A conversation about G-d, mysteries of the universe and soul, Israel... and speculation about biblical prophecies and the end of days.

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Sunday, December 17, 2017

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A Time of Favor

   by Reb Gutman Locks   

 

    This is what I tell them: "Whenever you do a mitzvah it opens the door to Heaven. You put on tefillin. You read the Shema. This is a big mitzvah and it brings a time of favor, a time when Hashem is listening to you with both ears. Take advantage of this. Close your eyes and picture everyone you love one at a time with light on their faces and smiling and ask G-d to bless them. Say, 'Thank You' for all the good that He has given you. Ask Him to protect our soldiers, and all the Jews in danger. Take a couple of minutes and talk to G-d in your heart."
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Thursday, December 14, 2017

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Straight or Round?

   by Reb Gutman Locks   

 

     There is a longstanding argument as to whether the arms of the menorah in the Temple were straight or round. Sometimes, when two-sided arguments are found in the talmud the conclusion is, "both are correct."

     And most of us hearing that conclusion ask, "They are saying opposite things so how can they both be right?"

     And often the answer is, "When the Mashiach comes he will explain it."

     But here with the Temple Menorah's seven arms inscribed the answer seems to have been found. This stone slab was found in Tiberias and was originally used as a door to a Jewish cemetery. The seven-armed menorah pictured here (the outer most semicircle ring is not an arm of the menorah) dates back from between the 2nd and 4th centuries CE. And it appears that the arms of the Menorah were both straight and round!

 

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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

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Army Minyan

by Reb Akiva

Today I decided I’d encourage my sons, who are off in the IDF, to make it to minyan (Jewish prayer quorum) by sending a picture of our office minyan.  I’m very blessed to work at a business with a sufficient number of other religious Jewish to be  able to be part of an afternoon prayer quorum…and for the company to let us use a corner of storage space.

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Not to be outdone, my youngest son responded with this picture a few minutes later… IDF Army prayer quorum at an infantry training site…

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His minyan’s bigger than mine!

Happy Chanukah everyone!

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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

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The One Light of Chanukah



by Reb Gutman Locks

 

     The light that comes from the sun bounces off the water making it seem to be many lights, but those "many" lights are really many reflections of the one light.

     On Chanukah the many candles, the many flames, make it seem that there are many lights, but the light that comes from them is always one.

     Whether it comes from a single source, or from many places, light is always one. This is why "Light Without End" (Ohr Ein Sof) is sometimes used as a Name for Hashem. No matter what happens He is always One. But Hashem is not simply the Light Without End. He is the source of the Light Without End.

 

And the Jews Had Light

(video link)

 

The One Light of Chanukah 

(graphics link)

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Monday, December 11, 2017

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Cute Chanukah Explanation Video

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Peace through Killing Jewish Children

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

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(The photo is of the Old Jerusalem Train Station- the “Tachana Rishona”, which has been turned into an upscale restaurant and market space.)

While the world is bemoaning the President of the United States executing his executive authority and representative role in deciding how the United States will relate to Israel by recognizing Israel’s chosen capital, the Holy City of Jerusalem, the “Palestinians” are showing their commitment to peace by repeatedly attempting to kill Jewish children.

This past Thursday Hamas in Gaza showed their anger at the United States by firing rockets into a Jewish daycare center, normally occupied by 30-40 Jewish toddlers.  Thank G-d they decided to do this at a time the center was closed, so rather than gathering up dead children Israel only had to gather up destroyed art projects and walls.

This was followed up by a member of the Palestinian Authority decided to visit Jerusalem’s central bus station and stab the nearest stationary Jew…the door guard.  He’s in critical care in the hospital.

Not to be left out, the “Palestinians” in Yehuda (southern West Bank) ambushed and put some rifle rounds into a school bus bringing children home after school.  Again Thank G-d, it was an armored school bus and the kills shots against grade school Jewish children were stopped.

Those reading in the US shouldn’t think that such actions against Jews are limited to Israel.  On Friday in New York City, a rally was held in Times Square with the participants yelling out their goal of killing the Jews.

