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The Week In News

APRIL 12, 2018 | The Jewish Home


Rabbi Dr. Aharon Adler

at Congregation Rinat Yisrael, NJ

Rabbi David Brofsky at Ahavat Achim, NJ

Lt. Col. Rabbi Yedidya Atlas

Rabbi Assaf Bednarsh

at Suburban Orthodox Toras Chaim, MD

Mrs. Mali Brofsky

at Mt Sinai Jewish Center, Washington Heights, NY

Mrs. Leora Bednarsh

at Congregation Agudath Sholom, CT

at Congregation Agudath Sholom, CT

Rabbi Yosef Carmel

Mrs. Miriam Coren

at Young Israel of Passaic-Clifton, NJ

Rabbi David Ben-Nisan

Rabbi Yitzchak Blau

at Congregation BIAV, KS

at Congregation Dor Tikvah, Charleston, SC

Rabbi Ari Cutler

at Surburban Torah, NJ

Rabbi Judah Dardik

at Congregation Or Torah, IL

at Young Israel of North Woodmere, NY


Rabbi Shlomo Brody

at Congregation Ahavath Torah, NJ

Mr. Michael Eisenberg

Rabbi Baruch Felberman

at Kehillas Bais Yehuda of Wesley Hills, NY

at Shaarey Zedek, CA

Rabbi Seth Farber

at Hebrew Institute of White Plains, NY

Rabbi Uri Goldstein

at Congregation Shaarei Tefilla, TX

Rabbi Alan Haber

at JEC Elmora Avenue Shul, Elizabeth, NJ

Rabbi Chaim Jachter

at Congregation Ahavas Achim, NJ

Rabbi Yosef Mendelevich at Congregation Poale Zedeck, PA

Rabbanit Dr. Jennie Rosenfeld

at The Bayit – Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, NY

Dr. Marc Shapiro

at Young Israel of St. Louis, MO

Rabbi Baruch Felberman

Rabbi Elli Fischer

at Shaarey Zedek, CA

Rabbanit Pesha Fischer

at Young Israel of Oak Park, MI

Rabbi Meir Goldwicht

Rabbi Dr. Dovid Gottlieb

Dr. Leeor Gottlieb

at Congregation Ohr Torah, NJ

at Young Israel of Staten Island, NY

at East Denver Orthodox Synagogue, CO

Rabbi Shalom Hammer

Mrs. Eve Harow

Mrs. Karen Hochhauser

at Congregation Anshei Shalom, NY

Rabbi Ari Kahn

Rabbi Menachem Leibtag

at Congregation Shomrei Emunah, MD

Shulie Mishkin

Rabbi Boaz Mori

at The Riverdale Minyan, NY

Rabbi Shalom Rosner

at Young Israel of Jamaica Estates, NY

Rabbi Ken Spiro

at Ahavas Torah – The Scottsdale Torah Center, AZ

Rabbi Dovid Orlofsky

Rabbi Jeffey Saks

Rabbi Hershel Schachter ‫שליט“א‬

at Young Israel of Toco Hills, GA

Rabbi David Stav

at Beth Jacob Atlanta, GA

Rabbi Professor Avraham Steinberg at Young Israel of Century City, CA

at Congregation Shaarei Tefilla, TX

Rabbi Professor Yonatan Grossman

Rabbi Yehoshua Grunstein

Gil Hoffman

at Young Israel of Scarsdale, NY

at The Jewish Center of Atlantic Beach, NY

Rabbi Dov Lipman

Rabbi Anthony Manning

at Young Israel of West Hempstead & Congregation Etz Chayim, NY

Rabbi Doron Perez

at Young Israel of Lawrence-Cedarhurst, NY

Mrs. Naomi Schrager

Rabbi Jeremy Stern

Dr. Chana Tannenbaum

at The White Shul, NY

Rabbi David Stav

Rabbi Hadar Margolin

Dr. Avigail Poupko Rock

Rabbi Moshe Taragin

at Congregation Etz Chaim of Livingston, NJ

Rabbi Alex Israel

Rabbi Eli Reich

Dr. Shai Secunda

at Beth Jacob, CA

at Congregation Bnei Yitzhak, NY

at Congregation Adat Yeshurun, CA

at Anshe Sholom B’nai Israel, IL

Mrs. Eve Harow

at Kehillat Ohr Tzion, NY

at Baron Hirsch Congregation, TN

at Congregation KJBS, IL

at Congregation Beth Sholom, Rochester, NY

at Young Israel of Sharon, MA

Dr. Julie Goldstein

at Congregation Keter Torah, NJ

at Congregation Etz Chaim of Kew Gardens Hills, NY

Dr. Carl Hochhauser

Dr. Ayelet Libson

at Bikur Cholim Machzikay Hadath, WA

at B'nai David-Judea Congregation, CA

Dr. Ari Greenspan

at Ohr Saadya & Netivot Shalom, New Jersey

at Congregation Shaarei Tefillah, MA

at Lower Merion Synagogue, PA

Rabbi Yamin Goldsmith

at Congregation Torah Ohr, FL

at Young Israel of Scarsdale, NY

at Beth Jacob, CA

at Congregation Beth Torah, NY

Rabbi Aaron Goldscheider

at Young Israel of Southfield, MI

at B'nai David-Judea Congregation, CA

at Green Road Synagogue, OH

Rabbi Reuven Taragin

Rabbi Dr. Yehuda Seif

at Yavneh Kehila and Congregation Shaarei Tefila, CA

at Young Israel of Brookline & Maimonides Kehilah, MA

Rabbi Reuven Taragin

at Yavneh Kehila & Congregation Shaarei Tefila, CA

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Rabbi Yehuda Turetsky

at Young Israel of West Hartford, CT

Rabbi Stewart Weiss

at the DAT Minyan, Denver, CO

Dr. Deena Zimmerman

at Congregation Sha’arei Torah, Cincinnati, OH


Rabbi Dr. Ari Zivotofsky at Young Israel of Oceanside, NY

Dr. Avivah Zornberg

at Congregation AABJ&D, NJ

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The Week In News

APRIL 12, 2018 | The Jewish Home

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The Week In News

CONTENTS COMMUNITY Happenings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6

