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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G-d needs and we need to be in the land of Israel
Judaism is unique in that in addition to G-d asking us to keep 613 Commandments (the other nations need to keep 7 Categories which come to several hundred mitzvot as well but not 613) we are told we need to be in the land of Israel.
It is a very strange concept. Somehow and this is difficult to understand, A G-d that has no needs, needs his Jewish People to be in the land of Israel.
I will meet with the Israelites there (in the Tabernacle), and that place will be consecrated by My glory (Exodus 29:43)
"I will meet with the Israelites there:" - to inform all those who come into this world (i.e., all of mankind) the special affection which I have for Israel. (Midrash Lekaḥ Tov)
Lekaḥ Tov's comment applies to the Land of Israel as well, since she, and only she, is the Land of the Shechina. [Yalkut Shimoni, 694]
Indeed, our Sages expounded:
The Holy One, blessed be He said to Moses: "the Land is dear to Me, (as the verse states 'the eyes of the Lord your God are on it constantly from the first of the year until the very end of the year,' [Deuteronomy 11:12]); and Israel is dear to Me, (as scripture states: 'because the Lord loved you' "[Deuteronomy 7:8]) Thus, the Holy One, blessed be He said: "I shall bring Israel who are dear to Me into the Land which is dear to Me (as it is written: 'for you are entering the land of Canaan.' [Numbers 34:2])"
The very fact of Israel's presence within its Land, which is God's Land, constitutes an expression of God's affection for His chosen nation.
Beyond this, Israel's presence in its Land conveys God's Lordship over Israel to all the peoples of the world. Following our verse, the Torah states:
I will dwell among the Israelites and be their God. And they will know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt, so that I might dwell among them. I am the Lord their God. [45-56]
Lekaḥ Tov elucidates:
"I will dwell among the Israelites" – because My Shechina is within Israel, the entire world will know that I am their Lord.
The nation of Israel is able to convey its special connection to God only when it dwells within the Land, as our Sages taught:
Whoever lives in the Land of Israel may be considered to have a God, but whoever lives outside the Land may be regarded as one who has no God. (Babylonian Talmud, Ketubot 110b)
The above comments allow us to understand a surprising remark of Rabbeinu Beḥayye on the final verse quoted above:
"And they will know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt, so that I might dwell among them." – the verse informs us that the purpose of the exodus was "that I might dwell among them" and if not for that, God would not have taken the Israelites out of Egypt, teaching that having the Shechina within Israel is God's need, not merely the need of Israel.
Israel's welfare requires its being in the Land, while that presence, as it were, serves the Divine "need" as well, combining the nation's needs and God's "need." (David Magence)
So we learn that G-d's love for us is like a bridegroom for his bride. Maybe he could live without her, but if you ask any bridegroom in love, he would say he can't live without his bride. G-d could live with out us (Israel his love), but what would be the purpose of life.
A Broken Heart
With all of the Virus scares in the world now, Yehuda decided that instead of going away on a vacation he would stay at home and just relax – a "staycation." And Yehuda was really taking his mandate seriously by doing as little as possible.
Yehuda ignored his wife Miriam's not-so-subtle hints about completing certain jobs around the house, but he didn't realize how much this bothered her until the clothes dryer refused to work, the iron shorted, and the sewing machine motor burned out in the middle of a seam. The final straw came when Miriam plugged in the vacuum cleaner and nothing happened.
She looked so stricken that Yehuda offered some consolation.
"That's okay, honey," Moishe said. "You still have me."
Miriam looked up at me with tears in her eyes. "Yes," she wailed, "but you don't work either!"
Ideas, that help explain how the world works
Three Men Make a Tiger: People will believe anything if enough people tell them it's true. It comes from a Chinese proverb that if one person tells you there's a tiger roaming around your neighborhood, you can assume they're lying. If two people tell you, you begin to wonder. If three say it's true, you're convinced there's a tiger in your neighborhood and you panic.
Texas Research Scientist Says Brisket Might be Good for You By Spring Sault
If it was perfected in Texas, you can bet someone from this state is proving it's good for you. Such is the case for brisket and ground beef! Researchers out of Texas A&M have found that not only does it make for some of the tastiest food you'll ever try, but (believe it or not) it comes with some health benefits too.
Their findings confirmed that high levels of oleic acid can be had in beef brisket. You want this because it lowers LDLs (the "bad" kind of cholesterol,) and produces high levels of HDLs (the good kind, which are said to promote better heart health). Dr. Stephen Smith, a research scientist from Texas A&M AgriLife Research, explained the findings. "Brisket has higher oleic acid than the flank or plate, which are the trims typically used to produce ground beef," he said. "The fat in brisket also has a low melting point, that's why the brisket is so juicy." Researchers in this study have also found that the same applies to ground beef, but to a lesser degree.
America loves beef, and that love runs especially deep in the Lone Star State. Brisket is now one of the preferred trims in the production of ground beef. That's good news, considering Americans eat 50% of our beef in the form of ground beef, and it's featured in a huge number of recipes. In the production of ground beef, 25% of the carcass is used. This, Smith explained to AgriLife Today, "improves the sustainability of beef production." Smith also noted, "Our studies have shown that fat is a very important component of beef." The details of the study show that the good cholesterol (or HDL) increased in those who ate beef that was high in oleic acid. It's something to celebrate as you prepare for the best season of the year… barbecue season.
