Yehuda Lave, Spiritual Advisor and Counselor

Radiate Friendliness

I remember going with my sister to the synagogue as a five year old. The neighborhood was a tough one. There weren't very many individuals with yarmulkes, and I would feel a bit uncomfortable. But my Sister kept telling me not to be self-conscious. She radiated self-confidence and friendliness.

Her good nature enabled her to view everyone as a friend -- and people reciprocated.

We were not shomer shabbat at the time and it was raining outside, but since we had taken the bus, we weren't very wet. The people asked her how we were dry, and she said we walked between the raindrops.

Love Yehuda Lave

The Most Important Question About Abortion

This is what you have to reconcile before forming an opinion on abortion.

In order that God will bless you in all the work of your hands (Deuteronomy 24:19).

 

Sometimes we dream up a worthwhile project, but we hesitate to undertake it because it seems beyond our capacities. Obviously, people must be realistic and should not embark on something which is totally outlandish because it would require means or knowledge which they lack. However, we still shy away from many things that are achievable.

There is a folk saying: "The appetite comes with the eating." A person may not be hungry, yet when he or she sits at the table, and the food is served, the initial course actually stimulates the appetite. When we make a beginning and exert some effort, a Divine blessing may come. A composer may have but one melody in mind, but as he or she begins to write, one idea seems to inspire another, and an entire symphony comes to life.

I once heard a recovered alcoholic with many years of sobriety give instructions to a newcomer who was unable to comprehend how anyone could abstain from drinking for so many years when it was so difficult for him to abstain even for one day. "You just begin," he said. "It's like standing on the shore and wanting to get across when there is no boat. Someone says to you, `Start rowing,' and you say, 'How can I start rowing when there is no boat?' `Never mind,' the man responds, 'Just start rowing, and the boat will appear.' "

We must make the effort, and God will help us bring it to fruition.


Today I shall ...
not hesitate in making a beginning of things that I know that I should do, even if they may seem formidable.

Vasectomy

I’m getting to that stage in life where I don’t want to have any more children. I’m considering getting a vasectomy. My wife thinks it's better to leave the body as nature intended. What does Judaism say about all this?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

 

According to Jewish law, a vasectomy is absolutely forbidden.

Further, Jewish law states that one who undergoes a vasectomy is classified as a "kroos shafcha" (Deuteronomy 23:2) literally meaning one whose "flow has been cut.” Jewish law states that that one who falls into this category may not be married to a woman who is Jewish from birth. (He is however, permitted to marry a convert.) In fact, if he was married to a woman who was Jewish from birth and he underwent a vasectomy, he must get divorced.

Exactly who is classified as a "kroos shafcha" according to Jewish law? It includes any one of the following three people.

1) One whose penis has been severed

2) One whose testicles have been crushed

3) Or one who has undergone a vasectomy and has severed the tubes that bring the seed up from the testicles

These laws can be found in Maimonides (Laws of Forbidden Relations, Chapter 16), and in the Code of Jewish Law (Even Ha'ezer, Chapters 5 and 16).

To understand the reasons for these laws, consider:

1) Mutilation of a limb is a disruption of the Divine Plan. Given that man is a creation of God, it is imperative that every limb in the body is there for a reason. God is not fickle to create anything unnecessarily. Indeed, according to one who believes that God created man, there are no "vestigial organs" or anything of the sort. Nothing is extra, and removal or mutilation of organs is permitted only under very specific guidelines, for example, when the limb is endangering the person's life.

Mutilation or removal of an organ without halachic license is either ignorance or arrogance. Even if one thinks he has a good reason, he must submit to the superior wisdom of God who has determined that the reason is not good enough.

2) Mutilation of a limb is an act of ingratitude. One’s body is not his own property. One’s body is a gift from God and it belongs to Him. We were not given the right to mutilate our bodies at will. Mutilation of this gift is an act of ingratitude before God. Imagine getting an expensive painting from a dear friend. Upon receiving the painting you promptly pull out a pocketknife and slash a hole in the painting. Does this not show a lack of appreciation and gratitude for this wonderful gift?

3) Mutilation of a limb disrupts spiritual growth. We are taught in Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism), that every part of the body represents a physical vessel for the spiritual counterpart in the soul. In kabbalah it is taught that there are 613 limbs in the human corresponding to the 613 mitzvot.

