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Thursday, May 21, 2015

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|LIVE NOW| The rabbi speaks... #katch

Live as of May 21, 2015 at 08:54PM Reb Akiva is doing a live video stream right now via Meerkat. Check for @akivapaths in the Meerkat app, or click on the link below to see it via the web...
Note it may only be live for 5-30 minutes, no replay feature (at the moment). So if you miss it, keep an eye out for another. (This whole thing is a trial, so don't beat me up if it doesn't work perfectly.)
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|LIVE NOW| And they saw thunder and heard lightning #katch

Live as of May 21, 2015 at 08:50PM Reb Akiva is doing a live video stream right now via Meerkat. Check for @akivapaths in the Meerkat app, or click on the link below to see it via the web...
Note it may only be live for 5-30 minutes, no replay feature (at the moment). So if you miss it, keep an eye out for another. (This whole thing is a trial, so don't beat me up if it doesn't work perfectly.)
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|LIVE NOW| My Rabbi, about Shavuos #katc

Live as of May 21, 2015 at 08:38PM Reb Akiva is doing a live video stream right now via Meerkat. Check for @akivapaths in the Meerkat app, or click on the link below to see it via the web...
Note it may only be live for 5-30 minutes, no replay feature (at the moment). So if you miss it, keep an eye out for another. (This whole thing is a trial, so don't beat me up if it doesn't work perfectly.)
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Live Video Right Now: |LIVE NOW| Walking Tour Jerusalem Tech Park, Israel

Reb Akiva is doing a live video stream right now via Meerkat. (right now = May 21, 2015 at 06:04PM) Check right now for @akivapaths in the Meerkat app on iOS or Android, or click on the link below to see it via the web...
Note it may only be live for 5-30 minutes, no replay feature (at the moment). So if you miss it, keep an eye out for another. (This whole thing is a trial, so don't beat me up if it doesn't work perfectly.)
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Loosen Your Bones

Loosen Your Bones

    by Reb Gutman Locks  


        On the Shabbos morning before the upcoming New Moon the Chasidic sfard custom is to "bless the month" with a very nice prayer that begins; "May it be your will…." In this prayer we ask for such things as; the new month to be for good, long life, livelihood, and then the prayer for "chilutz atzmut" (חלוץ עצמות).   

     The prayer continues requesting, a life of awe of Hashem, honor, love of Torah....

     Chilutz atzmut can be translated as strength or health, but it also means flexible or pliant bones or sockets.

     Here is an excellent overall objective and instructions for a healthier body through stretching. Do any common stretching exercise, such as reaching to touch your toes without bending your legs. You can do it either standing or sitting. When you reach as far as you can do not push to reach further, but rather gently relax the areas of your body that feel tight, such as the back of your legs or your shoulders. This will loosen the tightness somewhat and your fingers will come a little closer to your toes. Relax there at the full stretch position for a moment or two before straightening back up.

     The more you do it the easier it will become. Be sure to identify the exact area of your body that is feeling the discomfort or pain when you reach the limit of your stretch. Where you feel the pain is the very area that you have to gently release. If you have difficulty releasing that area, try to imagine the tightness spreading slowly away from its center. You need to release only a tiny bit at a time. Do not try to force it loose, but slowly and gently release some of the area where it hurts.

      Use this same method of releasing when doing any stretching exercise. Try tilting your head all the way to one side then to the other side. When your head goes as far as you think it can, stop for a moment, take a gentle deep breath, and relax the areas that feel tight. Your head should move a little further.

     Then tilt your head all the way to the front until your chin touches your chest, and then all the way toward the back.

     Reach your elbows toward each other behind your back. When you can reach no further, release the pressure you feel in the front of your chest and shoulders.    

     Whatever the particular exercise; the point is not to push hard to stretch further, but to release, the area that is restricting your stretch. Wherever you feel the pain of restriction when you reach as far as you think you can, that is the exact area that you have to gently release.

     Any direction or muscle you want to stretch is fine. The key is when you get as far as you think you can go, not to push but to loosen your bones. Here are a few examples.




     When you loosen your bones you feel more comfortable in your body. You will have an easier time walking, or doing any other physical movements. You will feel better as you go.




