Thursday, September 24, 2020

On the Essence of Shabbat Shuvah By Adin Even-Israel (Steinsaltz) and Mae Jemison and Police shut down Berlin Protest against the restrictions and a thought from Rav Avigdor Miller and are Body Piercings Kosher? and Lev Tahor - לב טהור Rav Shlomo Katz and Robert Frost, noted American Poet

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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.

Love Yehuda Lave

This Shabbat (the Shabbat between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur) is called Shabbat Shuvah. I have an article on by Adin Steinsaltz who passed away recently at the bottom of the blog today. It is worthwhile to go to the bottom of the blog (as it always is) to read it. In past years there would have been many Rabbis giving Sermons on this Shabbat. Because of Corona, we will just pray quickly and go home.  Another casualty of the Virus. Shabbat Shalom and have a meaningful Yom Kippur on Monday.

Robert Lee Frost, poet. Known for his realistic depictions of rural life and his command of American colloquial speech, Frost frequently wrote about settings from rural life in New England in the early twentieth century, using them to examine complex social and philosophical themes.

Frost was honored frequently during his lifetime and is the only poet to receive four Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry. He was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 1960 for his poetic works. On July 22, 1961, Frost was named poet laureate of Vermont

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -- I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.

My apple trees will never get across And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him. He only says, "Good fences make good neighbors."

These woods are lovely, dark and deep, But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep.

Whose woods these are I think I know. His house is in the village though; He will not see me stopping here To watch his woods fill up with snow.

In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on.

The only way round is through.

The best way out is always through.

I have been one acquainted with the night. I have walked out in rain - and back in rain. I have outwalked the furthest city light....

Earth's the right place for love. I don't know where it's likely to go better.

Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words

The Three Musketeers at the Kotel


Are Body Piercings Kosher?

By Menachem Posner

In our contemporary minds, we often associate piercings with tattoos, and we may wonder if they are equally forbidden. Indeed, Scripture clearly forbids all tattoos (aside from those made for medical purposes, such as to guide a surgeon): "You shall not etch a tattoo on yourselves."1

Biblical Precedent

No such prohibition exists, however, in regards to piercing. In fact, the Torah tells us that Eliezer presented Rebbeca with a nezem (either a nose ring or earring)2 as a gift, and that Aaron instructed the men to bring their wives' earrings for the golden calf,3 indicating that they were commonly worn by our ancestors.

Moreover, Jewish Law discusses the permissibility of wearing both nose rings and earrings while out on Shabbat, and whether there is reason to fear that it may lead one to transgress the law against carrying in the public domain on the sacred day of rest.4

But why is piercing allowed? Shouldn't it be forbidden under the general ban on self-harm?

The Lubavitcher Rebbe addresses this issue and concludes that it is not considered harm since the piercing has a practical long-term function—allowing the woman to painlessly and easily wear her ring for many years to come.5 Thus, as long as piercings are not disfiguring or demeaning, they are allowed.6

"Gentile" Piercings

There is, however, an important caveat: the Torah enjoins us not to follow the ways of the gentiles.7

The parameters of this mitzvah can be fuzzy and evolve according to societal norms. We read in the Code of Jewish Law that it can include things like cutting hair or wearing clothes in ways that are common among non-Jews.8

However, not all clothing worn by non-Jews is forbidden. For example, just because non-Jewish construction workers wear yellow vests doesn't mean Jewish construction workers should not also wear them. This is a useful wardrobe choice, which Jews should surely adopt. The same goes for other uniforms, which help us identify professionals and service providers, even though their originators were non-Jewish.

On the other hand, if a specific cut, color, or fabric choice is common among gentiles and reflects a certain idolatrous or licentious element of society, this would be forbidden. The example given is wearing red, which was favored by women whose moral standards were not quite up to snuff.9

Back to piercings: Some piercings have no non-Jewish connotations and are OK. This surely includes a simple piercing on each ear (for a woman) and may also include other piercings, depending on the specifics of a given time and place.

On the other hand, it seems quite clear that other piercings are perceived as non-Jewish and are reflective of a certain rebellious culture, and they are certainly forbidden, as are piercings that are disfiguring or otherwise harmful.

If you are considering getting a piercing and are not sure if it's OK, consult with your community rabbi, who would be best positioned to advise you on how these laws apply in your locale.



Leviticus 19:28.


