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.
WHY ISRAELI FIREBRAND ITAMAR BEN-GVIR IS SOARING IN POLLS, AND WHY THE LEFT CALLS HIM A RACIST
Seaking to JNS, the controversial right-wing Israeli politician said, "Our Tanach [Bible] teaches us that we are from here, we have come back to our land. I am not a racist, I do not hate Arabs, I hate terrorists."
(JNS) The rise of Itamar Ben-Gvir is one of the major storylines of Israel's fifth election cycle in little more than three years. The political firebrand from the right flank of Israel's political spectrum is soaring in popularity, with polls showing his Religious Zionist bloc garnering as many as 14 of the Knesset's 120 seats.
That would likely make the Religious Zionist Party the third-largest in the Knesset (behind Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud and Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid) and larger than the National Unity Party led by current Defense Minister and former Netanyahu challenger Benny Gantz. At 14 seats, Religious Zionist would be twice as large as the former Yamina Party was when its leader, Naftali Bennett, emerged as prime minister in an unlikely alignment after the previous election last year.
The bloc is a combination of three relatively small right-wing parties. The parties banded together to run in a technical bloc, to ensure that none of the three would fall below the 3.25 percent vote threshold for entering the parliament. The Religious Zionist bloc is led by former Minister of Transportation and longtime parliamentarian Bezalel Smotrich. Several other well-respected members of Knesset including Simcha Rothman and Orit Strock sit high on the candidates list. The list has four women in its top 20 positions.
Israel's staunchly nationalist right-wing parties rarely surge to such high parliamentary numbers. But Ben-Gvir, No. 2 on the Religious Zionist list and head of the small Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Strength) faction, is capturing the populist wave in the current election campaign, in large part because Israel's left-wing media have turned him into the top story. Ben-Gvir has become a regular guest on Israel's political news programming.
At the same time as they invite him to air his views on live television, much of Israel's left-leaning mainstream media (along with anti-Netanyahu politicians) have branded Ben-Gvir a "racist."
Speaking to JNS, Ben-Gvir said, "Our Tanach [Bible] teaches us that we are from here, we have come back to our land. I am not a racist, I do not hate Arabs, I hate terrorists."
The accusations against him are based on positions Ben-Gvir held in his early teenage and young adult activist days. Ben-Gvir was an ardent supporter of the teachings and principles of former Knesset member Meir Kahane, whose political party was later banned from the parliament due to its anti-Arab positions. As a Kahane supporter, Ben-Gvir was prohibited from serving in the Israeli Defense Forces.
Yet he contends that the media is doubling down on the message that he is a racist "in order to shoot the messenger, instead of allowing discourse on serious issues facing the Jewish state. We have a major Jihad problem on so many levels that our political leaders and security experts refuse to deal with head-on."
He added, "I am the candidate saying that the emperor has no clothes and that we have some serious problems. They want to get rid of my message—and all of Israeli nationalism for that matter—so they call me a racist."
Despite not serving in the military, Ben-Gvir is running on a platform of enhanced security for Israeli citizens.
The religious nationalist grew up in the Jerusalem suburb of Mevaseret, raised in a mostly secular yet traditional family. Since that time, Ben-Gvir has become an observant Jew, married and a father of six, living in the Jewish settlement of Hebron, site of the biblical Cave of the Patriarchs where Jewish forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and their wives, are buried.
He explained to JNS regarding his past, "I now have six kids. I am 46 years old. I came from a more radical tradition but I have matured since then. I have grown to understand better the precise problems I am trying to tackle. The problem is jihadism, which is a neo-Nazi-type movement of dangerous extremist enemies in our midst. In fact, it is the jihadism that suppresses regular Arabs living here. They too are looking to Israel to defeat this movement and provide greater security."
Today, Ben-Gvir is a highly successful civil rights attorney who has tried numerous cases and won several before Israel's Supreme Court. He has fought cases of police brutality against Jewish civilians and in defense of soldiers who faced imprisonment for taking action against terrorists and were wrongfully accused of violating the army's strict rules of engagement.
