19 now allowed at outside Minyans and Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah) 2020 in Israel will begin in the evening of Monday, 20 April and ends in the evening of Tuesday, 21 April and Three Million Surgical Masks Land in Israel By David Israel and Jews, Wine, And Prohibition By Saul Jay Singer and Here are words of comfort and prayer from Rabbi Steinsaltz. and Saying kaddish alone is not possible, but here are some things to do to make up for it and Could Social Distancing be practicing for Biblical times?
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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The government on Sunday morning adopted new guidelines for dealing with the coronavirus, ultimately including permission to hold prayer groups of up to 19 people, at a distance of up to 500 meters from one's residence or place of work and in an open area, with a distance of at least 2 meters between people.
"It is the most serious obligation for everyone to observe and abide by the rules of distancing and caution required by the physicians' instructions, and by no means to hold group prayers unless the precautions are fully adhered to," Rabbi Edelstein wrote.
"Everyone should check before joining a prayer group whether it is possible to maintain the precautionary rules while maintaining the distance between people, since all this involves concern for human life, and anyone who transgresses this harms himself and others, Heaven forbid."
Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah) 2020 in Israel will begin in the evening of Monday, 20 April and ends in the evening of Tuesday, 21 April
Yom Hashoah is a day set aside for the World to remember the Holocaust
The name comes from the Hebrew word 'shoah', which means 'whirlwind'. Yom Hashoah was established in Israel in 1959 by law. It falls on the 27th of the Jewish month of Nissan, a date chosen because it is the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.
It is observed as Israel's day of commemoration for the approximately six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust as a result of the actions carried out by Nazi Germany and its collaborators. In Israel, it is a national memorial day. The first official commemorations took place in 1951, and the observance of the day was anchored in a law passed by the Knesset, in 1959. It is held on the 27th of Nisan (falls in April or May), unless the 27th would be adjacent to the Jewish Sabbath in which case the date is shifted by a day.
The first Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel took place on December 28, 1949, following a decision of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, that an annual memorial should take place on the Tenth of Tevet, a traditional day of mourning and fasting in the Hebrew calendar. The day was marked by the burial in a Jerusalem cemetery of ashes and bones of thousands of Jews brought from the Flossenburg Concentration Camp and religious ceremonies held in honor of the victims. A radio program on the Holocaust was broadcast that evening. The following year, in December 1950, the Rabbinate, organizations of former European Jewish communities and the IDF held memorial ceremonies around the country; they mostly involved funerals, in which objects such as desecrated Torah scrolls and the bones and ashes of the dead brought from Europe were interred.
On May 3, 1951, the first officially organized Holocaust Remembrance Day event was held at the Chamber of the Holocaust on Mount Zion; the Israel Postal Service issued a special commemorative envelope, and a bronze statue of Mordechai Anielewicz, the leader of the Warsaw Ghetto revolt, was unveiled at Yad Mordechai, a kibbutz named for him. From the following year, the lighting of six beacons in memory of the six million Jews killed by the Nazis became a standard feature of the official commemoration of Holocaust Memorial Day.
On April 8, 1959, the Knesset officially established the day when it passed the Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day Law with the purpose of instituting an annual "commemoration of the disaster which the Nazis and their collaborators brought upon the Jewish people and the acts of heroism and revolt performed." The law was signed by the Prime Minister of Israel, David Ben-Gurion, and the President of Israel, Yitzhak Ben-Zvi. It established that the day would be observed by a two-minute silence when all work would come to a halt throughout the country, memorial gatherings and commemorative events in public and educational institutions would be held, flags would be flown at half mast, and programs relevant to the day would be presented on the radio and in places of entertainment. An amendment to the law in 1961 mandated that cafes, restaurants and clubs be closed on the day
Could Social Distancing be practicing for Biblical times?
Could Social Distancing be practicing for Biblical times?
