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

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Was Isolating The Healthy a major mistake. Is it time to life the bans?

Was Isolating the Healthy a major mistake? Is it time to lift the bans?

Why are we locking down the healthy? The building blocks of normal immunity is exposure.
We have never isolated the healthy before. We always isolated the sick. This was never done in the history of the world, and everybody excepted it without a fight and rolled over like sheep to the orders around the world

Keeping contagion at bay.The meaning of quarantine has evolved from its original definition “as the detention and segregation of subjects suspected to carry a contagious disease.”

Now it represents a period of isolation for persons or animals with a contagious disease – or who may have been exposed but aren’t yet sick.

All Bacteria and viruses are not bad. The body needs them to fight off infections. This is the first time in the history of the world that quarantining the healthy has been tried.

Isolating the healthy has weakened the General public, not just in their pocketbook.

Before you get excited, that the Doctors sited below are rushing the recovery, everyone believes that anyone who feels that they are vulnerable to contracting Covid-19 should take precautions to avoid getting infected. That’s a given.

If one needs to attend to someone in this group then, by all means, wear masks, gloves, and eye protection. But it’s not necessary for your daily routine, except it is now the law in Israel.

The media are motivated by the competition for the audience.

At one time there were just three networks providing news; NBC, CBS, and ABC. People chose the news based on the announcer; Walter Cronkite, Edward R. Murrow, etc.

Today there are dozens of news sources. To attract the audience each must sensationalize the news. They have over-exaggerated the danger of Covid-19 to garner more viewers. (Millions could die from a deadly and highly infectious new virus sweeping the nation. News at 11:00.)
They reported the worst-case scenarios. This induced mass hysteria fearing that the pandemic would kill millions.

That’s how the public was misguided into self-quarantining and allowing the economy to be shut down.

Now that we can analyze real data about the disease and not extrapolations of computer models, it is evident that Covid-19 is not nearly as bad or as deadly as it was portrayed.

Most people recover in a few days. Those who are hospitalized or die almost always have underlying medical conditions. 96% of patients recover with no lingering side effects.

The death rate is comparable to a bad seasonal flu.

Finally, destroying the economy has put tens of millions out of work. Production has come to a standstill and many businesses will soon fail.
This will trigger a domino effect driving the economy into a deep recession, so prevalent that our safety nets (the governments sending money without limit-how long can that last) will collapse.
We will see people in this country, not to mention the world, starving and unable to afford the necessities of life.

We could see up to 130 million additional deaths from the economic collapse, added to the 135 million that had been predicted by the end of this year, by the UN.

Compare 130 million to 1 million Covid-19 fatalities of the current worst-case scenario.
We can’t save everyone, so we need to apply triage to save the most that we can.
That means getting the economy going again and letting the virus run its course.

I’m not a Doctor, nor as Dr. Welby used to say, do I play one on TV but real Doctor’s (Doctors Dan Erickson and Artin Massihi of Accelerated Urgent Care are calling for the county to reopen}
Two ER doctors with huge experience in immunology and microbiology, in California but based on nationwide statistics did a national briefing which you can see on YouTube.

The highlights from their briefing:

The Wuhan virus has caused “severe disruption” for their urgent care business. Because of the forced shutdown and the forced total focus on only Wuhan virus patients, their “volumes [of patients] have dropped significantly.”  Dr. Erickson also revealed that many California hospital ICUs “are empty, essentially.” Because of this, hospitals are “shutting down floors, they’re furloughing patients, they’re furloughing doctors.”

In certain places in California, the health system has been “evacuated” to the point that they are operating at a “minimal capacity — getting rid of our doctors and nurses because we just don’t have the volume [of patients].”After talking to ER physicians around the country, “because COVID has become the focus” of our healthcare system, Dr. Erickson concludes that people with critical illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, hypertension, and the like, are not going to the doctor out of “fear.” Thanks to the media and many politicians across the U.S., we are dealing with an irrational and uninformed fear.

When it comes to the widespread “shelter in place” orders that permeate the U.S., Dr. Erickson points out that typically we are supposed to quarantine the sick, not the healthy. “We’ve never seen where we quarantine the healthy — where you take those without the disease, and without symptoms and lock them in your home.” This type of quarantine is not “really meshing with what we know as people of scientific minds that read this stuff every day.”

