A conversation about G-d, mysteries of the universe and soul, Israel... and speculation about biblical prophecies and the end of days.

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Tuesday, February 09, 2016

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He Says His Mother’s Mother Was Jewish

​    by Reb Gutman Locks   

He Says His Mother's Mother Was Jewish

 Three tourists walked into the Kotel area. They did not look Jewish. Often you can tell if someone is Jewish by the way they look. Not always, but most of the time you can tell. A little while later Shmuli brought one of them over to me and said, "He says that his Mother's Mother was Jewish."

     You cannot go by what tourists say because sometimes visitors like to say things they think will get them accepted, so they might make up stories.

     I asked, "Where're you from?"


     I can't help it, but whenever I hear that someone is from Poland it reminds me what I have heard too many times. "The Poles were worse than the nazis." y'ms.

    "How do you know that your mother's mother was Jewish? Did she tell you?"

    "Yes, she told us all."

    "What about your mother? Did she ever tell you that she was Jewish?"

     "No. By then they had converted to another religion."

     It was common for older European Jews to convert, either in shock from what had happened there, or foolishly thinking that it would protect them if it would (G-d forbid) happen again.

     "Are you sure that your mother's mother told you that she was Jewish?"

      He looked totally at ease when he answered.

     "If your mother's mother was Jewish, your mother was Jewish, and if your mother was Jewish, you are Jewish!"

      He did not know that having a Jewish grandmother could mean that he was also a Jew.

     "Come, I will help you to put on tefillin."

      He had no idea what I was talking about but he cooperated completely. I explained what tefillin are and why we put them on. After reading the Shema in English I had him pray for his loved ones and we took a few pictures for him to take with him. I told him that he is Jewish because his mother was Jewish, and if he wanted his children to be Jews he had to marry a Jewish girl. He understood. He was very happy for the experience.

     His non Jewish friends watched the entire scene from a distance. When they were leaving I told them, "Don't let him go out with your sisters. He has to marry a Jewish girl." They smiled.

     He walked into the Kotel as a Polish goi, and walked out as a Jew who had just put on tefillin. Quick change in who you think you are. Maybe it will all fade from his memory, or maybe he will think differently about his life and what he should be doing about it. He will see.



Sunday, February 07, 2016


Jews Now DIRECTLY Targeted on U.S. Campuses

image…their experiences as Jewish students at the SOCC would soon inspire a rude awakening: the campus progressives who were “fighting for justice on college campuses for students of color” weren’t only ignoring anti-Semitism and attacks on Jewish identity—they were sometimes the ones perpetuating it.

This was quickly made clear on the first day at a session called “Existence is Resistance,” hosted by leaders of UC San Diego’s SJP chapter. Students discussed the boycott of Israel as an issue of urgency for students of color. …they originally had no intention to engage in dialogue about Israel at the conference, but they were horrified at how attacks on Israel soon devolved into attacks on the Jews. “The session went way beyond the boundaries …”

For example, they said that Israel was poisoning the water that they sell into the West Bank, and raising the price by ten times. Any sane person knows that this is not true. They also said that when Jewish-American students go on Birthright trips, the Israeli government offers you money to live on a settlement.

Over the course of what was probably no longer than an hour, my history was denied, the murder of my people was justified, and a movement whose sole purpose is the destruction of the Jewish homeland was glorified. Statements were made justifying the ruthless murder of innocent Israeli civilians, blatantly denying Jewish indigeneity in the land, and denying the Holocaust in which six million Jews were murdered. Why anyone in their right mind would accept these slanders as truths baffles me. But they did. These statements, and others, were met with endless snaps and cheers…

It was a prevailing sentiment that I felt at the conference and in the progressive community, that because I am Jewish, I cannot be an activist who supports Black Lives Matter or the LGBTQ community. When I heard that among my peers that “the Jews are oppressors and murderers—How can you care about students of color on campus when they’re murdering our people abroad?”—it quickly dawned on me that it wasn’t that they don’t like us because we’re pro-Israel—they don’t like us because we’re Jews. We were targeted. It’s such a shame that the SOCC solidified and supported this belief of mine.

