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 time appointed by G‑d for the Messianic redemption is a closely guarded secret.1 Nonetheless, we are offered many hints to recognize its proximity: when certain conditions come about, await the imminent coming of Mashiach.
Most of these conditions are quite disturbing, clearly displaying a situation of the very “bottom of the pit.”2 One major source describes the world-condition in those days as follows: increase in insolence and impudence; oppressing inflation; unbridled irresponsibility on the part of authorities; centers of learning will turn into bawdy houses; wars; many destitutes begging, with none to pity them; wisdom shall be putrid; the pious shall be despised; truth will be abandoned; the young will insult the old; family-breakup with mutual recriminations; impudent leadership.3
Other sources add: lack of scholars; a succession of troubles and evil decrees; famines; mutual denunciations; epidemics of terrible diseases; poverty and scarcity; cursing and blaspheming; international confrontations nations provoking and fighting each other.4 In short, it will be a time of suffering that will make it look as if G‑d were asleep. These are the birthpangs of Mashiach, bearable only in anticipation of the bliss that follows them.
“When you see a generation ever dwindling, hope for him… when you see a generation overwhelmed by many troubles as by a river, await him.”5 “When you see nations fighting each other, look toward the feet of Mashiach.”6
Little wonder that some sages expressed apprehensions about those days in terms of, “Let [Mashiach] come, but let me not see him.”7 The prevailing attitude, however, is to await his coming in spite of all, even if thereafter we shall merit no more than sitting “in the shadow of his donkey’s dung!”8
The troubles and agony of chevlei Mashiach (birthpangs of Mashiach), however, are not unavoidable:
“What is man to do to be spared the pangs of Mashiach? Let him engage in Torah and acts of loving-kindness!”9
Moreover, there are also good and happy signs indicating the imminent coming of Mashiach: a good measure of prosperity;10 a renewal of Torah-study;11 and opening of the “gates of wisdom above and the wellsprings of wisdom below,”12 evidenced also by scientific and technological discoveries and advances; a manifestation and propagation of the mystical teachings of the Torah;13 and also “In the time that Mashiach will awaken, many signs and miracles will occur in the world.”14
1.Pesachim 54b; Midrash Tehilim 9:2. See Zohar Chadash, Bereishit, 8a.
2.Midrash Tehilim 45:3. See Ma’amarei Admur Hazaken-Ethalech, p. 103f.; and Besha’ah Shehik-dimu-5672, vol. I:p. 551; relating this to the principle (Midrash Tehilim 22:4; Zohar II:46a) that the darkest moments of the night are immediately before daybreak. Cf. Zohar I:170a. For this analogy see also the comment of R. Elijah, the Vilna Gaon, cited in Even Shelemah, ch. 11:5.
13.Zohar I:118a. See Zohar Chadash, Tikunim, 96c; and Mayanei Hayeshu’ah, I:2. Cf. below, note 84. Note also Igeret Teyman, ch. 3, that prophecy shall be restored to Israel prior to the coming of Mashiach.
Israel's oldest man dies at 117, death attributed to coronavirus isolation
Since the coronavirus outbreak, he has been confined to his home.
By JERUSALEM POST STAFF OCTOBER 12, 2020
Shlomo Sulayman, Israel's oldest man, passed away on Sunday at the age of 117, Ynet reported.
His grandson Gil Radia said that Sulayman stayed sharp into old age and that he was a generally healthy and active person – Sulayman even lived alone until the end – but it was the solitude that the coronavirus pandemic brought with it that caused the end of his grandfather's life.
Sulayman's wife passed away several years ago at the age of 94, and he has since lived alone. Since the coronavirus outbreak, he has been confined to his home.
"It did him harm," Radia said.
According to his grandson, Sulayman would go to synagogue every day, even at the age of 116, however, following the virus outbreak, Radia attributes the isolation to the deterioration of his grandfather's health.
Radia said that his grandfather's "mind was clear until the last moment," and that he was known as a scholar of Jewish scripture in addition to going to synagogue every day. These actions led to people coming to him for sage advice on the religion. They would do "exactly as he told them after he looked over the texts."
