Breaking news: Pfizer works in Israel: Only 0.1% of vaccinated catch virus, no deaths and Is It Proper…? Should a frum Jew believe the sun goes around Earth if the Rambam says it does? By Jewish Press Staff -and Would You Support the Knockdowns If It Meant Losing Your Own Job? John-Tamny and Orthodox synagogue says young member ‘murdered’ by shocking fake news about the vaccine and David Friedman: America’s Founders Took US-Israel Shared Values From the Bible and the gift of the month of Adar!
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.
Adar is the last month on the Jewish calendar, representing completion.
The Talmud tells us:
When Adar arrives, we increase our joy.
משנכנס אדר מרבים בשמחה
According to Kabbalah, the letter "kuf" is connected to the month of Adar.
The letter "Kuf" - ק is the first letter of the word קדוש"Kadosh" which means holy.
The sages say that Adar is the best month to try to remove your personal barriers to holiness.
And Maimonides states that the holiness a person possesses makes him or her fitting to receive prophecy.
The sages state that prophecy can only come to someone who is happy. Tradition says that some of the prophets used music to help put them in an elevated mood in order to experience prophecy.
Just as the prophet uses music to lighten his mood in order to access the spiritual world, true happiness comes through using the pleasures of this world to elevate our consciousness in order to bind our thoughts to spirituality.
One of the most famous kabbalists who ever lived, the Holy Ari was once asked by his pupils how he reached such level of holiness.
"It is because of the intensejoy I feel when I follow the Torah commandments".
The astrological sign of the month of Adar is Pisces, the fish. Fish are surrounded by water, which is a symbol of the wisdom of the Torah. A fish cannot survive on a sip of water; it must be engulfed by it.
Similarly, one should not be satisfied by just tasting spirituality, but should strive to be completely absorbed in it.
Adar is characterized by joy because it is the month of transforming dread into joy.
In two weeks we will celebrate Purim, which occurs in the middle of Adar. This year it is three day Purim in Jerusalem.
As stated in the book of Esther, read on Purim, Adar was the month that Haman selected for grief and mourning.
But for the past 2,000+ years, it has instead been a time of Jewish rejoicing and celebration.
Adar has the power to succeed against an opposing force, both on a national level as well as on an individual level.
If we look deep inside ourselves, we may find our worst internal foes, such as anger, confusion, pride, or jealousy.
Adar, is the month in which we may conquer those internal enemies.
By doing so, we will discover the source of life's greatest joy.
Rebbe Nachman of Breslov said, "sickness comes from lack of joy, healing comes from joy."
Brain researcher Richard Davidson was one of the first people to study happiness. He discovered that happiness was not just a vague fuzzy feeling, but a physical state that could be deliberately induced. Davidson found that people on the higher end of the happiness spectrum produce 50% more antibodies than the average flu shot, and significantly reduce their risk of cardiovascular diseases, pulmonary disease, diabetes, hypertension, colds, and upper respiratory infections. If that's not an argument to get happy, we don't know what is.
Every Jewish month has its unique mystical power.
The power to succeed and to conquer our enemies through joy is the gift of Adar.
The Three Musketeers at the Kotel
David Friedman: America's Founders Took US-Israel Shared Values From the Bible
Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said Thursday that the strong values that America and Israel share have their origins in the bible and the founders of America knew that.
Friedman visited the Jordan Valley and spoke in the community of Mitzpe Yericho, near where the ancient Israelites ended their 40 years in the wilderness and finally entered the Land of Israel.
"I'm overwhelmed to be here, not only because of the amazing scenery, but also because of its significance. We are looking at the last place, the last stop of the people of Israel in exile," Friedman said at an event hosted by the Binyamin Regional Council to honor the former ambassador.
Friedman was presented with a special book and historical items from the site of ancient Shiloh and a certificate of appreciation from the community of Mitzpe Yericho for his contribution to building the Land of Israel and strengthening Judea and Samaria, the biblical homeland of the Jewish People.
"The Jordan River, Qasr al-Yahud, from there Joshua brought the people of Israel into the land. The biblical significance of this place is amazing, to see the last stop of the exile and the first stop of the people of Israel entering the land in that very place," Friedman told the gathering.
Friedman said that the strong bond between America and Israel had biblical roots and the connection between the two nations was because of their shared values.