It was, ironically, in a safe space intended to protect students from discrimination and bigotry in which their Jewish identity was marginalized, ostracized, and politicized. And it was the progressive students and students of color—often themselves targets of hate, bigotry, and discrimination—who were the propagators of ancient hatreds against the Jewish people.

The full story here.

Reb Akiva comments – the permissiveness of violent and oppressive actions by “those against opression” on college campuses has gotten far far out of control.  It’s become dangerous to be a Jew on campus, or a male on campus, or a “white” on campus.  While supporting a movement decrying micro-aggressions (which apparently means there’s no actual aggressions left of concern) is ridiculous, that these people are calling for the HORRIBLE MURDER of Jews should be decried LOUDLY.  Instead of Jewish students joining organizations crying about made up wrongs to perpetuate a victim class, it would seem time for Jewish students and jewish organizations to begin to form into Jewish Anti-Discrimination Defense Teams and directly challenge the wave of real anti-Jewish discrimination and aggression flowing across U.S. campuses.

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​   by Reb Gutman Locks   



     Jews are an amazing people.

     When I asked this tourist if he was Jewish he answered, "Yes, Sephardi."

     "But is your mother Jewish?"


     I asked him where he is from. He answered, "Brooklyn."

     Okay, from here it is all normal, I mean typical... a Jew from Brooklyn.

     After we finished with tefillin I asked him what he does for a living. I bet you a buck you won't guess this one, not in a thousand years. Where is this young Sephardic Jew working? Moscow! He teaches English in Moscow!

     The Russian Chabadnik who works at the tefillin stand started talking to him in Russian. Seemed fluent to me.

     What in the world is a young Sephardi Jewish boy from Brooklyn doing teaching English in Russia? Amazing people… I bet his students appreciate him.

     "And all the nations of the earth shall bless themselves by your descendants…." This is Hashem's blessing to Avraham 4,000 years ago because Avraham obeyed Hashem's voice.[i]


[i] Genesis 22:18


Saturday, February 06, 2016


Reb Gutman Highlights at Mishpacha

We were thrilled to see our own Reb Gutman Locks’s story covered in this week’s Hebrew Mishpacha magazine.  It’s Hebrew, click the pic below to get it.

Thursday, February 04, 2016


Akiva’s Tech Hints & Life Hacks

by Reb Akiva

imageThe modern world with it’s intertwinned technology and complicated systems, including government and company and so forth, often leave us with challenges.  Even the techie may spend hours or days working through various problems.

As the techie in my family, I find myself searching the interwebs for hints and key info.  So when I’ve found a solution, I decided it’s important to share what I’ve learned for the next person to use.

Introducing Akiva’s Tech Hints & Life Hacks.  No promises of it being interesting, but maybe it will provide a solution or two for someone struggling through mundane but challenging issues.


I’ll Wait a Few More Minutes

​   by Reb Gutman Locks   

I'll Wait a Few More Minutes


     It was very cold and rainy. I was standing to the side, by the bookshelves outside next to the Kotel men's entrance looking for some Jews to help with tefillin. The Kotel was almost completely empty.

     After a half an hour or so I said, "I might as well go inside where it is warm. I am not helping anyone here today. Ah…I'll wait a few more minutes. Maybe I can help someone."

     So I waited. It was cold. Finally a platoon of soldiers came running in, but almost all of them had already put on tefillin that day. The one or two who had not yet put them on knew how to do it by themselves.

    "It's cold!" I yelled. "Okay, just a few more minutes."

     Right then a Jew in his 60's walked by. I called out to him, "Did you put on tefillin today?"

      He was an Iranian living many years in California. "Yes, I put them on in the morning."

     Then he walked over to me and asked, "Tell me, is there a place to give charity at the Kotel?"

      "You can give it here to the Kotel," I pointed to the Kotel charity box, "or to the Kotel tefillin stand if you like."

      "Oh, for the tefillin?"


       He handed me an open envelope filled with what seemed to be maybe forty one-dollar bills. It is a custom to give someone coming to Israel charity to give here. It is a special mitzvah to help the Jews who live in the Land. Also, giving the traveler charity to deliver makes him a messenger on a mitzvah errand and this helps to protect him on his journey. I took the envelope and asked, "What do you want me to do with this?"

