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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

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The Temple Mount is Theirs!

commentary by Reb Akiva on Mystical Paths

Daoud Kuttab demonstrates cluelessness and ignorance about Jews and Israelis in an article on Al Monitor about the Temple Mount.  Let’s take a look…

HEADLINE - Jewish extremists try to change status quo at Al-Aqsa

AlAqsaFromKotel.JPG Photo: "AlAqsaFromKotel" by Wilson44691 - Own work. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Technically, and these technicalities matter in such a sensitive area, Al Aqsa is the mosque to the far SOUTH side of the Temple Mount (it has the silver dome).  The golden dome thing (the Dome of the Rock or Qubbat As-Sakhrah for Islamics, is NOT a mosque.  It’s a “shrine”.  And it’s not Al Aqsa.

If such a thing would be allowed or permissible by either religion (it’s not), both the Jewish Temple and Al Aqsa could exist on the Temple Mount without Al Aqsa having to be moved.

But let’s get into the meat (or holey cheese) of the article…

When Moshe Feiglin, deputy speaker of the Israeli Knesset, set foot in Al-Aqsa Mosque around 10 a.m. Sept. 14, he was on more than a tourist visit. His venture to the mosque and short prayer in the area was seen as an attempt to declare Jewish sovereignty over the Islamic holy place.

Because everyone knows a Jew praying means “I declare it mine.”  I wonder if this will work for me in the U.S.?

It violated agreements not to change the status quo and cast doubt on an assertion by the Israeli prime minister's office that the status quo at Al-Aqsa would not change.

The status quo being Jews who enter the Temple Mount, in areas religiously permissible for Jews, are beaten and arrested if they attempt to pray.  Think about that… in Israel, there’s a place where it’s illegal for a Jew to pray.  Muslim or Christian or Buddhist, go ahead.  Jew – get beaten and arrested.

The rebellious parliamentarian walked barefoot in the courtyard of the Haram al-Sharif, an act meant to pay reverence to the area that what Jews believe was once the site of the Jewish temple. In 2013, an Israeli court barred Feiglin from ascending to the mosque area for fear that his uncoordinated visit might spark protests. Feiglin is so controversial that the United Kingdom refused him entry in 2008.

“the area that what Jews believe was once the site of the Jewish temple” – disregard all the archeological evidence, most of it produced by British archeologists in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.  If they keep disputing it, will it make it go away?

That Feiglin would go to the Haram al-Sharif was known for days and required a large contingent of Israeli police. The visit proceeded after Palestinian men and women worshipers under the age 40 were barred from the area and all except one of the gates to Islam’s third-holiest mosque were closed.

This wouldn’t have anything to do with periodic riots or throwing down of bricks on the Western Wall below – for any and no provocation. 

While insisting that all Jews have a right to visit what they call the Temple Mount, Israeli security officials have in the past refused such provocative visits, citing the potential for violent opposition and thus denying access for security reasons.

So the Israeli police can and do suppress normal religious rights, like the simple ability to pray, due to Arab violence.  I guess asking the Arabs to control themselves or suffer consequences for not doing so is unreasonable?

In recent months, and under pressure from the right-wing Israeli government, including Feiglin himself, Israeli security has changed its position. Instead of banning such visits, it has undertaken unprecedented actions to bar Palestinian Muslims from their own mosque hours before them. Protests from Jordanian Islamic waqf officials, who are entrusted as guardians of the mosque, have fallen on deaf ears.

Each week, Israeli actions become more and more provocative. The visits are longer, and the ban on Jewish prayers at the mosque compound are increasingly ignored. What began with Jewish visitors inaudibly mumbling a few words is becoming louder and louder. Most Jewish intruders wear prayer clothes, often under their regular clothes, which points to their intention of holding prayers on the mosque compound.

Oh ALALALALAH help them!  The Jews are mumbling prayers!  Maybe they truly fear HaKol Kol Yaakov, the power of the Jewish people is in the voice of prayer?  “Most Jewish intruders wear prayer clothes, often under their regular clothes, which points to their intention of holding prayers on the mosque compound”, clue in note to Daoud… most religious Jews, exactly the type interested in visiting the Temple Mount, ALWAYS where “prayer clothes”, and usually “under their regular clothes.

Islamic officials have been screaming and shouting in opposition, but getting little response from the Arab and Islamic worlds, which are engulfed by their own problems. Azzam Khatib, director of the waqf in Jerusalem, told Al-Monitor that the Israeli government has frankly “explained to Jordan that no decision will apply to Al-Aqsa Mosque and that the status quo established since 1967 will remain respected.” He still called on the Arab and Islamic nations to “seriously support Jordan to protect these sanctuaries.”

