disqualify Netanyahu from office, despite the fact that he has been overwhelmingly reaffirmed by members of his party and by the general public as the most favored and suited candidate to lead the nation, is becoming increasingly acute in view of the harrowing challenges facing the country—to which, now, the ominous threat of the COVID-19 scourge must be added..
"…the appropriate criteria for criminal prosecution not met"
At least two features of the "Bag Bibi" saga standout as of particular note.
The first is that charges were made at all—at least in terms of criminal infractions of the law.
The second is that, by the prosecution's own admission, the charges –at least the most serious one, that of bribery—could not be made on the basis of well-established legal practice and to do so required invoking "innovative" (read "contrived"), hitherto unprecedented interpretations of the law.
As to the former, a battery of prominent legal experts, both in the US and Israel, have not only expressed puzzlement at Netanyahu's indictment, but have called for Israel's Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit, to drop the charges! For example, in an Op-Ed entitled Voters, Not the Police or the Courts, Should Decide Netanyahu's Future, published in Haaretz shortly before the March, 2019 election, Prof. Alan Dershowitz, Professor Emeritus at Harvard University and one of the leading legal authorities in the US, expressed grave reservations as to the merits of the then-proposed indictments of Netanyahu.
He wrote: "The issue at the center of these investigations seems trivial against the background of the existential crises Israel is facing…The first probe, also known as case 1000, involves gifts of cigars and champagne Netanyahu received from close friends…I strongly believe that the appropriate criteria for criminal prosecution have not been met in the cigar and champagne case against Netanyahu… The other investigations (dubbed 2000 and 4000) pose even greater dangers to democratic governance and civil liberties… In both cases, the prime minister is essentially being investigated for allegedly trying to push the media – with long histories of attacking him and his family – to be fairer…"
The dangers to democracy and press freedom He then went on to warn of the dangers of democracy and press freedom entailed in the then brewing legal action against Netanyahu: "…what we are left with is an exploration of motives… [which] are not the kinds of questions that prosecutors and police should be empowered to ask elected officials and media moguls as a part of a criminal investigation…The relationship between politics and the media – and between politicians and publishers – is too nuanced, subtle and complex to be subject to the heavy hand of
criminal law…police and prosecutors should not intrude on this complex, messy and nuanced relationship between politics and the media, except in cases of clear and unambiguous financial corruption well beyond what is alleged in the current cases… to criminalize these political differences is to endanger democracy and freedom of the press."
Significantly, in an apparent effort to discredit the views it published by Dershowitz, or undermine their professional authority and/or objectivity, Haaretz found it necessary to add to Dershowitz's credit-line at the end of the article giving his professional/academic credentials, that he had provided legal services to corporations controlled by Sheldon Adelson, who is known to be a strong benefactor of Netanyahu. I cannot recall this practice being employed for any other Op-Ed in the paper. If readers can provide such other examples, I would be more than intrigued to learn of them.
"…compellingly require dismissal of all charges…" Almost a year later, Dershowitz made the following powerful argument against the Netanyahu indictments: "If somebody were to introduce legislation saying that it is a crime for a politician to seek good coverage and it came for a vote, it wouldn't get a single vote in the Knesset. And that's the best proof that it shouldn't be prosecuted as a crime under today's law."
Dershowitz was also one of the members of a high-profile legal team that submitted a comprehensive legal brief to Mandelblit arguing that allowing favorable media coverage to be considered bribery represents a "dangerous threat" that will "cripple freedom of the press, suppress free speech and impair democratic political purposes."
The brief's other authors—Nathan Lewin, who has tried numerous cases before the U.S. Supreme Court (see opening excerpt) ; Richard Heideman; Joseph Tipograph; and Avi Bell(see opening excerpt)—contend that: "There has never been a single case in the democratic world in which a public figure was prosecuted, let alone convicted, of the "crime" of receiving a requested "bribe" of favorable publicity. Non-defamatory publicity favorable to a candidate or critical of his or her opponent has not, to our knowledge, ever generated a criminal prosecution.
Accordingly, the brief's authors conclude that "the considerations presented in this Memorandum…in the opinion of undersigned counsel… compellingly require dismissal of all charges asserting "bribery" in any form."