According to kabbalah, the soul attains perfection by using its physical counterpart according to the will of God, through the performance of positive mitzvot and through the abstention from negative commandments. Keeping that in mind one can begin to see how by damaging a physical organ one can affect the soul. And how by mutilating the body intentionally one can even cause imperfection in the soul that can change the person's halachic status.

This discussion pertains to those who are considering having a vasectomy. How about someone who already has a vasectomy and is married? In order for Jewish law to permit staying married, the person would need a vasovasostomy done to repair the vasectomy. If the experienced surgeon/doctor declares that semen flow has been restored to the previous condition, then he may remain married. The vasovasostomy success rate is high for those who were vasectomized within 10 years, and is conceivable that they may remain married. (source: "Igros Moshe" E.H. 4:31) In such a case one should be in touch with a competent halachic authority to find out what is required for this second operation to be considered a successful reversal of the status of a "kroos shafcha."

Moreover, if the vasectomy was done in a manner that the vas deferens was cut outside the scrotum (the section within the body cavity), then one may remain married to (or marry) a Jewish-born woman. ("Chazon Ish" E.H. 12:7)

You may be interested to read an interview with Dr. Sherman Silber, a leading international authority on vasectomy reversal: www.aish.com/ci/be/48880577.html

D’var Torah on Shabbat Parshat Chukat

 

Recall  Parshat Shelach related the story of meraglim, the spies who were sent to reconnoiter the land of Canaan and bring back a report.

They reported to Moshe and the people that Eretz Yisrael, while a land of milk and honey, was a land that devours its inhabitants, a land of giants and fortified cities…and it could not be overtaken in battle. They said that the Cannanites saw them as grasshoppers. And that’s how they saw themselves…as grasshoppers.

After 40 years in the desert with many intervening challenges and tragedies, the 2nd generation following the Exodus had a new temperament, a new gestalt and a new attitude toward reaching The Promised Land, only a short distance away. This morning’s reading of Parshat Chukat introduces the Israelites as a people of action, of movement and as victorious warriors.

Not since Avraham Avinu travelled from Ur Kasdim and from Charan to Canaan…or Yaakov Avinu bolted from Be’ersheva back to Charan, have we seen such dynamic movement.

The Exodus from Egypt and the escape from Pharaohs chariots in the Red Sea were certainly dynamic. But the people were protected by Hashem and His angels in both cases. As Moshe Rabbeinu assured the people: “Hashem yilachem lachem…v’atem tacharishu”, G-d will fight for you and you, just keep quiet. Not so were the B’nei Yisrael in their march from Kadesh to the Plains of Moab…and in their battles with the forces of the Emorite Kingdoms of Sichon and Og as described in today’s parsha.

THE 40th YEAR IN THE DESERT

Parshat Chukat describes the events of the 40th year in the desert, the year that preceded Yohushua’s crossing of the Jordan River into Eretz Yisrael with multitudes of the B’nei Yisrael. During that last year, Miriam passes away in Kadesh…and with her passing…Miriam’s Well stopped producing water for our people. The people complained and Moshe entreated Hashem whereupon Hashem told him to talk with the rock so that water flows out of it. But instead he struck the rock and water did come out. But Hashem punished him for not obeying His exact instructions. He and Aharon Avinu were banished from entering Eretz Yisrael, a punishment that many Torah observers have difficulty with.

The pasuk then begins to show movement. The Israelites get up and leave Kadesh and skirt around Edom, the descendants of Esav. They seek entry along the Kings Highway for passage through to the Negev without stepping into the fields for food and by offering pay for water. The Edomites refuse, coming at them with a heavy military. The Jews back off and continue westward to a place known as Hor Hahar, where Aharon passes away, leaving the Kahuna, the chief priesthood, to his son Elazar. The Israelites mourn his passing with a 30-day mourning period. But as a result of Aharon’s demise, the Ananei Hakavod,’ the Clouds-of-Glory, disperse, removing the protection from the B’nei Yisrael, the protection they experienced throughout their 39 years in the desert.

To review, here are the five factors that impacted on the B’nei Yisrael and their temperament: 1) the generation of the Exodus, the ones who supported the negative assertions of the 10 spies, had passed away. 2) The prophetess Miriam had passed and with her passing the water well, which quenched the thirst of the Israelites all along their trip, dried up. 3) Her beloved brother Aharon, our first high priest, also died, and the Anananei Hakavod dispersed. And finally Moshe Rabbeinu’s lifetime was limited to the remaining weeks before the nation crossed the Jordan River because of hitting the rock at Mai Meriva. Nonetheless he served as general and commander in the Transjordan battles before he appointed Yehoshua to succeed him in the leadership.

