Breaking news: Curfew for Purim Nights and Despite Mengele ... I got vaccinated' A woman who has never received a vaccine in her life because of what her mother suffered under Josef Mengele receives COVID-19 vaccine. and Is it kosher to sell stocks short? by Yehuda Shurpin and Is Palestine a State? By Alan M. Dershowitz -and 10-second meditation by Rabbi Rose and Fans of Kuwaiti Singer Call for Her Arrest After She Announces Plans to Renounce Islam & Conversion to Judaism and the Living Torah: Not Everything in the Torah is Taken Literally and Happy Purim tonight
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.
Woman who has never received a vaccine in her life because of what her mother suffered under Josef Mengele receives COVID-19 vaccine.
Bella Freund, the woman who became famous in 1992 when she rescued a terrorist who had stabbed two Israeli youths from an Israeli mob so that he could be turned over to the police alive, arrived to receive her coronavirus vaccine Monday.
Freund is the daughter of Holocaust survivors, and her mother was one of the victims of the experiments of the infamous Nazi doctor Josef Mengele. This family history has made Freund apprehensive about invasive medical procedures and the coronavirus vaccine in particular.
Despite her apprehension, today (Monday) Freund arrived at the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem, where a Magen David Adom (MDA) mobile station was set up to carry out vaccinations with people who are interested in receiving the vaccine.
Freund told Arutz Sheva about her concerns as well as what led her to decide to receive the first vaccine of her life.
After a conversation with Paddy Dekidak, the MDA paramedic in charge of the vaccination market at the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem, Freund became convinced of the need to overcome her fears and get vaccinated.
Freund called Magen David Adom a "wonderful organization" which "deserves a Nobel Prize" for the lives it saves/ She stressed that her fears stemmed entirely from her family's history and not from any of the fake news which has spread across the internet regarding the coronavirus vaccine and that she has always taken the coronavirus seriously.
"I said to myself, maybe now is the time," she said of her decision to be vaccinated.
The Three Musketeers at the Kotel
Living Torah: Not Everything in the Torah is Taken Literally
There has never been a Jewish court in the history that took out an eye from one who caused another to lose an eye, or cut off the hand of someone who caused another to lose a hand.
By Rabbi Ari Enkin, Rabbinic Director, United with Israel
Last week's Torah portion is "Mishpatim" (Exodus 21:1–24:18), which means "Civil Law." As one would guess, this week we learn all about Jewish civil and monetary law.
Although many people believe that Judaism is all about ritual law, such as what to eat, how to rest on the Sabbath, how to observe the holidays, how to write a Torah and the like, nothing could be further from the truth. Judaism has its own independent code of civil law that covers every single aspect of business, financial, and interpersonal relations. There is nothing in life that Jewish law doesn't cover. We even have our own courts, known as the "Beit Din," in which Jews are required to go to have their differences resolved according to Jewish law.
As most readers will certainly know, the Torah is, in theory at least, in favor of corporal and capital punishments. One who intentionally murders another person is to be put to death, and lashes were administered in ancient times for many violations of Torah law. A similar type of punishment that is written in the Torah (in several places) is the mysterious "an eye for an eye." So the question is asked: If, when the Torah says that one is to get lashes for certain transgressions, and lashes were indeed given, and that the punishment of death was given for intentional murder just like the Torah demands, does that mean that one is to lose an eye for causing someone else to lose an eye in fulfillment of the verse "an eye for an eye"?
The answer is a resounding and unanimous no. According to Oral and Talmudic tradition, the passage is a directive for monetary compensation to the injured party. This passage has never been taken literally, and we'll learn why.
It is explained that "an eye for an eye" cannot be meant to be taken literally. For example, what if the perpetrator for such a crime is already blind? How, then, could we fulfill the injunction "an eye for an eye"? What if one of the parties had only one functioning eye before the incident? Or what if the victim's eyesight was only damaged but yet he still has some ability to see? These and such other considerations make it nearly impossible to properly and fairly implement such a punishment of an "eye for an eye."
In the words of Maimonides:
"How do we know that when the Torah says "an eye for an eye," it means financial payment? Look at the continuation of the verse which reads "a blow for a blow." Now we know that when one person strikes another, it says the " . . . he [the perpetrator] should pay for the victim being unable to work and for his medical expenses."
So we see from here that when the Torah uses that word "tachat" with regards to a person striking his fellow, and it implies a financial payment, so too, when the Torah uses the word "tachat" when it is used in context of someone knocking out the eye of someone else ["an eye FOR AN eye"], it means financial restitution.
