We are Arabs and Moslems who believe…
We can support the State of Israel and the Jewish religion and still treasure our Arab and Islamic culture. There are many Jews and Israelis who freely express compassion and support for the Palestinians. It is time that we Arabs express reciprocal compassion and support. The existence of the State of Israel is a fact that should be accepted by the Arab world. Israel is a legitimate state that is not a threat but an asset in the Middle East
as well as much more. Take a look. Several articles on the site seem to have been merged into this great article on FrontPageMag:
What Really Happened in 1948 - By Sarah El Shazly on FrontPageMagazine.com - December 28, 2004
Ever since I was a child, I've heard a range of accounts of what happened to the Palestinians and Palestine. Everyone knows the Jewish version and the Arab version. But there is a third side, that of those who lived there and still do -- the Israeli Arabs.
Some Jews want us out of Israel, and some Arabs believe that we are an extension of the Zionists. Yet we Israeli Arabs keep our culture and traditions. Mahshy, or stuffed grape leaves, remains our favorite meal. We love Arabic music; we sing old folk songs, including "Wein aa Ramallah" about a famous Palestinian city, and songs from all over the Arab world. We are unique among the Arabs, though. We have vested interests on both sides -- and are angry at both sides.
Israeli Arabs have lived alongside Jews for as long as this generation can remember. We became Israeli citizens in 1948. Before that, the region wasn't quite as divided. Families lived in an area that includes the West Bank, Gaza, and Amman, and in other Arab cities in areas where borders were created later. We were divided by boundaries set by the Europeans, and those within the boundaries of Israel became "Israeli Arabs". Now, these Arabs are the unwanted, unloved, illegitimate, and have become the biracial step-child of the Middle East conflict. We have to apologize for our very existence.
The fact is that the Arab world warned the Palestinians against staying with the Jews. They also warned them that Arabs were going in to fight the Zionists and that the Palestinians should leave to avoid getting hurt.
Many Palestinians trusted these Arab leaders and left as instructed. Those who had lived with Jews for a long time were not as easily convinced of the danger, and these Arabs stayed home. Among them was my family, which saw cars traveling the area. The cars contained Jews. They reassured Arabs that they would not be harmed. Thus, we had a situation where Jews begged Arabs to stay and live with them, while Arabs from foreign countries told them to leave right away.
Palestinians have gotten the short end of the stick in Arab society. It suits Arab leaders to keep this group in a state of poverty and conflict, and to channel all resentment toward the Jews. You don't believe me? Ask yourself why Jordan or Egypt or Syria never gave the Palestinians a country? If I hear another non-Palestinian, especially an American Muslim, repeat the phrase "over 50 years of the Zionist occupation," I'm going to burst. Can no one actually read history? It’s not ancient history, just 1948-1967. Who had that land? Even if Arabs want Palestinians to have "all" the land, this is no excuse for denying them an independent state. And yet, we blame Israel!
Read the whole thing.
Olmert (Vice-Prime-Minister) unveils 'Disengagement 2' plan - Israel will need to carry out a large-scale withdrawal from the West Bank after next year's initial disengagement from the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria...
and Ruth Matar of Women in Green released an email today (also in an earlier Israpundit post)...
Sharon's "Disengagement" Plan aims to make the Biblical lands of Gaza (Gush Katif) and Northern Samaria (West Bank north of Jerusalem) "Judenrein" [removing all Jews]. In fact, on June 2 of this year, Prime Minister Sharon was quoted as saying "that there will be no Jews in Gaza or Northern Shomron by the end of 2005"...
Here's what's happening TODAY in Gush Shiloh, the Northern Shomron (Samaria a.k.a. West Bank) area between Jerusalem and Ariel
As of today, all Israeli army, border police, and police units have disappeared from the area! While most normally monitored and controlled army and police posts have been abandoned, a few are being manned by grey-uniformed anonymous troops, who are also patroling inside the Israeli towns. They appear to be familiarizing themselves with the area and inventorying neighborhoods.
Local residents find this a chilling reminder of the Rabin/Peres government years. During that time, the government 'pressured' the residents by withdrawing security forces (intentionally reducing security and safety), removing pre-positioned weapons depots from the towns and confiscating resident's personal and community weapons on the slightest (and sometimes no) pretext. The government also prepared a special Removal Force, which was grey uniformed and anonymous (wearing no insignia or identification).