After testing 5,213 people for the Wuhan virus at their five Bakersfield locations — which is over half of the 9,197 tests performed in Kern County — 340 came back positive. That’s a positive rate of just over 6.5%. This indicates a “widespread viral infection” that is “similar to [the] flu.” Dr. Erickson believes these numbers are “ubiquitous” for California.
Dr. Erickson next asks the important questions that many politicians in the U.S. seem unwilling to consider as most of us remain in some form of shutdown: Do such numbers “necessitate sheltering in place?” Do such numbers “necessitate shutting down medical systems?” Do such numbers “necessitate people being out of work?” Of course, the answers to each of these questions should be a widespread and resounding “NO!”

As Dr. Erickson repeatedly put it, “millions of cases, a small amount of death.” This is playing out in every state in the U.S. — including the worst-hit states such as New York. Also, it is well worth noting that across the U.S., the recovery rate for those actually contracting the Wuhan virus is well over 90% — much closer to 100% than 90% in most parts of the U.S.

Dr. Erickson highlights the 2017-2018 flu season, where “50 to 60 million” Americans had the flu, with 43,545 flu deaths. (There are reports that put the deaths from the 2017-2018 flu season at 80,000 Americans.) Again, these numbers compare very well with what we are seeing with the Wuhan virus. Yet, during the deadly flu season of 2017-2018, there was “no pandemic talk, no shelter in place, no shutting down of businesses, and no sending doctors home.”
“The flu’s dangerous, it kills people,” declares Dr. Erickson, and that’s with a vaccine. Yet, just because you have a vaccine — because only about half of Americans even get the flu vaccine — there are no guarantees when it comes to controlling the spread of, preventing death from, or that the vaccine will even be effective against the flu or a flu-like virus. So, unless we come up with a highly effective vaccine for the Wuhan virus, and unless we’re willing to force it upon people, as we see with the flu there are few guarantees when it comes to a vaccine.

The conclusions from the Doctors:

We no longer need to shelter in place

We don’t need to keep businesses closed

We need to test

Data is showing its time to Lift bans

Sheltering has stopped people from getting regular medical care

And conclusions from me:

Stepping on Constitutional rights was too easy, we should not allow shutdowns in the future based on potential models

Isolation has increased spousal abuse, child abuse, loss of medical care, depression, suicide

Loss of business that will never recover

Tourism around the world has disappeared

National parks where people are spread apart are closed-does this make any sense?

I can shop at Costco or Ikia but not little businesses

There is no science in play

If you have no symptoms you should go back to work

Will some get people with sicknesses to get through -yes

Should we shut down the economy for two years and test everyone? NO.

Blind studies take years

Going outside is healthy

Why can’t you go to the park and walk around but go to the store?

If you are healthy and have no immunity problems -you should be able to go out without a mask and gloves and go out–this is the main problem–everyone was isolated when it was sick that should have been isolated. This was idiocy. And needs to end.

About the Author Yehuda Lave writes a daily (except on Shabbat and Hags) motivational Torah blog at Loving-kindness my specialty. Internationally Known Speaker and Lecturer and Author. Self Help through Bible and Psychology. Classes in controlling anger and finding Joy. Now living and working in Israel. Remember, it only takes a moment to change your life. Learn to have all the joy in your life that you deserve!!! There are great masters here to interpret Spirituality. Studied Kabbalah and being a good human being with Rabbi Plizken and Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher, my Rabbi. Torah is the name of the game in Israel, with 3,500 years of mystics and scholars interpreting G-D's word. 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 Comments

Yom HaZikaron 2020 in Israel will begin in the evening of Monday, 27 April and ends in the evening of Tuesday, 28 April

Yom HaZikaron (Hebrew: יוֹם הַזִּכָּרוֹן‎, lit. 'Memorial Day'), in full Yom HaZikaron LeHalalei Ma'arakhot Yisrael ul'Nifge'ei Pe'ulot HaEivah (Hebrew: יוֹם הזִּכָּרוֹן לַחֲלָלֵי מַעֲרָכוֹת יִשְׂרָאֵל וּלְנִפְגְעֵי פְּעוּלוֹת הָאֵיבָה‎, lit. 'Memorial Day for the Fallen Soldiers of Israel and Victims of Terrorism'[), is Israel's official remembrance day, enacted into law in 1963. While Yom HaZikaron has been traditionally dedicated to fallen soldiers, commemoration has also been extended to civilian victims of terrorism.

