Thursday, August 6, 2020

No Holds Barred: Rabbis have failed to inspire during coronavirus and JONATHAN S. TOBIN On Tisha B’Av, it’s time for Americans to step back from the apocalyptic rhetoric and Del Bigtree: Human Immune System Has a 99.74% Success Rate Against Covid-19 and the Kidron Valley and Mount of Olives burial tour

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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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Jerusalem Burials across the Ages and the Mount of Olives

Jerusalem Burials across the Ages and the Mount of Olives

Jewish Burials Across the Ages – from King David's tomb on Mt. Zion to the Kidron Valley:

From Kings to prophets, great rabbinical leaders, and the righteous among the nations, throughout the ages, people have requested to be buried in Jerusalem. I recently took a walking tour that focused on Jewish burials from David's tomb to the Kidron Valley.

The elephant in the room has to be mentioned. We did not walk on the Mount of Olives. We were next to it and saw it so I have to talk about it now, because that is the most important burial place in Jerusalem

The Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, sometimes also referred to as Mount Olives is an important landmark, located next to the Old City of Jerusalem. The Mount of Olives refers to the ridge located east of the Old City and gets its name from the olive groves that at one time covered the land. A significant and meaningful landmark, the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem dates back to biblical times and is important to both Jews and Christians.

History of the Mount of Olives

Today, the Mount of Olives is used as a Jewish cemetery and has been for over 3,000 years, it holds some 150,000 graves. In fact, the Mount of Olives has been used as a burial location for Jews since biblical times, including the burial location for some of the most prominent biblical kings. When the Second Temple was destroyed, the Jews used the Mount of Olives as a celebratory site for the holiday of Sukkot, and many other religious ceremonies and celebrations prior to the destruction of the temple. The mount was also a site for religious Jews making pilgrimages, as it is located above the Temple Mount, and offers one of the best views to do this day. In 1948, after the Arab-Israeli War, an agreement was signed between Jordan and Israel to establish access to the Mount of Olives. There was a 19-year annexation, where Jordan was in control of the area, and most Israelis were not permitted to enter Jordan, and therefore unable to visit the Mount of Olives. During this time, when the Jordanians ruled the area, some 38,000 graves were destroyed, and the area was developed with roads which also destroyed many burial locations.

It wasn't until the Six-Day War in 1967 when the land went back to the Israelis and a series of efforts were made to restore the land, and the cemetery became functional for burials again. Today, the Mount of Olives offers one of the best views of Jerusalem and is visited by both locals and tourists alike.

Visitors of all religions come from around the world to visit the picturesque Mount of Olives and take in the stunning view from the top. Although it can be hard to reach the top on foot it is worth it to see the vantage point. The panoramic view showcasing the historic city of Jerusalem including the Temple Mount, the Valley of Hinnom, and in the distance, the Judean Desert.

Some of the landmarks found on the Mount of Olives include the Augusta Victoria Hospital with the Lutheran Church of the Ascension and the iconic 50-meter bell tower. There is also the Russian Orthodox Church of the Ascension with its tall and visible white bell tower, Chapel of the Ascension, the Church of the Pater Noster, as well as the Seven Arches Hotel.

The Jewish cemetery is located on the western slope of the mount, along with the Tomb of the Prophets, the Catholic Church of Dominus Flevit, and the Russian Orthodox Church of Mary Magdalene. Perhaps one of the most famous and visited points along the Mount of Olives is at the base, where the Kidron Valley connects and the Garden of Gethsemane with the Church of all Nations.

Where we did go was the Kidron Valley, the valley originating slightly northeast of the Old City of Jerusalem, which then separates the Temple Mount from the Mount of Olives. It continues in a general south-easterly direction through the Judean desert in the West Bank, reaching the Dead Sea near Ovnat, and descending 4,000 feet (1,200 m) along its 20-mile (32 km) course. The ancient Mar Saba ('Saint Sabbas') monastery is located in the lower part of the valley.