JEWISH THOUGHT Living with the Times . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8 Torah Musings. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12

FEATURE Melatonin - Dracula of Hormones. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14

LIFESTYLES Op-Ed. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Emotional Health. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19




APRIL 12, 2018 | The Jewish Home

Dear readers, Pesach might be behind us but there’s still plenty of Mitzrayim to leave. Indeed, it says “kimei tzetcha m’eretz Mitzrayim...” – with kimei in the plural. Leaving Mitzrayim wasn’t a “one and done.” We may have left the geographical territory of Egypt, but we need to escape that which it represents on a daily basis. It is for this reason we remember our departure from Egypt every day. Interestingly, as we said in the Haggadah, we will continue to recount yetzias Mitzraim even after the geulah shleimah. The simple reason is that, like with building a Lego set, at least half the thrill is in the actual building and challenges that come with it. We may be experiencing spiritual bliss in the coming redemption, but we’ll always look back longingly to the sweat and hard work we expended in keeping the Torah and mitzvos in golus. Having said that, we still want Moshiach now! We are living in unprecedented times. It is now unsurprising to read that the first response to Assad’s use of sarin gas came from Israel. Or that Israel is #1 in cyber security, has been helping California and other arid regions fight draught conditions, is at the forefront of medical breakthroughs, and has half the crime rate of this great country! But we are a stiff-necked nation. Although eternally grateful for the miraculous success the State of Israel has had, our eyes are still on the goal: redemption from jealousy, sadness, and pain, marking a time when the world will be filled with the knowledge of G-d. May it come speedily in our days. Wishing you a wonderful Shabbos,


T H E P R E M I E R J E W I S H N E W S PA P E R H I G H L I G H T I N G L A’ S O R T H O D OX C O M M U N I T Y The Jewish Home is an independent bi-weekly newspaper. Opinions expressed by writers are not neces­sarily the opinions of the publisher or editor. The Jewish Home is not responsible for typographical errors, or for the kashrus of any product or business advertised within. The Jewish Home contains words of Torah. Please treat accordingly. FOR HOME DELIVERY, OR TO HAVE THE LATEST ISSUE EMAILED TO YOU FREE OF CHARGE, SEND A MESSAGE TO EDITOR@JEWISHHOMELA.COM

APRIL 12, 2018 | The Jewish Home

The Week In News



TheHappenings Week In News

APRIL 12, 2018 | The Jewish Home

Yeshiva University to Hold Giving Day on April 25th Yehudis Litvak

Yeshiva University (YU) will hold a Giving Day on April 25th, uniting its students, alumni, and friends in celebrating YU’s accomplishments and supporting its future growth. The theme of this year’s Giving Day is “YU Hero.” Alyssa Herman, YU’s vice president for institutional advancement, explains that the Giving Day is an opportunity for the participants to highlight who they see as heroic. YU’s new president, Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman, “charged the students with building a better world,” says Ms. Herman. “They are already impacting the world, whether by scientific breakthroughs or by pursuing social justice.”

The theme has already generated an enthusiastic response. Current and past students are naming their YU heroes on social media and the YU website, expressing gratitude to their mentors and peers. On the Giving Day itself there will be a physical wall at YU where students can post the names of their YU he-

roes. The fundraising campaign is also well under way. Over $10 million have been pledged in honor of Rabbi Dr. Berman’s inaugural year as the president. Under Rabbi Dr. Berman’s leadership, YU is expected to grow and advance in many ways. This year, YU established partnerships with Israeli institutions and introduced new programs to help students become market ready. Among new offerings are an M.S. degree in Biotechnology Management and Entrepreneurship at the Katz School and an M.S.L. degree in Data and Privacy Law, offered by the Katz School in partnership with the Cardozo School of Law. Other new programs will be launching soon, with the aim of “giving the students pathways to the market,” explains Ms. Herman. The enrollment at YU is also growing, and it’s attracting many young men and women from Los Angeles. Currently, there are 138 undergraduate students from California at YU. “Los Angeles is an important community for us, with heavy participation,” says Ms. Herman. Since the beginning of his presidency, Rabbi Dr. Berman has visited Los Angeles twice and is building a warm relationship with the local residents. YU’s student population is also becoming more diverse. Currently, there are students from across the United States, as well as international students from China, India,

Korea, and Canada. “We’re excited about the coming fall,” says Ms. Herman. “We see applications coming from south America, Europe, Russia, and Africa.” The Giving Day is an opportunity for YU supporters to show their enthusiasm for YU’s growth. In addition, gifts made through crowdfunding will be matched by several generous benefactors. Beginning at noon on April 25th, special events and fun challenges will take place both on campus and on social media. Superhero themed swag will be distributed to participants. “There will be daylong competitions in place to help donors unlock additional funds for the school of their choice,” says Ms. Herman. An example is the Alumni Participation Challenge, in which schools with the greatest percentage of alumni participation get additional funds. There will also be hourly social media challenges, such as the Favorite Professor post (from 2:00 - 4:00 PM EST), where the participants who give a shout out to a professor or rosh yeshiva who really inspired them receive additional funds for their favorite school or program, and the YU Sweethearts challenge (from 9:00 PM - Midnight, EST), where participants who met their significant other at YU post a photo and receive additional funds for their favorite school or program. More information about the Giving Day can be found at givingday.