His grandson Gil Radia attributed Sulayman's longevity to being physically active and not eating much.
A Helper against Him
It is not good for man to be alone. G-d says so in Bereishis (2:18). It is not good that man be alone; I will make him a helper corresponding to him (in Hebrew עזר כנגדו).
The word Ezer means helper, and the word k’negdo takes on various explanations, each defining the role of woman in completing and perfecting G-d’s creation-man.
Though the word k’negdo may mean opposite him, it does not necessarily mean a negative connotation. Opposite him, defines a relationship. One can not be the opposite of no one.
What is G-d trying to say? What was wrong with just a helper? Rashi quotes the Talmud that explains there is no middle ground in relationships. If one merits then the spouse is a helper, and if one does not merit the spouse is against him.
As a marriage counselor, I have couples coming to see me with problems in getting along. Especially in these days of Corona when people are stuck on lockdown with each other, tempers flare.
Especially during football and playoff seasons, wives are left out and feel they are lost. The wife said to me in one counseling session: “My husband is only interested in sports teams. That’s all he wants to do each night.”
The husband put his hands on his hips and faced off: “And what about her? All she wants to do is watch the evening sitcoms and serials! They are meaningless fantasies, I am at least watching something real!”
It seemed like a fairly easy problem to solve, I said, “Why don’t you just buy a second TV and keep it in different rooms and you can then both watch what you want!”
DIFFERENT ROOMS?? THEY CRIED. How can we watch in different rooms? That is the only time we spend together when we watch TV.
The appropriate helper is not one who spends his/her time ina different world with different interests with no concern for the other. Those who do are roommates, not a couple. Rather one must stand opposite the spouse and face him/her. The Torah envisions two sets of eyes facing each other. Sometimes in agreement, sometimes in disagreement, as long as they are opposite each other. This was G-d’s plan to avoid loneliness, as he said it was not good for man (or woman) to be alone. We have a partner opposite us.
There is a little known Midrash about Adam discussing his potential mate with G-d. “G-d,” Adam said I want a mate that will do anything I say, love me, take care of me, fulfill all my sexual desires and never argue with me.”
“I see,” said G-d. “That will come at a heavy price. It will cost you an arm and a leg.”
Adam considered and said, “that is a heavy price, what can I get for a rib?”
Ludwig Bemelmans’ Madeline And The Jewish Connection To Léon Blum
Although Ludwig Bemelmans (1898-1962) is not a universally recognized name, one of his fictional creations is: Madeline, an indomitable little Parisian girl.
Although he was a hotelier and restaurateur; a cartoonist and illustrator of hundreds of magazine articles; a novelist, anthologist, and journalist; a theatrical designer and screenwriter (his best known work being “Yolanda and the Thief”); an advertising man (including a famous ad for Jell-O) and interior decorator, he achieved everlasting renown for his six Madeline books, the first of which was published in 1939 and was named a Caldecott Honor Book (1949).
Considered one of the leading classics of children’s literature for ages 3 to 8, the Madeline books have sold well over 10 million copies and spawned an entire merchandising industry. The first story was later adapted into a short animated film by United Productions of America (1952), which earned an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Short Film. A subsequent book, Madeline’s Rescue, earned a Caldecott Medal (1954) and a New York Times Outstanding Book of the Year designation.
Each Madeline story begins in identical fashion with a rhyming cadence well-known to generations of parents and their children for over 80 years:
In an old house in Paris, That was covered with vines, Lived twelve little girls In two straight lines.
The book tells the story of 12 little girls, the smallest and most adventurous of whom is Madeline, who live together in a boarding school in Paris under the supervision of Miss Clavel. Most critics claim the girls’ home is an orphanage and that Miss Clavel is a nun – which is simply incorrect; in fact, in one story, Madeline receives a beautiful dollhouse from her father, which makes her the envy of the other 11 girls, and there is considerable evidence to support the proposition that Miss Clavel is, in fact, a nurse.
As Bemelmans tells it in the first Madeline book:
In the middle of one night Miss Clavel turned on her light and said, “Something is not right!” Little Madeline sat in bed, cried and cried – her eyes were red. And soon after Dr. Cohn came, he rushed out to the phone, “Nurse,” he said, “it’s an appendix!” not a single eye was dry. Madeline was in his arm in a blanket safe and warm.