Why Hand-Washing Really Is as Important as Doctors Say
by: Michelle Sconce Massaquoi
As the threat from the coronavirus grows, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other public health officials are stressing the importance of hand-washing.
Prevention becomes essential to stopping the spread of the virus because there is no vaccine to prevent it and no anti-virals to treat it.
How can such a simple, low-tech solution make a difference?
Remember – coronavirus spreads easily by droplets from breathing, coughing and sneezing. As our hands touch many surfaces, they can pick up microbes, including viruses. Then by touching contaminated hands to your eyes, nose or mouth, the pathogens can infect the body.
As a microbiologist, I think a lot about the differences between microbes, such as bacteria and viruses, and how they interact with animal hosts to drive health or disease. I was shocked to read a study that indicated that 93.2% of 2,800 survey respondents did not wash their hands after coughing or sneezing.
Let me explain how washing your hands decreases the number of microbes on your hands and helps prevent the spread of infectious diseases.
Bacteria and viruses are different in a number of ways. Bacteria are single-celled organisms that can reproduce on their own, while viruses constitute a core of genetic material encapsulated by a protein coat and can only reproduce by attaching themselves to host cells. Because viruses don't have the organelles to reproduce, they "hijack" the cellular machinery of host cells to make multitudes of new viruses.
These differences are why antibiotics cannot kill viruses, which typically target specific structures in the cellular components of bacteria that are absent in viruses.
Despite their differences, however, the best way to prevent the disease of bacterial and viral pathogens alike is to effectively wash your hands.
There are two strategies to decreasing the amount of microbes on your hands.
The first is to decrease the overall biomass of microbes – that is, decrease the amount of bacteria, viruses and other types of microorganisms. We do this by lathering with soap and rinsing with water. Soap's chemistry helps remove microorganisms from our hands by accentuating the slippery properties of our own skin.
The second strategy is to kill the microbes. We do this by using products with an antibacterial agent such as alcohols, chlorine, peroxides, chlorhexidine or triclosan. However, the efficacy on these agents can be variable depending on a given microbe.
Is soap and water enough?
Some academic work has shown that antibacterial soaps are more effective at reducing certain bacteria on soiled hands than soaps without them.
However, there's a problem. Some bacterial cells on our hands may have genes that enable them to be resistant to a given antibacterial agent. This means that after the antibacterial agent kills some bacteria, the resistant strains remaining on the hands can flourish.
Further, the genes that allowed the bacteria to be resistant could pass along to other bacteria, causing more resistant strains. Even more important with respect to coronavirus, antibacterial agents, such as oral antibiotics, don't kill viruses.
With this in mind, you may want to stick with plain old soap and water.
Going back to grade school
To clean our hands, the CDC recommends that we:
1–Wet hands with clean water
2–Apply soap and lather/scrub every nook and cranny of your hands for 20-30 seconds (about the time to sing "Happy Birthday" twice)
3–Rinse well with clean running water
4–Dry hands with a clean paper towel or air-dry.
During the 20-30 seconds of lathering the World Health Organization recommends incorporating six maneuvers to cover all parts of your hands.
If soap and water are not unavailable, the CDC recommends using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% ethanol. Alcohols have a broad-spectrum of antimicrobial activity and are less selective for resistance compared to other antibacterial chemicals. Although alcohol-based hand sanitizers may not work on all classes of germs, the WHO recommends the use of an alcohol-based hand rub to kill viruses that may be on your hands.
Not all microbes are germs
The presence of some microbes isn't necessarily a bad thing. In fact many of the microbes that live on or within us are essential for our health.
We live in a microbial world: Trillions of different microbes colonize our skin, gut and orifices. Collectively, this consortium of bacteria, archaea, fungi and viruses are called our microbiota. A plethora of exciting research suggests that the associations of animal hosts with their microbiota are fundamentally important for the host's biology.
Our microbiota can protect us from germs by training our immune system and by colonization resistance – the characteristic of the intestinal microbiota to block colonization of pathogens. There is ample evidence suggesting that commensal bacteria regulate invading viruses, and in some cases have a suppressive role in their infections. For example, bacteria can prevent influenza virus infection by binding or trapping them directly or by producing metabolites that decrease the stability of influenza virions.
Although more research needs to be done to understand the intricate interactions between microbial communities with host cells, consistent work illustrates that a diverse population of microbes and a balance of this community is important for our health.
So what is the take-home message?
There is no doubt that washing our hands with liquid soap and water is effective in reducing the spread of infectious microorganisms, including those that are resistant to antimicrobial agents.
When you don't have the opportunity to wash your hands after touching questionable surfaces, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Limit the touching of your hands to your mouth, nose and eyes.
Furthermore, maintain a healthy microbiota by limiting stress, getting enough sleep and "fertilizing" your gut microbes with a diversity of plant-based foods. It's not only a small world, but a dirty one as well.
Michelle Sconce Massaquoi is a doctoral candidate in microbiology at the University of Oregon