Breaking news: Israel expands vaccination drive to anyone 50 years and up and A Deeper Look at the Law: Corona Vaccine Preview? NY Appeals Court Upholds Constitutionality Of Mandatory MMR Shots During Measles Epidemic By Ziona Greenwald and Lion, Donkey, or Wolf? By Menachem Feldman and will Israeli development put an end to deafness? and How Joseph's Coffin Ended Up in Israel By Levi Avtzon and Nahariya Beach 122021 three of four
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.
Israel expands vaccination drive to anyone 50 years and up
Move announced hours after anyone 55-plus was made eligible for shots, as country continues to lead world in immunization rate with over one in five given first dose
Israelis age 50 and up will be eligible for coronavirus vaccinations through their health care providers starting Wednesday, the Health Ministry announced Tuesday, expanding its world-leading drive as nationwide COVID-19 infections reached a new peak.
Those in the eligible group can begin booking appointments immediately, the ministry said.
The Three Musketeers at the Kotel
A Deeper Look at the Law: Corona Vaccine Preview? NY Appeals Court Upholds Constitutionality Of Mandatory MMR Shots During Measles Epidemic By Ziona Greenwald
In a case with possible implications for the coronavirus vaccine program now underway in New York and just about everywhere else, a state appeals court has upheld a ruling against a group of Orthodox Jewish parents who had challenged an April 2019 mandatory MMR vaccination mandate targeting certain Williamsburg zip codes during the measles outbreak then alarming the city.
In C.F. v. New York City Dept. of Health & Mental Hygiene (the plaintiffs' names have not been made public), the Appellate Division of the Second Department determined that the order was within the Board of Health's authority and discretion to impose, and that because of the severe measles outbreak at the time, "the imposition of a temporary mandatory immunization requirement in the affected area was a response to a dire necessity, reasonably calculated to alleviate the crisis condition."
The plaintiffs had claimed a religious exemption under a state provision which was repealed shortly thereafter in June 2019, and they had also provided medical affidavits opining that the MMR vaccine carries risks greater than the disease itself and that recently vaccinated people pose a greater threat to public health because they shed the virus. The city's health department had opposed these claims with their own expert medical affidavits assuring the safety and benefit of widespread measles vaccination.
The Court likewise rejected the plaintiffs' constitutional arguments, finding the vaccination requirement in this instance a neutral law of general applicability. Significantly, the Court noted that even if analyzed under the "strict scrutiny" standard applied in certain religious freedom contexts, the order would pass muster because it "was supported by a compelling state interest and was narrowly tailored to apply only to a specific, confined geographical area with a high incidence of disease and only applied for a limited period of time." In addition, the Court dismissed the plaintiffs' claims that the mandate interfered with their parental rights.
The potential relevance of C.F.v. New York City Dept. of Health & Mental Hygiene to future and indeed currently developing policy regarding coronavirus vaccines is not merely theoretical. By the time this lawsuit case had come to trial, the Board of Health's original order – which included criminal penalties for violations – had expired, and the New York State Supreme Court therefore dismissed the complaint as moot. Appellate courts do not generally entertain disputes which have become moot, but here the Second Department determined that an exception to the mootness doctrine applied: Namely, that the case presented "a significant issue which is likely to recur and evade review."
"As we consider this case, we are very much aware of the COVID-19 pandemic which has caused so much death, severe illness, and economic dislocation in our State and nation," the Court wrote. "We are aware too of the public discourse on the development and approval of a vaccine and the concerns expressed as to the willingness of the public to accept the vaccine voluntarily. Second, where a public health crisis leads the public health authorities to mandate the administration of a vaccine, effective appellate review may be evaded where the crisis is abated within a short time." The Court framed as "different and novel" the issue of whether the Board of Health, in the midst of a growing contagion, may mandate the vaccination of those who live, work, or attend school within the affected area. As noted above, it answered this question strongly in the affirmative.
The particular local, state, and national policies that will accompany the Covid vaccination campaign have yet to unfold, but this challenge to an MMR vaccine mandate makes clear that, at least within the Second Department (which hears appeals from Kings, Richmond, Queens, Nassau and Suffolk, Westchester, Rockland, and other counties with large Orthodox populations), authorities could impose a compulsory framework that could survive legal challenge. What recourse would then remain for skeptics, fence-sitters, and conscientious objectors? The Court in C.F. offered this answer, which may or may not obtain in the corona era: "Individuals within the affected area could accept the vaccine, pay a fine, seek a medical exemption, or temporarily relocate out of the narrowly drawn impacted area."
