My Jewish Press article for Parsha Vayishlach and Tradition says there are 17 letters that are different sizes in the five books of Moses and the fabulous Peter Sellers and Study: Only 10% of World Jewry Remains in Europe and 8 unwritten (until now) rules for a happy life and Jewish homes in the Muslim Quarter two of three
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.
1. A $50 watch and a $5000 watch both can tell you the time. But neither can buy you more time. So focus on living each day and each moment fully. And that buys you time and happiness.
2. A $20,000 car and a $200,000 car can both take you to your destination. But neither can take you to your dream. So focus each day on getting closer to that. And one day you'll reach it.
3. A $500 TV and a $5000 home entertainment system can both entertain you. But neither can make you happy. So focus each day on being happy. Then you won't need as much entertainment
4. A $200 outfit and a $2000 outfit can both make you look attractive. But neither can make you a beautiful person. So focus each day on becoming beautiful not just attractive and you will.
5. A $50 pair of sneakers and a $500 workout outfit can both enable you to exercise. But neither can give you health. So focus each day on building health and enjoy it.
6. A $50 night out or a $500 night out with friends can be fun. But neither will guarantee friendship. So focus each day on being a friend. And you'll have friends.
7. A $200,000 house and a $2,000,000 house will each provide you a place to live. But neither will guarantee you a happy family. So focus each day on building family. And you'll have it no matter where you live.
8. A $500 wedding ring and a $50,000 wedding ring both signify you're married. But neither will guarantee you, love. So focus each day on building love. And you'll have a happy marriage.
Having lots of money may mean you're wealthy but it doesn't necessarily mean you're rich.
So focus each day instead of on becoming truly rich. And you'll discover happiness as well.
You can have a happy life as you focus on what really brings it instead of trying to buy it.
Jewish homes in the Muslim Quarter two of three
On a beautiful November day, Shalom Polock and Daniel Lourie - Executive Director of Ateret Cohanim Founded in 1978, ( originally known under the name Atara Leyoshna (lit. "[returning the] former glory"). opened as a new association called Ateret Cohanim with a yeshiva. While the activities of Atara Leyoshna focused mainly on locating Jewish assets in the Muslim Quarter and transferring them into Jewish hands through legal means, the activities of Ateret Cohanim involves acquiring houses in the Muslim quarter or renting them from government companies and populating them with Jews. The association owns many buildings in the Old City, where over 80 families live. Some estimate that 1,000 Israeli Jews live in houses that Ateret Cohanim purchased in the Old City since 1978 The head of the association is Mati Dan
"If you spot it you got it!"
One of the more perplexing questions that is raised in this week's Torah reading is why Yaakov sends agents and messengers to Eisav to inform his brother of his return to the land of Israel. King Solomon in Proverbs had already advised to let sleeping dogs lie, so to speak. So why should Yaakov place himself in a situation of anticipated danger and difficulty when it could have been avoided.
There are many insights and comments that have been expressed over the ages regarding this problem. We all are aware that deep within each of us there is a psychological desire to attempt to correct what we may deem to be a past error of judgment or behavior. In fact, the entire Jewish concept of repentance is built on this and can be mobilized for good and positive purposes.
This impulse is usually sublimated when current events constantly impinge upon our lives. We are busy making a living, raising a family, engaging in a profession or business, studying or teaching, and we have little time to think and recall all our past misdeeds and errors. In fact, we become so involved in our lives, that we almost forget our past behaviors. But, as is often the case, the past gnaws upon us, and eventually gives us no rest until and unless we attempt to somehow correct what we feel was wrong and even
shameful. Yaakov is aware that he obtained both the birthright and the blessings from his brother by questionable means. The issue remains basically unresolved, for the verses in the Torah remain explicit, unchangeable, and eternal. It is perfectly understandable that our father Yaakov should try somehow to make amends to his brother for the past times that Eisav, wrongly or rightly, felt that he was taken advantage of and deprived of what was really his. And he had 20 years to think about his behavior.