"If you look at the most important document in the history of the United States, the Declaration of Independence, it says that every human being was created in the image of G-d, and hence that every human being has basic rights deriving from that," he explained. "Our founders were not Jews, but they knew what those rights were because they read the Bible. They knew the route that the Jewish people took from exile to freedom, the promises given to the Jewish people, the exodus from Egypt, the building of the land, the stopping in Shiloh and the move to Jerusalem to build the Temple."
"They understood that the story of the people of Israel is similar to the founding story of the United States. That is why Israel and the United States have always been such good friends for decades. Because our values are the same as yours, Jewish values and Christian values stem from a single biblical source, and are the cradle of American history," said Friedman.
"That's why, as an American, this country is so important to Americans, because hence the values derive like the verse 'Because from Zion shall go forth Torah and the word of G-d will come out of Jerusalem,'" the ambassador concluded.
Pfizer works in Israel: Only 0.1% of vaccinated catch virus, no deaths
Analysis shows fewer than 0.1% of recipients of the second dose of the vaccine got infected with the coronavirus.
By Paul Shindman, World Israel News
A study by one of Israel's health maintenance organizations shows that the Pfizer vaccine currently being administered in Israel is effective and is starting to have success in dramatically lowering the number of infections for those who have received both doses, Ynet reported Thursday.
Maccabi Healthcare Services reported that fewer than 0.1% of its members who received the second dose of the coronavirus vaccine had caught the virus, none of whom died, and the effectiveness of the vaccine in Israel now stands at 93%.As of Wednesday, only 544 people were infected with the virus out of 523,000 Maccabi members who had passed more than a week since they received the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
"From a test conducted among those infected, the vast majority suffer from only mild symptoms or experience no symptoms at all," Maccabi reported. "Out of 544 infected, only 15 patients needed hospitalization, of which four are defined as in severe condition, three in moderate condition and eight in mild condition."
Maccabi noted that at the same time the HMO monitored a control group of about 628,000 Maccabi members who have not yet been vaccinated and were not previously infected with the virus, finding that there were 18,435 active coronavirus patients constituting 2.9% of the group.
Israel's coronavirus vaccination campaign started with the population aged 60 and over. The Health Ministry reported Friday that to date 2.4 million of Israel's 9.3 million citizens have received both doses.Hospital officials said they are seeing a dramatic change.
"Once, we hardly saw young people in our wards," Prof. Idit Matot of Tel Aviv's Ichilov Hospital told Ynet. "Today we see more people under the age of 60 than over the age of 60."
"At present, less than 20% of our patients are over the age of 60 – including those who are not vaccinated. This is a trend that has been happening for the past two weeks and is increasing," Matot said.
However, Matot noted a spike in hospitalizations of "really young people, in the
Orthodox synagogue says young member 'murdered' by shocking fake news about vaccine
February 12, 2021
Orthodox synagogue says young member 'murdered' by shocking fake news about vaccine
Synagogue furious after 36-year-old ultra-Orthodox man dies from the virus after refusing the vaccination due to fake news it could make him "sterile."
By Paul Shindman, World Israel News
Members of an ultra-Orthodox synagogue were furious when they found out a member who died of the coronavirus had refused to get vaccinated because he believed false rumors spread in the community that the vaccine could make him sterile, the haredi news website Kikar Shabbat reported Wednesday.
Avraham Bedman, 36, had existing coronary problems and died this week due to complications from the coronavirus. His synagogue in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramot said Bedman had been "murdered" by fake news in the community and launched a campaign against the people who spread the rumor that the vaccine against coronavirus could make men sterile.
An announcement sent to members of the Mishkan Shraga synagogue said Bedman died because someone had talked him out of getting the vaccine.
"Now, when the blood is boiling, it should be noted that Avraham – who was at a certain risk – refrained from getting vaccinated for fear of harming his fertility," the announcement said. "The same person who told him this nonsense, and those who distribute it at all, are murderers."
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The synagogue said that everyone in their community "should use this painful case to arouse and warn of the duty to get vaccinated and prevent the death of adults and young people."
"He had the opportunity to be vaccinated, already at the beginning of the vaccination operation, because he was at risk, but he said he heard that it might cause him not to be a father," congregation member Rabbi Yishai Lesser told Kikar Shabbat, adding that "Avraham was a cheerful man full of joy of life."
Rabbi Lesser said another resident of the Ramot neighborhood is currently hospitalized with the virus because he, too, was afraid of getting vaccinated.
