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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

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Special Children

     by Reb Gutman Locks    

Special Children

 

     A Reader's question:

     I take my 9 year-old grandson who has ADHD[i] and related issues to an after school "chug" (club) of Kapuera[ii] hoping to build confidence and control impulsive behavior. He is in a special education class in Talmud Torah.

 

     Today, while sitting outside the classroom during his third lesson, I heard drum beating Kapuera music with men singing.  The music made me uncomfortable. I remember hearing in a shiur (Torah class) that non Jewish music has negative effects on a Jewish neshama (soul).  

 

     I would like to know if I should stop sending my grandson to this chug, and if learning Kapuera and hearing its music permitted. The instructor, a young bachur (teen Torah student) from Brazil who seems to be shomer mitzvoth (keeps commandments) says there is no problem but I would like to have a Torah perspective.  

 

Respectfully,

S. H.

 

Gutman's response:

     That Brazilian slave music has an entirely non-Jewish tradition, both physically and spiritually. I personally did not like it as it reminded me of the spiritualism of Africa.

     Music can be an extremely helpful tool for children like you describe your grandson, but if there is a more "paarve" (neutral), or better yet, Jewish based music for him to be exposed to it would certainly be better for him. Children, especially children like your grandson, digest such things that they experience and they become an engrained part of their childhood memory.

     I would suggest, if possible, for you to seek out some warm Jewish music group for the boy to be with.  Singing, or better yet, playing Jewish songs would strengthen his attachment to Jewish people and to Jewish values.

     Beside the activities that special children are unable to do comfortably, they almost always have some special talent. It is as if Hashem has taken something away from them, and has given them something in its place. Often with "special" children the added gift can be a strong sense of kindness, taking great joy in simple things, or sometimes their special gift is to be able to dance very well, or to play music.

     Search to find what your grandson does especially well, and try to help him to develop that talent. Obviously, if it is music, you will want him to learn pleasant, Jewish music. Whatever the talent, see how you can use it to also joyfully increase his love of Torah.

    I hope this has been of some help.

Be well

 

----

To reply, email me directly at:  locks.gutman@gmail.com  




 

 



[i] Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

[ii] A system of physical discipline and movement originating among Brazilian slaves, treated as a martial art and dance form.

 

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Monday, November 24, 2014

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His Torah

via Lma’an Yishme’u

HaShem told the Yidden through Yirmeyahu HaNavi that Eretz Yisroel (the land of Israel) and the First Beis HaMikdash (the Holy Temple) were destroyed "because they forsook my Torah." What exactly did they do? Chazal (our sages) explain that the people of that time did not introduce their learning sessions by first saying Birkas HaTorah (the opening blessings of Torah study said every morning). But why should this omission cost us the Beis HaMikdash and Eretz Yisroel?

The Bach elaborates: Those great scholars studied Torah as a profound academic exercise, without intending to connect with the kedusha (holiness) of the Torah and thereby to draw down the Shechina (Divine Presence). That is why the land remained desolate, without the holiness of the Shechina.

In this spirit, the Rebbe reminds us that while Torah study of course requires a person to delve into its reasoning, he must first connect to the Giver of the Torah, and then he will be approaching his studies as he should.

(לקו"ש חט"ו ע' 3)

One day, between Yom Kippur and Sukkos, the Mitteler Rebbe (2nd Lubavticher Rebbe) and his son Reb Nochum went for a walk. Outside their home, they beheld around two hundred chassidim listening intently as a yungerman (young man) chazer'd (reviewed / repeated / taught) the maamorim (holy deep chassidic lesson) from Shabbos Selichos and Rosh HaShana, through the day after Yom Kippur. The chassidim were so absorbed in the maamar that they did not notice the Rebbe and his son.

The Mitteler Rebbe hid behind some trees, and asked Reb Nochum to see who was chazering and which maamar it was. When Reb Nochum returned, saying that the speaker was Avrohom Sosnitzer, the Mitteler Rebbe said, "My father once instructed me to tell Avrohom Sosnitzer, 'When one repeats profound Chassidus it is indeed sweet, but one must not forget about Whom one is speaking - Ein Sof Boruch Hu (the Infinite One – Blessed Be He)."

(לקו"ד ח"א ע' קצה)

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Sunday, November 23, 2014

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Who Are You Talking To?

via Lma’an Yishme’u

Who Are You Talking To?  (Or, in a chassidic interpretation, “WHO” you are talking to!)

It is the custom in many shuls (synagogues) to engrave on the chazzan's shtender (podium) the words "Da lifnei Mi atah omed," Know before Whom you stand. Why do chassidishe shuls not post this reminder?

The Rebbe Rashab explained that chassidim would have this message engraved in their minds and hearts.

(ליקוטי דיבורים ע' תשצ)

The Rebbe reminded that realizing that we are speaking to HaShem is the basis of what davening is:

The basic concept of davening is to bear in mind that one stands before HaShem. This precedes other kavanos (meditations) such as pirush hamilos and surely before contemplating seder histalshelus. This is not a chassidic practice reserved for a great chossid or any chossid for that matter - this is a clear halacha in Shulchan Aruch!...

You entered shul to daven? Don't forget why you came: to daven to HaShem!