     He said, "Do whatever you like."

     Shmuli was standing right there so I immediately handed him the envelope saying, "This is for the Chabad tefillin stand."

      Shmuli took it and the man said, "Oh, Chabad", and he reached in his pocket and took out another envelope and handed it to me. I handed that envelope to Shmuli too.

     The man asked us to pray for a sick relative so Shmuli took him inside and helped him. Latter Shmuli came back and said, "It looks like all one-dollar bills, but it all helps. Barouch Hashem."

     I went inside to wait for maariv (evening prayers) and a few minutes later Shmuli sat next to me and said, "There was $700 in the envelopes!"

     Barouch Hashem. Chabad at the Kotel, like all other locations, always needs help paying the salaries of their staff. They are all married with lots of kids. Thank G-d I stayed for a few more minutes to let Hashem give me the gift of being able to help. Barouch Hashem.



Tuesday, February 02, 2016

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Prayers Go to Heaven

​    by Reb Gutman Locks   


     In my video, "Should Every Jew Move to Israel", I explained that all of our prayers from all over the world first come to the Kotel and from here they go on into Heaven.

     Joshua commented, "Great Video! One correction…all prayers go to the Har Habayis (the Temple Mount) before ascending, not the Kotel…"  

     As often happens, there is disagreement between our sages. Apparently, the great majority of rabbinical authorities except the Rambam say that the holiness of the Temple Mount ceased either after the First Temple was destroyed or certainly after the Second Temple was destroyed.

     Even though the vast majority of those sages say there is no remaining holiness on the Mount, still we say, just in case the Rambam was right, we are not to go up onto the Temple Mount until the Moshiach comes and then we will all be able to go up again.

     The Kotel was not even part of the Second Temple. It was "merely" a retaining wall built to guard the Temple Mount from sliding and thereby weaken the Temple's foundation. Today's holiness of the Kotel is not due to its original function. A Midrash tells us that the Kotel was built with the funds gathered from poor Jews' charity. This is why it was not destroyed with the Temple. But its special place in the spiritual world today is because the Shechina (G-d's revelation) never leaves the Kotel. This is why our prayers come to the Kotel first and from here they proceed to Heaven.

     When the Temple was standing all of our prayers came to the Temple Mount and then went on into Heaven. And when the Temple will be rebuilt (soon in our day) again our prayers will come to the Mount and from there continue on up into Heaven. Now we have the Kotel. We thank G-d for what we have, and we pray that He will soon bring the Temple.



Monday, February 01, 2016


Liberal Western Wall Prayer Site in the News


Commentor S.M. emailed a news alert and commented…

NEWS ALERT - Israeli Cabinet approves liberal Jewish prayer at holy site

Israel's Cabinet voted Sunday to allow non-Orthodox Jewish prayer at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, a move advocates said marked a historic show of government support for liberal streams of Judaism.

The issue is of particular importance to the Jewish community in the United States, where the more liberal Reform and Conservative streams of Judaism are dominant. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pushed the plan in an attempt to please American Jews, a key source of support for Israel, despite stiff opposition by ultra-Orthodox and religious nationalist elements in Israel who are key members of his own government.

"I know this is a sensitive topic, but I think it is an appropriate solution, a creative solution," Netanyahu said at the start of Sunday's Cabinet meeting, where members voted on the plan.

According to the government plan, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press, Israel will build a new plaza for mixed gender prayer at the Western Wall, adjacent to the Orthodox prayer plaza but separate from it.

COMMENT - Shalom alekem!  Just wondering what your thoughts are about this.  I honestly don't see why these people can't just respect the wishes of Orthodox Jews.  What happened to ... "What is hateful to you, don't do to others"...?  Maybe they'd like it if the Na Nachs invaded their synagogues and disrupted their services. 

What's next?  A new section at the Western Wall that's set aside just for the LGBT community?  Where does it end?  And when the Temple is rebuilt, are these Reform and Conservative women going to lobby for the right to serve as Levitical singers and priests?  Is the Israeli government going to force the Orthodox Jewish to accept a female High Priest? 