TheHappenings Week In News

APRIL 12, 2018 | The Jewish Home

RZA’s 70 for 70 Project Hits L.A. April 13-15th! Rebecca Klempner Lawrence, New York – will lead a delegation from Los Angeles on a week-long celebration in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Chevron, and Gush Etzion celebrating the 70th anniversary of the State of Israel. The RZA is American organization supporting Zionism dating from the 1920s. It is one of the constituent organizations of the Major Conference of Jewish Organizations.

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This Shabbos, April 13th-15th, five synagogues here in Los Angeles will be hosting speakers as part of the “70 for 70” program sponsored this weekend by the Religious Zionists of America/Mizrachi (RZA). In addition, on Sunday, Beth Jacob will be hosting a Pre-Yom Haatzmaut Program. These 70 for 70 events aim to put at least 70 Israeli speakers in front of audiences to celebrate the 70th birthday of the State of Israel. The idea for the program initiated with the RZA’s Rabbi Reuven Taragin and Rabbi Doron Perez of World Mizrachi. Rabbi Taragin explains, “The program evolved in conversation between the two of us (he and Rabbi Doron Perez) based on other programs we have seen in past years, and a vision for galvanizing a broad (in)ternational movement that emphasizes communities’ relationships with the State of Israel. The hope is that the program will give communities a sense of being part of a broader movement and that it will lead to further consistent yearlong Israel programming in communities across the U.S. and around the world.” Local organizers include Drs. Ernest Agatstein and Yakov Agatstein. Participating local shuls include: Beth Jacob, Young Israel Century City (YICC), Kehillat Yavneh, Bnai David-Judea, Shaarei Tefila, and Shaarey Zedek of Valley Village. The speakers over Shabbos will be as follows: • Rabbi David Stav at Bnei David-Judea • Rabbi Reuven Taragin at Kehillat Yavneh and Shaarei Tefila • Rabbi Professor Avraham Steinberg at YICC • Rabbi Baruch Felberman at Shaarey Zedek. At Sunday’s event at Beth Jacob, the speakers will be Rabbis Stav, Felberman, and Taragin; Mrs. Eve Harow; and Rabbi Avishai David. Dr. Ernest Agatstein says, “Los Angeles itself has almost one-tenth of all the speakers in the U.S. The Los Angeles community has rallied around this programming. Rabbis Topp, Muskin, Einhorn, Kanefsky, Kesselman, and Rosenberg all have played a role in getting their shuls on board with the program.” While the goal was 70 speakers in 70 sites, the RZA found 80 speakers for over 60 cities in over 20 states. Additional speakers are going to Canada, England, South Africa, Europe, and other countries. Dr. Agatstein explains that his hopes for this program are simple. “The attendees will be inspired, uplifted, and connect personally with an emissary from the State of Israel who will share their enthusiasm, wisdom, and put into context what it means for the State of Israel to reach this historic milestone.” Not long after the event, Dr. Agatstein – who serves on the presidium of the RZA along with Rabbi Lenny Matanky of Chicago, Illinois, and Mr. Martin Oliner of

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Living with the Times The Week In News

By Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz

APRIL 12, 2018 | The Jewish Home

A Moment of Silence

Publisher of the Yated Ne’eman

When the news is too awful to bear, when death befalls people young and dear, when fire consumes good people at a time marked for joy, it is a time of “vayidom,” thousands of years ago and today. With super-human strength and hearts tough as steel, it is a time of “vayidom.” Parshas Shemini offers uplifting lessons to illuminate our paths in times of doubt and difficulty. At the time of Krias Yam Suf, a fearful nation was told, “Hashem yilocheim lochem ve’atem tacharishun - Your duty at this time is to remain silent, as Hashem defeats the Mitzriyim” (Shemos 14:14). Chazal state that this advice is eternally relevant, as pertinent today as it was then. There are times when we must speak up and times when we should remain silent, times to do battle and times to be passive. As the Jews stood at the Yam Suf with nowhere to go and the Mitzriyim quickly approaching, Hakadosh Boruch Hu told Moshe that it wasn’t a time to stand in lengthy prayer: “Lo eiss atah leha’arich b’tefillah.” While in a time of danger we normally cry out to Hashem for salvation, this time was different. There is an “eis,” a time, for everything, as expressed by Shlomo Hamelech in Koheles: “Eis livkos ve’eis lischok… Eis le’ehov ve’eis lisno, eis milchomah ve’eis shalom.” How we are to act in each “eis” is determined by the Torah. Often, a good person is described as a “kovei’a ittim.” Homiletically, the phrase may have come about as a depiction of people who determine what type of eis it is and how to react to various ittim through the prism of Torah. When we say that a person is “kovei’a ittim,” we are saying that the Torah is his foundation and solidifies his responses to the vagaries of life. His reactions are dictated by the Torah.

In Parshas Shemini, we learn that Aharon Hakohein felt unworthy when he was selected to perform the avodah in the Mishkon. The posuk states that he was commanded to approach the mizbei’ach: “Krav el hamizbei’ach.” Rashi quotes Chazal, who explain the strange language

was strange and unwanted. They meant well, wishing to share in the great celebration and helping out in the consecration of the Mishkon, but because it wasn’t based on Torah or mesorah, it was strange and unwanted. Thus, a fire went out milifnei Hashem and smote them.