(תו"מ תשמ"ג ח"א ע' 144)

A certain unlettered chossid of the Alter Rebbe did not even know the plain meaning of much of the davening, yet he davened with intense chayus every day - Shacharis, Mincha and Maariv. It was obvious that his davening was genuine, and so earnest that it was as if he were wringing out his neshama. The other chassidim were puzzled.

When they questioned him he replied: "I only know that I heard a vort from the Rebbe on the statement, 'shamor vezachor bedibbur echad.' (The plain meaning of this phrase is that the two expressions regarding Shabbos-zachor and shamor-were both said by HaShem in the same utterance.) The Rebbe explained, "You should remember and watch over the echad, the oneness of HaShem, in every word."

Just imagine: For forty years he davened with this vort, day and night, weekdays, Shabbos, and Yom-Tov. He didn't just hear the vort: he felt it. That's a chossid.

From this story, the Rebbe drew a lesson: Every individual, regardless of his knowledge of Chassidus, can daven at length, by contemplating the Elokus (G-dliness) that enlivens every physical being.

(סה"ש תרצ"ו ע' 127, לקו"ש חי"ד ע' 224)

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Am I Allowed?

   by Reb Gutman Locks    

 

   Am I Allowed?   

 

      Am I allowed to daven (pray) here? I took this picture a couple of days ago at the Kotel. I went to daven mincha (afternoon prayers) as usual, but it was cold so I went inside to daven. The minyan (quorum) started as I walked in so I quickly stepped forward to daven, but then I saw a man who was obviously not Jewish standing right in front of where I stood to pray. He had a copy of his "new testy" open on the stender (stand) in front of him and he had his hands spread out onto the Kotel.

    "Oh man! Am I allowed to daven here? Okay, so it's the Kotel, the holiest place a Jew can go today to daven, and okay that I am standing in a minyan of religious Jewish men, but how can I daven right behind a x-ian with his book of idolatry open right in front of me?"

     I backed up and moved to the other side of the minyan. That's where I took the picture from.

     Do you know of any other religion in the world that would allow someone from a totally contradictory religious belief, stand in the middle of them with their book open in front of them when they pray? Is there any mosque, church or temple in the world that would allow Jews to stand between their worshipers wearing tefillin and daven? I don't think so. Not that any normal Jew would want to do such a thing. Yet at the Kotel it happens almost every day!

     I must admit that I do not like it. Yes, Hashem told us through the Prophet Isaiah that after the redemption, "My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples,"[i] but that means His house. His house means His way. It does not mean that there will be idolatry in the Temple.

     I asked a senior rabbi if we are allowed to daven at the Kotel in such a situation. He answered, "It's not nice, but you're allowed. It's permitted."

     What can we do about it? Pray for the Temple to come quickly so we will be able to stand with only those who are worshiping Hashem and not an idol.



[i] Isaiah 56:7


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Thursday, November 20, 2014

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Is Yoga Idolatry?

​  
 by Reb Gutman Locks   

  Is Yoga Idolatry?  

 

    A well-known Chabad rabbi sent me the following:

     My son Avrohom is the editor of a Chabad think tank. There are numerous Shluchim (Chabad emissaries) who advertise yoga exercises. I have been adamant to voice my opposition since our program at a yoga center. However, he has amassed many opinions who feel otherwise. I do not agree with them. I told him that you are a true expert on yoga so he asked me to forward his article to you to get your opinion on the various forms that people use yoga exercise.

 

Gutman's reply:

     I read your son's article. With all due respect, although the article is very well done, in my opinion, he misses the main objection to Jews practicing yoga.

     Even if a Jew is not worshiping the idols that yoga can bring, still he should not have anything to do with it. Understand, I am not speaking of the physical aspects of yoga. I am speaking about the word "yoga," and all other related words. Even if the word can be paarve (i.e. apply to entirely secular subjects), its root derives from a system of idolatry, and Jews should have nothing to do with it.

     Why do these Jews insist on calling what they do "Yoga"? This is the main problem. If all they want are the physical exercises, let them do whatever exercises they want, but call what they are doing by some other name. But the problem is that they think the word yoga draws Jews to their Chabad classes, when it actually brings them to learn yoga.

     Recently, the yoga studios in New York State won their tax case with the local tax authorities. You can find the details online. The tax commission decided that the yoga studios do not have to pay the State sales tax as do the physical exercise studios, because the yoga studios are mainly teaching a spiritual discipline, and not simply physical exercises.

     Is there any greater proof that any system called yoga should not be practiced by any Jew?

     A neighbor of mine practices yoga every day, but he watches the News while he does, so he thinks that he has no problem doing yoga. He just came back from his almost annual trip to India where he goes for two weeks to practice yoga. He loses weight and feels great. 

     I asked him, "Wasn't there a lot of idolatry mixed in with the yoga?" He answered, "Yes, but I don't pay any attention to that stuff." I asked him if a Jew is allowed to tie his shoe in front of an idol. He answered, "Why not?" When I told him because others would think that he is bowing down to the idol, he laughed out loud.

    Last week, "Living Jewish" published a short article quoting Rabbi Braun, Badatz of Crowns Heights, saying that yoga is forbidden.    

     Your son's article will give approval to yoga in every Jew's life. This is a desecration of Hashem and His Torah.

