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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Monday, December 10, 2018

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Zoth Chanukoh

by Aharon Rubin at Mystical Paths

Today, the last day of the festival of Chanukoh, is called Zoth Chanukoh (lit. 'this is Chanukoh'), after the Torah reading portion of the day, which ends with זאת חנוכת המזבח - 'This is the inauguration of the altar'.

In the Torah reading for the eight days of Chanukoh, we recount the inauguration of the Mishkon, the Dwelling Place for G-d, during the Jews' forty years sojourn in the wilderness, prior to their entry to the holy Land of Israel. In today's final reading, immediately following G-d's saying, 'This is the inauguration of the altar' (Bamidbor 7:84), comes an amazing verse:

וּבְבֹ֨א מֹשֶׁ֜ה אֶל־אֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵד֮ לְדַבֵּ֣ר אִתּוֹ֒ וַיִּשְׁמַ֨ע אֶת־הַקּ֜וֹל מִדַּבֵּ֣ר אֵלָ֗יו מֵעַ֤ל הַכַּפֹּ֙רֶת֙ אֲשֶׁר֙ עַל־אֲרֹ֣ן הָעֵדֻ֔ת מִבֵּ֖ין שְׁנֵ֣י הַכְּרֻבִ֑ים וַיְדַבֵּ֖ר אֵלָֽיו׃  

"And when Moshe came into the Tent of Meeting to speak with Him, he heard the Voice addressing him from above the cover that was on top of the Ark of the Pact, between the two cherubim; and He spoke to him."

This verse is immediately followed by G-d instructing Moshe regarding the kindling of the Menorah.

Inaugurating the Mishkon, a place for G-d to dwell, had a special power. It enabled G-d to reveal Himself as it were, to speak with Moshe from within that Tent.

In the specific prayer of Chanukoh, Ul HaNissim ('On the miracles'), and Bimai Mattisthyohu ('In the days of Mattisyahu'), we say:

‘And for You (G-d), You made a great and holy Name in your world … And, afterwards, Your children came to Your Sanctuary, cleared out Your Palace, purified Your Temple and lit lamps in Your holy courtyards’.

G-d's Palace is our heart and our mind. By lighting the menorah, we purify our own private Dwelling Place for G-d, realising His Providence and Presence. Through realising G-d's Immanence, we make a great and holy Name in our own world.
That Name is our individual and private acknowledgement of G-d's Being. It is the centre of the wheel around which everything else revolves. That centre is sacred. It is our Holy of Holies.

This is Chanukoh - the inauguration of our own dwelling place for G-d.

(© Excerpt from Eye to the Infinite)
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Book Review: 'G-d versus gods' by Rabbi Reuven Klein

by Aharon Rubin at Mystical Paths
'G-d versus gods: Judaism in the Age of Idolatry', by Rabbi Reuven Chaim Klein.


For several months now I have been reading the essays of Rabbi Reuven Chaim Klein, as he examines the history and etymology of various words in Lashon Hakodesh (the Holy Tongue - Biblical Hebrew) through Tanach, Midrashim, Gemara, classical and modern commentaries. All of them have revealed meticulous research, careful thinking, and original insight.

His most recent work, 'G-d versus Gods: Judaism in the Age of Idolatry', follows suit, resulting in a composition that is nothing short of groundbreaking.
His analysis and compilation of sources is more than illuminating; it is inspiring, presenting a wealth of sources, both from the traditional, Jewish sources - from the Talmud to the Zohar to more recent commentaries - and from the secular, academic world.

In particular, I enjoyed his Encyclopedia section at the end of the book constituting a list of the pagan deities and their suggested provenance and meaning.

If you are interested in biblical history, in the etymology of the various idols and pagan deities mentioned in the Torah, what they mean and how they impact the narrative, or in how the cultural milieu of the ancient Near East impacted on the lives of the Jewish people, from their genesis until the end of Tanach and beyond[!], you must read this book.

Thoroughly researched, well written, and thought-provoking, 'G-d versus Gods' is written from a Torah-true perspective. As such, it is highly recommended as a valuable contribution to Jewish scholarship!

[Disclaimer: I received the book to review.]

Sunday, December 09, 2018



    by Reb Gutman Locks 


      One of the prayers we say when we bless the upcoming New Moon requests that we should have a month of "yiras Shamayim and yiras chet." This means a month in which we experience fear of Heaven (Hashem) and fear of sin.

     But why would we want to experience the same feelings towards Hashem as we do towards sin? Surely, they are completely opposite!

     The answer is that there is higher level fear and there is lower level fear.

     Lower level fear is what we experience when faced with danger. We are afraid of what might come and harm us. We want to be fearful of sin, i.e. careful not to even come close to having such a dangerous thing happen.

     Higher level fear is not fear at all. Even though it is the same word, when addressing fear of Hashem, we are not afraid that we will be hurt. Higher level fear is awe. We are requesting a month in which we experience the higher Awe of Hashem. This comes from the revelation of His Presence, the Shechinah, and this can only come in spiritual joy.