Is today a training exercise, a permanent redeployment, or a harbinger of things to come of a secular Israeli government turning it's back on it's own people, Zionism, and the promises of the G-d of Israel about the holy Land of Israel?
Psalm 20: ...May He support you from Zion...Some rely upon chariots and some upon horses, but we rely upon and invoke the Name of the Lord our G-d. They bend and fall, but we rise and stand firm...
The Jerusalem Post writes...
Olmert unveils 'Disengagement 2' plan to the 'Post'
Israel will need to carry out a large-scale withdrawal from the West Bank after next year's initial disengagement from the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria, whether or not a viable peace partner emerges on the Palestinian side, Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Ehud Olmert said Wednesday.
"There is no option of sitting and doing nothing. Israel's interest requires a disengagement on a wider scale than what will happen as part of the current disengagement plan," Olmert told The Jerusalem Post.
He declined to describe the extent of a second "disengagement plan" but said that it offers the only clear and realistic alternative to a massive pullback from all the territories as a result of the internationally backed road-map peace plan and could become a useful solution to a future impasse in negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.
A close ally and confidant of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Olmert has often been the first in the government to go public with future policy.
in response, Ruth Matar from Women in Green writes (as posted on Israpundit)...
JEWS AND CHRISTIANS, RALLY AROUND THE BIBLE!
Ariel Sharon is Ready to Attack G-d's Covenant with the Jewish People
LETTER FROM RUTH MATAR (WOMEN IN GREEN) JERUSALEM
Thursday, December 30, 2004
Sharon's "Disengagement" Plan aims to make the Biblical lands of Gaza (Gush Katif) and Northern Samaria "Judenrein". In fact, on June 2 of this year, Prime Minister Sharon was quoted as saying "that there will be no Jews in Gaza or Northern Shomron by the end of 2005". Shortly thereafter I heard him say on Israel radio: "the Disengagement Plan is the most important item on our agenda, AND WITH G-D'S HELP WE SHALL SUCCEED".
What incredible chutzpa! Sharon well knows that the Almighty promised his Holy Land to the Jewish People and that this Promise certainly includes Judea, Samaria and Gaza. His "Disengagement" Plan is directly against the Word of G-d.
Let us again make this clear once and for all! Gaza is Jewish Land promised by Hashem in the Bible as an everlasting inheritance to the Jewish People. Jews have lived in Gaza ever since they crossed into the Promised Land in the great Exodus from Egypt, approximately 3,270 years ago. It was, in fact, apportioned to the Tribe of Judah (Joshua 15:47 and Judges 1:18) as part of its eternal patrimony. (See the map of TERRITORIES OF THE TWELVE TRIBES, Stone Edition of the Tanach, page 2,045 appendix D, map 2)
The battle against Sharon's Disengagement Plan (the plan to throw out thousands of Jews from their homes in Biblical Gaza and Samaria) is becoming very intense. The slogan "With Love We Will Be Victorious" and the fact that 200,000 Jews were able to form a human chain from Gush Katif to the Western Wall, did not influence the Sharon government in any form or fashion. Sharon continued, with his bulldozer behavior, to advance his plan by trying to push through the Knesset draconian measures, such as:
* Three years of imprisonment of persons who act together to oppose disengagement, even if one of them is a minor.
* Five years of imprisonment if such a meeting included a person with a weapon, even just a pen knife or a nail scissor.
* The building of additional prisons capable of holding thousands of objectors to the Disengagement Plan.
* Special training camps to train police, soldiers and other forces to deal with Jews who in any way resist expulsion.
* A request from the Finance Ministry for a large allocation of funds, to buy special protective equipment for the forces which take part in this evacuation of Jews. How about protective equipment for those about to be forcibly dragged out of their homes?
* If there is any resistance whatsoever to being forcibly evicted from one's home, such persons lose any chance for compensation for their house and/or farm, and, in addition, forfeit the ownership of their personal possessions (furniture, appliances, clothes etc.)
