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Thursday, September 03, 2015

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Quote of the Baal Shem Tov

A reader asks…

The following quote is attributed to the Baal Shem Tov and sourced as from the Sefer Otzar HaChaim.

I understand this sefer has 5 volumes, and is attributed to the Nadvorna Rebbe. Can anyone help me out with where in this sefer appears this quote (story)?

“I heard from my teacher and father-in-law, who was the chief disciple of Rebbe Yechiel Michal of Zlotchov, that once when the Baal Shem Tov was traveling on the road, he stepped into a wooded area to pray the afternoon prayer. His disciples were dumbfounded to see him hitting his head against a tree, crying and screaming. Afterward, they asked him what had happened. He explained that he had seen, with divine inspiration, that in the generations before the coming of the Moshiach there would be a multitude of rabbis, and that they would be the very ones who would impede the redemption. [Otzar Chayim]”

With much appreciation.

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This Week’s Torah Reading

​   by Reb Gutman Locks   

This Week's Torah Reading


     Did you read the parsha[i] this week? I read it, but I did not like it. Actually I had to force myself to read it. It is horrible. The 98 curses that G-d warns us can come are listed. I have never read anything like this in my entire life. I know that somehow we are supposed to see them as blessings, but I haven't got that far yet. They are still curses to me; especially when I see holocaust pictures and other reminders of what has happened to us during these thousands of years of exile. Horrible is too nice a word to describe them.

     But written within them is probably the most important single life changing instruction in the entire Torah. If we will just learn this one thing we are guaranteed to have a great life.

     Why would Hashem the kind and merciful Father of us all bring those curses to His beloved people? What could anyone possibly do to deserve them? He tells us upfront in the middle of the list. These curses come, "because you did not serve Hashem your G-d amid gladness and goodness of heart when everything was abundant."[ii] It does not say they come from not serving. It says they come even when serving, but serving and not being happy doing it.

     Just try it and see what happens to your spiritual life. Be happy when you do a mitzvah. The mitzvahs make us holy! What better reason is there than that to be happy?

     Have a happy New Year.


[i] The weekly Torah portion

[ii] Deuteronomy 28:47


Tuesday, September 01, 2015

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I Can't

​   by Reb Gutman Locks

I Can't!


     He is a 71-year-old hairdresser from England. He had never put on tefillin before. The conversation went something like this:

"Hi. Where are you from?"

"England" (with a big smile)

"With a face like that you gotta be Jewish."

"Yes, I'm Jewish."

"Come put on tefillin."

"No, I can't."

"Sure you can."

"No, I cannot do it." (His voice got heated up a little.)

"Why can't you do it?"

"I told you that I cannot do it. Don't you understand?"

"But, what's the problem?" (expecting some great problem, like maybe his mother isn't Jewish)

"I told you, I do not know how to do it!"

"But that's what I'm here for. Come I'll help you."

     He walked right over and happily co-operated with all of the instructions. He read the Shema in English, prayed for his loved ones, and as you can see from the picture, he had a great time.

     So the question has to be, why hadn't he put on tefillin not even once in his entire lifetime? Well, according to him, because he did not know how. According to me, we blew it. Could it be that no caring Jew ever bumped into him not once in his entire life?

     And the real question is, are you looking out where you are walking so you will be sure to bump into Jews who do not know how to put on tefillin?



Sunday, August 30, 2015

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Music is the Language of the Soul

A 68 minute CD is also available

The Whole Earth is Full of His Glory 
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Music is the Language of the Soul

   by Reb Gutman Locks   

   Some 30 years ago, I designed and handcrafted this musical instrument. It seems to me to be an instrument that King Dovid would like to play. I tuned it to sound like the 7 waterfalls I had heard in Hawaii. They fall one into the next making a very forceful, yet gentle sound. Many years later I read in a book on the history of musical instruments that the exact tuning I thought I had invented was found on a ten-stringed musical instrument that was shipped from China to Japan well over 1,000 years ago. Instead of the usual sound holes that are found on most string instruments today, I carved "Sing to Hashem." The music is very peaceful. Play it softly.

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Music is the Language of the Soul

by YOUR-NAME at Mystical Paths
- type article here -

Thursday, August 27, 2015

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You Can Judge a Book by Its Cover

​by Reb Gutman Locks   

You Can Judge a Book by Its Cover


     Here we have a picture that looks like the cover of an interesting book. Without ever having met the nice elderly gentleman and the young child we can pretty well guess what is going on.

