Don’t believe J Street’s misleading polls By Morton A. Klein and Elizabeth A. Berney, and Why the Simple Pine Casket? By Yehuda Shurpin and Why a Happy Marriage Is Like Matzo Ball Soup By Karen Kaplan and The Candace Owens Show: Dr. Stella Immanuel
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.
Dr. Stella Immanuel was censored on every social media platform after she questioned the mainstream media's narrative on COVID-19. So why has medicine become so politicized and polarizing? She discusses this and much more on this episode of The Candace Owens Show.
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matzo ball soup! If your family is of Ashkenazic origin, it appears every week at the Shabbat table, it's served at festive meals, and it's brought to every relative and friend who's feeling under the weather. Your family recipe started in Poland, or Russia, or elsewhere in Europe, and it's been handed down through the generations like a family heirloom. It is a beloved—edible—member of the family.
But did you know that chicken soup with matzo balls can also teach us about shalom bayit, peace within the home?
A tasty chicken soup starts with a good stock. If you begin with high-quality ingredients, combined and balanced in proper proportions, you'll make a rich stock that is better than the sum of its parts.
You and your spouse each bring individual personalities to your marriage. You are different, but if you enter the marriage with "wholesome ingredients," i.e., good character traits and values, you will enhance each other and build a family that is stronger and better together. The result will be delicious!
Some like their chicken soup salty. Some like it peppery. Others like it flavored with leeks, or onions, or celery, or thyme. The spices and herbs may vary, but those little extras raise the soup from a bland, boring bowl of liquid to a golden elixir that piques your senses. Marriages also need "spice" to keep things interesting—new things to talk about; new activities to try.
I once jokingly worried to my husband that we'd run out of fresh things to bicker about. My solution? To buy a $1.00 lottery ticket every week, so we could "argue" about what to do if we won! We actually did it, and in the process learned all sorts of new things about each other. I wanted to travel the world living in hotels. He wanted a huge mansion where he could set down roots. I wanted a chauffeur and a limousine to take me everywhere, he wanted sports cars and his own racetrack. We laughed and had great fun with this game every week, even though we never won anything. Keep things spicy!
We want what we eat to be delicious. But we are not just animals, living from one meal to the next. We have souls within us, and we want what we eat to feed our souls, too. The Torah is our guide for that. It teaches us what foods are best for our souls.
Of course, the Torah is not (just) a cookbook! It is our Divine handbook for all areas of life, including marriage. A kosher soup, a kosher home, and a kosher marriage are all Torah in action. They raise everyday life above the mundane, help us become our best selves, and connect to G‑d. And isn't that what real happiness is all about?
Chicken soup without actual chicken is just broth. Tasty, but not satisfying. You cannot stay strong and healthy living on broth alone. Marriages also need "meat."
The meat in a marriage is cooperation. Marriage is a partnership, and in the happiest marriages, the partners work as a team. They are not two individuals living two separate lives. They have shared goals as well as individual ones, and they know reaching those goals requires teamwork. Besides, success always tastes better when it is shared, and failure is less bitter. The same way that meat in the soup fills you up and satisfies you, daily cooperation is the meat that makes a marriage satisfying and fulfilling.
If you've ever burned your mouth on hot soup, you know that every mouthful after that is painful and tasteless. And cold soup? Completely unappetizing, you don't want to eat it.
Uncontrolled anger is like hot soup. It's painful to the recipient, and the discomfort lingers long after the episode. Even as the soup cools, the burnt mouth still hurts. But while strong marriages can't be filled with burning anger, they also can't exist by avoiding all disagreements. That's like cold soup, where communication is replaced with a cold shoulder.
A happy, warm marriage, like matzo ball soup, is best served with the perfect balance of hot and cold. It fills the home with a delightful and inviting aroma and nourishes your insides with its warm goodness.
It can be tempting to take a taste of your neighbors' soup. Maybe they added some crackers, along with the matzo balls, and you're curious. You want to see if it's better than yours. Resist this temptation. You have your soup and they have theirs.
Some married folk like to snoop in other people's marriages. Resist that urge, too! Don't compare marriages. Don't covet other people's matzo balls. If you want to try crackers in your soup, buy your own. Don't let your spoon wander!
I know there are some who like their matzo balls dense and hard. I am not one of them. To me, it's like swallowing a stone, and it lays on my chest like an elephant's foot. No, I think the best matzo balls are light and fluffy. Light as a feather, they tickle your insides.
Every happy marriage has its fair share of fluffiness. Nothing is as nourishing as a good laugh! It can make even the darkest times easier to swallow. Yes, marriage is work. There are bills to pay, children to raise, and all the mundane tasks of everyday life. But marriage must also be fun. It must tickle your insides the way a light, fluffy matzo ball does. Laugh every day, and keep it light!