The chief rabbis of Israel have ruled since 1967, and it has been reconfirmed over the years by additional rabbis, that Jews are not allowed to set foot on the mosque compound for fear that they might desecrate the remains of the temple destroyed in 70 AD. This religious ruling still stands, and a sign stating it meets all who enter the area from the Mughrabi Gate. New Jewish scholarship, however, argues that there are areas that are safe to trespass as they cannot possibly hold any remnants of the Temple beneath them.

Earlier the author says “the area that what Jews believe was once the site of the Jewish temple”, here he states a fact “areas that cannot possibly hold any remnants of the Temple beneath them”.  He misunderstands this as well, the restriction is not on walking on remnants of the Holy Temple, it’s on walking on areas that were restricted to either only Cohanim or only the Cohain Gadol.

The practice at Hebron’s Ibrahimi Mosque has been to divide the mosque compound between Jewish and Muslim worshipers, based on the time and the space. Jewish extremists are trying to divide the compound of Al-Aqsa Mosque according to time, with visits regularly scheduled for the morning to roughly coincide with the hours between Islamic morning and noon prayers.

So let me get this straight.  The intruding Jews are trying to arrange their intrusions to coincide with times that AVOID Islamic prayer or use of the facility?  The nerve of those Jews, being considerate during their invasion!

Today, at a time that the United States is leading a global campaign against Islamic extremists, in Iraq and Syria, a dangerous Jewish religious radicalism is allowed to flourish and is provided police protection by the State of Israel.

The current nationalist-religious fusion has been created with leaders like Feiglin gaining critical positions in the Israeli Knesset and government. Netanyahu is constantly worried about the threat to his own position from this extreme right, which dominates his own Likud Party. Religious-nationalist extremism, if allowed to continue, will have the same destructive consequences that other similar extremism has had in the region. Allowing it to change the status quo at Islam’s third-holiest place will most certainly lead to the eruption of a religious war in the Middle East.

He’s right.  The forming of JEW-SIS and the recent beheadings of pigs clearly show Jerusalem is about to be overrun with JEW-hadi’s.  If the Palestinians ever encountered even 1/10th of the evil perpetrated by the Islamic jihadis and their own terrorists from the Jews or Israelis, they’d be fleeing in terror.

Instead, after losing a war, they’re given control of their holy site – which they regularly use to organize riots and attack people nearby from, and suffer no functional consequences over a period of 45+ years. 

In the days of:

- the Islamic State and daily beheadings, enslavement, mass slaughter and genocide
-
Al Qaeda, now with more branches including India
- the breakdown of Iraq and Syria
- the bombing and then breakdown of Libya
- an anti-Islamic military coup in Egypt
- a democratic coup in Tunisia
- a suppressed democratic uprising in Bahrain
- semi-civil war in Yemen
- and Iran continuing pursuit of a nuclear weapon

…I don’t think the historical threat of “change the status quo at Islam’s third-holiest place will most certainly lead to the eruption of a religious war in the Middle East” really holds water any more.

The Palestinians actually have a practical problem.  For over 45 years they’ve been a false flag concern for the tyrants of the Middle East to use to redirect their people’s anger.  Now the people and tyrants have REAL concerns.  The “Palestinian Problem” is no longer even a blip on the radar.

Mr. Kuttab, you might actually have to make some compromises for a change.  And who knows, maybe doing so will actually lead to… wait for it… PEACE.  (gasp)

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Desire and Thanksgiving

Some Torah from Rav Shalom Arush, shlita, is being made available to us to share.  We’ll be publishing, with some edits as appropriate for our audience.

on Mystical Paths, Torah by Rav Shalom Arush, shlita

We find the two paths of service, the service of desire and the service of thanksgiving, this hinted to in the words of Rebbe Nachman of Breslev in Likketei Mohoran Torah 6. The service of desire parallels the “running” to want to progress without letting down. Like we learned that the word for desire ratzon comes from the word for running ritza. The service of thanksgiving parallels “returning”, to give thanks to Hashem and be joyful in our falls which is the aspect of being silent to Hashem. As is explained at length in Likketei Mohoran Torah 6, the aspect of returning is to “hear one’s own disgrace and be tranquil and silent”. The verse Rebbe Nachman brings to describe the service of being tranquil and silent is “Offering a Todah (thanksgiving offering) brings Me honor”. From here we learn that the main way of accepting disgrace and downfalls is give thanks on them to Hashem. So too, we see this from the Targum (the translation) of the verse “and Aharon was silent” which translates this verse as “and Aharon gave praise”. After his two sons died on the day of the initiation of the Mishkan, Aharon HaCohen gave thanks and praise.

When a person has these two fields of expertise, then he is on the right path towards tikun ha brit (rectification of brit). He can increase his desires and prayers and every day pray at least half an hour on tikun ha brit. So too, he won’t fall or get confused by his failures that must come along the way. They won’t weaken him at all. He sees Hashem in everything and how He is guiding him and doing everything for his good and thanks Hashem for everything.