In 1949 and 1950, the first two years after the declaration of the State, memorial services for soldiers who fell in the 1947–1949 Palestine war were held on Independence Day.

Services at military cemeteries were coordinated between the IDF and the Ministry of Defense. A concern arose, expressed by families of fallen soldiers, to establish a separate memorial day observance distinct from the festive celebrations of national independence.

In response, and in light of the public debate on the issue, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion – also serving as Minister of Defense – established in January 1951 the "Public Council for Soldiers' Commemoration". This council recommended establishing the 4th of Iyyar, the day preceding Independence Day, as the "General Memorial Day for the Heroes of the War of Independence". This proposal won government approval that same year.


Yom HaZikaron is the national remembrance day observed in Israel for all Israeli military personnel who lost their lives in the struggle that led to the establishment of the State of Israel and for those who have been killed subsequently while on active duty in Israel's armed forces.As of Yom HaZikaron 2019, that number was 23,741.

42 soldiers and civilians killed since last Memorial Day, taking total to 23,816 In addition, 33 disabled veterans passed away due to injuries sustained during their service; official numbers published ahead of commemoration events

Preceding evening

The day opens with a siren the preceding evening at 20:00 (8:00 pm), given that in the Hebrew calendar system, a day begins at sunset. The siren is heard all over the country and lasts for one minute, during which Israelis stop everything, including driving on highways, and stand in silence, commemorating the fallen and showing respect.

By law, all places of entertainment are closed on the eve of Yom HaZikaron, and broadcasting and educational bodies note the solemnity of the day. Regular television programs cease for the day, and the names and ranks of every soldier who died for Israel are displayed in a 24-hour television broadcast.

Since the founding of the state, Israel has chosen the Dam Hamaccabim flower [Hebrew: דם המכבים, meaning "Blood of the Maccabees". In English: Red Everlasting as the national memorial flower. The flower is depicted in many memorial sites, and can be seen worn as stickers on shirts and jackets throughout Yom HaZikaron. Since 2019, the non-profit organization Dam HaMaccabim has been distributing pins with the real Red Everlasting flower throughout Israel and the USA.

Main memorial day

A two-minute siren is sounded at 11:00 the following morning, which marks the opening of the official memorial ceremonies and private remembrance gatherings at each cemetery where soldiers are buried.

Many Israelis visit the resting places of loved ones throughout the day.

National memorial services are held in the presence of Israel's top leadership and military personnel.

Memorial candles are lit in homes, army camps, schools, synagogues, and public places, and flags are lowered to half staff. Throughout the day, serving and retired military personnel serve as honor guards at war memorials throughout the country, and the families of the fallen participate in memorial ceremonies at military cemeteries.

Many traditional and religious Jews say prayers for the souls of the fallen soldiers on Yom HaZikaron. Special prayers prescribed by the Israeli rabbinate are recited. These include the recital of Psalm 9: "For the leader, on the death of the son," and Psalm 144: "Blessed be the Lord, My Rock, who traineth my hands for war and my fingers for battle" in addition to memorial prayers for the dead. The official ceremony to mark the opening of the day takes place at the Western Wall.

Channel 11 has screened the names of all civilians killed in pogroms since 1851, and all fallen from 1860 (considered the date of the beginning of the Yishuv by the Israeli Ministry of Defense), in chronological order (rank, name, Hebrew date deceased and secular date) over the course of the day.

This has been mentioned in the West Wing episode "Memorial Day". This practice was continued by KAN, which replaced Channel 11 in 2017. The day officially draws to a close at sundown (between 19:00 and 20:00; 7–8 p.m.) in a ceremony at the national military cemetery on Mount Herzl, marking the start of Israel Independence Day,[14] when the flag of Israel is returned to full staff.