::::heavy sigh::::


The international news is an absolute wonder.  Pregnant Jewish women are being stabbed almost daily by “Palestinian” Arab children (11 year olds, 13 year olds, 16 year olds) who are plied with propaganda begging them to kill and providing charts on the best places to stab to be effective, and that gets no mention in the international news (though the Foreign Minister of Sweden then complains that the 13 year old running at a policeman with the bloodly knife is shot).

But the decision to change from a wooden prayer platform on the south end of the Western Wall to a tiled platform with improved lighting…that’s world shaking news.

Here’s the conflict in brief, and the new situation:

The Western Wall Plaza, the holiest place for Jewish prayer CURRENTLY AVAILALBLE (the holiest place is the Temple Mount, but there’s a mosque there so Jews are not allowed to pray there – it might upset somebody), is operated as a traditional Jewish holy site / synagogue – meaning prayer space is separated by gender.  Everyone is welcome, there is no charge, and nobody is checking people’s religion, ethnic origin, gender preference, or whatever.  The site can’t be expanded as it’s bounded by Old City houses on the north side, and an archelogical garden fall off on the south side.  (There are discussions of going down, making it a multi-level site.)

Jewish men’s prayer involves wearing tefillin (the black box phylacteries) daily for morning prayer, wearing a prayer shawl for daily morning prayer, and reading from the Torah scroll on Monday, Thursday, Shabbat morning, Shabbat afternoon, and on holidays and Rosh Chodesh – the new month day, and reciting a series of prayers from the prayer book.

Jewish women’s prayer is more flexible, does not require any of the above, and may recite the prayer series from the prayer book or not, as time allows.  Jewish women often frequently recite Psalms.

Now there is ongoing friction in Israel between religious authorities that are government funded, such as the Western Wall Plaza authority, city burial authories, and others, and the nature of democracy.  The religious authorities are maintaining a very clear well understood religious standard.  But some people come along and want to do their own thing.  Women who want to do men’s prayer actions – or mixed gender prayer groups.  They complain this is publically funded, you can’t discriminate.

The Israeli government is trying to square this circle by saying they’ll build ANOTHER small plaza area inside the archtelogical garden south of the current Western Wall Plaza, which is also at a lower level and therefore out of sight from the Western Wall Plaza, to satisfy these people’s demand.  THEY ALREADY DID THIS a few years ago, but the area is somewhat temporary with a wooden platform floor and temporary flood lights.  The government is trying to close this issue by offering to upgrade the site to permanancy, improving the flooring, lighting, and entrance path to get there.

It’s a reasonable compromise.  NOTE that while the religious party government ministers are grumbling about it, they are NOT opposing it or voting against it. 

S.M., you make a good point – these people do NOT respect tradition, they only respect their own wants.  But if they have enough of a consituency, or legal or monetary power, then it’s reasonable of the government to try to accomodate them and get this issue out of everyone’s faces. 

Sadly, at least one segment of these people has stated they will NOT accept this accomodation and will continue to fight the 97% of people who use the Western Wall Plaza as the traditional Jewish holy site it is.


Punking the Frum Community “The New Zionists”

imageThe Jerusalem Post, and picked up by Voz Iz Neius, published an article titled “The New Zionists – Ultra-Orthodoxy has Effectively Surrendered to the Zionist Idea”.  The article APPEARS to be a lament by an ultra-orthodox author about how the charedi (Israeli ultra-orthodox Jewish community) ideals of the previous generations are being reversed in this generation…with a probable destination of Reform Judaism and turning their back on Torah.

Here’s a few quotes…

Jews must avoid “connecting with what amounts to religion’s destruction and an obstacle to the house of Israel,” wrote Lithuanian sage Rabbi Chaim Soloveitchik, while the chief rabbi of Lodz, Eliyahu Meisel, wrote that “anyone with God’s fear in his heart shall distance himself from them [the Zionists], will not walk with them, and will keep his legs from their paths.” 

One hundred and twenty years on, a Hasid is a minister in the Zionist government; thousands of ultra-Orthodox men serve in the Zionist army and a plethora of ultra-Orthodox colleges lead thousands into the Zionist state’s economic beehive and social mainstream…

The undeclared aim was to restore the proverbial ghetto, where thick and tall social walls would keep rabbinical authority unquestioned and modernity’s temptations at bay.  The key to such social resignation lay in the Jewish state’s leading social welder – the army. If Haredi men joined the army, they might cease to be ultra-Orthodox. If exempted, their distinctiveness would be preserved and, in fact, deepened….