No precedent in the democratic world
Bolstering this unequivocal conclusion was its ringing endorsement by no less than ten additional prominent academics and practitioners of law. They wrote: I/We have read the Legal Memorandum/Brief and Comparative Legal Analysis filed by Lewin, Dershowitz, Heideman, Bell and Tipograph, and are of the opinion that viewing positive media coverage as a sufficient "thing of value" to serve as the basis of a criminal charge of bribery threatens to chill protected speech, and constitutes a danger
to freedom of speech, freedom of the press and democracy more generally. We are unaware of any precedent in the democratic world in which owners or members of the press have been convicted of bribery for the act of giving positive coverage in expectation of an official act being carried out in exchange.
· Larry Alexander, Warren Distinguished Professor of Law, University of San Diego
· Jeremy Rabkin, Professor of Law, George Mason University
· Pascal Markowitz, Attorney at the Paris Bar
· Joel T. Griffith, Esq. DC Chair, Young Jewish Conservatives
· Marc Greendorfer, President, Zachor Legal Institute
· Arthur F. Fergenson, Senior Counsel, Ansa Assuncao LLP
· F.R. Jenkins, Esq., Meridian 361 International Law Group
· Eugene Kontorovich, Professor of Law, Antonin Scalia Law School
· David Schoen, Attorney-at-Law
· Harvey A. Silverglate, lawyer and writer, of counsel to Boston's Zalkind Duncan & Bernstein LLP
Ironically, another firm endorsement of the Memorandum's position came from a rather unexpected source, from none other than the then-State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan—the very individual who led the legal action against Netanyahu.
Creating crimes? This emerges clearly from an interview with Nitzan, in May 2019. In it, he as good as admitted that Netanyahu could not be indicted on the basis of well-established legal practice—and to do so, new legal precedents needed to be invoked. In other words, to indict Netanyahu, it was necessary to criminalize deeds that were never considered criminal in the past.
Thus, during the interview, Nitzan was asked: "The determination that positive media coverage should be considered "bribery" is a legal precedent. Is it appropriate to set such a precedent for the first time in a case against a prime minister?"
His stunning, almost self-contradictory, response was: "Every legal precedent has to begin at some point. For example, in Case 4000 [involving positive coverage in the Walla site], there was no disagreement and everyone agreed that it was right to indict on bribery, despite the fact that it did not involve envelopes filled with cash, but influencing media coverage. So, just because it involves the prime minister, we should delay the precedent for another time? I do not think that this decision involves a widening of the charge of bribery or breach of trust."
This, of course, leaves one to puzzle over how, if the decision was in fact unprecedented, could it possibly not involve "widening the charges"?
Olmert vs. Netanyahu—the qualitative chasm
In addition to all these deeply disturbing factors, there is perturbing and persuasive evidence of selective prosecution, in which incumbent politicians undertook identical—or at least very similar –pursuit of favorable coverage with nary an indictment being filed against them. Arguably even more troubling, are persistent reports of police misconduct, mistreatment and extortion of witnesses to obtain incriminating statements against Netanyahu .
All this should be born in mind when comparing the case of Ehud Olmert, and that of Netanyahu. Olmert, who served as Israel's Prime Minister from 2006 to 2009, was imprisoned for 16 months for bribery and obstruction of justice during his terms as mayor of Jerusalem and as trade minister. Indeed, Netanyahu is often confronted with his 2008 demand from Olmert to resign, claiming that: "a prime minister up to his neck in investigations has no public or moral right to make fateful decisions for the country, because the suspicion exists… that he will make decisions in the interests of his personal political survival and not on the basis of the national interest."
Understandably, this ostensibly creates an awkward situation for Netanyahu, exposing him to charges of hypocrisy and double standards—and calls for him to step aside putting the country's national interest before his personal ones.
Both the comparison and calls are misplaced.
For there is a sharp qualitative difference between the two cases.
Olmert, in stark contrast to Netanyahu, was indicted on existing interpretation of the law; no "creative" legal precedents were needed to be invoked to prosecute him; there was no claim of selective prosecution, or allegations of police investigatory misconduct. Olmert was strongly pressured by members of both his party and his coalition partners to resign. Netanyahu, on the other hand, is strongly urged not to…
A mortal blow to Israeli democracy
All these factors lead to one inescapable conclusion.
