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
There has been much too much criticism of those of us wanting to go back to minyans. With masks and distance it is not any different than going to the store which everybody does. If you don't go to the store than going to a minyan is not for you, but please don't criticize those of us that go safely
My connection to Hawaiin Shirts during the shutdown
With America and the world entering what looks like a depression for at least a while, Depression articles and the history of the past is coming back. Recently I saw an article:
The History of the Hawaiin Shirt by By Teddy Brokaw was sent to me by friend David Kra and it brings to mind my connection to Hawaiin Shirts. I have taken a few of his points as to what the history of the shirts is.
Mainland Americans long looked to Hawaii to ease their minds. During the Great Depression, Americans cast their eyes toward Hawaii, co-opting another piece of Hawaiian culture: the aloha shirt (this is it's the real technical name). Though its precise origins are lost to history, the aloha shirt first appeared in Hawaii in the 1920s or '30s, probably when local Japanese women adapted kimono fabric for use in men's shirting. The shirts achieved some popularity among tourists in Hawaii and found greater commercial success when they hit the mainland in the mid-1930s. America at the time was riddled with hardship and anxiety, with many men out of work and many others struggling to hold on to their breadwinner status (any similarity to today?). Perhaps in response, hyper-manliness came into vogue—the popularity of bodybuilding skyrocketed, Superman burst onto the scene. It may seem paradoxical that men embraced a garment with such feminine appeal. "You'd better get two or three because it's a cinch your daughter, sister, wife or even mother will want this bright-colored shirt as soon as she sees it," the Los Angeles Times teased in 1936. That didn't stop men from buying. By 1940, aloha shirts were bringing in more than $11 million annually (in today's money).
One reason men adopted a garment otherwise suited to their sisters' closet was that rich, famous men wore it. Visitors to Hawaii in the 1930s were invariably wealthy, (had to be able to fly and go) and before long, aloha shirts were being sold by celebrities whom everyday Americans sought to emulate. American heroes from three-time Olympic swimming champion and surfing pioneer Duke Kahanamoku to singer Bing Crosby were lending their names to particular brands. Once the shirt reached stores in the Lower 48, any day laborer could have for just a dollar what before had required an exorbitant trip. A man in an aloha shirt, with its depictions of hula dancers and luaus—"symbol[s] of the comfortable, gay and picturesque," one journalist put it in 1939—could look the part of the carefree swell. By the 1960s, the shirt had become truly ubiquitous. Aloha Fridays were a fixture of a certain kind of workplace, and everyone—from Elvis to the decidedly unhip Richard Nixon—seemed to have an aloha shirt. Over time, perhaps inevitably, it lapsed into the realm of corny suburban-dad-wear.
Yet in just the past five years, fashion magazines have been heralding a comeback, and high-end labels like Gucci are taking the aloha shirt to new heights, with prints that draw on Japanese designs favored in the garment's early days. "People are looking to bring some light, some color, some vibrancy into their lives," says Jason Morgan, Kahala's (a shirt manufacturer) general manager. "I think that's needed now more than ever. If an aloha shirt can help improve somebody's day, I think that's pretty powerful."
My connections are much more personal. Before coming to Jerusalem, I was a California boy. California in the pre 9/11 days had flights going back and forth to Hawaii frequently. The hotels and beaches had to be filled with tourists. Hawaii was the substitute for cruises before they became so popular and cheap. Today, before the virus, there were hundreds of gigantic cruise ships sailing the world to exotic destinations. Before all of this, Americans used to just fly to Hawaii and that was the exotic destination. How the world has changed. California is the closest American destination (it is still a six-hour flight) and so tour packages were the rage between California and Hawaii. I went six times to Hawaii. Different islands and experiences. It was always a challenge to finding Kosher food, but my trips were short. There are 8 main islands with hundreds of smaller landmasses. The Main Islands of Hawaii 1)Hawaii (the Big Island)2) Maui. 3) Oahu. 4) Kauai. 5) Molokai. 6) Lanai. 7) Niihau. 8) Kahoolawe. Honolulu with its famous Pearl Harbor and Waikiki is its most famous and most popular visiting spot with most of the airlines flying into that island. Most people never see the other islands as it is a rough boat trip through the open ocean or another short flight to get to the other islands.
In Honolulu, there was a Chabad when I visited that had Kosher food and services for the one Shabbat that I was there. I don't know today's status. On each trip, I would buy Aloha (Hawaiian) shirts, so I had a collection of about 100 shirts when I made Aliyah. Let me let you in on a little secret, why do men like the shirts? You don't have to press or iron them and when you have an extended stomach, the shirt covers it up and no one knows if you have a six-pack stomach or a pot. This is the secret for most of us overweight people that love them.