In its upper part, the neighborhood of Wadi al-Joz bears the valley's Arabic name. The settlement Kedar, located on a ridge above the valley, is named after the valley's Hebrew name.

The Bible calls the upper course Emek Yehoshafat, the "Valley of Josaphat". It appears in Jewish eschatological prophecies, which include the return of Elijah, followed by the arrival of the Messiah, and the War of Gog and Magog and Judgment Day.

The upper Kidron Valley holds Jerusalem's most important cemetery from the First Temple period, the Silwan necropolis, assumed to have been used by the highest-ranking officials residing in the city, with rock-cut tombs dating between the 9th and 7th centuries BCE

The upper Kidron Valley segment north of the Old City was one of the main burial grounds of Jerusalem in the Second Temple period, where hundreds of tombs have survived until today, while the segment east of, and opposite the Temple Mount, boasts several excellently preserved monumental tombs from the same period. Several of the Second Temple period tombs were also used later in time, either as burial or as shelters for hermits and monks of the large monastic communities which inhabited the Kidron Valley during the Byzantine Empire period (4th-7th century). The ancient tombs in this area attracted the attention of ancient travelers, most notably Benjamin of Tudela.

A source of confusion is the fact that the modern name "Kidron Valley" (Nahal Kidron in Hebrew) applies to the entire length of a long wadi, which starts north of the Old City of Jerusalem and ends at the Dead Sea, while the biblical names Nahal Kidron, Emek Yehoshafat, King's Valley, etc. might refer to certain parts of this valley located in the immediate vicinity of ancient Jerusalem, but not to the entire wadi, and certainly not to the long segment crossing the Judean desert. Similarly, in Arabic, every more substantial wadi has many names, each applied to a certain distinct segment of its course.

Monumental tombs

The so-called "Tomb of Absalom" or the pillar of Absalom in Kidron Valley

The three monumental tombs on the eastern side of the Kidron Valley are among the most well-known landmarks of ancient Jerusalem. These are, from north to south, the so-called "Tomb of Absalom" (Hebrew: Yad Avshalom), which rises in front of the so-called "Cave" or "Tomb of Jehoshaphat", the (correctly named) Tomb of Benei Hezir (Benei Hezir is the Hebrew for "sons of Hezir", meaning the Hezir priestly family ), and the so-called "Tomb of Zechariah", which could quite likely be the nefesh of the Tomb of Benei Hezir.

Absalom's Tomb consists of two parts. First, a lower cube was hewn out of the bedrock, decorated with engaged Ionic columns bearing a Doric frieze and crowned by an Egyptian cornice. This part of the monument contains a small chamber with an entrance and two arcosolia (arched funeral niches) and constitutes the actual tomb. The second part, built of ashlars, is placed on top of the rock-hewn cube. It consists of a square pedestal carrying a round drum, itself topped by a conical roof. The cone is slightly concave and is crowned by an Egyptian-style lotus flower. The upper part has the general shape of a tholos and is interpreted as a nefesh or monument for the tomb below, and possibly also for the adjacent "Cave of Jehoshaphat". The "Pillar of Absalom" is dated to the 1st century CE.

Literally, the word nefesh means 'soul', but in a funerary context, it is the term applied to a form of the funerary monument. In descriptions of the tombs of the Jewish nobility, the pyramid shape is also emphasized as the mark of a tomb. This would imply that nefesh and pyramid were synonymous. The Jewish tombs in the Kidron Valley are the best examples of this form of nefesh. They appear as a rectangular, pyramid-capped monument. Similar forms of the nefesh decorate ossuaries, with the addition of a dome-capped column. In Jerusalem the nefesh as a tomb monument stood either above or beside the tomb; set on steps or on a base.


Del Bigtree: Human Immune System Has a 99.74% Success Rate Against Covid-19

The Alex Jones Show

Top medical TV producer Del Bigtree joins The Alex Jones show in-studio to break down the best chance the people have to fight the covid virus and beat the impending medical tyranny being pushed by the left.