Through perfecting the art of silence, we merit the gift of speech. as teaching that Aharon was told, “Set aside your humility, because you were Divinely chosen for this task.” Although Aharon preferred to remain in the background, when told that it was an eis for him to step into a leadership position, he was spurred to action. His sons, Nodov and Avihu, however, sought to go where they didn’t belong. They reasoned that they were worthy of making decisions regarding the Mishkon. On their own, they decided that they were to bring an offering of flaming ketores. The posuk (Vayikra 10:1-2) states, “Vayakrivu lifnei Hashem eish zora asher lo tziva osam - They brought a strange fire that they were not commanded to do.” Because of that, a fire that emanated “milifnei Hashem” killed them. The Torah refers to the fire they offered as “strange” and explains what was strange about it: asher lo tziva osam, it wasn’t commanded. It was their own idea, and thus it

People in our age who act based upon their own limited intelligence, ignoring or twisting halacha and mesorah to comply with what they think is necessary and makes sense, are worthy of condemnation as they play with fire. Throughout the ages, our leaders were trained and formed in the crucible of Torah. Our people never looked to those who pushed themselves and forced themselves into positions of influence. Torah is the domain of the humble and the self-effacing. Nodov and Avihu were well-intentioned, but hubris misled them and caused them to be lost to the Jewish people. Humility doesn’t mean that it is not important to be confident in our abilities. Humility means that although we appreciate our attributes, we accept upon ourselves the kevias ittim of Torah. We recognize that we are under the jurisdiction of the halachos and moral demands of the Torah. We don’t think that we are smarter or better

than those who came before us. We don’t speak out of turn, and those of us who are not fully versed in halacha and hashkafah defer to those who are. We don’t make our own rules and set our own guidelines that are not in keeping with the way our people have been conducting themselves over the past millennia. Because of his humility, Aharon Hakohein merited a life of closeness to Hashem, working in the Mishkon. He sought to distance himself from leadership, for he felt himself unworthy, but once he was commanded to rise, he fully embraced the position. As he served Hashem on the holiest levels, mentoring his people wasn’t beneath him. The oheiv es habrios umekarvan laTorah lived on the golden path, traveling the road of harmony. Upon the demise of Nodov and Avihu, the Torah tells us, “Vayidom Aharon.” Their great father, the kohein gadol, who had just initiated his role in the Heichal Hashem, was silent. Aharon, a competent and experienced communicator, was undoubtedly able to express himself very well. After all, he was Moshe Rabbeinu’s spokesman. He was a man who pursued peace, settled disputes, and drew people closer to Torah. Why is it that when his two great sons were taken from him, he remained silent? Because that is what was demanded by the Torah during this “eis.” It was an eis lishtok. He had no mesorah of how to respond. Nobody had ever experienced a tragedy like this. He had no tradition of how a father reacts when losing children who were moreh halacha lifnei rabbon, being makriv an eish zora at the chanukas haMikdosh. They were great men, with righteous intentions, but Aharon remembered the lesson of “Ve’atem tacharishun.” Sometimes, silence is the correct response. In life, we are often tested. Sometimes, it is proper to speak up. Other times, the best reaction is to remain silent. When we are not aware of the mesorah for how to respond, we remain silent and wait for those more qualified than us to speak and provide direction. We are not to view ourselves in grandiose terms, as if we are able to chart the proper course. Through perfecting the art of silence,

APRIL 12, 2018 | The Jewish Home

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we merit the gift of speech. Chazal tell us that the reward for Aharon’s silence was that in the following parsha, the rule that kohanim may not become intoxicated at the time of avodah was told by Hashem to Aharon alone. Because he remained silent, Aharon was given a special mitzvah to transmit. He was called upon to speak. The depth of his reward is that there is no mandate to be quiet or to speak. The only mandate is to follow the ratzon Hashem. Our task is to be “kovei’a ittim.” There are many issues regarding which we have no clear guidance. There are so many things that transpire that we don’t understand. We must bend our ears to the Torah and hear what it says. In times of happiness and other times, we have to think about how the Torah would want us to act. What would our parents and grandparents say? How would they react? What would our rabbeim say? They knew better, and they know better, because they know how to be kovei’a ittim al pi haTorah, and we have to learn from them to be quiet, tzonuah and humble, and how to be mekabel din and tochacha. “Vayidom Aharon.” When his sons died on the day of the chanukas haMishkon, Aharon was silent. He accepted what happened, knowing that Hashem willed it so. And because he was quiet at that moment, he merited speaking to Hashem and to the Jewish people and performing the avodah. His silence paved the path for his family for generations to come and for Jewish leaders for all time. Was he quiet or talkative? He was neither. He was an eved Hashem, devoted to following Hashem’s will, perceiving the change in ittim and reacting. He knew that nothing happens out of happenstance, and if tragedy occurs, it is because Hashem willed it so. Our duty is to accept what Hashem has done and wait until another day to properly comprehend what transpired. The person who lives with bitachon is at peace. He is not easily rattled. No matter what happens, he is able to maintain his equilibrium. Vayidom Aharon. Because Aharon was a man of faith and didn’t become rattled, he was able to see the big picture and recognized that a kiddush Hashem was created by the deaths of his sons. He thus returned to the avodah “ka’asher tzivah Hashem,” for as a humble, G-d-fearing person, he knew that his

