Train jokes and Mariupol, one of Putin’s main targets in Ukraine, once sheltered a great yeshiva and Dershowitz, 17 Other Law Professors, Team Up in Support of Texas Anti-BDS Law and A Rational Argument For Rebuilding The Temple – Today By Rabbi Uri Pilichowski
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.
The Three are Rabbi Yehuda Glick, famous temple mount activist, and former Israel Mk, and then Robert Weinger, the world's greatest shofar blower and seller of Shofars, and myself after we had gone to the 12 gates of the Temple Mount in 2020 to blow the shofar to ask G-d to heal the world from the Pandemic. It was a highlight to my experience in living in Israel and I put it on my blog each day to remember.
The articles that I include each day are those that I find interesting, so I feel you will find them interesting as well. I don't always agree with all the points of each article but found them interesting or important to share with you, my readers, and friends. It is cathartic for me to share my thoughts and frustrations with you about life in general and in Israel. As a Rabbi, I try to teach and share the Torah of the G-d of Israel as a modern Orthodox Rabbi. I never intend to offend anyone but sometimes people are offended and I apologize in advance for any mistakes. The most important psychological principle I have learned is that once someone's mind is made up, they don't want to be bothered with the facts, so, like Rabbi Akiva, I drip water (Torah is compared to water) on their made-up minds and hope that some of what I have share sinks in. Love Rabbi Yehuda Lave.
Dershowitz, 17 Other Law Professors, Team Up in Support of Texas Anti-BDS Law
Photo Credit: Yossi Zeliger/Flash90
Eighteen leading constitutional and business law professors have teamed up to submit an unprecedented brief in support of Texas' anti-BDS law, currently being reviewed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. As some of the nation's most celebrated legal scholars, these professors hail from across the ideological spectrum, demonstrating the broad consensus on the legality of anti-BDS laws.
Thirty-five states have passed "anti-BDS laws" in the past eight years, and CMEIL Director Prof. Kontorovich is widely regarded as the "intellectual architect" of such laws. These laws recognize that refusing to do business with people just because of their connection to the Jewish State, rather than their individual conduct, can be considered a form of antisemitism. When done by state contractors, it robs the state residents of the benefit of having what might be the most cost-effective and innovative products and services employed by those who work on their behalf – and the amici note this case is a good example of that. None of these laws ban such boycotts – but just prevent them from being subsidized with tax-payer dollars.
Among the law professors on the brief are Professor Alan Dershowitz, formerly of Harvard Law School; Richard Epstein of New York University School of Law; and Eugene Kontorovich of George Mason University Scalia Law School. Jerome Marcus, another member of the counsel for the amici curiae, is a Fellow at the Center for the Middle East and International Law (CMEIL) at George Mason University's Antonin Scalia Law School. This is the largest number of scholars to submit an amicus brief on either side of the anti-BDS litigation that has played out in courts across the country over the past several years.
The brief, filed on Thursday, powerfully argues that refusing to do business with companies or people because of their connection to Israel is commercial conduct that the state can regulate. Supporters of the "Boycott Divest Sanction" movement against Israel argue that anti-BDS laws, such as the one in Texas, violate the First Amendment. These professors point out that the Texas law deals with what state contractors do, not what they choose to say, and thus does not enjoy Free Speech protection.
Despite a litigation onslaught by national groups such as CAIR and the ACLU, anti-BDS laws remain good law in every state that has passed them. As the impressive list of scholars who have joined our brief shows – and the trial court recognized – these laws do nothing more than what the Supreme Court has clearly and unanimously permitted.
The brief also captures the dangers of finding the Texas statute unconstitutional. Were the Fifth Circuit to hold the law in violation of the First Amendment, a large number of federal and state laws that bar private businesses from discriminating against other persons and businesses based on race, gender, national origin, sexual identity, sexual preference, and familial status might be in jeopardy. A discriminating business could simply claim its discriminatory economic activity is part of an ideological boycott, as the plaintiff has done here. Moreover, foreign sanctions laws, like those against Russia and Iran, would be called into question: if refusing to do business is protected speech, then choosing to do business with a particular country to show political support would also be protected.
"Arguments that anti-BDS laws violate the Constitution threaten to put Jews outside the protection of anti-discrimination principles," Prof. Kontorovich said.