On Tisha B'Av, it's time for Americans to step back from apocalyptic rhetoric

The historic legacy of the day of mourning about senseless hatred is a reminder that democracy doesn't work when political parties deem each other illegitimate.

Americans are experiencing a summer of discontent in a way that exceeds any in living memory. The nation is divided not just along political lines but seems increasingly immersed in something much dangerous—a culture war in which both sides truly believe that not only will a triumph by their opponents bring ruin, but that the very existence of the republic and American democracy is at stake.

That's why both Jews and non-Jews need to pause this week and consider the lessons that the observance of Tisha B'Av: the day on the Hebrew calendar that marks the destruction of both ancient holy temples in Jerusalem, as well as many other catastrophes of Jewish history. The day of fasting and reflection, which begins this year on the evening of July 29, is not observed by most non-Orthodox Jews and generally considered too depressing to have become part of secular American Jewish culture, which prefers holidays that follow a model that runs along the lines of "they tried to kill us, we won, let's eat."

But if there was ever a year when its lessons were needed by Americans of all faiths, it is 2020.

Tradition teaches us that the fall of the Second Temple in 70 C.E. occurred because of sinat hinam—senseless or baseless hatred—that undermined Jewish resistance during the siege of Jerusalem and great revolt against the forces of the Roman Empire.

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A war that pitted the forces of a small nation against the world's only superpower wasn't going to have a happy ending, no matter how united the defenders of Jerusalem had been. But the rabbis who subsequently reconstituted Jewish faith emphasized the way that the Jewish rebels were divided into competing factions within Jerusalem's walls. In the civil war that raged inside the doomed city, a Zealot faction destroyed food supplies that could have prolonged resistance. Their self-destructive behavior made the task of Roman conquest that much easier and provided Jewish history with a lesson of what not to do to survive in a hostile world.

It's an important lesson, but not one that most Jews—or non-Jews for that matter—find easy to follow.

The political lines dividing Americans are starker than at any moment in living memory. It's not just that Republicans and Democrats disagree about the issues. Most of the supporters of President Donald Trump and most of those who support his opponents seem unprepared to credit each other with good intentions, period.

For good or ill, Trump is a singular figure in American political history. His detractors don't just see an outlier who deeply distrusts the political establishment and thinks he has a mission to turn it upside down. They view him as uniquely evil, an authoritarian determined to destroy democracy. Epithets like "racist," "fascist" or "Nazis" hurled at him aren't just insults. A large number of Americans truly believe that these are accurate descriptions of him, and even worse, his supporters.

Trump supporters largely return the compliment and see Democratic spending programs about a "Green New Deal," open borders and revisionist views of American history as the thin edge of the wedge of a new kind of American socialism. Many disparage Trump's opponent—former Vice President Joe Biden—as a stooge of the far-left whose election will mean the triumph of radical forces that will destroy the rule of law and implement measures that will ensure that Democrats never lose another election.

Trump has helped coarsened discourse in a way that none of his predecessors have done. They are consequences that stem from how populist impulses turn up the political temperature in a way that makes the country angrier and less open to the "better angels" of our nature to which Abraham Lincoln once appealed.

Even if you think that his policies are misguided and his conduct is particularly unfit for the presidency, the rhetoric of his opponents is at least as irresponsible as anything Trump does.

The willingness of most Democrats to characterize the administration's recent attempt to defend federal facilities from violent mobs who operate under the banner of the Black Lives Matter movement as a "fascist" coup or the operation of "secret police" comparable to the Gestapo is as deplorable as it is absurd. The notion that the "mostly peaceful" BLM demonstrations, which again turned into violent riots this past weekend in some cities, are being wrongly suppressed by Trump is not a serious argument. One can agree or disagree with the tactic, though representing his actions as evidence of authoritarianism is pure partisanship intended to inflame public opinion.