The major slogan of the Gush Katif residents "With Love We Will Be Victorious" has proven to be ineffective against the hatred of the Sharon Government, the Left, and the leftist controlled media. This is what finally prompted Pinchas Wallerstein, one of the leaders of the Yesha Council (Judea, Samaria and Gaza) to write an open letter calling for massive civil disobedience against the prospect of ethnic cleansing of Jews from Gaza and Samaria.
In addition, some residents of Gush Katif, mainly holocaust survivors, started a campaign to wear on their clothing an orange Star of David in order to shock people into realizing that there is a valid comparison between the Germans expelling Jews from their homes, and Sharon's proposed "Disengagement" Plan.
Immediately there was a tremendous and skillfully organized outcry against this campaign from the leftist media, claiming that the settlers were besmirching the memory of the Holocaust victims, and trying to compare the Sharon government to the Nazis.
Let me state right here that I will never compare my fellow Jews to the Nazis. The Arab enemies are today's Nazis! Those who are trying to push the "Disengagement" Plan down the throats of the Israeli People, are unwittingly helping this very enemy.
Both Abu Mazen and Marwan Barghouti boast in their campaign speeches that the Jews are fleeing from Gaza because of the successful Arab struggle against "Israeli occupation". In fact, Abu Mazen says that whereas Israel calls the Arab armed groups murderers, "we call them successful strugglers". Abu Mazen further says: "I will never turn guns on my own people"!
Please permit me to remind you once again of my background. I have written about this before, but my childhood experience is most relevant to this discussion. I was born in Wiener Neustadt, an ancient city in southern Austria. According to the Encyclopedia Judaica, Wiener Neustadt was founded in the year 1192. Jews lived in this city almost from the very beginning. In fact, there are gravestones in the Jewish Cemetery in Wiener Neustadt, which date from 1252 and 1261.
Our family lived in Wiener Neustadt until November 9, 1938, until Krystall Nacht, when Hitler's storm troopers forcibly evicted all Jews from their homes in this city. While violently dragging us out of our house, they severely beat my mother for not following orders quickly enough. Within a few days after November 9, the city of Wiener Neustadt was successfully cleansed of its Jewish population. The Germans boasted that now yet another city was completely Judenrein.
Many people feel that there cannot and should not be comparison between today's situation and the Holocaust, and that such comparison is sacrilegious and should not even be permitted. There is no plan, they say, by the Sharon government to put Jews into gas chambers!
However, if we're honest with ourselves, there are frightening similarities.
Sharon's "Disengagement" Plan aims to make the Biblical lands of Gush Katif and Northern Samaria "Judenrein". In fact, on June 2 of this year, Prime Minister Sharon was quoted as saying "that there will be no Jews in Gaza or Northern Shomron by the end of 2005". Just another way of saying that he promises that these areas will be "Judenrein".
Some unfortunate comparisons can be made:
Jews lived in Wiener Neustadt for hundreds of years before this city was made Judenrein by the Nazis. Jews have been living in Gaza for thousands of years, and now, Ariel Sharon aims to follow the example of the Germans and make the rebuilt Jewish communities of Gaza Judenrein.
(There are many examples of Jewish presence in Gaza starting from Biblical times, even though the Arabs have recently tried to erase such evidence in order to convince the world of their Big Lie, that they are the original inhabitants of the Holy Land.)
Another shameful example: Sharon has promised the Arabs, in an obscene and immoral gesture that the remains of Jews in Gaza be disinterred from their graves, thus making even the very soil Judenrein.
To my knowledge, the graves in the Jewish cemetery in Wiener Neustadt dating from 1252 and 1261 are untouched.
Finally, an important difference: GERMAN STORM TROOPERS dragged my family out of our home. Sharon plans to compel JEWISH SOLDIERS AND JEWISH POLICEMEN to do the same to their Jewish brethren.
In light of the above, I defy anyone to tell us Holocaust survivors that there are no similarities at all between November 9, 1938 (Kristall Nacht) and 2005, the planned expulsion of Jews from Gush Katif and Samaria. Having said all that, I can understand that some Holocaust survivors feel that the orange Jewish Star campaign should be abandoned. Former Knesset speaker Dov Shilansky (Likud), a Holocaust survivor himself, said that any comparison to the Holocaust must be avoided "if it will cause pain to even one survivor."
