Yehuda Lave, Spiritual Advisor and Counselor

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


To lead a fulfilling life, we must connect to something larger than ourselves. If this need is not met, we feel a sense of futility and an inner emptiness. GET BEYOND YOURSELF. Volunteer to pack food boxes for the poor or assist in a hospital or clean up the environment. You will be getting much more than you are giving.

Love Yehuda Lave

Inside Jerusalem's underground cemetery city that will house 23,000 bodies


Krakow two of Two 082819

On the boys first day in Krakow, we start with the walking Jewish tour.

There are seven synagogues in this area including the famous Ramu synagogue. However there are no active Jews, so they sit empty. I went to the Ramu on Thursday morning the 29th and I and a Hassid were the only ones there. Luckily Chabad davening is in an old warehouse nearby that saved the day. The Jewish area is called Kazimierz and was a separate area. The Ghetto they created was in an area across the river called Podgorze

Yiddish words used by many do you know their meaning?

Chutzpah - extreme arrogance 
Heimish - homey, informal, "make yourself at home"
Schlep - to travel with difficulty, to carry heavy things
Shmatte - old rag or clothing
Schmutz - dirt
Meshugena - crazy
Mishpocheh - family, or someone who is like family. 
Naches - pride and joy.Typically refers to joy a child brings to a parent.
Nosh -something to nibble on
Nudnik - an obnoxious person
Schmooze - small talk
Zaide - grandfather
Mensch - a good and trustworthy person

Rosh Hashana Simanim

Growing up in America, Rosh Hashana meant an apple and honey, a new fruit (usually an over-priced and under-flavored pomegranate), and tzimmis as per my dad’s request (that my mom reluctantly made). On my first Rosh Hashana in Israel, I was shocked to experience a full preamble to the Rosh Hashana meal – a course of “Seder Simanim.” Until then, I thought the only “Simanim” (symbolic foods) of Rosh Hashana were apples and honey – for a sweet new year. I’d also heard rumors about people who have a fish head on the table (representing the “Rosh” – head – of the year), but thought no one actually does that, right?

There is a widespread tradition in Israel to eat a long list of foods representing different blessings for the new year. Pomegranates are on this list, and often made their way to my childhood Rosh Hashana table as the “new fruit,” not as a “Siman.” Pomegranate trees are common in Israel, and when you walk down the street this time of year, you will see beautiful big, red pomegranates hanging from the branches. The abundance of red, juicy seeds found in a pomegranate are likened to the 613 mitzvot of the Torah, and before eating it on Rosh Hashana, we recite the verse, “May we be full of merits like the pomegranate.”

Simanim and Blessings taken from Jamie Geller’s Guide to Rosh Hashanah Simanim

Upon further inspection, I found a list of the Simanim with their meaning and accompanying verses in my own Artscroll Machzor! Check out the list below for some traditional Simanim, with our suggestions of how to incorporate them into your own Rosh Hashana Seder:

  • Fenugreek or carrots for “increased merits.” Add carrots to your meal with the traditional Jewish dish tzimmes.
  • Leek or cabbage for God to “destroy those who hate us.” Add cabbage to your meal with some delicious stuffed cabbage.
  • Beets so that “our enemies be removed.” Add beets to your meal with some delicious, sweet roasted beets.
  • Dates for “our enemies to perish.” Add dates to your dessert with this sweet date cake.
  • Gourd for “the decree of our sentence be torn, and our merits be proclaimed before God.” Add gourd to your meal with this interesting dessert, candied gourd!
  • Fish so that we will “be fruitful and multiply like fish.” Add fish to your meal with this unique recipe.
  • Head of a sheep or fish so that we “be as the head and not as the tail.” No recipe needed.

Many Israelis hold a “Seder Simanim” before the evening meal of Rosh Hashana in which they sample each of the foods and recite the corresponding verses. If that is too formal for you, you can also find amazing recipes online that use the Rosh Hashana Simanim as part of the traditional meal (like this delicious Simanim chicken recipe!). Some families even add their own Simanim – for example raisin+celery for a “raise in salary” (try saying it out loud). Some French Olim have bananas for a “bonne année” – a good year. If you hope to make Aliyah, add grapes to your table to “immiGRAPE” to Israel this year!