In recent years, Ben-Gvir has attempted to moderate both his statements and his image. But for many Israelis on both the left and the right of the political spectrum, he has struggled to shake his reputation.
"They want to bury me as a way to strike at Jewish nationalism," he said. "So instead of telling the voters what they are really against, they accuse me of being anti-gay, anti-woman, anti-Arab and everything else the liberal world stands for. They make me out to be their boogeyman instead of saying that they are against nationalist principles and greater security for Israeli citizens."
Yet for many voters, his positions are an expression of common sense that has been missing from Israel's political and security discourse.
Ben-Gvir said, "My vision is a proud, strong Jewish state. I have no problem with our minorities—provided they are law-abiding citizens—but I do have a problem with those who raise a hand against our police and soldiers."
Many of Ben-Gvir's views on Israel's security resonate strongly with citizens who have seen risks to personal safety increase in recent years. In the past decade, thousands of illegal firearms including automatic assault rifles have been smuggled into Israel or manufactured locally, ending up in the hands of Arabs living in Judea and Samaria as well as in Arab-Israeli cities. Arab-on-Arab murder has soared in recent months, while Arabs rioted against Jews in mixed cities during a conflict in Gaza in May last year, without a harsh police response.
In the country's northern and southern peripheries, Ben-Gvir explains that Israelis often pay mafia-style protection payments to local Bedouin to ensure their homes, businesses and equipment are not robbed, or worse. Rules of engagement for the army and police have become continuously stricter, with security personnel unable to open fire on terrorists—even in highly dangerous situations—unless they are actively being fired upon, putting their own lives at great risk.
Worse, he says, many of the terrorists captured by Israel sit together with fellow Arab murderers—some serving life sentences—in "country club" prison conditions, with televisions and cellphones, while receiving degrees from universities and stipends from the Palestinian Authority. In the past, prisoners including convicted murderers have been released as part of "peacemaking" gestures to the Palestinian Authority.
Ben-Gvir and his party are taking firm stances against terror and calling for loosening the strict rules of engagement in an attempt to restore waning deterrence. He calls for terrorists to be expelled from Israel, and for instituting the death penalty for those convicted of murder.
"Those who murder children should not see the light of day. I want to give strength to our army and police," he said.
He hopes to become minister of public security in a future government.
"It is my goal to return security to the citizens of Israel, like [former mayor] Rudy Giuliani did in New York City. I want to change the rules of engagement so soldiers can shoot at anyone throwing Molotov cocktails. There needs to be immunity for soldiers and police who are on the front lines," he said.
"We need to protect citizens and residents and bring back the sense of safety to Jews and Arabs alike. The only way we can do this is with a strong army and police, and security for all the people of Israel—regardless of their faith or race."
In recent weeks, Ben-Gvir's party has risen by several seats in the polls at the expense of Netanyahu's more moderate Likud.
The rise is due in part to the feeling among many right-wing voters that they have been burned by moderate right-wing parties that ultimately formed coalitions with left-wing partners and sidelined right-wing priorities relating to Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria, and other issues, in favor of centrist or left-wing policies.
Such moderate right-wingers previously included Bennett, who shunned his national camp and the pro-Netanyahu right-wing bloc in favor of a rotation arrangement for prime minister with Yair Lapid, head of Israel's progressive left-wing. The agreement sent most of the right-wing into the opposition and brought every single member of Israel's left-wing into the coalition, along with a party associated with the Muslim Brotherhood.
One of the storylines in that government was whether the Arab Ra'am Party would withdraw moral support for Hamas in favor of supporting Israeli military action in Gaza or Judea and Samaria.
Bennett's government collapsed after barely a year when his own Yamina Party imploded under pressure from its right-wing voters. Bennett—now without a voter base—has announced he will resign from politics. And as part of the convoluted coalition agreement, it is the left-wing Lapid who is now serving as a caretaker interim prime minister, despite Israel having a large right-wing electoral majority.
Seeking to make sure that the left does not retain power, many nationalist voters are pinning their hopes on the farthest-right flank of the political spectrum to ensure their votes are not co-opted once again.