If Netanyahu is forced to step down under the weight of these "dubious" (to be charitable) indictments, it will be a mortal blow to the fabric of Israeli democracy.
For it will indelibly demonstrate, that any democratically elected leader, no matter how popular or how towering his achievements, can be deposed by the vindictive whims of a politically inimical civil society elite, using its position of power and privilege to circumvent the will of the people.
This an outcome that must be avoided at all costs.
For Americans in Israel: Update of Tax Related Matters in the Age of Coronavirus By Jewish Press News Desk
While the Israel Tax Authority continues to say they will pay self-employed individuals 6,000 NIS, as of the writing of this bulletin no guidelines have been issued. When will that be paid? To whom? How frequently? Will it be taxable as ordinary income? …. So far, all that has been done is to (1) allow VAT tax payments for February to be postponed some seven days; (2) postpone the filing due date for 2018 tax returns and Equity statements to April 30th.
The National Insurance Institute, Bituach Leumi (B"L), has agreed that if a self-employed person needs to, he may ask that the B'L advance tax payment be reduced and such request will be honored. Consequently, we suggest that if you wish to reduce your B"L advance tax payments, מקדמות, that you send an email to Ari@GalitzerCPA.com with your request. If we already have a B"L power of attorney authorizing us to represent you before B"L, he will try to give effect to that reduction or cancellation of your B"L מקדמות . Otherwise he will, בע"ה , send you such form to sign and email back to him in order for him to request such reduction for you.
Mortgage Payments Deferral
The Bank of Israel has announced that it has instructed the banks to allow borrowers to extend or defer mortgage payments for up to four months. If you are interested in skipping mortgage payments, contact your bank. Bank Leumi and Mizrachi-Tefachot and Union Bank ask that you go into their website to file the request. Bank HaPoalim and Bank Discount and the Bank of Jerusalem ask that you call them. Bank Ozar HaChayal asks that you go into your account via the internet and initiate a chat.
The Bank of Israel has also announced that during the Corona crisis bank accounts will not be frozen due to too many checks being returned due to insufficient funds in the account.
United States Relief
The US Government/Internal Revenue Service has announced that all tax returns and tax payments for 2019 and estimated tax payments for 2020 otherwise due initially April 15 will not be due before July 15. FBAR filings already have an extended due date of October 15th. We suggest, however, that if you have your data ready, email or fax the data to us. We are trying to continue office services by remote access while working from home. If you send us a fax, please also call or email us to alert us to the fax having been sent.
Congress passed a law effective April 1 regarding employees discharged temporarily on leave without pay, that we refer to as חופשה ללא תשלום – חל"ת but the US approach is very different than the Israeli approach which we discussed in our previous eBulletin. An employer in the US of fewer than 50 employees will be required to continue to pay employees who cannot go to work and cannot "tele-work" due to school closings or childcare center closings and their having to care for their children at home. Such employers, after having paid the salaries of those employees, will recoup their payment of such salaries dollar-for-dollar as a credit to reduce payroll taxes. Think about it!
Effectively, the government is funding 100% of the salaries with the assistance of the employers who are advancing the funds to the employees so that the employees do not have to wait for their salaries, but after reimbursement it winds up that the Federal government will have paid those salaries in full.
Congress is also expected to sign a joint bill, agreed to by both the House and the Senate on March 25, allocating $2 trillion in various avenues to fight the Corona virus crisis. Part of that Act is expected to increase unemployment insurance benefits by $600 a week for a period of 4 months.
It is also reported by US news sources that the bill would give one time direct payments to Americans of $1,200 per adult making up to $75,000 a year, and $2,400 to a married couple making up to $150,00 with $500 payments per child. The amount of the payments are to be based on income reported on 2018 tax returns or 2019 tax returns if already filed. These payments are to decline gradually for individuals or couples having reported income above those amounts and phase out at a rate of $5 per $100 of adjusted gross income above $75,000 for singles and above $112,500 for a head of household, and above $150,000 of adjusted gross income for a couple filing a joint tax return. Payments are to be deposited directly to the bank account reflected on the tax return for direct deposit of a refund or, otherwise, they are to be mailed to the taxpayer. Payments are said to be scheduled to be remitted in April.