Living in Israel is incredibly special, especially during the holidays. It is amazing to have a holiday in which we traditionally eat pomegranates and to literally see them blossoming all around me. We still have the apple dipped in honey, reminiscent of my childhood in America, but we have also added so many more exciting elements to our holiday. Personally, I love incorporating many of the Simanim into my Rosh Hashana menu, but please don’t expect to find a fish or sheep head on my dinner table!

Why did Moses keep the location of the spiritual capital a secret?

Preparing the Jewish people for their entry into the Promised Land, Moses paints a harmonious picture of one place where all will gather to celebrate and serve G‑d:

And you shall cross the Jordan and settle in the land the L‑rd, your G‑d, is giving you as an inheritance… And it will be, that the place the L‑rd, your G‑d, will choose in which to establish His Name there you shall bring all that I am commanding you: Your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, your tithes, and the separation by your hand, and the choice of vows which you will vow to the L‑rd. And you shall rejoice before the L‑rd, your G‑d you and your sons and your daughters and your menservants and your maidservants, and the Levite who is within your cities.1

The pilgrim festivals are central to this portion. The Torah commands us how and with whom to celebrate, but there is a glaring omission: although mentioned more than 10 times in the parshah, “the place the L‑rd your G‑d will choose” is left unnamed.

Moses spent 40 years teaching Torah and passing on the mitzvot with intricate detail. He transmitted the highly detailed laws of the sacrifices, including everything from which types of animals may be used to the location on the Temple where the animals should be offered. Yet the place where all this would happen is undisclosed. Why did Moses keep the location of the spiritual capital a secret? Why does the name of the city where the Holy Temple will be built remain a mystery?

Maimonides suggests three possibilities:

If the surrounding nations would know the future site of the Holy Temple, they would fortify the place with their strongest armies in an effort to stymie Jewish worship there.

If the current residents of the Temple Mount would realize the spiritual significance the place has to the Jewish people, they would do all they could to destroy and deface it.

The third reason (which Maimonides favors as the “strongest”) is that the Temple mount is in the portion of Judah and Benjamin. If the other tribes would know that it would not be in their portion, they would begin to quarrel over that spot, each one wishing to host G‑d in their own territory. G‑d solved this problem by only revealing His chosen location after Israel was ruled by a king who would be able to maintain peace even as some tribes were elevated over others.2

A more spiritual answer can be found in the verse where the phrase “the place the L‑rd, your G‑d, will choose” is used for the first time:

But only to the place which the L‑rd, your G‑d, shall choose from all your tribes, to set His Name there; you shall seek His presence and come there.3

“You shall seek His presence,” says the Torah. G‑d will choose Jerusalem only after the people themselves choose a place they feel is appropriate for His home. Only the Jew, who is part and parcel of the physical reality, can create a permanent dwelling place for G‑d in this physical world. Only after King David chose the site of Jerusalem, did G‑d, through the prophet, agree with the choice, establishing Jerusalem, and the Temple Mountain, as the spiritual capital of the world.

The holiness of every place G‑d chose for Divine revelation was temporary. The physical location of Mount Sinai, for example, did not retain its holiness. The one place chosen by humans (who did not wait for a sign from on high, but fulfilled the command to “seek His presence”) was the place that achieved permanent and everlasting holiness.

What is the lesson for us? To become the person we want to be, we cannot wait for inspiration from above. Inspiration alone will not change us for the better, unless we choose to get involved, to become a partner, to contribute to the effort, to do our part to “seek His presence.” G‑d will choose to send you Divine inspiration and success, but it will have a permanent effect only after you do your part in building your spiritual Jerusalem.4

FOOTNOTES 1. Deuteronomy 12:10-12. 2. Guide to the Perplexed, 3:45 3. Ibid. 12:5 4. Inspired by the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Likutei Sichot vol. 30 p. 120.