Considering this, it is perfectly understandable why Yaakov behaves in the way he did and bestows upon Eisav such exaggerated gifts. It may be his attempt to square things and to defuse the bitterness of the past. It is not so much that Eisav should be mollified, but, rather, that Yaakov should become refreshed and more at peace with himself regarding his eternal mission of building the Jewish people – a mission which requires that he possess the birthright and the blessings of his father Yitzchak.
Only people who are at peace with themselves can really be constructive and positive in life, for them and others. It is this realization that impels Yaakov to seek out his brother before establishing himself in the land of Israel and beginning to fulfill the mission and the blessings that were rightly given to him. Instead of just sneaking back home.
In Torah Parsha, "Toltot" we had the famous story of Jacob taking the blessing of Esau by deceit.
After learning of the deceit, Esau vows to kill Jacob. He says that he will not kill Jacob until after his father dies, but Rebecca received this report by divine inspiration as she was a prophet.The Or HaChaim states that she was afraid that Jacob's daily proximity would inflame Esau so much that he might lose control of himself and kill Jacob while Isaac was still alive.
She revealed the prophecy to Jacob saying "Behold, your brother Esau is consoling himself regarding you to kill you. So now, my son, heed my voice and arise: flee to my brother Laban, to Haran. And remain with him a short while until your brother's anger against you subsides and he forgets what you have done to him; then I will send and bring you from there; why should I be bereaved of both of you on the same day! (Genesis 27:42-44)
As it turns out, the twin brothers did not die on the same day, but they were buried in the cave of Hevron on the same day.
The short while turned out to be over 20 years. Rebbeca never sees Jacob again.
The Sefer Haflaah was written by Rabbi Pinchas HaLevi Horowitz of Nikelsburg (1730-1805) who was the rabbi of Frankfurt and the author of Sefer Hafla'ah and Sefer HaMikneh -- commentaries on the Talmud -- and Panim Yafot, an exegesis on the Torah. Rabbi Pinchas and his brother Rabbi Shmuel Shmelke were students of the Mezritcher Maggid. They were amongst the first adherents to the Chassidic movement to hold rabbinic posts in Germany. The famed Rabbi Moshe Sofer, known as the Chatam Sofer, considered Rabbi Pinchas to be one of his main teachers.
Rabbi Horowitz says that Rivka implied the following: Runaway to my brother Laban and wait until your brother gets over his anger. How will you know when that time has arrived and he is no longer angry at you? When you yourself stop holding a grudge against him. Rivka understood the reciprocity of human emotions. Love is reciprocated with love, and hatred elicits a like response in others.
There's a common kind of pop psychology that suggests that if you see a problem in someone else, you should assume it's because that same problem applies to you. For example, if you are annoyed by a coworker who is a big self-promoter, the implication is that you're annoyed because you too are a self-promoter. If you spot it, you got it.
Projection, a well-known cornerstone of psychological defense, distracts our awareness of our own undesirable traits by making us "see" those traits in others. The tough question implied is not, "How do I deal with this difficult person?" but "What is this person showing me that I don't want to know about myself?"
'You spot it, you got it' occurs when we get irritated by behavior in others, which we are choosing to deny in ourselves. In other words, what I hate the most in you, maybe what I hate the most in me.
Our hypocrisy comes from the fact that we have blind spots. We simply can't see those parts of ourselves that we condemn in others. Or we choose not to. But by raising our self-awareness and understanding the 'you spot it you got it' phenomenon, we can start to reduce those blind spots and accept all the parts of ourselves. When we own our flaws we become aware of our triggers and are less likely to become irritated when we see them in other people.
Our brains are funny things. We invariably experience more of any thought or feeling when we try to avoid it. Let's try something. For the next 10 seconds, do not think about pink elephants. Go. Of course, you will think about pink elephants.
