Monday, June 22, 2020

Our Beloved Mincha prayer is back on at the OU Center at 1:20 each day and For Orthodox Jews, George Floyd protests stir complicated feelings BY SHIRA HANAU and Denis Prager University Social Justice Isn't Justice and "The Jewish Algorithm" - A Commencement Speech from Rabbi Sacks and Blood Type May Determine One's Susceptibility To COVID-19, Study Indicates and how Korach's rebellion applies to today's Riots

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Yehuda Lave, Spiritual Advisor and Counselor

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 just got word that our beloved Mincha prayer at the OU is back on each day at 1:20. I won't be there today becasue I am on a trip with Shalom Pollock but see you tomorrow bli neder

When we are little, our sense of self-worth comes from external sources – parents, teachers, older siblings and peers. This predisposes us to spend our lives looking for approval and security from others and obsessing about, "How am I doing in comparison to others in my social group?" "What do they think of me?" It takes great effort to overcome this need to impress and to get our sense of self-worth from within, from living up to our own highest ideals and being disciplined and kind-hearted

Ideas, that help explain how the world works-Blood Type May Determine One's Susceptibility To COVID-19, Study Indicates--by the way I am O negative blood type

Genetic testing firm 23andMe has said it has found preliminary evidence that people with type O blood may be less susceptible to contracting COVID-19.

In a blog post Monday, the company said initial data from a study it's doing on the virus indicated those with type O blood were 9-18 percent less likely to have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Full Story (The Times of Israel)

Denis Prager university Social Justice Isn't Justice

You'll see a lot of references to justice in the Bible, but you'll never see the word "social" precede it. Why? Is it simply because social justice is a new cause that post dates the Bible? Or is it because social justice, by its very nature, is directly at odds with justice as the Bible defines it? Allie Beth Stuckey, host of Relatable on BlazeTV, takes a fresh look at this important issue.

In our modern history, Illegal (by the British law) immigrants to Israel were known as "ma'apilim".


 the verse (Num 14:45) a unique Hebrew verb וַיַּעְפִּלוּ  - VA'YA'APILU is used. 


There are several translations and interpretations of it 

  • But they presumed to go up...
  • ... went to the top....
  • ... ascended to the top...

The people who went up the hill are called מעפילים - MA'APILIM.

In this context, this word has a negative connotation, because they did not obey G-d's words. 

There are some explanations that the defiant men were willing to sacrifice their lives to enter Israel. They interpreted G‑d's discouragement as a test of their resolve.

The ma'apilim may have failed, but they meant well, and, they left their courage and their audacity as a legacy to the modern Ma'apilim. 

In our modern history, Illegal (by the British law) immigrants to Israel were known as "ma'apilim". 

Before and during World War II, thousands of Jewish people were fleeing their homes trying to escape persecution and concentration camps.

Many coming from Europe and northern Africa chose to seek refuge in Palestine, which was under the British Mandate. More than 122,000 people came to Israel despite the blockade.

Those who did not have a valid permit to be in the country were detained and placed in camps like the one in Atlit. 

Some people were in these camps for close to one year. The Atlit Detainee Camp was in place until 1945 when Jewish forces broke into the camp, allowing all the detainees to escape.

Now it serves as a museum. 

Listen to the HA'MA'APILIM song by Levin Kipnis below.

And now a little bit of Modern Hebrew:

Cloud (biblical) – נשיא - (NASEE) actually means being above and it is the same word for Leader, president.

It implies that a true leader should act like a cloud, first collect small vapor drops from below – not to retain for himself, but to give those back as nourishing rain.  


  • To raise, to carry – לשאת (LASET)
  • Carries (v) – נושא (NOSEH)
  • Topic – נושא (NOSEH) 
  • To qualify for the finals -  להעפיל לגמר (LE'HA'APIL LA'GMAR) 


How Korach's rebellion applies to today's riots

How Korach's rebellion applies to today's riots

The tale of Korach's rebellion is so compelling, that we are usually distracted from either delving farther into its subsequent passages, or, more significantly, from questioning its outcome.

Never mind that there were at least two other rebellious figures - Datan and Abiram - challenging Moses's leadership, or that Korah was actually more concerned with Aaron and his levitical/priestly privileges. How quickly we forget that Aaron, Miriam, and indeed the entire people were complaining about Moses not that long before [Parshat Beha'alotecha; Numbers 11-12]! The name Korah has become synonymous with that of a bitter complainant, whose subsequent punishment was richly deserved.