Nahariya Beach 122020 three of four
I fell in love with the Nahariya beach on our previous weekend. In the middle of the Pandemic, we found a little town from the 50's with no visitors besides us and 10 shekel falafel. I know something good when Isee it so Planned to go back for two more Sunday and Mondays but sidetracked by the shutdown
Kahane on the Parsha
Rabbi Binyamin Ze'evKahane HY"D- Parshat VaYechi THE SHECHEM MASSACRE
Jacob's curse of Shimon and Levi in our parsha raises the perennial question: Were they correct in wiping out Shechem's male population or not?
One who reads Parshat VaYechi can easily reach the conclusion that the question is answered by Jacob when he says, "Cursed be their anger for it is fierce..." (Genesis 49:7). These words refer to the massacre of Shechem, and they certainly seem to put the deed in a negative light. Indeed, this is how many love to interpret Jacob's curse, condemning Shimon and Levi for their actions in Shechem. But numerous observations
challenge this simplistic understanding. First, whoever reads Parshat VaYishlach will notice that the Torah concludes the story with Shimon and Levi having the upper hand. For in response to Jacob's argument- "You have brought trouble on me to make odious among the inhabitants of the land"- Shimon and Levi promptly answer, "Shall he make of our sister a harlot?" And thus the story ends, without a peep from Jacob, with the brothers clearly putting the matter to rest.
More than that, pay attention to the argument of Jacob. he does not censure them for MORAL reasons. He does not criticize them for wiping out an entire city unjustly. NO! This is NOT his argument. His is a PRACTICAL one- that all the surrounding nations will attack him now.
And if the reader is not yet convinced, know what it says in the Midrash (Bamidbar Rabba 2:7)- that on the flag of Shimon was nothing other than an illustration of the city of Shechem! Now ask yourself: Would Shimon place an illustration of something on his flag that recalled a sin? Clearly, then, the act of Shimon and Levi was proper.
And the fact is, none of the Jewish commentators condemn the act. The Rambam, for one, explains that Shimon and Levi were justified because the people of Shechem did not put Shechem ben Chamor on trial for raping Dina, making them liable to death under the 7 Noahide laws. The Maharal disagrees, arguing that one can't expect a people to put their prince, whom they fear, on trial. He therefore suggests that the Children of Israel behaved as is customary in all wars, exacting collective punishment.
If Shimon and Levi acted properly, though, why does Jacob curse them in Parshat VaYechi? The answer lies in their motive. Jacob realized that their impulse in wiping out Shechem wasn't entirely pure. When did Jacob conclude this? When it became clear that the major culprits in the selling of Joseph were the very same Shimon and Levi, as the Rabbis tell us (Tanchuma, VaYechi 9).
In other words, the brothers' plot to kill Joseph- headed by Shimon and Levi- shed light on their actions in Shechem. It indicated that their deed was not purely l'sheim shamayim but, rather, stemmed in part from anger. And so Jacob cursed "their anger for it is fierce." Jacob did not curse THEM, but rather their ANGER. Interestingly enough, we find that the tribe of Levi took Jacob's curse to heart and improved itself. The tribe continued acting zealously- it was the Levites who slew their brethren for the sin of the Golden Calf and it was Pinchas who stood up for G-d's honor by killing Zimri- but the motivation was now purely l'sheim shamayim. Levi's zealotry was no longer tainted by anger.
The tribe of Shimon, in contrast, never succeeded in purifying itself. Whom did Pinchas kill? Zimri, from the tribe of Shimon- a Jewish leader who brazenly and impetuously committed the same type of sin for which his ancestor once wiped out an entire city. Darka Shel Torah, 1992 Shabbat Shalom!
Will Israeli development put an end to deafness?
Researchers at Tel Aviv University have developed genetic treatment for deafness. The scientific breakthrough may help treat children with hearing loss.
A new study by researchers from Tel Aviv University presents an innovative treatment for deafness based on the insertion of a genetic charge into the inner ear cells.
As part of the treatment, the genetic load is inserted into the defective cell in such a way that it actually "corrects" the genetic defect and allows the cell to continue to function properly.
In the study, the researchers were able to prevent the hearing impairment of mice with gradual deafness. According to them, the treatment may lead to a breakthrough in the treatment of children born with a variety of mutations that cause hearing loss.
The research leaders are Prof. Keren Avraham and Shachar Tiber, a doctoral student in the Combined Medicine and Research (MD-PhD) program, from the Department of Molecular Genetics and Human Chemistry, at the Sackler School of Medicine, and from the Purple School of Neuroscience at Tel Aviv University.
Also participating in the study were Prof. David Sprintzak of the School of Neurobiology, Biochemistry and Biophysics at the George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences at Tel Aviv University, and Prof. Jeffrey Holt of Boston Children's Hospital and Harvard Medical School.