Our outer world is a reflection of our inner world. So, what we experience repeatedly is an opportunity for us to learn something about ourselves. For example, if you are constantly experiencing aggressive behavior in others and are triggered by it, if there's a consistent pattern and certain thoughts become very dominant, then there's a good chance that you have what you're spotting.
This opportunity to learn is never more apparent than with our children. Children are great mirrors. The things that wind us up about our kids are often an indication that there is something to get curious about within our own psyche. Remember this the next time you scream at your kids to stop shouting.
If you want to get technical, 'you spot it you got it' is a psychological defense mechanism where our subconscious denies our own thoughts, attributes, or emotions and then ascribes them to other people. It validates the theory that you cannot experience a feeling, emotion, or trait, if you don't have an inner experience of it. You have to have a connection to be able to notice it in others and when it triggers a negative response in you, it is because you are denying it in yourself.
But it isn't all doom and gloom. The good news is that 'you spot it you got it' works positively too. If you find yourself inspired by someone who is creative, intellectual, a great communicator, or visionary, you must have an inner experience of that which you admire, to be able to notice it in others. Furthermore, it might be that this trait is bursting to get out and you are suppressing it. The wonderful possibilities are endless.
When something triggers us, the degree of emotional response is an indicator that there is something within us to be healed. Pay attention. Observe your anger or frustration and immediately own whatever it is. When you have healed that which is ready to be healed, one of two things will happen – either you will quit drawing that particular behavior into your life or you will notice that it no longer bothers you at all.
It appears that it took Yakov 20 years to forgive himself for his action of taking his brother's blessing. Other commentators said the birth of Joseph, gave him the strength to face Esau. In any case, one must pay attention to the idea, "If you spot it you got!"
Speaking of self-awareness, did you hear the story of the lady on the Egged bus here in Jerusalem?
A lady was riding an Egged bus in Jerusalem was reading a newspaper article about life and death statistics. Fascinated, she turned to the man next to her and said, "Did you know that every time I breathe somebody dies?"
"Really!?" he said. "Have you tried mouthwash?"
Study: Only 10% of World Jewry Remains in Europe
A report published recently by the London-based Institute for Jewish Policy Research has shown that only10% of the world's Jews live in Europe – 1,329,400. Between 1970 and 2020, Europe lost 59% of its Jewish population. In Western Europe, there was a moderate loss of 9%, and in Eastern Europe a drastic decline of 85%. The study found that of Germany's 118,000 Jews, 40% are above the age of 65, and only 10% are under the age of 15.
The study noted that many European countries are experiencing Jewish emigration due to antisemitism, the collapse of Jewish communities and assimilation.
In 1970, 3.2 million Jews lived in Europe, including the Soviet Union. 1.5 Jews left Europe after the fall of the Iron Curtain. Jews are also fleeing Western European countries. A survey conducted in France in 1975 estimated the total number of Jews at 530,000, while today there are 449,000 Jews in the country.
The decrease in the Jewish population is primarily due to emigration, mainly to Israel (over 51,000 between 2000 and 2019), but also to Canada, the US and other countries. In 1970, 39,000 Jews lived in Turkey, while today only 14,600 Jews live in the country. Mixed marriages are also affecting the Jewish communities in Europe. In In Poland, 70% of Jews are married to non-Jewish spouses.
In Hungary, Holland, Denmark, and Sweden, 50% of Jews are married to non-Jewish spouses. The rate of mixed marriages in France is 31%. In the The UK it is 24%, and in Belgium – 14%. The study further showed that Europe's Jewish population is expected to further decrease due to due assimilation and low birth rates. 70,000 Israel-born Jews live in Europe on a regular basis – 18,000 in Britain, 10,000 in Germany, 9,000 in France and 6,000 in Holland.