"Nationalism stands for God. It stands for patriotism. It stands for particularism. And it stands for strong defense. These are things that the Israeli left-wing is against. They are against a religious, biblical outlook, they are against nationalism. And they are against real defense," Ben-Gvir said.
"One of the great mysteries of the world is why liberals have aligned with support of jihadis," he quipped.
Ben-Gvir's rise is sending shockwaves through Israel's political system as well as close observers abroad, many of whom are concerned that a former Kahane supporter could be tapped as a senior minister if right-wing ally and Likud Party leader Benjamin Netanyahu re-emerges as prime minister.
Yet Ben-Gvir and right-wing voters are concerned that Netanyahu may shun his natural right-wing ally during coalition negotiations, instead choosing to govern with left-wing partners who may be willing to concede some of their demands for the opportunity to keep Ben-Gvir out of government.
"Likud needs a strong party to the right, to keep it on the right," Ben-Gvir said. "Many Likud voters want a right-wing government that promotes Jewish values. And the only way that can happen is together with our party."
Several U.S. politicians, including Senator Robert Menendez and Representative Brad Sherman—both longtime Israel supporters—have warned Netanyahu against forming a government with Ben-Gvir, while members of the American Jewish communal structure have warned that it will be difficult to defend Israeli positions to Democrats if Ben-Gvir is a senior minister.
Many worry that Ben-Gvir's ascent will cause Israel diplomatic damage and that his statements and actions as a minister may inflame tensions in an already tense region, proving fears of his populism correct.
Those fears are largely fueled by continued media reports that Ben-Gvir is a racist. Yet, such statements can be damaging in their own right.
Israel is fighting constant battles for its legitimacy in multiple forums including the mainstream and social media, university campuses, state legislatures and within major corporations. Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions efforts against Israel are based on the false premise that Israel is a racist or apartheid state.
For many who know little about Israel's diversity and thriving democracy, the flurry of articles accusing Ben-Gvir of racism can circulate much more broadly than the actual statements of a single member of a 120-member Knesset, who speaks little English.
Further, many outside of Israel simply do not know the difference between Lapid or any of his left-wing colleagues and the right-wing firebrand. All they process when quickly cycling through headlines in their newsfeeds is that right-wing racists are rising to power in Israel. The details are meaningless to them.
For Israel-haters, the very concept of a Jewish state can be labeled racist, despite the fact that Israel has a large Arab population with upward mobility, civil liberties and democratic representation.
It may be increasingly difficult for Israel to shake increasing accusations of racism even if the left-wing manages to retain power and Ben-Gvir and his right-wing allies are sent deep into the opposition.
In many respects, the accusations of racism are just as populist as the ideas Ben-Gvir peddles. And those accusations may pose an equal or greater threat to Israel than the right's return to power or Ben-Gvir's actual appointment as a minister.
5 things you didn't know Google Maps could do | TechRadar Inbox
Seventh graders at the Katzir School in Rehovot were recently handed a mandatory assignment as part of their history class, to construct models of Christian symbols. The children were told to choose from five options:
1. A model of the Last Supper 2. A model of the miracle of bread and fish or any other miracle 3. A portrait of Jesus 4. A depiction of Mary's meeting with the angel Gabriel 5. A model of John the Baptist
Diana, the mother of one of the children in the class, was very upset, and told Makor Rishon: "Christians bow down to these images, worship them and pray to them. I know exactly what it's based on. I am a convert, I converted when I was ten. I grew up among Christians – this is missionary work."
As part of the assignment, the students were divided into groups and each group chose one option related to Christianity. The parents only became aware of this after the children had prepared the assignment whose submission date was Wednesday of this week.
"It's already been done," said Diana. "I had a picture of Jesus in the middle of my house for two days! I have never had a picture of Jesus at home."
"At first he tried to hide from me," she said about her son. "He knows what's Jesus is and what's Christianity. They can't do such terrible coercion, to try to interject it into the soul of the children, that's why I'm saying it's missionary. If they were talking about history, then fine. But they did not tell the truth and did not talk about history, they spoke about Christianity in an attractive way until the children said 'it was fun,' it simply shocked us."