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S TERRIBLE TRAIN JOKES OF THE WEEK
Ticket inspectors. You've got to hand it to them…
What's the difference between a teacher and a railway security guard? One trains the mind, the other minds the trains…
I miss the old days of railway when the engineer had plenty of esteem.
what do you call a train with buble gum? a chew chew train
Jim had always wanted to run a train. It was his dream since he was a child. His mind was set and no other career moved him the way a train had. He did well in school, and when he was accepted to the local Railway school, he was stoked.4 years later, he had his first job of running the train, and he could not contain his excitement. He went all along the tracks, left and right, forward and back, until he hit something on the rail and the train flew off the tracks, causing a disaster.
Jim was sentenced to death, executed by an electric chair. When asked for a last meal, Jim simply replied: "I will have one banana." After finishing his banana, he was sent to the chair. However, it didn't work. The electric chair had no effect. Jim was set free by the police force, and got a job at another train station. He sped along the tracks, he simply could not contain his excitement! However, he was careless and crashed into another train.
Jim, imprisoned again, was sentenced to death, by the electric chair. "What would you like for your final meal?" the chief of police asked. Jim simply replied "I would like two bananas." He finished his bananas and was again strapped to the electric chair, only to have it fail again. Jim was set free again.
Another train station had a job opening and Jim applied again. He went all over the tracks, left and right, until he ran over a man. Sent to death again, Jim had one request for his final meal. "I will have three bananas." After consuming his bananas, he was sent to the electric chair. He survived the biggest shock of his life.
"I don't get it," the chief of police said. "This electric chair is our best piece of machinery, yet you've survived three times. How do you do it? Is it the bananas you keep eating?"
"Oh, it's nothing," said Jim.
"I'm just a bad conductor."
Moshe is waiting on the platform at the station. He notices a Jewish man standing nearby and asks him for the time. But the man ignores him. Moshe then asks him again, and the man responds in the same way. Frustrated, Moshe asks "Excuse me, but I've asked you for the time twice, why are you ignoring me"
Suddenly, the man looks up and says, "We're both waiting for the train, if I answer you, then when we get on the train you will come and sit next to me, we will probably start talking, and I may invite you to my house for Shabbat, there you will meet my daughter, you will probably like her, you may eventually want to marry her, and to be honest with you, WHY WOULD I WANT A SON IN LAW WHO CAN'T AFFORD A WATCH?"
Sadie Cohen lived in an integrated neighborhood on Long Island. A neighbor, a very friendly and generous black woman, stopped by one Saturday and offered, "Mrs Cohen, I have to go to NYC this afternoon to meet my daughter. Can I get you anything?"
Mrs. Cohen thanked her and counter-offered, "Listen, I have a commuter's ticket for the train. Why don't you use my ticket, and you'll bring it back tonight. After all, it's paid for. Why should you pay extra?"
The neighbor thanked her and with the ticket in hand, made her way to the train station. When the train arrived, she boarded, and as the conductor walked through, he happened to glance at the ticket, noticing the name "Sadie Cohen.".
The conductor asked, "Excuse me, madam, are you Sadie Cohen , the person whose name appears on this ticket?"
The woman smiled sweetly and nodded her head in the affirmative.
More than a little suspicious, the conductor asked, "Would you let me compare signatures? Would you mind signing your name?"
The black lady turned indignantly to the conductor and snapped, "Man, are you crazy? You want me to write on Shabbos?
Sadie sits down next to an attractive man on the train and says, "You look just like my fourth husband".
The man replies, "Your fourth husband? So how many times have you been married, lady?"
"Three," replies Sadie.
In an all-Jewish school, a Russian man decided to disrupt a math class. He stormed in and cried, "You Jews think you're so smart, try and answer this! There are seven trains going all around the country with sixteen cars on each train. There are thirty-three people on each car. How old am I?"
No one responds. A boy in the back stands up and says, "48."
Amazed, the Russian says "Yes! How did you know?"
The boy replied, "There's a man in our village that's twenty-four and is only half meshugah."
After months of negotiation with the authorities, a Talmudist from Odessa was finally granted permission to visit Moscow . He boarded the train and found an empty seat. At the next stop, a young man got on and sat next to him. The scholar looked at the young man and he thought:
This fellow doesn't look like a peasant, so if he is no peasant he probably comes from this district. If he comes from this district, then he must be Jewish because this is, after all, a Jewish district.