Genesis 24:22. This word, nezem, sometimes means a nose ring and sometimes refers to an earring (see Chizkunu ad. loc.).


Exodus 32:2-3.


Shulchan Aruch 303:8.


See Likutei Sichot, vol 20, p 568.


Igrot Moshe Choshen Mishpat II, 66.


Leviticus 18:3, Leviticus 20:23, et. al.


See Maimonides, Laws of Avodah Zarah 11; and Code of Jewish Law, Yoreh De'ah 178.


See Glosses of Ramah ad. loc.

By Menachem Posner

Lev Tahor - לב טהור Rav Shlomo Katz

Composed and Performed by Rav Shlomo Katz
Music Produced recorded and Mixed by Mendy Portnoy
Bass - Danny Schnaiderman
Trumpet - Avior Rokah
Mastered by Yaron Safer

For more music from Rav Shlomo Katz and to learn more about the 40 for 40 project visit:

For more music, shiurim, information and to stay up to date with Rav Shlomo Katz and The Shlomo Katz Project visit our website at:

A Thought from Rav Avigdal Miller

Why Must You See All Jews as Brothers?In the Shemoneh Esreh we request of Hashem: "Gather us (V'kabtzenu) together (Yachad) from the four comers of the earth". The word V'kabtzenu itself means "gather together", but the word Yachad (together; derived from Echad, "one") is added to signify perfect unity.

​This obligates us to strive now to prepare ourselves by learning perfect unity with all classes of loyal Jews, from whatever background and community, in addition to perfect harmony in our own immediate circles and in domestic relations. — Awake, My Glory

Berlin Police Halt March Against Coronavirus Restrictions, Saying Protesters Risked Spreading Disease

Thousands had gathered in the German capital. But the march was shut down after an hour for failing to obey social distancing rules.

BERLIN — Thousands of Germans angered over restrictions intended to control the coronavirus marched in Berlin on Saturday, but the police dispersed them after an hour because many were violating the very social-distancing rules championed by Chancellor Angela Merkel that they say threaten their rights and livelihoods.

Many of the marchers were bunched together and maskless in Berlin's streets, with some shouting "Merkel must go!" and others carrying American flags and a photo of President Trump that read, "Help."

The city's police chief, Barbara Slowik, had earlier warned that even though the march was allowed to proceed after a week of legal wrangling, "we will not be able or willing to watch tens of thousands assemble and create infection risks."

Despite some threats of violence from far-right groups, most marchers dispersed peacefully as police bullhorns declared the march an impermissible risk, and they moved to a nearby park for a rally that the police did not stop. But the events laid bare a percolating resentment of Mrs. Merkel's handling of the coronavirus threat despite its success compared with the response in other developed countries, especially the United States.

And it came as Mrs. Merkel warned that infections would likely rise as winter approaches, with more people confined indoors, which could mean a return to a more severe lockdown like the one this past spring, which is credited with helping limit the spread of the virus.

"We must expect that some things will be even more difficult in the coming months," Mrs. Merkel said on Friday at her traditional summer news conference.

Officials estimated that 18,000 people had turned out to march in Berlin, and the park rally was expected to draw at least that many. A large, mostly maskless crowd also gathered in London's Trafalgar Square on Saturday, calling for an end to virus lockdowns and other restrictions.

Mae Carol Jemison engineer, physician, and former NASAastronaut. She became the first blackwoman to travel into space when she served as a mission specialistaboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour. Jemison joined NASA's astronaut corps in 1987and was selected to serve for the STS-47mission, during which she orbited the Earth for nearly eight days on September 12–20, 1992.
Born in Alabama and raised in Chicago, Jemison graduated from Stanford Universitywith degrees in chemical engineeringas well as Africanand African-American studies. She then earned her medical degree from Cornell University. Jemison was a doctor for the Peace Corpsin Liberiaand Sierra Leonefrom 1983 until 1985 and worked as a general practitioner. In pursuit of becoming an astronaut, she applied to NASA.
Jemison left NASA in 1993 and founded a technology research company. She later formed a non-profit educational foundation and through the foundation is the principal of the 100 Year Starshipproject funded by DARPA. Jemison also wrote several books for children and appeared on television several times, including in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. She holds several honorary doctoratesand has been inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fameand the International Space Hall of Fame.
Don't let anyone rob you of your imagination, your creativity, or your curiosity. It's your place in the world; it's your life. Go on and do all you can with it, and make it the life you want to live. Mae Jemison
Science provides an understanding of a universal experience. Arts provide a universal understanding of a personal experience. Mae Jemison
The level of confidence women are able to build in women-only groups is important. Mae Jemison
Some people say they feel very small when they think about space. I felt more expansive, very connected to the universe. Mae Jemison
The biggest challenge we all face is to learn about ourselves and to understand our strengths and weaknesses. We need to utilize our strengths, but not so much that we don't work on our weaknesses. Mae Jemison
What we find is that if you have a goal that is very, very far out, and you approach it in little steps, you start to get there faster. Your mind opens up to the possibilities. Mae Jemison
The really wonderful thing that happened to me when I was in space was this feeling of belonging to the entire universe. Mae Jemison