     May we all be blessed with this highest spiritual joy possible.


Thursday, December 06, 2018

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   by Reb Gutman Locks   


     Why is there a four-armed shin on one side of the tefillin head piece? There is no other place in the entire Torah that such a letter can be found. Why is it there and nowhere else?

     The tefillin head piece is a reminder of the Tablets Hashem gave to Moshe on Mt. Sinai. The Ten Commandments were engraved into the stone tablets. Engraved means that the letters were not just written on the surface of the stone but were carved into the stone itself.

     Look between the arms of the four-armed shin. If you look carefully at the empty space that is lower than the surface of the letter and do not look at the arms themselves, you will see a letter there. Do you see it?   

     The "engraved" space forms the shape of the letter shin.

     The Ten Commandments were engraved into the tablets to teach us that the Torah is embedded, eternal.

     Everything in the Torah comes for a good reason.


Tuesday, December 04, 2018

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How Many Lights on the Fifth Night?

   by Reb Gutman Locks


     How many lights are there on the fifth night of Chanukah? There is only one light on the fifth night of Chanukah, right?



And the Jews Had Light




Sunday, December 02, 2018

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Chassidic Thought

   by Reb Gutman Locks   


    Tzipora asked a wonderful question. What is so great about her question is that it brings good things to mind. She asked; "What is your favorite concept or value from Chassidic thought?"

   Here are a few of my favorites:

   R' Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev:

      "The most important thing to know is that G-d created all, and that He is ALL."

   R' Shmuel the fourth Lubavitcher Rebbe:

      "One ought to know the route to the supernal chambers, but that is not essential. All you need is the main thing, to learn to take pleasure in doing another person a favor."

   R' Schneerson the Lubavitcher Rebbe;

     "It is more important to be kind than to be right."

            … pretty much sums up a Jew's spiritual life; Hashem is all, love your fellow Jew and do something about it, and do it gently.




Thursday, November 29, 2018

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Blind Hatred

    by Reb Gutman Locks   
       Blind Hatred 


Anna wrote:

    What do you think about the jewish men in Hollywood? And some alegacions of pedophilia...

     Some people would even say that judaism is related to criminal activities..


Gutman's response:

     There are well behaved people everywhere, and there are misbehaved people everywhere. Right is right, and wrong is wrong. Judge each person by what they do.

     But, Anna, why are you so quick to believe allegations, and even apply them to an entire community, none of whom you have ever met?

    "Some people would even say that" people who believe allegations are most likely to be doing those very same things themselves!

    The hatred you feel for Jews has not only corrupted your mind, it has damaged your soul. 


Tuesday, November 27, 2018

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    by Reb Gutman Locks

Kelly asked:

     Rabbi, I want to ask you a question. When you're confused, lacking clarity, and need direction but don't know who to turn to or trust, what do you do?


Gutman's reply:

    When confused; sit and relax, breathe slowly and listen to some calming music for a while. Put off making any major decisions. Take the moment by itself.  

     Then, when things have calmed down somewhat, ask Hashem for guidance and see what has to be done first. Take care of the daily things, the things you do every week. When you need advice ask the ones who are specialists in that field, i.e. ask a contractor about renovations, a doctor about symptoms. Get two opinions and see if they agree.

     I always ask Hashem to open the door wide that I am supposed to go through, and to slam the door hard on the things I am not supposed to do. Then, when the door opens a little, I move slowly in that direction. When the door slams hard, I thank G-d, and turn the other way.

     Life is a series of ups and downs. When we are up, we thank G-d and keep on going. When we are down, we pick ourselves up, brush off the dirt, and see how to go on without falling.

     A general rule, whenever you are down and want to be picked up, go help pick up someone else, and Hashem will pick you up right away. When you are confused, you can still help someone else to do some routine task, and when you do, you will see which way you are supposed to go, too.


Sunday, November 25, 2018

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YouTube Does It Again

   by Reb Gutman Locks


       He is visiting from America.    

     "I saw your video, "Why Should I Help You," and I have been putting on tefillin every day since. Thank you very much for helping me."

      YouTube can be such a wonderful tool. It reaches Jews who would never buy a Jewish book or seek out a local rabbi. If you know anyone these videos could help, share … if you care. You could save someone's spiritual life.


Why Should I Help You?




Thursday, November 22, 2018

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What's with Astrology?

by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

     Is a Jew allowed to use astrology? Is
astrology stargazing? Do the stars rule over our lives? Is our fate fixed by
the stars?


Tuesday, November 20, 2018

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Prayer or Money?

   by Reb Gutman Locks  


Raphael Asked:

    Gutman, how can I attain a high level of success in the material world if I am devoting my time to spirituality?

    If I had a purpose in this world would it not be to change the very things that Hashem has blessed me to see? How is spending time idle (praying) beneficial for society when there is a strong need for people to take action on a day to day basis?

     This idle time adds up, and time spent praying can be devoted to making an impact rather than praying for something to happen.

    What is your take on this?