Since really getting to these two fields of expertise takes very deep thinking, we’ll explain here practically how to do it. When a person is aroused to desire after a fall, he in essence shows that what happened to him was ‘not good’ and he doesn’t receive the fall with emunah. Even though it’s very subtle, there is a big denial of emunah here and every denial of emunah separates a person from Hashem. Therefore before a person strengthens himself in the work of desire, he needs to make sure that his first response is giving thanks to Hashem. Giving thanks means having complete emunah that this is what Hashem desires and is certainly for good, it means having total emunah that whatever happens to you is the best that could possibly be, and this is the purpose of the creation.

A person needs to be really strong, to work to strengthen himself, to prepare himself and to bring himself to very strong mental composure to completely ignore his mind and just hold to emunah. Whatever will be with him, no matter what, even if things look absolutely terrible, before he thinks what to do or what does Hashem want from him, even before praying, the first thing is to give thanks! Emunah is not something we can abandon, even for a second. Giving thanks is complete emunah, that I believe that this is from Hashem and it is for good! If a person doesn’t say thank You, even if he prays, he prays because he thinks that what is happening to him isn’t good and this type of prayer is not accepted, because prayer is received only according to emunah. When a person strengthens in desire without giving thanks on his situation, he strengthens his desires while feeling that something is not good and this is a denial of emunah.

We see from this something awesome, that it’s possible that two people pray. One prays with complete emunah, because he says thank You on whatever happens with him. The second prays out of “atheism” because he has arguments with Hashem on what is happening with him. This is a difference of Heaven and earth.

The work of giving thanks is the purpose man in this world. A person comes to this world in order to know Hashem while amidst darkness and concealment. The main darkness is the existence of evil, because Hashem is totally good. When a person says thank You this means that he doesn’t see the bad, he just cleaves to Hashem, lives Hashem, sees Hashem in whatever happens to him and he will get to complete emunah.

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HELP THE POOR for Rosh Hashana

Because her husband’s been lazy, this year my wonderful wife is running our annual charity campaign to help the poor of Israel for the Jewish High Holidays…



Shalom Wonderful Mystical Paths Readers!

I trust this letter finds you and your family well.  G-D willing next week we celebrate Rosh Hashanah and then the other Jewish high holy days of Tishrai (Yom Kippur and Succot).

As you know this summer was a difficult one for Am Yisrael (for the Jewish people – especially those living in Israel). We began with the kidnapping and murder of the three young Yeshiva boys. Then we a summer of war, with our towns and cities under constant bombardment and the Operation Protective Edge. It was a difficult time for all children, especially for people living in the south. Summer vacation is tough for children who do not attend camp let alone those who everyday were in a bomb shelter for hours and days at a time. Just as the conflict ended, at least for now, a young man from America was found dead in the Jerusalem Forest.

We all ask G-D: How much more suffering must we endure?



One thing is clear that came out of all the events of the summer is Jewish People Unite, Achdus! So many people donated items for the soldiers, prayed for the welfare of the boys and the young man from America. We all felt each others pain.

Now, I ask to feel the pain of people like me who are having a hard time preparing for Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Succot.  Children have just begun school, with so many associated expenses of clothing, uniforms and shoes, school supplies and books (school books in Israel are purchased by the parents – not provided by the school). Thank G-D the children are doing well in school. Yet, these expenses coupled with the necessities of the holidays are hard for the average family, crushing for those in need.



I beseech all of you to again reach into your pockets to help. Charity is one of the three things that help annul negative decree, as we say in our holiday prayers.  Let your charity in helping those in need in Israel stand for you this Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur!



The letters Aleph, Lamed, Vav and Lamed that make up the word Elul, the Hebrew month in which we are in.  These letters stand for “I am to my beloved and my beloved is to me.” But did you know there is another phrase from these letters as well? It is from Purim and one of the obligations of Purim. ELUL also stands for “man to his friend and gifts to the poor.”

Please dear readers, find it in yourselves to help us help the poor of Israel to celebrate the Jewish high holidays with dignity.

Wishing you, your families and friends a Happy Healthy and Sweet New Year. May we all be inscribed and sealed for a Shannah Tovah!  And may we merit the ultimate good, the coming of Moshiach Tzidkaynu this year!  Or now!



As always, the Mystical Paths charity campaign is rabbinically supervised by Rabbi Chaim Farro and via a registered Israeli charity.
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Wrestling with a Huge Dog

Wrestling with a Huge Dog

 by Reb Gutman Locks


     I was learning about dreams.[i] The best advice is, since dreams go according to their interpretation, whatever a dream shows, try to find a way to see it as predicting some wonderful thing that is going to happen.

     I tried for a week or so to remember enough of my dreams to interpret in some wildly favorable way, but to no avail. Then, last night, I had such a vivid, scary dream it would have been hard not to remember it. I only had to go over it once before its meaning came to me.