On the Essence of Shabbat Shuvah

By Adin Even-Israel (Steinsaltz)

Shabbat Shuvah – or as it also called, Shabbat Teshuvah – is the Shabbat that falls out during the Aseret Yemei Teshuvah, between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Since Rosh Hashanah can fall out on various days of the week, the Torah reading on this Shabbat is not set: Sometimes it is Parshat Vayelech, and sometimes it is Parshat Haazinu. What is set aside especially for Shabbat Shuvah, however, is the haftarah,1 from which the name Shabbat Shuvah is derived.2

Teshuvah is a central theme on this Shabbat, since it is one of the Aseret Yemei Teshuvah. However, there is an essential problem in the combination of Shabbat and teshuvah.

Teshuvah is commonly understood as inner change that entails a certain amount of retrospection focusing on the negative aspects of one's past conduct. This is because one who is satisfied with and happy about everything he has done regrets nothing, whereas the will and ability to do teshuvah result to a great extent from the repudiation of the past and the need to distance oneself from it.

To be sure, teshuvah also has an aspect of rejuvenation, of erasing the past and rewriting oneself, a refreshing aspect of hope for a new beginning. But this aspect, too, contains within it the rejection and destruction of what once was.

This negation, which can be dramatic and even painful, is found frequently in the words of the prophets. When the prophet says, "Rend your hearts, not just your clothes,"3 the emphasis is not on the act of rending the clothes but on rending the heart.

This aspect of teshuvah has a time and a place – both in daily prayer, which includes petitions for teshuva and forgiveness, and also on certain days of the year that are dedicated to this spiritual work of teshuvah, with the soul searching and pain that it can entail.

Shabbat stands in contrast to all of this. Shabbat is supposed to be a day of joy, reconciliation, and both spiritual and physical rest. As we recite in the Shabbat prayers, "In love and favor You have given us Your holy Shabbat as an inheritance." For besides the prohibition of work on Shabbat, there is also a general duty to call Shabbat "a delight."4 Shabbat rest entails not only the cessation of physical work but also the attainment of inner calm and tranquility. For this reason, none of the Shabbat prayers and hymns focuses on teshuvah or forgiveness. For this reason, too, Viduy is not recited on Shabbat, for confession is a part of teshuvah that involves recollection of sin.

This raises a question about the very name "Shabbat Shuvah." Can such a combination of words actually exist in the same phrase? Is it possible to do teshuvah on Shabbat in an appropriate manner?

The answer to this question is that Shabbat Shuvah joins Shabbat and teshuvah not on the simple, ordinary level but on a much deeper level. In fact, the very term teshuvah hints at a different understanding of this concept than what we are accustomed to hearing. We do not call it charatah (remorse) or shevirat lev (broken-heartedness) but, rather, teshuvah – return. This return can be accomplished very quickly: One who commits a sin can try to return to the time that preceded this sin. But the return can also be more difficult and complicated, as in the case of someone who, after years of following an improper path, seeks to return to a point before he set out on that path.

For one kind of person, teshuvah means a return to his childhood days, to a time when his world was more in harmony – with himself, with his family, and with G‑d. But there is another kind of person for whom not even his childhood offers him a secure point from which to return to G‑d. In such cases, teshuvah takes on a deeper meaning: return to the "original source," the source of a person's being even before his physical life in this world. Teshuvah on this level, which takes a person farther, beyond his life and deeds in this world, involves much less conflict or confrontation with past defects or blemishes, for it is like a total rebirth, a beginning almost from the point of origin.

