Monday, July 20, 2020

We cannot ignore the psychological cost of a prolonged lockdown! and Not fasting on Tish A'bov this year, because of Corona Revisited and This Moment Has Set Blacks Back a Half-Century By Dennis Prager and My Jewish Privilege By Rabbi Efrem Goldberg and Whale sharks have layer of teeth on their eyes, new study finds and Roger Stone gives fiery first interview following commutation from Trump

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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

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The Sweet Hereafter

Rabbi Saltzman made it a habit of visiting his congregants at home, especially his elder members. On one such visit to Morty Rubenstein he asked, "Mr. Rubenstein, do you have thoughts of what comes next…Olam Haba?"

"What do you mean?" asked Mr. Rubenstein.

"You know, the afterlife, the hereafter," said Rabbi Saltzman.

"Oh, I do all the time," said Mr. Rubenstein. "No matter where I am – in the parlor, upstairs, in the kitchen, or down in the basement – I ask myself, 'Now, what am I here after?'"

Not fasting on Tish A'bov this year, because of Corona Revisited

Not fasting on Tish A'bov this year, because of Corona Revisited

In the synagogue, everyone sprays on the hand gel, like they are drinking scotch, and no one knows if what we are doing is helping or not. Every five minutes they are taking another hit of alcohol.


One thing is for sure. The  Health Department and BiBi tell us we are in a pandemic. And during a pandemic, while the Halacha does not change, the circumstances have changed and we must adjust. 


For the first time, we have two classes of people. Those under 60 and those over. The disease attacks those over 60 and those with pre-existing conditions so the two classes of people must behave differently.


I have some friends over 60 that have not come out of their house for 5 months. This, of course, is an over the top reaction, but the media and the government have done a great job in scaring everyone, so everyone is scared. 

Now we turn to the Jewish holidays. Praying in synagogues used to be good for you, now the great leaders have decided maybe the germs are spread in the synagogue. There must be 10 men for a minyan, and so the numbers have been going up and down from 10 to 50


Fasting. It just makes common sense that not eating or especially not drinking on a hot day (both are part of a Jewish fast by Jewish law as opposed to fasting in the general sense of the term) would reduce your resistance to a virus or germ. There are six fasts in a Jewish calendar year. Five are of Rabbinic origin and one is mandated by the Torah. In Orthodox Judaism today, we practice what is called Rabbinic Judaism, so that the Rabbis fasts are just as important as Yom Kippur in terms of stringencies.


The difference is that since the Rabbis created these fasts, they can also regulate how stringent they are. There is a general rule that for Rabbinic regulations you can be quite lenient as they are considered extra mitzvahs to be able to get close to G-d. And since the most important mitzvah is the preservation of life, it makes sense to limit these fasts.  All of the other 5 besides Yom Kippur are Rabbinic and this includes Tis ABov, although people think it is holier than the other 4 but it is not.


Here are general rules about fasting as agreed to by a majority of Orthodox Rabbis (In Judaism although we welcome every opinion, we go according to the majority in general). 


One who is healthy-General law by pandemic: The Poskim[6] rule that during a pandemic one is not to abstain from eating and drinking, as it can make one more susceptible to the illness. However, it is unclear if this directive applies only to non-fast days, and it is coming to negate the establishment of fasts during a pandemic, or if it coming to negate fasting even the established fasts of the Sages. Practically, it all depends on the severity of the illness.[7] Regarding Covid-19: Some Rabbanim view Covid-19 as a clear danger of life for all people and therefore advise the general public not to fast this year during the pandemic even on the 17th of Tamuz and Tish ABov. Many Rabbanim, however, take a more complex view differentiating between areas[8], age groups, and risk groups, and so is to be followed in all areas absent of their own Mara Deasra to give them direction. Anyone who is fasting must take extra care to avoid leaving their home the entire day, and if they do leave their home, must do so while wearing a mask.[9]

The following are the practical directives publicized by the majority of Rabbanim:[10]

People exempt from the fast:

  1. Women who are pregnant, even if in general they are stringent to fast.
  2. Women who are nursing, even if in general they are stringent to fast.
  3. Anyone sick with Corona, even if feeling healthy and not bedridden.
  4. Anyone with Corona symptoms such as loss of smell and taste, cough, difficulty in breathing.
  5. Anyone who is within a high-risk group for Covid-19, as listed on the CDC website[11] and other health ministries. ( in this case, it certainly includes anyone over 60)
  6. Anyone who has a specific medical worry from the illness and has discussed with his doctor who instructed him not to fast.
  7. People in quarantine due to possible exposure to the virus are not to fast if they have been instructed by their doctor not to fast. Otherwise, if they feel healthy, they are to fast. Again this applies to anyone under 60. And if you are depressed, you are also not to fast. It seems to me that it would be impossible not to be depressed if you are in quarantine, so you certainly can opt-out of fasting if you so desire. The point is you are not required to eat and or drink like you would be if you are over sixty. In this case, it is more of a personal choice depending on your mood.

So you have to see what class you fall into, but for many people the Tish A'bov fast is cancelled this year. Next year, let's hope the Mashiach comes and Tish A'bov becomes a feast like it is supposed to!


[1] Michaber 554:6 regarding Tishe Be'av; Rama 686:2 [regarding Taanis Esther]; Chayeh Adam 133:6; M"B 550:4; Kaf Hachaim 550:7

[2] M"B ibid; Kaf Hachaim ibid

[3] The reason: As the Sages did not institute the fast for those who are sick [Michaber ibid]

[4] Chayeh Adam 133:6; M"B 550:4; See Q&A for definition of sick

[5] See Rama 686:2; M"B 686:5; Shaareiy Tziyon 586:11; Kaf Hachaim 686:22

[6] M"A 576:2

[7] See Biur Halacha 554:6 "Debimakom Choli" in name of Pischeiy Olam

[8] See Biur Halacha 554:6 "Debimakom Choli" in name of Pischeiy Olam

[9] Biur Halacha 554:6 "Debimakom Choli" in name of Pischeiy Olam

[10] Beis Din Rabbanei Chabad of Eretz Yisrael; Rav Yitzchak Yosef; Rav David Lau, the chief Rabbi's of Israel; Rav Moishe Bransdofer


We cannot ignore the psychological cost of a prolonged lockdown!

The NGO Sahar noted a 350% increase in calls due to mental distress during and since the first lockdown. We ignore this at our peril

Like most Israelis, I am greatly concerned to see that more and more of my fellow countrymen are getting infected by the coronavirus. I believe that this pandemic is the greatest public health and economic disaster of our times. But I am also greatly concerned to hear that Health Minister Yuli Edelstein announced that we will need a "medical miracle" if we want to avoid another lockdown and that our nation's leaders are now discussing implementing additional restrictions, with the possibility of implementing a full closure within the next several days. They are starting with weekends.

As it appears that our government may decide upon a second lockdown, I want to implore Israel's Health Minister, Prime Minister and other members of the Israeli government to think twice about whether this is the best method for fighting the coronavirus, because the psychological cost of a prolonged lockdown is quite severe.


Yedioth Achronot has reported that the NGO Sahar noted a 350% increase in the number of calls due to mental distress caused by economic difficulties and they also emphasized that there have been more people calling in who are suicidal. Imagine how much worse this figure will be if a full lockdown is implemented for a second time. Do we really want to take the chance?


Last February, Lancet, a British medical journal, reported that "long durations of quarantine were associated with poorer mental health, specifically post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, avoidance behaviors and anger. Those quarantined for more than 10 days showed significantly higher post-traumatic stress symptoms than those quarantined for less than 10 days." Living under quarantine causes long-term stress, anxiety, insomnia, and a feeling that one is unable to do anything. Although living under quarantine is not the same as living under lockdown, more recent studies have also demonstrated that lockdowns can also adversely affect one's mental health.


A similar study conducted in China found that the lockdown orders there caused 35% of the residents to show symptoms of psychological distress and 5.14% experienced severe symptoms of psychological distress. According to the report, those most likely to develop adverse psychological symptoms under lockdown are women, individuals between ages 18 and 30, and those over 60 years of age.


Medical News Today reported that the coronavirus pandemic "has many potential sources of trauma," such as losing a loved one, standing by as a relative is infected, experiencing grave economic loss, fearing for one's health and safety just by doing mundane activities, living in social isolation, and more.