role was to submit to the ratzon Hashem. Following the Holocaust, there were two courses of action for survivors. Their harrowing experiences left many forlorn and broken. They lost their will to live and felt that Hashem had forsaken them. And who can blame them? They couldn’t recover. But there were people whose emunah was stronger, and although they had lived through those same experiences as the people who became depressed and lost, they put their lives back together, established new homes, and found what to celebrate about as they went on to live productive lives of “vayidom,” neither complaining nor becoming immobilized by their multiple tragedies. Far be it for us to comprehend what they lived through or to judge the people who were subjected to sub-human abuse, but we can learn from them. Each one of those people, from the simple Jews to the venerated leaders, is a hero to our nation. Together, they rebuilt and resurrected a decimated people. Their bodies were ripped apart, their families were destroyed, they were penniless and lonely, but their souls remained whole and pure. When tragedy strikes, a person becomes overcome with pain and sadness and it becomes difficult to function. A person who is “koveia ittim” knows that Hashem maintains Hashgocha Protis on the world. Whatever life does to us, we must remain whole and unbroken. Sometimes, the temptation is to fall apart and break down. If we can rise above tragic experiences in a state of “vayidom,” we can remain resolute despite setbacks. Of course, it’s easier said than done. Oftentimes, we need the help and reassurance of good people to keep us on track, but survival and endurance beat the alternative. No matter where we are, a Jew is always surrounded by opportunities to accomplish and prevail, though each place, season and moment has a specific avodah. We are never alone if we are ensconced in the “dalet amos shel halacha,” governed by the halachos and hashkafos of the Torah. May the clarity of emunah and bitachon lead our paths, so that we merit living as ehrliche Yidden, servants of Hashem, eagerly awaiting the arrival of Moshiach tzidkeinu bekarov.

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The Week In News Op-Ed

APRIL 12, 2018 | The Jewish Home

A Fairer, More Effective Traffic Court Alternative Shlomo Frieman

Traffic court is substantially the same as in 2015 when Governor Brown described it as a “hellhole of desperation” for the poor. Was it always this way? What are the alternatives? Under the traffic court system, each infraction incurs a base fine, a penalty assessment, and other fees. In 1953 the first penalty assessment was $1 per $20 of base fine or $5 for a $100 base fine. Today, the

penalty assessment and fees for the same $100 base fine are $390 – a 7700% increase! Due to the numerous unpaid tickets and suspended driver licenses spawned by traffic court fines, there have been two traffic amnesty programs to date. Unless something changes, future ones are inevitable because these programs do not address the underlying cause for the unpaid


tickets or suspended licenses. While the theoretical purpose for penalty assessments is for those who violate laws help finance programs related to decreasing those violations, that is not their purpose today. For example, the State Penalty Fund receives the largest portion of penalty assessment revenues, with the rest going to various funds including a State DNA Identification Fund and a County Emergency Medical Services Fund. What do the latter two funds have to do with decreasing infraction violations? The answer is simple: NOTHING. Furthermore, most of the programs receiving State Penalty Fund revenues also have nothing to do with decreasing traffic violations. Thus, the major purpose for penalty assessment and other fees is the need to fund programs unrelated to decreasing traffic violations. There are fairer and more effective alternatives. For instance, a traffic court system that issues one or more points instead of fines for moving violations should be more equitable because points have a more even effect across the socio-economic spectrum. In particular, since people differ economically, a specific fine can be insignificant for the rich, but a hardship for the poor. However, a point brings every driver, rich or poor, equally closer to having a suspended license. In addition to the current practice of removing points from drivers’ record after three years, drivers can be rewarded by removing one point from their record after each shorter, continuous period of time they do not incur a new point. Also, court resources could be better allocated by charging drivers for only the services they use. This approach will result in fewer drivers utilizing traffic arraignment courts because what a driver can accomplish at a court arraignment can generally be accomplished quicker and cheaper online or at a courthouse cashier window. Likewise, fewer drivers will go to trial because of the additional cost if found guilty. The resulting freed up traffic courtrooms and personnel could be used to handle heavily backlogged matters, e.g., small

claims cases. Besides the current traffic school option, approaches aimed at changing a driver’s mindset, e.g., motivational interviewing, should be offered. In motivational interviewing, an interviewer helps a driver identify the reasons for the driver’s behavior and works with the driver to identify better ways of handling similar situations in the future. To help build goodwill between the police and community, if a car has a defect unknown to the driver (e.g., a non-working taillight), the driver could be issued a courtesy notice instead of a fix-it ticket, given a reasonable time period to fix the violation, and, after providing proof of correction, the case would be closed without any fine or court appearance. When a court is not the best agency for handling a matter before it (e.g., a mentally disabled defendant charged with blocking a sidewalk), justice would be better served and the underlying problem addressed if a judge, prior to rendering a decision, could refer the defendant to an appropriate social services agency to be linked to services the defendant needs to address the underlying reason for the infraction. In Barking to the Choir, Father Gregory Boyle quotes a Chinese proverb, “The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right name”. To fix the traffic court system, we have to recognize it for what it is: misfocused, inequitable, and a “hellhole of desperation” for the poor. As Governor Brown suggested, the “whole business of those fines ought to be looked at.” There are better alternatives, including those discussed above. No doubt there are others. The important thing for us is to start a dialogue, come to a consensus as to better alternatives, and make the necessary changes. Only when a more equitable, traffic safety focused system is in place will we achieve safer roads and, at least in traffic court, fair justice for all. Shlomo Freiman is a candidate for Judge of the Superior Court, Office 126.