By Menachem Feldman    More by this author
Rabbi Menachem Feldman serves as the director of the Lifelong Learning department at the Chabad Lubavitch Center in Greenwich, Connecticut.

How Do Gurus Do Miracles? by Rabbi Gutman Locks

Do the gurus in India really do those miracles, or are they merely fooling the people around them? Is it possible to do such miracles today? If those wonders are real, do they show that those gurus are holy, righteous, teachers who should be followed?

Fruit in the Basket By Menachem Feldman

Standing on the bank of the Jordan River just days before his passing, Moses spoke to his beloved people, instructing them that they were about to reaffirm the covenant they had made with G‑d 40 years ago at Sinai:

These are the words of the covenant, which the L‑rd commanded Moses to make with the children of Israel in the land of Moab, besides the covenant which he made with them in Horeb.1

Although the covenant is the main theme of this week’s Parshah, it begins with Bikkurim—the obligation of the Jewish farmer to bring his first fruit to Jerusalem as a gift to G‑d. What is the connection?

It is safe to assume that in addition to its conventional meaning, the commandment to take the “first fruit,” place it in a “basket,” and bring it to “the place that G‑d will choose,” is also a general mystical lesson for the way we are to live.

The Torah tells us:

And it will be, when you come into the land which the L‑rd, your G‑d, gives you for an inheritance, and you possess it and settle in it, that you shall take of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you will bring from your land, which the L‑rd, your G‑d, is giving you. And you shall put [them] into a basket and go to the place which the L‑rd, your G‑d, will choose to have His Name dwell there.2

Eretz, the Hebrew word for “land,” is related to the Hebrew word ratzon, “will.” Both land and will are related to the Hebrew word for running, for such is the nature of strong will—it compels us to get up and run toward that which we desire.

The Kabbalists explain that ratzon, will and desire, is the most powerful force within the human being. The will has the power to control the other faculties and unleash the dormant potential. Awakening the desire to feel or to understand, will, in fact, awaken the heart and mind, [which is why the most effective teachers are not the ones who understand the subject matter best, nor the ones who can articulate and explain the best, but the ones who are gifted with the ability to instill a love for the subject, which will inspire the student to want to grasp the material].

Like the farmer who tills the earth to plant, sow, irrigate, and reap fruit, a Jew must also seek to cultivate the “first fruit.” The first and most important thing a Jew should cultivate is ratzon,a longing to transcend the confines of the material and reconnect to the source of all—the infinite light of G‑d.

Yet the desire to “run,” to escape the mundane, transcend the physical, and cleave to the source of life, is only the first step.

Judaism demands far more. Judaism teaches that we need to capture the desire, the urge to run, and direct it to a “vessel” that will be able to contain and preserve that inspiration in daily life:

Take the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you will bring from your land, which the L‑rd, your G‑d, is giving you. And you shall put [them] into a basket.3

Placing the fruit in the basket means applying the inspiration, the desire to transcend, and investing it into our daily activities.

And, as the Torah continues, the purpose of placing the fruit in the basket is to “go to the place which the L‑rd, your G‑d, will choose to have His Name dwell there.” Where is that “place”? Well, the answer is different for everyone, for G‑d places each of us in a unique place where it is our mission to “have His Name dwell there,” i.e., to fill that place with the inspiration, kindness, and joy of Judaism. This is the heart of the covenant, and indeed, all of Torah.

(Adapted from Hayom Yom, Elul 18, based on the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov, founder of the Chasidic movement, whose birthday is Elul 18.)

FOOTNOTES 1. Deuteronomy 28:69. 2. Deuteronomy 26:12. 3. Deuteronomy 26:2.

See you Sunday bli neder.. Remember that Sunday night starts Rosh Hashanah

Love Yehuda Lave

Rabbi Yehuda Lave

PO Box 7335, Rehavia Jerusalem 9107202


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