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The Verdict – Lori Almost Live


Three things can change a decree.

For more articles and videos by Lori, visit

Baroque Jewish music from the Portuguese Synagogue in Amsterdam


Boij besalom and Col anesama (Halleluyah), by Christian Giuseppe Lidarti (1730- c. 1793), edited by Israel Adler. This was a commission for the anniversary of the inauguration of the Portuguese Synagogue in Amsterdam. Janet Pape, soprano, Yoko Honda, Xavier Lambert, baroque violon, Elena Adreyev, baroque violoncelle, Nicholas Fairbank, harpsichord.

The Hebrew Hammer – Certified Circumcised


Trailer from Hebrew Hammer

Ki Tisa: Shabbat, the Golden Calf, and Rest

Ki Tisa: Shabbat, the Golden Calf, and RestPosted: 16 Feb 2014 04:00 AM PST

Worshiping_the_golden_calfHere’s the d’var Torah I offered yesterday at my shul. (Cross-posted to my From the Rabbi blog.)

This week’s Torah portion begins with Moshe atop Mount Sinai, communing with God. The last thing God says to Moshe is a set of verses we now know as V’shamru, commanding us to keep Shabbat throughout the ages as a sign of covenant with God. Then God gives Moshe the two tablets, inscribed by God’s own hand.

Meanwhile, the people are anxious. Moshe has been gone for a long time. They implore Aaron, his brother, to “make them a god.” They donate their gold jewelry, and from that jewelry is fashioned a calf which they begin to worship.

When Moshe comes down the mountain, he shatters the tablets in his fury.

Many commentators have seen this incident as a kind of spiritual “adultery.” Here is God reminding us of the Shabbat which serves as the sign of our eternal relationship, and meanwhile we’re off giving ourselves over to something which is not God. The Torah frequently compares our relationship with God to a marriage…and here we are, “cheating on” God when the ink on our ketubah is barely dry.

As punishment, Moshe grinds up the calf and makes the people drink it — which is strikingly similar to the punishment for a woman accused of adultery, as described later in Torah. I’m always struck by the symbolism of making the people confront their own misdeeds in this way. They have to literally swallow what they have done. They have to take ownership of the damage they have done to their relationship with God.

Seen in this light, Moshe’s shattering of the tablets is a sign of the spiritual brokenness in that relationship. But what becomes of those broken stones?

We read in Talmud:

Rabbi Joshua ben Levi said to his sons: Have care for an old person who has forgotten his/her learning. For we say: Both the whole tablets and the shattered tablets lie in the Ark. (Talmud Bavli, Berakhot 8b)

In the ark of the covenant, which will be kept inside the mishkan / dwelling-place for God, our ancestors carried both the second set of tablets (which are whole) and that first set of tablets (which are broken).

For Rabbi Joshua ben Levi, this holds a message about how to treat our elders. Just as we cherished both sets of tablets, so we should cherish both those who are whole, and those whose wholeness has been broken by sickness or by age.

Perhaps when Moshe broke the tablets, he was demonstrating his own brokenness. His wholeness was broken when his people demonstrated their lack of commitment and faith. Just as our ancestors kept the broken tablets along with the whole ones, we cherish the memory not only of Moshe’s beautiful moments, but also his times of imperfection and anger.

Each of us is like Moshe. Each of us carries her own history in the ark of her own heart. In our own holy of holies, we hold our sweetest memories — and also the times when we have felt shattered. Without both, we wouldn’t be who we are.

How does all of this relate to Shabbat and to v’shamru?

The verses of v’shamru, from this week’s portion, charge us with keeping Shabbat as an eternal covenant. It is a sign, God says, between us for all time. A reminder that on the seventh day God rested and so do we.

Shabbat is a covenant between us and God. When we keep Shabbat — whatever that means to us; as liberal Jews we shape our Shabbat observance in accordance with a variety of values — but when we keep Shabbat, however we keep Shabbat, we re-enact the covenant.

Every week, we renew our wedding vows with the Holy One. We reprise the central act of our relationship, an act of pausing to notice the sacredness of creation.

Every Shabbat is the antidote to the sin of the Golden Calf. Then we were anxious and we put our faith in something gleaming, something we could see and touch. Now we remind ourselves that relationship exists even when we can’t see it. That when we make Shabbat, we emulate the ineffable force behind the cosmos in rhythms of creation and rest.