When you believe in the Torah as a practicing Orthodox Jew, you see the connection between the section of the Torah that is read in the synagogue each week (called the Parsha) as a predictor of biblical times.
Everyone feels there is something out of the ordinary about this current CoronoVirus that we are going through. Why would it make sense to shut the whole world done to protect against the spread of the disease when we have modern medicine and we are not living in the middle ages?
The new concept that materialized overnight was social distancing. No one ever heard about it before and if you acted this way just three weeks ago you would have been locked up as germaphobic.
So an Orthodox Jew turns to the Torah to try to make sense out of what is going on. This week, because of the special intricacies of the Hebrew calendar we read two parsha sections: Tazria and Metzora.
In Parsha Metzora, chapter 15: verses 7 & 8, it says:
7) And he that touches the flesh of him that has issue (contamination) shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water and be unclean until the evening.
8) And if he that has the issue spits upon you (who are uncontaminated) then he shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water and be unclean until the evening.
So if you are touched or spit upon by a person who is contaminated you have to bathe yourself and wait a period of time.
While this does not work for the virus, it did work for the Biblical concepts of Spiritual contamination and Spiritual Purity. This is called Tumah and taharah in Biblical language.
Now we don't have these concepts in today's world because we are all considered spiritually impure because without the Mashiach we aren't able to build a temple and bring sacrifices.
My Rabbi (Rabbi Ephriam Sprecher) suggested to me, perhaps the whole reason we are going through this new Social Distancing exercise is to prepare ourselves for the return of the Mashiach and a return to Temple times with these concepts of Tumah and Taharah.
One doesn't learn a new concept without a lot of pain n general. Normal people who used to be quite nice, now want to throw a rock at you or shoot you, if you violate their new "social distance". And for some, it is quite far away. The same person who shook your hand three weeks ago, yells space-space-space. And the dirty looks you are given are beyond belief.
Yet could it all make sense if we were being prepared to return to biblical times? Only time will tell the truth
Love Yehuda Lave
During these trying times, we are supposed to eat healthily, so this story comes to mind:
A Healthy Breakfast
Moshe was talking to his psychiatrist. "I had a weird dream recently," he says. "I saw my mother but then I noticed she had your face. I found this so worrying that I immediately awoke and couldn't get back to sleep. I just stayed there thinking about it until 7 am. I got up, made myself a slice of toast and some coffee and came straight here. Can you please help me explain the meaning of my dream?"
The psychiatrist kept silent for some time, then said, "One slice of toast and coffee? Do you call that a breakfast?"
Three Million Surgical Masks Land in Israel By David Israel
Three million surgical masks, donated by the Milner Foundation, landed Thursday evening in Israel on an El Al Dreamliner flight from China. The masks will be distributed by Magen David Adom to its emergency services staff, as well as to Zaka, Israel Railways, Israel Post, Israel Roads; Israel Airports Authority and Ben Gurion Airport, as well as essential employees in national security.
Three million surgical masks land in Israel / Courtesy MDA
The masks are being distributed to Israel's more remote hospitals. These are: Schneider Children's Medical Center in Petah Tikva; Mayanei Hayeshua Medical Center in Bnei Brak; Carmel Medical Center in Haifa; Hillel Yaffe Medical Center in Hadera; HaEmek Medical Center in Afula; and Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon.
The Milner Foundation was established by renowned tech investor and science philanthropist Yuri Milner, and his wife Julia. The donation was executed in coordination with Shlomi Kofman, Israel's Consul-General in San Francisco.
Milner, an Israeli citizen living in Silicon Valley, was an early investor in a range of tech giants that shaped the Internet, including Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Airbnb and Spotify. Between 2005 and 2010, he even lived in Israel. He posits that "If we want to maintain our way of life, I would urge business leaders to consider adopting this practice even after the current acute phase of the crisis, and to provide their employees with masks for daily use in the office". Milner added that "wearing a mask – covering the mouth and nose – needs to be the new norm when we're outside of our homes. In conjunction with hand-washing, social distancing and other measures, this should be our strategy to get through the current crisis until the scientists come to the rescue, and develop a reliable vaccine or treatment."
