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Friday, April 18, 2014

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Living Jewish for Shabbos Pesach

Living Jewish for Shabbos Pesach is now online and available here.
For Shabbos Parsha newsletters, it doesn’t get any cooler than this!  Chassidus, stories, Torah, Chabad, the Rebbe.  It’s all here!

A note from the publisher: Attached is the Living Jewish for Shabbos Pesach.  However, even if you do not receive it before Shabbos you can still read it before Shevi'i and Acharon Shel Pesach in that it is relevant to the Yom Tov - Seudas Moshiach.

To dedicate an edition of Living Jewish or simply make a donation please email me or contact us at livingjewishweekly@gmail.com

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

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Jews in Ukraine under Direct Threat?

donetskjewsYnet News is reporting on a chilling flier given to Jews in the eastern Ukrainian province of Donetsk, ordering them to register with the local authorities:

A leaflet distributed in Donetsk, Ukraine calling for all Jews over 16 years old to register as Jews marred the Jewish community’s Passover festivities Monday, replacing them with feelings of concern.

The leaflet demanded the city’s Jews register and supply a detailed list of all the property they own, or else have their citizenship revoked, face deportation and see their assets confiscated.

It was signed by the head of government in the region and was distributed by masked men outside the Donetsk synagogue after Passover prayers, and beyond. The region is home to about 17,000 Jews.

The leaflet was written in Russian and had Russia’s national symbol on it, as well as the Donetsk People’s Republic insignia.

“Dear Ukraine citizens of Jewish nationality,” the flyer began, “due to the fact that the leaders of the Jewish community of Ukraine supported Bendery Junta,” a reference to Stepan Bandera, the leader of the Ukrainian nationalist movement which fought for Ukrainian independence at the end of World War II, “and oppose the pro-Slavic People’s Republic of Donetsk, (the interim government) has decided that all citizens of Jewish descent, over 16 years of age and residing within the republic’s territory are required to report to the Commissioner for Nationalities in the Donetsk Regional Administration building and register.”

The leaflet detailed what type of documents the Jewish citizens would need to supply: “ID and passport are required to register your Jewish religion, religious documents of family members, as well as documents establishing the rights to all real estate property that belongs to you, including vehicles.”

If the message was not made clear enough, the leaflet further stipulated the consequences that would come to those who failed to abide by the new demands: “Evasion of registration will result in citizenship revoke and you will be forced outside the country with a confiscation of property.”

To add insult to injury, the leaflet demanded the Jews pay a registration fee of $50.

Is this for real?  It certainly seems to be.  Is it a false flag by Ukrainian authorities to draw the West in?  Possibly.  While the Ukrainians have a tremendous anti-Semitic history – and the soil of the Ukraine is literally soaked with Jewish blood, this whole incident is remarkably odd.  Even further considering Putin has forcibly put down anti-Semitism within Russia (and this is coming from the “Russian separatists”). 

Whether the Jews are being made pawns in this conflict, are the target of locals taking advantage of the situation to let their anti-Semitism loose, or if this is the actual policy of the “Russian separatists” – in any case, the situation is extremely disturbing. 

Will the “World” stand by and do nothing?  Of course it will.  (Anyone want to bet on whether the “Boycott-Divest” movement will suddenly start protesting and boycotting against Russia?)

As for us?  For those Jews outside of the Ukraine, hakol kol Yaakov – we must raise our voices in holy prayer for our brethren in the Ukraine.  And for those Jews in the Ukraine, especially in conflict regions, nu?

May Hashem guard and protect Klal Yisroel wherever they may be.  And may we merit the ultimate protection with Moshiach during this Passover season.

Moadim l’Simcha!  A gutten Moed!

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2:30 a.m.

2:30 a.m.

by Reb Gutman Locks

 

        The first morning of Chol HaMoed Pesach (weekdays of the festival) - Chassidic boys singing and dancing at the Kotel

 

 

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Sunday, April 13, 2014

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Kosher for Passover, Really?

It’s Kosher for Passover (rabbinically certified) Israeli cigarettes!

20140411_121158

Free samples of poison, get your free poison…

(The box sign says: “Have a Kosher and Happy Spring Holiday”)

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They are not looking too enthusiastic.

Not related, but neither is this little guy…  (this was up on the 4th floor, yowza)

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A Kosher and Happy Passover!

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Maos Chitim–Thank you!