     I was in a house wrestling with a huge, wild dog. It seemed to be a fight for my life. Finally, I was able to pin the dog down. I was holding it by its throat looking for some way to kill it, or at least to knock it out. The battle was fierce. I reached for something to hit it with, but Instead, I grabbed its neck with both hands and squeezed as hard as I could until I knocked it out. I dragged its huge, limp body to the door and threw it out, but before I could slam the door shut the dog awoke and ran back into the house!

      I started to search for it, but then some rabbi looking fellow appeared in front of me and said, "He is in there learning Torah. I thought, "What in the world is he saying? The dog is learning Torah!"

     I opened the door to that room and there was a different dog laying there, sleeping quietly on the floor. It was much smaller than the dog I was fighting, and it was colored nicely with long black and white hair. I said, "That's not the dog I have been fighting." I left the room looking for the wild dog, and the dream ended suddenly!

     I am used to having crazy dreams, in fact in my entire life I have had only one or two good dreams, but this one stuck to me vividly, and I really wondered what it meant.

     Then, early in the morning, I smiled broadly as the dream's most obvious meaning came. Once I saw it, I wondered why I didn't understand it even as I was dreaming it.

     I was wrestling with my animal inclination, trying to kill it, or at least to knock it out. It was a fierce battle. Then I was told, instead of trying to kill the animal I should teach the animal Torah and it will change. It will become a much smaller, harmless, even handsome animal.

     Okay animal, here we go… into class; aleph bet gimel dalet, this is how you become a nice and even helpful fella.

 



[i] Berachos 55 

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Monday, September 15, 2014

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Elul and Self Assessment

Some Torah from Rav Shalom Arush, shlita, is being made available to us to share.  We’ll be publishing, with some edits as appropriate for our audience.

on Mystical Paths, Torah by Rav Shalom Arush, shlita

At the end of the year we come to the month of Elul (the Jewish month before Rosh Hashana), when we take time out to do our annual self assessment. This is the time to stop and assess how to bring what we’ve learned this year into practice and internalize it for the coming year.

Rebbe Nachman of Breslev teaches us that the [Kabalistic] intentions for Elul are a rectification for damage done in the area of brit (holiness). For Breslev Chassidim this means to look into Torah 6 in Lekeutei Moharan in which Rebbe Nachman describes for us how to practically apply the “intentions of Elul” and serve Hashem with the advice we find there. With this a person can rectify the damage done in brit like Rebbe Nachman explains in Torah 87 in Lekeuitei Moharan II.

In Torah 6 Rebbe Nachman teaches us that we need two types of expertise, that of running and that of returning. To put it another way we need expertise in going up and expertise in going down. The way of serving Hashem in these two times is completely different, but even so, these two types of serving Hashem complement one another and it’s impossible to succeed in repentance with one and not the other. If we look into Torah 6 and the way of repentance that Rebbe Nachman details, we’ll see the two types service to focus on this year.

The service of ratzon (desire) and the service of thanksgiving. Both of these we learn from the mishnah in Pirkei Avot “make your desire like His desire”. To go over these briefly:

Service of desire – a Jew needs to want everything holy, to want to reach all of the heights. We need to hold tight to good desires and not allow them to waver. Only through this can a person really make progress. Heaven is particular on the fact that a person didn’t desire something good, they will show him that if he desired, he could have achieved everything.

Service of thanksgiving – a person that believes that everything that happens to him if from Hashem, may His name be blessed, is obligated to say thank You on everything that goes wrong for him, because everything Hashem does He does for the good. Even when a person falls spiritually, he has to say ‘this is what Hashem desires and if Hashem wants this, then I also want this’ and then say thank You on everything. This service is the key to all of the salvations.

A person that goes with the service of thanksgiving without the service of desire cannot progress because he has no aspirations. He needs, as well, to go with desire and yearning. So too, a person that goes with just the service of desire won’t be able to handle his failures, practically speaking he lives a life of atheism [in that he doesn’t live with the emunah (faith) that there is nothing but Hashem] and is surely cut off from Hashem.

Our job is to be expert with the two type of service. The expertise with the service of thanksgiving is that when you give thanks, don’t think into things and don’t bring in any personal desires. Make your desire like His desire and say thank You without bringing your mind into the picture and without understanding where the good is in what’s happening. The expertise in the labor of desire is to aspire to all of the heights without using one’s mind at all, without thinking I can or can’t. You can always want. You can want everything.

The complete service is to hold tight to these two ways of service and to go with them together. “It’s good to hold tight to this and also from the other don’t release your hands.” With whatever happened to you until this day give thanks and through this you can begin to desire and plead to Hashem for help, that He save you and redeem you.

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Friday Night Kiddush, Meal, ROCKET ALERT

We went to synagogue and prayed the Shabbos prayer.  The weather was beautiful and services nice.  We chatted a bit after services and headed home to our families.

The wine was cold, the Shabbos table set in honor of the Shabbos queen.  I made kiddush (the blessings over the wine) and we began our meal in honor of the holy Shabbos.  My children had prepared sushi for the fish dish!