"We must publish and warn against these lies," Lesser said.
Widely read in the ultra-Orthodox community by those who use the internet, Kikar Shabbat has regularly posted calls from leading rabbis of different haredi communities urging their followers to get vaccinated.
After the Health Ministry released figures showing that members of the Bukharan community in Israel had low vaccination rates, senior rabbis of the community published a letter saying it was a Torah precept for everybody to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Would You Support the Lockdowns If It Meant Losing Your Own Job?
There's a new television show that's coming out or already out. The name of it escapes, but that's really not the point. The point is that it's about a pandemic. Notable about it is that it was produced before the coronavirus meltdown.
The rapidly spreading virus in the drama is one that takes away the memory of those infected. Imagine that. Imagine one day no longer having any reference point to the past. In this television show people are said to wear masks, among many other precautionary measures taken with an eye on avoiding infection.
Imagine if the television show described reflected real life? Can we all agree that if so, any kind of government force would be wholly superfluous? Really, who among us would need to be forced to do what it takes to avoid a virus that would rob us of the knowledge that makes us who we are? Whatever force government could dream up, most of us would come up with quite a bit more stringent precautions in the hope of maintaining our memory.
At the same time, some of us would most certainly throw caution to the wind. Think about it. For some of us, the past is too awful to remember. Better to lose one's memory in order to start over again.
Notable here is that the "careless" among us would prove essential when it comes to devising a fix for a disease that strikes us in such cruel ways. Precisely because they would ignore all admonitions, their actions would provide crucial information about how the virus spreads. As this column has repeated over and over again since last March, freedom is brilliant on its own. At the same time, freedom is a lifesaver. It produces information. When a virus is spreading, logic dictates that people be left alone to live as they wish. Varying actions will unearth the why behind spread so that people can better learn what precautions make sense, and which ones are wasted.
It's all a reminder of what's always been obvious: the lockdowns that cities and states foisted on the American people to fight the spread of the coronavirus were tragically wrong. This was especially true assuming the virus had been even a fraction as lethal as the alarmists told us it was. Precisely because it might kill, any force to make us avoid death was idiotically excessive. Worse, the lockdowns partially blinded us to how what wasn't very lethal spread in the first place. Freedom is its own virtue, plus it once again generates information.
Freedom also generates economic growth. When people are free to work and to operate their businesses, wealth is created. Let's call the latter "settled science" that is actually settled. Economic freedom on its own correlates with enormous wealth creation that produces resources necessary to turn today's killers into tomorrow's afterthoughts.
Conversely, command-and-control correlates with economic devastation. We've seen this domestically and internationally for the past 11 months. Tens of millions of Americans losing their jobs, millions losing their businesses, and hundreds of millions around the world pushed back into poverty and starvation so that the developed world's nailbiters could feel safe.
About the economic devastation, let's never forget the why behind it. It could never have happened 100 years ago, or even 20 years ago because work for too many was a destination. This was true for rich and poor. Even 20 years ago technology of the internet variety wasn't nearly advanced enough for the well-to-do to take multiple month breaks from reality.
The political crack-up over the coronavirus was only possible in 2020 because those cracking up weren't going to brutally suffer the impact of their childish emotion. Basically those making decisions could completely lose their minds, only to rob others of their personal and economic freedom. Why not? They could claim they were "doing something," plus their "doing something" would in no real way inhibit their ability to continue to work and provide. This was a #richmanscoronavirus. Please repeat this truth over and over again. There's quite simply no way politicians respond in 2000 or 1920 the way they did in 2020. They were able to ball up in the fetal position because the tragic consequences of their overreaction would not hurt them.
Same with the New York Times. Same with all manner of supercilious types who, in response to criticism of political hysteria, either did nothing (think of all the free market think tanks and organizations that sat the coronavirus out) or claimed a deep belief in "science" when asked why they weren't up in arms about the takings of freedom and property by witless politicians. Translated for those who need it, those who sat out this tragedy or who supported the lockdowns, or "science," or whatever, did so because they could. They were employed, and they will be employed.
It all raises a question that rates routine ask: just how deep is your coronavirus religion? How deep is your belief in the science, and the precautions forced on workers and businesses such that jobs and businesses are vanishing, such that people around the world are starving? Getting into specifics, how many who so haughtily supported the political class's actions, or implicitly supported them by doing nothing, would respond in similar, upturned nose fashion if their jobs and businesses were threatened?