    If yoga is allowed in the Chabad system, Chabad is saying that yoga is kosher, and Jews all over the world are going to flock to India to learn how to do it "right". 

     Your son should start the article over, but first discuss it with me. Especially, what happens when a Jew goes deeper and deeper into yoga.

 

What's Wrong with Yoga?

Jewish vs. Buddhist Meditation

(video links)

 

R' Avrohom (the editor of the Chabad think tank) read my response and wrote:

     Thank you very much!

     We will be in touch with Gutman directly and update everything to reflect his input. If it's ossur (forbidden), it's ossur and that's all there is to it.

Gutman wrote to R' Avrohom:

    It is very important that this issue be resolved according to halacha and that the decision be followed by the Chabad Houses all over the world. The major problem is that anyone can ask a question of a beis din in such a way as to get the answer that he wants. So, if someone asks the beis din in Crown Heights, "Am I allowed to do yoga which means that I bend over and touch my toes?" the obvious answer will be, "no problem."  The rabbis who make this decision must have a great degree of understanding of what yoga is, where it is coming from, and where it goes.

R' Avroham wrote:

      We have a team of scholars that develop drafts of responses on an array of topics (we are a service for people who wish to receive in-depth reviews of subjects from across the spectrum of Torah) and the drafts are reviewed by others on the team, and sometimes by prominent Rabbis to ensure the highest possible quality. 

     This paper too is no exception and is being reviewed by others. I have forwarded your videos, the link to the website with a discussion about this, Rabbi Braun's video and other relevant info to those reviewing the paper. Once it's back from them we will review the conclusions with some prominent Lubavitcher Rabbonim before publishing. We have a responsibility and we make every effort to live up to our task. 

     Will be in touch should we have any further questions about the practices, history or trajectory of the Yoga movement(s).

All the best and thank you for your input

  

Gutman's response:

     With all due respect, the Rambam says that there is no power to avodah zara (idolatry), so any rabbi who holds by the Rambam on this will agree that there is no power there, and he will base his halacha decisions according to that. But I was there, and lived with that power.

    The same is true with the depth of idolatry that yoga brings. There are at least 8 branches of yoga. For instance, meditation yoga, devotion yoga, serpent power yoga, belief yoga, sexual yoga, and so on. You are apparently only aware of hatha (exercise) yoga. But when one grows in yoga, or accepts yoga as kosher, the other branches are also acceptable.

     All I am suggesting is, let everyone do any healthy exercise he or she wants, but do not call it yoga, or by any other Hindu term.

R' Avroham's response:

     I got it. 

Gutman's response:

     Amen!

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

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Has the Time for the Redemption Arrived?

Rabbi Ginsburgh, shlita, is one of the mekubalim (kabbalists) of our generation.  He asked that this be shared far and wide, and it was previously published at the JewishPress.com

Can We Calculate the Date of the Final Redemption?

The question of when Mashiach will come is one that has accompanied the Jewish People throughout its history, especially during times of exile, war and anti-Semitism. Is there any calculation we can do to help us discover when all this will come to a happy end and Mashiach will finally arrive? In the Torah itself we already find hints to the elusiveness of the date of the final redemption. The sages relate that before his passing, Jacob prophetically saw the date of the final redemption and wanted to reveal it to his sons, saying, “Gather around and I will tell you what will happen to you at the end of days,” however, as soon as he said that, the end was concealed from him and he was not able to reveal it.

Of all Biblical figures, Daniel is the one who stands out the most in his wish to know “the secret end” but, the answer he receives is in the form of a cryptic riddle and he says, “These things are closed and sealed until the time of the end of days.” The sages even warned against trying to calculate the date of the redemption with the sharp statement, “Those who calculate ‘ends’ should breathe their last breath!” Nonetheless, many great sages throughout Jewish history have occupied themselves with this “dangerous” occupation. An example of a sage who was opposed to such calculations is Maimonides who explains in his writings why it is not necessary to calculate the date of the final redemption, and might even be detrimental to do so, because it encourages false messiahs and may result in dismal disappointment. Nonetheless, in that very same treaties Maimonides offers his own calculation of the date of the final redemption, as if he just couldn’t help himself… From the opposite perspective, knowledge of when the redemption will arrive can be encouraging and strengthen our faith and our anticipation of better times, and can motivate us to make a proactive effort to help it happen more quickly.

Many such predictions of the date of the final Redemption have already been and gone, and we have arrived at the 5775th year since the world’s creation and Mashiach has not yet come. But, if we do things right, this year could be a very auspicious one. It might even be the year of the final redemption!

Generally speaking, there are a number of Kabbalistic and Chassidic writings that claim that there are verses in Exodus that allude to the date of the final redemption. However, particularly remarkable for us this year, is the tradition that Rebbe Shneur Zalman of Liadi (over two centuries ago) said that this verse alludes to this year, 5775.

The verse states, “And out of the one thousand seven hundred and five and seventy [shekels], he made hooks for the pillars; and he covered their tops and banded them.” How does this verse relate to the date of the final redemption?

The way this allusion is deciphered is as follows: the number that appears in the verse, 1775, relates to the millennium that followed the destruction of the Second Temple (which took place in the fourth millennium, in year 3828). The Zohar states clearly that this millennium—years 4000 to 5000—is one thousand years in which the Jewish People is “in the dust.” Adding another 775 years to this calculation, we reach this year, 775 years into the sixth millennium, 5775.