But I'm orthodox. But I never bought in the black suit and hat, so I was the only one (and mostly still am) in the Beis Medrash wearing Hawaiian Shirts. I still mostly am but occasionally another fatty shows up in them, or even a slim person. Then I got married and of course, my wife wants me to look like everyone else so there is always a battle as to whether I have to put on a white shirt or my colored and beautiful birdy and flowery Hawaiian shirts. Some days I win and other days she does. But I have been here for 7 years, and some of the shirts are more than 10 years old now. The washing machine and time are taking their toll. Maybe they will start selling them on line and I can buy another 60 years of Hawaiian Shirts. Love Yehuda Lave
Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time.
You can't have everything. Where would you put it?
It's a small world, but I wouldn't want to have to paint it.
I went to a restaurant that serves "breakfast at any time". So I ordered French Toast during the Renaissance.
For my birthday I got a humidifier and a de-humidifier... I put them in the same room and let them fight it out.
A lot of people are afraid of heights. Not me, I'm afraid of widths.
Notably, Rav Gershon Edelstein stated that even though the government now permits outside minyanim (under various restrictions), people should not attend them unless they can be certain that the restrictions will be adhered to. He strongly stressed the need to listen to what doctors are saying. Rav Yitzchak Berkovits sent out a letter in which he stated that nobody has the right to claim a reliance on bitachon at the expense of others. The charedi rabbi with whom I had a lengthy argument agreed that once the doctors have made things clear, "One may not rely on miracles." His point was not that it would take a miracle in order to survive this period (thankfully things are not as bad as that), but that once the medical establishment has described the reality, one must respect that, and not presume to rely upon unnatural assistance. And even Rav Chaim Kanievsky has changed from using "Torah protects" as an operational factor to merely paying lip service to it.
The crucial question is: Will the larger lesson be learned?
Meaning: Will the charedi community learn that in general, one must respect the laws of reality, and certainly not rely upon miracles?
Here is a deeply disturbing letter that was forwarded to me a few months ago. It was sent out by an alumnus of a certain yeshivah to other alumni. (I have edited it for clarity and to obscure the identity of the writer). In the first part of the letter, the writer explains the situation in which he finds himself: We are undeserving of the great chessed that Hashem has done for us to stand here today, being presented with the mitzvah off marrying our daughter to a Ben Torah. Our Gedolim today instruct yungerleit that obligating yourself in the financial commitment necessary to enable the couple to purchase an apartment is what needs to be done. "ועשית ככל אשר יורוך And you shall do according to whatever they instruct." I am not any smarter than anyone else and I too don't understand the Israel shidduch market obligating parents to purchase apartments for their children. I have to say that, given the circumstances, I understand the Israel shidduch market completely. Charedi kollel couples in Israel have no prospects to ever be able to earn enough money to buy their own home. The only way for them to ever own their own home is to make the marriage conditional on the parents providing it.
Okay, so the Gedolim say that you have to provide the funds to purchase an apartment for the young couple. What do they say about where these funds will come from? The letter continues (and I have highlight part of it in bold): The parents need to commit to make a chassunah and purchase an apartment for their children as their hishtadlus to get them married. Rav Chaim Kanievsky instructs parents to commit and the rest will be maaseh nissim, a miraculous act. Rav Gershon Edelstein instructs parents to do the same. He tells them to commit to give up to 700,000 shekel for their daughter. I am good friends with one of the grandsons of Rav Aharon Leib Steinman, who told me that his grandfather advised the same.That's the instruction?! That's how you avoid poverty and make a marriage commitment to another party? Rely on a miracle?!
Let's leave aside the fact that this runs exactly contrary to Chazal, who said that in a situation of clear risks, one may not rely on miracles. After all, the Gedolim are in any case going against numerous other statements of Chazal, regarding the importance of work, and of raising one's children to be able to provide for themselves. Let's just talk about basic common sense. How on earth can you tell people to commit to giving three-quarters of a million shekels and to trust that these funds will miraculously appear?