Netanyahu Sings Psalm 147
The Song to End All Plagues " based on tehillim 91 by Evelyn Hayes author of The 12th Plague 2003
Sing for HASHEM created the worldand it is supreme.Sing for the sunrise and the sunset are a heavenly scene. Sing because one day follows another.Sing because HASHEM created man and woman, father and mother.Sing for there is birth, descendants, ascendants to the highest realm of G-DSing because of HIS Master Plan:from bees to honey, from seeds to treesfrom blossoms to fruitfrom yesterday beyond tomorrow. Sing for HASHEM gave Moshe the Torah.Sing for the laws are the laws no matter the laws asunder.Sing because there is sunshine after thunderSing because HASHEM gave us the rainbow.Sing because of HIS promise:that HE will never destroy the world againthat HE will never destroy. mankind againSing because HE will stop the plaguesand save mankind from the destructive ragesof today and tomorrowand we will survive because of HIS sages. Sing with HASHEM protected by HIS wings.Sing for HE is our refuge and our inspiration.Sing because HIS truth is our shield. Sing because HIS wisdom is our path. Sing because although there is pestilence and decadence HE is Our Rock, Our Shield, Our Refuge As we tread amidst wild beasts, snakes, bats and jihad freaks. HASHEM has chosen good and as we choose HIS heavenly laws, we will be free. Up from slavery we have arisen. Away from the plagues we are distanced. HASHEM's truths are self- evident: Recognizing evil rids the world of evil. Up and away, we march forward and together. We have suffered from jealousy, hate and violence. We have seen destruction. Singing HIS Song is a vaccine against disease Singing HIS Song is a song for an end of chaos. Singing HIS Song is a song for HIS laws and HIS order: The Perfect World Order. Our Redemption. Singing the Song of the Plagues is writing "The Song to End All Plagues."
Coronavirus: Trump calls himself 'wartime president' in battle with 'invisible enemy'
US president says the country is at war with coronavirus, while accusing China of not asking for help at the beginning of the crisis 'out of pride'. Trump also said the US economy will 'skyrocket' once the coronavirus outbreak is contained
New York Times Pushes the Lie of Israeli Apartheid By Paul Gherkin
The New York Times' jaundiced opinion in its news articles that Israel is an apartheid state treating Arabs as non-citizens without rights is advancing at an alarming pace. It is resorting to shoring up its screed with outright lies and glaring omissions with greater frequency.
Consider the article by David Halbfinger on page A16 of the March 13, 2020 paper called "Arabs' Clout Forces Israel to Take New Look at Democracy and Identity." For the Times, the debate about forming a new government between the two main rival political parties (Likud / Blue and White) "turns on a question at the heart of the country's existence as a democratic and Jewish state: Are the votes of Arab citizens worth as much as those of Jews?"
That's the crux of the Times' view of Israel: that it considers Arabs as only partial citizens with few rights. It supports its thesis with quotes like "'They are saying that our votes don't count exactly because this time we are able to change the game,' said Aida Touma-Suleiman, a lawmaker from the Joint Lists' far-left Hadash party."
Americans unfamiliar with a parliamentary system cannot appreciate that the various political parties always jockey for position as to how and whether to be part of the government or opposition. Halbfinger failed to note that it was the Arab parties that refused to join any government since 1995 when they backed Yitzhak Rabin. The Times inverted the issue making it an Israeli bias of refusing to include the Arab parties, not the Arab parties rejecting the government.
Glaringly, the Times did not mention that there are several Israeli Arabs who are members of the "Jewish" parties including Likud, Blue and White, and Yisrael Beiteinu. Obviously their votes count.
To advance its theory that Arabs are a weak minority that are systematically ignored in Israel, the Times minimized the prevailing power of Arabs in Knesset and their actual views throughout the article.
Ahmad Tibi has been a member of the Knesset for over twenty years and has held the title of Deputy Speaker of Knesset for the majority of them. While he has passed a dozen laws in Israel, all the Times would print about him was "Mr. Netanyahu has long used Arab lawmakers like Ahmad Tibi, a onetime adviser to Yasir Arafat, as political foils to stoke right-wing anger." A reader would have no idea that Tibi has been a senior member of the Knesset for years with such passing reference, making Netanyahu's dealings with him seem petty and vengeful.