Scheduling Yom HaZikaron right before Independence Day is intended to remind people of the price paid for independence and of what was achieved with the soldiers' sacrifice. This transition shows the importance of this day among Israelis, most of whom have served in the armed forces, or have a connection with people who were killed during their military service.

Timing To avoid the possibility of Sabbath desecration should either Yom HaZikaron or Independence Day take place on Saturday night, both are observed one or two days earlier (the 3rd and 4th, or the 2nd and 3rd, of Iyar) when the 5th of Iyar falls on a Friday or Saturday (Shabbat). Likewise, when Yom HaZikaron falls on Saturday night/Sunday day, both observances are rescheduled to one day later.

Ideas, that help explain how the world works

Sh'mini lists signs of kosher animals.

Regarding fish, the Torah tells: 

אֶת-זֶה, תֹּאכְלוּ, מִכֹּל, אֲשֶׁר בַּמָּיִם:  כֹּל אֲשֶׁר-לוֹ סְנַפִּיר וְקַשְׂקֶשֶׂת בַּמַּיִם, בַּיַּמִּים וּבַנְּחָלִים--אֹתָם תֹּאכֵלוּ

This may you eat of all that is in the waters: everything that has fins and scales, you may eat. But anything that has no fins and scales, you may not eat(Lev. 11: 9). 

For a fish to be kosher, it needs both fins and scales.

Why are fins and scales the characteristics that distinguish kosher fish?

What is special about these two identifying signs to deem such fish being Kosher?

The Talmud (Tractate Niddah 51b) has a fascinating statement:

"All fish that have scales also have fins (meaning, these are kosher), but there are fish that have fins but do not have scales (meaning - these are not kosher)." 

The Talmud then asks: If a fish which has scales, inevitably has fins, why the need for both signs? The Torah could have written only 'scales,' without having to also write 'fins?'" 

The Talmud answers: "This is so that the Torah should be increased and made great."

This is a very strange answer!!!

How is it that presenting two signs, when only one is enough, makes the Torah “greater”?

Our Sages explain that the food a person consumes has a profound effect on his or her psyche, and they teach that the physical attributes of all animals reflect their psychological and spiritual qualities.

Therefore, when a person eats the flesh of a particular creature, the inner personality of that creature affects the person.

Scales shield and protect the body of the fish - they represent the quality of integrity, which protects people from falling prey to the many pitfalls that life presents.

Fins are the organs, the engine that propels fish forward. They represent the drive for achievement. They drive us to fulfill our dreams.

Fins and scales embody two qualities embedded in the souls of these types of fish that are necessary for the correct and healthy development of the human character.

When a person consumes the substance of such fish, he becomes a better and more refined and balanced human being.

Contrary to that, when a person consumes fish lacking one or all of these characteristics, it may cause the person to get out of the “spiritual balance.”

As we saw, the Talmud teaches that all fish that have scales, also have fins.


(To this day all attempts to find fish with scales but with no fins were unsuccessful). 


But there are fish that have fins but do not have scales and are thus non-kosher.


On a deeper level, this symbolizes the idea that a human being who possesses fins (the drive to achieve goals) may still lack scales (integrity) and thus remain "non-kosher."


Achievements of such a person may be ‘not kosher’ - corrupt. Being ambitious and confident does not guarantee moral integrity.


And again, the Talmud teaches that all fish with scales also have fins.


"If so," asks the Talmud, "the Torah could have written only 'scales,' without also having to mention 'fins.'"


On the spiritual level, the Talmud may be presenting the following questions:

  • Why is it important to emphasize the need for fins in developing a moral human being?

  • Why not just focus on integrity and ethics?
  • Why does an emphasis on ambition constitute part of being moral?

The Talmud's answer is outstanding:


This is so that 'Torah be increased and made great.'


This means that our spiritual mission consists not only of professing integrity and morality but also of developing our full potential materially and spiritually. 


If we approach life with truth and integrity (scales), we will eventually succeed and develop the propelling ambition (fins) as well.


The Torah tells us to be ethical and moral, but it also wants us to succeed in life by utilizing our resources so that the light of Torah penetrates the entire universe to make the Torah "great."