Tuesday, May 19, 2015

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Mazal Tov

   by Reb Gutman Locks   

Mazal Tov


     Three generations came to the Kotel this morning for the boy's 13th birthday. The father is helping his son to put on tefillin for the first time, just like his father, who is standing there watching them, helped him to put on tefillin when he turned 13 years old, some 40 years ago. The grandfather is most likely remembering the day when he helped his son to put on tefillin, or maybe when his father helped him when he turned 13. For thousands of years we have followed the Torah's instructions, and this is why there are Jews in the world today.


Monday, May 18, 2015

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Really Hot, Proving No Claim to Israel

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths20150518_223437

It’s 10:30 PM… 88 degrees with 9% humidity, down from 99 degrees today.  It’s hot, really really hot.  And dry, really really dry.

I went out for 2 miles of exercise and became very concerned as I wasn’t sweating though I drank 3/4 liter of water.  Then I realized…I probably am sweating, but it’s evaporating before I even notice it.  I did not feel like I was overheating.  Would I notice?

Did I mention it’s hot?

I’ve been in hot weather before, but in Florida and New Jersey, where hot comes with humid.  In Florida it’s so humid that patio furniture gets mildew, and when it rains (frequently in the summer) it literally steams as it hits the hot road.  Actually makes it hard to air condition a car at night, as condensation and fogging is a constant problem.

If I stepped out for exercise in 88 degrees in Florida, I’d be soaked in sweat and ready to pass out in 10 minutes.

New Jersey summers aren’t quite as humid, and but a little bit hotter in pure temperature.  Nighttime exercise is a little bit more feasible, but still by no means pleasant.

In Israel, this is called a hamsin, meaning a heat wave.  In this instance it’s an “Arabian Desert Heat Wave”, very hot very dry and mostly clear HEAT.  (Desert heat waves in Israel often come together with dust, creating bad air conditions.)  And though I’ve been in Israel a while now, I’ve never experienced one this intense before.  We often get one, about 5-10 degrees cooler, during Sukkot – which matches a well known Midrash about the times of Moshiach.

It’s supposed to last the week, and possibly into Shavuos.  Thank G-d for A/C. 

On a related note, there’s been a few forest fires already – and there is suspicion that it’s “arson terrorism”  One might wonder how Palestinians can claim to love and want their homeland soooo much that they go out of their way to burn it and destroy it.  But as we learn from the story of Shlomo HaMelech and the two women who claimed a baby, the one who will do anything to save it – even giving it up – demonstrates that she is the mother.  And the one who would destroy it in SPITE proves they have no claim.

Photo – night view of my town this evening.



Sunday, May 17, 2015


The Garden

​   by Reb Gutman Locks   

The Garden


     When the body dies and the soul returns to the place from where it came, one of the first things that happens is a Bas Kol comes (a voice from higher Heaven). The soul is asked, "Did you enjoy My world while you were there?"

     If the soul answers, as many do, "What are You nuts? That place there is a mess! What with all the wars and famine and racial strife, not to mention the Muslims killing each other every day, and thousands of other innocent people being slaughtered! Agh!" then that soul will have to come back to this world again and again until it realizes why this world was created.

     The Zohar says, "Just like did Hashem place man (Adam) in the Garden back then, so does He place man in the Garden now, when he repents of his sins busies himself with the Torah"[i]

     When we look at the wars and apparent injustices, and rightfully judge them to be evil we are immediately exiled from the Garden for having eaten of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Bad. We then find ourselves in the land where we must work by the sweat of our brow in order to survive.

     When we see all the bad in the world to be the results of G-d allowing man freewill, and that in the end it will all have been for the good, when we look at the beauty here even in the simplest things, we find ourselves back in the Garden of Eden serving the Creator of all.


[i]  Zohar 27a 


Thursday, May 14, 2015


Highly Offensive

​   by Reb Gutman Locks   

Highly Offensive


Regarding my article "Stolen Property", a reader complained:

     "Why are you always insulting those who don't share your beliefs? If you're not gonna respect christians beliefs, then at least respect them as human beings. And calling them Thieves is highly offensive."


Gutman's response:

     No one ever gave the x-ians permission to take our holy Torah and attach it to their books of idolatry. But that is not our strongest complaint.

     As I write this article a large x-ian group is having a convention in Jerusalem, the theme of which is how to convert Jews to their idolatry! Not only did they steal our Torah, they also want to steal our people! There are centers in Israel that teach, to bless Israel you should accept their idol! G-d forbid!