The Times never mentions Tibi's speeches in which he praised the Arabs who have died fighting Israel as "Shahids" who die for "Shahada" (Death for Allah). This is Tibi making clear that the battle against Israel is a RELIGIOUS WAR, not simply a civil war over land. As such, it should be fought by Muslims in Israel with the same intensity and purpose as by Palestinian Arabs and Muslims around the world.
Consider this sharp divide between reality and the #AlternativeFacts printed by the Times: an Arab who praised a religious war against the Jewish State while serving as Deputy Speaker of that same Knesset is simply referred to as "a onetime adviser to Yasser Arafat," who is wrongfully used to "stoke right-wing anger." That Netanyahu attacks Jews and non-Jews alike as part of politics was not the message the paper wanted to pass along, as it coupled "right-wing" with quotes of Netanyahu "appealing to racists" in the article.
What Israeli Arabs Desire
A complete Times piece on Israel must have #FakeNews in addition to #AlternativeFacts and inversions, so the outlet threw out this tidbit:
"And with Arab citizens eager to get back at Mr. Netanyahu over a host of matters – including the 2018 adoption of a law declaring that only Jews have a national right to self-determination in Israel – they really did come out in droves."
This claim is completely false. A joint poll held right after the 2018 Nation-State law was enacted conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Research (PCPR) and the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research concluded that Israeli Arabs OVERWHELMINGLY support the notion of Israel as a Jewish homeland (84.8% in question 8). It was one of the only questions that got nearly unanimous support.
That same poll highlighted that it is only Israeli Arabs who are in favor the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative (82.1% strongly approve or approve) while Palestinian Arabs (60.7%) and Israeli Jews (54.2%) oppose or strongly oppose that plan (question V8-10). The Israeli Arabs are leery of Netanyahu advancing the alternative U.S. Peace Plan which would transfer blocks of predominantly Arab towns to a new state of Palestine. That is the crux of Israeli Arab concern with Netanyahu, not the Nation-State Law of which they approve.
Many Israelis oppose the Arab Joint List because of its anti-Zionist views, not because it is Arab. But for today's New York Times, Israel will forever be a racist colonial endeavor so it will print #FakeNews and #AlternativeFacts until everyone believes so as well.
CORONA's Wake-Up Call by Rabbi Ephriam Sprecher
The Rambam in Hilchot Taanit informs us that times of great distress and suffering, like we are now experiencing, are times for introspection. G‑d wants us to reflect and think about how to become a better person. This Coronavirus is telling us that there are two areas where we should improve ourselves: The value of quality family time and the pain of loneliness.
This mandatory quarantine of family reminds us where our true source of strength lies. Sitting in our rooms, cut off from the rest of the world, forces us to undergo a process of self‑examination; but what values are truly important to us? Not our careers or financial success, but values of spirit, faith, and family.
The Coronavirus that has put millions of people into isolation reminds us that there are people who are always socially isolated. Do we pay attention to those people who suffer from constant loneliness, who return to an empty apartment day after day? These lonely people who have no family, those who are home alone waiting for someone to give them a friendly hello, do we hear their voice and feel their pain? Perhaps this virus that forces us to become lonely is a wake-up call to remember all the lonely people.
Loneliness can be painful, but it is also easy to alleviate with a friendly smile, a kind word, a cheerful greeting or a phone call. If each of us remembers one lonely person and reaches out to that person by inviting them to a Shabbat meal (after the crisis is over) can make a huge contribution to light up one's life as Debbie Boone sang: YOU LIGHT UP MY LIFE.
Perhaps the Coronavirus and the loneliness that has been imposed on us gives us a taste of what loneliness really feels like. We miss our social encounters that we are accustomed to. This disease gives us a wonderful opportunity to lessen the pain of lonely people because we're all in this together.
This week's Parsha is VAYIKRA, and we know that the parsha always speaks to Current Events. Vayikra means G‑d calls out to each and every one of us! Reach out and touch one lonely person and bring a little joy and sunshine into their lonely lives. This is G‑d's message to each and every one of us in this week's parsha.
In the merit of this great Mitzvah, our prayers will be answered and we will overcome this deadly disease in peace and in health.
But what do we do in the meantime? As the Prophet states, in the Dawn of the Messianic Era, "Go, My People, enter your rooms and close your doors behind you, hide for a while until the wrath and PLAGUE has passed." (Isaiah 26:20)