כדג במים - K'DAG BAMAYIM 


Lit.  'Like a fish in the water.'  


Meaning - feels at ease/comfortable with the task/environment. 


Was Proust A Jewish Anti-Semite? By Saul Jay Singer

Marcel Proust (1871-1922) was a French novelist and essayist best known for his magnum opus, In Search of Lost Time (earlier called Remembrance of Things Past), a monumental seven-volume novel universally regarded as one of the seminal achievements in world literature.

Although the setting of In Search of Lost Time is the aristocratic circles of late 19th-century France, it continues to resonate because of its timeless themes, including the meaning of love, the emotional parameters of time and memory, the nature and consequences of social ambition, the perception and development of sagacity, and the genesis of artistic consciousness and achievement.

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Moreover, as we shall see, there is an argument to be made that Lost Time is a “Jewish novel” in that many of its most important characters are Jews; it illuminates the position of Jews in the early French Third Republic; and it raises issues of broad contemporary Jewish interest, including assimilation and integration, social achievement, and the Jewish place in a secular world.

Proust’s encyclopedic work (which is more than 3,000 pages) is marked by the comprehensive explorations of thoughts and emotions by an unknown first-person narrator named “Marcel,” who is essentially an alter ego of the author himself, though the line between author and narrator is sometimes confusing. (Interestingly, one difference between Proust’s narrator and himself is that the fictional protagonist has no Jewish parent.)

Marcel gains meaningful insights into his life and his consciousness even through seemingly mundane events. One legacy of Proust’s oeuvre is the term “Proustian experience,” which has entered the lexicon to refer to sudden wisps of memory.

In many instances, however, the narrator, concluding that the complexity of human nature is not always knowable, leaves certain questions and mysteries unresolved. He realizes that full human understanding is unattainable but, ever determined to uncover the mysterious and unknown sources of emotion, comes to understand that life cannot be evaluated in a vacuum and that knowing himself rests in significant part in analyzing his relationships with others, including particularly the worldly, cultivated, and charming Charles Swann, a Jewish character who plays a leading role in the novel.

Proust’s father, Adrien, was a prominent pathologist and epidemiologist who, though he studied cholera in Europe and Asia and published widely on medicine and hygiene, did not rise to the heights of French society until his marriage to Jeanne, a wealthy Jewish heiress and the daughter of a Jewish banker. Though intermarried, Jeanne never converted and always remained attached to her Jewish family.

Under the accepted social convention of the time, the terms of their mixed marriage were understood: Jeanne would not be required to convert to Christianity nor, in deference to her parents, was she given a Christian burial; however, the children would be baptized and raised as Christians.

Although Proust was baptized and was later confirmed, he never formally practiced Christianity and, always manifesting a deep spiritual attachment to his Jewish mother and grandmother, was unable to disregard entirely their Jewish heritage. His passionate devotion to his mother was such that in an opening scene in Swann’s Way, he explains his thoughts and feelings while longing for his mother’s goodnight kiss which, when it fails to come, causes him anguish and becomes a metaphor for unrequited love, a major theme of the novel.

Manifesting his characteristic reflection and self-contemplation, Proust was always aware of his irreconcilable religious duality, which finds expression throughout his work; as he writes in Lost Time, “The question is not as for Hamlet, to be or not to be, but to belong or not to belong.”

He read the Zohar and frequently made observations and employed language in Lost Time that can only be characterized as Jewish-mystical, including when describing the beauty of Venice and its magnificent cathedrals – a fascination of our narrator throughout the novel. His numerous Jewish references in the novel evidence the far-reaching effect of his Judaism on him, and he makes frequent textual references to the Old Testament, which he interprets through his own emotional sensitivities.

In Search of Lost Time – which some commentators contend is designed and built like the Talmud – is replete with Jewish references. For example, there are at least 10 mentions of Queen Esther, seen as the embodiment of a Jew living in two different worlds due to her of intermarriage with Achashverosh. (Proust certainly had no inkling of the various midrashim on this subject.)

He once described his cherished mother by referring to “the beautiful lines of her Jewish face, completely marked with Christian sweetness and Jansenist resignation, turning her into Esther herself.” Much like Esther, who publicly concealed her Jewish identity, Proust generally strived to obscure his Jewish ancestry so as not to jeopardize the relationships with the aristocratic friends he had so assiduously cultivated.