But on the other hand, since he is a Jew, where could he be going? I'm the only Jew in our district who has permission to travel to Moscow . Ahh, wait! Just outside Moscow there is a little village called Samvet, and Jews don't need special permission to go to Samvet. But why would he travel to Samvet? He is surely going to visit one of the Jewish families there. But how many Jewish families are there in Samvet? Aha, only two - the Bernsteins and the Steinbergs. But since the Bernsteins are a terrible family, such a nice looking fellow like him, he must be visiting the Steinbergs.
But why is he going to the Steinbergs in Samvet? The Steinbergs have only daughters, two of them, so maybe he's their son-in-law. But if he is, then which daughter did he marry? They say that Sarah Steinberg married a nice lawyer from Budapest , and Esther married a businessman from Zhitomer, so it must be Sarah's husband. Which means that his name is Alexander Cohen, if I'm not mistaken.
But if he came from Budapest , with all the anti-Semitism they have there, he must have changed his name. What's the Hungarian equivalent of Cohen? It is Kovacs. But since they allowed him to change his name, he must have special status to change it. What could it be? Must be a doctorate from the University. Nothing less would do.
At this point, therefore, the scholar of Talmud turns to the young man and says, "Excuse me. Do you mind if I open the window, Dr. Kovacs?"
"Not at all," answered the startled co-passenger. "But how is it that you know my name?"
"Ahhh," replied the Talmudist, "It was obvious."
Mariupol, one of Putin's main targets in Ukraine, once sheltered a great yeshiva
Mariupol has a rich and often tragic Jewish history, shaped by conflict and the efforts of previous generations to preserve their lives, faith and culture.
Since the 1990s, when its roof collapsed under heavy snow, all that remains of the The Choral Synagogue in Mariupol, Ukraine, is the brick facade and foundations.(photo credit: VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)
Barring a miracle, Mariupol, the beleaguered industrial center in eastern Ukraine, may henceforth be known only as the city that bore the brunt of Vladimir Putin's unprovoked assault on Ukraine's independence and its people.
But the city also has a rich and often tragic Jewish history, shaped by conflict and the efforts of previous generations to preserve their lives, faith and culture in the face of brutality.
One such story starts at the beginning of the 20th century, not in Ukraine but in Lithuania.
Perched on the western edge of the Russian Empire, the Lithuanian town of Panevezys (pronounced Ponevezh or Ponevich) was home to some 7,000 Jews, roughly half the total population. The town boasted few amenities, but chief among them was the yeshiva established in 1909 by Liba Miriam Gavronskii, widowed daughter of the wealthy tea magnate Kalonymus Wissotsky. Rabbi Yitshak Yaakov Rabinovich (known as Reb Itsele Ponevezher, 1854-1919) was its first head, or rosh yeshiva.
Rabbi Yosef Shlomo Kahaneman, second rosh yeshiva of the Ponevezh Yeshiva. (credit: NATIONAL LIBRARY OF ISRAEL)
The yeshiva flourished, but it faced an early threat to its existence with the outbreak of World War I. Seeking to undermine the Russian war effort, the Germans directed a Yiddish-language proclamation to the Jews of the Russian Empire, promising them full emancipation and equal rights once the Romanov dynasty was toppled. Already distrustful of his large Jewish population, the notoriously antisemitic Tsar Nicholas II ordered a brutal expulsion of Jews from the borderlands region to the interior of the Russian Empire.
The Yeshiva of Ponevezh was forced to relocate, first to Ludza in nearby Latvia, and then once again to Mariupol. Before returning to reestablish itself in independent Lithuania in 1919, the yeshiva would spend the remainder of the war years in Mariupol.
Why Mariupol? The great distance from the front lines certainly factored in the thinking of the rosh yeshiva, but Mariupol had developed a reputation as a haven for Jewish settlement. In 1791, the port city was added to the Pale of Settlement, the region of the Russian Empire designated for Jews. By 1847 just over a hundred Jews had established homes in Mariupol, participating in the Black Sea trade. It became a destination for Jews looking for economic opportunity and those fleeing the overcrowded regions of Lithuania and Belarus. By the end of the 19th century, the city was home to over 5,000 Jews, constituting 16% of the population; the 1926 census records 7,332 Jews in Mariupol, or 18% of the city.