Three million surgical masks land in Israel / Courtesy MDA
Foreign Minister Israel Katz thanked Milner for his donation, noting that he sees in him "a true friend of Israel", and stating that: "During these times, the Foreign Ministry is serving as a central actor, assisting in the acquisition of essential equipment for fighting coronavirus – whether that be acquiring medical equipment, or securing contributions that assist Israel in coping with the crisis".
Director of Magen David Adom, Eli Bin said in a statement: "The masks are an important tool in ensuring the safety of medics, paramedics and doctors, and no less important, the safety of ill patients that come into close contact with medical staff. I would like to thank Yuri and Julia Milner and the Milner Foundation for their generous and significant contribution to Magen David Adom and to medical personnel across Israel. The donation will assist in the national struggle against the spread of coronavirus."
Three million surgical masks land in Israel / Courtesy MDA
Consul Kofman said in a statement: "It is moving to see Israelis across the ocean supporting their country during this difficult period, and it is rare to see private foundations operating in this capacity. Thanks to the Milner Foundation's donation, thousands of Israelis, and public servants who are serving the general public during the crisis, will be able to wear masks – an essential and necessary item now in global shortage."
Only last month, the Milner Foundation (not to be confused with the James Milner Foundation) has announced a $3 million donation to three Israeli institutions leading the race against the clock in preventing the spread of coronavirus in Israel. The donation was divided among MDA, Tel Aviv University's Sackler School of Medicine and George S. Wise Life Sciences, and Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center.
Ideas, that help explain how the world works
Second Half of the Chessboard: Put one grain of rice on the first chessboard square, two on the next, four on the next, then eight, then sixteen, etc, doubling the amount of rice on each square. When you've covered half the chessboard's squares you're dealing with an amount of rice that can fit in your lap; in the second half you quickly get to a pile that will consume an entire city. That's how compounding works: slowly, then ferociously.
Here are words of comfort and prayer from Rabbi Steinsaltz.
Ruler of the world, Father of mercy, Master of Justice:
Have mercy and save Your children who dwell in Your world, which You created with the Attribute of Kindness.
Rescue them from an unseen enemy, ransom them from death, protect them from dread.
Send us Your light to brighten up the broken hearts of orphans, fathers and mothers, men and women who have lost their dearest ones.
Send a full recovery to the ill and the afflicted, those on respirators and in isolation; and give strength, might, and hope to Your people, Your land and Your world.
Ruler of the world, grant insight to the nations so that they will remove from their hearts the hatred of others at this time;
Send the light of Your wisdom into the hearts of those who believe falsehood; enlighten the minds of innocents who hear false reports;
Send a spirit of charity and justice into Your world;help people build and plant, assist those who are truly suffering;
Straighten the paths of the world.
Provide a full recovery for the sick of your people, the House of Israel, wherever they are, and for Your children all over the world.
Father of Mercy, who is faithful in His covenant, the time has come for You to send to Your world tidings of salvation and redemption which will comfort all Your children and offer them peace and blessings, light and joy.
We think of this as a problem here and now – but historically there were always people who lived in the kefarim without a minyan and were unable to say kaddish. It is probably only a modern phenomenon that frum Jews almost always live in an area where there is a minyan.
I think that people who would normally be saying kaddish should learn a Mishna after each tefillah. They will discover that after a while they have achieved something meaningful in memory of the niftar – perhaps more so than just zogging a kaddish in shul together with 6 other people, all at different speeds.
The ikkar of kaddish is to demonstrate to HKBH that the niftar left descendants who are committed to Jewish life an observance. Fortunately there are multiple ways of demonstrating that.
My addition: One should learn mishnayot, do an act of chessed or give charity in memory of the departed.