It is also noted that when it comes to the punishment of an intentional murderer the Torah specifically says that the murderer must be put to death and that financial restitution is not possible. This seems to imply that in other severe offensive of bodily harm financial compensation is adequate.
It is also worth pointing out a "lesser-realized" truth about observance of the Torah. It is a misconception that Orthodox Jews observe the Torah. It is not true. Well, at least it is not true to say that Orthodox Jews observe the Torah as it is written. Orthodox Jews observe the Torah as interpreted by the Talmud and as practiced in accordance with Oral tradition.
As such, even without getting into the logical interpretations or commentaries to this passage, it is simply enough for us to know that this is how the passage was always interpreted. There has never been a Jewish court in history that took out an eye from one who caused another to lose an eye, or cut off the hand of someone who caused another to lose a hand. The financial payment is the Oral tradition. It is the Talmudic tradition. This is Jewish law.
Not everything in the Torah is meant to be taken literally. There are many passages in the Torah that are simply considered to be "a figure of speech." For example, all the passages that speak of God having physical features or body parts are only a figure of speech because God is without body. The Torah is written in a manner that relates to human understanding. When you tell your kids to take a shower, does it mean you want them to rip out the shower stall and tub from the wall and take it somewhere? Of course not. It means that they should clean and bathe themselves. A figure of speech.
Today we don't administer any type of physical punishment in the Jewish court. Today's Jewish courts, the Beit Din, only arbitrate financial disputes between parties. All the rest is left to God (and the secular authorities!) to decide how to punish perpetrators of severe physical injury.
Fans of Kuwaiti Singer Call for Her Arrest After She Announces Plans to Renounce Islam & Conversion to Judaism
Shockwaves were profoundly felt throughout the Arab world on Wednesday when acclaimed Kuwaiti singer and actress Ibtisam Hamid made a public pronouncement of her intention to renounce her Islamic faith and to embrace Judaism through conversion.
Also known by her stage name Basma al-Kuwaiti, the singer and actress posted a video on Twitter in which she said her decision stemmed from the fact that Islam violates women's rights and does not treat them with dignity, as was reported by Israel HaYom.
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She stated:"I, Ibtisam Hamid, nicknamed singer Basma al-Kuwaitiya, announce that I am leaving Islam and proudly announce embracing Judaism." The video was so widely circulated to the point that she topped Arab Google trending searches lists as well as social media.
According to the albawaba.com web site, fans and followers of al-Kuwaitiya demanded that the singer be arrested and held accountable for her decision to convert to Judaism.
The web site reported that one follower said: 'So this is a trendy approach for fame nowadays, every now and then someone announces apostasy.' Another one wrote: 'We are at the end of time, and this is called apostasy, and she must be stopped'.
Israel HaYom reported that the singer also spoke out against the ruling family of Kuwait, saying "I want to declare my opposition to the Al Sabah family, who reject normalization with Israel, stands against religious freedom in the country and against freedom of speech."
Ms. Al-Kuwaitiya's announcement of faith change comes on the heels of yet another high-profile personality in the country who also renounced his Islamic faith. Recently, Kuwaiti host Mohamed al-Munim said that he had converted to Christianity on social media video post that went viral. His decision to change faiths was met with sharp criticism and even death threats from the public.
The albawaba.com web site also reported that subsequent to her announcement, the audience recalled an old interview of her where she stated that art is certainly forbidden, and she wishes for guidance from God, but at the same time she loves singing.
The Kuwaiti singer also had revealed that she had previously been nominated among the top ten in a competition for memorizing the Holy Qur'an, during her high school studies in Kuwait, as was reported by the web site.
Having excoriated her al-Kuwaitiya as a heretic for even contemplating leaving Islam for Judaism, the media in Kuwait continued to broadcast highly critical messages about her decision.
"This is a sad day for Islam, and it is not her fault," one person commented, according to the Israel HaYom report.
"When one does know true Islam, but judges it based on the behavior of some Muslims, it is easy to reject it and leave it. May Allah help people see the true Islam," another follower wrote.
Ten Second Torah Meditation by Rabbi Michael Rose
Blessed is G-d
Meditation Instructions: Say these words to yourself, in Hebrew, English or both, during this week. We are training our mind to recognize the source of our existence, the source of blessings. How is it that we humans can bless the almighty? Because we, above all creatures, are called upon to verbally praise the One, His oneness, and in blessing we are blessed.
One Minute Commentary
This expression, Baruch HaShem, written B''H, is often the answer to a question as to one's well being.
"How are things?"
"Baruch HaShem, I feel healthy."
"How are the children?"
"Baruch HaShem, fine."