Other Jewish references in Lost Time include a Shabbat luncheon where a Jewish character is highly amused by the arrival of a visitor who is wholly unaware of the day’s “special customs”; a reference to “ancient laws” that forbid “simmering the kid in his mother’s milk” or eating “the sinew which is upon the hollow of the thigh”; and a request, consistent with Jewish ritual, for no flowers or wreaths as the narrator’s grandmother lay dying.

It is fascinating to consider suggestions by commentators that Proust was a Jewish anti-Semite. His early life is replete with interactions with anti-Semites; as an adolescent, he grew up in the shadow of an anti-Semitic church and had friends who were Jew-haters; and as an adult, he socialized with the upper elite of French society, who loathed Jews.

He desired status, prestige, and, above all, to be seen as a respected Christian gentleman and, as such, it is not surprising that he frequently echoed their positions. Until the Dreyfus Affair, which will be discussed below, he feared the adverse social repercussions that would likely arise were he to stand up to anti-Semitism in any meaningful way.

Proust referred to Zionists as “Sodomites” and, more significantly, he described many of his Jewish characters using anti-Semitic stereotypes, including notably Swann, who perhaps best reflects both the complexities and contradictions of Proust’s attitude toward his own Jewish origins.

In the exceedingly rare circa 1913 correspondence from my collection exhibited here, Proust refers to Swann’s Way, the first volume of In Search of Lost Time. He writes in French to historian and essayist Georges Goyau commenting on the death of Goyau’s wife, Lucie Félix-Faure (Goyau had apparently sent Proust a photo of his wife and some religious mementos):

I have just been very ill and you will excuse me to tell you in one simple word, thank-you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the noble and holy image, and the remarks that are as if she were alive. … I will keep and often visit these dear relics. I will send you very soon my book [Swann’s Way] where you will recognize episodes of my childhood that she knew so well. I only have sufficient force to press your hand from all my heart and transferring all my affection for her so naturally toward you.


The wealthy, erudite, and refined Lucie Faure-Goyau (1866-1913) was the daughter of French President Félix Faure and a lifelong friend of Proust who almost married him before she went on to wed Goyau. A Catholic feminist, she founded the Fraternal League of the Children of France; traveled extensively, including to Eretz Yisrael, writing detailed memoirs of her journeys; and published poetry and several books on religion.

Swann’s Way, the first of seven volumes of In Search of Lost Time, begins with the narrator’s recollection of Charles Swann, a family friend whom he knew well as a child. (“Swann’s way” is Proust’s term for the nouveau riche, the “way” of the ascent of some Jews into the French luxury class.)

Beginning with his imaginative reconstruction of Swann’s love affair, the narrator/Proust gains insight into his life and the nature of love. Through an exhaustive analysis of Swann’s life and prominence, he learns that class is not immutable and that one may move up or down in social caste; thus, says the narrator, our “social personality is a creation of the minds of others.”

Swann – the embodiment of the Jew-by-genealogy (he had one Jewish grandparent) who consorts with the aristocracy – epitomizes Proust’s personification of contemporary Jewish social success. His inspiration for the character was two Jews: Charles Haas, a wealthy, suave, and clever Jew who, as a member of the ultra-exclusive Jockey Club, was known for his fellowships with nobility, and Charles Ephrussi (an Ashkenazi rendition of “Ephrati”), a member of a family of international bankers who competed with the Rothschilds.

Proust inexplicably uses Jewish caricatures and anti-Semitic language in his rendering of Swann as a Jew. For example, in describing his final visit to a declining Swann, whose face had been disfigured by illness, the narrator focuses on Swann’s nose, which has become “enormous, tumid, crimson… fit for an old Hebrew.”

Similarly, he commonly employed vicious anti-Semitic tropes in expressing contempt for “the unassimilated Jews,” including particularly Albert Bloch, Proust’s schoolmate and an unambiguously Jewish character. In Proust’s portrayal, Bloch, though brilliant, regularly exhibits a total lack of social awareness and grace and is the very caricature of the uncouth and pushy ill-mannered Jew. Here again, Proust seems to be obsessed with Jewish noses: “his Jewish nose was now scarcely more visible than is the deformity of a hunchbacked woman who skillfully arranges her appearance.”