…The ghetto’s slow but steady construction now proceeded unopposed. By 1968, the 400- man quota had doubled, and by 1977, an aggregate 25,000 Haredi men had already avoided full military service since Israel’s establishment.  This social nucleus of the emerging ghetto incubated in the secluded neighborhoods where the ultra-Orthodox lived with their rabbis close to their schools, yeshivas and shops. This self-segregation was further cemented by the men’s failure to acquire vocations, in line with their commitment to spend their time studying Torah, all of which reduced to a minimum their daily contact with the rest of society.

By the turn of the century, the annual number of ultra-Orthodox men avoiding full IDF service had crossed 7,000 ‒ enough to man two combat brigades.  Besides provoking the middle class, where many felt they were financing a celebration of draft-dodging and voluntary unemployment, this arrangement also perverted the Jewish tradition that, while cherishing lifelong study, had never financed it for more than a select few.  It was an anomaly that had to explode, and it did…

Faced with a harsh recession, Sharon and his finance minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, cut in half the child allowances that had become central in many ultra-Orthodox families’ livelihoods. Prodded by Lapid, who was now deputy prime minister, they also trimmed government funding for yeshivas and other Haredi causes.  Ultra-Orthodox politicians felt choked.  With 65 percent of ultra-Orthodox males unemployed and their average income less than half that of the rest of the population, Haredi rabbis realized they needed a new deal with the Jewish state.  The ideal of non-work was, therefore, quietly abandoned. Ultra-Orthodox vocational schools began to sprout in Jerusalem and Bnei Brak, initially training plumbers, mechanics, electricians and nurses, and then spreading to computer engineering, accounting and law….

Still, the walls of the ultra-Orthodox ghetto have been breached and thousands are pouring out, much the way the Jews of Germany, Austria and Hungary did when their own ghetto walls fell between the times of Moshe Sofer and Herzl.  Back then, it took hardly two generations before the newly freed Jews became lawyers, doctors, dentists, scientists, publishers, journalists, bankers, and tycoons.
The same process is underway in Israel – the Zionist creation where more than half a million ultra-Orthodox Jews now speak no language other than the Hebrew that Zionism revived…

Yet what appears as a lament to a generational lifestyle being lost is written by a secular Israeli writer, and much of what he describes is HIS vision, with limited or no experience, of the Jewish ultra-orthodox community in the next town over (that he’s probably never visited).

Being picked up by the ultra-orthodox Jewish news web sites, we’re being punked. 

The Jewish orthodox community, while maintaining the highest values, has and does adjust generation to generation and place to place, keeping Torah a living Torah while maintaining it’s ideals.  That’s Toras Chaim.  Our author believes that if a frum man goes to work that means orthodox Judaism is coming to an end.  He’s very very wrong.


Sunday, January 31, 2016

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There Is No Barber

via Reb Goldstein, as he heard from Rav Brizel…

imageIn a certain town there was a barber who did not believe in G-d. When asked why, he responded, "Look at all the sick people, look at all the problems people have, how can there be a G-d if such things exist in the world!?"

Upon hearing this, the man he was speaking to turned around and began to shout out in the street, "I do not believe that there is a barber in this town, there is no barber in this town!"

The barber then stopped him and said with surprise, "But I am a barber, I am standing right in front of you. How can you say that you do not believe there is a barber here?"

To this the man responded, "I look around and see people with long hair, with messy hair, with dirty hair, since all these people have problems with their hair, it must mean that there is no barber in this town. To this the barber responded, "But what can I do, I can only help these people if they come to me."

The man said, "Hashem too can only help those who come to Him!"


Should Every Jew Move to Israel?

by YOUR-NAME at Mystical Paths
-  by Reb Gutman Locks     Has the time come for all Jews from all over the World to come home?
Is the promised Redemption really happening now?

 type article here -

Saturday, January 30, 2016


Oops, Kosher Clams Advertised at Ami Magazine


Ami Magazine is a nice publication targeted at the English speaking ultra-orthodox Jewish community.  Articles focus on issues of interest to the community, the lives of holy rabbis, Torah education, and more.  It includes a women’s supplement, the “Ami Living”, which focuses on Jewish orthodox womens issues, recipes, children, health, and more.