That is the reason why the Gush Katif Holocaust survivors abandoned the orange Star of David campaign. We will now instead wear orange scarves to identify with our Jewish brethren in Gaza.
The noose is definitely tightening around our necks! A big headline on page one in today's Jerusalem Post reads: OLMERT UNVEILS "DISENGAGEMENT PLAN 2" TO POST. Olmert says "There is no option of sitting and doing nothing. Israel's interest requires a Disengagement on a wider scale than what will happen as part of the current Disengagement Plan."
There you have it! Con-artist Sharon ultimately plans to abandon all of our Biblical Heartland, including the rest of Samaria and Judea, as well. We must understand that Olmert is the Vice-Premier of the Sharon government and a close ally and confidant of Ariel Sharon. He has often been the first in the government to go public with Sharon's future planned policy.
Further "Disengagement" is in Israeli's interest? To give up our G-d given Land and retreat behind Auschwitz borders? Have we learned nothing from the last Holocaust and 2,000 years of persecution?
WAKE UP ALL THOSE WHO BELIEVE IN THE MIRACLE OF ISRAEL'S REBIRTH AS A JEWISH STATE!
Wake up and start fighting back!
What you can do for starters: visit our website and sign the PETITION AGAINST DISENGAGEMENT. Bring this Petition to the attention of President George W. Bush, Vice President Cheney, other government officials, your Senators, your Congressman, your family, your friends, and basically anyone you can think of. THIS IS THE END GAME. Don't put yourself in the position of subsequently having to state "but I didn't know". Because, now you do know that Israel's fate as a Jewish state is in your hands.
With Blessing and Love for Israel,
Where a lantern is placed, those who seek light gather around - for light attracts.
From the book HaYom Yom for the day that fell on December 25 this year.
An email chain I received said...
I used to go to the Kabbalah Centre until I began receiving immense pressure to give them a lot of money (thousands of dollars). I was often approached under the guise of a "student question and answer" session. I was eventually hounded for money every time I entered the center in NYC just waiting for a class.
This offends my sense of spirituality so I proactively decided to stop contributing to this approach and now study with groups that offer this information for FREE as Kabbalah was meant to be taught.
This website shows problems with the Kabbalah Centre.
and, to be fair, also included these responses...
1. The truth is for every negative claim against the Kabbalah Centre, you will also find countless number of people whose lives have been changed by the work the Centre does.
2. I must make a personal defense of the NY Centre. I attend classes there, and most other events. I am a student with little money to spare. I was never accosted there in my life. In fact, one time I did not have any cash on me to buy a bottle of water, and someone who volunteers their time there told me to simply take one.
I have absolutely no doubt of the many people involved in the current Kabbalah fad have a serious committment to improving themselves and improving the world. Further, generally speaking the tools being used do offer positive steps to do so.
However, in the words of a great Rabbi, Teacher, and Kabbalist, who was asked the question, "If the people are being taught the truth, but it's just half a glass, or a quarter glass full, isn't that ok?" He answered, "If the glass is water, yes, if however it's kerosene...".
If only the truth is being taught, but limited, half, a quarter, ok, good things can come of it. But if some poison is mixed in? The results will not be good.
Just to push the analogy to it's limit, that also assumes the base itself is safe. In this case, the base itself is powerful and risky in it's own right (perhaps not water, but alcohol?)
The sincerity of those who are looking and learning is impressive, and this includes those public figures who are so easily ridiculed, who seem to need a good base more than most. But the sincerity of the organization is another matter. Some occasional side statements, the personal lifestyles of the management, the financial statements of the organization, the crass commercialization, just don't sync with the goals and the path of Kabbalah.
Be skeptical of people "selling" the truth. The truly righteous and truly mystical aren't selling, they're just quietly speaking.
In a beautiful guest post on HasidicGentile, Rabbi Lazer Brody writes: (False Messiahs and Fad Kabbalists By Reb Lazer (Guest Post) 15 Teves 5765)
Kabbala is the esoteric part of Torah. In a nutshell, Kabbala explains the inner dimensions of Hashem's mitzvahs, and how the fulfillment of these mitzvahs affects the spiritual world. For centuries, Kabbala has served as a spiritual incentive to encourage the complete and joyous fulfillment of Hashem's mitzvahs. For example, when a person realizes how observing the Sabbath illuminates entire spiritual worlds and creates an indescribable sanctification of Hashem's holy name, that person will exercise extra care in guarding the laws of the Sabbath.