Briefly, the storyline commences with the verbal gauntlet thrown at Moses, and at Aaron: "You have too much [power]! The entire community is holy, all of them, and Adonay is in their midst. Why then do you raise yourselves above Adonay's assemblage?" [Numbers 16:3]

The story's climax - rather, a series of climaxes - comes after Moses tries unsuccessfully to placate the challengers.

Moses warned the people not to challenge him. He said if you do this you will die and then they did.

Many were swallowed up and buried in the earth by a supernatural force. Others were consumed by fire. The idea was that the people were supposed to get the idea that Moses did not order on his own, that Moses's order came straight from G-d.

Instead, the broader community then picked up the rallying cry, saying to Moses and Aaron, "You have brought death upon Adonay's people" [Numbers 17:6], in effect, now look what you two have done! Does this sound vaguely like you shot a criminal who was resisting arrest-LETS DEFUND THE POLICE!

To try to placate Adonay's anger at the people, which descended in the form of a devastating plague that consumed over 14,000 before Aaron was able to mitigate the disaster.

 The parsha blithely proceeds by examining priestly and levitical responsibilities, internally re-asserting - according to many rabbinic commentators - the correct order. Of twelve tribal staffs that had been placed in and then removed from the Tent of Meeting, Aaron's, representing the Levites, burst forth with almond blossoms. The Divine response is as succinct as the initial challenge: "Put Aaron's staff back in front of the gathering; let this be a lesson to the rebels, so that their grumblings come to an end, and that they not die." [Numbers 17:25]

The rabbis, in trying to fill in some of the gaps in the story, notably the lack of explanation for Korah's motives, imagine him challenging Moses to a halakhic duel, debating the laws of ritual fringes, or the declaration of a person to be ritually clean. In the context of this latter discussion, they have Korah declaring: "The Torah is not from Heaven; Moses is not His prophet nor Aaron his priest." 

This phrase is instantly evocative of another Talmudic passage, in which R. Eliezer ben Hyrcanus, who is prevailing in a halakhic debate, calls upon the heavens to prove that he is right. As in the Korach tale, supernatural manifestations occur. A carob tree is uprooted and flies about. A river flows backward. The very walls of the beit midrash are caused to slant dangerously. Even a bat Kol cries out, assailing those who would challenge R. Eliezer's indisputable halakhic authority.

Here, one of the challengers, undaunted by the voice from heaven, stands up and quotes a similar sentiment to that attributed to Korah: "The Torah is not in heaven, and we pay no attention to a divine voice." Yet R. Eliezer is punished with ex-communication, despite the rectitude of his assertions.

Yes, they concede, Korach was a man of great subtlety. He knew and used the Torah well to gain a foothold and challenge prevailing wisdom. He had also been passed over for leadership within his own family. [Num. R. 18:2]

The lesson we are supposed to learn from this Torah portion is that Moses was unique and his Torah is straight from G-d. Nothing more dramatic than predicting the earth would open up and then it did could be more dramatic to make the point. Unfortunately, the people didn't get it and still don't.

"The Jewish Algorithm" - A Commencement Speech from Rabbi Sacks

As many young Jewish high school pupils and university students graduate after a strange and truncated academic year, I want to share a version of a 2017 speech I gave about "The Jewish Algorithm" because I believe it contains some crucial messages as you continue on your journey. Think of it as my commencement speech to you all! Mazal tov!

For Orthodox Jews, George Floyd protests stir complicated feelings BY SHIRA HANAU

On Sunday night, Richard Altabe marched arm in arm with two black politicians at a demonstration in Far Rockaway protesting police brutality. 

The next morning, Orthodox Jews in the same New York neighborhood showed up at the local police precinct to drop off pastries for the officers – 101 danishes for the 101st Precinct.

The principal of the Hebrew Academy of Long Beach's lower school, Altabe sees no contradiction between Orthodox Jews participating in a march against police misconduct and their sugary goodwill gesture the next morning.

"We wanted them to know that even though we support the protests, we also supported the police and we're grateful to the police and the work they do," Altabe said.


The two gestures – opposing police misconduct while supporting the police more generally – are emblematic of the fine line Orthodox Jews have navigated in responding to sweeping protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd at the hands of white Minneapolis police officers. 

"Many Orthodox Jews have had negative interactions personally with the police and have seen others who have and certainly understand and are sympathetic to the idea around police accountability and reform," said David Greenfield, a former New York city councilman who now leads the Met Council, a Jewish nonprofit serving needy New Yorkers. "At the same time, however, they are generally supportive of the NYPD because they're generally concerned about public safety and the looting."

