Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews -- For those who like their news and truths frank and sharp

Recent remarkable days for Jews in Jerusalem and the number fifty

So many special things happened in a row that I would like to make a note of them for posterity. Day after day after day, unique happened. Did you realize all of them and do you still remember? Time flies when you’re having fun.


On his first visit abroad, US President Donald J. Trump visited Israel too, “prayed” at the Kotel and going all smiles with us (but behind closed doors screaming at “President” Abbas), daughter Yael cried a tear at the Holy Wall, and leaving without one single press conference. Enfant terrible Oren Chazan stole a selfie with him but the establishment did not like that – as if he is here to be liked by them. The next day:

Yom Yerushalayim

And not just a day to celebrate the unification of our capital. Fifty years since the liberation of Jerusalem from Jordanian occupation and destruction. That only happens one day in the history of the world.

I noticed that religious Jews celebrate this more than Independence Day. The next day:

Yom Chevron

The day after Jerusalem fell into our hands, Chevron returned to us too. Fifty years since Rabbi Goren singlehandedly “recaptured” Chevron for the Jewish People. He simply walked, holding a Torah scroll, into Chevron. Arabs who saw his self-confidence were sure that he must be followed by an enormous tank force and fled. He was not. The next day:

Rosh Chodesh Sivan

The first day of the new month of Sivan. This year it also (almost) coincided with the start if the Ramadan. It always depends on when the moon is actually visible which this year was the next day, Shabbat. (They use telescopes; when we have the Sanhedrin again, we’ll do the same but only with the naked eye. The next day:

Parashat Bamidbar and Day of Distinction

Shabbat is always special, every week. Bamidbar is normally read before Shavuot. The branches of Jewish-religious youth movement B’nay Akiva from all Jerusalem’s neighborhoods every year march to the Kotel on the Shabbat afternoon before Shavu’ot. However, this year, they went a week earlier because of the dangers on the first day of the Ramadan. Where are the days that Muslims decided to murder Jews before the holy Ramadan, not to soil their holy month with bloodshed? I remember that that was the attitude during the Second Intifada – a mere 15 years ago. The most dangerous days were those before the Ramadan – when a peaceful atmosphere would descend on Muslim society. What a decline that now those who murder in the name of Islam seek to sanctify their holiest month with blood!

What is and when was the original Day of Distinction is explained in the Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Shabbat, pages 86b-88a. That will keep you off the street for a while! Nowadays it falls between the Head of the Month of Sivan and the three days that precede the Festival of Jewish Pentecost. The next days:

Three Days of Restraint

Three things Moses changed on his own accord and G-d liked them. One was to enlarge the two to three days of separation between the genders before the Revelation on Sinai. All Jewish customs agree that one can then get a haircut. The next day:

Chag haShavuot

Day fifty arrived, seven complete weeks since Pesach we needed to complete before we may make Kiddush. In The Netherlands, even the evening service won’t start until it’s really dark, which means about 23:00. Then rushing home, a quick meal and rushing back to get all of the traditional learning done before daybreak. My shul this year was decorated with flowers – many have this custom for Shavuot. The next day:

Yom Tov Sheni in the Diaspora

Because of the delay by Moses, this was most probably the Jewish-calendar day that we actually received the Torah. The Rabbis have declared violating the sanctity of the Second Festival days of the Diaspora worse that the Firsts, but in this case it seems extra bad as that was likely the actual day. (Try to explain that to the non-Orthodox streams.) In any case, learning and receiving Jewish knowledge is of every day, so that fits that this is the only Festival that has no set date in the Torah.

Meanwhile it was already Isru chag in Israel, schools still free.

It was a most remarkable sequence of 16 days. I have no idea when the Christian Festival days fell. One of the perks of living in Jerusalem.

The Diaspora would go back to Tachanun prayers on the ninth, and Israel on the thirteenth of Sivan. This was followed by heat waves. Most traditional Jews try to go on vacation and daytrips as soon as schools stop and before the Three Weeks start. In the distance a faint smell of the High Holidays may be sensed already. When one lives by the Jewish calendar, one is never lost in time.

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, a daily blog contributor to the TOI. He often makes his readers laugh, mad, or assume he's nuts—close to perfect blogging. As a frontier thinker, he sees things many don't yet. He's half a prophet. Half. Let's not exaggerate. He grew up a humble listener. It took him decades to become a speaker too, and decades more to admit to being a genius. But his humility was his to keep. And so was his honesty. Bullies and con artists almost instantaneously envy and hate him. He hopes to bring new things and not just preach to the choir. * He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (, born in 1953 to two Dutch survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork, and holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam). He taught Re-evaluation Co-counseling, became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a strict vegan since 2008. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * His most influential teachers (chronologically) are: his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach, and, lehavdil bein chayim lechayim: Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff, and Rav Meir Lubin. * Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years, he wrote hasbara for the Dutch public. His fields of attention now are varied: Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (statistics), Politics (Israel, the US and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight Truth), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, LGBTQIA, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), Ecology and Veganism. Sometimes he's misunderstood because he has such a wide vision that never fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what many love about him. Many of his posts relate to affairs from the news or the Torah Portion of the Week or are new insights that suddenly befell him. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, reassure the doubters but make the self-assured doubt more. He strives to bring a fresh perspective rather than bore you with the obvious. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds must be disputed. In short, his main political positions are: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, democracy, anti the fake peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, Science, Free Will, anti blaming-the-victim and for down-to-earth optimism. Read his blog how he attempts to bridge any discrepancies. He admits sometimes exaggerating to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quite a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second-generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. November 13, 2018, he published his 500th blog post with the ToI. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having a peek outside of your cultural bubble. * To find his earlier blog posts on a certain subject XXX, among his over 1200 ones, go to the right-top corner of the Times of Israel page, click on the search icon and search "zuiden, XXX". His second daily active less tame blog, to which one may subscribe, one may find here: or by clicking on the globe icon next to his picture on top. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me.