In essence, both sides now see this November as a "Flight 93" election—a reference to the heroic effort of passengers on 9/11 to foil their terrorist hijackers' intentions to crash that plane into the U.S. Capitol—in which there is no choice but to do anything to save the nation.

That has set up a situation where Democrats are putting about incendiary claims that Trump won't go peacefully if he loses, and Republicans are afraid that if the president does beat Biden, his opponents won't accept the results either and will encourage rioters to set our cities aflame. The point is, as the lame-duck Obama administration's investigations of the Trump campaign's mythical collusion with Russia demonstrated, there may be a bit of truth to the assertion that no matter which side is defeated, the losers won't fully accept the outcome.

The stakes in this vote are high. But democracy doesn't work when those competing for votes won't accept the other side's legitimacy. Yet increasingly, that is how many Americans feel about their opponents in a political culture that has begun to resemble a tribal religious war.

Now is the time for both sides to step back from the abyss and speak to their opponents as fellow Americans as opposed to would-be totalitarians or barbarian hordes that must be destroyed. On Tisha B'Av, rather than only thinking of the suicidal fratricide that helped destroy the Second Temple, perhaps we should also ponder the way all too many of us are routinely seeking to demonize our opponents.

That may be too much to ask of some citizens so immersed in the hatred of Trump or his opponents that they believe the inflammatory rhetoric being fed to them by competing partisan media outlets. But that is what is necessary if, lip service about preserving democracy notwithstanding, we are to avoid scenarios where each side's worst fears become a reality.

Jonathan S. Tobin is editor in chief of JNS—Jewish News Syndicate. Follow him on Twitter at: @jonathans_tobin.

No Holds Barred: Rabbis have failed to inspire during coronavirus

All of this sounds draconian and uninviting. Who would want to attend a synagogue or a minyan where you are being policed?


JULY 27, 2020

As someone who has to say Kaddish three times a day for my father, I see the state of our synagogues up close and personal. Understandably, they're catastrophic. Almost all shuls are closed but for about 15 to 20 people who are allowed inside under the strictest rules you can imagine. One synagogue in Manhattan posted rules that include temperature checks at the door including the Sabbath, masks must be worn at all times and cannot be removed even for an instant, no singing whatsoever, the minyan will not wait even a moment for people saying Kaddish, and if you haven't pre-registered and received approval for attending, ostensibly for the purposes of contact-tracing, forget it. You ain't never getting in.Then you have the backyard minyans, some of which are done as an officially sanctioned extension of a large synagogue and many of which are done independent of any official sanction. Regardless, rabbinic authorities are known to send messengers to the minyanim to check whether they're maintaining proper social distancing and people are wearing masks.

All of this sounds draconian and uninviting. Who would want to attend a synagogue or a minyan where you are being policed?But to be absolutely clear, let me say at the outset I completely endorse these restrictions. Yes, they are unpleasant and uninviting. But if we are to have prayer services, we must first ensure that everyone is safe and the protection of life is primary.And if the rabbis have to become police in order to enforce the rules, so be it. That's our job. Protect and promote life. The Rabbinical Council of Bergen County in Northern New Jersey, where I live, famously shut down all the shuls right after Purim in March and no doubt saved countless lives by pre-empting infection, as that most joyous of Jewish festivals somehow became a superspreader among the New York metropolitan community.My issue with us rabbis is not that we're being too strict but rather that we forgot that being the police is only a secondary role. Our first role is to inspire, something that religion in general, and the rabbis in particular, have failed at during the coronavirus.Before I elaborate, let me first make it clear that this abominable virus actually provided an opening for religious relevance. Before the coronavirus, science was seen as supreme, gradually nudging out religion. Once upon a time human looked at the darkening sky as the sun was blotted out in the middle of the day and they concluded that the gods must be angry. So they sacrificed a virgin to appease them.