The view here is that the answer to the above question is fairly simple, and it's answered by time. Imagine yet again if the coronavirus revealed itself in 2000, or 1920. Lockdowns in either instance would have devastated exponentially more people by destroying tens of millions more jobs, and millions more businesses.
So there's your answer. Belief in the corona-religion is thin, but much worse, it's gutless. People believe as long their jobs and their businesses aren't being destroyed. Twenty or one hundred years ago they wouldn't have been so sanguine. Let's never stop reminding them of this truth.
In his "Letter on Astrology," Rambam taught a vital lesson: "A person should never cast reason behind, for the eyes are set in front – not in back." He insisted on the pursuit of truth. As a philosopher and scientist himself, Rambam brilliantly applied the best knowledge of his time to understanding Torah.
Our knowledge today has been dramatically enhanced by centuries of scientific advances. We now know that the earth orbits the sun, as do the other planets. We now know that the earth is a tiny planet in a vast galaxy, which itself is only one of many galaxies in the universe.
There is no credible controversy over these facts. If Rambam were alive today, he would not cast his reason behind; he would embrace new knowledge with the alacrity of a brilliant mind.
I think the Rambam would be deeply embarrassed by those who posit that the sun goes around the earth based on his writings. Such obscurantists lock themselves into medieval scientific thought rather than opening their minds to the ongoing advances in science.
One of the great dangers for religion – and for human progress in general – is for people to cling to discredited theories and outdated knowledge. Those who cast reason behind thereby cast truth behind. And truth is the seal of the Almighty.
— Rabbi Marc D. Angel, director of the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals
The theory of relativity, as accepted by all scientists, posits that when two bodies in space are in motion relative to one another, it's just as valid to say that the former revolves around the latter as the latter revolves around the former.
Thus, in principle, it's impossible to scientifically prove which of the two – the sun or the earth – revolves around the other.
Needless to say, everyone is entitled to his or her personal opinion on the matter. But it remains a personal opinion. It would not be correct to say that science has resolved the question in favor of one school of thought over the other.
Ultimately, when I have the option of choosing a school of thought – when both are essentially valid – as a Jew, I think it makes more sense to side with Rambam than it does with Copernicus.
— Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet, popular Lubavitch lecturer, rabbi of London's Mill Hill Synagogue
* * * * *
<figure> <figcaption>Rabbi Ben Zion Shafier</figcaption></figure>
Hashem wrote the Torah and then created the world using it as a blueprint. Thus, the Torah contains all the wisdom in creation, and there are many times that the tana'im and amora'im, and even later sages, knew tremendous amounts of wisdom from the physical world beyond the scientific knowledge of their day.
However, not everything was revealed to every tanna or amora and not everything was totally understood. For that reason, we sometimes have to deal with conflicts between modern-day scientific understandings and statements in the Gemara.
However, that's not at all the case we're dealing with here. The Rambam was not giving us a lesson in physics. He was explaining the world according to the Torah. Everything in creation was created by Hashem for man. Man is the center of the universe, the reason why everything exists, including the planets and the constellations.
So everything is viewed from Planet Earth, from man's viewpoint. He is the pivot of everything in creation. The Rambam was merely expressing the way Hashem created the world.
The question assumes that the Rambam, if he were alive today, would still say the sun goes around the earth. By definition, any assumption about what someone who is no longer living would have said is speculative.
We have access to the words of the son of the Rambam (printed in the introduction to the first volume of Ein Yaakov) where he explicates his father's view that the authority of Chazal rests in halacha, not science or medicine. He quotes a passage in the Talmud in which Rav Yehuda HaNasi accepts the view of non-Jewish scholars against that of Jewish scholars on a question in astronomy.
In light of this passage, it's likely that the Rambam – who was aware of the theories of the astronomers of his time and accepted them – would agree that we should follow the prevalent view of astronomers today that the earth revolves around the sun.
— Rabbi Yosef Blau, mashgiach ruchani at YU's Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary
Israel on track to reopen large swaths of economy in 11 days — virus czar
Virus reproduction rate said lowest in 3 months; Nachman Ash asks businesses to 'hang on,' opening is 'just around the corner'
Israel is on track to start reopening much of its economy by February 23 as the number of vaccinated grows and illness rates go down, the government's top coronavirus official said Friday.