     The same week that Muslims in the Mideast murdered 82 x-ian children the U.N. announced that Israel was the only country in the Mideast where x-ians were not being persecuted. That week the presbyterian church in America voted to ban and boycott Israel!

     For the past 2,000 years more Jews have been murdered in the name of that idol than any other name. Jews were exiled from x-ian countries and forced to abandon their property only because they were Jews, and the x-ians could not tolerate Jews living in their countries!

     The nazi soldiers (Y"S) were referring to that idol when they wrote, "god is with us" on their belt buckles.

     And you say that calling x-ians thieves is offensive? Sorry, but your complaint does not even dent your history.



Wednesday, May 13, 2015

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Spring in the Old City

Spring in the Old City - Jerusalem - the Land of Israel
by Reb Gutman Locks
@ Mystical Paths

Take a moment to see the beauty around us,
and thank the Artist for the incredible job!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

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Jewish Kids Come to the Kotel

to give charity

to write letters to G-d

to learn with their Rebbe

Or, to put on tefillin 

        As long as Jewish kids keep coming to the Kotel to do these kinds of things, there will be a Jewish People in the world.



Monday, May 11, 2015


You Are So Immodest

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths


mig commented: “we …have to be truthful with realizing that immodesty is a big problem in the frum community. The author is right. Many frum women today dress inappropriately. I see it every day. Tight skirts and blouses, legs uncovered,hair uncovered and this is not being addressed by the rabbonim of most communities.”

Mig, if only it was so easy to be “truthful”.  Modesty and the standards of such are context dependent, and therefore it is ONLY the rabbonim of those communities who can address it, and decide if it needs to be addressed.  Let me explain:

Anyone who does halachic research into tznius (modesty) laws immediately finds that much of the standards are dependent on time and place.  Some examples: We had some families move into our town from Yemen (yes, Yeminite Jews).  The women dress head to toe and wrap their heads, Arab style.  They looked at the women in the most ultra-orthodox community in our area and immediately declared them extremely immodest! 

In some frum communities, covering your hair with a sheital (wig) is not considered modest.  In others, covering your hair NOT with a wig is not considered modest! 

Can stockings be flesh colored?  Depends on your community.  Or how thick do they have to be?  Depends on your community.

A few basics are clear: covering to the elbows and knees, covering the hair if married, and covering the neckline.  Beyond that…it’s relative.

Also I strongly feel the following statment is very unfair:  (We are all responsible for our....If you want more, stay inside or put on a blindfold! And when making a statement that Hashem Hates This, prove it – bring your sources.)  I would expect such a statement from a feminist not from a rabbi.

One can look with a bad eye on ANY subject.  I can watch people cut in line, stealing each others time, in the store.  I can watch people take advantage in synagogue, never helping or donating but always using and complaining.  I can watch frum children fight, hit each other, insult and hurt each other, and knock adults out of the way.  I can watch bochorim waste time, hang out behind yeshiva, smoke, drink, and act haughty because they’re “learning”.  I can watch the rabbi manipulate people to get donations.

Or I can literally look at the same and see people running to do favors for each other, pushing through the store to help their families as soon as possible.  I can see people that even when they don’t feel close still make a point of coming to synagogue.  I can see children playing and trying to learn good middos, though not always succeeding.  I can see yeshiva bochorim taking a break and getting a few moments of downtime so they can recharge to focus on Torah.  And I can see a hard working rabbi struggling to get donations to help people only he knows are desperately in need.

The same goes for tznius.

Anonymous added: There is a problem of modesty in frum communities. And I say this as a religious woman myself.

Well, sure.  And there’s problems of wasting time.  And problems of taking advantage.  And problems of nepotism, and manipulation of social institutions, and manipulation of connections.  And shidduchim being lied about.  And even, G-d help us, our share of sick people who abuse. 

With surrounding secular society having gone full tilt hyper sexual, yes modesty must be kept as a strong point in the religious community.  And yes, there are some problems.  But that’s what we have our rabbonim for.  Zealots running around screaming about it are unlikely to help – and very likely to get themselves worked up until they do something rash and dangerous.

My community has already had to deal with the burka women ultra-othodox CULT as well as the Lev Tahor super-women-modesty cult.  The people and families that get involved are never the same, even if they leave.