It is a way of acknowledging the presence of G-d in our lives, and that all things are in the hands of heaven. The Baal Shem Tov, the originator of all Chassidic lineages is said to have wandered among the simple people asking then as to their welfare, just to elicit this response. Once he found an elderly man in the study hall who never left his books, because he knew the holiness of the texts, and the blessings that Torah scholars bring to the world. Yet when the Baal Shem came into the study hall and asked as to his welfare, the response was curt, saying his study should not be interrupted. The Baal Shem's response was that he was cheating HaShem out of his livelihood. The scholar was incensed, but the Baal Shem explained the psalms, Tehillim say,
וְאַתָּה קָדוֹשׁ- יוֹשֵׁב, תְּהִלּוֹת יִשְׂרָאֵל.
And You are holy, dwelling on the praises of Israel. Psalm 22:4
Every people have a calling. Eskimos have over 400 words for snow. Hebrew has over 400 words for praise and blessing. It is the obligation and honor of a person to say words of praise to the Almighty, for in this way we give G-d a place on honor in which to dwell in our world and in our lives.
The highly politicized International Criminal Court just declared statehood for Palestinians. They did it without any negotiation with Israel, without any compromise, and without any recognized boundaries. They also did it without any legal authority, because the Rome Statute, which established the International Criminal Court, makes no provision for this criminal court to recognize new states. Moreover, neither Israel nor the United States ratified that treaty, so the decisions of the International Criminal Court are not binding on them. Nor is this divided decision binding on signatories, since it exceeds the authority of the so-called court.
I say "so-called" court, because the International Criminal Court is not a real court in any meaningful sense of that word. Unlike real courts, which have statutes and common law to interpret, the International Criminal Court just makes it up. As the dissenting judge so aptly pointed out, the Palestine decision is not based on existing law. It is based on pure politics. And the politics of the majority decision is based in turn on applying a double standard to Israel — as the United Nations, the International Court of Justice and other international bodies have long done.
There are numerous other groups — the Kurds, the Chechens and the Tibetans among them — who claim some degree of independence. Yet neither the International Criminal Court nor other international organizations has ever given them the time of day. But the Palestinians — both in the West Bank and Gaza — who have refused to negotiate in good faith and have used terrorism as their primary claim to recognition, have been rewarded for their violence by this decision.
Israel, which has offered the Palestinians statehood in exchange for peace on several occasions, has been punished for its willingness to negotiate and its determination to protect its citizens from Palestinian terrorism.
There are so many serious war crimes and other violations of humanitarian laws occurring around the world that the International Criminal Court deliberately ignores. The chief prosecutor sees as one of her roles to focus attention away from third world countries, where many of these crimes occur, and toward Western democracies. What could be a better target for this perverse form of "prosecutorial affirmative action" than Israel. I say perverse because the real victims of such selective prosecution are the citizens of these third world countries whose leaders are killing and maiming them.
Israel, on the other hand, has the best record on human rights, the rule of law, and concern for enemy civilians than any nation faced with comparable threats.
According to British military expert Richard Kemp, "No country in the history of warfare has done more to avoid civilian casualties than Israel did in Operation Cast Lead." Israel's Supreme Court has imposed daunting restrictions on its military and has provided meaningful remedies for criminal acts committed by individual Israeli soldiers. The role of the International Criminal Court, according to the treaty, is to intrude on the sovereignty of nations only if those nations are not capable of administering justice. The principle of "complementarity" is designed to allow courts in democratic nations, like Israel, to address their own problems within the rule of law. Only if the judiciary totally fails to address these problems does the court have jurisdiction — even in cases involving parties to the treaty, which Israel is not.
The United States should reject the International Criminal Court decision not only because it is unfair to its ally Israel, but because it sets a dangerous precedent that could be applied against the United States and other nations that operate under the rule of law. Israel should challenge the decision but should cooperate in any investigation, because the truth is its best defense. Whether an investigation conducted by the International Criminal Court can produce the truth is questionable, but the evidence — including real time video and audio — will make it more difficult for ICC investigators to distort reality.
All in all, the International Criminal Court decision on Palestine is a setback for a single standard of human rights. It is a victory for terrorism and an unwillingness to negotiate peace. And it is a strong argument against the United States and Israel joining this biased "court," and giving it any legitimacy.
Coronavirus: Israeli gov't approves Purim night curfew
Purim begins Thursday at sundown. The curfew will run Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
By MAAYAN JAFFE-HOFFMAN FEBRUARY 23, 2021
The government voted on Tuesday night to approve a night curfew on Purim to help stop the spread of infection.
The curfew will run for three nights – Thursday, Friday and Saturday – from 8:30 p.m. until 5 a.m.