From our position at this stage in time, it becomes clear retroactively how the irregular order of the numbers in the verse are perfectly aligned with our history: first comes “The one thousand”—the first millennium of exile (4000-5000); then “and seven hundred,” another seven centuries until the year 5700 (1939-1940) in which the terrible holocaust began; “and five”—alluding to the five years of the holocaust (5700-5705), which was a time when God concealed His providence for the Jewish People; “and seventy”—these are the seven decades since the holocaust to our present day (5775), which with God’s help should be the year of redemption. All that is left to say is “Amen! May it be God’s will.”

The truth can be said that it is not our custom to occupy ourselves with calculating possible dates for redemption, because we are commanded to “Be sincere with Havayah, your God,” as Rashi interprets, “Walk with Him in sincerity and anticipate Him and do not research the future.” Nonetheless, since such a clear allusion has come our way, we can certainly relate to this allusion to discover what it means to us, and what we can learn from it. In order to do so, we need to look at the original context of the above mentioned verse.

In the verses that precede this verse, Moses gives his account of what he did with the contributions that were donated for building the Tabernacle. Each of the Jewish People gave a coin that weighed one half of a shekel (a Biblical measure of weight), and all the silver that was collected was used in the construction of the Tabernacle. The half shekels of 600,000 people totaled one hundred talents (each talent weighed 3000 shekels) from which the silver sockets for the pillars of the Tabernacle were molded. But, the exact census of Jewish People was 603,550, so there remained another 3550 half shekels, i.e., 1775 shekels, from which Moses made the silver hooks at the top of the pillars and coated the tops of the pillars and their bands, as mentioned in the verse. What is the inner meaning of this? The number 600,000 symbolizes the wholeness of the Jewish People and therefore was emphasized at the Exodus, at the Giving of the Torah, and at the entry into the Holy Land, which took place while this was the total of the census. From a Kabbalistic perspective, this number reflects the soul roots of the Jewish People throughout history, and even though today there are millions of Jews around the world, thank God, and may there be ever more, nonetheless the basic number remains 600,000 soul-roots, which divide into branches and sub-branches. Jewish souls have a close connection with the Torah, as the Zohar states, “Israel are connected to the Torah and the Torah is connected to God.” Just as there are 600,000 Jewish souls, so too “There are 600,000 letters in the Torah” (יֵשׁ שִׁשִׁים רִיבּוֹא אוֹתִיוֹת לַתוֹרָה), a fact that itself alludes to the connection with the Jewish People, since the initial letters of the Hebrew phrase spell out the name “Israel” (יִשְׂרָאֵל). So, every Jew has their own letter in the Torah (and this is where Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, drew the inspiration for the wonderful idea of writing a Torah scroll for the entire Jewish People, in which every Jew can buy their own letter.) But, what about the remainder? Those 3550 remaining souls who we don’t usually pay much attention to? There is an amazing Midrash which relates that when Moses gave his account of how he had made use of all the donations, when he reached this remainder, he couldn’t remember how he had made use of it! Moses was so worried that the skeptics would think that he had desecrated their heartfelt donations by using the silver for his own use, God-forbid, that he was miraculously reminded of how he had used them. Moses gave the Torah to the People of Israel and as such he saw in the Torah the letter associated with each Jewish soul, but why did these Jews slip his mind? Rabbi Moshe Sofer (author of the Chatam Sofer, a great teacher of Jewish law) said that those 3550 “surplus” souls don’t have a corresponding letter in the Torah scroll! Can this mean that there are some Jews who have no connection to the Torah and are so distanced from the Torah, that there is no hope for them, God forbid? Although it might seem to be this way from a superficial perspective, contemplating those souls more carefully we discover that when even Moses could not remember how they were connected to the Torah. It was God Himself who reminded Moses where their contribution to the Tabernacle was located. This means that these special souls have a direct connection to God that bypasses the connection with the Torah and can suddenly be revealed in them when God Himself gives them a personal reminder of their Divine soul-root.

When we connect this idea with the fact that the verse that alludes to these souls also alludes to the date of the final redemption, it becomes clear that the secret of the redemption is hidden in those very same Jewish souls!

True, our regular relationship with God flows via the Torah and the commandments, and someone who does not keep the Torah detaches themselves from this veritable lifeline to God—however there is another innate, hidden relationship that manifests in the direct connection between these Jewish souls and God. This unique channel of communication operates even when it bypasses the official relationship via the Torah (this is because the highest and most innate source of Jewish souls is higher than the source of the Torah). This is the relationship that is revealed by Jewish individuals who are suddenly “turned on” to Judaism at some later stage in their lives to become full-fledged ba’alei teshuvah (returnees to God and His Torah). Their souls are “reignited,” as it were, from the point of their most profound connection to God. Once the connection has been reestablished, the individual can begin to nurture their relationship to God via the Torah (a relationship that it is forbidden to abandon!)

The power of these ba’alei teshuvah is that which will arouse and inspire us all and transform us all into ba’alei teshuvah on the public scale and: “The Torah has already promised us that the Jewish People will eventually do teshuvah at the end of their exile and immediately be redeemed.”

