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 portion of Chaye Sarah is characterized by the stories contained therein- one revealed and one hidden.
Abraham’s servant, is sent on a mission to find a wife for Yitzchak,
his master’s son.. He arrives at Aram Naharayim and positions himself at
the well. Shortly thereafter, Rebecca appears and Eliezer, based on her
deportment and behavior, is convinced that she is the one destined to
become Yitzchak’s wife.
is invited to Rebecca’s home where he speaks to her father Betuel and
her brother Lavan. After relating to them the background of his mission,
their response is “let us ask the young lady”. We will call her and we
will decide. They openly hint to her that she should decline the offer
but she independently decides to go with them. The whole story of saying
one thing but meaning another is alluded to by the crooked letter “nun”
in the word “nikra” (we will call) whose base turns over in a number of
places in this portion.
the continuation of the portion we are told that Abraham marries
Keturah and that he gave gifts to the children of his concubines. The
backwards letter “nun” in the word “natan” (gave) alludes to the fact
that Abraham gave them unholy names rather than holy names.
of the above is meant to tell us while on the surface the revealed
story is quite easy to comprehend, the real story, and the real message,
lies just beneath the surface.
The Three Musketeers at the Kotel
Rabbi Dr. Tendler’s Greatest Influence: The Unified Truth Of Torah And Science By Rabbi Michael J. Broyde
Photo Credit: Courtesy Yeshiva University
The eulogies for Rabbi Dr. Moshe Dovid Tendler, zt”l, have been pouring in. They are delightful, deeply reflective of his dynamic and caring personality and brilliant sense of humor as well as his mastery of pedagogy. Thinking of my own experiences with Rabbi Tendler, I echo these sentiments. Here, I would like to add three of my personal reflections on Rabbi Tendler and also consider a more important intellectual perspective on Rabbi Tendler’s place and impact on Jewish Law and life in America: his advocacy of the unified truth of Torah and science.
First, Rabbi Tendler was an excellent teacher. He was my father’s rebbe in MTA, and my father, zt”l, recounted that he was, without a doubt, the best rebbe in the school in the 1950s. He was one of the first American rebbeim at MTA, and his pedagogical ability quickly became legendary. I experienced Dr. Tendler as my freshman biology professor in Yeshiva College. It is easy to underestimate how hard it is to be both informative and interesting in the classroom, but Professor Tender was consistently both, as a lecturer in biology and an intellectual of science.
Second, Rabbi Tendler was always happy to speak about questions of Jewish law and help synagogue rabbis – like myself for many years – find solutions to congregants’ issues. He had a deep and sharp mind and a lot of practical knowledge. Yet, to his credit, he was one of the few poskim who said, “This is out of my area of expertise, and you should call X,” and then give you a referral. After one such referral, I determined that Rabbi Tendler actually had a well thought out, halachically rare view that posed significant stricture in this case, and he did not want to share it practically. I suspect that was frequently so.
Finally, twice in my life I approached Rabbi Tendler to speak with him about my own needs. Life is complex, and sometime even rabbis must turn to someone for perspective. I saw three things of value in Rabbi Tendler as a pastor. First, he gave me a considerable amount of his time, even though I was already “out of his orbit.” Second, he gave me wise and thoughtful advice both times, deeply reflective of his common sense. Third, he followed up with me many times to make sure things were really okay, asking if I wanted to speak more. He actually cared.
An Indelible Mark
But these ideas about the personality of Rabbi Tendler are secondary to his larger contribution to Jewish law and life in the last century. He left an indelible mark on Jewish law that will persist even after all those who recall his wonderful personality are no longer present. Specifically, he insisted that science was true and that halacha could never deny that truth.
Rabbi Tendler was instrumental in an important shift in how Jewish Law functions. Before Rabbi Tendler, with the unique mindset he exemplified and his distinctive influence on Rav Moshe Feinstein, one could find great authorities of Jewish law who occupied important roles in our communities and ruled not just on matters of halacha but on life-impacting issues, yet were deniers of science and medicine – diminishing the basic core truth of science.
Consider for example Rabbi Ben Zion Chai Uzziel (the Sephardic chief rabbi of Israel from 1939 until his death in 1953) who writes that since the Talmud (Niddah 30a) avers that there are three partners in the creation – G-d, mother and father – and the mother contributes the blood, therefore blood type testing to determine paternity contradicts Chazal and thus must be wrong. Many other statements of this sort can be attributed to both modern and ancient authorities of Jewish law. Denial of science and scientific facts were a part of our religious community and were present in many halachic decisions until Rabbi Tendler was in his prime.
While Rabbi Tendler was not the first or only authority to insist that science was true, he was refreshingly revolutionary in believing that Torah can be coalesced with science. Furthermore, he was groundbreaking in terms of demonstrating so profoundly and convincingly that Torah and science are two united sides of the Almighty’s creation. The endemic denial of science as truth disappeared in the face of his withering criticism.