AMALEK ONCE MORE

Now the King of Arad, or actually Amalek, perceived that without the Clouds of Glory, the Jews were no longer protected. So he gathered his Amalekite forces and attacked the Israelites…but this time the Hebrews fought back and whipped his army at a place called Hormah, codename for destruction. Yet despite the victory, the people still complained to Moshe: “Why did you bring us all this way from Egypt? We lack water and the manna diet is awful.” Hashem responded by popping the air with snakes, the kind that bite. Again Moshe prays fervently and Hashem tells him to fashion a copper snake likeness and place it high on a pole so the people, when they look up, will acknowledge the awesomeness of The Lord…and the decree of poison would stop. So it happened.

The people continued their trek, reaching to Nachal Zered, whence they crossed the Arnon River, a river flowing from west to east into the middle of the Dead Sea. On the north side of the Arnon is what used to be the land of Northern Moab but was now occupied by the forces Sichon, the Emorite King. Sichon was considered to be the superpower of the region. Juist before the B’nei Yisrael arrived, his army in a brutal assault attacked and conquered Northern Moab, the half above the Arnon River.

Please look at the map and find the Arnon River coming out of the middle of the Dead Sea. Find the southern part of Moab below the Arnon and the newly conquered part of Moab by the forces of Sichon. Well above the new Kingdom of Sichon is the Kingdom of Og and its capital Bashan, which is not shown. That area is located in what is now the Golan Heights. Right around the city of Jericho is where the B’nei Yisrael crossed the Yardain into Eretz Yisrael under the command of Yehoshua after the Emorite conquest.

The story of the snakes is followed by the Israelites’ irrepressible movement once more. Here the pasukim after shishi become complex and mysterious. Let me read for you the pesukim and explain them to the best of my understanding: “Vayisu Bnei Yisrael….” They journeyed and encamped in Oboth, Eeyai Ha’avarim facing Moab, then to the Valley of Zered on the other side of River Arnon, crossing from Moab into Sichon territory.

THE BOOK OF HASHEM’S WARS

Then the pasuk cites something strange…a reference to Sefer Milchamot Hashem, The Book of the Wars of Hashem. “Ahl kain yaiahmehr b’Sefer Milchamot Hashem, et vahaif b’Sufah v’et hanchalim Arnon.” Huh? What’s this all about? A citation, an attribution from a non-Toraic source? It’s not even in Hebrew.

The Ibn Ezra comments that this book was written from the time of Avraham but has since been lost. Rashi explains the meaning of the reference. He says that when the miracles of our ancestors are told the episode of what happened after the crossing of the River Arnon will figure greatly. Vahaif is a location, a place on the northern side of the river. B’Sufah is a reference to the miracle at the Yam Suf 40 years earlier. So what happened at Vahaif? Answer: The Emorites were hiding in caves along the high cliffs ready to push down boulders upon the B’nei Yisrael traversing along river bank. But some kind of blast or explosion took place in the caves and either buried or disabled the Sichon military.

When the B’nei Yisrael all crossed they burst into shirah, into song, as they did at the Yam Suf. Hashem provided them with drinking water as well. Moshe sent messengers to the Emorite leadership, asking them for passage through their land to Canaan without entering the farms or drinking their water. But Sichon refused and sent his troops to Yatzah to destroy the marchers. But B’nei Yisrael again prevailed. Vayakaihu Yisrael lefi charev…they killed the Emorites with sword and went on to capture their cities. The details of the battles are not described in the Torah but may be in The Book of the Wars of Hashem.

Our nation divested itself from the slave mentality following the Exodus…and from fear of giants of Canaan as reported by the 10 spies. They were ready to enter and settle in Eeretz Yisrael. But they had one more battle to fight on the west side of the Jordan…and that was against King Og of Bashan in the north above Lake Kinneret. And they were victorious again. They conquered both countries, its territories, cities and capitals…Cheshbon and Edrei.

And as you know from the Torah text subsequently, the Israelite tribes of Reuven, Gad and half of Menashe settled in these lands known to us as Ever Hayarden. Shabbat Shalom.

By: Ray Kestenbaum

True Facts : Pangolins Posse

"The tamandua, or lesser anteater... is not quite as graceful with the walking on the ground bit though. A bit like a bro after chest and tri's day at the gym."