And finally, like matzo ball soup, a happy marriage improves with time. The soup is delicious the day it is cooked. But the next day? The flavors have melded, the excess fat has risen to the top and can be skimmed off, and what was good yesterday is heavenly today. Happy marriages also mellow and improve. Separate personalities learn how to blend and coexist. Unhealthy personality traits, like the fat that rises on refrigerated soup, can be eliminated as couples make the transition from being me-centered to we-centered.
So, the next time you sit down to a delicious, steaming bowl of matzo ball soup, think of all the lessons that little bowl can teach you!
a Miami-based art design studio run by Rivka Korf, a coffee lover and mother. Rivka uses her expertise and creativity to run a team that creates masterful compositions and illustrations for corporate and large nonprofit organizations.
That's a great question, one that makes perfect sense to an American Jew, since burial in a simple casket is de rigueur among those who follow Jewish tradition here in the US.
You may be surprised to learn that I recently fielded an entirely different question from a Jew in Israel. After reading about someone being buried in a pine coffin, he asked if caskets are allowed according to Jewish law.
You see, unlike in the Diaspora, the widespread custom in Israel is for the dead to be buried in the ground without any sort of coffin, with only their shrouds separating them from the earth. The use of any coffin is thus an anomaly for them.
Burying the Dead in the Earth
Man is composed of a body and soul. As the verse in Genesis states, "The L‑rd G‑d formed man of dust from the ground, and He breathed into his nostrils the soul of life, and man became a living soul."1
The soul comes from G‑d Himself, and when the person dies, his or her soul returns to its source. The same is true for the body, which must return to dust, as we read, "For dust you are, and to dust you will return."2
The commandment to specifically bury the dead is reiterated in Deuteronomy, which tells us (regarding someone executed by the court) that "you shall bury him on that day."3
Accordingly, the practice in Israel (and other places as well) is to bury the person directly in the ground, which is the ideal way of fulfilling the mitzvah.4
A Wooden Coffin
So where does the coffin enter the picture? In some locales, this is due to government regulations or for other reasons. But this is by no means a modern invention. The concept of using some sort of coffin is mentioned in the Bible regarding Joseph, as well as a number of times in the Talmud.5
But in order for the person to be buried in the dust, the coffin must be entirely buried in the ground.6 It is also customary to do some or all of the following: remove the bottom planks of the coffin prior to burial, drill holes in the bottom, and/or put earth in the coffin itself.7 Also, since the wooden coffin (often pine) grew from the ground and will easily return to it by disintegrating, it is still considered as if one was buried in the earth.8
These practices have precedence in the Talmudic tradition that Rabbi Judah the Prince (redactor of the Mishnah) instructed before his passing that he be buried in simple shrouds, and that holes be made in his coffin so that it would be opened to the earth.9
Not Shaming the Poor
There is another key reason why we make sure to specifically use a simple coffin with very few adornments, if any.
We find in the Talmud that there was a time when those who were wealthier would use more expensive materials, and the poor would use cheaper materials. The poor were embarrassed, so the rabbis instituted that the rich use the same materials as the poor. In the words of the Talmud:
Additionally, at first the wealthy would take the deceased out for burial on a dargash (a type of ornamental bed), and the poor would take the deceased out on a plain bier made from poles that were strapped together; and the poor were embarrassed. The sages instituted that everyone should be taken out for burial on a plain bier, due to the honor of the poor.10
The rule of using simple materials for the dead also applies to the other aspects of the funeral, such as using simple shrouds.
A Matter of Perspective
When one passes away from this world, he sheds his corporeal body, and the soul lives on in the spiritual worlds. In those worlds, only spiritual wealth has meaning; physical wealth is worthless. Thus, if one wants to bring true honor to the soul, the best thing to do would be to take any of the money that he would have used for a fancier or more expensive funeral, and use it for charity to support the learning of Torah and fulfillment of mitzvahs in the merit of the departed. This not only brings great merit, but is the greatest honor that the soul can have in the spiritual world.
Ultimately, however, we believe that the soul will once again be reunited with its physical body at the time of the Resurrection of the Dead. Thus, death and burial is only temporary, which is another reason why nothing fancy is needed.
May we merit the time when G‑d will wipe away death and tears from this world, with the coming of Moshiach!
It employed classic "sampling error" to distort its poll results in its favor.
J Street just released a new deceptive "push poll" that, like J Street's previous "polls," uses shady practices to grossly overstate Jewish community support for J Street's anti-Israel agenda and for J Street's endorsed presidential candidate—and now President-elect—Joe Biden.