Rabbi Tendler was among the leading Torah scholars who challenged the deniers’ view, changed the minds of both the poskim and congregants in our community, and made science and Torah indisputably compatible. Medical and scientific data are “true” and cannot be denied as a matter of fact, any more than halachic rules can be denied. Certainly, one could debate the halachic consequences of these scientific facts, but never their undergirded truth.
Rav Moshe Feinstein (as his father-in-law) seems to have accepted this completely. Other authorities of Jewish law in the last 50 years have near universally adopted this view as well. Even people who disagreed with Rabbi Tendler’s views on certain matters of halacha and science did so on his terms: Torah has to be harmonized with science and neither the truth of Torah nor the truth of science can be denied. As our modern era shows, he was and is correct.
Until the era of Rabbi Tendler – the only great 20th century Torah scholar who was also a great scientist – this matter was open and disputed by many. By the time Rabbi Tendler returned his soul to his Maker during the last days of Sukkot, the matter for all intents and purposes has been settled in the Jewish Law community. Science is true and needs to be incorporated into Jewish law and life.
(Notably, Rabbi Tendler’s congregant and eminent student, Rabbi Yona Reiss, pointed out to me that Rabbi Tendler advocated for the basic idea that halacha can be completely harmonized with the practice of modern medicine. Although this was somewhat present under the leadership of Chief Rabbi Immanuel Jacobovits and others earlier, Rabbi Tendler turned this halachic exercise into normative Orthodox Jewish life and practice.)
The universal acceptance of the idea that Torah, scientific reality, and medical facts are all at once true, and that these truths need to be harmonized, remains Rabbi Tendler’s central contribution. His regular advocacy of the dual truth of science and Torah changed Jewish law and life in our community and his success was such that the competing view functionally disappeared.
Rabbi Tendler’s passing has elicited many reflections on his personality and character, but I suspect that his deep and important contribution to Jewish law and life in America involving such a significant change in Torah values will resonate forever.
(via JNS) The professional echelon at the Israeli Foreign Ministry has described the expected American opening of a consulate to the Palestinians in Jerusalem as an “introduction to the division of the city.” They stress that the effect of such a measure, which is backed by U.S. President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, will be to undermine, if not to completely reverse, President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel.
This is also how the matter is understood by the Palestinians. Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said a few days ago (in quotes report by Palestinian Media Watch) that “the message of the new American administration is that Jerusalem is not a united Israeli city, and that the American administration does not recognize the annexation of Arab Jerusalem by the Israeli side. We would like the American consulate to lay the foundation for a future American embassy in a Palestinian state.”
Shtayyeh added, “The American measure distances the United States from the view that Jerusalem is one city, a view that was at the foundation of the decision [by the Trump administration] to transfer the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.”
Israel’s battle against the upcoming move—the Americans are not in any way hiding their intention to carry it out—will soon come up against a further two American measures. The first is that the United States wishes to reopen not only the consulate on Agron Road, but also its east Jerusalem branch, which operated until 2010 on Nablus Road, (and later moved to Jerusalem’s Arnona neighborhood). The conversation with the Palestinians over this possibility has already begun.
The eastern Jerusalem branch of the consulate for many years helped establish the institutions of power and security mechanisms of the P.A., and supplied the administration in Washington with figures about Israeli construction in Judea and Samaria and in the Jewish neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem so they could operate against it.
The second measure reportedly being considered by the Biden administration is the reopening of the PLO representative office in Washington. A group of congressmen from the progressive branch of the Democratic party is preparing the ground for this to happen. The office was closed during President Trump’s term, but the Biden administration is leaning toward reopening it. This will happen when and if legislation being led by Michigan congressman Andy Levin passes through the House of Representatives.
As reported in Israel Hayom by Caroline Glick, to allow the office to be reopened, Levin wishes to amend the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1987. In that historic law, the United States designated the PLO as a terrorist organization and prohibited it from opening any offices on its territory or from receiving American funding as long as the organization and its members fail to cease engagement in terrorism.
A reward for nothing
Former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren recalled last week how he was once summoned to the State Department and rebuked for the demolition of an outdoor toilet in eastern Jerusalem. “The demolition was authorized by the Israeli courts,” and that event, “like other humiliating incidents,” was “germinated at the American consulate in Jerusalem.”
Oren related how he spoke about this matter with the heads of Jewish organizations.
“I showed them the consulate’s website. Everything on it was a Palestinian narrative, just in Arabic and English. From that website, you would not know that there was a single Jew in Jerusalem,” he said.
“I told them; this is anti-Semitic. Do something about it. They weren’t willing to go up against the State Department,” he added.