Fad Kabbalists take a distorted and perverted look at religious law. They claim that the mitzvahs of the Torah were designed to achieve a spiritual "tikkun", or correction, of the upper worlds. They maintain that the actual fulfillment of mitzvas is for simpletons: If a person doesn't know the inner secrets of Torah, they say, then that person must fulfill the mitzvah in order to achieve the "tikkun".
For example, the mitzvah of loving one's fellow man creates a unification of the four holy letters of Hashem's name in all the upper worlds. A fad Kabbalist will tell you, "I don't need to go around loving other people; I'll simply meditate on the oneness of Hashem's name, and I'll achieve the same 'tikkun' in the spiritual realm." Such a fad Kabbalist is dead wrong. If the fad Kabbalist meditates day and night but goes around cheating and insulting others, then he/she causes a destruction of all worlds - material and spiritual. Who needs that kind of meditation?
The mitzvahs of Torah are not only designed to effect a tikkun in the upper worlds; they are designed predominantly for purifying ourselves and the physical world in which we live.
Read the whole thing!
At the end of the description of the blog, I included general ramblings. Haven't rambled in a while though, so here goes...
I came home this evening and things were a bit crazy. My wife had gotten stuck in traffic after shopping, after picking up the kids. She had only arrived home a few minutes before me, kids sprawling everywhere, grocery packages strewn about.
She looked up in horror as I arrived home a bit early, completely unprepared, packages everywhere. "I just came home, traffic, kids, groceries, ..., ...". Taking a deep breath and knowing how hard she works to keep our family in order, knowing that she wasn't feeling well the night before, and knowing that peace in the house (Shalom Bayis) is hard exactly because it's in the house (as opposed to at work, where you are automatically on your best behavior), I asked how I could help.
"Could you, ah, maybe, make dinner?" While my schedule usually precludes this, this hasn't always been the case, and I consider myself a decent cook. (My wife would agree, though she would downgrade my rating as she improperly considers post-cooking-kitchen-cleanup to be part of a proper meal task.) Currently my schedule usually only gives me a chance in the kitchen on Sunday's, and then it's usually only breakfast or lunch. If it's dinner, it's just warming up leftovers on Sunday.
"Sure dear" I responded, and jumped right in. The children were hungry, it was a bit late for dinner for them, so I went for fast meal. Spagetti sauce on hand, boil some noodles, spice up the sauce, a little ground meat, dinner's at hand.
While in the middle, my wife came over and show'd me one of the little daughters projects...
fill in the blank
He Makes Spagetti and Meatballs
Wow, I haven't made it in maybe a year or two. And that's what she chose? Besides giving me a warm loved feeling, I was floored that right as the first time in a year I'm making spagetti and meatballs I get a loving note for doing so.
Nothing is a coincidence, nothing is by accident. Everything is from the hand of heaven.
Yoinoson Schreiber writes on his (new?) blog about the age of the world...
...Bachya writes that the world is due to last for 49,000 years or seven sets of seven thousand years. Each set of 7000 years is made up off 6000 years of ‘normality’ and 1000 years of ‘Shabbos’. Year 50,000 is the jubilee year and everything sort of ends there. Bachya does not say much more than this. To me it seems clear that Bachaya understands that we are at present in cycle number one.
The Tiferes Yisroel uses this Bachya but adds more. Although he does not bring an actual source he says that books on Kabbalah state that we are at present well into cycle number four. (I.e. the world is 26765 years old). He then goes on to say how the recent (recent for his time) archaeological findings had proven that this was indeed the case. Archaeologists had found four distinct layers of strata – a stratum for each cycle. Each stratum had remains of different animals. The earlier the stratum the more crude the animal (dinosaurs); the later the stratum the more refined – the world gets better and better in each cycle. The previous cycle he claims had seen the first type of human (Neanderthal Man ?)– we are the second sort of human to walk the earth and better than the first as our minds are far more developed. At the end of each cycle a cataclysmic event takes place destroying all that has been before. We are reborn into each cycle which is the meaning of "Resurection of the Dead" and answers the initial question. The story of Genesis refers primarily to our cycle – number four. The first letter of the Torah is a beis and in the Torah scroll this beis has four vertical on its topmost tip. Beis equals two which represent the fact that we are the second sort of human, while the four lines infer that we are in cycle number four.