We discussed some Torah.  A bit about the Torah portion, some chassidic stories in honor of Chai Elul (the 18th of Elul – the birthday of the Baal Shem Tov and the Alter Rebbe of Chabad).

The meal ended and we said the blessings after the meal.

My wife was tired and headed to bed.  I relaxed on the couch reading a Jewish family magazine and discussing a bit about world events with my older children…

RED ALERT – RED ALERT – INCOMING ROCKET WARNING – RED ALERT – RED ALERT

The IsraelSirens.com site runs from my home. (We’re trying to fund a project to move it to a proper server here.)  Somewhere in Israel was under rocket attack.  Jews were grabbing their children and running for their lives…somewhere, somewhere not too far away.

We couldn’t see where, we don’t leave the computer screen turned on during Shabbos.  And actually, when we’re not expecting attacks, we don’t normally leave the speakers on either. 

We jumped, it was unexpected.  We worried, what was happening?

Imagine living in a world, a modern world, but one where people randomly attack you, attempting mass casualty attacks on civilian cities and towns – simply because of your religion.

That’s how it is in Israel today.  It’s a war crime – nobody cares.  It should bring a massive response – it won’t (too worried about what the world will say about Jews defending themselves).

When it starts a war, and it will start one, they will cry and scream about how the Jews are attacking.  But if there is any way to stop this without creating a massive deterrent by a massive attack – I’d like to know.

(This attack was on the Golan and came from either Syria or Lebanon.)

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Sunday, September 14, 2014

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Fantasy Peaceland

via Mystical Paths – mpaths.com

YNetNews: “Listen to (Army Intelligence Officer’s Letter), Israel’s leaders should explain why after so many years of “occupation” there is no end in sight.”

One wonders how intelligence officers can show so little intelligence, to not let facts and reality interfere with their political outlook.  Perhaps this proves the axiom that military intelligence is an oxymoron.  So let’s help them out…

- The neighbors (Arabs) have been raiding, kidnapping, and killing the indigenous Jews of Israel for around the past 1,700 years.  This was only interrupted by the occasional mass slaughter by conquering empires (such as the Crusaders) or brief imposition of organized governance (such as the Ottomans and then the British) – who slowed down but did not stop such raids or killings.

- The only reason the indigenous Jews of Israel were not completely wiped out is the condition of the Land of Israel, as a raiding territory and nothing more, sunk so low that the poverty of the Jews left little worth raiding.  The majority of the neighbors left to other (Arab) lands because there was not enough pillaging or work to sustain them.

- As the Jewish population started to grow in the 1800’s through various Jewish groups attempting to re-settle Israel, as well as Zionism doing the same, the neighbors returned as the Jewish groups brought work opportunities and assets that could now, once again, be raided, stolen, kidnapped and killed.

- The new Jewish groups, the Zionist groups in particular, weren’t particularly interested in being raided, kidnapped and killed.  They organized defense and protected themselves.  They did not, in general, raid, kidnap, steal or kill the neighbors.  They did defend and retaliate to create deterrence.

…And basically nothing’s changed in the past 100 years.  The neighbors do their periodic attempt to raid, kidnap, steal and kill.  The Jews defend and occasionally retaliate to create deterrence.

The peaceniks of Israel cry out “can’t we all just get along?”  “Maybe if we give them what they want, there will be peace.”  “The situation is not fair to them, the majority just want to live their lives but are trapped in a terrible situation.”

The problem is: they’ve been given much but still periodically raid, kidnap, steal, kill and now make war.  They haven’t built a civil society even when given the resources and room to do so.  And they don’t speak of peace, they speak of when they will win.

So what’s the realistic alternatives?

Israel’s strategy, if it qualifies as one, is to attempt to maintain the stability, to create enough negative pressure to keep the raiding, kidnapping, stealing and killing to a livable minimum, and to grow strong enough and big enough that the neighbors finally back off.  With ISIS kicking the U.S. in the shin, the last would seem to be an unrealistic strategy.  But the rest has worked so far.

The peacenik strategy of “give give and they’ll be nice now that they have what they want” didn’t work in the past, and Israel would be crazy to try it again in the future.  The failing may not be that it wouldn’t work, but that “what they want” is not a bit of land and control – but to take everything Israel has… including it’s daughters while killing it’s men.

…Hard to accommodate that.  But the glitter of Tel Aviv blinds many eyes.

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A Life Changing Moment

A Life Changing Moment

 by Reb Gutman Locks


     The boy on the right just found out that he is Jewish! A bit of a shock, to say the least. Now, what will change in his life? As the fact sinks in he will look at many things differently, including the history of the world. Millions of people are going to love him now who did not love him before, and millions of people are going to hate him now who did not hate him before. All because his mother is Jewish! History looks different when instead of seeing that it happened to them, you see that it is happening to us, which now includes him.