Jews, Wine, And Prohibition By Saul Jay Singer
Prohibition was arguably the preeminent issue in American politics and civil life at the end of the 19th century and through the first decades of the 20th century. Prohibitionists – led primarily by devout Protestants and the infamous Temperance Union – claimed that alcohol was the primary cause of public immorality, the deterioration of the family, rampant crime, and political corruption, and, accordingly, sought to make its sale and consumption illegal. The Eighteenth Amendment – which imposed a constitutional ban on the production, importation, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages – went into effect on January 16, 1920.
Although it is impossible to know the exact number of bootleggers during Prohibition, historians believe that approximately 60 percent of them belonged to criminal gangs led by Jewish mobsters, including particularly Meyer Lansky and Bugsy Siegel, who gained control of the beer and liquor supply for many cities.
Non-gangster Jews were also involved in the proliferation of alcohol during Prohibition; for example, Samuel Bronfman, the Jewish owner of Seagram's, ran a bootlegging operation from Canada that was so expansive that Lake Erie became sardonically referred to as "the Jewish Lake." Nonetheless, alcoholism was virtually absent from the Jewish community, consistent with Judaism's philosophy of moderation in all things.
Jews were generally staunch opponents of Prohibition for several reasons. First, they saw it as part of a strategy to "Christianize" America by imposing both religious hegemony and racial purity on it – an effort that included ridding America of immigrants, including particularly Jewish immigrants, and religious minorities. Many Jewish organizations, including B'nai Brith and the American Jewish Committee, noted that organizations supporting Prohibition were invariably groups like the Ku Klux Klan and the Protestant Church that sought to limit Jewish civil rights.
Second, wine plays an important role in many Jewish practices (kiddush and havdalah; marriage and circumcision rites; the Passover Seder, etc.), and Jews protested interference with their First Amendment right to freedom of religion.
Third, alcohol was big business, and many Jews legally supported their families through alcohol-related employment. Thus, they saw Prohibition as a serious threat to their economic liberty. This was particularly true of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe, who took their distilling and wine-making skills with them to the New World and used them to legally support their families.
(Although the earliest record of the kosher wine business in the United States is the importation of 42 casks from Jerusalem to New York City in 1848, by the last decades of the 19th century, most kosher wine in the U.S. came from Eastern and Central Europe.) Alcohol entrepreneurship was the exemplar of upward mobility and social integration for many American Jewish immigrants.
Fourth, the production of wine was a Jewish tradition going back to at least Talmudic times when wine, rather than water, was the staple at every meal and, because of strict kashrut laws regarding wine production, Jews often made their own kosher wine. Particularly to the two million Jews who had immigrated to the United States during the decades immediately preceding Prohibition, alcohol was an important part of their culture, and many culturally assimilated Jews worked in the liquor industry as distillers, wholesalers, and, disproportionately, as Jewish saloonkeepers. (Jews, who were about 5 percent of the population, were about 50 percent of the saloonkeepers.).
Postcards: 18th Amendment (left) and 21st Amendment (right).
The National Prohibition Act, known informally as the Volstead Act, was enacted to create the mechanisms for translating the intent of the 18th Amendment into functioning law. Among its 39 sections, it set up an enforcement unit under the aegis of the IRS.
The Act provided for several Prohibition loopholes, including exceptions for industrial alcohol (cleaning products and the like) and "medical liquor," which was an unmitigated sham because, as per the American Medical Association at the time, alcohol had no therapeutic use of any kind. Nonetheless, virtually anyone could purchase a prescription from his friendly neighborhood physician and obtain a scrip for the purchase of a pint of liquor every 10 days. The result was a sudden and unprecedented increase in "illnesses," even epidemics, in families across America; it got so ridiculous that people began to say that "a bartender is just a pharmacist with a limited inventory."