Conceptually, Shabbat, too, includes an element of return and restoration of things to their source. To be sure, shevitah means cessation of action, leaving everything in a state of rest. But the word shavat is also connected to shivah, meaning "return." Shabbat is a return to a point prior to our coming into being. On the one hand, Shabbat is the completion of everything that exists, but on the other hand, it is a return to the state before Creation, to a state of non-existence, to the day before the first day.

This conception of Shabbat as a state of existence that preceded the world is found, for example, in the piyut, "Lecha Dodi," which describes Shabbat as "the source of blessing." In other words, Shabbat is not an epilogue to the six days of Creation but a kind of prologue.

The sense of return that is found both in teshuvah and Shabbat is the heart of the connection between the two. We are encouraged to think little of the past and much more of what could yet be; we do not obsess over our sins, but instead focus on the exaltation of teshuva.

On this Shabbat, as on Shabbat HaGadol, the synagogue rabbi customarily delivers a derashah to the entire congregation. As a rule, the derashah deals with matters that are meant to rouse the heart to teshuva, but takes into consideration the fact that on Shabbat one should not recall or bring up the difficult matters and painful memories that are generally spoken of when we attain teshuvah. On Shabbat Shuvah, we emphasize the teshuvah of love, not the teshuva of remorse and pain. This kind of teshuvah is a return that is not only based on love, but can only be achieved by returning in the way of love.

The special haftarah of this Shabbat begins with the words "Return, O Israel."5 These words contain the essential message of this Shabbat: the call to return to G‑d.

To be sure, most of our prophets emphasize teshuvah, for this was their main purpose – to inspire the Jewish people to leave its evil ways and choose the good path. However, most of their prophecies are full of harsh rebuke about sins and the punishments that the individual and the nation will suffer because of those sins if they do not attain teshuvah. It is not for naught that the Talmud describes the words of the prophets as "words of complaint," referring to the prophets' complaints about Israel and about their sins.6

By contrast, Hosea's prophecy read in this haftarah contains very few words of rebuke, petition, or supplication for the abrogation of punishment. The essence of the haftarah is a call for complete teshuvah, for leaving sin and for following a new direction. It also contains words of conciliation, acceptance, and reassurance for those who seek teshuvah.

What is more, although there are prophecies of consolation in the words of other prophets as well – regarding the future redemption and the good times that will come – those prophecies generally do not deal with the causes of the exile and the suffering. In this haftarah, however, there is a unique combination: Although it is not a prophecy of redemption but an explicit call for teshuvah, nevertheless, it consists entirely of words of consolation and conciliation.

These words of comfort, stated with great tenderness, are meant to inspire people in a different way: Look how good it is for people who seek shelter under the wings of the Shechina! Look how much love G‑d bestows on His people and on all who love Him! The haftarah's general tone resembles the words of encouragement that one offers to a sick person: How good it will be when you recover! How well you will feel, and how many blessings you will enjoy! Indeed, this is how Ibn Ezra interprets the verse, "I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely:"7 "Backsliding in the soul is like illness in the body; thus the words 'I will heal.'"

Finally, the other prophets' words of rebuke deal primarily with teshuvah out of fear – fear of sin and fear of punishment – whereas in the haftarah chosen for Shabbat Shuva we are encouraged to seek teshuvah out of love, a teshuvah whose whole essence is drawing near to G‑d. In this way, the haftarah reflects the essence of this Shabbat: a conciliatory call to spiritual awakening and drawing near to G‑d.

Between the majesty of the judgment on Rosh Hashanah and the majesty of the forgiveness on Yom Kippur stands this Shabbat, Shabbat Shuvah, whose whole essence is the relationship of two lovers between whom a misunderstanding has arisen. Now, as they resolve the misunderstanding, they hold each other in a loving embrace.

1. Hosea 14:2–10.
2. . The haftarah begins with the word shuvah, meaning "return."
3. Joel 2:13.
4. Is. 58:13.
5. Hos. 14:2.
6. . See Shita Mekubetzet, Bava Kamma 2b.
7. Hos. 14:5.

By Adin Even-Israel (Steinsaltz) More by this author
Rabbi Adin Even-Israel (Steinsaltz) (1937-2020) was internationally regarded as one of the leading rabbis of this century. The author of many books, he was best known for his monumental translation of and commentary on the Talmud

See you tomorrow bli neder

We need Mosiach now

Make these ten days of Rependence meaningful

Love Yehuda Lave

Yehuda Lave, Spirtiual Advisor and Counselor

Jerusalem, Jerusalem

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