For some people, lockdown can exacerbate the risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder. Rape survivors, assault survivors, discharged soldiers who fought in wars and victims of terror attacks who already suffer from PTSD and other mental health issues are likely to have their mental health deteriorate under lockdown. During the first lockdown, the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel reported that many women and girls who were raped in the past and suffer from PTSD and complex PTSD experienced a deterioration in their mental health under lockdown, which required psychological treatment. In some cases, such women and girls required hospitalization.


However, the PTSD diagnosis does not cover the extent of the mental health cost caused by the pandemic itself. Psychology Today recently reported that the unique circumstances of the pandemic are so grave that the mental health disorders associated with it combine a mixture of PTSD, acute stress reaction, major depression, adjustment disorder and anxiety disorders, and even these do not capture it all: "Researchers Steven Tayor, Caeleigh Landry, Michelle Pluszek, Thomas Fergus, Dean McKay and Gordon Asmundson previously developed a model of COVID Stress Syndrome (CSS, 2020), identifying five distinct yet interrelated elements":

1. DAN: Fear of danger from COVID-19 and getting infected by different means e.g. touching contaminated objects, breathing contaminated air.

2. SEC: Worry about the social and financial impact (socioeconomic costs) of the virus.

3. XEN: Marked concern that foreigners spread the disease.

4. TSS: Related symptoms of traumatic stress.

5. CHE: Compulsive checking and seeking reassurance.


According to this study, out of the 6,854 individuals surveyed for COVID Stress Syndrome in the US and Canada, only 2 percent have been diagnosed with corona and only 6 percent knew somebody that was diagnosed. However, 28 percent of the people interviewed reported feeling extreme anxiety and 22 percent suffered from clinical depression. At the time, 12 percent reported facemask use, nearly 90 percent regular hand-washing, nearly 60 percent regular hand sanitizer use, 95 percent social distancing, and 48 percent self-isolating. In other words, being socially distant and isolating oneself seems to be correlated with deterioration in one's mental health.


Many people take mental health for granted and only focus on their desire to survive physically. However, if an individual becomes mentally ill after living under a prolonged lockdown, there is no turning back the cycle of time. As someone who was raped at age seven and suffers from complex PTSD, I would like to stress to everyone that you do not want this.


Since then, I have suffered from insomnia, horrific nightmares, flashbacks, depressive episodes and other terrible complex PTSD symptoms, revealed in Emerging from the Depths of Despair: A Memoir on Rising Above the Trauma of Childhood Rape, which I am in the final stages of editing.


It would be much more effective to quickly evacuate sick people from their homes to coronavirus hotels and to allow people living in tight urban quarters to go outside, enjoy the sunlight and exercise than to shut down the whole country.
When I was a child, the complex PTSD symptoms were such a nightmare that I was suicidal. I spent seven years in and out of hospitals because of them. Back then, just living and breathing was a daily horror show. That is what the illness does to you if you do not receive proper treatment in time. In other words, I lost seven years of my life to this illness and I believe that is more than enough for one lifetime.


During the last lockdown, these complex PTSD symptoms, which were becoming less frequent and more under control after the successful completion of trauma therapy, became worse overnight. It was like the government decree to issue the lockdown instantly undid most of the progress I made in trauma therapy. I was dreaming about exploding qassam rockets and rats invading my home under lockdown. I had flashbacks of myself lying on the floor, dead. And then, I had to pretend that everything was normal, so that I could keep my job, maintain the home, and take care of my three children, all under age five.


I want to stress that I followed every guideline given to me by mental health experts on how to psychologically survive a lockdown. I also listened attentively to Nathan Sharansky's video about his experience in solitary confinement and spoke to people that were imprisoned in Evin Prison in Iran. In addition, I read every article that I could find on how to psychologically survive a lockdown.


Based upon what I learned, I did everything to preserve structure. In the morning, I did the morning blessings and homeschooled my children. Afterwards, I did exercise videos with them. Then, I went to work, either writing articles or working on my memoir. On my free time, I read books and studied foreign languages. I also kept a detailed coronavirus diary, documenting everything that was happening in our lives. Putting my sorrow into words did help me a lot to deal with the pain. On top of that, I paid 350 NIS per session to meet frequently with an online therapist and got on a new PTSD medication. I drank calming marva tea. By doing all of this, I managed to hang on until towards the end.