But the Volstead Act loophole that was of far more interest to Jews was the "sacramental wine" exception. In what was almost certainly a concession to Jewish and Catholic critics – and to preserve the important Catholic vote and protect the Act against First Amendment constitutional challenges – Section 6 declared:
Nothing in this title shall be held to apply to the manufacture, sale, transportation, importation, possession or distribution of wine for sacramental purposes, or like religious rites…. No person to whom a permit may be issued…shall sell, barter, exchange, or furnish any such [wine] to any person not a rabbi, minister of the gospel, priest, or other officer duly authorized for the purpose by any church or congregation…. The head of any conference or diocese or other ecclesiastical jurisdiction may designate any rabbi, minister, or priest to supervise the manufacture of wine to be used for the purposes and rites in this section mentioned….
Interestingly, the sacramental wine exception was far broader for Jews than for Christians. Christians were only authorized to obtain wine for their Mass and communion – public rites that take place in church – but Jews were allowed to bring wine home, which is the site of many Jewish rites involving wine. To facilitate governmental regulation of the Jewish sacramental exception, rabbis were only required to submit a list of congregational membership to government regulators, who would issue permits to individual members to purchase up to 10 gallons of wine a year.
In early 1920, Orthodox Rabbis Shalom Jaffee and Moses Margoles went to Washington to lobby Prohibition authorities to distribute sacramental wine permits only to the rabbis of the Union of Orthodox Rabbis. Louis Marshall, president of the Conservative American Jewish Committee, successfully led the challenge by non-Orthodox denominations for recognition of their rabbis under the Volstead Act. The farcical result was a historic expansion of the number of rabbis and Jews joining Jewish congregations, never seen before or since – even during the "yeshiva rabbinical deferment" draft-dodging days of the Vietnam War.
The Catholic Church was structured and hierarchical, making it relatively easy for the government to determine who was a priest. In marked contrast, there was no central authoritative Jewish body that could dictate who was a rabbi or establish formal qualifications for rabbinical designation, making such determination by the government regulators virtually impossible.
An original blank medicinal certificate for use during Prohibition. By the time Prohibition was repealed, physicians had written over 6 million medical liquor prescriptions.
Before the rise of new pseudo-Jewish denominations during the so-called Enlightenment toward the end of the 18th century, rabbis were ordained by their rebbes after demonstrating broad mastery of Jewish law and the requisite character traits to serve as a religious leader. Under Volstead Act regulations, all that an applicant had to do to receive a rabbinical license from the Department of State was to submit 10 affidavits (a minyan!) confirming that he was a rabbi and, not surprisingly, many people took advantage.
Many of these "rabbis" didn't even bother to obtain authentic signatures, instead taking names from telephone books, directories, cemetery headstones, and the like, or just plain making them up. One pseudo rabbi manifesting both humor and audacity named his flock "Congregation L'Chaim" (the traditional Jewish toast). Some of these rabbis would earn additional personal profit by selling lists of their "congregants," often to non-Jews.
Suddenly, there was a veritable explosion of "Rabbi Katzes," "Rabbi Epsteins," and "Rabbi Rosenbergs" who could not read a word of Hebrew, had never seen the inside of a yeshiva or synagogue, and wouldn't know a Jewish law if they tripped over one, and "rabbis" arrested by Prohibition enforcement agents included "Rabbi O'Brien," "Rabbi Murphy," and "Rabbi Gallagher."
These bogus rabbis made significant money not only selling fraudulently-obtained sacramental wine, but also their licenses, which commanded a very high price. The low likelihood of getting caught, and the relatively meager penalties if they were, only served to increase the growth of the American "rabbinate" during Prohibition.
The sacramental exemptions led to broad abuse. For example, in 1919 (the first year of Prohibition), one Los Angeles congregation boasted an increase from 180 member families to over 1,000 families. Five years later, some three million gallons were distributed under the sacramental exception.
Postcard (not an original) depicting a NYC kosher wine distribution center during prohibition.