Good stuff, read the whole thing!
Study of Zohar exalts the soul; study of Midrash arouses the heart; Tehillim (Psalms) with tears scours the vessel.
From the book Hayom Yom, From Day to Day, for Tuesday, 16 Tevet, 5765, which falls on December 28 this year, as said by the third grand rabbi of Lubavitch chassidim, the Tzemach Tzedek, to the chassid R. Hendel.
Excepts from an email from R. Yess, commenting on yesterday's catastrophe:
He looks towards the Earth and it trembles… Psalm 104, verse 32
"All the planet is vibrating" from the quake, said Enzo Boschi, the head of Italy's National Geophysics Institute.
The Mishna in Tractate Brachot says that when one sees an earthquake one should make the blessing "Blessed be He whose strength and power fill the world."
The Israeli city of Tzfat has suffered several devastating earthquakes. After one of them in the year 1839, the Chassidic Rabbi, Rebbe Avraham Dov of Avritch, said the following: This catastrophe is a sign of the redemption. The Talmud in Sanhedrin alludes to the time when the Mashiach will redeem us. He will come when 'This gate shall collapse, be rebuilt, collapse, be rebuilt again and again, until there will not be enough time to rebuild it before the Mashiach comes.' The word gate in Hebrew is _sha'ar_. These same three (Hebrew) letters when reshuffled, spell the word _ra'ash_ (meaning earthquake)...May this be the last 'collapsing of the gate' mentioned in the Talmud, and may we soon see the final redemption in our time - Amen.
Cosmic Comic Truth!
"At this point in time ... the old standard model of cosmology appears headed for extinction" ...
"So, do we know exactly how the Universe began?"
"No, we're still unsure ... but at a much higher level."
Rabbi Akiva said, "A Fence for Wisdom is Silence" (Pirke Avos 3.13)
Sunrise in the Hills of Judea, Shomron (West Bank), Israel
The Blessings of Geshem, Winter Rains, A Seasonal Stream in The Hills of Judea, Shomron (West Bank), Israel
Sunset on the Hilltop in Haifa, Northern Israel Port City
The blessing of Yaakov (aka the biblical patriarch Jacob) includes:
"And to you (Yaacov aka Jacob), G-d should give from the dew of the heavens." Berashis (Genesis) 27:28
Standing very late at night in the hills of the Shomron (West Bank) in the summer clouds decent upon the tops of the hills. In front of your eyes the blessing of Yaakov occurs, the dew falls. Not a little moisture on the grass, nor rain. The blessing of dew is a heavy layer of moisture coating everything. The plants grow, and with a little ingenuity, you can fill a bucket with sweet dew using a tilted sheet.
You say you do not see blessings in front of your eyes today? Stand and watch the blessing of Yaakov as the dew falls in the Shomron (West Bank). 3,000 years after the blessing was given, you can see it for yourself today.
The blessing was given to Yaakov (Jacob) and not to Esau. The dew falls on the tops of the hills as the clouds decend, not in the valley's. In the Shomron (West Bank) today, the Arab villages and towns all are located in the valley's, while the Jewish villages and towns are located on the hilltops.
The blessing falls on the children of Yaakov (Jacob). Coincidence? For those who see only the natural, of course it is. For those who see the blessings and promises of G-d, a miracle in front of your eyes.
By 9:00 am, the dew is only a memory in the heat of the day.
The Prayer For Dew - With His consent, I will speak of the hidden things amidst this people, to bring them joy through this prayer for dew. Dew - to gladden the earth and its herbage that rejoice and are happy in His protective shade. Dew - the symbol of youth, to protect our progeny...
Let dew sweeten like honey the crops of the mountains, let Your chosen ones savor Your goodness, deliver Your beloved ones from bondage, then we will raise our voices and sing sweet songs - with dew.
There are many kabbalistic allusions to dew. Yet while the deepest meanings can be found, the simple meaning, especially when it's in front of your eyes, can be the most profound.