We have completed our Maos Chitim – Kimcha D’pischa campaign, distributing all the donations Thursday, Friday, and today.

I was to give a special thank you to all those who donated.  It’s a tremendous merit to act as your shaliach (agent) in helping those in need.  People were shaking our hands, hugging us, crying, even chasing us to kiss our hand.  It’s unbelievable to make such a difference in people’s lives.  People have been hurting and in serious need, and you’ve made a real difference.

As you sit down to your Passover seder, know that the merit of the many you’ve helped sit with you. 

May Hashem bless you abundantly in the merit of your tzedakah.

And may we merit the ultimate blessing, the coming of Moshiach tzidkaynu, this year!  L’Shana HA’ZE b’Yerushalayim, let it be THIS YEAR in Jerusalem!

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Pesach- What's the Most Important Thing?

 

Pesach- What’s the Most Important Thing?

 

by Reb Gutman Locks

     Although the holiday of Passover is, by far, the most memorable and beloved holiday of the entire Jewish calendar, it also brings the greatest number of details, requirements and restrictions. Observing each of these elements is crucial during this week of preparation and especially for the Seder itself. To list them all would (and does) fill an entire book.

 

     There are the Torah commandments and there are the rabbinical commandments. There are also the customs that, surprisingly, vary tremendously between the Sephardim and Ashkenazim. There are the unique customs that have developed around the Diaspora. For example, Indian Jews eat different foods on Passover than Temanni Jews, and some Jews will dip their matzah in their soup, while others would be aghast at such a move! Some will eat beans, and some would never do such a thing. There are strict requirements as to the minimum amounts of matzah, bitter herb and wine that must be consumed, and only within a specific period of time. And perhaps most important of all are the amazingly strict requirements not to have any leavening or related products in our possession for the entire week. Confusing this even more is that some authorities say certain foods are leavened while others swear that they are not.

 

     On and on, the list of requirements that ensure a successful Seder can certainly seem overwhelming. It is no wonder that the favorite question a sharp student will ask his rebbe right before the Seder is, “What is the most important thing that I must watch out for?”

 

   Last Pesach, right before leaving the Kotel to rush home for the Seder, a rabbi friend of mine asked me that very question. To his great surprise, I immediately answered, “Make sure that the children have a good time.” He looked at me as if I might be joking; his face was all twisted up. He wanted to know some great Kabbalah about the four cups of wine, or maybe how to lean to the side when drinking them. Or maybe I could give him some great Chassidic teaching on how to do teshuva (repentance) while trying to gulp down that impossibly hot horseradish. AAGHHHH! But, no, I simply said, “Make sure that the children have a good time.”

 

    The next afternoon, he came up to me, smiling. He’s a smart guy and he took my words to heart. He said, “It was the best Seder ever. The kids were great. Everyone was laughing. We all enjoyed ourselves tremendously. But tell me, how can you really say that keeping the kids happy was the most important thing to watch out for? After all, this is a very serious holiday.”

 

   I explained, “There is only one reason we have the Seder at all: to remember the Exodus from Egypt. And there is only one reason why we must remember the Exodus from Egypt: so we will remain Jews. If we forget our past, there will be no reason to go on as a people. There is only one way for us to remain Jews, and that is to raise Jewish families. Without the children coming back next year, there won’t be any Jewish families. It’s for the kids’ sake that we go through all this each year and, God willing, we will get to do it for them again next year, too. And if they have a good enough time, then surely someday we will even get to do it for their kids.”

 

     Have a happy Pesach. It’s essential.

 

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Friday, April 11, 2014

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Living Jewish for Parshat Acharei is up…

Living Jewish for Parshat Acharei is now online and available here.

For Shabbos Parsha newsletters, it doesn’t get any cooler than this!  Chassidus, stories, Torah, Chabad, the Rebbe.  It’s all here!


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Thursday, April 10, 2014

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Bad Interpretations of Jerusalem Protest Photos

Today there were protests in Jerusalem due to the arrest and imprisonment of a Torah student who refused to report for his draft notice (refusing even to apply for an exemption).  I’ve previously written about this sad situation, with both sides over-reacting and pushing the other – resulting in social conflict and unrest.