This means that this year—5775—is an excellent opportunity for us to bring the redemption. The fact that a calculation of the final date of redemption exists for this year should arouse us to make every deed we do count. In practice, it is our task to take a proactive stance, doing all we can to reach out and “turn on” as many Jews as we can to return to their soul root and, moreover, we need to achieve teshuvah not only on the personal level but also on the public level, in a way that will allow for the Jewish People to conduct a Jewish life in their own land. This is the type of teshuvah that will bring the redemption closer.

So, when will Mashiach come? The calculations allude to this year, with God’s help.

However, Mashiach himself has already answered the enigma more precisely, “Today, if you listen to His word.”

Footnotes:

  1. Genesis 49:1.
  2. Ibid, Rashi ad loc.
  3. Daniel 12:6.
  4. Ibid vs. 9.
  5. See Sanhedrin 97a.
  6. Exodus 38:28.
  7. See Zohar I 116b.
  8. Deuteronomy 18:13; Rashi ad loc.
  9. Shemot Rabah 51:5;
  10. Tanchuma Pekudei, 7.
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The Shechina Wails…

Regarding yesterday’s murderous horrific terror attack on a synagogue in morning prayer and the barbarous slaughter of 4 rabbis, horrific injuring of 13 additional members at prayer, and the murder of one heroic police officer trying to stop it, a reader wrote…

ד' ינקם דמם – May G-d avenge their blood.  One feels it more when one knows the victims.  ד' ירחם – G-d should have mercy.  These people were tsaddikim (righteous ones).  Never hurt a fly.

This happened on the 30 day countdown to Chanukoh, may the darkness turn to light quickly.  It happened in chodesh marcheshvon, the (Hebrew) month for rebuilding the third Beis HaMikdosh (may it happen today!)

If our hearts ache, all the more so does G-d's kv"y .. the Shechinoh wails...

…another reader wrote…

When will enough, be enough for the Israeli government?  Now apparently Jews cannot go to synagogues which will cause arabs to riot, can’t go to the Temple Mount arabs will riot, maybe next time can’t go to the kotel the Arabs will riot, maybe can’t drive cars arabs will riot, can’t go on the rail road arabs will riot, and next and next.  

When is enough for the Israeli government to take some action, apparently they are so busy bowing to the world they have no time to protect the Jewish people anymore…

…the pain is great, the fear is real.  Yet (Tehillim 127) אִם-יְהוָה לֹא-יִשְׁמָר-עִיר,    שָׁוְא שָׁקַד שׁוֹמֵר – If G-d does not protect a city, what good is a guard?  We do not understand why, but we MUST learn from this event – both inwards and outward.  Inward we must examine our deeds and see where we can be better TODAY and every day.  We must do MORE good and be better people.  We must invest in today and in tomorrow.

Outward we must understand our enemies are evil and cruel, they are a death cult that twists the good of the world into degrading destroying evil.  To understand this I bring a message from Rav Aviner, who says it in much better words than I…

(Rav Aviner)  We were attacked in our spiritual heart - within a synagogue. Every attack is hideous and dreadful and all the more so an attack on the heart.  It is not by chance that they chose this holy place.  The forces of evil wanted to attack the heart, even though they will obviously not succeed in their goal.  The Nation of Israel is certainly stronger than the forces of evil, and the Torah is certainly the strongest of all.

We must remember that we are dealing with an enemy.  We are at war.  During war we are not merciful to the cruel.  One who is merciful to the cruel is cruel to those who require mercy (Tanchuma, Parashat Metzora 1. Yalkut Shimoni Shmuel 1 #121).  We are the merciful and they are the cruel, and when you are merciful to the cruel, you are cruel to your brothers and sisters.  This is a war like any other war.  There is a concept of the total war which means that, while we do not look for wars (we are a Nation which loves peace, searches for peace, and loves all people), if someone attacks us, we respond with all our might.  When the enemy simply shaved half of the beards of some of King David's soldiers and tore their clothes, he went to war.  In a war, the most important aspect is deterrence.  You cannot place a soldier on every square meter.  The Rambam in the Moreh Nevuchim (1:41) discusses his national philosophy and writes that the secret to security is deterrence.  One must therefore strike his enemy with all his might.  It makes no sense to provide terrorists, evil people and murderers with electricity, gas and weapons!  Are you crazy providing terrorists and murderers with weapons?!  The Gemara in Avodah Zarah (15-16) says that it is forbidden to provide regular murderers with weapons, and you give weapons to these people, not only in the past but now.  Have you lost your mind?!  This mercifulness towards the enemy is harming us.  Other countries understand that we need to fight with all our might.  Perhaps they will yell and scream, but they would do that regardless of what we do.

I remember a joke – although it is certainly not a times for jokes – from Meir Uziel, a comedian and grandson of former Chief Rabbi Ha-Rav Ben Tzion Uziel: In the competition for Ms. Ethical among the 200 nations of the world, we always come in last place, since we are the only ones who show up!  We must certainly be ethical, but to our brothers, not the enemy.