The study was published in the journal EMBO Molecular Medicine.
Deafness is the most common sensory impairment. According to the World Health Organization there are about half a billion hearing impaired today and this number is expected to double in the coming decades. One in 200 children is born with a hearing impairment and one in a thousand children is born deaf. In half of the cases the cause of deafness is a genetic mutation. Currently, about 100 genes are known in the medical literature that mutations in them can cause hearing loss.
Prof. Keren Avraham said that "in this study we focused on genetic deafness resulting from a mutation in the SYNE4 gene - a rare deafness that was discovered in our laboratory a few years ago among two families in Israel, and since then has also been diagnosed in Turkey and England. "It deteriorates during childhood. This is because the mutation causes a change in the location of the nucleus and the death of the hair cells in the cochlea in the inner ear, which are responsible for absorbing sound waves."
Shahar Tiber added, "We worked with innovative technology in the field of genetic therapies: we produced an artificial virus that does not cause disease, and inserted a genetic material into it - a normal version of the gene that affects families and mice. We injected the virus into the mice's inner ear. The genetic material we injected into it. This "infection" actually repairs the damaged cell and allows the hair cells to continue to function properly.
Treatment is given near birth, after which the researchers examined the mice's hearing using physiological and behavioral tests. The treated mice developed normal hearing, almost identical to that of normal mice without a mutation. In light of the success of the study, researchers are now developing similar treatments for additional mutations that cause deafness.
Prof. Benny Ngris, director of the Department of Medicine Af-aozn-gron Meir Medical Center and Chair, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine Af-aozn-gron Tel Aviv University, who was not involved in the project, in response to the study: Contrary to conventional treatments to improve hearing today, such as hearing aids And the cochlear implant, which is given after the damage has already formed and achieves only partial improvement, Prof. Avraham presents an innovative and effective method for treating hearing impairments even before the damage is caused. The therapeutic approach presented in the study is a mental breakthrough, a "break in equality" in the treatment of deafness. "
The research is supported primarily by the Israel-USA Bi-National Science Foundation (BSF), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the European Research Council (ERC), and the National Science Foundation's Research Center for Personalized Medicine.
The Book of Genesis ends with the words "And Joseph died at the age of 110 and they embalmed him, and he was placed in a coffin in Egypt." And yet, Joseph is buried in Shechem (Nablus) in the Holy Land. How did he end up there?
The story of Joseph's coffin is an incredible story of hope, miracles and prayer. Let's unpack this story from the beginning.
Why Joseph Was Buried in Egypt
Joseph ruled over Egypt as viceroy for 80 years, from the age of 30 until his death at 110 (in the year 2309 from creation, or 1452 BCE).
As the leader who had saved Egypt from hunger and who had led with kindness and generosity, Joseph was held in high regard by the Egyptians, so they planned to place his body in a lead casket and sink it into the Nile.
They had two reasons for this:
The Nile was their source of food and sustenance, so they felt that his holy remains would bring blessing to the Nile.1
They didn't want the Jews to be able to find the casket.2 The Egyptians knew that the Jews would not leave Egypt without it, as per Joseph's promise to them, "G‑d will surely remember you, and you shall take up my bones out of here."3
Joseph himself knew that the Egyptians would want to keep his coffin in Egypt, and he was fine with that, provided that his brethren would take it with them when they would eventually depart. In contrast, Jacob asked that his remains be taken directly to the Holy Land for burial.
In a sense, this reflects Joseph's unique ability to be immersed within Egyptian culture, politics and leadership, all the while retaining his unique sense of self and moral compass.
Died on Shabbat Afternoon
Joseph's time came on Shabbat afternoon, as did Moses' and King David's. Indeed, this is why the Shabbat afternoon service includes three verses from the Book of Psalms, in which we extoll G‑d's justice, declaring our dedication and faith even in the face of tragedy.4
One hundred and thirty nine years after Joseph's passing, the Jews were finally freed from their bondage in Egypt. The time had come to fulfill their promise to their great leader and source of inspiration. Moses spent three days looking for the casket. Finally, on the night of the Exodus, Moses turned to Serach, daughter of Asher and niece of Joseph, who had been blessed with a long life. In the words of the Talmud:5
And how did Moses know where Joseph was buried? It was said that Serach, the daughter of Asher, remained from that generation. Moses went to her and asked, "Do you know about where Joseph is buried?" She replied, "The Egyptians fashioned a metal casket for him and set it in the Nile so that its water would be blessed."
Moses stood on the bank of the Nile and said: "Joseph, Joseph, the time regarding which G‑d promised that 'I will redeem you' has arrived, as well as the time of your oath that you administered on the people of Israel. If you present yourself, good. If not, we are absolved from your oath." Immediately Joseph's coffin floated up.