The consulate, he said, had avoided “even an appearance” of U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, said Oren.
“It embittered the lives of successive governments here every time they built a new neighborhood for Jews in Jerusalem, and every time they tried to enforce planning and building laws in east Jerusalem,” he added.
Donald Trump, as we all know, changed this reality, but the Biden administration, from its very first days, has tried to turn the wheel back. In January, almost immediately after the Biden administration moved in, the title of the ambassador to Israel was changed on the embassy’s Twitter page from “U.S. Ambassador to Israel” to “U.S. Ambassador to Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.”
Public criticism led to a rapid return to the old title, but the trend was clear for all to see.
Former Foreign Ministry director-general Dore Gold, currently the president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, believes that Israel should put things on the table and clarify to the United States very openly what it can and can’t do.
“If we are very clear about our real maneuvering space, the Americans will respect that,” he stated.
Gold, who is well known for his cautious phrasing, does not mince his words on the consulate issue, defining the administration’s intention to reopen the consulate in Jerusalem as “scandalous.”
“Israel cannot come to terms with threats to its sovereignty in Jerusalem,” he said.
Q: Is it possible to prevent the Americans from going ahead if they plan to act unilaterally, as has already been hinted?
A: Perhaps not, but then we will have to hold in-depth discussions regarding the possibility of an Israeli response; for example, the expansion of Jerusalem’s boundaries. There are other ideas, I don’t want to expand on them here. But, of course, we certainly can’t put won’t be able to leave such measures without a response.”
Q: The United States claims that the consulate existed for decades without Israel making any request for it to be closed.
A: We judge the existing reality. The Palestinian Authority didn’t exist for decades, and now it does. For 19 years, Jerusalem was divided with fences and a border, but for 54 years, it has been an undivided city. Things change. If they had opened a consulate in Ramallah, I wouldn’t have been enthusiastic, but I would have understood it. If they had opened a consulate after the Palestinian authorities stopped paying salaries to the families of terrorists, I still wouldn’t have accepted a consulate in Jerusalem, but I would have understood the demand. But the Palestinians haven’t changed their behavior and they are receiving a reward.
Q: Is the opening of an American consulate for the Palestinians in the capital a move that annuls American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital?
A: It could lead there, or it could pave the way. One has to remember that there is the Vienna Convention of 1963, which both Israel and the United States are signatories to, and according to which the agreement of the host state is required to open a consulate. To do so unilaterally without Israel’s agreement would be breaking the rules.
Q: Perhaps the fight against the consulate, which at the end of the day is a symbol, is the wrong battle? Perhaps it would be better to focus on construction in Atarot, Har Homa, Givat Hamatos and E1, which could shape the boundaries of the city for generations to come?
A: There is no contradiction between the two. I in any event don’t see the United States today allowing a policy that recognizes Israel’s rights to build on territories that were part of Jordan before 1967. Coordination with the United States is something that is vital and important, but the story of the consulate is critical, and there is no room for compromise on this issue. It is something that is at the very soul of the state. We cannot compromise on our rights in all of Jerusalem.
Gold noted that he explained these rights in 2017 in great detail to the House of Representatives.
“Our friends there understood it,” he said, adding, “The formal reality now is still such that from the perspective of the United States, Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. The United States has not withdrawn recognition of this. In this reality, we must be tenacious and manage this battle with the U.S. with prudence and sensitivity. But most of all, with tenacity and faith.”
Gold clarifies that he himself does not differentiate between the east and the west of the city.
“There is one Jerusalem, but the opening of the consulate on Agron Road in the west of the city will not only undermine Israeli sovereignty in the capital, it will also result in a grave withdrawal from the status Israel achieved in West Jerusalem prior to 1967.”
Compromise and creative solutions
Oren is also convinced that if the administration reopens the consulate unilaterally, Israel will have to fight the move.
“Theoretically, one could stop providing electricity and water to the building. And it is possible to do other things that we shouldn’t talk about right now,” he said. “One has to take into account that there will be a price to pay; perhaps condemnations and perhaps sanctions. Therefore, we have to weigh carefully whether we can bear those costs. It is a strategic question, but, if, God forbid, the Americans decide to break all the rules, the battle at one level or the other will have to continue.”
Oren hints at creative solutions that are being spoken about behind the scenes but refrains from providing any details.
“We have to stand up for our interests,” said Oren. “I can see [a] crawl toward that old anti-Semitic policy whereby the ambassador in Washington is summoned for every demolition of illegal construction in east Jerusalem, and … for every brick that is laid in Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem beyond the Green Line. It is a matter of sovereignty and national honor. This is our capital. We must set boundaries, even when we are talking about our greatest friend. This is the moment where I would expect from our government to do so clearly, firmly and respectfully,” he added.