 

 

 

 

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Nshei Chabad Chassidic Women’s Magazine for TISHREI

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Friday, September 12, 2014

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Emuna and Disgrace

Some Torah from Rav Shalom Arush, shlita, is being made available to us to share.  We’ll be publishing, with some edits as appropriate for our audience.

on Mystical Paths, Torah by Rav Shalom Arush, shlita

This is the first and main test of emuna - that a person doesn’t persecute himself and doesn’t blame himself for his failures, rather he knows that this is my disgrace. My punishment is to fall in this or fail in that. When a person doesn’t want to sin, but even so does fall to sin, the sin itself becomes a punishment for him. His job is to receive it with love and without resentment, and surely not to be down on himself. He needs to say to himself: It’s true I have this bad trait and that bad trait, I’m far from learning Torah, I’m lacking emuna, and so on and so forth, but this is all from Him, may His name be blessed. If the Creator wanted, He would give me what’s lacking in the blink of an eye and bring me close to Him, to learn more, to have emuna, have good character traits, etc. There is nothing but Him! And certainly there is no “me”. What happens is exactly what Hashem wants to happen, also my being distant from Him is from Him, may His name be blessed. It’s because of His love for me, that he gives me the disgrace of this long wait in order to peel away the remaining arrogance that has been piled upon me layer after layer for so many years. All of the self persecution is totally ridiculous. Does what happened depend on me? There is nothing but Him! I just need to receive this disgrace with joy and to ask a free gift of Hashem’s mercy, that He forgive me for my sins and bring me close to Him.

This is the test of every moment, a person is always found in a test of emuna, whether he’ll fall to self persecution, whether he’ll hold his joy, whether he’ll know that there is no “me” - there is nothing but Him.

Also it’s understood that when he is being disgraced by other people, his wife, children that don’t listen, and so on, all of these are disgraces that need to be received with love. He shouldn’t look at his attackers at all. Rather he should just see that he is being watched over from heaven and that these disgraces are and being lovingly arranged for him. The main rectification and repentance is to receive everything with love and joy and not get angry with those who disgrace him. These disgraces come to him because of his sins, particularly sins relating to the brit (looking at lewd images, thinking lewd thoughts, or illicit relations, heaven forbid) and the repentance is to receive disgrace with love.

Rebbe Nachman of Breslev writes in Torah 87 in Likutei Moharan part 2, that learning Torah 6 [about which we’ve been discussing until now] and serving Hashem according to it, is itself Tikun Ha Brit, rectifying the brit. When a person internalizes this reality – that all of repentance depends on receiving disgrace, to be tranquil and silent to the ones attacking him and to receive with love all of his mistakes and falls and prepares himself for it, this itself is already the rectification. From this it’s is understood why learning Torah 6 is itself a Tikun Ha Brit, because when you tell a person that his rectification is to receive disgrace, this itself is a disgrace. And when he actually merits receiving disgrace with joy, then he certainly enters the category of baal tshuvah.

As long as a person does not receive disgrace, even when he learns Torah or does mitzvot or hitbodedut (personal prayer), etc., even though it is wonderful what he does and this is also part of his tshuvah, repentance, still he doesn’t have the main part of repentance and he is near to being wasting his time in this world. All of the things we just listed are not called “tshuvah”, they are things that every Jew needs to do and are included in the essence of Jewish life. A person can learn Torah and just become more and more inflated with arrogance that he is a learned person. He can do mitzvot and holding on to his arrogance and honor- chasing. A person can do mitzvot with the whole intention of receiving honor. We see here that even a person that keeps all of the Torah and mitzvot and is exactingly careful with them and learns Torah and does hitbodedut at length, still needs repentance. This is what Rebbe Nachman of Breslev says in the continuation of the discourse “Everyone needs to hold to the trait of repentance” and the main rectification of repentance is to receive disgrace…

Really a person can never fulfill the Torah and mitzvot properly without repentance, because everything is closed before him. He won’t even be able to taste the taste of Torah learning, won’t merit holiness and so on. All because he didn’t yet merit repentance and his sins don’t allow him to come close to Hashem. We see that if a person ever wants to start living to taste the taste of life, the taste of prayer, the sweetness of the Torah, and so on, he needs to be disgraced and to receive it with love! Anyone who wants to really merit tshuvah, which means to merit a wondrous healing of the soul, joy, spirituality, Torah, attachment with Hashem and more has the job to prepare himself to accept disgrace happily, then he’ll really be a baal tshuvah.

May Hashem merit us to return in repentance and “circumcise the foreskin of our hearts” and merit the complete redemption, Amen V’Amen.

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

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Just Another September 11

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

It’s just another September 11th.  It’s been 13 years since the worst terrorist attack the United States has ever faced.  A generation of children has grown up since then.  Many without memories of that time, or only with memories of the aftermath.