Purim begins Thursday evening at sundown and ends in Jerusalem with Shushan Purim on Sunday at sundown.
The night curfew means that people cannot travel more than 1,000 meters from their home except for essential needs. There is also a ban on being in another's person's home.
Public transportation will also be limited. Intercity bus service from Thursday at 8 p.m. until Friday at 5 a.m. and from Saturday night after Shabbat until Sunday at 5 a.m. Other than that, public transportation will operate as usual. The Transportation Ministry had not yet made an announcement about intercity service into Jerusalem on Sunday.
"We are still in competition with the virus," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday afternoon during a visit to a vaccination complex in Acre. "The mutation is running rampant."
Health officials warned that a Purim of mass gatherings, parties and feasts could lead to a resurgence of the virus at a time when Israel was finally opening up. It could even put the next stage of the exit strategy at risk, they said, or push the country backward and require it to close some of what has already opened.
"This happy holiday comes this year with a great fear that it will cause another outbreak of disease," coronavirus commissioner Prof. Nachman Ash said during a briefing. "We remember what happened in the previous Purim holiday, and we are aware of the fragile situation today, and it is our duty to stop the increase in disease that may cause."
"If the guidelines are not observed, we may find ourselves again facing the closure of educational institutions," he said. "I am not saying that one should give up the commandment of joy, but one can rejoice according to guidelines and responsibilities. It is important to remember that all our efforts to maintain restraint on Purim will help us to happily celebrate Passover."
In the past, health officials have said night curfews were largely ineffective. But it seems that for Purim, when specific nighttime gatherings are expected, experts feel differently.
"The curfew is supposed to restrict activity both inside homes and at parties," Health Ministry Director-General Chezy Levy said Monday night during an interview with Channel 12. "We know of a marked increase in alcohol purchases ahead of parties."
Aside from the curfew, the Health Ministry said the country would operate according to the current green-passport routine. For example, synagogues that have agreed to operate under the green-passport program can hold megillah readings.
"Regarding Purim meals, our guidelines are to have meals within a nuclear family or the addition of first-degree family members if they are vaccinated," Ash said, though he noted that no police officer would enter a private home. "There is a personal responsibility, and it is important that people understand what is allowed and what is forbidden."
The curfew comes while Israel is having a decline in infection and an increase in the number of people being vaccinated.
Ahead of the cabinet meeting, Hebrew University of Jerusalem researchers shared infection data and predictions.
"There has been a significant decrease in hospital load, which is reflected in the decrease in the number of serious patients in the hospital, resulting from immunization of the main population prone to hospitalization," meaning people 50 and older, they said.
They predicted that Israel could have as few as 500 to 700 people being treated for coronavirus by next week. But they warned that the decline in the reproduction rate (R) could stop with the opening up of the economy and could lead to an increase in severe morbidity in March.
The R was 0.86 on Monday, a slight rise from 0.79 on Friday, the Health Ministry reported Tuesday. Moreover, it seems to be particularly on the rise among the Arab sector, where it was 0.99, compared with 0.82 in the general sector and 0.67 among the haredim (ultra-Orthodox).
Some 4,763 people were diagnosed with coronavirus on Monday, the ministry said. At press time, there were 793 people in serious condition. The death toll stood at 5,631.
As of Tuesday morning, more than 70% of all Israeli citizens over the age of 16 had been vaccinated, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein reported.
In total, 4,507,325 people had been vaccinated, of whom 3,123,136 had received their second dose.
Included in the numbers are members of the IDF.
The IDF on Tuesday said it is nearing the end of its vaccination campaign and expects around 85% of all military personnel to be inoculated within the next weeks, media outlets reported.
There are now 77% fewer cases of coronavirus among people 60 years and older, including 65% fewer severely ill and 63% fewer deaths, Prof. Eran Segal of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot tweeted Tuesday.
Moreover, there are 68% fewer cases among people aged 55-59 and 54% fewer cases among those under 54, he said.
Meanwhile, Netanyahu also shared good vaccine news on Tuesday: Israel will have no shortage of Pfizer coronavirus vaccines.
Earlier in the week, it appeared that Israel might complete the 10 million doses it received from Pfizer before all citizens who want to be vaccinated got the jab. The country was expected to be about two million doses short.
"I have some important news," Netanyahu said during a state memorial ceremony for Yosef Trumpeldor and his comrades who fell in defense of Tel Hai. "I spoke last night with my friend, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, and we agreed that there would be a supply chain of Pfizer vaccines without any shortage – no shortage, no interruption, no break. Go get vaccinated."
