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. Now also a Blogger on the Times of Israel. Look for my column

Love Yehuda Lave

Someone’s mother has four sons. Three were named North, South, and East. What is the name of the fourth son.

Please email with the name of the fourth son.

 

Love Yehuda

Ideas, that help explain how the world works

 

The 90-9-1 Rule: In social media networks, 90% of users just read content, 9% of users contribute a little content, and 1% of users contribute almost all the content. Gives a false impression of what ideas are popular or “average.”

A SYMBOL OF TRUST

Rabbi Meir Kahane

Parshat Vayikra

"And a soul who brings a minchah sacrifice to G-d..." (Leviticus 2:1). On this verse, the Rabbis ask, "Why does the Torah alter its language and use the word 'soul' [instead of 'man']? G-d said, 'Who ordinarily brings a minchah? A poor person. When he brings a minchah, I consider it as if he offered his soul to Me'" (Menachot 104b).

The minchah sacrifice, brought by a poor person, symbolizes dedication and subjugation. That's why it cannot contain chametz (Leviticus 2:11) since chametz symbolizes arrogance.

The minchah, though, also symbolizes faith that G-d will give man what he lacks. That's why the Rabbis called the afternoon prayer - recited when the sun is setting and the world begins to grow dark - Tefillat Minchah. Precisely when the situation appears dark and likely to darken further, a person must have faith and pray - and if he does, G-d will help. That's why the Rabbis declared that "a person should always be careful to pray Minchah because the prophet Elijah doesn't answer any prayer save this one" (Berachot 6b).

Incidentally, this understanding of the words "soul" and "minchah" explains why G-d exiled Jacob and his progeny to Egypt. For when Jacob heard that his brother Esau was coming to kill him, he sent him a present - a minchah (Genesis 32:13). In other words, instead of relying on G-d and placing his faith in Him, Jacob placed his faith in the goodwill of Esau. He took the Minchah - which symbolizes faith in G-d - and sent it to Esau.

The Torah alludes to this sin when it refers to the descent of Jacob and his progeny to Egypt as the descent of 70 "souls" (Exodus 1:5). "Soul" ordinarily symbolizes someone who has complete faith, someone who brings a minchah sacrifice. Since Jacob did not exhibit complete faith, he and his family were sent into exile in Egypt, and the Torah reminds us of his sin by using the word "soul" in this context.

A Quiz from my friend Steve

 

Your quiz for today:-

Dear all, 

  Put these in the right order from smallest to biggest.

          an amoeba, a raindrop, a prion, a bacteria, a hydrogen atom, a virus, a hydrocarbon molecule, a water molecule, an alveoli, a brain neuron.

Steve 

 

H atom

Water molecule

Hydrocarbon molecule

Prion

Virus

Bacteria

amoeba

Brain neuron

Alveoli

raindrop

Judaism without the Synagoge? Maybe to protect us in the future?

Let's face it. Who is most affected by the closures of the synagogues around the world? The Orthodox of course, because they are the main Jewish sect that goes to the synagogue.

While the other sects go to the synagogue, many Jews go once or twice a year on the high holidays, the Orthodox are in the synagogue three times a day.

This is why it has been so hard on us. It has never happened in our lifetimes, but we know it happened in the not so recent past when the synagogues were attacked in Germany on Kristallnacht and many other times in Jewish history.

There is still much anti-semitism in the world. In this current coronavirus crisis, Jews are already being blamed for the spread of the virus as a new cause for anti-semitism as if a new one was needed.

I just wrote a couple of days ago that the most likely reason for the spread of the virus so rapidly in the Jewish communities around the world was probably the fact that Purim came just before social distancing went into effect (just 30 days ago believe it or not we were in a different world), and as a family holiday, many Jews were in the synagogue or at Purim gatherings spreading at the time unknowingly the disease.

Anyway, it has happened. Orthodox Jews being Jews, reacted with the brains and started outdoor minyons outside, which seemed to make sense. If I am outside with six feet from my neighbor, it is no more dangerous than being outside. In addition, no one is now talking in shul because we are too far from our neighbor.

Outside davening lasted only about a week, because in Bani Brak it wasn't followed and the Haradim stayed in the synagogues, forcing a ban on all davening. A sledgehammer was used to solve the problem and now for the first time in many of our lives, we could not be in the synagogue to hear the Torah read or to say Kaddish.