- On September 11th, I was on the way to Newark Airport to catch a flight to Boston… the previous flight to Boston, 30 minutes before, having just been hijacked and on it’s way to hit the 2nd tower of the World Trade Center. 

- On September 11th, my oldest daughter watch the World Trade Center burn before collapsing from her yeshiva schoolyard in Passaic, New Jersey.

- On September 11th, we did NOT know what was going on.  Chaos and panic was real.  Where was my wife?  Were my children safe in their schools?  Should we evacuate? 

- On September 11th, my co-workers and team in midtown Manhattan were trapped in New York City (all of them commute from outside the city – all commuter paths were shut down), unable to get out.  Most did not get home for 1-2 days, after walking miles to bus or ferry terminals.

- On September 11th, one of our shul members (years after) was trapped in his residential building near the World Trade Center – for a week!  No power, no water, no food, no exit.

- After September 11th, our synagogue, neighborhood, and commuter platforms were plastered with signs about missing people – family members, fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, children.  None were found.

- Before September 11th, one didn’t fight hijackers.  After all, they only wanted a ransom, and probably would only kill a few Jews if found on the plane.

They would do it again if they could.

They would do it bigger if they could.  Chemical, biological or nuclear if they thought (or think) they can succeed.

They killed indiscriminately, and they are killing indiscriminately today – just not in the U.S. mainland (at the moment). 

Women, children, military targets, civilian targets, there is no difference to them.

They cannot be accommodated or reasoned with.

There is no option compatible with maintaining your civilization to meet their demands.

Ignore them or don’t take them seriously and another generation will learn what September 11 is.   G-d forbid.

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Which Is It?

Which is it?

 by Reb Gutman Locks


      What are we supposed to do; pick up the lower to the higher, or bring the higher down to the lower? The answer is; we are to do both. Our spiritual task is to pick up the lower and to bring down the higher.

     We pick up the lower by using physical objects in holy ways. We do this by using whatever we find in the physical world for holy purposes, mitzvahs. For instance; candles become holy when we light them for Shabbos. A coin becomes holy as we let it fall into a poor person's hand. Food becomes holy when we make a blessing over it. We focus on the lower, the actual physical object, but as we use it we elevate it.

      G-d is already everywhere at all times. He is infinite. So what does it mean to bring the higher down to the lower? It means that we focus on Hashem, and recognize that He fills and surrounds all. This helps us to become aware of His Presence. When we live a life of awareness of Hashem filling our world, we reveal the higher reality that is already here, but hidden.

     Elevating the lower, and recognizing the Higher in the lower world are two holy ways. When we do them both, we live holy lives.

 

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Disgrace and Repentence

Some Torah from Rav Shalom Arush, shlita, is being made available to us to share.  We’ll be publishing, with some edits as appropriate for our audience.

on Mystical Paths, Torah by Rav Shalom Arush, shlita

Before Adam HaRishon sinned, he was in Gan Eden was treated with only heavenly “treats”. This was the way to come close to the Creator gently and with pleasure. From the time he sinned, however, the arrogance of “and you will be like G-d” [the advice of the snake] was brought into him. From that moment on it became impossible for any person to come close to Hashem while he’s in “Gan Eden”, where everything goes as he would like pleasantly and with ease. A person has to go through this world where everyone suffers every day, as is written: “All his days anger and pain”… Rebbe Nachman of Breslev said there is no “this world”, because what we see here is purgatory itself, because everyone is full of constant suffering. All of the suffering comes with the same single purpose – to bring a person down from his arrogance.

A person that doesn’t know that he needs to return in repentance won’t understand what happens with him. He has two possibilities – either he’ll run after the imagination that he can find satisfaction in this world or he’ll suffer without understanding why. When a person wants to return to Hashem in repentance, then he’ll see that all of the difficulties, the suffering and the disgrace that fall on him is all for his good, in order to release him from the heavy yoke, the harsh punishment that is called arrogance that distances him from Hashem and holds back everything good.

Therefore the main thing in all of the difficulties, particularly when he sees that he’s not able to return to Hashem in repentance and his bodily desires, confusions, and setbacks won’t leave him alone for a second is not to be broken! To be joyful always! This is the essential meaning of what Rebbe Nachman of Breslev says “Hear his disgrace and be tranquil and silent”, that when a person sees that things are not working out for him, he’s not successful, suffering, etc., to know that all of these are his disgraces. When he sees that from heaven he’s not allowed to come close to the service of the Creator and even being bogged down with all sorts of additional difficulties, he needs to remember and to know very well that this is exactly what he deserves and exactly what he needs. He needs to leave the foolish arrogance of thinking that if he wants to come close to Hashem and repent then he should have a red carpet rolled out before him. He needs to remember the unfitting things he’s done and remember the fact that his wanting to return to Hashem and all of the mitzvot that he does are themselves free gifts of kindness from the Creator. He should think in his heart “Why am I depressed? Because I’m not being allowed to learn Torah with dedication like I would like? I’m not even fit to learn Torah! Thank You so much Hashem that You brought me close, I don’t deserve anything – Thank You!” Just as with learning Torah, a person should do exactly like this for prayer and everything in his service of Hashem.