The expanding, dynamic Jewish community of Mariupol — disturbed only by riots associated with the 1905 revolution — came to an abrupt end with the Nazi invasion. Mariupol's Jews were rounded up and shot by Einsatzgruppen on a single dark day — Oct. 18, 1941 — as part of the horrific "Holocaust by Bullets."
As for the Lithuanian yeshiva that was sheltered by Mariupol in World War I, it went on to establish itself as one of the greatest institutions of Talmudic study during the interwar years. In 1939, however, war came to Panevezys again, with both the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany invading Lithuania. Under the leadership of Rabbi Yosef Shlomo Kahaneman (1888-1969), the yeshiva continued to function under Communist rule despite the fact that he was trapped outside the country, with students moving from one synagogue to another until the Nazis took over in June 1941 and murdered them all, together with most of Rabbi Kahaneman's family.
In 1944, Rabbi Kahaneman reestablished the Ponevezh Yeshiva once again — this time in B'nai Brak, in what would become Israel — with seven students. Amazingly, it has grown to reclaim its reputation among the most prominent institutions of higher Talmudic education in the world; at 98, its current rosh yeshiva, Rabbi Gershon Edelstein, is regarded by many as the spiritual leader of the "Lithuanian" non-Hasidic stream of haredi Orthodoxy.
After the Holocaust, Jews slowly trickled back into Mariupol, which in 1948 was renamed Zhdanov by the Soviets after the sudden death of Andrei Zhdanov (1896-1948), long rumored to be Joseph Stalin's presumed successor (his son also married the Soviet dictator's daughter). By 1959 over 2,000 Jews lived in the city, but only constituted about 1% of the total population.
With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the city reclaimed its original name of Mariupol in 1989, and became part of newly independent Ukraine shortly thereafter. The heroic presence of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement in Mariupol, as in many formerly Soviet communities, supported the tiny Jewish population that remained after most of them emigrated to Israel in Operation Exodus — when Jews escaped the crumbling Soviet Union more than three decades ago — and continued to serve even through the Russian invasions of 2014 and 2018. Now, in the midst of the invasion of 2022, Chabad and others are working to evacuate as many of them as possible.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of JTA or its parent company, 70 Faces Media.
A Rational Argument For Rebuilding The Temple – Today
Responding to questions of how Israel will handle recent violence by Palestinians on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said Israel "will not change" the status quo on the Temple Mount. "Muslims pray on the Temple Mount, non-Muslims can only visit. There is no change, and there will be no change." The hallowed status quo must remain at all costs.
The argument for keeping the status quo on the Temple Mount was outlined in an op-ed in Haaretz, "Israel Must Stop Breaching the Status Quo on the Temple Mount." The editorial argued, "The attempt to impose equality of all places on the only place where Muslims have some autonomy, a place that is both a religious and a national symbol for the Palestinians, constitutes needless provocation." The op-ed goes on to argue that it is cynical and manipulative to demand that values, like freedom of worship, be upheld for Israelis by those who themselves do not uphold them for Palestinians.
Between the festivals of Passover and Shavuot Jews count the Omer for 49 nights. After reciting the blessing and counting, many Jews have the custom of reciting a short prayer, "May it be Your will that the Temple be rebuilt speedily in our days," or "May the Merciful One restore the service of the Temple to its place, speedily in our days." Our ancestors stood in the dark study halls of Poland and the cavernous synagogues of Iraq and recited this prayer in exile, dreaming of a return to Jerusalem and a rebuilt Third Temple. They would be perplexed by a third commonwealth of the Jewish people in control of Jerusalem but who refuse, on their own accord, to rebuild the Temple.
I imagine my ancestors chiding me, "Look at Exodus 25:8 where G-d wrote, 'Build Me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them.' They'd pull a volume of Maimonides's Book of Mitzvot off my library shelf and point to his 20th mitzvah: 'The 20th mitzvah is that we are commanded to build a Sanctuary to serve G-d. In it we offer sacrifices, burn the eternal flame, offer our prayers, and congregate for the festivals each year.'"