Proust dedicated The Guermantes Way, volume three of In Search of Lost Time, to Léon Daudet, a long-standing publicist friend who was a vociferous anti-Semite. Léon’s father was novelist Alphonse Daudet, who funded Edouard Drumont’s notorious and despicable anti-Semitic newspaper, La Libre Parole, and Proust sat silently and passively at many dinners at the Daudet estate during which the entire family regularly engaged in vicious anti-Semitic tirades. As one commentator cogently put it, “Marcel had fallen in, not for the last time, with some of the most distinguished Jew-haters in all of Europe.”

But, on the other hand, Proust also maintained a wide circle of Jewish friends, and many of his most intimate and open associations were with Jews, including the Bizet family, Léon Blum, the Halévy brothers, and Sidney Schiff. Thus, other commentators argue that Proust was not some diffident ghetto Jew living in constant fear of being seen as a Jew and thereby losing his status amongst the elites of Christian society.

Indeed, when his literary mentor, the Comte Robert de Montesquiou, voiced anti-Semitic views at a dinner, Proust responded with a letter that his mother was Jewish and that he would not accept any such future statements. At his mother’s funeral, he stood up before the high gentile gentry of Paris and insisted that the Kaddish be recited in her memory, and he later regretted that his illness precluded him from visiting her cemetery and placing a memorial pebble atop her gravestone, as per Jewish tradition.

When La Libre Parole referred to him as a Jewish writer who typified Jewish indecency, Proust resisted the urge to respond that he was, in fact, a baptized Christian. In a later correspondence, he wrote: “to correct the story, I would have had to say that I was not Jewish and did not want to be” – but he could not deny his Jewish side. And he unabashedly challenged anti-Semitic characters in Lost Time, expressing moral scorn for them.

Moreover, Proust, who personally attended the trial of Emile Zola after the publication of J’Accuse, was one of the earliest and most zealous supporters of Alfred Dreyfus. He proudly referred to himself as “the first Dreyfusard” and, among other pro-Dreyfus activities, led a petition campaign for a retrial after Dreyfus’ wrongful and fraudulent conviction.

In audaciously and publicly defending Dreyfus, Proust alienated the officials of the realm, the French military establishment, the French aristocracy, the conservative Catholics, and his own father.

Proust used the Dreyfus Affair – which unfolded in real time as he wrote the final half of Lost Time – as an important lens through which to view the moral integrity of his characters. Marcel (Proust’s narrator) is an equally passionate Dreyfus supporter, as are Bloch and Swann, whose Jewishness and its role in the Dreyfus Affair, the preeminent political and social issue of Proust’s time, become a fundamental focus of volume six (“Sodom and Gomorrah”) of Lost Time.

At the end of his life, an ailing Swann openly expresses his revulsion for the anti-Semitic aristocracy in which he had lived his entire adult life. As Proust describes it, Swann demonstrates “a sense of moral solidarity with the rest of the Jews, a solidarity which Swann seemed to have forgotten throughout his life and which, one after another, his mortal illness, the Dreyfus case and the anti-Semitic propaganda had reawakened.”

Swann’s moral and ethical stance, however, comes at a great price: Formerly the darling of the bourgeoisie, he is shunned by his former friends, not only for supporting Dreyfus, but for being a Jew, a development that both haunts and infuriates Proust.

Sadly, Proust had a very challenging life. He had asthma as a young child and suffered from the disease his entire life; he had to personally finance the publication of Swann’s Way after it was rejected by every publisher to whom he submitted it, with the final three volumes of Lost Time published posthumously; and he died alone and unappreciated before he could enjoy the success of his novel and the fame it generated.

See you tomorrow bli neder We need Moshiach now

Yom HaZikaron starts tonight and the following day is Yom with Yom Ha'atzmaut following on Wendesday.

Love Yehuda Lave

Rabbi Yehuda Lave

PO Box 7335, Rehavia Jerusalem 9107202


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