Anonymous 2 added:  The rabbinical diktats regarding female modesty in dress obviously haven't worked whether abided to by women or not. The natural drives and instincts of heterosexual men will not cease merely because women cover up properly.

This is the other extreme.  We don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.  Modesty clearly DOES make a difference, as demonstrated by lower divorce rates and higher marriage rates in the religious Jewish community.  But like anything else, there’s a golden mean – a good amount is appropriate, extremes in either doing it or yelling about it are not.

Anonymous 3 added:  I don't suppose there's any chance that you can mind your own business?

I’d say that’s the appropriate response for the zealots.  Or rather, if you really care about it, figure out how to approach it to have a positive impact.


Sunday, May 10, 2015


Jewish Kids from England

​   by Reb Gutman Locks   

Jewish Kids from England


     A small group of Jewish teens from England came to the Kotel last week. They didn't want to put on tefillin, scorning them, but I pulled just hard enough to get them. They were not at all interested in Judaism, to put it mildly. They were really immature. They had nose rings, their eyebrows were pierced and they had a couple of earrings hanging from their ears. When I saw that one of the boys had a black fingernail I asked him if he hit it with a hammer. He showed me his hands. He had painted the nails dark purple!

    "What in the world did you do that for?"

    "It's nice. It makes my hands look nice."

     "Painted nails, earrings, nose rings…all these are girl's garments!"

      "Who said?"

     "The Torah says. A man is supposed to dress like a man and a girl like a girl. We want you to take the male role and marry a Jewish girl."

     "What's wrong with marrying a boy?"

     "Are you crazy? What's wrong with smoking cigarettes?"

     "They kill you."

     "Cigarettes cause you to die ten years earlier than someone who doesn't smoke. Homosexuals die twenty earlier than normal people! It's a disease!"

     He almost fell on the floor laughing. "That's insane!"

     "Oh, yeah! Search on the internet "homosexual life expectancy" and you will see for yourself.

     "Oh, baloney!"

     "Okay, I'll make a deal with you. If what I am saying is true, you promise that you will marry only a Jewish girl."

    He was so sure that I was making it up that he agreed.

    I said, "Okay. I got you! Check it out and if it is like I said, you have to keep your promise and marry a Jewish girl."

     Will he change his life from one short conversation? I don't know. But I know that we have to try.



Friday, May 08, 2015


No We’re Not Dying Off Due To Lack of Modesty

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths


Life Expectancy in Israel is now among the highest in the world (Israel is #3).  Females born in 2013 are expected to live an average of 84 years, and males an average of 81 years.  (In the United States, stats for 2012 say females will live 81 years and males 76 years on average.)

I received the following by email, letting me know that we’re all dying at unprecidented rates due to the lack of modesty within the religious community.  While I’m all for modesty, I’m also for truth.  And while we should love and FEAR Hashem (G-d), if the fear is based on lies then when the truth comes out the religious foundation will fail.  Here’s the letter…

We are very near the end, the final berur (sifting out) is happening.  

(Every day may be our last, and Moshiach may come today, G-d willing!  But for how many days…months…years…decades can we use “the end is near!!!” as the motivator for proper religious behavior?)

Only the Kedoshim (holy ones) will remain to see the Moshiach and the Beit Hamikdash.

(First I’d love to see the source for this statement.  Then I’d like to see a mitzvah breakdown of what makes Kedoshim?  Is it one who helps others, ones dedicated to the community, ones who learn all the time, or ones who scream about modesty?)

With the summer approaching, the women have begun worshipping the 'sun gods' again by taking off their clothing and revealing themselves in public. Unfortunately, many good Jewish women have fallen captive into the influences of the 70 Nations and are also copying their way of dress and immodest behavior.

(Or perhaps people don’t like to be extremely hot and sweaty, and want to wear clothing that lets them moderate their body heat?  Maybe instead of screaming about modesty you could work on creating a modest clothing line that incorporates extremely lightweight fabrics (the Indian Sari like idea)?)

All our True Tzaddikim and the Torah and our Prophets have been crying out to us that the way of Am Yisrael is to be holy. Holiness as defined by Chazal is only to be found where there are barriers to ervah (immodesty). Unfortunately, we have fallen very far away from this ideal. You can't even step foot out in the street in even the most religious neighborhoods without being hit in the face with a complete display of ervah (immodesty). The concept of covering the legs has almost completely disappeared and the tightness of the clothing reveals everything else! Hashem hates this! It is a disgrace to His holy nation.