The campaign against the opening of the consulate has been headed for several months by Likud Knesset member and former Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat, who said he is in possession of polls that show “a huge majority among the Jewish public that is against the moves planned by the United States … even most Yesh Atid [Party] supporters are against this.”
“When the State of Israel was established,” he noted, “it inherited the consulates that operated in Mandatory Palestine prior to the establishment of the state. It allowed [them] to continue to operate, but it also made sure not to [allow] the opening of a new consulate in Jerusalem.”
“Having two diplomatic delegations in one city means the division of Jerusalem. There is no other possible meaning. It is a finger in Israel’s eye,” said Barkat.
“If the Americans take such a unilateral measure, it will not only be a violation of the Vienna Convention, but also an American message that the great United States is not capable of respecting its most loyal partners. It is liable to have a very strong effect on relations with the Americans,” he said.
Barkat, too, refused to be drawn in with regard to possible Israeli responses to such a unilateral move by the Americans.
“In my opinion, we must not go there,” he said. He expressed the hope that both the “opposition and coalition should unite around my proposed legislation that prohibits the state from opening or establishing in Jerusalem a diplomatic representation that serves any foreign entity.”
Barkat warned of a possible chain reaction that could be set off unless this happens.
“There are no words to describe the size of the catastrophe if we do not act to prevent this. As soon as the United States unilaterally opens a consulate for the Palestinians, other countries could take similar measures, and then we will have lost the ability to stop such a process in the future.”
In the meantime, the American administration is preparing the ground for the move, and has even allocated a budget to operate the consulate. It has also begun looking into opening a branch of the consulate in the east of the city. An American source clarified that opening the consulate “is an election promise made by Biden. He owes it to large parts of the Democratic Party.”
In Israel, on the other hand, a source inside the coalition warned the Americans that insisting on the reopening of the consulate, even after the budget passes, will undermine the Bennett-Lapid government and could serve opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu.
“There are ministers in the government who will be unable to live with this and may switch their support to the opposition,” said the source. “I hope and believe that the Americans are taking this into account as well,” he added.
This is an edited version of an article that first appeared in Israel Hayom.
Rabbi Yehuda Lave went to a protest on Wednesday Afternoon outside the old consolute office on Agron Street
Incredible Second Temple-Era Amethyst Seal Found Under the Kotel
A unique second Temple-era seal, the first of its kind to be discovered in the world, was recently recovered in soil taken from a dig conducted along the foundation stones of the Kotel (Western Wall), north of the City of David in Jerusalem.
The impressive seal, worn as a ring, bears the image of a bird, probably a pigeon, next to a branch that apparently depicts the persimmon perfume plant, one of the ingredients of the incense produced for the Temple, and was an expensive plant used to produce medicines, ointments, and perfumes.
The oval seal, made of amethyst in shades of purple and lilac, is 10 mm in length, 5 mm in width, and its thickness is 7 mm.
This image of the persimmon plant is apparently the first discovered on an archeological find in the Temple Mount area.
The seal was found at The Sifting Project operated by the City of David in the Zurim Valley National Park.
Archaeologist Eli Shukron, who conducted the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and the City of David at the Western Wall, explained that “this is an important find because it is the first time a seal has been discovered in the world with a description of the precious and famous plant on which we could only read in sources and historical descriptions.”
According to the researchers, “towards the end of the Second Temple period, the use of stone seals expanded and became more common, but in most stamps discovered so far with plant descriptions, it is common to find plants that were common in the Land of Israel at the time: vines, dates and olives, which belong to the seven species”.
“Examining the seal, we immediately noticed that the fruit that appears on it is unlike any of the fruits we have encountered to date,” said Professor Shua Amorai-Stark.
After an in-depth examination of the findings, the researchers hypothesized that it was the persimmon perfume plant.
Amorai-Stark explained that “the dove is a positive motif in the Hellenistic, Roman and Jewish worlds. It symbolizes wealth, happiness, goodness and success.”
He further noted that the engraving on the seal can attest to the identity of the person who wore the ring. “If it is indeed the famous and expensive persimmon fruit, then it is likely that the seal owner was a Jew with means, since the production and trade that took place around the persimmon plant was controlled at that time by Jews living in the Dead Sea basin, where the fruit was grown. It is possible that the owner of the seal was a person with an orchard for growing persimmons.”
Some commentators on the Bible identify the persimmon in the list of gifts given by the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon. In the writings of the historian Yosef ben Matityahu (Flavius Josephus), it is said that Marcus Antonius gave his beloved Cleopatra as a gift of persimmon groves.
The Sifting Project is a large-scale archeological project that offers the public to experience archeological activity without the need for prior knowledge. The project has brought to several important finds, including a First Temple period seal, coins from various periods of Jerusalem, arrowheads, jewelry and more.