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Giving Bounces Back Sarah Pachter

As a young adult, my dear friend Eliana lost both her parents within one year’s time. Simultaneously, she was experiencing a high-risk pregnancy, complete with every uncomfortable symptom imaginable. To the outside world, her life seemed to be crumbling, and she had every reason to be despondent, withdrawn, and focused on her own needs. Ironically, almost every time we spoke, she would ask me, “How can I help you?” “What can I do

for you?” This was not exclusive to our relationship. It seemed that she was constantly seeking out opportunities for chessed. I couldn’t understand how she had the strength to always reach out to others when she herself was going through such a challenging time. Her desire to give seemed to know no bounds – and I was in awe. After reading an article by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein on the topic of giving, I began to understand where her strength and joy stemmed from.

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A man wrote a letter to his rabbi explaining his problems and seeking advice. His letter read: I am not doing well in my school. I sweat the small stuff. I have a hard time waking up in the morning. I have trouble focusing. I have difficulty with prayer. The rabbi wrote back by simply returning his original letter with the first word of every sentence circled: “I.” The rabbi kindly pointed out that each of the man’s many complaints began the same way, “I…” It was clear to him that the man’s focus was on making himself happy. He explained that if it was happiness he was seeking, one of the optimal ways to experience it fully would be through focusing on, and giving to, others. Giving is something that can bring joy to anyone involved in the act. The Hebrew word for giving, natan, is a palindrome, spelling the same word forward as it does backwards. This is a clear symbol for what the word teaches. Whether you’re the one receiving or you’re the one giving, there is so much to be gained. When we give to others, the gift bounces right back in our direction. We benefit just as much, if not more, when we give. Acting in a predominantly self-focused way can lead to feelings of sadness and isolation, yet when we reach out to give to others, we gain the inner joy we all long for.1 When I thought more about my friend’s situation, I realized that it was actually her acts of selfless giving that gave her power. She 1

Taken from an article written by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, “The Power of Kindness.”

appeared energized and full of life when caring for others. Perhaps reaching out helped her to move the focus from her own internal pain to the joy inherent in lending a hand to others. It seemed she was a perfect example of how giving actually benefits the giver. It all came together for me when I recently went hiking here in California. I am so lucky to live in a state where we are surrounded by the unique beauty that only nature can provide. Northern California features gigantic redwood trees that are as majestic as they are tall and strong. The trees of the redwood forests can grow up to 300 feet tall, and the largest redwood to date weighs approximately 4,000,000 lbs!2 The assumption is that a tree of that magnitude must have incredibly deep roots. However, after researching, scientists have found that redwood trees, while hundreds of feet tall, have roots that reach a mere 5-6 feet into the ground. How could a tree of this magnitude hold itself up? How is it that an entity with a such a seemingly shallow foundation could be so strong, grow so large, and live so long? The answer is actually found in these apparently underwhelming roots. The roots of the redwood tree don’t grow downward, they grow outward. The roots reach out to the other trees surrounding them and latch on to one another. Similarly, when we reach out and give to others, we grow stronger and taller. 2 faq/how-much-do-redwood-trees-weighand-how-much-lumber-do-they-contain;

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The support we offer to others actually supports us. Even in difficult times, when it feels like we may not have deep roots to stand on, if we can reach out and connect in order to give to others, that gives us the power we need. Sometimes in life, pushing ourselves to give to others when we ourselves are entrenched in hardship seems like an impossibility. It’s 3 p.m. on a weekday, and we may be knee-deep in emails and meetings, when we are approached to join a Mealtrain for a new parent or help on a committee for the upcoming shul event. Often, our first reaction may be to ignore the call to help because we are too tired. Stretching ourselves to give at that moment feels like jumping over a huge puddle – we just don’t think we will make it across. But Hashem merely wants us to try. He says to us, Yes it seems impossible, but just do your best, and I will help lead you over the obstacle. Often when we push ourselves, we find we have more energy than we did before. There is an incredible story of a couple who became new parents one glorious summer day. After a few weeks of sleepless nights, both parents were exhausted. In spite of his sleepless state, the new father went to visit a close friend who was recovering from a mild surgery, and brought his newborn baby along to cheer his spirits. When the visit was over, he drove back home and practically ran to his room and passed out from sheer exhaustion. He was lacking sleep to a severe degree, but felt proud he had made time for bikur cholim (visiting the sick). Suddenly, a ringing phone woke him from his deep sleep. He quickly silenced it and continued his midday nap. The phone kept ringing. He

saw it was his friend whom he had just visited, and chose to silence it. The phone rang once more. He lay there with an internal battle: To answer? Or not? It might be urgent, he ultimately decided. Reluctantly, he brought his hand to the phone and chose to answer this time. Expecting to hear of some sort of emergency, he was shocked when his friend simply asked if he had any Advil. This new parent was seething inside. He thought to himself, All that incessant calling just for some Advil? Internally he was fuming, but agreed to bring it to him. Still drowsy from his nap and a bit frustrated, the man went back to his car to head to his friend’s house. He reached his hand to open the car door, and to his horror, he saw that he had left his newborn in the backseat in the scorching sun! Had he not answered the call to chessed, the unthinkable may have occurred.3 When we give, that selfless act comes back to us in one form or another. We may stand stronger, gain more energy, or in some extreme instances, our act of chessed may actually save lives. We are often tired, overwhelmed, and don’t think we can push ourselves anymore. But we will find that when we do, it actually creates more energy for ourselves than we realize. Much like the redwood tree – and my good friend Eliana – reaching out just might be the secret strength that enables us to grow and reach heights we never thought imaginable. This growth, this strength, is precisely the energy that giving reciprocates back. When we stretch beyond the “I,” we are given back a life full of joy and meaning. 3 This story was heard from a lecture delivered at the Tisha B’Av worldwide event 2016 by the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation.