In today’s protest, neither side understands the other – and both are demonizing the other.  Since the situation is so sad and painful, I’ve decided to caption some of the protest photos with RIDICULOUS and HUMOROUS completely inappropriate captions.  This is definitely socially unacceptable, so here goes… (bad inappropriate humor starts here)

a1

Officer, could you hold my baby while I protest for a bit?

My wife is busy cleaning for Passover.

 

a2

Chometz burning practice.  Chometz burning practice.

Practice now, get it right for Tuesday.

 

a3

Hey buddy, you’ve got some mud on your pants,

hold still while I wipe it off with my riot baton.

a4

Is he doing the happy dance?  I think he feels like a room without a roof.

 

a5

Ewww, I stepped in some doody.

 

a6

Oh it’s raining again, oh yeah it’s raining again.  Oh oh it’s raining again.

a7

Oh fooey, my Chewbacca mask fell off.

a8

Ok, who let one rip?  Yuck, what in the world did you eat?

a9

“This is the Chometz police. 

Bring out all your leavened products and deposit them in the truck or else!”

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Matzah = Mitzvah

 

Matzah = Mitzvah

 

by Reb Gutman Locks

 

     In Hebrew, “matzah” is spelled exactly the same as “mitzvah”. See why.

 

G-d Said, "Be Holy"

 

 

 

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Wednesday, April 09, 2014

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Eye to the Infinite - Sleep, Sedation and Meditation

from Eye to the Infinite – A Torah Guide to Jewish Meditations to Increase Divine Awareness.

Sleep is a mysterious state that continues to confound scientists. Beyond its physical and psychological bene­fits, sleep also pro­vides a way for the Inner Mind to reveal itself. It is a time when, depend­ing on the person’s soul-root and spiritual level, higher levels of consciousness from higher worlds can filter through.[1]

When we dream, we have little control over what mind-scripts are played out. We generally dream about whatever is on our mind or niggling the subconscious but dreams may also be a rich source of spiritual experience.

While body and mind relax, the Inner Mind or higher in­telli­gence, can “speak” to the person in symbols and allegories, using imagery from the subcon­scious, to give over its message. A fascinating Midrash describes the meta­physical process.

“When a person sleeps, his body speaks to the Neshomoh, the Neshomoh [speaks] to the Nefesh, the Nefesh to the Mal’ach (Angel), the Mal’ach to the K’ruv, the K’ruv to the Master of the Wings, and the Master of the Wings tells be­fore He Who said and the world came into being.”[2]

 The Midrash tells us that during sleep, consciousness (Da’ath)[3] merges with the Neshomoh (Binoh). It ‘con­verses’ with the Neshomoh, relaying every action, thought and feeling of every minute during the day that has been re­corded by the body cells and inscribed on the bones; all this is now relayed to the Ne­shomoh.

The Neshomoh then relays this to a Higher Consciousness referred to as Nefesh. This Nefesh (the collective Un­con­scious of which the individual Un­conscious (Chochmoh) is part) links to higher states and entities – the “Mal’ach” [Angel] and “K’ruv” [Cerub], which connect to still higher lev­els, until the soul’s source in G-d. With a righteous individual,[4] this can result in regular spiritual revelations and messages during sleep.

But perhaps the Midrash is telling us something even more amazing. By relaxing and qui­et­ing the activity of the subconscious mind, we can imitate sleep. Brainwaves during medi­ta­tion are known to be similar to those during deep sleep. Might imitating sleep be a means of ac­cessing the inner mind and higher states of consciousness?

Find out in the next installment...

[1] See Zohar II, 52a, 195b.

[2] Levit. Rabboh, 32: בשעה שהאדם הזה ישן הגוף אומר לנשמה והנשמה לנפש והנפש למלאך והמלאך לכרוב והכרוב לבעל כנפים ובעל כנפים יגיד דבר לפני מי שאמר והיה העולם

[3] There are two types of Da’ath: Da’ath of the mind (see next chapter) and Da’ath-knowledge the body receives at a cellular level.

[4] See Brochoth 6b.
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A Great Passover Chassidic Customs & Halacha Guide

Chabad has put out a wonderful day by day customs and halacha (Jewish law) guide for Passover in English, for internal use by the chassidic community.  It includes daily adjustments to the tefilot (prayers) and so forth.  Very detailed, very nice.

It’s free and in English, click here.  Note the times mentioned are valid for New York only.