During the Second World War, the Allied power destroyed neighborhood after neighborhood in Berlin, because everyone understood that there was no other way to wage war.  Did King Hussein of Jordan deal with Black September with kid gloves?  No, he killed 17,000 Palestinians and ended his Intifada once and for all.  President Assad killed 21,000 Palestinians in one month when there was an uprising in Syria.  And when Hamas wanted to take over Gaza, they killed many, many people.  This is the language they speak and understand.  This is how we must deal with them.

I remember that a terrorist once attacked a woman in Neveh Dekalim.  She lay down on the baby carriage to protect her baby, and he stabbed her fifteen times in the back.  By some miracle, someone came and shot him and saved her.  Later, an unethical reporter interviewed the rescuer on the radio and asked: "How do you feel after killing a person?"  He responded: "The thing which I killed was not a person."  I remembered this and quoted it various times.  I once met someone and I said "shalom."  He said: "You don't know me but you quoted me.  I am the person who killed that thing which was not a person."  I said: "Yashar Koach – Way to go.  Your actions followed what the Rambam says in Moreh Nevuchim (vol. 1 #7)."  The Rambam discusses the "demons" mentioned in the Gemara.  He says that a "demon" looks like a person on the outside, but is a wild animal on the inside.  It is more dangerous than a wild animal in that it has intellect.  People periodically ask me: Is the theory that we came from animals true?  I answer: "I do not know.  I was not there.  The question, however, does not bother me.  What bothers me is whether we have left being animals."

We must therefore wage war with strength and courage and strengthen the Nation of Israel in our Land.

May our enemies be destroyed, and may we see the ultimate peace with Moshiach Tzidkaynu and the third Beis HaMikdash (Holy Temple) TODAY!

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

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Kill a Jew, Win a Prize!

…by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

Yesterday F. Glenn Miller Jr aka Frazier Glenn Cross Jr, the man who drove to the Kansas Jewish Federation Community Center and opened fire murdering a doctor & grandfather, his grandson, and a middle aged woman (wife and mother), said yesterday “after being diagnosed with emphysema after going to the emergency room in late March, unable to breathe, I was convinced I was dying then,” said Miller. “… I wanted to make damned sure I killed some Jews or attacked the Jews before I died. I have never felt such exhilaration. … Finally, I’d done something.”

The racist murderer, may Hashem blot out his name and revenge the blood of those murdered, missed in his attempt to murder Jews as there are very few Jews actually in Kansas City or even at the Kansas City Jewish Federation Community Center.  It’s unknown if the racist murderer, who’s name will be despised and then forgotten, ever actually met any Jews.  This did not stop his driving need to hate and murder.

Today two Arab residents of Jerusalem entered a large community synagogue in the far western neighborhood of Har Nof and perpetuated a murderous slaughter among the praying congregation.  4 or 5 were murdered, up to 13 were very very seriously injured, and at least 2 responding policemen were also seriously injured.  (Serious injuries here means SHOT or SLICED WITH A BUTCHER KNIFE or AX.)

At least one of the racist murderers was a worker at a local convenience store. 

Apparently it’s become open season on Jews.  No need to even have met a Jew or had a problem with one.  Hate of Jews needs no reason.

The world news media has joined the party.  Here’s some headlines associated with today’s murderous brutal slaughter of praying Jews…

“Jerusalem police fatally shoot 2 after apparent synagogue attack.” – (CBC) No mention of people being murdered, or murderers shooting at police.

“Deadly attack on Jerusalem mosque” – (CNN) ??? If it’s a house of prayer in Jerusalem it must be a mosque?

“At least 4 people are killed in a "terrorist attack" at a Jerusalem synagogue, 2 attackers shot dead, say police” – (BBC) 4 anonymous people are ‘killed’ in what might be (scare quotes) a “terrorist attack”, but 2 attackers _shot dead_.  The anonymous “people” aren’t murdered, and 4 dead is a questionable type of attack.

“Jerusalem synagogue attack kills 4; Israel PM vows to ‘respond harshly’” – (CBC) Kills, not murders, and being killed is not harsh.  But talking about responding, that’s ‘harsh’.

The world would like to return to thinking Jewish blood is cheap, easy to spill and of no consequence.  They would like to appease the demons at their gates, that they themselves invited inside.  Evil is loose in the world, and while the Jews are the canary in the coal mine – they’re never the last to suffer.

We rely on G-d, and have the promises of the Torah, Navi’im and Ketuvim (that’s the bible-old testament to all our christian readers) that we will survive and Hashem will revenge innocent spilled blood.  But what will you do when these evil ones come for you?

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Why Did Avraham Bind Yitzchak?

​    by Reb Gutman Locks    
 

Why Did Avraham Bind Yitzchak?


        What was Yitzchak really like? There is so little written about him, especially when compared to how much is written about Avraham and Yaacov. Each of the Fathers had extraordinarily deep characteristic traits. This is certainly true about Yitzchak, too. So deep were these traits that they seeped down into their children and into their children's children, even to this day. This is the true value of learning what the Torah tells us about our ancestors.

     When Avraham was tested, and was told to offer up his beloved son Yitzchak on the altar, he followed this most distasteful command without hesitation. He took Yitzchak to the place where Hashem told him, he built an altar there, placed the wood for the fire upon the altar, and then he bound Yitzchak before placing him on the altar.