Let there be no doubt, for they are saying it LOUD and CLEAR…the goal is not peace, and it’s not to build a nation or a homeland.  They repeatedly say they’re going to kill, and then they attempt to (and, G-d forbid, sometimes do) kill.  Men, women, children, seemingly no difference. 

They do, of course, attempt to justify it.  But doesn’t every murderer say there was a valid justification?

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Sunday, December 10, 2017

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Hashem, If You Are Listening

   by Reb Gutman Locks

 

     Adam works for an outreach organization. He comes to the Kotel in the afternoons and gathers Jewish tourists' email address and sends them to Torah centers in their city who then contact them trying to bring them in for classes or for Shabbos.

     One Friday evening, many years ago, before Adam became religious, he was standing close to the Kotel.

     I was sitting some 20 feet away waiting for the prayers to begin. I saw him standing there without a headcover. I felt to go help him and tell him to cover his head, but I felt really tired.

     I sat there looking at him for a while and then after a minute or two I thought, "What would I want someone to do for me if I was standing there like he is?"

     I picked myself up and walked over; his eyes were closed, and his face was very close to the Kotel.

     "You know, you are the only one standing here without a yarmulke on your head. You really ought to go get one from the box over there."

     His mouth dropped open. He opened his eyes and slowly turned his head toward me looking amazed. He walked over to the entrance and took a yarmulke.

     Obviously, I didn't know it but right before I spoke to him he had just said to himself, "Hashem, if you are listening send me a sign."

     What actually happened? Hashem wanted to help Adam and he used me (thank G-d for the privilege) as His tool, but what is really interesting is the way He had me wait a few minutes and then walk over there just as Adam was ready to ask his question. If I would have gone over as soon as I saw him it would have accomplished nothing, so Hashem had me wait until the timing was right, then He poked me to get up and go over to Adam. And then when everything was ready, right as I was moving into place, He poked Adam into asking his great question.

     And that's how Adam got started 16 years ago.

    

 

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Saturday, December 09, 2017

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Jerusalem and Believing Your Own Lies

by Reb Akiva

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Shalom from a beautiful, chilly and rainy Jerusalem (photos from this past Thursday).  While the President of the United States was declaring Jerusalem to be recognized by the United States as the modern state of Israel’s capital, as well as the president stating the obvious multi-thousand year connection of the Jewish people to Jerusalem, I merited to be in the Holy City, G-d’s gift to the Jews, with my department from work on a social work outing.

We the Jewish People, if I can be so ridiculously bold as to speak for the Jewish people, did not and do not need anyone besides G-d telling us what Jerusalem is or is not to us, or whose it is.  Anyone with the slightest open eyes or who can read the Torah, the Xian bible, or even the Koran, can see the history, view the archeological evidence, and read the religious writings of 3 religions to know so.  But that said, it was still thrilling to hear the President of the United States shake up the current absurd world political situation where countries are avoiding accepting the modern State of Israel’s right to declare it’s own capital to hold it hostage for their wildly unsuccessful ideas of how to make peace (usually via lots of dead Jewish civilians).

But the really crazy thing that’s important to recognize in this situation is that the Palestinians and much of the Arab populace, and who knows maybe their political and religious classes as well, have actually convinced themselves through their 15 years of completely ridiculous arguments and positions on Jerusalem that the Jewish people have no connection to Jerusalem, that the Palestinians have always been there, that Palestinian society has run Jerusalem for the last 15,000 years (noting that all recorded human civilized and city history is under 7,000 years), and that all the Jews arrived from Europe in the last 70 years to throw the Palestinians out (there’s been a continuous Jewish presence in Jerusalem for the last 3,000 years).

They’ve taught, published, announced on TV, and even put in their children’s school books these lies as facts…and now bought into their own stories.  If 20 years ago peace was going to have to be made dealing with terrorists who’s goal in life was to destroy Israel and kill Jews but had convinced themselves that inhumanity was ok to recover their honor of their former despised minority having returned to their own land and freedom, now peace has to be made with a whole populace that has been raised to believe they’re the supplanted minority (and therefore it’s ok to be inhuman and murder even children to recover their honor).  That may not seem like a significant distinction from far away, but on site it means MOST of their younger generation does not have to be radicalized to be convinced of their (non)righteousness – they’ve been raised to believe it.