Madeline’s surgery was successful, though she was left with a scar, and all the other girls wanted to have the same surgery so that they, too, could get toys and candy.
In his June 22, 1954 speech accepting his Caldecott Award, Bemelmans disclosed the origins of Madeline and said he purposely made Madeline’s doctor a Jewish physician and that he modeled Dr. Cohn after Léon Blum, the first Jewish prime minister of France.
The Madeline stories began to take shape during a family vacation in France when, while riding home on his bike, Bemelmans was struck by a car. While in the hospital having his injuries treated, a little girl who had an appendix operation stood up in bed and proudly displayed her scar to him.
He was apparently inspired by the tenderness of the doctor who treated the little girl. As he tells it, “if you take a look at the book, you will see that the doctor who runs to Madeline’s bed is the great patriot and humanitarian Léon Blum.” He was thinking specifically of Blum’s kindness and gentleness in describing Madeline being “safe and warm” in the doctor’s arms.
However, notwithstanding his affection for Blum, there is evidence that Bemelmans was an anti-Semite. Benno Weiser Varon, a leader of the Jewish community in Quito who knew Bemelmans well, declared that Bemelmans was a Jew-hater who, among other things, urged the Quito Tennis Club to exclude Jews. Varon, a fascinating character in his own right, served as editor of Quito’s leading newspaper; played a crucial role in securing Ecuador’s pivotal vote in favor of the UNSCOP partition plan for Eretz Yisrael; and served as Ecuador’s first ambassador to Israel and later as Israel’s ambassador to Paraguay.
There are any number of other specifically Jewish characters in Bemelmans’ work. For example, in the humorous The Eye of God (1949), set during the Anschluss and World War II, he writes of a Jewish banker who has managed to buy his security with money and lies. In the hilarious When You Lunch with the Emperor (published posthumously in 2005), he draws on his experiences working his way up from busboy to waiter to banquet manager at the Ritz-Carlton hotel, and describes some of the entertaining characters and crazy scenes he saw along the way, including those at big Jewish weddings.
Moreover, Bemelmans agent, who was sometimes described as his “ghost artist,” was Ervine Metzl, the Chicago born son of Jewish immigrants from Bohemia. Metzl (1899-1963) was an American graphic artist and illustrator best known for his posters, including several still-famous posters he designed for the Chicago Transit Authority in the early 1920s, and postage stamp designs, including commemoratives for the first World Refugee Year, the Lincoln Sesquicentennial, and the 1960 Winter Olympics.
Readers may be interested in Avigail, a Jewish takeoff of the Madeline stories by Chana Zauderer and illustrated by Mary Abadi (Feldheim, 2015) in which four Jewish girls engage in various Jewish activities with the youngest, Avigail, always the last to do everything.
* * * * *
Distinguished lawyer, jurist, journalist, poet, drama critic, and political leader, Léon Blum (1872-1950) is perhaps best known for being the first Jew and the first socialist to become French Premier.
During his three terms, he forged closer relations with the United States, worked to suppress fascism, introduced a 40-hour work week and paid vacations for workers, nationalized the Bank of France and the war industries, and carried out an extensive program of social reform including, in classic socialist fashion, redistribution of the nation’s wealth.
After graduating the Sorbonne with the highest honors in law, Blum became close with French Socialist leader Jean Jaurès, which led to his joining the Socialist Party in 1899 and his later election to the prestigious Chamber of Deputies in 1919. When the party split in December 1920 with the Communists winning a majority, taking control of the machinery of government, including the national press, Blum became the unquestioned leader in the reconstruction of the Socialist Party.
After the 1934 Paris riots, which many consider to be the beginning of fascism in France, Blum began to work on the left-wing alliance that became the Front Populaire. In the 1936 elections, the Front won a large majority and Blum, its chief architect, became Premier. At the same time, his social reforms aroused the bitterness of French industrialists as well as the French right wing, which displayed pro-German tendencies and conducted a violent campaign of personal vilification against Blum tinged with anti-Semitism.
