The Most Misunderstood Sin in Jewish History By Rabbi Shmuel Reichman and Gathering at Reb Shlomo’s Kever on the YahrtzeitThursday, November 10, 2022, 15:00 – 18:00 (TBD), as well as into the evening, at Har HaMenuchot Cemetery in Jerusalem. and Throwing Down The Gauntlet By Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser and Small Actions Can Change the World By Rabbi Benjamin Blech and Nice People Do a Lot of DamageBy Dennis Prager -
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.
Thursday, November 10, 2022, 15:00 – 18:00 (TBD), as well as into the evening, at Har HaMenuchot Cemetary in Jerusalem. Musical recitation of Tehillim and Mincha-Maariv prayers in memory of Reb Shlomo. Click here to view tehillim pages; See flyer of gathering and live broadcast below.
Is there another person or Rabbi whose contribution to Jewish life is celebrated by concerts? There's music at his gravesite, kumzits, and other gatherings of his followers, who resonate with his songs, his message of Ahavat Yisrael, love of Shabbat, and Jerusalem.
Reb Shlomo opened the gates for many to uplifting and meaningful Jewish prayer, and hence the widespread use of his songs in shuls and elsewhere
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.
Nice People Do a Lot of Damage By Dennis Prager -
It can be said that gaining wisdom is a process of gaining some dark insights into life.
One such insight is this: A lot of evil has been abetted by nice people.
By "nice," I am referring to the way people comport themselves in the personal realm. We refer to people as being "nice" if they are friendly to strangers, more or less honest in their dealings with others, take care of their families, support friends and are pleasant to be around. We all want nice neighbors.
To put it another way, "nice" generally refers to the micro, the personal, realm. It does not generally refer to the macro realm — that is, to the views and values people hold about moral and social questions.
The human being is composed of two moral components — the micro and the macro. In a truly good human being — "good" is not the same as "nice" — one is good in both realms. It is therefore quite possible to be nice in the micro and hold awful values for society; and it is quite possible to have excellent macro values and not be a particularly nice person.
Take communism, for example.
Communist regimes killed some 100 million people in the 20th century — none of them combatants in war. Add to that number more than a billion devastated lives: the friends and family of the murdered, the generations deprived of elementary human rights and the countless number of innocent people imprisoned and tortured, and you have as pure an evil as is imaginable.
You might therefore think that no one who supported communism, let alone was a member of a communist party anywhere in the world, was a nice person. But you would be wrong. There were many nice people who supported communism. There were even nice people among the Westerners who provided Josef Stalin with the secrets to making an atom bomb.
The only competitor with communism for pure evil was, of course, Nazism. While the communists murdered far more people, the Nazis' systematic industrial murder of almost every Jewish man, woman and child in Europe remains the most horrific crime ever committed by a nation.
One would therefore assume, especially given the absence of moral rhetoric that characterized communist rhetoric, that there could hardly have been any nice supporters of Nazism.
But you would be wrong again. There were nice Germans who voted for Hitler and the Nazis in 1932, the last free election in Germany until after World War II. Historians are in general agreement that Germans who voted for the Nazis did so primarily for economic reasons, not because they were Jew-haters, let alone sought the murder of all of Europe's Jews. In any event, the plans to exterminate European Jewry were not even drawn up for almost another 10 years.
So, yes, there were even nice Nazis. There is a well-known example of one — Oskar Schindler. A German industrialist who was a member of the Nazi Party, Schindler personally saved about 1,200 Jews — Jewish workers in his factories in Nazi-occupied Poland, Bohemia and Moravia. He is the subject of the famous Steven Spielberg film, "Schindler's List."
Obviously, no communist or Nazi who participated in communist or Nazi evils was nice; each was despicable. And so were many, though not all, supporters of communism and the Nazi Party. But "nice" did not preclude abetting pure evil.
This was also true of supporters of slavery and even some slaveholders. As with communism and Nazism, there were some nice people who supported slavery and even some who owned slaves. Like communism and Nazism, the institution of slavery was evil, but not every supporter of slavery or slave owner was personally vicious. George Washington owned slaves, and he was not merely a nice man, he was a great man.
Moreover, unlike communist and Nazi evil, which were unique in history, slavery was universal and practiced throughout history. It took thousands of years for much of humanity to recognize just how evil slavery was. And people must always be judged in the context of the time and place they lived.
The reason this issue of nice people doing harm has become important to me is that I have been trying to explain how it is that millions of nice Americans support left-wing policies that are ruining, perhaps even destroying, America.
Specifically, why do millions of nice liberals support the Left? Leftism and liberalism have virtually nothing in common. Do liberals believe in all-black college dormitories; that America is a systemically racist country founded not in 1776, but in 1619; that Israel is the villain in the Middle East; that capitalism, the only economic system to lift billions of people out of poverty, should be replaced by socialism, whose moral record is horrific; that little children should be taught that "boys" and "girls" are subjective categories and that "nonbinary" is normal; or that defunding police reduces violent crime?