At that point, towards the end of the last lockdown, despite my best efforts to prevent it, I was experiencing complex PTSD symptoms that were so severe I had not felt such a thing since immediately after the trauma at age seven. At that point, I knew I was given a choice of becoming a repetitive lockdown violator yet remaining mentally healthy or being a law-abiding citizen in a mental hospital. I chose the first option, for I have people who depend on me remaining mentally healthy enough to function. I am still nowhere as good as it was prior to the last lockdown.


It is important to emphasize that there are so many other people who suffer from PTSD and complex PTSD, who would be going into a second lockdown in an even worse situation than me. It should be stressed that many people with this illness are such psychological wrecks that they do not manage to work. If you are unemployed, how can you pay 350 NIS per session for a private online therapist? Although there are charities that help such people, obviously a therapist who is paid well for her time will be more committed to helping you than some mental health professional who has zillions of poor people to help. It is simple economics.


Furthermore, if you are poor economically for you were too mentally ill to work, how can you afford to buy things that will cheer you up and help to preserve structure under lockdown, such as books on Amazon Kindle, Babel or Netflix? It also should be added that it is one thing to be locked down in a beautiful house with a lovely garden and another thing to be locked down in a run-down apartment that does not even have a balcony. These things very much affect one's psychological ability to survive lockdown.


And if your starting position is that you have not successfully completed trauma therapy, how can you mentally cope with the new trauma that was added on top of your prior trauma? Thus, if even someone like me, who has managed to overcome this illness enough in order to become a published author and professional journalist, struggled to maintain their sanity under lockdown, imagine how other people with this illness who have been less successful in fighting against it feel under lockdown.


Prime Minister Netanyahu and Health Minister Edelstein would argue that they are just trying to save lives and some may claim that people like me are a necessary sacrifice for the greater good, I would like to add that there is no conclusive proof that a second lockdown will save lives and suggest another possibility. Israel Hayom reported that roughly 65 percent of people got infected at home, so it seems apparent that the worst thing that one can do is confine people at home, especially in the Haredi and Arab sectors, where dozens of family members live in tight quarters. It would be much more effective to quickly evacuate sick people from their homes to coronavirus hotels and to allow people living in tight urban quarters to go outside, enjoy the sunlight and exercise than to shut down the whole country.


South Korea has managed to be ahead of Israel in flattening the curve, without having an economically and psychologically destructive lock-down, just by doing extensive testing, isolating rigorously the sick in coronavirus villages, and wearing masks. Today, South Korea, unlike Israel, is listed as a safe country, whose citizens can travel to the EU. Israel should follow in South Korea's footsteps and give up on the
South Korea has managed to be ahead of Israel in flattening the curve, without having an economically and psychologically destructive lock-down, just by doing extensive testing, isolating rigorously the sick in coronavirus villages, and wearing masks.
lockdown model.


In conclusion, I would like the Prime Minister and Minister Edelstein to put themselves in my shoes, just for one moment. Imagine that you are an American Jewish woman, who made Aliyah in 2009 without having a single relative in Israel, not even a distant cousin. You had a horrific childhood in America and want to move beyond your traumatic past. In Israel, you managed to overcome the trauma enough to marry an Israeli man, have three children and to work a professional job as a writer.


Then, the coronavirus came and suddenly, out of nowhere, you have a reduced workload as a writer, for the economy caused freelance journalists to get cut back left and right. Then, your parents, aunt and uncle, who were supposed to visit for Passover, could not come due to the coronavirus. Now, you don't know if and when you will ever see them again, for you do not have the logistical ability to quarantine in order to go to America to see them and they are too old and at risk to come here, even if given a special visa to do so.


Around the same period, you find yourself locked down and isolated at home with three small children all under age 5 in a construction site, since your building was in the process of adding balconies. Therefore, you were stuck at home with only one window for light, children scared of the noise caused by the construction work and dust everywhere bothering everyone. Any time you wanted to go to the park, to the sea, to the mall, to the gym, to grandma's or to a friends to escape that situation, you were legally barred from doing so. Thus, all your support system was taken away from you, just as you needed it the most.