After the French collapse in 1940, Blum, refusing to flee – he was in great danger as both a Jew and a Socialist – bravely remained in France, where he was indicted by the Vichy government and brought to trial. His brilliant defense, however, so embarrassed the Nazis that they ordered the suspension of his trial; he was incarcerated for five years, first in Buchenwald and then in Dachau, before being freed by U.S. forces in May 1945. After World War II, he was again elected prime minister of France and became a respected elder statesman.
Exhibited here is a June 30, 1949 correspondence to Paul Angoulvent from Blum on his “Le Populaire” letterhead written as director of the Organe Central Du Parti Socialiste (the Central Organ of the Socialist Party) in which he sincerely and cordially acknowledges receipt of Angoulvent’s June 20th letter and for the works he was kind enough to forward.
Angoulvent (1899-1976) was a French publisher and Louvre museum curator who directed the University Presses of France beginning in 1934. After France’s liberation in 1944, he was convicted of ousting Pierre-Marcel Lévi, the Jewish director of his publishing house.
Blum was born into a Jewish family where his mother kept kosher, regularly lit Shabbat candles, and taught her children to recite prayers in Hebrew. He celebrated his bar mitzvah in synagogue, and the family regularly gathered together for the Jewish festivals. He remained observant early in his life, though he characterized Judaism as “nothing more than a collection of superstitions observed without any conviction, simply out of respect for ancestors.”
When he was admitted to an advanced French school, he brought kosher food with him and, on one occasion, his professor noted in his diary that “Blum brought unleavened bread and meat prepared according to the Jewish rite.” He married Jewish women – three of them (his second wife was the sister of composer Paul Dukas, famous for The Sorcerer’s Apprentice) – and the first wedding was held at the Grand Synagogue in Paris.
Like many of his countrymen, however, Blum later became wholly assimilated and non-observant, although he was always conscious of his Jewish origins – something that French anti-Semites would later never let him forget.
Notwithstanding his assimilationist desire to become a successful socialite and to blend into the upper echelons of French society, Jewish issues played an important role in his life. His reporting on the infamous Dreyfus Affair was perhaps the formative event of his political life, and his strong support for Dreyfus resulted in a massive escalation of anti-Semitic allegations and activities against him.
The anti-Semitism against him only grew as he gained political power, and a most powerful tide of anti-Semitism was unleashed when he was elected premier in 1936 as leader of a Socialist government. Before his election, he was dragged out of his vehicle by an anti-Semitic group and nearly beaten to death and, upon his election, opposition leader Xavier Vallat took the floor of the Chamber of Deputies and made the following infamous statement:
Your coming to power is undoubtedly a historic event. For the first time this old Gallo-Roman country will be governed by a Jew. I dare say out loud what the country is thinking, deep inside: it is preferable for this country to be led by a man whose origins belong to his soil than by a cunning Talmudist.
Vallat further alleged that, rather than acting in the best interests of France, Blum would be making foreign policy only after consulting with his fellow Jews. With calls of “death to the Jews!,” the fascist right, which would later comprise the pro-Nazi Vichy French government, enthusiastically endorsed Vallat’s speech. Urging the Chamber of Deputies to take seriously the Protocols of the Elder of Zion – the notorious and disgusting fake anti-Semitic screed – it announced that “the Government of Léon Blum puts the Jewish Question [sic] before the French people for the first time since the Dreyfus affair.”
In response, Blum proudly acknowledged his Judaism and answered: “I am a Jew. That is a fact [and] you do me no injury by reminding me of the race to which I belong and have never renounced and toward which I feel only gratitude and pride.”
Sympathetic to Zionist aspirations, Blum was one of the founders of the “Socialist Pro- Palestine Committee” (August 1928), which formally expressed recognition of the achievements of the new Jewish commonwealth in Eretz Yisrael; resolved that Zionism “based on work, on Socialist transformation and international solidarity, deserves the assistance of all Socialists;” and cited the Biblical prophecy of Amos 9:15: “They will never again be uprooted from the land I have given them.”