It is time to begin taking steps to rebuild the Temple on the Temple Mount. I am aware that taking such a position will lead many to call me extremist, irrational, a religious fanatic and playing with fire. I used to think the same way about people who advocated for building the Third Temple. In a recent Jerusalem Post op-ed, "When blood spills on Passover and Easter, it's time to build the Temple," Rabbi Tuly Weisz wrote that the biggest fear of Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups is that Jews will build the Temple. An appropriate response to the current wave of terror is to build the Temple. "On a national level, the rebuilding of the Temple would be a great humiliation to Palestinian terror groups," Rabbi Weisz wrote. "For thousands of years, Jews have been praying for a return to the Land of Israel. Over the last century, we have miraculously been restored to our homeland from the four corners of the earth but are still awaiting the proper time to build the Temple. Judaism is incomplete without the Temple."
In an essay titled, "Dayan's Key Error," Rabbi Chaim Ozer Chait wrote, "It is most shocking and appalling that after two thousand years of yearning and praying for the BeitHaMikdash, and only by the grace of G-d it was returned to the Jewish people, we, a Jewish nation, give it back! This is an outright rejection of G-d's gift to the Jewish people."
People will argue that rebuilding the Temple will bring war with the Muslim world and instigate Palestinian terror attacks. I don't doubt the Muslim world will be angered by plans to build the Temple, but let's be honest, Arab nations don't have the power to hurt us – look around our neighborhood, no one has the power to attack Israel. Palestinians attempt three to six attacks a day, every day, already. Israel has gotten better at preventing attacks, and there's no reason to fear a reality we're already living in. Just as Israel can take steps to mitigate the damage of terrorism, it can also take steps to mitigate the diplomatic fallout of rebuilding the Temple.
Secular Jews who don't regularly attend synagogue services don't see the need to build a Temple at the risk of an international outcry and possible up-tick of violent terrorism. If not for the religious benefits, Israel should rebuild the Temple because if Israel doesn't stand up for its rights on our own land, how can we face ourselves and our children? Where is our national pride? In addition, as the Haaretz editorial noted, "Jews who want to pray on the Temple Mount have one main argument, which liberal secular people are compelled to support: Freedom of worship is a basic principle of democracy."
That same Haaretz editorial made an important point, "The right of Jews to also pray on the Temple Mount must come as part of a comprehensive agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. Prayers held on the sly, by means of creeping annexation, endanger the fragile quiet not only in Jerusalem but in the entire region." I agree and extend the argument to building the Temple. The next steps towards building the Temple shouldn't be unilateral, it should be done in conjunction with the Arab world.
In the midst of the latest violence on the Temple Mount, Jordanian Prime Minister Bisher al-Khasawneh addressed a session of the Jordanian parliament and hailed Palestinian rioters: "I salute every Palestinian, and all the employees of the Jordanian Islamic Waqf, who proudly stand like minarets, hurling their stones in a volley of clay at the Zionist sympathizers defiling the Al-Aqsa Mosque under the protection of the Israeli occupation government."
In response to Jordanian praise of violence, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid held a meeting in his office, stating that "severe measures" should be taken. In my opinion, the first step should be to take custodial control of the Temple Mount away from Jordan and hand it to the UAE or Saudi Arabia in exchange for diplomatic ties. In instigating violence, Jordan has forfeited its privilege to manage the Temple Mount peacefully. Part of the transition of custodial power must include the understanding that Israel will begin rebuilding the Temple.
At the next United Nations General Assembly, Prime Minister Bennett should announce that Israel plans on moving the Golden Dome shrine but keeping the Al-Aqsa Mosque in its current location. Israel will begin construction on the Third Temple but keep its commitment to freedom of worship to Muslims and Christians on the Temple Mount. Just as Jews, Muslims and Christians share the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, so too will they share the Temple Mount. Prime Minister Bennett should stress the point that no democracy can justify prohibiting its own people from praying at its most sacred sight and there is no legitimate argument that can be made to justify such a position.
While the notion of rebuilding the Temple might seem fantastic to a generation that has been raised to think it impossible or a step that should be reserved for a Messianic era, it serves to remember the same was said about the Zionist dream of returning the Jewish people to Eretz Yisrael to create a Jewish state. Yet Zionists persisted and the "impossible State" was born. The time has come to do the same for the dream of the Third Temple.