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Dracula of Hormones By Sabrina Stempel


ut it’s natural!” is often the argument given by parents with whom I consult. Melatonin supplements are all the rage amongst millennial parents. Melatonin, or “the sleepy hormone,” is produced in the pineal gland which controls sleep and wake cycles. Over the last 15 years, melatonin supplement sales have gone up by 500 percent, according to the Nutrition Business Journal, as it is becoming more readily available. The popularity of melatonin supplements is due in part to modern parents’ desire for quick fixes and immediate results. A parent struggling with a young child’s sleep may turn to these supplements thinking it’s “natural” so it can’t hurt. It’s certainly better than giving a child Benadryl on a daily basis but there is a lot to understand when it comes to using melatonin supplements safely. There is a false sense of security with a “natural” product. The U.S. Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 allows

synthetic melatonin to be sold as a dietary supplement without needing approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) because it is found naturally in some common foods. Since it is not a controlled substance, the FDA does not regulate the supplement and the dosages listed on the bottle are not controlled either. This can lead a consumer to give a child the wrong dosage or to administer the correct dosage at the wrong time of day. Research is still being done to figure out what dosage is appropriate for each type of sleep problem or disorder and the timing for taking it. Taking the wrong dosage or taking the right dosage at the wrong time can reconstruct your biological sleep wake cycles in the wrong direction. It is important for parents to realize that this is a hormone, not a vitamin or herb, and to familiarize themselves with the possible negative effects. Some concerns over the chronic use of melatonin supplements are the premature onset or

delay of puberty in children. Some parents have noticed their toddlers start to sweat a lot, experience night terrors, or fall asleep abruptly in the middle of an activity. Another concern is that chronic use of melatonin supplements actually creates a self-inflicted deficiency. Over time, the body becomes so used to not needing to produce melatonin naturally that it thinks it does not need to produce the hormone at all anymore. Australian Professor David Kennaway, who has studied melatonin for 40 years, published a paper in the Journal of Pediatrics and Child Health stating that while there have been no thorough, longterm safety studies of the use of melatonin to treat sleep disorders in children, studies done on humans and animals have shown that the supplement causes changes in physiological systems, including the reproductive, cardiovascular, immune and metabolic systems. There is lesser concern for occasion-

al use of the supplement, but even in those cases, parents should use the smallest dosage possible. Some of the reasons why synthetic melatonin was first introduced to the market were to help adults who work night shifts or have jetlag from frequent traveling or for autistic children who may have insomnia due to dysregulation of the melatonin pathway. Once parents started to see these supplements on the shelves of pharmacies and grocery stores, a lightbulb went off! What a great, quick fix for solving my child’s bedtime battles! Parents and physicians are too often quick to give a pill or supplement before even looking further into behavioral or medical issues that could be the root of the child’s inability to fall asleep quickly. Research has shown no difference between the desired effect of melatonin supplements and consuming foods which contain higher levels of tryptophan and limiting light exposure. Tryptophan is an

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The Jewish Home | OCTOBER 29, 2015

APRIL 12, 2018 | The Jewish Home

amino acid that increases the neuro-transmitters, serotonin and melatonin in your brain’s pineal gland. Both of these brain chemicals control the timing of your biological clock’s sleep-wake cycle. Some of these foods include legumes, red meat, poultry (turkey in particular), oats, cheese, fish, eggs, and bananas. Choosing some of these foods for dinner along with a glass of warm milk or “sleepy time tea” (which can be found in any grocery store) can help the serotonin and melatonin flow in time for bedtime. There are also foods to avoid which can keep a child up. Included in this group are foods containing caffeine, such as chocolate (that means no chocolate milk), soda, caffeinated tea, or coffee. Foods which are difficult to digest, such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, corn, and sugary foods or drinks, should also be avoided. Cutting out the “waker foods,” as Dr. William Sears, author of The Baby Sleep Book, likes to call

them, in the second half of the day and including “sleepy foods” in your child’s dinner will make a tremendous difference. Melatonin is sometimes referred

which is emitted from screen exposure, before bedtime. When the eyes’ retina absorbs bright or blue light, melatonin production will not happen. The best thing to do is to

Cutting out the "waker foods" in the second half of the day and including "sleepy foods" in your child's dinner will make a tremendous difference.

to as the “Dracula of hormones” because it is only released in the dark. Aside from keeping the house dim when it’s close to bedtime and setting the sleepy tone in the home, it is key to avoid bright or blue light,

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avoid screen exposure 30-60 minutes before bedtime. Lastly, parents also need to reflect on their child’s schedule. Is your child napping at an age-appropriate time and length? Is bedtime too late

or too early for their age? Bedtime that is too early will only frustrate a child and build up anxiety and negativity toward sleep. Bedtime that is too late produces overtiredness and irritability, creating negativity and frustration. While the safety of melatonin supplements is still the subject of research, I urge parents to try natural ways of triggering melatonin flow. Speak to a sleep professional before administering melatonin supplements and about what other factors you should investigate that may solve your child’s sleep problems.