(It’s yet another round of blame the women.  We are all responsible for our modesty and appropriate behavior, and if you personally have such a problem with your glance coming across a women, keep yourself inside!  Now I’m not recommending anyone hang out at a mixed gender beach, but the religious communities are generally pretty reasonable in their modesty.  If you want more, stay inside or put on a blindfold!  And when making a statement that Hashem Hates This, prove it – bring your sources.)

(While modesty statistics are impossible to come by, Marital Satisfaction statistics are available – and one would assume that if modesty was a major problem that people would be jumping out of marriages to “take advantage of it”.

- Percentage of Orthodox Jewish Marriages that are “Happy” – 73%
- Percentage of Orthodox Jewish Marriages that are “Unhappy” – 13%

- Comparison, Percentage of Non-Jewish Marriages that are “Happy” (US) – 50%
- Comparison, Percentage of Non-Jewish Marriages that are “Unhappy” (US) – 50%

- In the non-Jewish community, marriage rates have fallen below 50%, and divorce rates have risen to 50% (meaning half of eligible people never get married, and half of marriages end in divorce.)

- Orthodox Jewish marriage rates are above 80%
- Orthodox Jewish divorce rates are around 25%

…My analysis--- while Orthodox Jewish marriage rates have fallen slightly from the past and divorce rates have risen significantly, the numbers are so different from secular society that there is no indication people are jumping relationships --- it is doubtful that modesty is a driving issue.  And while it COULD become one, constantly screaming at people is not what’s going to stop it.)

At least if you want to be brazen and uncovered like an animal, do it in the privacy of your own home, but when you go outside like that, you are burning up souls. How can you expect to have a carefree life while you are wrecking other peoples lives and children who are almost forced to have to see your nakedness in the streets. Do not think that this world is a free for all. There is a G-d and there is reward and punishment!

Do you really think that short tight and stretchy clothing which reveals the shape of your body is modest!?  Do you really need some Posek or Rabbi to tell you this? Is it not obvious enough to anyone with a head or heart.

(Yes, if this is a problem in the community it IS exactly the rabbi I expect to hear speak about it!  Screaming zealots are not positively effective and generally only succeed in terrorizing the community.  Do you think THAT will be considered a mitzvah in Shamayim?)

Do you wonder why there are so many deaths, diseases and accidents in Am Yisrael (lo aleinu)?  Don't be shocked, to find out in the World of Truth that it was YOU who caused it all!! When there is ervat davar (lewdness), the Shechina runs away. Without the Shechina, there is no protection. In the world of truth, the immoral and immodest women will find out that they are the real terrorists and murderers of am Yisrael (see Isaiah end of ch. 3).

This is where he really jumps the shark.  Life expectancy is UP, disease rates are DOWN, and while (G-d have mercy) terrible things do happen, accidents, crashes, and yes people get terrible diseases, and even terrorism, WHEN PEOPLE ARE LIVING LONGER IT MEANS LESS TERRIBLE THINGS ARE HAPPENING!

In what generation did we have great rabbis living to over 100?  And our synagogue rabbis living into their 80’s?  And almost all of our children surviving birth and into adulthood? 

“So many deaths, diseases and accidents” are not “so many”, they are, THANK G-D and the efforts of modern medicine, car designers, road designers, etc, MANY LESS.  But of course not none, in the end everyone will encounter death.

Sometimes scaring people is appropriate, fearing G-d is part of our divine service.  But lets make sure it’s TRUE.

(Sources – OU marriage study, Israel central bureau of statistics, US census bureau, University of Chicago.)


Thursday, May 07, 2015


Stolen Property

​   by Reb Gutman Locks   

Stolen Property

A Comment on a video:

     Hey Rabbi, should christians get "borrowed without permission" on themselves in honor of you guys and the Torah they stole their faith from?


Gutman's response:

     Borrowed items must be returned to their original owner. The Torah insists that thieves return the items that they stole and they are to pay for the damages that they caused. This is the law. However, this is true in all cases except when the thief changes the stolen item significantly. In this case the thief has acquired the stolen item by changing it, and although he must pay for the damages that his thievery caused, he is not to return the altered item. The item that they originally took from us and distorted is no longer considered to be the original item and they are not to try to return it to the Jewish People.


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