Since you can't rely on miracles in the real world, people are forced to reaching out to everyone they know, to beg for money and to ask them to beg others for money. The letter continues: ברוב בושה וכלימה I approach you all my dear friends once again, to ask for your help to assist us in getting through and completing this מצוה של הכנסת חתן וכלה. The biggest help would be to ask you all to daven for Hashem to have רחמי שמים to send us the funds needed to fulfill our financial obligation. I would be very appreciative to anyone who could say תהילים קפיטל כג for us to come up with the outstanding 483,000 shekel. If you could reach out to others and ask them to direct some of their מעות מעשר in our direction that would enable us to expand our close knit circle and be מזכה them with this מצוה as well. Finally, if it weren't too much of a חוצפה ועזות if anyone has some extra מעשר כספים that can be directed to help us meet our financial obligation for this couple, we would be forever grateful to you for that.It's just tragic. These people are in a hopeless situation. They followed the Gedolim to raise a family on a kollel check, they followed the Gedolim to raise their children without the skills or desire to earn a living, and now they are following the Gedolim to make a massive financial commitment that they haven't got a hope of being able to fulfill.
And this isn't even starting with the question of how, if this couple have to beg others to beg others to help them, will their children manage when it's time to marry off their own children? It's a problem that gets exponentially worse. At least hopefully the word "exponentially" is now a word that many more people understand.
Some dear friends of mine asked me why, over the last few weeks, I was criticizing certain Gedolim for their negligent approach to coronavirus. They said that this is not the time for it - this is a time for magnanimity and achdus.
But the point is that coronavirus presents the opportunity to get the charedi community to wake up. Just as you have to respect reality with regard to coronavirus, you equally have to respect reality with regard to working for a living. And you can't abscond your responsibilities by saying "But the Gedolim told me otherwise!" When it comes down to it, the Gedolim are not able to save you from coronavirus and likewise they won't be able to save you from crushing debt and poverty.
For all our sakes, let's hope that coronavirus leads people to wake up. You have to work with reality. And reality requires hishtadlus.
WE ARE HERE! for Yom Hashoah
Compilation of Clips
Turning in another Jew to the authorities
They are being called "moserim" in an anonymous flier — which cites Jews who report other Jews to the authorities. Adding to the biblical admonishment is a threatening tweet that cites revered Middle Ages Torah scholar Moses ben Maimon, known as Maimonides, who opined that a moser could be killed for turning over Jews to an authoritarian government.
Horowitz called the Twitter threat a distortion of Maimonides' ruling during a time when Jews were oppressed by the government and killed at the whim of authorities, noting the United States is not an authoritarian nation.
Maimonides dealt with Jews who endangered other Jews by reporting indiscretions to authorities, Horowitz said. He said the tweet — translated from Hebrew — misinterprets Maimonides by saying, "It's permissible to kill a moser any time and, 'We won't forgive, we won't forget'."
The campaign against the three men caught fire on social media during the weekend. "Moser is a loaded term," Horowitz said Monday. "It's absolutely clear in a free country like ours where we have courts and representation, this law of moser is completely irrelevant. It's totally misapplied and a total distortion of what Maimonides said. But this is extremely incendiary and it's not OK to accept this in silence." Horowitz said the moserim declaration is ironic since he, the other two men and others are acting to benefit people, and those who defied social distancing were the clear and present danger to others.
The person behind the Twitter handle @HeimishNiyes told The Journal News/lohud that the three men should not have gone public with their criticism. "I did not threaten anyone," @HeimishNiyes responded on Twitter. "I just quoted the teachings of our previous gentlemen about 'delivery'. With us when there is a conflict between two Jews, they go to a Jewish court, and do not involve the authorities. ... Defamation of Jews to foreigners is a very serious offense for Jews. If he was just reporting to the police, okay, but why is he spreading it on social media? We also maintain Social distancing, but why post on Twitter pictures and video that there are Jews who violate the regulations?" @HeimishNiyes wrote. "We have enough problems with anti-Semites."
Experts: Coronvirus brings spike in anti-Semitic sentiments
Israeli researchers reported Monday that the global coronavirus outbreak has sparked a rise in anti-Semitic expression blaming Jews for the spread of the disease and the economic recession it has caused.
The findings, which came in an annual report by Tel Aviv University researchers on anti-Semitism, show an 18% spike in attacks against Jews last year. The report warns that the pandemic has threatened to amp up incitement even more.
Although they did not include 2020 statistics, the researchers said the hatred has come from sources as varied as right-wing European politicians, ultra-conservative American pastors, anti-Zionist intellectuals and Iranian state authorities.
"Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a significant rise in accusations that Jews, as individuals and as a collective, are behind the spread of the virus or are directly profiting from it," said Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress, an umbrella group representing Jewish communities across the continent. "The language and imagery used clearly identifies a revival of the medieval 'blood libels' when Jews were accused of spreading disease, poisoning wells or controlling economies."