I had to complete the work that I still had, manage my home and be a functional parent who took care of everything, as my husband works at a company that produces masks and he had to work overtime during the coronavirus lockdown, often coming into the office at night and on weekends. I was forced to do ten times more housework than usual with no adult company. Soon afterwards, my uncle in America passed away and we had a zoom funeral, absent a proper minyan due to the coronavirus. His wife was unable to see him as well for the last seven weeks he was alive due to coronavirus restrictions in nursing homes. I could not go to America to comfort her.


If this was your life story during the last lockdown, how would you feel about another lockdown, Minister Edelstein and Prime Minister Netanyahu? Please exercise mercy, and please do not implement another psychologically destructive lockdown.


Rachel Avraham is a freelance writer and a political analyst working at the Safadi Center for International Diplomacy, Research, Public Relations and Human Rights. She is the author of "Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab Media." Her second book, cited above, is in the final stages of editing.

Ideas, that help explain how the world works

Roger Stone gives fiery first interview following commutation from Trump

Exclusive: Roger Stone joins Sean Hannity for his first interview following President Trump's decision to commute his sentence. #FoxNews #Hannity

Whale sharks have layer of teeth on their eyes, new study finds

Whale sharks are the largest non-mammal vertebrate in existence, growing as long as 59 feet, or 18 meters, in length. Though endangered, they have been spotted near Eilat, but are harmless to humans.By AARON REICH  

A new study has revealed that whale sharks, the largest type of shark, have eyes covered in a layer of teeth. Called dermal denticles, the teeth are small structures that may at first glance resemble scales, but are in fact composed of tiny teeth. These structures are not entirely unique – in fact, shark skin is composed entirely of dermal denticles, which help the shark swim faster in the water by reducing friction.

However, their presence on the eyes is unprecedented. Rather than serving as a means of reducing friction, the teeth in fact function as a means of protecting the eyes, similar to the function of an eyelid. While many sharks do have eyelids, and some even have three, the whale shark does not, and it was believed by some scientists that the shark rotated its entire eyeball back into its socket as a means of protection. However, due to the sheer size of the sharks, it was difficult to study them. Due to new developments in caring for whale sharks in aquariums, the team of scientists from the Okinawa Churashima Research Center in Japan were able to study the shark up close and studied its eyes using new techniques such as underwater sonography and micro-computed tomography.According to the study, which was published in the online academic journal PLOS ONE, the existence of a layer of teeth on eyes is unique to whale sharks, though other prehistoric animals have had similar features, though not identical, and are now considered by many scholars to be something different entirely.As the teeth are purely for eye protection, they in no way pose a danger to humans or other animals.

My Jewish Privilege By Rabbi Efrem Goldberg

One of the many important national conversations taking place these days involves recognition and awareness of privilege. To some people, privilege is a negative thing and something to be ashamed of. I don't see it that way.

Privilege is not a dirty word. To be clear, it is critical to be aware of whatever privileges one is blessed with, recognize and appreciate that others do not share that blessing, and incorporate that awareness and recognition while demonstrating care and compassion for others. Nevertheless, one needn't apologize for a privilege or be ashamed or feel guilty for having it. Quite the contrary, privilege is, well, exactly that – a privilege. One should be grateful for, appreciative of, and most of all feel tremendously obligated by the privileges we have.

We Jews are particularly privileged, but not in the way you may think.

For some, privilege means receiving the benefit of the doubt, or the assumption of innocence. For others, privilege means having access, entrée, and opportunity. For yet others, privilege means the comfort of feeling safe, protected, and secure.

By these definitions, in the context of history, and even now, Jews are among the most underprivileged people. We have been the target of libel, false accusations, assumptions of guilt. These aren't part of ancient history. A blood libel occurred in Massena, New York, in 1928. We have been denied access and opportunity. As recently as the 1970's Jews and blacks were unabashedly denied entry into country clubs in South Florida, an area thought of today as "so Jewish." Many had signs that said "No dogs, no colored, no Jews." And it wasn't that long ago that Jews were similarly denied or limited to enter universities and graduate schools. In 1935, a Yale dean instructed his admissions committee: "Never admit more than five Jews." Harvard's president wrote that too many Jewish students would "ruin the college."