A close friend of Chaim Weizmann, he accepted the Jewish leader’s invitation to represent French Jewry in the Council of the Jewish Agency. He was also a strong supporter of Keren Hayesod and served as a member of the French Palestine Committee in Paris.
After World War II, Blum did not merely pay lip service in support of increased Jewish immigration to Eretz Yisrael, but rather championed the Zionist cause. Citing Herzl’s famous motto, “If you will it, it is no dream,” he publicly and dramatically declared the birth of the Jewish Commonwealth in Eretz Yisrael; assumed a leading role in influencing the French government’s pro-Jewish vote on the United Nations decision on Palestine (1947); and was instrumental in preventing British diplomatic pressure from stopping the flow of Jewish illegal immigration from Central Europe through France to Eretz Yisrael.
“Kfar Léon Blum,” a settlement begun by the Labor Zionist Habonim on the banks of the Jordan River at the foot of Mount Hermon about four miles from Kiryat Shemoneh as a permanent memorial to Blum, was formally inaugurated on November 10, 1943 during a ceremony attended by representatives of the Jewish community of Eretz Yisrael and the French Committee of National Liberation.
Speakers included the French consul-general, who expressed his appreciation for the friendship extended by the Jews of Eretz Yisrael to France; Golda Meirson (later Meir), on behalf of the Histadrut; and Dr. Abraham Granovsky (Granot), a JNF director and later a signer of Israel’s declaration of Independence.
One of Blum’s greatest wishes went unfulfilled: he desperately wanted to be able to visit Eretz Yisrael and to see Kfar Blum, but it was not to be. In his adult life, Blum had nothing to do with Jewish practice, and so in his death: in disregard of Jewish law, he was buried at the Montmartre Cemetery in Paris on the first day of Passover after a non-Jewish funeral service.
Evidence of first metallurgy furnaces, from 6,500 years ago, found in Beersheba
Scientific study of early copper smelting shows necessity was not the mother of invention, but rather human intellectual curiosity and the desire to show off
By Amanda Borschel-Dan
A new archaeological study shows that even some 6,500 years ago, Israel was already a start-up nation — complete with a metallurgy R&D hub in Beersheba. Salvage excavations in the Negev Desert capital in 2017 revealed 6,500-year-old copper smelting workshops using the earliest-known evidence of furnaces instead of small portable crucibles for metallurgy.
“This is the high tech of the period, there was no more sophisticated technology,” said Tel Aviv University Prof. Erez Ben-Yosef. The movement from crucible to furnace represents cutting-edge technology, said Ben-Yosef.
Metallurgy emerged in the Southern Levant during the second half of the 5th millennium BCE. According to Ben-Yosef, the Beersheba discovery indicates a technological evolution from an earlier method of smelting ore, which used small pottery crucibles, to these newly uncovered, larger in-ground furnaces.
The innovation allowed for a two-step smelting process in industrialized workshops uncovered in several Beersheba-area settlements. These workshops, he said, were manned by highly specialized craftsmen that produced pure copper ingots and some ceremonial objects.
“There is no doubt that ancient Beersheba played an important role in advancing the global metal revolution and that in the fifth millennium BCE the city was a technological powerhouse for this whole region,” he said in a Tel Aviv University press release.
The findings were published in the study “Firing up the furnace: New insights on metallurgical practices in the Chalcolithic Southern Levant from a recently discovered copper-smelting workshop at Horvat Beter (Israel),” which appeared in the scientific Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports.
The Horvat Beter site was excavated ahead of a neighborhood expansion in Beersheba. “The surprising finds include a small workshop for smelting copper with shards of a furnace – a small installation made of tin in which copper ore was smelted — as well as a lot of copper slag,” said Talia Abulafia, director of the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority.
The Horvat Beter settlement is identified with the Chalcolithic period’s Ghassulian culture, which is known for its fine craftsmanship. There, raw copper ore, mined 100 kilometers away in Jordan’s mineral-rich Wadi Faynan, was refined in what Ben-Yosef calls a “magical” process.