Sabrina Stempel is Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant, the Founder of Baby Sleep Train™, and the Midwest Regional Director of the Association of Professional Sleep Consultants. She works worldwide with families of children ages 0-6 years and can be reached at sabrina@

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Extending the Lessons of Lag B’Omer into a Year-Long Initiative Rifki Orzech

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Lag B’omer, they ceased dying. As children, we learned that the students suffered this horrible consequence because they lacked mutual respect. This narrative imparts a solid lesson on unity,


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brotherly love, and communal responsibilities. In order to heal a shared tragedy, we needed to acknowledge and engage with the other more than ever. Judaism can never be something learned from books, Judaism is lived and shared. You can’t make the world a better place while sitting in an ivory tower. You can however, “Make the world a better place, together.” And that is precisely the motto of the One Jewish People Project, an ambitious initiative to encourage dialogue and unity between disparate Jewish groups through acts of kindness and altruism. The initiative models the living and sharing of a dynamic Judaism through projects that proclaim: “We will take responsibility for our actions and for each other.” The Project is one of those big ideas that will ensure the spirit of Lag B’omer is advanced in new ways that can go viral in the best ways possible. At the forefront of taking communal responsibility throughout the year, you’ll find Yad Ezra V’Shulamit, an organization in Israel that provides everything from food baskets and daily hot meals for children, to helping the youngsters with their homework, as well as offering them afternoon activities so they have a normal childhood. They also help the parents find work, assisting in writing resumes, teaching job applicants how to interview – whatever they can do to help Israelis in desperate poverty get back on their feet. No Jewish Israeli is turned away. Not only do they consistently assume responsibility for our nations’ emotional and physical needs, on a deeper level they empower families to succeed, to rediscover identities and individuality that can be suppressed during hard times. Impoverished families face internal conflict every day. However, when they understand that Yad Ezra V’Shulamit has their back, they can stand straighter, they can achieve. The lessons of Lag B’omer are about keeping people alive, spreading education, helping others and – most of all – taking pride in who we are. You can extend those lessons throughout the year by supporting the people who support our people. This year, as you celebrate by the bonfire, singing and enjoying a barbeque, take a moment to remember how far we’ve come and that the long list we have yet to complete can be done – together.

APRIL 12, 2018 | The Jewish Home

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Emotional Health

APRIL 12, 2018 | The Jewish Home

The Tyranny of the Should Rabbi Dov Heller, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

Everyone lives with “shoulds.” One might say, Judaism is a way of life built on should: one should love others, one should keep kosher, one should give charity, and so on. For many, their shoulds are experienced as positive and fulfilling. Meeting one’s moral obligations is a great source of pleasure. When we do the right thing, we feel good about ourselves and feel that life has meaning and purpose. But there are others who do not experience shoulds in a positive way. They feel pressured and strangled by them. For such people, their inner shoulds sources of great emotional suffering. Dr. Karen Horney named this experience, the “tyranny of the should.” Here are some examples of shoulds that can become problematic: • I should always feel happy. • I should not dislike anyone. • I should feel strong and in control. • I should have perfect clarity. • I should always be giving. • I should not make mistakes. • I should never get angry. • I should never waste time. • I should always feel productive. • I should be great. (I invite you to make your own list of shoulds.) Shoulds become tyrannical when they are experienced as making overwhelming demands that are impossible to meet. “You should never be weak,” is an impossible demand to meet. It demands that you be perfect, and therefore feels like an order given by an oppressive dictator who ruthlessly demands perfection and nothing less. Shoulds are rigid, unyielding, and devoid of compassion for one’s limitations and weaknesses. One is never able to relax because the pressure to be perfect is unrelenting. When the shoulds are reinforced by social pressure, they become even more unbearable. Under the burden of these dictates, one’s behavior may become pressured, forced, and may take on an obsessive quality. The hallmark of the experience of one controlled by the tyranny of the should is that one feels driven and never feels like the driver of his life. There is a loss of personal agency, genuine creativity, and authenticity. If this isn’t enough, shoulds are also experienced as punitive. Every should carries an implicit message that, “If you don’t do it perfectly, you are a bad person.” Thus, feeling like a failure, one inevitably falls prey to self-hate and shame. A person who loathes himself, feels depressed, hopeless, and feels like giving-up. One’s vitality is sapped. One area of life that the “tyranny of the should” can be particularly devastating is in the realm of Jewish observance. Instead

of the mitzvos being experienced as empowering and uplifting moral ideals to strive towards, they become experienced as rigid and oppressive orders and demands. When this happens, instead of the Torah being a source of light and life, it becomes a source of darkness and suffering. Thankfully there is hope. The key lies in understanding the transforming power of truth which I will now explain. The first step is to become aware of your shoulds. Did you make your list? It is important to note that when you begin to become aware of them, you will discover just how many there are, some obvious and others quite subtle – so listen very carefully! The second step is to recognize that shoulds are essentially lies. For example, I might hear myself say that I should always feel happy. Is this true or false? It is certainly a lie, because it is not humanly possible to be happy all the time and never be in a bad mood. The third step is to identify the truth. In this example, the truth would be, “It is okay to feel unhappy and be in a bad mood from time to time. No one is happy all the time.” Upon embracing the truth, you will feel a perceptible shift; a sense of liberation and a feeling of lightness. Embracing the truth is transforming. As a great rabbi once said, “A little light dispels much darkness.” The fourth step is to recognize the truth that you are not a bad person. Just because I am not happy all the time doesn’t mean I’m a bad person, that something is wrong with me, or I have a psychological problem; to think so is a falsehood. The fifth step is to accept yourself as a good person who is imperfect and limited. No longer needing to be perfect, one can begin to discover and embrace the truth about oneself. Someone who has been living with the need to be perfect may not find this so easy to do. Living as an imperfect, limited, and messy human being requires letting go of one’s idealized selfimage. Embracing reality is often painful. Becoming more grounded in ones own true feelings and perceptions is a primary indication that one has begun to free himself from the “tyranny of the should.” As the grip of this reign of terror loosens, one begins to feel more alive. In short, one begins to take back his life and become the driver of his life and no longer the driven one. One is on the path towards living a more authentic life. Dov Heller is in private practice offering psychotherapy and personal mentoring for individuals and couples. He can be contacted at You may also visit his website at

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