Elad Tzadikov, CEO of Ofek Israel, an organization that works to strengthen Jewish identity in education, culture, and the media, Told Makor Rishon that "This is not the first time. The education system in Israel is under a progressive attack. The goal is to detach the children from their Jewish heritage. They do this by blurring the idea of family and gender, and they blur their Jewish identity."
"We are at a point where history lessons have become a branch of Middle Eastern studies," Tzadikov said. "They fill the studies with distinct Christian content. This ends up with a child in middle school learning about Christianity in great detail, while he is unable to recite any parallels in his Jewish heritage."
Several parents sent an email to the school administration in protest, and Diana told Makor Rishon that the principal entered the classroom and demanded to know which of the children objected to the study material. She asked them to "tell their parents to chill."
The school issued a response, saying, "This is a class of young diplomats, in which students are exposed to different nations, different cultures, different religions, and different worldviews. It is deep learning out of respect for the other, and not out of a desire to promote this or that perception, or God forbid, to impose this or that opinion. The work is part of the summary of the students' in-depth learning process."
Then the school added this line: "As for Bible study at school, that subject is taught in a way that all Bible study hours are given in the eighth and ninth grades."
No Old Testament studies for Israeli seventh graders, only the New stuff.
Hebrew U Researchers Solve Age Old First Date Conundrum
Looking for a romantic relationship? Then you know how important that first date can be.
When falling in love, what makes us attracted to some people, and not to others? The answer will be surprising to most of us – but it wasn't to the team of researchers led by Dr. Shir Atzil of the Department of Psychology at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
"Connecting with a partner depends on how well we can synchronize our bodies. We specialize in studying parent-infant bonding – and we have already seen the same thing there," she explained.
The researchers looked at how a heterosexual couple's physiology and behavior adapt to each other during that first encounter. The study was based on a speed-date experiment consisting of forty-six dates. Each date lasted 5 minutes during which the levels of physiological regulation of each partner were recorded with a band worn on the wrist. Behavioral movements, such as nodding, moving an arm, and shifting a leg were also recorded in each partner during the date.
After the encounter, the couple assessed the romantic interest and sexual attraction they felt for each other. The study clearly showed that when couples synchronize their physiology with one another and adapt their behavioral movements to their partner during the date, they are romantically attracted to one another. This research was recently published in Scientific Reports (Bio-behavioral synchrony is a potential mechanism for mate selection in humans).
Intriguingly, the study also showed that the degree of synchrony affected men and women differently. Although for both genders synchrony predicted attraction, women were more sexually attracted to men who showed a high level of synchrony – "super-synchronizers." These men were highly desirable to female partners.
"Our research demonstrates that behavioral and physiological synchrony can be a useful mechanism to attract a romantic partner," said Atzil. "However, we still don't know whether synchrony raises attraction or does the feeling of attraction generate the motivation to synchronize," an area of research that Atzil is planning to investigate.
Biblical Hazor is one of the premier archeological sites in Israel. Many of the most epic events of the Bible took place here, and even UNESCO listed it as a world heritage site in 2005. Such a world-class treasure must surely be on the "must-see" portion of itineraries, right? The shocking truth is that few tourists (even veteran tourists who are Bible literate) have ever even heard of it. Despite my vast knowledge of Hazor, I have only guided here twice, both times to tourists who annually visit Israel, and only because I recommended it to them. On the first visit, tears streamed down my tourist's cheeks when she realized that she was literally standing in a place where G-d led His people in battle.
When people read about the "Land of Canaan" in the Bible, they think of a large kingdom encompassing most of modern Israel, but actually, Canaan was made up of city-states with their own kings who were often at war with each other. According to the Bible, Hazor was the most powerful one. In fact, excavations have shown Hazor to have been the largest Tel (archeological site) in Israel at 820 Dunams (or over 200 acres). To put this into perspective, David's Jerusalem was only 61 dunams (15 acres).