Best regards,



Gutman's reply;

     The Jews who went down into Egypt asked the same question. They felt that their purpose of being in Egypt was to make a living, and they devoted themselves entirely to that goal. They became slaves of the very money they were earning!   

     This is true of all of the Jews who went down except for the tribe of Levi. The tribe of Levi went into the same place, and also had to work to make a living, but they went with Torah and Mitzvahs being their goal, and not the money. As a result, they did not become enslaved.

     When you go to work for money, and that is your goal, you will never be satisfied. This is the slavery of Egypt. When you make a million, you want two. When you make two, you want three. There is no end to the thing.

     But when you go into Egypt to make money, that very same money, but to be able to do mitzvahs, that very job becomes holy work, and you do not become enslaved.

     As for prayer, it is far from waste of time. Prayer goes out and it goes in. Our prayers help the ones we pray for, and they help us, too. When we pray for others to find their needs quickly, we find our needs fulfilled even faster.

     Studies show that Jews who daven in a minyan live longer than Jews who daven alone. Prayer is not a waste of time. It is a tool Hashem has given us to help us accomplish our purpose in being here.


Sunday, November 18, 2018

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What’s the Point?

   by Reb Gutman Locks   


     There is a saying (I may have made it up) when you have two Jews you have at least three opinions.

     Like this: How many sides are there to a coin? We usually say that there are two sides to a coin. This is why they say, "There are two sides to every argument…, just as there are two sides to a coin."

     But there are more sides to a coin than this. It all depends on what you mean when you say, "side".

     When you say that there are two sides to a coin, you are talking about the face of the coin and its back. But even at that perspective there are three sides to a coin. There is the front of the coin, there is the back side of the coin, and there is the edge of the coin, its rim. So, there are not just two sides to a coin, there are three!

     But wait a minute, there are other sides to a coin, too. Depending how you count, there are five sides to a coin! There is the face of the coin, the back side of the coin, the edge of the coin, that's three, and there is the inside of the coin, and there is the outside of the coin, so that's five.

     But wait another minute, really the three sides of the coin are only one side, the outside. So that means that there are only two sides to a coin, the inside and the outside.

     In every argument there are many ways to look at the facts and to apply answers that could fit. To being with, be sure all "sides" of the argument are using the same definitions for the same terms.

     What's the point of all this? Well, it all depends on what you mean by "point".


Friday, November 16, 2018

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A Trade Off

   by Reb Gutman Locks  
     A Trade Off


He is a retired doctor, visiting from America. The conversation went like this:

     "Let me take your picture."

     "Is your mother Jewish?"

     "Yes. What does that have to do with it?"

     "Come, put on tefillin.

     "No, I don't do that. I haven't put on tefillin since my grandson's Bar Mitzvah."

     "Come put on tefillin and I will let you take my picture."


     "Okay then, no picture. You want a picture… you have to put on tefillin."

     He gave in, and from the above picture you see that he had a good time.    

     When he sends me the picture he took, if it's any good, I'll send it to you.


Thursday, November 15, 2018

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   by Reb Gutman Locks


     There is a reason even for the most unusual customs we follow.

     Have you ever seen an older religious Jew pull the bottom of his ear after he sneezes? He probably doesn't know why, but there is a reason for this strange custom, too.

     We are born head first, and when we die they slide us into the grave feet first. Before Yaakov Avinu people did not get sick. When their time to leave the world came, they sneezed and left.

     So, the Chassid who is pulling the bottom of his ear after he sneezes is, so to speak, making sure that he has not left the world. To be sure, he is pulling the last part of his body that leaves, back into the world.




Tuesday, November 13, 2018

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Touching the Kotel

    by Reb Gutman Locks


     We are told that the Shechinah (G-d's revealed Presence) has never left the Kotel.

     If so, why don't people see it?

     Well, for one thing, in order to move up spiritually we have to pay attention. Spiritual awareness does not come without effort.

     For instance, if you ignore the holiness at the Kotel do not expect the Shechinah to run up to you and grab you. The general rule is mida keneged mida. This means that Hashem relates to us according to our deeds. So, if you are showing such disrespect for the Holy Place as to smoke cigarettes there, including these e-cigarettes, talking on telephones, or any behavior that could be seen to be ignoring the unique holiness of the place, then it is obvious, the Shechinah is going to hide from you.

     How then are we to approach the Kotel?

     Some people are very careful to only touch the Kotel when they kiss it, and then only with their lips. Others love it so much they try to lay their arms and legs and as much of their body on it as they can. Some are so respectful they will not even touch it. And there are others who will not even walk within a few feet of it. They see that the Kotel is built with each upper tier narrower than the one beneath it. This is what made it strong enough to have lasted all these years. But it also means if you stand right next to the Kotel at today's ground level you will be standing over the lower tiers, so they stand back a few feet to prevent this.

     What's the rule? It seems that it is up to each individual to decide. My advice is; the more respectful and humble of holy things and holy places you are, the more you will gain from them.

     Each of us decides our own level.



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