“It was not that they threw this green mineral into the fire and woke up and got copper,” Ben-Yosef told The Times of Israel. Production required sophisticated knowledge of temperature control, mineral mixture and many other parameters. “The end result was like magic — you take a rock and turn it into this shiny wonderful material,” he said.
The study included elemental analysis of ceramics and slag which was primarily conducted by a portable X-ray fluorescence instrument, according to the article. The team analyzed 14 crucible fragments, 18 presumed-furnace fragments and 26 pieces of slag.
“Our results demonstrate clearly that the metallurgical workshop at Horvat Beter was dedicated only to the smelting of copper,” write the authors. The study was conducted by Ben-Yosef, Dana Ackerfeld and Omri Yagel of the Jacob M. Alkow Department of Archeology and Ancient Near Eastern Civilizations at Tel Aviv University, in conjunction with the Israel Antiquities Authority’s Abulafia, Dr. Yael Abadi-Reiss and Dmitry Yegorov, and Dr. Yehudit Harlavan of the Geological Survey of Israel.
Copper beads and the mineral’s use as a pigment preceded its use as a purified metal — the making of which was “magic.” Ben-Yosef believes the Beersheba craftsmen operated in guild-like clusters that carefully guarded their workshops’ secrets. He believes the craftsmen were an elite segment of the fledgling societal hierarchy.
There was variety among the different workshops in the area: “Differing sizes of crucibles indicates competition among workshops, exploration of technology,” write the authors. According to the TAU press release, “A chemical analysis of remnants indicates that every workshop had its own special ‘recipe,’ which it did not share with its competitors.”
The craftsmen traded with people who lived in the area of the copper mines 100 kilometers (62 miles) away in Jordan for the ore. After purification into ingots, the metal was then likely taken elsewhere to be molded into ceremonial objects.
Ben-Yosef said the technological innovation of the furnace was based on the craftsmen’s early scientific work and expertise in copper smelting — which he deeply respects. For the past several summers, graduate students have attempted to use reconstructed Beersheba furnaces to replicate the ancient copper production.
In June, “between the coronavirus lockdowns,” said Ben-Yosef, the team was finally able after several summers’ attempts to produce copper using the Beersheba methodologies during a graduate student seminar.
Ben-Yosef marveled at the Beersheba craftsmen’s ability to produce the metal without the use of chemistry or modern measuring tools. He said that they used “other clues,” such as a change in flame colors for the perfect temperature.
“What we do in our lab in Tel Aviv is to get a high-resolution picture of the changes through time, how they happened, how we have new ideas, all of which is still relevant today,” he said. He said his lab invests a lot of resources into replicating ancient methodologies.
“You read the [research] articles and you think you know, but in this real-time experience you discover that even when you think you know everything, it’s very different to do,” he said, adding that metallurgy was the most demanding technology of the period.
Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it gave us good copper
Counter to the common view that technological innovation is a matter of finding a need and filling it, the Beersheba pure copper ingots as well as the objects made from them were unlikely to have been used in a utilitarian manner, he said. The pure metal was too soft and too rare to have been used in everyday life to merely put food on the table.
Even pure copper items that look “utilitarian” were likely not. In the study, researchers examined pure copper axes and adzes for wear, but their clean edges indicate they were never used.
Ben-Yosef believes that the pristine “utilitarian” objects were imitations of the stone tools that were still commonly used during this era. The knock-offs would have been used in ceremonies or for exhibit as social status symbols. (The most famous examples of these ceremonial objects were found in 1960, when a large hoard of some 400 metal objects was discovered in the Judean Desert’s Nahal Mishmar Cave of the Treasure, which is on permanent display at Jerusalem’s Israel Museum.)
“I find it quite fascinating because people always think innovation comes with necessity — to create tools for farming or weapons to win a war — but here we have technological inventions related to human curiosity,” he said.
The notion that “some societies allowed people to play with materials and find new stuff without the pressure of putting food on the table” creates a more nuanced picture of these ancient societies, with resonance well beyond the scientific copper smelting study.
“The people of the past are not so different than the modern era and we see it in the technological evolution of metal,” said Ben-Yosef.
Yehuda Lave, Spirtiual Advisor and Counselor
Jerusalem, Jerusalem Israel
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