     Grandfather, a religious Jewish man is holding onto his precious grandson. The boy is 2 years old (no boys' hair cuts until their 3rd birthday). He is looking for a good place to stand close to the Kotel to teach the boy respect for Hashem and for His Holy place. Then, while holding the boy's hand tightly, with all his heart he is going to ask Hashem to guide the boy throughout his entire life.

     How do I know I got it right? Because the story has be going on for 4,000 years.


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

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Be Careful with Your Words

​   by Reb Gutman Locks

Be Careful with Your Words


     A chasid quoted his Rebbe; "The ultimate goal of our avodah Hashem (service to G-d) is to attach to G-d." At best this may be a misquote by the chasid, or a lazy choice of words by his Rebbe, but I sadly think that he accurately quoted his teacher. It is often said that performing a mitzvah attaches us to Hashem.

     There is no attachment to G-d because there never is detachment from G-d. We must use an accurate description of the goal or we will waste our lives searching for something that does not exist. It is like someone saying over and over again, "I want to be free. I want to be free." He is actually saying, "I am not free. I am not free." All day long he begs for something that he already has. Not only does this fill his head with mistaken information, even worse, his mistake keeps him from ever searching for and attaining the proper goal.

     What then of the statement that our sins separate us from G-d? Our sins thicken the veil that hides G-d's revealed Presence from us. Nothing can separate us from the Infinite. The Infinite has no boundaries. If we say that the goal is to attach to G-d we are in fact saying, and embedding into our spiritual heart, that we are detached, i.e. separate from G-d.

     G-d is all. There is nothing else.[i] He fills and surrounds the entire creation. He was before time began and is after time ceases. He is our very life and being. The goal is not to attach to what is already All.

     Instead, we should be trying to reveal G-d's Presence, or strive to cleave to the revelation of His Presence. We want to bask in the radiance of His Shechina (revealed Presence). We want to know G-d, to serve G-d, to love Him and His ways.

     If we remember where G-d is when we pray we do not scream. We speak lovingly to the Holy One Who fills our very being, the One Who is our very breath.


[i] Deuteronomy 4:39


Sunday, August 23, 2015


Namaste or Not?

​   by Reb Gutman Locks   

Namaste or Not?


Yaacov Levi asked: Do you know of any articles advising Jews not to say "Namaste," which I think means, "I bow to the divinity in you?"


Gutman's response:

     Namaste is a Hindu greeting. It is usually said while holding the hands palm to palm in front of the face or chest. In most cases today it is used without understanding its actual meaning. Generally, people who say it simply mean to give a polite greeting, and even if they knew what the word meant they would not understand its significance.

     A Hindu scholar writes:[i] "The reason why we do namaste has a deep spiritual significance. It recognizes the belief that the life force, the divinity, the Self or the god in me is the same in all. Acknowledging this oneness with the meeting of the palms, we honor the god in the person we meet."

     At first his explanation might seem to make sense, after all the Torah teaches that there is one life that fills us all, and that Hashem is the life. But as we read further we see what the Hindu scholar actually means.

     He continues: "During prayers, Hindus not only do namaste but the physical gesture is sometimes accompanied by names of gods like 'ramed ram', jai shri kishka', nameo narayana', jai siya ram' or just, 'om shanti' the common Hindu refrain."

     When the Hindu scholar wrote, "we honor the god in the person we meet" and "the self or god in me is the same in all" he does not mean that there is one G-d Who fills, surrounds, and is beyond all as the Torah teaches. He is saying, "I bow to the god within you."[ii] He means that "the god or goddess spirit within me recognizes and honors the god or goddess spirit within you."

     And even if you would like to think that they really mean "soul" when they say they "bow to the god within you," they say it is a "god or goddess spirit" in there. There are no god or goddess spirits in us. There are no god or goddess spirits anywhere. Hinduism has many gods, and this is idolatry.

     Can one say namaste to someone just as a popular saying without meaning what it actual means? Would you say an x-ian saying like, "Yashka loves you" to someone even if you do not really mean it?


[i] Subhamoy Das 

[ii] Urban Dictionary 


Thursday, August 20, 2015

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The Jewish Woman

by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths
-        Are religious Jewish women restricted? Are
Jewish men and women equal?


Tuesday, August 18, 2015


The Laws of Noah

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

Commentor annie asked…

are there 7 Noahide Laws or 66? Please explain... and if there are only "7"... where do we find the Oral Laws explaining in depth these 7 Laws? Please help us noahides to find our way as well...  Thank you...

