Yehuda Lave, Spiritual Advisor and Counselor

Appropriate Sadness

While it is theoretically possible to develop an attitude to totally prevent sadness, the Jewish view is there are times when such feelings are appropriate.

For example, we have an obligation to cry over the death of another person. Also, we should care enough about potential suffering to pray that it will not come. And we utilize these situations as reminders to improve ourselves.

Love Yehuda Lave

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Some of the most rare images from history - those which express the most powerful events that have ever happened in the world. You absolutely cannot miss them. These are the jewels from the past.

When you carry something in hand, your attention is naturally focused on that item.

The Torah tells us (7:9) that the sacred vessels of the Tabernacle (the Ark, Menorah, etc.) were to be physically transported by the Kehas Levite family without the help of wagons. When centuries later, King David did not comply with this directive, tragedy struck (Sotah 35a). The question begs itself: why the insistence on carrying the Ark in such a fashion?

 

Rav Soloveitchik suggests that this behavior finds its source in how Yaakov was transported by his sons There (Bereishis 46:5) we are told that the sons of Yaakov carried him aloft as they traveled down to Egypt. “Moving Yaakov was a holy service, akin to bearing the Ark. No matter how sacred the Tablets in the Aron, they were nevertheless made of stone. Yaakov was a living sacred being. The ‘word of HaShem’ was part of Yaakov’s personality, engraved not on dead matter, but on living tissue, the parchment of his heart.”

 

When you carry something in hand, your attention is naturally focused on that item. Precisely because it is so precious, you do not want to risk any disruptions that might result in harming that which you are holding. In a word, there cannot be any “hesech ha’daas, no distractions when occupied with hekdesh, that which is holy. This was exactly why the Ark could not be placed on a wagon for transport. That which is sacred must be held close signifying its extraordinary importance to you, and even more, reflecting the intense love you have for that object.

 

Marriage is called nissuin, which denotatively means that which is elevated and raised high. Based upon the above insight of the Rav, can we not say that marriage is a commitment to “carry one another” with all that it implies? When two people pledge their love to each other, aren’t they committing to care and attend to the other with a focus that declares, “You are supremely precious to me; you matter to me so very much because, as the Eishes Chayil is praised, “You rise above all else,” and I want to keep you close to me, never to forget and always to be conscious and aware of the special gift that I merited in having you as my beloved spouse.”

 

And should you ask why nissuin precipitates such total devotion, the answer is clear. Under the chuppah, before the nissuin blessings, there is the act of kiddushin. The chasan announces to his wife-to-be that she is to be sanctified unto him. She accepts and the kiddushin performance becomes a reciprocal declaration that each views the other as living sacred beings. As such, nissuin ineluctably follows. Like Yaakov and the Holy Ark, that which is holy must be carried; tended and cared for, loved and cherished – always!

 

Now, is there a better way for two people to begin their life together?

 

A person should always be flexible like a reed, and not rigid like a cedar (Taanis 20a).

 

Some people forget that they have the right to be wrong. They may see being wrong as showing weakness. They grossly misunderstand the true concept of strength.

In the physical world, many substances that are very rigid are also fragile. Glass, for instance, is hard but shatters into many splinters, and metals which lack resilience are apt to break under pressure.

Rigidity in people frequently shows ignorance. If people do something without understanding why they are doing it, they are likely to become very defensive when challenged. The reason is obvious: if they do not understand the reason for their actions, they of course do not know if they have any room for compromise. Since they can respond only in an all-or-nothing manner, they perceive any questioning of their principles or practices as a threat or even as a hostile attack. They therefore react defensively.

Willingness to listen to advice, to consider it, and to alter our opinion when the advice appears to be the correct thing to do are signs of strength, not of weakness. Honor means being honest, not being right all the time. As the Talmud says, "You should not say, `You must accept my opinion,' because the others may be right and not you" (Ethics of the Fathers 4:10).


Today I shall ...

try to be flexible, to listen to other opinions, and not be obstinate in insisting that I am always right.

Body Piercing

Everybody in my high school is getting their body parts pierced. I think some of the piercing is attractive – like multiple earrings or the navel. But some of them are gross – studs in the tongue or pierced eyebrows. I was shocked in gym class to see how many girls have piercings in other parts of the body. I'm getting peer pressure to join the crowd. I'm also worried about my little brother because the guys in school sometimes take piercing to a real extreme. What does Judaism have to say about all this?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

 

Body piercing per se is not forbidden. Our matriarch Rebecca not only had her ears pierced, but wore a nose ring as well, which was the custom at that time. (see Genesis 24:22)

In Jewish law, the main determination is whether a particular body piercing is done for a constructive purpose. Excessive body piercing without a constructive purpose is considered making a wound, which the Torah forbids (Deut. 4:9, 15; Code of Jewish Law – C.M. 420:31). Certainly piercing done for the sake of mutilating the body is clearly forbidden.

As for men, if we're talking about a society where men also pierce their ears or other parts of their body for beauty, it is permitted – see "Rashi" Exodus 32:2. If, however, it is common for only women to pierce, but not for men, it is forbidden to don a woman's attire or jewelry, and therefore is not allowed. (Code of Jewish Law – Y.D. 182:1)

Also, if it is done for erotic reasons, it is forbidden as a violation of the command to "be holy." (Igrot Moshe – E.H. 4:66)

But the real question is why you want it: If it's to be fashionable and "in," know that there are many people walking around today who regret having done things in their youth that cannot be undone. Is it a call for attention? I think there are more constructive ways to express yourself than to make permanent marks on your body.

In terms of your own personal growth and development, the piercing is probably not a very good idea, since it may mean identifying with a certain strata of society who may not best represent your own goals and values.

Unfortunately in today's society, kids have simply no limits and you must therefore try to set a boundary for yourself. Since you are going to have to draw the line somewhere, it may as well be here.

By the way, there is a Jewish stigma to male ear piercing, since this was a Biblical sign of a slave who wasn't interested in going free. (see Exodus 21:6)

Kosher Species

Has anyone ever published an exhaustive list of all the kosher species?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

 

The Torah (Leviticus 11:3) lists the characteristics of permitted animals as those with fully split hooves, who also chew their cud (ruminants). Kosher animals are always mammals and herbivores. The kosher animals commonly eaten today are the cow, goat and sheep. Buffalo meat, which has higher protein and lower fat content than cows, is becoming increasingly popular. Deer meat (venison) is a delicacy, but is rare to find due to the difficulty in properly containing the deer in order to shecht it (kosher slaughter).

As for birds, the Torah enumerates 24 forbidden species, and the Talmud explains that, among other signs, all birds of prey (vulture, hawk, eagle) are forbidden. In practice today, we eat only those birds for which there is an established tradition that the bird is kosher – e.g. chicken, turkey, duck and goose.

As for "kosher eggs," they must come from a species of kosher bird (e.g. chicken).

Would you do that ride? Which friend would go with you?

too dangerous for me

See you tomorrow

Love Yehuda Lave

Rabbi Yehuda Lave

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