     Why did Avraham have to bind his son? The commentaries tell us that he bound him just in case Yitzchak might have jerked when Avraham was about to slaughter him. But if this was Avraham's thinking he would not have had to bind him until he placed him on the altar.

     There is a much more logical and deeper reason why he tied him. If Avraham had not bound Yitzchak, when he reached down to pick him up to put him on the altar, what do you think his loving son Yitzchak would have done? He would have climbed onto the altar himself to save his father from having to pick him up. Such was the love and devotion of Yitzchak.

     And what would have been so wrong with Yitzchak climbing onto the altar himself? Avraham was commanded to bring Yitzchak up onto the altar. Yitzchak was not commanded to offer himself up.

     All of the traits of our Fathers and Mothers have trickled down into their sons and daughters. Even though each generation has become weaker and weaker, still, look for these traits, and you will find them.

 

 

 

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Whitehouse–THE Defining Expert on Islam

In yesterday’s Whitehouse – meaning president’s – statement on yet another brutal murder execution by manual beheading in Islamic State territory, the Whitehouse / President of the United States said…

Today we offer our prayers and condolences to the parents and family of Abdul-Rahman Kassig, also known to us as Peter. We cannot begin to imagine their anguish at this painful time.

Abdul-Rahman was taken from us in an act of pure evil by a terrorist group that the world rightly associates with inhumanity. Like Jim Foley and Steven Sotloff before him, his life and deeds stand in stark contrast to everything that ISIL represents. While ISIL revels in the slaughter of innocents, including Muslims, and is bent only on sowing death and destruction, Abdul-Rahman was a humanitarian who worked to save the lives of Syrians injured and dispossessed by the Syrian conflict. While ISIL exploits the tragedy in Syria to advance their own selfish aims, Abdul-Rahman was so moved by the anguish and suffering of Syrian civilians that he traveled to Lebanon to work in a hospital treating refugees. Later, he established an aid group, SERA, to provide assistance to Syrian refugees and displaced persons in Lebanon and Syria. These were the selfless acts of an individual who cared deeply about the plight of the Syrian people.

ISIL’s actions represent no faith, least of all the Muslim faith which Abdul-Rahman adopted as his own. Today we grieve together, yet we also recall that the indomitable spirit of goodness and perseverance that burned so brightly in Abdul-Rahman Kassig, and which binds humanity together, ultimately is the light that will prevail over the darkness of ISIL. [Emphasis added]

It’s good to know that the Whitehouse and President of the United States are the appropriate authority to define what does or does not represent the Muslim faith.  Maybe, MAYBE if we heard such statements from senior Muslim religious leaders THEN it could be said “such actions do not represent the Muslim faith”. 

But since when is the President of the United States THE authority on the Muslim faith???  Something he isn’t telling us?  Hmmm.

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Monday, November 17, 2014

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How to Fight Anti-Semitism in a Single Picture

Dry Bones is running a campaign to fund a comic project to combat the willful rewriting of history and the spread of anti-semitism.  Call it anti-anti-semitic comics.  Check it out here!  Or click on the comics below…

 

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Sunday, November 16, 2014

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Our 10th Year Blog-a-versary

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Welcome to Mystical Paths, a blog about Judaism, Emunah - Faith, Chassidus, Kabbalah, Jewish End of Days Prophecies, Secrets & Mysteries of G-d and the Soul, living the mystical each day and connecting to G-d.

We’ve been blogging for 10 years! 

-> During this time we’ve touched a lot of people, helped some with their emunah (faith) and feeling good about yiddishkeit (Judaism), upset a few (hopefully just a few), impacted the Jewish world, helped some find a good path, raised money for charity, and helped a few in needy and emergency situations. 

-> We’ve received some notes of appreciation, a few insults, a couple of very nasty and scary threats, one or two legal claims, over 15,000 comments, and been spoken to by security authorities.

-> Through these years our bloggers have raised their children, made aliyah (moved to Israel), there was a divorce, been accused of a crime (we’re innocent we tell you! no convictions), had children get into all sorts of trouble, some very serious, and had them survive and grow past it (thank G-d).  Some of those troubles and challenges we’ve shared, and some we’ve suffered silently while working to keep a positive outlook and positive message on the blog.

-> Our bloggers have started a yeshiva, started one synagogue and saved another. We’ve helped people with halachic (religious law) queries and problems, helped people make the right religious contacts, and even helped release several agunot.  Our bloggers have become rabbis, synagogue presidents, treasurers, and gabbais at different times while blogging over the years.

-> Some of our readers were influenced on the path of teshuva (repentance or returning/reconnecting with G-d), helped onto a path of emunah (faith), a few were influenced in deciding to make aliyah (moving to Israel), or on the path to become Bnei Noach (followers of the 7 universal mitzvot of Noah). 

-> We’ve had over 4,000,000 visitors, and over 1,500,000 Youtube video views or podcast listens (though most of that was Reb Gutman’s videos that have gone viral). 

-> We’ve streamcasted (live), podcasted (audio talks / MP3), and video’d, including the first ever internet video of Breslev hidbodedut by a Breslev Tzadik in the field.  We’ve published on the web, via email, by RSS (feed reader), on the Kindle, and by audio reader for the visually impaired.