This week the magazine also featured on the back cover an ad for a kosher supermarket in New York City.  To show the supermarket had been around for a while, they took a historical roadside food peddler picture from 1928…

A peddler of CLAMS.

Clams are non-kosher, as only sea (and fresh water) animals that have fins and scales (aka fish) are kosher.  All other sea animals such as lobster, shrimp, eel, urchin, oyster, clam, etc, are treif – non-kosher – not permitted – not eaten by orthodox or religiously observant Jews.  This is a standard part of keeping kosher.

Representing your kosher supermarket via an ad selling clams is a VERY BIG OOPS.

Looking at this is in a positive light, it’s entirely possible that the ad agency, which has what is a traditional religious Jewish name in the company name, may not even have recognized what these people are doing or eating.  Meaning the Jewish religious ad agency and the ad people at the Jewish religious magazine may not even have recognized that these are clams, never have seen them sold as food in the supermarkets they shop at (and certainly never having seen them eaten)!


Thursday, January 28, 2016


Reform Jews

​by Reb Gutman Locks   


      There were a number of fairly negative comments to my article encouraging the cantor in a Reform Temple to teach his students how to light Shabbos candles. One asked if he officiated at the Reform intermarriage weddings. Another pointed out that the Reform, unlike the Torah; claim if either parent is Jewish the children are Jewish, so it could be that the majority of so-called Reform Jews are not even Jewish.

     The fact is the comments are true, but there is an important lesson they are overlooking.

     There is a Torah concept of butal (nullification). In certain cases if a forbidden object is mixed with enough permitted objects that forbidden object is considered nullified and the mixture becomes permitted. But one of the many stipulations is that the single object is not unique, important, noticeable or such. If the object would be unique, then no matter how many other things are mixed with it that important object does not become nullified.

     Yes, many, perhaps even the majority of the "Reform Jews" are not Jewish, but many are Jewish, and we cannot ignore those Jewish souls who have not yet had to opportunity to learn the truth about Hashem and His Torah.

     If we are commanded to be a light unto the Nations, all the more so are we to be a light onto our own…no matter where we find them.





Tuesday, January 26, 2016


Run Away, or Change Flavors?

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

imageOne of the hot topics in Orthodox Judaism in the past week is whether there is a significant bleeding of members of the ultra-orthodox community, particularly in Israel, towards the secular community.  Or, as one ultra-secular Israeli journalist put it “the charedim (ultra-orthodox) are making more secular Jews than the secular Jews” (a tongue-in-cheek response meaning that the very-large-family size in the Israeli ultra-orthodox community can lose several children to secularism and exceed the birthrate with their loss of the secular Israeli community).

Over the 200 years before World War II there was a mass loss of observant Judaism to the Reform movement.  Following World War II, there was only a small remnant of orthodox Judaism in the U.S. and in Israel (with a few miniscule communities in other countries such as England).

Following WW-II, those orthodox and ultra-orthodox remnants experienced exponential growth with very little defection.  Rather, there was an influx, a large influx, of Jews returning to search for truth, Jewish spirituality, and a connection to G-d. 

Between 5x growth per generation and an ongoing influx, orthodox and ultra-orthodox communities grew…and grew…and grew.  But like a massively growing new company, ultra-orthodox Judaism also struggled with massive growth.  Schools needing to add new classrooms every 3 years, new synagogues, new community services, new charities.  And housing…orthodox Judaism depends on many communal functions, moving into new areas means areas without communal services.

Modernity and the Internet pose an additional challenge.  Isolated lifestyles that never had to deal with the world IN YOUR FACE were suddenly dealing with it literally in everyones pockets…and some were and are not up for the challenge.

It’s no surprise that each community would teach that their way is THE way.  After all, historically the community you were in was a relatively isolated thing, and leaving the community meant leaving G-d, Torah, Judaism, your people and family.  Yet today it may mean only walking across the street, or moving a few neighborhoods or a small town away.