All because educational programs funded by the EU, UN, and US Aid turned a blind eye to the CONTENT being taught.  To this day the school systems of Hamas in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank are teaching the children, from literally kindergarten, that killing is a righteous part of their lifestyle – with the books saying so paid for by the EU, UN, and US Aid.

Regardless, we trust in Hashem to protect us and see us through, and save us from the evil planted next to us and funded by the world.  And as the Torah says, we ask Hashem to bless those who bless Jerusalem and the Jewish people, and curse those who curse Jerusalem and us.  On a related note, as we watch the Palestinians riot, fire rockets at Israeli women and children, and try to burn down Jerusalem, remember…nothing shows your love and care for your holy city like trying to destroy it, burn it down, and cover it in blood.

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Thursday, December 07, 2017

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Kids at the Kotel

   by Reb Gutman Locks   

 

     Jewish boys run into the Kotel area and immediately drop to their knees…  bowing down? Nope, writing notes to put between the stones of the Kotel.

     "Dear G-d, I love You. Thank You for all the good things you have given me. Please bless my family, our soldiers, and all of the Jewish people… and can I please have a puppy? And please bring peace to the whole world as soon as You can.

     Love,

    Moshe"

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Tuesday, December 05, 2017

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Do It Sweetly

   by Reb Gutman Locks
      Do It Sweetly

 

    Eli is a rabbi who has spent most of his life learning Torah, but when I told to do a simple thing he was at a loss.

     He asked me a number of questions about meditation and he tried all that I recommended, but then he came to what he saw as a serious problem. He began to have many disturbing thoughts and asked me what to do.

     I explained that those thoughts come for a good reason showing that he is getting deeper and deeper, and that his job was to ignore them and return to the meditation subject again and again.

     He asked what if he couldn't.

     I said do not fight with those thoughts or go over them in his head, but if he could not gently return to the subject he should take them to be a sign that he was to say Hashem's Name sweetly, and then return to the subject.

     He wrote, "I'm so embarrassed, I know how to learn 4 hours gemora and tosfes in a stretch, but I don't know how to say Hashem's name sweetly..." 

     I answered; First, remember that Hashem is everywhere… as high and as far away as there is, and He is also right here in front of our lips… in our very breath…. Then think, "Abba I love you…. Thank You, Hashem for all that you have given me…really…. Then think of His Name softly…

     The Shechinah (G-d's revealed Presence) is the goal. It is the goal and very purpose of the Jew's life. "Hashem's Presence is only revealed in a place of spiritual joy."[i]  Do it sweetly.



[i] Sforno


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Monday, December 04, 2017

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The First Poppy of Winter

Winter in the holy Land of Israel means cool rains and beautiful wild flowers.  On a recent walk I merited seeing a very early poppy making it’s presence known in a local park…

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Sunday, December 03, 2017

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Samson the Strong

Recently in the Land of Israel at the tomb of the biblical judge Sampson the Strong and his father Manoach…

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The tomb of Sampson the Strong is located on a mountaintop outside of Beit Shemesh in the Land of Israel.  At the base of the next mountain over is the tomb of Dan the son of Jacob, one of the biblical founders of the 12 tribes of Israel.

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If You Will Help Someone Else

   by Reb Gutman Locks   

 

         A Jew from Brazil came up to me by the tefillin cart and asked if he could put on tefillin.

     I said, "Of course, and I will help you."

     But he did not want my help. He was insistent, "I can do it myself. I am a Jew."

     I tried to help a little, but again he made it known that he could do it by himself, and that he did not want any help from me.

     He walked around with the tefillin on while he was saying the Shema by heart. Then, without talking, because he was still saying the Shema, he led the soldier in the picture over for me to help.

     The soldier was born in Ukraine and his family moved to Israel when he was a very small child. He is 18 years old and had never put on tefillin before.   