Orthodox Jewish communities are both more politically conservative and more inward-focused than non-Orthodox Jewish communities in America. That dynamic was on display this week in the flood of statements from Jewish organizations weighing in on the protests and the societal conditions they aim to upset. While some organizations were quick to respond with detailed descriptions of proposed policy changes and pledges to work toward them, Orthodox organizations were slower to weigh in, vaguer in their visions and made a point of condemning the violence that unfolded at some of the protests.

In a statement Thursday, the National Council of Young Israel, an umbrella group of Orthodox synagogues, said Floyd's killing showed that "racism is regrettably still alive and well in our country" and that it is critical that "the grave danger posed by systemic racism is duly addressed once and for all." But the statement also noted that most law enforcement officers are "heroes" who risk their lives to protect ordinary citizens, regardless of skin color. 

"These honorable officers should not be attacked or tarnished by the misconduct of others; however, it is essential that an effort be undertaken to remove any police officer that does in fact exhibit a degree of racial and ethnic bigotry," the group said. 

The Orthodox Union and the Rabbinical Council of America, the two principal national organizations representing Modern Orthodoxy, both condemned Floyd's killing and expressed support for peaceful protests against racism while condemning the violence and looting. Agudath Israel, which represents haredi Orthodox communities, did much the same, though the Agudath statement did not use the word "racism."

"Like all decent Americans, we are horrified by the senseless and ruthless killing of George Floyd, and we join in solidarity with the outpouring of hurt, anger and frustration expressed by responsible citizens protesting peacefully," the group said. "We are also greatly saddened by the frightening scenes of innocent bystanders and store owners under siege, threatened by violence and mayhem, and facing the prospect of lost livelihoods and uncertain futures."

The differing responses of Orthodox groups from their Reform and Conservative counterparts may be explained at least in part by politics. Unlike most American Jews, who tend to vote for Democrats, Orthodox Jews have leaned increasingly Republican in recent years. According to the most recent Pew Center study of American Jews, 57% of Orthodox Jews are Republican or lean Republican compared to just 22% of American Jews as a whole.

Several Orthodox politicians in New York put out statements to similar effect, supporting peaceful protests and condemning the death of George Floyd without directly criticizing the police. But some also spent several days questioning why protesters were allowed to gather en masse while religious gatherings are still restricted because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

On Tuesday, Simcha Eichenstein, a state assemblyman representing two heavily Orthodox neighborhoods in Brooklyn, and Kalman Yeger, a New York City councilman, sent a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo saying that the protests are evidence that the time for lockdown had passed.

"Protesters are gathering, perhaps well-meaning, but surely with little regard for social-distancing standards. It has also unfortunately brought out rioters who are destroying what is left of our economy, eviscerating the life's work of our fellow New Yorkers," they wrote. "The lockdown may not have formally ended, but the calls for mass peaceful marching without any regard for social-distancing have rendered a continual lockdown at this point ludicrous."

Eichenstein also tweeted in frustration over the different rules regarding protests and religious gatherings.

"Sure, protesters have the right under the first amendment to march against racism, which needs to be confronted head on in this country, but the same first amendment guarantees religious people the right to practice their faith," he wrote in response to a statement by the mayor at a press conference.

By Thursday, Eichenstein's focus had shifted. He placed a sign in the window of his Borough Park office with the words George Floyd repeated before his death, "I can't breathe," in large print. He also expressed mourning and solidarity with the black community in a video Thursday. "As a Hasidic Orthodox Jew, my message is we, the Orthodox Jewish people, stand with you in solidarity, we must eliminate hate wherever it exists," Eichenstein said.

The city council's Jewish caucus, chaired by Orthodox city councilman Chaim Deutsch, put out a statement Monday expressing solidarity with the black community but without mentioning the police. And in a letter to constituents Thursday, State Senator Simcha Felder called George Floyd's death an "act of pure evil," saying that to ignore the message being sent by the black community about continued discrimination would be "unconscionable." 

But Felder also condemned the looting and violence against police officers. 

"So let's protest what we see is wrong and let's inspire change without vilifying every member of the NYPD- they are people, too. Let's not trade one evil for another," he wrote.

Devorah Halberstam, an activist on anti-Semitism in Crown Heights who frequently speaks to new police recruits as part of their training, said the statements this week reflect the Orthodox community's priorities.

"I think most people feel that people have a right to protest," Halberstam said. "However, people are just concerned about safety and everyone wants to feel that they're safe and that their stores are safe, their communities are safe."

See you tomorrow bli neder We need Mosiach now

Love Yehuda Lave

Rabbi Yehuda Lave

PO Box 7335, Rehavia Jerusalem 9107202


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