Outside davening was a reasonable compromise and was thrown away much too quickly. If we are on lock-down, there is no choice, but there are usually 100 people in the supermarket that we go to, but taking a chance with 10 healthy people was thrown away without much complaint.

Of course, if someone is sick, then it is not safe, but hopefully, people knowing the risk, would not come if they were sick. Anyway, it is gone for now.

We are now experiencing Judaism without the Synagogue. It is not the first time, we have had a radical change. At the destruction of the second temple, the great sages had to reinvent Judaism without a temple.

Now we are inventing Judaism without a synagogue. The world is a little different than at the time of the destruction of the temple. We have the computer, and modern technology.

What was happening last year that has been forgotten so quickly because of the virus? Synagogues in Pittsburg and Poway were broken into and people killed with the new antisemitism. Nut jobs used to have some fear of G-d and would not attack people in a place of worship. That is all changed. In Israel in Har Nof (part of Jerusalem) in 2014, Arabs walked into a synagogue and slaughtered four people. This was Israel where people are used to being butchered so there wasn't much of an outcry. When it happened in two synagogues in the states in 2019, voices were much louder.

Maybe G-d is giving us this easy warning of moving Judaism outside of the synagogue because worst times are coming. The Orthodox would not give up the synagogue so easily if there wasn't this precedent.

Maybe this is the reason this is happening, to give us a warning of future times when we have to abandon the synagogue? I hope not, but food for thought

Love Yehuda Lave

Why I Won’t Zoom My Shabbat Services By Mendy Kaminker

I miss my community.

For two weeks, my Shabbat has not felt the same. And truth be told, even Fridays have not been the same. So much of what I used to do revolved around my community. Preparing the tasty (may I say legendary?) cholent on Friday. Working with my wife to get everything ready and in place at home and in the synagogue. Thinking about what message I wanted to share during the service.

And then, on Shabbat, learning the weekly Torah Portion and warmly greeting those who came to pray with us. Many of them were regulars. Others were visitors who came to our community to spend Shabbat with loved ones who were hospitalized at the Hackensack hospital or at other local rehabilitation centers.

It was just so nice to be together.

After services—the kiddush!  It wasn’t about the food, although the food was great. Just the feeling of us sitting around the table, chatting, singing, sharing stories and ideas from the Torah. It felt so nice, and I sorely miss it.

Yet, I won’t be doing our Passover service over Zoom.

Why not?

Because as you most probably know, during the 25 hours of Shabbat and Holidays, I follow the mitzvah of refraining from all kinds of creative work, including using any electronic devices. So no phone, no computer, no screens (and no turning lights on or off). So while I am very much in touch with my community using all digital means during the week, no Zoom for me on Shabbat.

Thinking about it today, it dawned on me that there is something very special about spending Shabbat without my community, in the time of coronavirus.

I think that we are increasingly defining ourselves as members of groups, and to some degree, losing our individuality.

We categorize ourselves as fans of this or that sports team.

Political groups.

Instagram followers.

Think about it. So many things in our lives are about our shared hobbies, shared interests, shared practices.

But there is so much more to you and me than the party we vote for, the NFL team we root for, the type of music we like.

There is the singular you. The personal I. The unique, individual self, created in the image of the unique Creator.

And so, on Shabbat, while we temporarily lose the communal connection, we can also gain the individual connection with G‑d.

Yes, you can pray to G‑d, on your own. Without a cantor. Without a rabbi. Without your fellow congregants sitting next to you.

This is not ideal, but if G‑d placed us in these circumstances, this is what He wants from us right now.

G‑d cherishes you and me not only because of “us” but because of our individuality. G‑d craves a relationship with us on a very personal level.

I hope and pray that this period will end soon. But when it does, may we keep this message in our hearts.

Coronavirus Nixed Your Seder Plans? Updated Rules for Passover on Wednesday Night

Passover is traditionally spent with family and friends, a celebration of the Divine gift of Jewish survival and community. But with Coronavirus curtailing travel plans and social interactions, many are facing the prospect of celebrating Passover alone. In response to those asking for guidance on how to prepare for the  Seder for the first time, we’ve prepared this list of FAQs

Wishing you and yours a joyous and safe Passover!

How will I get the house clean in time?