Stella Awards

 
> I guess I never realized that 'a jury of your peers ' meant 12 people just as stupid as the plaintiff....
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> Stella Awards
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> It's time again for the annual " Stella Awards"! For those unfamiliar with these awards, they are named after 81-year-old Stella Liebeck who spilled hot coffee on herself and successfully sued the McDonald's in New Mexico, where she purchased coffee. You remember, she took the lid off the coffee and put it between her knees while she was driving. Who would ever think one could get burned doing that, right?
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> That's right; these are awards for the most outlandish lawsuits and verdicts in the U.S. You know, the kinds of cases that make you scratch your head. So keep your head scratcher handy.
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> Here are the Stella's for this year:
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> SEVENTH PLACE
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> Kathleen Robertson of Austin, Texas was awarded $80,000 by a jury of her peers after breaking her ankle tripping over a toddler who was running inside a furniture store. The store owners were understandably surprised by the verdict, considering the running toddler was her own son.
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> Start scratching!
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> SIXTH PLACE *
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> Carl Truman, 19, of Los Angeles, California won $74,000 plus medical expenses when his neighbor ran over his hand with a Honda Accord. Truman apparently didn't notice there was someone at the wheel of the car when he was trying to steal his neighbor's hubcaps.
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> Scratch some more...
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> FIFTH PLACE *
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> Terrence Dickson, of Bristol, Pennsylvania, was leaving a house he had just burglarized by way of the garage. Unfortunately for Dickson, the automatic garage door opener malfunctioned and he could not get the garage door to open. Worse, he couldn't re-enter the house because the door connecting the garage to the house locked when Dickson pulled it shut. Forced to sit for eight, count 'em, EIGHT days and survive on a case of Pepsi and a large bag of dry dog food, he sued the homeowner's insurance company claiming undue mental Anguish. Amazingly, the jury said the insurance company must pay Dickson $500,000 for his anguish. We should all have this kind of anguish Keep scratching. There are more..
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> Double hand scratching after this one..
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> FOURTH PLACE *
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> Jerry Williams, of Little Rock, Arkansas, garnered 4th Place in the
> Stella's when he was awarded $14,500 plus medical expenses after being bitten on the butt by his next door neighbor's beagle - even though the beagle was on a chain in its owner's fenced yard. Williams did not get as much as he asked for because the jury believed the beagle might have been provoked at the time of the butt bite because Williams had climbed over the fence into the yard and repeatedly shot the dog with a pellet gun.
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> Pick a new spot to scratch, you're getting a bald spot.
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> THIRD PLACE *
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> Amber Carson of Lancaster, Pennsylvania because a jury ordered a Philadelphia restaurant to pay her $113,500 after she slipped on a spilled soft drink and broke her tailbone The reason the soft drink was on the floor: Ms. Carson had thrown it at her boyfriend 30 seconds earlier during an argument.
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> Only two more so ease up on the scratching..
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> *SECOND PLACE*
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> Kara Walton, of Claymont, Delaware sued the owner of a night club in a nearby city because she fell from the bathroom window to the floor, knocking out her two front teeth. Even though Ms. Walton was trying to sneak through the ladies room window to avoid paying the $3.50 cover charge, the jury said the night club had to pay her $12,000....oh, yeah, plus dental expenses. Go figure.
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> Ok. Here we go!!
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> FIRST PLACE *
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> This year's runaway First Place Stella Award winner was: Mrs. Merv Grazinski, of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, who purchased a new 32-foot Winnebago motor home. On her first trip home, from an OU football game, having driven on to the freeway, she set the cruise control at 70 mph and calmly left the driver's seat to go to the back of the Winnebago to make herself a sandwich. Not surprisingly, the motor home left the freeway, crashed and overturned. Also not surprisingly, Mrs. Grazinski sued Winnebago for not putting in the owner's manual that she couldn't actually leave the driver's seat while the cruise control was set. The Oklahoma jury awarded her, are you sitting down?
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> $1,750,000.
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> PLUS a new motor home. Winnebago actually changed their manuals as a result of this suit, just in case Mrs. Grazinski has any relatives who might also buy a motor home.
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> If you think the USA court system is out of control, be sure to pass this one on.
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See you Sunday Shabbat Shalom

Love Yehuda Lave

Rabbi Yehuda Lave

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