Daily case numbers continued to decline Friday, with 4,922 new infections diagnosed the previous day — the lower weekday number since late December.
The positive test rate confirming infections on Thursday was 6.7%, the lowest since January 10. And the number of serious cases stood at 985, having spent most of the past month above 1,000.
According to Channel 12, the virus's basic reproduction number, also called R0 (R-naught) — a figure representing the average number of people every carrier infects — was at 0.88, the lowest it has been in three months.
Speaking to Kan news, government coronavirus czar Prof. Nachman Ash said he believed Israel was on schedule to start reopening large sectors of the country in 11 days' time, confirming the widely reported February 23 target date for the second stage of Israel's emergence from lockdown.
This week saw restrictions on travel removed throughout the country, and some 20 percent of Israel's students went back to school in areas with low to medium coronavirus infection levels.
"The next step we're planning is on February 23," Ash said. "Of course it depends on morbidity data and I believe we'll manage to have good data by that date, so that's the date we recommend opening commerce and [other] activities."
He did not give details, but widespread reports have indicated the Health Ministry plans to recommend opening non-essential street stores for all citizens and more age groups return to schools, while malls, gyms, hotel rooms, museums, cultural events and more will reopen for carriers of a "green pass" — a permit for those inoculated or who have recovered from COVID-19.
The pass will possibly include those who have a negative coronavirus test result from within the previous 48-72 hours, though that issue, and the legal ramifications of limiting access to certain people to some activities, is still being examined.
But Ash confirmed that in non-essential activities, there will certainly be "preference to those who have been vaccinated."
So far, 3,765,771 people have had at least the first shot of the two-dose Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine Israel is using, and 2,396,547 have had the second as well — nearly a quarter of the entire population.
Though Israel currently leads the world in vaccinations per capita, the pace of inoculation has slowed dramatically in recent days. A senior official in the country's largest health provider Clalit this week blamed online "fake news" for promoting vaccine skepticism.
The next stage of opening, Ash confirmed, is planned for March 9, so long as vaccination and infection figures stay on target. That is believed to include a full return to schools, the opening of some cafes and restaurants and permission for larger events — for those with the "green pass."
Ash asked for businesses suffering under lengthy closures to "hang on" a little longer.
"It's not far off now, it's just around the corner, it's less than two weeks. We need this patience so that we can remain open for the long term," he said.
Asked if this year's Passover holiday, set to start on March 28, will be celebrated without limitations (last year's "Leil Haseder," the ritual Passover Eve meal marked by most Israelis in large familial gatherings, was jokingly referred to by many as "Leil Haseger" — Lockdown Eve), Ash was somewhat reserved.
"Not without limitations," he said. "Limitations will probably stay with us. But I very much hope we'll be able to celebrate it with our families in a more free manner, certainly when compared to last year."
Meanwhile the Purim holiday, on February 25, is a cause for concern, Ash said. The holiday is usually marked by large costume parties and revelries in both the religious and secular communities. Last year's Purim is believed to have been a major contributor to Israel's first wave of infections.
Ash said he hoped there would be no need to impose restrictions on Purim, but that these could happen if illness numbers get worse. "We were badly burned last Purim," he said.
Speaking to Army Radio Friday, Prof. Ran Balicer, a top advisor to the government on the coronavirus crisis, said officials are taking into account a certain rise in cases once the country reopens further.
But, he said, "our goal at the moment is not to bring down infections but to bring stability or something close to stability."
He added that "the rate of seriously ill is, in the end, the determining factor. It is what matters in the end, it's what we want to prevent."
There appeared to be good news on that front, with one Israeli healthcare provider, Maccabi Healthcare Services, announcing Thursday that of some half a million given both doses of the Pfizer vaccine, only 544 people — or 0.104% — had subsequently been diagnosed with the coronavirus. There have been only four severe cases, and no people have died.
That means the effectiveness rate stands at 93 percent, Maccabi said, after comparing its immunized members to a "diverse" control group of unvaccinated members.
Full protection for people who have been vaccinated is believed to kick in a week after the second shot, so Maccabi's data covers all those of its members who are seven or more days after receiving that second dose.
"This data unequivocally proves that the vaccine is very effective and we have no doubt that it has saved the lives of many Israelis," said senior Maccabi official Dr. Miri Mizrahi Reuveni after the new data release.
She stressed that among those who have vaccinated and become infected, the vast majority have experienced the coronavirus lightly.