The key is that spring cleaning is not Passover cleaning. You only need to remove actual edible chametz residue, not dust, and only from places where you could have conceivably put chametz in the first place.

 

Also, if there is a place that you cannot clean or check, you can simply close it off and sell it to a non-Jew for the duration of the holiday. This may include your second car, which is not being used to ferry the kids to school or soccer practice since everything is closed. Just lock it, include it in your sale, and you need not worry about the pretzels lodged in the bucket seats.

How will I know what to do when?

Leading a Seder is a lot simpler than it seems. Why? Because you have your cheat sheet right in front of you. A standard Haggadah has all the instructions and guidance necessary to walk through the   15 steps of the Seder like a pro. So just pull out your Haggadah and read through it in advance.

What supplies do I need?

Here’s what you’ll need for the Seder:

  1. Haggadahs for each person
  2. Matzah
  3. Wine or grape juice
  4. Maror (bitter herbs, typically romaine lettuce and grated horseradish)
  5. Vegetable for dipping  (karpas\0
  6. Saltwater (yep, just salt and water)
  7. Food for your Passover Feast
  8. Roasted Shank
  9. Choroset( chopped apple, nuts, and wine.)
  10. Eggs (hardboiled)
  11. Cutlery (either disposable or kosher for Passover)

Wine: Every individual needs to drink four cups of wine or grape juice, so a bottle of wine per person per Seder is a safe bet. (If you have small, 3 oz. cups, a single bottle should just be enough)

Matzah: If you’re alone, three matzahs for will cover you just fine. You should factor in an additional two matzahs per additional participant, as well as some extra for snacking during the meal

Maror: Each person needs to have two portions of maror (one eaten alone and one as part of the korech sandwich), each one at least 2/3rds of an ounce (total). Preparing two ounces per person  will have you covered.

Vegetables, Saltwater and Charoset: Even a minimal amount will do (in fact, you should eat less than a kezayit [olive-size] of the dipping vegetable).

Roasted shank: This is not eaten at all, so you just need one per Seder plate.

Egg: One egg per Seder plate is fine. Some have the custom for all participants to eat an egg during the meal. If this is the case, prepare a few extra.

Feast Food: Bear in mind that you will be eating after having imbibed two cups of wine, and lots of matzah and maror, so you may not be too hungry.

Can we do it over the phone or via Skype?

As tempting as it may be, the answer is no. Shabbat and Jewish holidays are a blessed respite from all digital connectivity. This means that you have the opportunity to lead your own Seder, live and in person, for your household.

 

Who should light the candles?

All women and girls (from around the age of three) should light candles. Unmarried women light one candle, and married women light two. If you are in a male-only household, a man should light two candles and say the appropriate blessings.

What should I do if my Hebrew isn’t good enough?

The word Haggadah means “telling,” and the main purpose of the evening is to tell over the events of the Exodus and to expound upon them in the traditional manner. If you don’t understand Hebrew, it is perfectly acceptable to use a translation.

 

What do you do if there is no child to ask the Four Questions?

Everyone at the Seder, even adults, should ask the Four Questions.When we ask these questions, we are really asking them of G‑d Himself, our ever-present and ever-loving Father in Heaven

Should I still open the door for Elijah?

This question should be answered after you carefully review the guidelines from your local health officials as close as you can to Passover. However, I’m going to hazard a guess that as long as your door does not face your neighbor’s door and you’re keeping your distance, opening the door for Elijah should be fine.

 

When is the earliest time to begin?

The Seder must begin after night has fallen. This is in accordance with the verse, “In the evening, you shall eat unleavened cakes.” Practically, this means that the entire Seder, which centers around the consumption of matzah, must begin after night has fallen.

If I am all alone, how long should the Seder last?

There is no specific amount of time you must spend on the Seder, but remember what we read right when we begin the Seder: “Even if all of us were wise, all of us understanding, all of us knowing the Torah, we would still be obligated to discuss the exodus from Egypt, and everyone who discusses the exodus from Egypt at length is praiseworthy.”

Even if you have done this 100 times or more, surely there are new insights and new applications you can tease out of the words of the Haggadah.

 

If you fear that someone will be without Seder supplies, please prepare a box and drop it off before Passover outside his or her home, taking whatever precautions are necessary.