     While the soldier was reading the Shema the man from Brazil started to take off his tefillin. I put my hand on the strap trying to stop him, and told him how important it was for him to say his personal prayers, too, and not to just to say the Shema, but he wouldn't listen.

     Whatever I said, he refused. He was really stubborn. No matter how I tried to explain how important it was for him to talk to Hashem in his heart, he insisted that reading the Shema was what he was supposed to do… and he took off the tefillin.

     I told him that our prayers are vessels that Hashem fills for us, but we have to make the vessels by praying. He refused, and said that saying the Shema was what he was supposed to do.

     Just then the soldier finished, and I had him talk to G-d in his heart, to pray for all the personal things he wanted. I told him what an important day it was being the first time he ever put on tefillin. The boy stood there a long time and was taken by the experience.

     The Jew from Brazil saw how strongly the personal prayer affected the soldier and he said, "That is so beautiful." You could see from his face that he really meant it. He changed at that minute.

     He couldn't hear it from me, but he saw it in the Jew he brought over to be helped.

     Look what happened. A Jew strongly refused to accept my help and would have left without having learned the value of directing your heart to Hashem, but because he went out of his way and cared enough to bring another Jew over to be helped, a Jew who had never put on tefillin before, Hashem made that Jew the messenger who could get him to learn this very important lesson, a lesson that is going to change his spiritual life forever.

     You help someone else… and G-d will help you.

 

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Thursday, November 30, 2017

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Personal Prayer

   by Reb Gutman Locks   

 

     A young religious boy and his mentor came up to me at the Kotel. They had read an interview I gave to Zman magazine.

     As always, I turned the conversation away from me and instead tried to have them grow spiritually. But it backfired. We separated leaving the conversation off at a harsher place than I would have liked. I felt really bad. I tuned an opportunity to help a couple of Jews into a fairly negative feeling… but they were gone so I couldn't do anything about it.

     I prayed, "Hashem, please, You have to send them back I so I can fix it!" I really felt bad.

     I had to go daven a long davening and about an hour later I was walking away from the Kotel when someone cut me off. I wondered why he did that, but then I looked and it was the boy rushing away. If he had not cut me off I wouldn't have recognized him.

     I grabbed him by the arm… "Wait, wait a minute…we didn't finish what we were talking about."

     I gave him and his mentor a summary of what I was trying to get across to them and then concluded the ideas in a loving way so they both walked away feeling good.

     Boy was I happy, "Thank You. Thank You, this is going into my record of one of the nicest things You have ever done for me."

     What's the point? Hashem answers our prayers when they are sincere, and they are for the good. In fact, He answers our prayers a lot more often then we realize but most of the time we are not paying attention to His answers.

 

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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

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Send the Mother Away

   by Reb Gutman Locks   

 

     Believe it or not, the guy in the picture is trying to fulfil a Biblical commandment. He came up to me very early in the morning and asked about the mitzvah of shiluach ha-ken[i] (sending the mother bird away). He said that he did not have any children and he heard that this mitzvah is a "remedy" for him to have children.

      I told him how to do the mitzvah and a few minutes later I saw him standing on top of the fence that separates the men's prayer area from the women. He was sending a mother bird away from its nest in the Kotel to take the egg.

     This is a very interesting mitzvah. It is one of only two mitzvahs in the entire Torah brings us long life.[ii] A huge reward for such a small deed.

     Another interesting thing about this mitzvah is that we do not say a blessing when we do it. Although there is no definite reason given, some say it is because we might be chasing the father bird away without knowing it.

     A better reason not to say a blessing on this mitzvah is that once the mitzvah has been done on a particular nest that nest is no longer fit to have the mitzvah done there again. When we chase the mother away we take the egg or tiny bird and then we can either keep it or put it back. When we preform the mitzvah on any particular nest we do not know its history, and it could very well be that someone had already made the blessing on it, and a blessing on it now would be a blessing said in vain

     It's not every day that you get to stand on top of a fence to do a mitzvah.



[i] Deuteronomy 22:6

[ii] Deuteronomy 22:7, The other mitzvah is honoring one's parents

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