(Someone on the previous article commented that there are 66 Noahide laws.  We’ve only heard of 7…)

- Taken from -

According to the sages of the Talmud, there are 70 families with 70 paths within the great Family of Man. And each individual has his or her path within a path. Yet, there is one universal basis for us all.

At the dawn of human history, G-d gave man seven rules to follow in order that His world be sustained. So it is recounted in the Book of Genesis as interpreted by our tradition in the Talmud. There will come a time, our sages told us, that the children of Noah will be prepared to return to this path. That will be the beginning of a new world, a world of wisdom and peace.

At the heart of this universal moral code is the acknowledgement that morality - indeed, civilization itself - must be predicated on the belief in G-d. Unless we recognize a Higher Power to whom we are responsible and who observes and knows our actions, we will not transcend the selfishness of our character and the subjectivity of our intellect. If man himself is the final arbiter of right and wrong, then "right", for him or her, will be what they desire, regardless of its consequences to the other inhabitants of earth.

At Mount Sinai, G-d charged the Children of Israel to serve as His "Light unto the nations" by bringing all of humanity to a recognition of their Creator and adherence to His laws.

For most of Jewish history, however, circumstance did not permit our people to spread these principles, other than by indirect means. When the Lubavitcher Rebbe began speaking about publicizing them as a preparation for a new era, he was reviving an almost lost tradition.

What is most beautiful about these laws, is the breathing room they provide. They resonate equally in a hut in Africa or a palace in India, in a school in Moscow or a suburban home in America. They are like the guidelines of a great master of music or art: firm, reliable and comprehensive -- but only a base, and upon this base each people and every person may build.

"The Seven Noahide Laws" are a sacred inheritance of all the children of Noah, one that every person on the face of the earth can use as the basis of his or her spiritual, moral and pragmatic life. If enough of us will begin to incorporate these laws into our lives, we will see a different world very soon. Sooner than we can imagine.

- More here -

Annie asked… where do we find Oral Laws explaining these in depth.  I did a brief search and found that Pirche Shoshanim, an online Torah learning program, has gathered up the information into a nice presentation.  They share the first lesson, but do charge for the rest.

Check it out.

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The Matzav

   by Reb Gutman Locks​

The Matzav

     Matzav literally means the "situation." Israelis often ask, "What's the matzav?" (What's happening?) But now its common usage usually refers to the Jewish Arab conflict. Due to the matzav this young Israeli who is davening from a vantage point overlooking the Kotel not only wears his spiritual garments, his tallis and tefillin, he has to carry an automatic weapon, too. When the Arabs leave or decide to follow the Law, we might put aside our automatic weapons, but we will still be putting on our tallis and tefillin



Sunday, August 16, 2015

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​   by Reb Gutman Locks   



     We have entered the month of Elul. It is a time of repentance and preparation for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. In Aramaic,[i] Elul means "search." It is a month of searching. We try to awaken our sleepy souls by hearing the sound of the shofar.[ii] The spiritual significance of this most important month is attained by remembering the acronym of the word Elul; "I am My beloved's and my Beloved is mine."[iii]

     When we stop and remember Who it is we actually belong to, we guide our lives according to His desires. When we realize Who our Beloved really is we try to please Him with all our deeds. Our relationship is one of love.



[i] When the names of the months were first adapted we spoke Aramaic.

[ii] Ram's horn

[iii] Song of Songs 6:3


Thursday, August 13, 2015



​   by Reb Gutman Locks   



      Abish is helping the boy with tefillin. It is his 13th birthday which means that he is now capable of fulfilling the Commandments that Hashem has given to the Jewish people. Surely the boy already knows how to put on tefillin, but it is the custom to give honor to the occasion by his father or grandfather or a Rav to help him to put them on the first day that he has become obligated.

     Abish has written over 65 books on the Kabbalah, (Jewish mysticism) 55 of them on the Zohar. He must be the most knowledgeable person in the world on this subject. He davens at the Kotel at sunrise every morning and whoever has a Torah related question knows to ask him. On Shabbos he leads the morning davening. He has a very pleasant voice.

     Abish is known by his first name. At most some will call him Reb Abish. This is very unusual. Usually the rabbis expect to be called rabbi, rav, or even more honorific tittles; the greater the rabbi, the greater the titles. But Abish is known simply by his first name. Why is this?

     Humility is a sign of greatness.




Tuesday, August 11, 2015



​   by Reb Gutman Locks   


       2:30 AM: "Dancing with the big guys at the Kotel …even if I can't reach their shoulders, I still belong."

… And so it is with all of us.


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