Tel Aviv University's Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry releases its report every year on the eve of Israel's Holocaust Remembrance Day, which begins Monday at sundown.
Researchers said the 18% increase in anti-Semitic violence in 2019 continued a steady rise of recent years. Seven Jews were killed in 2019 in more than 450 attacks across the globe against synagogues, community centers and other Jewish targets.
The researchers said the hateful response to the novel coronavirus — and the COVID-19 illness it causes — was the continuation of an ancient form of anti-Semitism that involves blaming Jews when "things go wrong."
They recorded expressions such as pinning the source of the virus on Jews rejecting Christ, to accusing Jews of perpetrating the virus's spread in order to profit from vaccines they would ultimately create to combat it. The FBI also warned against calls coming from neo-Nazis and white supremacists to spread contagion among Jews.
Kantor warned that the virus had the potential to spark populist extremism, similar to what erupted after the Great Depression and contributed to the rise of Nazism. The dire warning comes on the heels of another difficult year for Jews, capped by the October shooting attack on Yom Kippur against a synagogue in the German city of Halle. Germany averaged five anti-Semitic incidents a day in 2019. Overall, at least 169 Jews were physically attacked in the world in 2019, some close to or even in their homes. [AP]
This morning at 10:00 am the siren was sounded that signaled a moment of silence commemorating Holocaust remembrance day. Each year busy traffic comes to a standstill for one sacred, eerie moment, as a Nation remembers and meditates on what was, is and will be. This morning was different. Due to Corona guidelines, like so many things these days, this experience was ostensibly a private matter.
As I stood on my porch listening to the wail of the siren, I was wrapped in my thoughts as were millions of others in their own isolation. Knowing that we shared many of the same feelings and thoughts, I felt connected despite Corona.
Staring up at the Jerusalem sky and the surrounding buildings made of Jerusalem stone, I knew I had to be very thankful that I can call Jerusalem my home; a turn of events that was not at all self-understood when I grew up in Brooklyn. Listening t the siren, I discovered once again the amazing ability of the human brain and its capacity for a flood of thoughts in just seconds.
Besides the reminder not to forget, there was room in my brain to give thought to a phenomenon that rubs painful salt into a wound that will never heal.The fact that Jew-hatred, Holocaust denial and nations openly declaring their aim of destroying the Jewish state. is alive and growing in the world today is a scary fact that makes me that much appreciative of where I live.
The fact that there is a rise in antisemitism even in my old home - the USA is also scary and again I am happy with the choice I made to come home.The fact that amongst the shrill voices in the USA attacking with great hatred the only Jewish state and calling any Jew that would support it as akin to Nazis is scary.
The fact that some of these shrillest voices ...are Jews themselves makes me very sad but again, I am thankful that I live in the Jewish homeland where Jewish self-haters, obsessed with "fitting in and being accepted" need not exist.Need not indeed.
While my mind processed these thoughts at an incredible speed as the siren was about to lose its powerful blast, the last thought entered. Of all the dangers, and disappointments listed above, the one that is most difficult to explain or accept is what I call Israeli /Jewish self-hatred.Hello! You are home! Who's approval do you still crave? What moves you to join your enemies?
The list is unfortunately long; probably too long for even our amazing brains to enumerate in the few seconds left of the siren wail.A few of the better-known ones came to mind: Professor Yishyahu Lebowitz, a well-respected thinker of the Hebrew University coined the phrase "Judeo - Nazis " in describing Jewish soldiers.
His temerity use of this term broke a taboo and was the green light for others to follow suit. Many lustily did
Professor Moshe Zimmerman, Holocaust expert at Hebrew University observed,, "Look at the Jewish children in Hevron; they are exactly like the "Hitler Jugend".
He too basked in the warmth of adulation from the Left for his courage.Hebrew University professor Amiram Goldblum called students, active in the Zionist organization, "Im Tirtzu", Nazi dogs. Another brave thinker.Former deputy chief of staff and current Knesset member(Meretz), Yair Golan at a Holocaust memorial, compared Israel's Right to the Nazis of pre-war Germany.
That brave assessment and warning helped launch his current political career.The list is indeed long and ended with the falling off of the siren wail. What conclusion shall I draw from all this?One; thank God that my body is where it should be. Two; unlike some poor tortured Jewish souls that have no rest, mine seems to feel what all healthy Jewish souls naturally should. Baruch Hashem. Baruch Hashem