When thoughts of humility come to him, when he sees his mistakes and where he fell and then is full of joy and dances, it shows that he really wants to return in repentance and through his disgraces he’ll “circumcise the foreskin of his heart” and come back to Hashem. If, however, he gets angry and bitter and thinks that he deserves that things should work out for him and gets depressed, this shows that he’s not yet ready to really return in repentance, therefore no matter what he’ll do, he won’t be successful to return in tshuvah, because the “foreskin” that surrounds his heart won’t allow him to do Hashem’s will. He is still serving his own bodily desires. Only disgrace prepares a person to be as Hashem desires, to escape the imagination and falsehood of arrogance and know that he is a non-entity and just thank Hashem and be embarrassed before Him. A person simply needs to be embarrassed before Hashem, to be embarrassed even to bring food to his mouth. Such an embarrassment to approach Hashem’s precious mitzvot, because who am I to do such holy mitzvot as these? And before Who am I doing them? Before the King of kings the Holy One Blessed be He, High and Uplifted the Great and Awesome! Woe to such embarrassment, woe to such shame! How much should we be embarrassed and not sin before Him. As is written: “and have your fear on your faces so as not to sin” and our sages said: this is embarrassment.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

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Hear Your Disgrace and Smile

Some Torah from Rav Shalom Arush, shlita, is being made available to us to share.  We’ll be publishing, with some edits as appropriate for our audience.

on Mystical Paths, Torah by Rav Shalom Arush, shlita

We now find ourselves in the wondrous days of the month of Elul, the days in which we call to our Father in heaven more than the rest of the year. Like is hinted to in the word Elul the letters of which אלול are the first letters of the words in the verse Ani Ledodi VLedodi Li (I am to my beloved and my beloved is to me), which means that we are yearning to return in complete tshuvah to Hashem and Hashem is, as if to say, yearning to return to us, to bring us close to Him.

It’s well known the words of Rebbe Nachman of Breslev in Likeutei Mohoran Torah 6 “The main thing in repentance is for a person you hear his disgrace and be tranquil and silent.” Really it’s hard to understand why this is the main thing in repentance. Everyone knows that repentance means to do vidui (to say to Hashem in words what you did wrong), to regret ones bad deeds and stop doing them, and return to following the will of Hashem of learning Torah and doing mitzvot, and so forth. Even though there is a type of forgiveness of sins that comes about through receiving disgrace, still it’s not understood why this is the main part of repentance.

We need to know that with every defect a person causes or sin that he does, the main spiritual cause is arrogance that made its way inside him. Every feeling of “being something”, haughtiness, or brazenness distances a person from Hashem. Like is said “one whose eyes are raised up high and his heart is expansive, I cannot tolerate [אותו] him.” Don’t read it אותו [him], rather איתו [with him]. Hashem is, as if to say, with whoever is haughty: I and him can not dwell together. In other words, Hashem can’t stand a person who has arrogance. Therefore the main repentance is to escape from arrogance. All of the hardship and the disgrace that fall on a person is all for this purpose – to circumcise the “foreskin” of his heart. Once this happens, then he can really come close to Hashem out of love and all of the gates will be opened for him, the gates of learning Torah, prayer, emuna, and more.

In general we see that the whole world is built like this – to bring down a person’s arrogance. We can see with our own eyes how this world is arranged in perfect precision for this purpose. Everything is hard. One’s livelihood is hard, there are constant troubles, sometimes with health, other times with children etc., sometimes there are troubles coming from all sides at once… All of these things are part of a precision plan to bring a person down from his arrogance, so that he’ll understand that he is a non-entity and that his every moment depends on heavenly mercy. So he’ll understand that with every breath Hashem is doing miracles with him by sustaining his life.

…to be continued.

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Tuesday, September 09, 2014

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When Tragedy Comes


When Tragedy Comes

 by Reb Gutman Locks


     In the small town of Abilene, Texas there was a ceremony on behalf of the 3 murdered, Israeli yeshiva boys. Another American town sent their rabbi all the way to Israel to comfort the mourners. A famous singer went to the mourners' homes to sing, trying to comfort them. On and on, there were hundreds of heartwarming examples, all over the world, of how this tragedy has brought out our love and compassion for each other.

     Do not let time cover your heart. The boys are gone, but we can send them gifts whenever we want by simply doing good deeds in their names. Most of all, send them the spiritual benefit of Jews coming together in love. To show love of a fellow Jew is a huge and important mitzvah.

     Do some kindness for a Jew and have in mind that the benefit of that mitzvah should go to the boys. You will help at least five souls with one act; the soul of the Jew you are being kind to, the souls of the three murdered Jewish teens you are remembering, and your soul…the one who is giving the love.

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