An aerial shot of the excavated ruins of the ancient walled city. Only 1/8 of the city has been excavated, with the agricultural fields of nearby Kibbutz Ayelet (as partially seen on the right hand side) covering therest. Photo Credit: AVRAMGR – Creative CommonsAttribution-Share Alike 4.0 International
The Al Armana letters (a series of ancient letters written between Pharaoh and other Kings) were discovered in 1887 by an Egyptian peasant. These letters back up the Biblical account of Hazor being the most powerful Canaanite city-state. Egypt controlled the land of Canaan (at the same time the Hebrews were enslaved) and the local kings were the Pharaohs' tributaries. Whenever powerful kings of empires like Pharaoh or the King of Mesopotamia wrote to each other, they always greeted each other as "Brother", a sign of equality. Whenever a Canaanite king wrote to Pharaoh, they would start the letter with "To the king, my lord, my god, my Sun, the Sun from the sky, at your feet I bow 7 times forward and 7 time's backwards…". There was only one Canaanite King who dared call Pharaoh "Brother": The mighty king of Hazor.
One of many ancient letters between kings found in Egypt. Photo Credit: Public domain
Furthermore, Hazor is the only city in the entire Levant (i.e. the modern-day countries of Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Jordan, and Southern Turkey) mentioned in the famous Mari Archives of Mesopotamia.
Mari Archive Letter, written in ancient Cuneiform, mentions Hazor
Upon G-d's command, Joshua will bring the Jewish people into Israel by crossing the Jordan River. The Canaanites were aware of G-d's promise to His people (see Joshua 2: 9-13), but the city-states in Northern Israel were not yet ready to submit. King Jabin of Hazor was placed in charge of mobilizing an army composed of the citizens of the different cities. He successfully recruited a formidable force of warriors, horses, and chariots "As numerous as the sands of the seashore (Joshua 11:4)". This military was so intimating that even though G-d had promised to deliver Israel into their hands, He felt it necessary to remind Joshua "Do not fear them (Joshua 11:6)."
The battle resulted in a decisive victory for the Jews. In most cases, the infrastructure of conquered cities was not to meant be destroyed. Instead, the fields, workshops and homes were to be left intact for the benefit of the Children of Israel to live. Hazor was an exception, and it was the only city that Joshua burned. Indeed, excavations revealed this to be the only city destroyed in its entirety during that time. Today when visiting the well-preserved ruins of King Jabin's palace, the burn layer is clearly visible.
The Green circle marks the spot in the Canaanite palace where the burn marks are clearly visible. Photo Credit: Shutterstock
G-d also commanded Joshua to destroy the chariots (and make unsuitable for war) the powerful warhorses he captured. Why would G-d want them to be destroyed instead of being used by the Israelites in future battles? According to Jewish sources, G-d did not want the Israelites to believe in the power of their arms, but to put their faith in G-d. This was a supernatural war. If the battles were conducted according to natural law, the Jews would not have been able to win. The people needed to know that if G-d was fighting this war, the extra weapons were not going to be their key to victory.
Centuries after the city was destroyed, King Solomon came and rebuilt it on the charred, Canaanite ruins. King Solomon built many walled cities, but three cities are mentioned by name in the verse: Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer (1 Kings 9: 15). In the latter 2 mentioned cities, excavators found city gates which have only been found in cities Solomon built. Archeologists call them "6 Chamber Gates".
Diagram of an aerial shot of the 6 chambered gates mentioned in the Bible Photo Credit: MadainProject
Therefore, when digging Hazor, Yigal Yadin (the famous Archeologist who dug Masada and also the second IDF chief of staff) expected to find a similar gate, which he eventually found and dug up.
Impressive remains of Solomon's gate in Hazor. Photo Credit: MadainProject
The city was eventually destroyed permanently during the Assyrian conquest of the Northern Kingdom of Israel.
Today one can visit Hazor's impressive ruins, but people seldom do. The silver lining is that when exploring this treasure, you are likely to be one of the few visitors here and will have this fascinating site mostly to yourself!