Image source: wikimedia commons.

New Southern Jewish culture center at the College of Charleston to highlight 
Charleston Post Courier
As the College of Charleston launches the Pearlstine/Lipov Center for Southern Jewish Culture, experts Adam Mendelsohn and Dale Rosengarten compiled this timeline of Charleston’s rich Jewish history for The Post and Courier. 1669: Carolina’s 
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If Seinfeld were made in 2014, this is how it would look
If Seinfeld were made in 2014, this is how it would look. Seinfeld always had a way of bringing non-political Jewish culture to the masses. As Diaspora Jews feel the wake of Israeli isolationism, we could all do with a little ‘serenity now!’ By Yael 
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The secrets of successful synagogues
Jewish Chronicle
By contrast, support for social justice (81 per cent) or Jewish culture (71 per cent) was much higher. From this, you might conclude that the synagogue, the linchpin of Jewish life for 2,000 years, was in eclipse as Jews put their energies elsewhere 
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Nazi Collaborator or Hero?

by Rabbi Benjamin Blech
Claude Lansmann’s film, The Last of the Unjust, explores the moral ramifications of Benjamin Murmelstein’s pact with devil.

Olympics of the Soul

by Sara Debbie Gutfreund
The gold medalist freestyle skier and his brother who has cerebral palsy are both champions.

Iranian TV and Me

by Sara Yoheved Rigler
Iran’s graphic portrayal of the destruction of Israel.

Video: Electronic Heroin

by The New York Times
An inside look at a controversial rehabilitation center in China that is “deprogramming” teenagers who are addicted to the Internet.

3 Main Reasons Couples Grow Apart

by Emuna Braverman
It can happen to any of us, if we’re not careful.

The Triumph and Tragedy of Ari Shavit’s My Promised Land

by Sol Stern
The widely praised book distorts history and hurts the chances for peace.

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Skating to Schindler’s List

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Yulia Lipnitskaya’s Olympic performance: breathtaking or bad taste?
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In this Issue:
  • Health Risks and Halacha
  • You CAN Reverse Type 2 Diabetes
  • Gender Differences in Keys to Longevity
  • Get Tested for Toxic Metals with Hair Mineral Analysis

Health Risks and Halacha

Our Chachamim enlighten us to a concept that is central to the perspective that we must have in guiding the decisions we make regarding our health. The Gemara in Masechet Chullin (10a) and in Masechet Pesachim (76b) presents to us the dictum of “Chamira Sakanta M’Issura”. This essentially means that something that poses a severe health risk is considered more stringent than a regular prohibition.
A practical application of this concept comes in the prohibition recorded in the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De’ah 116) of being careful not to eat meat and fish together. The mixture may cause a dermatological condition. It is generally accepted that this prohibition includes chicken, turkey, and all other fowl as well. This is also the reason why in between a meat and fish course, for example on Shabbat, after the fish, we rinse our mouths (or drink) and eat something parve like bread – kinua’ch v’hadacha. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 173:2) brings down the custom to wash hands in between, and, some maintain that it is preferable to have the fish course before the meat course as well.
All of this is done just to maintain a separation between the two, and to make sure that at the time of eating one, there should not remain even a trace or residue of the other. Chamira Sakanta M’issura – A Health Risk is more strict than a prohibition. A good example of the difference with a prohibition is in the halacha of bittul/nullification. In a normal scenario where one encounters something non-kosher which might have accidentally fallen into a kosher mixture, the halacha, in most cases, maintains that if there is present 60 times the amount of kosher against the non-kosher, the non-kosher product is considered nullified, and one is permitted to partake of the mixture. However, in the case of a severe health risk, halachically, there is no nullification, as halacha is extremely cautious when it comes to people’s health.
The Magen Avraham addresses the observation that there are plenty of people in the world who do mix meat and fish, and there are no reports of widespread dermatological reactions. He advances the notion that environmental conditions have since changed, and therefore one does not need to worry about this. Other notable authorities, including the Aruch HaShulchan and the Mishna Berura seem to accept this argument as halacha. Furthermore, there is no mention of this danger of eating meat and fish together in any of the works of the great physician, the Rambam.
However, most halachic authorities do not agree with this chiddush/innovation and maintain that the basic halacha follows the Shulchan Aruch and that this mixture remains forbidden.
Chamira Sakanta M’Issura – A health risk is more strict than a prohibition. Make this an affirmation and re-examine all the choices you make when it comes to your health – food, drink, tobacco, medication, etc. Yes, there are severe health risks associated with the SAD diet (Standard American Diet, which, by the way, is very sad!)! Yes, there are severe health risks associated with the continued consumption of sugary, carbonated beverages, adulterated juices, or excess alcohol! Yes, there are proven severe health risks associated with nicotine and tobacco use (don’t get me started on smoking and the yeshiva world)! Combine this with the injunction of “U’Shmartem et Nafshoteichem” – “And you shall guard your well-being”, and the path to optimal health and Torah living becomes very clear.