-> We’ve live-blogged Lag B’Omer in Meron (before it was popular), Erev Rosh Hashana in Uman, and events in Jerusalem.  We’ve shared unique and sometimes one of a kind pictures of holy sites including the Ari in Safed, Rashbi in Meron, the Rambam in Tiberius, just to name a few, besides many pictures of the beauty of the Holy Land of Israel.  A few of those pictures were picked up by Wikipedia, and a few grabbed to turn into posters and sell (we’ll call it unauthorized borrowing).

-> We’ve discussed Kabbalah, Torah, Chassidus, Emunah, Biblical Prophecy (Jewish style), International Politics and Event Alignment with Prophecies, Moshiach, Morality, and Israel.

-> We’ve had a few of our articles picked up by the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, and the OU Magazine.  We’ve had more than some of our articles “borrowed” by other blogs without attribution, a few of our photos grabbed and used by Jewish magazines – at least one used as a COVER picture, all without attribution, but that’s part of the way things are with the internet and we can’t say we’ve been perfect tzaddikim in this area – we haven’t.

-> Our articles have been read worldwide, though mostly in the US, Israel, Canada, Australia, UK, and South Africa, with occasional readers from China, India, and even Saudi Arabia!

-> In this time we’ve published 5,611 articles, an average of 1 1/2 articles per day for 10 years.

It’s been an enormous amount of time and effort, and we’re definitely not in it for the monetary profit (since there is none!) 

We hope you’ve found something here inspiring, or at least interesting.

Although independent blogging seems to be declining (you can read us directly on Facebook here), we’re continuing to do what we do in the hopes of making the world a little bit brighter place.

Thank you for reading.  It’s been a privilege having you as an audience for the last ten years.  We never know what tomorrow may hold, G-d willing the coming of Moshiach tzidkaynu, or G-d forbid our task may be done.  We’ve grown older while blogging, our beards turning from black to grey.  If we merit to do so, we hope to continue trying to inspire for a while longer, and maybe even a while after that.  And if not, for nobody knows if they have tomorrow, we hope we’ve used this tool for a good purpose and brought a few good words of Torah and Hashem to the far corners of the world, and that that has had some positive value.

Thanks for stopping by…

Reb Akiva of Mystical Paths – mpaths.com

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Jewish Milk

     by Reb Gutman Locks    

    Jewish Milk  

 

       What makes milk Jewish? What's wrong with USA certified pasteurized milk? Isn't all cows' milk kosher? Is there any reality to Jewish mysticism?

 

Jewish Milk

(link)

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

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A Typical Israeli


     by Reb Gutman Locks     

   A Typical Israeli

 

        When he walked into the Kotel area I asked him to put on tefillin. He refused. I tried again. He refused again. I tried a third time. He refused a third time. Finally I said, "A soldier was just stabbed in Tel Aviv. He is in the emergency hospital in critical condition. You can put on tefillin and pray for him. He immediately stuck out his arm.

     This is a typical Israeli. Even though he really did not want to do anything religious, he did now know how to put on tefillin, nor he was at all interested in doing it, but when he heard that he might be able help another Jew in trouble he immediately stuck out his arm.

     He went to the Kotel with the tefillin on, and I watched him cry.

   

 

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

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What about Marijuana?


     by Reb Gutman Locks       


   What about Marijuana?

 

     A viewer left a note by my video, "What's Wrong with Smoking?" He asks, "What do Jews think about marijuana?"

     Obviously, everyone will have his or her own opinion about marijuana. I will give you mine.

     Besides the obvious health issues, such as marijuana depositing ten times more tar in the lungs than tobacco, my real issue with marijuana is that it fools you into thinking that things are great, even when they are not. So what? What's wrong with thinking that things are good when they are not?

     I have a friend who has been going to the Kotel every day stoned (smoked up) for some 30 years! He stands close to the Kotel with his eyes half closed, his mouth hanging open a little, turning his head slowly from side to side, marveling at the sight. Sometimes he even drools. After a while, he looks at you with total disbelief, and asks, "Don't you see it, man?"

     When you get stoned you get the munchies. Do you know what the munchies are? When you are not stoned you pick up a chocolate bar, and you take a bite. You like it. It's good. You may even take another bite, or if you have room you may even eat the entire chocolate bar. When you have the munchies your taste buds are so inflated, that you quickly eat the entire chocolate bar, and if there are another five chocolate bars sitting there on the table, you eat them too! It's great, man! Wow! But you know what? You are fooling yourself. Your animal inclination has been exaggerated, and you are eating things that you don't need, and in truth, do not even want.

     Even this is not really so bad. The thing that hurts me about my friend, who goes to the Kotel stoned, is that he has the munchies on the Kotel stones and he thinks that he is experiencing the holiness of the Place! So what?

     The problem is, since he is getting so "far off," stoned on the stones every day, he has never done the work that he was supposed to be doing all these years in order to see the true Holiness that is actually here. He is satisfied with the stones! What a loss. He is in the same spiritual place he was thirty years ago, but he thinks that he is so, so, very high! To me, this is worse than all of the other problems with dope.

     Today, the people who use marijuana object if you call it dope. They insist on the more correct labeling of the much more dangerous opium and such as dope. But in the Sixties, when almost everyone smoked it, we all called it dope. Not because it was in the category of opiate opium, but because when you got stoned, you acted like a dope. 

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