Another example: During a 1926 investigation by Prohibition enforcement officials of 600 New York City rabbis suspected of inflating their congregation numbers, the distribution of sacramental wine fell from one million gallons to only 6,000 gallons in just one year. Thus, either the demand for sacramental wine fell by 99.4 percent in just one year – or there were almost a million non-Jews holding themselves out as pious Jews and taking advantage of the sacramental exception to the Volstead Act.
The large role played by Jews in opposing Prohibition and engaging in bootlegging operations provided abundant fodder for anti-Semites, including notably Henry Ford who, in his anti-Semitic rag, The Dearborn Independent, claimed that Jewish crimes against Prohibition were indicative of a general Jewish conspiracy designed to undermine American morals. John Newton Tillman, a racist U.S. representative from Arkansas, referred specifically to distillers named Steinberg, Hirschbaum, and Shaumberg while railing against Prohibition violators.
One serious adverse repercussion arising out of the Jews' public and prominent role in violating Prohibition laws manifested itself in Congress's consideration of a highly restrictive immigration law. During hearings before the House Immigration Committee, various congressmen noted with contempt that Jews were among the foremost violators of the Volstead Act. The law in question, which seriously restricted Jewish immigration to America, was passed by an overwhelming bipartisan majority in record time.
Jewish violations were particularly scrutinized and condemned by the press, with a spotlight brought to bear on the phony rabbis, which embarrassed rabbinical leadership across all denominations. The Orthodox Jewish leadership in particular, horrified by the degradation of the Torah caused by the fraudsters, argued that publicly upholding Judaism as the religion of truth was more important than using wine at Jewish religious rites.
To stem the abuse of the sacramental wine exception, non-Orthodox leadership – following a 1922 responsa by noted Professor Louis Ginzberg – ruled that grape juice could be used for Jewish rituals instead of wine. However, as others have pointed out, this did not resolve the problem because there were insufficient supplies of kosher grape juice.
Moreover, the virtually uniform Orthodox position at the time was that only fermented wine – not grape juice – could be used for Jewish rituals. That position was perhaps best laid out by Rabbi Herbert S. Goldstein, president of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations, in A Year of Orthodoxy (December 1925), where he ruled that even though rogues and villains were abusing the sacramental privilege, Jews should not ignore the imperative to use wine for their rituals. In any event, this Prohibition-era "wine vs. grape juice" clash was an important development in the creation of an unbreachable chasm between the Conservative movement and authentic Torah law.
The Reform Central Conference of American Rabbis considered petitioning the government to repeal the sacramental wine exception, but ultimately opted not to do so because it feared provoking Christian clergy who, apparently, were not as lenient as Reform leadership about using grape juice for religious rites. Instead, they decided to lobby Prohibition authorities to limit Section 6 of the Volstead Act to Christians, but this attempt failed, and the abuses continued.
By 1926, the Prohibition authorities had had enough. They voided all existing rabbinical wine permits and required all rabbis to personally appear before the local Prohibition Administrator to justify their requests for wine. Although the Orthodox rabbis vociferously protested, the new regulations remained in effect. Not surprisingly, the sale of sacramental wine plummeted.
Throughout the Prohibition years, anti-prohibitionists, or "wets," attacked Prohibition for causing, rather than stemming, crime (indeed, there was a direct correlation between Prohibition and violent crime); for lowering local revenues (with lost tax revenue causing great damage to America's prospects for recovery from the Great Depression of 1929); and for imposing Protestant religious values on other Americans.
They finally won the day when, on December 5, 1933, the 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, repealing federal Prohibition laws and returning control of alcohol to the states, some of which continued to ban alcohol even after repeal; Mississippi, for example, maintained its ban on alcohol until 1966.
Even today, many states have so-called "blue-laws" in effect, prohibiting the sale of alcohol on Sundays, and the Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of blue laws several times on secular grounds, arguing that they, for example, protect workers and families and contribute to societal stability.