You CAN Reverse Type 2 Diabetes

Diabetes is arguably the biggest health problem facing North America today. According to the National Diabetes Clearinghouse, almost 26 million people, or just over 8 percent of the population, had diabetes last year. And that number is growing daily. Type 2 Diabetes is by far the most common form of diabetes. Unlike people with Type 1 Diabetes, people with Type 2 Diabetes do produce insulin. However, the pancreas either doesn’t produce enough insulin or the body does not use it properly – a condition known as insulin resistance. These insulin imbalances can cause glucose (aka sugar) to build up in the blood, which leads to cell damage throughout the body.
Statistics show that diabetes occurs among the Jewish community from two to six times as often as it does among the non-Jewish community. It is really a disease of the the developed world, and this is supported by the Ethiopian Jews now living in Israel. Pre-emigration to Eretz Yisrael, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart attacks were virtually non-existent for this group of people. Now, 17 percent of the 75,000 or so Ethiopian Israelis have diabetes. The cause of the onset of the disease to this group is attributed to the dramatic change in lifestyle – from living a “primitive” farming lifestyle to living in a higher stress, fatty-food laden lifestyle.
Nine in ten Type 2 Diabetics are overweight, which makes blood sugar control more difficult and increases the risk of neuropathy, vision loss, kidney dysfunction, and heart disease. The new term being thrown around these days is diabesity. But there is a bright side. Losing weight is all it may take to normalize blood sugar and improve overall health. The easiest path to weight loss is to first eliminate all sugars and eat several smaller meals daily. This eliminates the food cravings that sabotage even the most committed dieter. There are specific foods that have been shown to produce positive effects on blood sugar control. These foods include olives, soybeans, other legumes, nuts, artichokes, bitter melon, garlic, Jerusalem artichokes, mangoes, and onions. These foods all have a low glycemic index and glycemic load and are high in fiber. Cinnamon may also be helpful in controlling blood sugar levels. According to research, cinnamon might be acting as an insulin substitute in Type 2 Diabetes.
With the right diet and lifestyle adjustments, Type 2 Diabetes can be treated and often reversed.

Gender Differences in Keys to Longevity

While quality sleep and a healthy diet are basic tenets of the anti-aging lifestyle, the extent to which these factors contribute to an extended lifespan may differ between men and women. Mark L. Wahlqvist and colleagues from Monash University in Australia investigated the ways that diet contributed to the relationship between sleep quality and mortality, among a group of 1,865 men and women, ages 65 years and older, enrolled in the Nutrition and Health Survey in Taiwan. The researchers observed that sleep played a more important role in men’s mortality than women’s. Among women, those who ate a varied diet that included foods rich in vitamin B6 could still live long lives despite poor sleep habits. Observing that: “Sleep quality played a more important role in mortality for men than for women,” the study authors write that: “In women, Vitamin B6 levels predict mortality more than sleep does.”
Yi-Chen Huang, Mark L. Wahlqvist, Meei-Shyuan Lee.  “Sleep Quality in the Survival of Elderly Taiwanese: Roles for Dietary Diversity and Pyridoxine in Men and Women.”  Journal of the American College of Nutrition; Volume 32, Issue 6, December 2013, pages 417-427.)

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With 15 years of clinical practice experience in Canada and the United States, Dr. Cowen is trained in primary care integrating standard medical diagnostics with a broad range of natural therapies. With an emphasis on integrative health care, treatments can be used on their own or together with conventional medicine.Therapies include: Acupuncture, Chinese Medicine, botanical medicine, physical medicine, homeopathic medicine, hydrotherapy, diet, clinical nutrition, and lifestyle counseling and coaching. Dr. Cowen is interested in preventive care and optimizing health.

Hair Mineral Analysis now available at our clinic.

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