No, they don't. Yet millions of nice liberals support those who believe those nihilistic, anti-American, anti-human ideas.
Many on the Left are neither nice nor good. But America is being destroyed by vile doctrines supported by a lot of nice people.
After saying these things about nice people who support evil on my radio show, the Left declared that I think slave owners were nice people and that I support slavery.
One of the most popular left-wing podcasts, "The Young Turks," spoke about me above the chyron: "Pro-Slavery Prager: Religious radio host argues slave owners were nice people."
And the left-wing English publication, The Independent, headlined, "Far-right radio host Dennis Prager sparks outrage by saying there were 'undoubtedly many nice slaveholders.'"
Intellectual honesty and morally sophisticated thought are not hallmarks of the Left.
The Hebrew month of Elul is here – the month, with its daily blowing of the shofar, that reminds you that Rosh Hashanah is just a short four weeks away and it's time to give serious thought to your personal responsibility to do your part to make the coming year a better one.
In light of the immensity of the problems facing the world, how can you make a difference? Can you imagine playing a role in actually changing the world?
Judaism gives a startling answer. Maimonides expressed it through a remarkable illustration. Every person, he taught in his Laws of Repentance, needs to think that as God judges the world before the High Holy Days, He finds it perfectly balanced between its transgressions and good deeds. God's final judgment is held back until you are brought into the equation. And if your deeds also seem to be almost perfectly balanced between good and evil, then just one additional good deed, no matter how small it may be, can be the one to tilt your judgment favorably, which in turn would decide the fate of all of humankind.
Changing the world begins with two words: think small.
Maimonides is impressing upon us that every action you make has consequences on the divine scale of judgment.
That's why the most important piece of advice I can give about ways to change the world are two words: think small.
Just a few years ago Muhammad Yunus won the Nobel peace prize for turning the concept of thinking small into a major innovation that has already revolutionized the banking system as well as the lives of millions of people. It was in 1974 that Bangladesh was hit by a devastating flood followed by a severe famine. Yunus decided to lend $27 without any collateral to a group of women of the city of Joba nearby the University where he worked as a teacher. Women there made bamboo baskets but were forced to sell them at such a low price that could barely pay for the raw material. They could never purchase larger amounts for lack of capital. Yunus initiated what is now known as microcredit, allowing poor people anxious to make a go of small businesses to succeed.
With the small sum they received they were able to finance their work and to establish themselves. Micro-finance, or microcredit, was born. Thinking small, something never practiced before, created a new way of life and of opportunity. One small act changed the balance of the scale – and millions today prosper.
And there is yet another way to think small. It is expressed beautifully by way of a story told in the name of the great 20 century rabbi, the Chofetz Chaim.
At one time, he was asked how he was able to have such a great impact on the Jewish world. This is how he answered: "Originally, I set out to change the world, but I failed. So I decided to scale back my efforts and only influence the Jewish community of Poland, but I failed there, too. So I targeted the community of my hometown of Radin, but I achieved no greater success. Then I gave all my effort to changing my own family and I failed at that as well. Finally, I decided to change myself and that's how I had such an impact on the Jewish world."
Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.
Leo Tolstoy came to the same conclusion. "Everyone thinks of changing the world," he wrote, "but no one thinks of changing himself." And so the world continues with its myriad flaws, everyone complaining about the common sins of others while paying very little attention to themselves.
Most people want to change the world to improve their lives, but the world they need to change first is the one inside themselves.
There is a movement today that has taken the concept a step further into practice. It concerns itself not with the really large issues, issues which realistically most of us will be unable to influence, but with the smaller daily interactions which in fact define everyday life. It's called "small acts of kindness" and I love it precisely because its demands are so easy and yet, if universally practiced, would really change our lives.
The suggestions are simple. Choose one or a dozen:
Give a genuine compliment to somebody at least once a day.
Write down what you appreciate about another family member and pass it along.
Check in with someone who's sick.
Ask if you can help someone who may be having a difficult time in life right now.
Lend your vehicle to take someone without one shopping for their necessities.
Hold the door open for the person behind you.
Make a card for someone special.
Deliver flowers anonymously to a hospital patient.
Ask a senior citizen about their life story and truly listen.
Give a hug to a loved one or friend.
Offer to pay another person's food bill.
Lend a hand to someone doing hard work.
Donate to a homeless person, perhaps give them some food.
Leave a kind server a generous tip.
Let a person out from a side road who's waiting to get into the main road.
Help another parent out with a stroller or carrying things.
Give someone a book that you no longer need.
Give your parents or grandparents a call just because.
Volunteer at a community event.
Grandiose plans are great – but we rarely do them. Impressive ideas for changing the world are, yes, impressive but frequently impractical and unrealizable. So perhaps this year before Rosh Hashanah we could scale down our ambitions and think small – and in that way change ourselves and our own world.