Safety and security? The Anti-Defamation League reports there were 2,107 hate crimes against Jewish people nationwide in 2019, the highest since the ADL began tallying hate crimes in 1979. Anti-Semitic incidents comprise a majority of reported hate crimes in New York City. According to 2018 FBI data, Jews were 2.7x more likely than blacks, and 2.2x more likely than Muslims to be a hate crime victim.

The current attention to racism in America and the fight for racial justice is important. Racism is an evil we must actively, categorically reject. We should also be aware, and make others aware, that anti-Semitism is on the rise globally and there remain entire nations and countless individuals who seek the extermination and elimination of the Jewish people. Just last week, what are widely considered A-list celebrities with large social media presences praised Louis Farrakhan, a vile, unapologetic anti-Semite. In 2018, Farrakhan warned his 335,000 followers on Twitter about "the Satanic Jew." As recently as October, 2018 Farrakhan told his followers in a widely-attended and shared speech, "When they talk about Farrakhan, call me a hater, you know how they do – call me an anti-Semite. Stop it, I'm anti-termite!"


In many places around the world, including too many in the United States, a Jew feels the need to remove a yarmulke or outer Jewish symbols to feel safe. There is no privilege to protect him.

I share this all not to make the argument we are more underprivileged or victimized by prejudice than anyone else, but that even today, access and opportunity, assumption of innocence, and especially safety and security, are not privileges the Jewish people can so readily count on and enjoy.

So what do I mean that we are particularly privileged and should be proud of it?

Privilege is not only about the way you are thought of and treated by others, but about how you think of and behave yourself. Privilege is not how others treat you but how you treat others. It isn't what others do to you, but what you do with what you have.

For a Jew, privilege doesn't mean access, opportunity, or favors. It means responsibility to live elevated, meaningful lives, to repair the world, to be of service to others.

God wanted to give a zechut , a merit, to the Jewish people so He charged us with an abundance of Torah and mitzvot. What does zechutmean? When we host a distinguished guest or speaker, they are often introduced with "what a zechut it is to have so and so." Zechut literally means privilege. God wanted us to be privileged so He trusted us and charged us to live virtuous and righteous lives and to transform His world in His vision.

For a Jew, privilege doesn't mean access, opportunity, or favors. It means responsibility, an awesome responsibility to set an example, to live elevated, meaningful lives, to repair the world in His image, to be of service to others. It means to rise above how we may be treated by others and to treat all with dignity, respect, and honor.

We have the privilege of studying Torah and being inspired by its timeless lessons. We were given the privilege of the instruction manual to life including the 613 commandments. We bear the privilege of being asked and expected to be at the forefront of fighting for justice, equality, fairness, and truth.

Rav Yitzchak Hutner, the great Rosh Yeshiva of Chaim Berlin, once stood before a Torah U'Mesorah convention, a gathering of Jewish educators from across the country. He suggested to them that he could summarize their entire duty, their task, in five Hebrew words. If nothing else, their job, their role, and their mission of inspiring the Jewish future came down to their ability to communicate to the next generation "asher bachar banu mi'kol ha'amim, (Who has chosen us from among all the nations) – we are to be exceptional." If a Jewish child walks away with nothing else from their Jewish education, minimally they must be made to feel that we are exceptional, privileged to be charged with being different.

Our status as a privileged or exceptional people is not intended to make us feel superior. Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm, z"l pointed out that we don't recite asher bachar banu al kol ha'amim, he has chosen us above all other nations. Rather, we say mikol ha'amim, he has chosen us from among all the nations of the world.

Being privileged should make us feel obligated and bound to live more ethically, act more sensitively, conduct ourselves more honestly, and proclaim our faith in the Almighty with pride and distinction, and never with shame or embarrassment.

A Jew never focuses on his own entitlement, but rather thinks how his resources can be better used to advance good in the world, including for the "underprivileged."

Part of the responsibility that comes along with our privilege is to use whatever material privileges we have for the good. Despite the many challenges Jews have faced throughout the generations, most of our communities in the 21st century are blessed with the trappings of material and social privilege our ancestors would never dream of. We don't have to and shouldn't apologize for that; however, we must recognize that a Jew never focuses on his own entitlement, but rather thinks how his resources can be better used to advance good in the world, including for the "underprivileged."