J Street employed classic "sampling error" to distort its poll results in its favor: J Street surveyed a group that included a far lower percentage of Republican Jews than is present in the overall Jewish population. J Street's sample group only included 11 percent strong Republicans, 3 percent weak Republicans and 5 percent Independents who lean Republican. However, the recent Gallup poll (2018-19), based on huge samples, estimates that 30 percent to 36 percent of Jews are Republican.
These distortions in J Street's sample guaranteed false results on every one of J Street's polling questions.
Based on its massively skewed-to-the-left sample, J Street thus misleadingly announced that "Jews favor[ed] Biden over Trump, 77-21."
In fact, as The Algemeiner reported, "Biden's share of the Jewish vote was the lowest for any Democratic presidential candidate since 1988, while Trump's share of that demographic was the highest since that year." The McLaughlin/Basswood Research poll showed that Trump received 30.5 percent of the Jewish vote, while Biden only got 60.6 percent.
Further, as The New York Times reported, the A.P. VoteCast survey, conducted for Associated Press by the University of Chicago's National Opinion Research Center (NORC), found that in Florida, 43 percent of Jews voted for Trump and only 56 percent voted for Biden. Thus, the Florida Jewish vote, which helped Trump win Florida, was over double the ludicrously low percentage claimed by J Street.
J Street's poll then asked its predominantly left-wing survey audience "push poll" questions.
For instance, in order to fraudulently elicit ("push") a show of support for re-entering the dangerous Iran deal, J Street embedded, against all polling rules, into its polling question the following false information: "This [Iran] agreement lifts economic sanctions against Iran in exchange for Iran dismantling its nuclear weapons program and allowing international inspectors to monitor Iran's facilities."
In fact, the 2015 Iran deal did not dismantle Iran's nuclear program or permit adequate inspections.
The Iran deal permitted Iran to continue using thousands of centrifuges to enrich uranium; develop advanced centrifuges; retain the deep underground Fordow facility; and maintain enriched uranium stockpiles.
The deal also denied inspectors access to Iran's military facilities (key locations for nuclear weapons work); prohibited American inspectors; and established virtually insurmountable delays and roadblocks to inspecting Iran's undeclared nuclear sites.
J Street's question also misleadingly implied that the president withdrew from the Iran deal without cause. In fact, as U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo explained in 2018: "President Trump withdrew from the deal for a simple reason: It failed to guarantee the safety of the American people from the risk created by the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran."
Pompeo then enumerated the deal's "fatal flaws" and Iran's violations, including: early sunset provisions that would leave Iran "free for a quick sprint to a bomb."
Few respondents would wish to reenter the Iran deal if a poll truthfully asked:
"President Trump withdrew from the Iran deal, after proof emerged of Iran's continuing violations, and because the deal permitted Iran to continue to enrich uranium, did not permit inspections of key facilities, paved Iran's way to a nuclear bomb, and enabled Iran to enrich terror organizations, fuel Middle East wars and develop missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads. Do you support reentering this deal?"
J Street's poll also asked a series of questions that embedded the false premise that "Israeli concessions are necessary to achieve peace."
In fact, Israeli concessions lead to more war, danger and death. Withdrawing from Gaza resulted in Hamas shooting thousands of rockets at Israeli civilians and four wars. The Oslo Accords resulted in the Palestinian Authority inciting and paying terrorists to murder and maim thousands of innocent Jews and Americans.
J Street's deceptive polling is nothing new. We analyzed previous extremely deceptive J Street polls and misrepresentations of polling data in ZOA's free online report: "J Street Sides With Israel's Enemies and Works to Destroy Support for Israel" (pp. 115-118).
For instance, in 2015, as part of its pro-Iran deal lobbying campaign, J Street asked a polling question about a hypothetical Iran deal that included "intrusive" inspections that assured Iran was not developing nuclear weapons, and only modest, gradual sanctions relief after Iran met compliance benchmarks. J Street then cited the responses regarding this relatively favorable hypothetical deal to falsely claim that the majority of Jews supported the misbegotten, dangerous actual Iran deal and its $150 billion of immediate sanctions relief.
Notably, legitimate polls showed that American Jews and the general American public overwhelmingly opposed the Iran deal. And the more people learned about the deal, the more any support plummeted.
Similar to J Street's 2015 deception, J Street's latest poll is designed to gin up phony shows of Jewish support for anti-Israel moves by a new administration.
Therefore, let's all remember: Don't believe J Street's misleading polls!
Morton A. Klein is the national president of the Zionist Organization of America. Elizabeth A. Berney is ZOA's director of special projects.