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Tuesday, April 08, 2014

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Free Passover Koshering Guide

Artscroll is offering a free download on kashering (koshering) your kitchen for Passover.  It’s a nice guide…

Here’s the link – click for free PDF download.

A few notes of my own on reading it…

a. When they discuss using an “even-meluban” (a hot stone), I have personally seen, done myself, and have a tradition from my wife’s family, to use a normal clothing iron.  Or, to put it another way “are you going to iron your countertops this year”, yes. 

b. Chabad chassidim have a further chumra to both kasher and cover (the article discusses doing one or the other other) with a thick cover. 

c. The current “thick cover” of choice is vinyl floor tile/covering.  This choice is particularly hygienic, heat resistant, water proof, inexpensive and very easy to cut to shape.

d. On blow torching an oven to kasher it, sticking a hand blow torch with the gas bottle attached into a hot oven is CRAZY DANGEROUS.  I’m amazed I’ve never heard a story of an explosion resulting from such.  (Yes I’ve done it myself, yes it was stupid, no I would not do it again.)  The article discusses covering the inside of the oven with foil.  Another alternative I’ve seen is having a metal box insert inside the oven.  You insert food pans into the insert.  It works.

Be safe.  There are too many stories of people (especially children) getting injured during Pesach cleaning (with harsh chemicals or when boiling or torching).  Speak with your rav, don’t risk life or limb for every chumra (just for some of them :-).

Chag Kasher v’Samayach.
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A Typical Secular Israeli

 

A Typical Secular Israeli

by Reb Gutman Locks

 

     I called out, “Come put on tefillin.”

     “No way!” was his reply.

     He walked around the Kotel area, and then, when he came close by, I called again, “Come, you didn’t come all this way to look at the stones. Come put on tefillin. You’ll have a good time.”

     Nope. Didn’t budge.

     A few minutes later as he was walking out I tried again. With a big smile I called out, “Chabibalah” (Sweetie pie) come do a mitzvah.

     He looked at me, smiled, and said, “Okay, I’ll do it for you.”

     After he read the Shema, I told him that the door to Heaven was open for him, “Pray for everything you want. You did a great thing just now and Hashem is listening.”

     He prayed for a brief moment and then turned for me to take off the tefillin.

     I asked, “Did you pray for everything that you need?”

     “I prayed for everyone,” he said, as he moved his arms in a large circle.

     I asked, “What about all of your needs.”

     “We are all one,” he answered.

     Here is a guy who hasn’t put on tefillin since his bar mitzvah 36 years ago. As far as I know he is totally secular, but still, he has it in his heart to pray for all of us, and he knows that we are all one. A typical secular Israeli.

 

 

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Monday, April 07, 2014

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Ha Ha, No Jews, Get It?

Gabriel Iglesias is a modern American ethnic comedian.  Crude, though not overly so by current standards, with a lot of contextual cultural humor. 

He was recently invited (paid) to do some shows in Saudi Arabia and other nearby Arab countries.  In the clip below, he tells a story of a local aspiring Saudi Arabian comedian telling him a joke…

Direct video link.  (Some crude and mildly inappropriate language.)

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Sunday, April 06, 2014

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A Visit to the Shmura Matzah Bakery

Direct video link, embedded below…

And don’t forget to support our Maos Chitim / Kimcha D’Pischa 100% charity direct campaign for Passover Charity Help for the Needy…

You can support the needy of Israel for Passover – right here, right now, 100% charity with NO overhead…  Donate to the Needy of Israel for Passover
Click HERE !

 
This year is particularly tough. One of our neighbors is literally homeless, another says "I have wine and matzah, and literally nothing else."  One can't afford her medicine, another can't afford shoes for her children.  The stories are heartbreaking, but you can help...   Right here, right now.. (CLICK HERE) ….

100% charity direct!  Our Jewish holy day charity campaigns raise money to support the poor and needy in Israel, which we are obligated to treat as members of our local community.  We do so via our registered Israeli charity and with the rabbinical supervision of Rabbi Chaim Faro.  We also do so with NO office expenses, NO advertising expenses, NO salaries, NO overhead of ANY kind (except for credit card processing fees of ~3.5% and currency conversion fees of ~1%).  100% tzedakah (charity) direct to those in need.

This Passover, lets help make sure our brethren in Israel are able to celebrate the holiday!  If you can help, please do - now.  If not, you have our blessings that Hashem should help you and all the needy of Klal Yisroel!

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