Privilege is not a luxury, it's a legacy; it isn't a free pass, it is a weighty proposition. Privilege shouldn't breed entitlement, it should demand exceptional behavior.

I'm proud of my Jewish privilege and I hope my children will be too.

This Moment Has Set Blacks Back a Half-Century By Dennis Prager

According to the make-believe world of the left, we are experiencing a great moment in American racial history. For the first time, the story goes, more whites than ever are coming to realize how racist America is, how racist cops are, and how systemically racist everything in America is.

Only now do many Americans understand just how racist Uncle Ben, Aunt Jemima, Ulysses Grant, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, "whitening" agents, meritocracy, Western culture, Christianity, jailing blacks, and the NFL are. The bestselling book in America is about alleged "white fragility" – the term for any rational response to the irrational charge that all whites are racist.

All this is supposed to be good for America's blacks. But none of it is. In fact, it is all destructive.

Take the movement to defund police departments and the incessant charges of "police brutality" and "racist police." Only those who don't care about blacks other than using them to advance their power – Democrats and the rest of the left, both black and white – argue this war against the police is good for blacks. Already the increase in the number of blacks murdered, not to mention injured, is reaching levels unseen in decades. And there is every reason to assume, as police pull back from high-crime areas, it will get worse.

Take the left-wing mantra that all whites are racist. If I wanted to obstruct black progress, and especially damage black children, I couldn't come up with a more effective idea. To believe from early childhood that you walk through life held in contempt by all of your fellow citizens who are white is to walk through life with much more than a chip on your shoulder. It is more like a heavy boulder.

It means that you will walk through life with two paralyzing burdens: anger and victimhood. Either one is enough to ruin your life. Combined, they're devastating. It gives one an idea of how cynical the left is that it would want to cultivate both of these life-ruining emotions in as many blacks as possible.

Anger and victimhood not only ruin an individual's life; they destroy his relationships with others. Everyone who has an angry individual in their family knows not only how unhappy that person is but also how much havoc they wreak on the rest of the family.

The same holds true for the relative who sees him or herself as a perpetual victim. Such people are both miserable and miserable to be around. And since victimhood is a major cause of evil – people who see themselves as victims usually think they are not nearly as bound by moral rules as others are – as they are more likely to hurt others.

The "protesters" who destroy and loot think their victim status allows them to destroy and loot. The man identified as the president of the greater New York Black Lives Matter, Hawk Newsome, recently told Fox News: "If this country doesn't give us what we want, then we will burn down this system and replace it. All right? And I could be speaking … figuratively. I could be speaking literally. It's a matter of interpretation."

In a report yesterday on a police shooting of a robber who resisted arrest and reached for an object in his waistband, the San Diego Union-Tribune quoted a protest organizer: "If this young man was robbing, that means his state and his government failed to provide him with the resources he needs." When you feel you are a victim, you are allowed to rob.

Take the constant, often absurd, charges of racism at the most benign comments. If you say, for example, that you see nothing wrong with the picture of Uncle Ben on a box of rice, you will be accused of racism. As a result, most whites understand they can no longer speak truthfully or from the heart in the presence of a black American.

It is hard to imagine a worse recipe for genuine relationships between the races. Whereas the great majority of whites, and even most blacks, thought white-black relations were good and improving when Barack Obama assumed office, a minority of both groups think so today.

Take the assault on merit-based advancement in the name of racial equality. Will this help or hinder blacks? It will obviously help some blacks in the short run. But over the long term, telling any group they needn't meet a universal standard of excellence can only harm that group – not to mention harm the way their success will be viewed by others. Moreover, it is difficult to imagine a more condescending view of a group than to argue that standards must be lowered for them to succeed.

The damage the left is doing to America may be mortal. When it is widely deemed okay to destroy statues of Abraham Lincoln, society is experiencing a moral earthquake which may eventually destroy it. But the damage the left is doing to so many blacks – to their moral compass, to their happiness, and to their relations with their white fellow citizens – is not in the realm of "may do." It is done.

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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