Today if the particular type of Judaism, orthodox or ultra-orthodox Judaism, you have doesn’t fit, there is a smorgasbord of options…

Chabad – intellectual chassidus and personally demanding

Breslev – emotional chassidus and a way out of the mud

YU – Torah and Science and modern education

Mizrachi – Settle the Land, Learn the Torah, Get Educated, Stand for Israel

I have a friend in synagogue, the left Gur (chassidus) and came to Chabad – the teachings of Gur didn’t speak to his soul, the chassidus of Chabad does.  Another who learned with Viznitz, he went to Breslev – it spoke to his heart.  Another who learned in Satmar and went YU, as he encountered the world he needed to reconcile with science.

It’s all there, in so many flavors, there is no need to turn away from Judaism…just find your flavor!

[ There are those who are hurt, the system has failed them, they (reasonably from their own experience) associate Judaism with hurt or pain or being taken advantage of…or (G-d forbid) criminal or negligent acts that were perpetrated against them.  For them, the failings of the system and criminal people who represent themselves as orthodox Jews color their view of Judaism.  These situations are truly terrible and we should NOT ignore such things to “protect” Judaism.  Rather we should aggressively deal with such things to protect our people from such horrible situations.  ]


Let There Be Light

by Reb Gutman Locks

Let There Be Light


     Michael is the cantor in the largest Reform Temple in America. He reads my articles, has read one or two of my books, came for Shabbos while on a visit to Israel, and has taken to heart my insistent message of Jews helping other Jews come to mitzvahs with joy. He gave a successful class in his Temple on putting on tefillin, and because of his kindness at least three of the "Reform" boys are now putting on tefillin every day! What a wonderful thing to have done.


Michael asked for a suggestion for the next series of classes?


Gutman's reply:

     Maybe the next topic to teach should be: How to light Shabbos Candles.

     When done properly, lighting Shabbos candles should be more than fulfilling a quick mechanical, religious obligation. It should be a time to pause from the entirely physical day to spend a few moments in sweet spiritual awareness.

     In most families the mother lights two candles, but in some families the girls begin lighting one Shabbos candle from the age of three, and then when they marry they begin to light two. Besides the two candles that all married women light, some have the custom to light an additional candle for each child in the family.

     The class should teach the women not only the proper way to light the candles, i.e. showing them the various candles or olive oil they might prefer to use, what time to light, how long they should burn, … but the main stress of the classes should be how to gain some spiritual awareness at candle lighting time.

     When a Jewish woman lights her Shabbos candles it is an etz ratzon, that is, a time of favor. This means that Hashem is, so to speak, listening with both ears. The chupah (marriage canopy) is also a "time of favor" and because of this most brides and grooms like to bring a list of their friends' names with them when they go to the chupah so they will remember to pray for them, too.

     Hashem is listening very carefully to the woman's prayers when she lights her candles so she should take her time with sweet words asking Hashem for all of the wonderful things that she wants; her family, her friends, her people, and more….

     Lighting candles reveals the holiness of Shabbos in the home. The light from the candles is a physical sign that shows a spiritual change has taken place in her home; the holy Shabbos has begun.

     Follow the custom she likes, but most women, after first lighting the candles wave their hands over the candles symbolically drawing the light to their eyes. They then cover their eyes with their hands, say the blessing, and then sweetly pray for their loved ones and for all that they want Hashem to bring to the world.

     Before she finishes she should look at the candlelight and see that the candles are two, the wicks are two, the flames are two, but the light is one. Hashem is one and even though we experience all as many, the Infinite One is really all.

     The children who are too small to go to shul like to watch Mommy when she lights the candles. It is a very special time.

     After this, or as soon as the father comes home, he places his hands on each child's head one at a time and recites the blessing that the Kohenim (priests) say when blessing the congregation. Be sure that the children understand the words he is saying so they learn what a blessing is.

     There are so many beautiful customs that can be followed at this time. Then, with the table set so beautifully, the father says Kiddush with an overflowing cup of fine wine and there is great grape juice for the children…then a delicious meal, especially paying attention to the children making sure that they have a fun time... songs, stories, memories…what a lovely, holy experience.

     Have a very nice Shabbos.



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