(Alternatively, Rabbi Nathan cites a tradition that Joseph was buried in the crypt of the Egyptian kings. When Moses came to the burial site and made his declaration, Joseph's bones rattled, signaling to Moses whose they were.)
There is a midrashic tradition that Moses brought Joseph's coffin up from the Nile by taking a clean piece of pottery, writing G‑d's mystical name on it and the words 'Rise, oh ox!' and throwing it into the Nile. The casket then floated to the top. The appellation "ox" was a reference to Jacob's blessing to Joseph in this week's Parshah, comparing him to an ox.6
The Two Arks in the Desert
The Talmud continues to tell us that as the People of Israel traveled in the desert, Joseph's coffin was right alongside the Ark of the Covenant. People would wonder about the strange association, and others would answer that it was appropriate because "this one [Joseph] fulfilled all that is written in this one [the Ark, which contains the Torah]."
The Book of Joshua tells the story of the Jewish people's arrival in the Holy Land. Towards the end of the book, we learn, "And the bones of Joseph which they had brought up from Egypt, they buried in Shechem, in the portion of land that Jacob had bought from the sons of Chamor, father of Shechem, for 100 pieces of money."7
Rashi on this verse says: "It was from Shechem that they [the brothers] stole him, and it was to Shechem that he was returned."8 Remember that when Joseph was sold as a slave by his own brothers and taken away from his dear father, it was in Shechem. Bringing him back to this site was an act of closure and historical justice.
No Room for Arguments
According to the Midrash,9 there are three places in the Land of Israel that are undisputedly ours, since we acquired them through business transactions:
The Cave of Machpelah—where the patriarchs and matriarchs are buried—which was purchased by Abraham.
The Temple Mount—where our two Temples stood in Jerusalem—which was bought by David from Araunah the Jebusite.
The portion of Joseph in Shechem, which was bought by Jacob.
In an ironic twist of fate, Jewish movement and freedom are severely restricted in these three spots, and visiting Joseph's tomb entails special security arrangements.
May it be G‑d's will that Jewish freedom be once again restored in the Holy Land and in all of the world with the coming of Moshiach. Amen.
At the end of his life, Jacob gathered his children to impart his final words and blessings.
Time and again in the book of Genesis we read about the time and again we read about the challenge of succession the challenge of succession—the difficulty of conveying an intangible, fragile idea to the next generation. Until now, tension and conflict has surrounded the succession, as generation after generation only one son is entrusted with the spiritual legacy.
Now, for the first time in Jewish history, all 12 sons of Jacob is tasked with continuing the legacy of Abraham. Each has a specific quality that will contribute critically to the Jewish story.
Jacob uses animal metaphors to describe many of his sons:
"A cub, a grown lion is Judah… He crouched, rested like a lion, and like a lion, who will rouse him?"
"Issachar is a bony donkey, lying between the boundaries."
"Dan will be a serpent on the road, a viper on the path, which bites the horse's heels, so its rider falls backwards."
"Naphtali is a swift gazelle, who utters beautiful words."
"Benjamin is a wolf, he will prey; in the morning he will devour plunder, and in the evening he will divide the spoil."1
Both beasts of prey and domesticated animals are used to describe the tribes. The wild animals represent the passionate love of G‑d, while the domesticated ones—who are easily tamed—represent submission and commitment to the Divine will.
In Kabbalistic terminology, the pulse of spiritual life is both "running" and "returning." "Running" is the yearning to escape the confines of one's own existence; the feeling of passionate love towards G‑d. "Running" is the feeling of inspiration, but inspiration alone is like a flame without fuel. Inspiration will evaporate unless it is followed by "return"—tangible, concrete action.
Both qualities, "running" and "returning," are necessary for both qualities are necessary for any human endeavor any human endeavor. A successful business requires vision, inspiration, and passionate energy (running), as well as a commitment to the necessary but tedious grunt work (returning).
The same is true about relationships. Without emotion, there is no energy, no fire, no inspiration. But "running" alone is not enough. For a relationship to endure, there must be mutual commitment regardless of whether or not he or she feels inspiration in the moment.
The same is true of our relationship with G‑d. The Torah seeks to inspire us with love and awe. We begin the day with an effort to "run," to escape the mundane, to transcend the material and connect to G‑d. Yet Judaism teaches that we must "return" to the earth to sanctify it. We must "return" with inspiration and commit to fulfilling the Divine will in this world.
Jacob gathers his children and reminds them that each of their qualities is critical to the Jewish story. We must "run," passionate, like the lion, but also "return," committed and dependable, like the donkey.2