The cabinet had been expected to discuss the opening of classrooms for students in grades 7-10. However, due to the urgency to make a decision about Purim, that discussion was pushed off.•
Is It Kosher to Short Stocks?
Addressing the practice from an ethical and halachic perspective
By Yehuda Shurpin
There has been a lot of news coverage lately about a bunch of amateur investors coming together through various platforms to drive up stock prices to "get back" at those shorting stocks (something generally reserved for the more professional and experienced traders). What is the Jewish view on shorting stocks?
Short selling (or shorting) stock is an investment or trading strategy. Think of it like this. You borrow someone's lawn mower, sell the lawn mower, and then find the same model on Craigslist at a cheaper price, give that one back to the lender, and pocket the difference, assuming (of course) that he is OK with the switch. When shorting stocks, the investor borrows shares and then immediately sells them in the belief that the price of the shares will soon fall. He can then buy these shares at a significantly lower price to return the shares to the lender, pocketing the difference.
If, however, the price of the stock rises, the short seller, in order to return the stock to the lender, will be forced to buy back the stock at a higher price than what he sold it for and will incur a loss. In the analogy above, if you can't find that same mower on Craigslist at a cheaper price, you're forced to buy it at a higher price to return the mower to the lender.
Motives for Shorting Stocks
Before discussing potential technical halachic issues with shorting stocks, the reason and motives you have for shorting the stock can itself be an issue.1
If you short a stock because, in your estimation, based on publicly available information, the stock is overvalued and will likely very soon decrease in price, then it usually isn't considered a problem from an ethical perspective. However, it would not be halachically permissible to short stock based on inside information or suspicion of corporate fraud or similar issues (in which case the stock is overvalued).
Here's why: According to Jewish law, when you sell a product (in this case shares), you must inform the buyer of any flaws you know of. If you fail to disclose a flaw in the product, then the sale is considered void.2
Additionally, it is not halachically permitted to short stocks if you're the company's competitor and want to make money off the competition. Although in some situations you're allowed to open a business in direct competition with another,3 you must be making money off your own assets, not the competition's (which is essentially what you are doing when you short stocks).4
Returning Stock-for-Stock and Usury
We can now turn to the underlying issue with shorting.
According to the Torah, a Jew is prohibited from borrowing or lending money to another Jew with interest (usury).5 This law applies not just to money, but also merchandise (e.g., you cannot lend someone 5 lb. of apples and have them give you back 6 lb.).6
Biblically, one would be allowed to borrow, use and return the same amount (but different) merchandise. However, in many situations, the rabbis prohibit doing so, since the value of the merchandise may have gone up (e.g., the 5 lb. of apples were worth $5 when they were borrowed, but are worth $8 now). This prohibited practice is called se'ah b'se'ah ("measure for a measure").7
For this reason, "loans" of merchandise need to be repaid based on the merchandise's value at the time it was borrowed. If you want to return actual merchandise, then you need to return the amount equivalent to the value of the merchandise at the time it was borrowed (e.g., only $5 worth of apples, even though that is now less than the 5 lb. that were borrowed).
Shorting stocks, which is essentially borrowing and returning a product at a different price, is the poster child of this prohibition, if you are borrowing from a fellow Jew. Furthermore, while there is an exception to this prohibition when there is a fixed market price for the product and it is readily available,8 this obviously would not apply to shares, which are always fluctuating.
Owning Some of the Share and Heter Iska
There are, however, a number of possible solutions to avoid this prohibition.
In general, the rabbis are lenient (since this prohibition is, to begin with, rabbinic in nature) in a situation where the borrower already has the same type of item in his possession (e.g., apples or shares of the same company) at the time the item was borrowed. In this case, we view the transaction as if the borrower simply traded his item for that of the lender's.9 Therefore, even if the price of the item changes, there is no concern of interest, since it is as if the item is already in the possession of the lender.
Thus, if you actually own some of the shares, it would seemingly be permitted to short.
Alternatively, one would need to draw up a halachic partnership called a heter iska
with the Jewish person that you are "borrowing" the shares from. In a heter iska, the transaction is structured in such a way that both parties are considered partners in the "investment." Drawing up a heter iska can often be complicated, depending on the transaction, and a competent rabbi needs to be consulted.10
Be Wary of Investing in Stocks
In general, the Lubavitcher Rebbe discouraged people from investing in the stock market, as he felt it was "largely a matter of speculation . . . [and] it is particularly objectionable because of the anxiety and nervous strain that it creates in some people."11 Instead, the Rebbe advised people to consider other types of investments.
Happy Purim for the world tonight except for the walled cities.
The Magalia is read everywhere starting tonight and tomorrow morning.
See you tomorrow on the first day of Purim, bli neder