 

Join Jews around the world in thanking G‑d for the miracles of the past and praying for greater miracles yet to come.

Next year in Jerusalem!

 

When I Begin to Worry About Passover in Quarantine.

..I Think of Grandma and The Matzah By Menachem Posner

We are nine days into quarantine, just over two weeks before Passover, and we are busy squirreling away Passover supplies in the basement. Matzah, paper goods, pots, pans, oil . . . a veritable Passover store has sprung up in the spare bedroom.

Yet, even with a houseful of goods, I cannot tell you that we are comfortable about this Passover. What emotional state will we be in by the time Passover eve arrives? Will the kids have the patience to sit through the Seder? Will the parents?

How can we celebrate our freedom when we are cooped up, prisoners in our own homes, held hostage by an invisible virus?

What kind of Passover will it be? Will it even be Passover?

And then I think of Grandma and The Matzah.

Like us, she is cooped up in her house. Thank G‑d, she is surrounded by loving children and grandchildren (including some who live downstairs from her). Although they are not visiting her, they are dropping off food and other supplies outside her door to make sure she has everything she needs.

Grandma is a childhood survivor of Stalin and Hitler. Some of her earliest memories involve starvation, privation and escape.

There is so much pain and suffering pent up in those formative years that she rarely speaks of them openly. Instead, she channels bits and snippets of them into thinly veiled pieces of fiction.

Grandma with her father and brothers in France, on their way to the U.S.

But there is one anecdote that I have heard from her on many occasions: The Matzah.

That’s right. I just ordered several pounds of matzah to carry our family through the eight-day holiday.

But in Grandma’s childhood, a family was lucky if they got their hands on a single matzah, which they could carefully hide until Passover.

It happened one year, as Hitler’s noose was tightening around Moscow, that Grandma’s father came home with a treasure: a matzah, which he immediately tied up in a clean pillowcase and hung up in a safe place, where neither mice nor neighbors (they lived in a shared apartment) would touch it.

But he didn’t factor in his hungry children.

While her Papa went off to work every day, Grandma and her two brothers sat at home, whiling away the time and trying to stave off the pangs of hunger.

Yes, they were hungry. A recurring fantasy they would enjoy was the pleasure of walking into an entire room filled with loaves of bread, which they could eat, one after another, until they could eat no more.

Now that The Matzah entered their lives, the fantasy took on another dimension. Instead of just talking about eating and feeling the saliva pool in their mouths, they could touch The Matzah through the fine linen pillowcase, running their fingers over its bumpy surface, imagining its crispy, grainy, burnt flavor.

And so the months wore on.

Until Passover finally arrived, and it came time to open the pillowcase. But when that happened, The Matzah was gone. In its place, there was a pile of matzah crumbs, the result of unending “feeling” on the part of three hungry children, who were stuck at home all day in an apartment in central Moscow.

They had nothing. Not a home of their own, not an extra penny to purchase an apple, not even the freedom to worship as Jews. Yet, they celebrated Passover joyously with the little they had.

So as I prepare for Passover, I look back at Grandma’s childhood, and I realize that I have so much to be grateful for.

Yes, my kids are home all day, but they are home because their family and their government are trying to protect them. And their dedicated teachers have provided them with enough online lessons to keep them productive and stimulated all day long.

Yes, we cannot go out and shop as we usually would, but our grocery stores are well stocked (except, of course, if you are looking for toilet paper or eggs), and online delivery services work relatively well.

Yes, we fear what tomorrow may bring, but we live in a loving, kind world, where people are banding together to combat the common enemy, not each other.

But the world is not perfect. Grandma’s mother died during those terrible years in Moscow, perhaps because she had no food, and perhaps because she needed medicine. The fact is she left this world in her twenties, during a time of hardship, and her three little orphans grew up without a mother to shield them from the harsh realities of totalitarianism and war. And the fact is that people are dying right now due to coronavirus.

And that is why we must lift our voices and pray to G‑d that He complete the redemption process He began so many years ago, when He took us out of Egypt. May we merit the coming of Moshiach, who will usher in an era when there will be no more famine, no more suffering and no more illness.

Amen!

Happy Passover tonight-Im still waiting for the Mashiach

either way G-d willing see you on Friday

Love Yehuda Lave

Rabbi Yehuda Lave

PO Box 7335, Rehavia Jerusalem 9107202

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