Gentlemen, you can't fight in here. This is the War Room! Money can't buy you happiness but it does bring you a more pleasant form of misery. My Father had a profound influence on me. He was a lunatic. Money can't buy friends, but it can get you a better class of enemy. All I ask is the chance to prove that money can't make me happy. For ten years Caesar ruled with an iron hand. Then with a wooden foot, and finally with a piece of string. How long was I in the army? Five-foot eleven. Contraceptives should be used on every conceivable occasion. I have the body of an eighteen-year-old. I keep it in the fridge.A sure cure for seasickness is to sit under a tree. Finally, in conclusion, let me say just this. Peter Sellers
In the Hebrew alphabet there are no capital or small letters. All the letters are supposed to be equal.
However, according to the tradition, there are 17 places in the Bible where Hebrew the letters are extra-large or extra-small.
The scribal terminology is:
majuscule and minuscule.
In Hebrew, the small letters are called - אותיות זעירות (OTIYOT ZE'IROT).
The big letters are called – אותיות רבתי (OTIYOT RABATI).
According to the tradition, in the Torah, there are altogether six minuscule letters and eleven majuscule letters.
For example, the first letter in the Torah, the first letter beth in the word Bereshit, is a majuscule).
In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth
The most famous majuscules are certainly the final letters of the first and last words of the famous verse "She'ma Yisrael…" - those are larger than all the others in the Torah scroll. (Devarim - Deuteronomy 6:4)
And Sarah died in Kiriatharba--the same is Hebron--in the land of Canaan; and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her. (Gen. 23:2)
Notice the small minuscule letter כּ in the word וְלִבְכֹּתָהּ (VE'LIVKOTAH) to weep for her.
One of the explanations that is given by the commentator Ba'al Haturim is that Avraham did not cry much after the death of his wife Sarah. He just wept a little...
Therefore, the letter כּ is "little", to express the brief weeping.
And this connects us to what Rabbi Sacks taught about this Torah Portion.
Our sages considered Abraham to be greater than Noah. Torah says about Noah that he "walked with God", while Abraham is described "(The Lord) before Whom I walked".
Noah required God's support (WITH God) to uphold him in righteousness, but Abraham strengthened himself (BEFORE God) and walked in his righteousness by himself.
however, Noah is the only person in the entire bible, to whom the Torah refers a the "righteous man".
How then is Abraham greater than Noah?
And maybe the answer lies in the way the two men responded to the tragedy and grief.
After the flood we find Noah making himself drunk, the man who was born to bring comfort to the humanity (as his name alludes) apparently was trying himself to find comfort in wine in escape from the tragedy.
He saw the whole world destroyed and became paralyzed by his grief, seeking oblivion.
His heart is broken, the weight of the past prevents him from turning towards the future.
When we look at Abraham at the beginning of our Torah portion. He just came out from almost sacrificing his son Isaac, who was saved at the last moment by the heavenly voice.
So, this story was about to get a happy ending after all.
But there was a terrible twist to this story, just as Abraham was about to be relieved by his son's life spared, he discovers that his wife Sarah dies.
The woman who stayed with him for so many years though all his travels the woman who save his life twice, the woman whom he loved so much died on the day his son was saved!
We would surely understood if Abraham grieved to the end of his days, just as we understand Noah's grief.
But, we read in this week's portion the following:
Abraham mourns and weeps, but then rises up!
And he does two things to secure the Jewish future:
1. He purchases the first plot in the land of Israel
2. He secures a wife for his son Isaac, so that there will be a Jewish continuity.
Both men, Noah and Abraham grieve at their huge losses.
Noah grieves and is lost in his grief.
Abraham grieves, but he promptly rises up to secure the Jewish future.
Abraham bestowed this gift on his descendants. The Jewish people suffered tragedies that would have devastated any other nation:
The destruction of both temples and the exile and the end of the Jewish independence in the Land of Israel
The forced conversions
And finally the holocaust
And somehow the Jewish people mourned and wept and rose up to build the Jewish future.
This unique strength came from Abraham.
The Danish philosopher Kierkegaard wrote:
It requires moral courage to grieve; it requires religious courage to rejoice.
Abraham left this legacy for us - we must turn from yesterday's loss to the call of the tomorrow, as the Torah expresses it in this monumental message coming from the minuscular letter כּ.