Along came the scientists and said, "Wait a minute. The sun's coming back. This is all natural. It's called a full solar eclipse. And it's so regular that we can actually predict them years into the future with perfect precision."When the Black Death decimated one third of Europe's population, the population went out and massacred the Jews for poisoning the wells. But along came scientists – sadly for us Jews only centuries later – and said, "Why are you massacring innocent people? This is a disease spread by the lice on rats that are carrying Bubonic plague."And ever since then science has been ascendant, slowly but surely marginalizing and eclipsing religion. Who needs to pray to the gods for water when we have advanced irrigation systems or pray to God stop influenza when we can go to the neighborhood drug store and get a $10 vaccine that will protect us.

BUT THEN came the coronavirus and science was helpless. Doctors and medical researchers were flummoxed about every aspect of the virus. It can be transmitted up to six feet. No, wait. A person's sneeze can carry up to 25 feet. You shouldn't wear masks, as Dr. Anthony Fauci first said, because nurses and doctors were short. No, it turns out we must all wear masks because they are essential to stop transmission (I agree that where we cannot definitively social distance we must all wear masks, of course). The virus can be prevented by hydroxychloroquine. No, that medication will give you a heart attack and kill you. No, wait, a new study says it won't create heart arrhythmias. The virus will recede with humidity and heat, which is why Florida has barely been hit while New York is being crushed. Sorry, now that Florida being decimated in high summer it turns out we had no idea what we were talking about.I'm not saying this to criticize the medical professionals. To the contrary, having worked with many medical professionals to save lives, I know how dedicated they are to their professions, to a degree that makes them positively saintly and angelic.Rather, I'm saying this to point out that when science threw up its hands, this time, and said, "We honestly don't know how to stop this virus or when we'll have a vaccine," the rabbis should have stepped forward with a message of inspiration, uplift and hope.As the nightly news told everyone every day, "We're all going to die," it was the job of religion to step forward and say, "Fear not, where the limits of science are reached the horizons of faith begin. Have faith in God. He will ultimately protect us and give humanity the courage and wherewithal to withstand this plague. Yes, we have lost many of our elderly and our most vulnerable. And we protest this injustice to God who promised to always protect His most exposed children. But God made promises to humanity that He will ultimately not shirk."

WHAT PEOPLE are most searching for today is hope. What they most seek is a way out of despair. Science cannot provide it. It can only continue to hammer away at the virus with the tireless researchers who will ultimately find a vaccine to stop the spread of the virus.But religion is the overriding framework that says, "The universe is not an accident and human life is not a chance occurrence of evolution. Our earth is not governed by chaos. Rather, there is an intelligent Creator who called forth life from nothingness and who providentially governs the affairs of humankind. History is not accidental but directional. Every day we move from the original primordial darkness to greater and more complex light. We gravitate from the primitive plagues of earlier generations, drawing ever closer to a Messianic era in which death, hunger and disease will ultimately be defeated and light will triumph over darkness."That is the meaning of faith. To give people hope amidst despair. To lend positive vision amid an overwhelming darkness.Now, while we rabbis, rightly, walk around our outdoor prayer services making sure that no one is wearing their mask as a chin guard, should we not also be giving everyone the message that coronavirus will be defeated? While we do our temperature checks at the door, should we not also provide a soul-uplift inside? While we warn people that if they are lax about social distancing they risk illness and death, should we not also remind them that God controls the universe, that a loving creator direct history, and ultimately they will be granted health and life?We keep on worrying that the coronavirus will overwhelm a city or a nation's healthcare system. But has it also even overwhelmed the nation's faith-care system?While the media seem to think that their job is tell to us that we are all going to die, the job of the rabbi is to negate that cynical and soul-destroying message and assure us that God will protect us and that we will live.The writer, "America's Rabbi," whom The Washington Post calls "the most famous Rabbi in America," is the author of The Israel Warrior, Judaism for Everyone and Renewal: The Seven Central Values of t

See you tomorrow bli neder

We need Mosiach now

Love Yehuda Lave

Yehuda Lave, Spirtiual Advisor and Counselor

Jerusalem, Jerusalem

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