Credit to my daughter for this post, her words and thoughts from summer in the Shomron (West Bank) and a little editing by me.
Strange Israel News from Wired: How a hologram, a blimp, and a massively multiplayer game could bring peace to the Holy Land.
Yitzhaq Hayutman holds the key to peace on Earth - it's on a floppy disk in his pants pocket. With his full white beard, bald pate, and well-pressed khakis, the 61-year-old Israeli cybernetics expert and tech investor looks like Moses done over for a Banana Republic ad. Right now, he's showing me how he wants to position an airborne hologram over the Dome of the Rock, a gold-capped shrine that's one of the most holy sites in Islam. "The blimp will go there," Hayutman says pointing into the blue. "And eventually the Messiah will come."...
As Ezrahi and Hayutman developed the game, some of that kabbalism seeped in. It's still there, in dozens of esoteric riddles and puzzles. But the Jerusalem Games System, as Hayutman now calls his project, has evolved into a cross between Myst and Doom set within the walls of old Jerusalem. Players navigate the narrow streets and bustling marketplaces trying to uncover and decipher Christian, Jewish, and Muslim scriptural clues relating to the end-times. They can choose to kill each other, but they won't be able to move to the next level if they do. The goal is to unlock the secret that will induce the coming of a messiah - whether players believe he will turn out to be the Christian Jesusx, the Jewish Moshiach, or the Muslim Mahdix.
It's possible, according to Hayutman, that the game itself may be the realization of prophecy. "The Book of Revelations describes a New Jerusalem which will encompass the entire Earth," he says, citing Revelation 21. "The online, worldwide virtual reality version of Jerusalem is the only thing that could fulfill that requirement. The digital version of the city would exist in Germany or Indonesia at the same time it exists in Jerusalem itself."...
While in Jerusalem, I make a pilgrimage to the oracle. I ask, "How will World War III begin?" Google answers with a Web site that details the struggle over the Temple Mount. Before coming here, I'd read that the Mount was a "powder keg" and "ground zero for the apocalypse." The reality is that the fuse is already burning. Every day, Jewish zealots are praying for the destruction of the Dome of the Rock, and there are legions of Muslims ready to give their lives to avenge its desecration...
It's odd, and a bit out of date (April 2004), but odd and Israel often go together. Read the whole thing...Wired Magazine Wired 12.04: Apocalypse Now
Credit to the blog HaMikdash for posting the reference.
The Blogosphere is really an amazing place. Following one blog's reference to another, and Blogrolls (the blog lists many blogs maintain, mine's over there to the right, scroll down a bit to see it --->>> ) has led me to many interesting blogs.
Here's some favorite new ones from today (that have now entered my blogroll):
Kabbalah Humor! All of the mysticism, none of the seriousness...
Jewish Rites of Exorcism - Welcome to an adventure of the macabre and mysterious. You are about to embark on a trail that will lead to a place of awe and wonder. Find the very first post, by clicking on the first archive link and follow the adventures of a man who began his quest with great zeal, but little knowledge or experience; and ended up in a struggle with one of the greatest forces of evil known to man.
Kabbalah Discount Center - We provide Kabbalah products, such as the red strings you've seen Puff Daddy, Madonna, and Britney Spears wear, for a fraction of the retail price. Kabbalah Discount, Kabbalah for Cheap, Kabbalah on Lay Away, Irregular Amulets, Kabbalah Bourbon, We hope to one day have it all, until then you'll just have to make do with what we have.
Jewish / Mystical Music
Blog in D minor - Weblog of NYC based Jewish musician, with reviews of Jewish religious and mystical music (the Hassidic Rock genre?)
Serious Quotes, The Holiest Site
A Simple Jew - Jewish thoughts and quotes, that are by no means as simple as they seem.
HaMikdash - Discussions by the decendents of Aaron the Priest of the site of the holy temple in Jerusalem
Live news update from the Shomron (West Bank)...
Arab demonstrations, vehicle stonings and shooting attacks have dropped off significantly since the death of Arafat.
However, on the secret and ominous side of things the Israeli army base between the village of Hawara and Shechem (Nablus), Bat Shalosh, appears to be being quietly dismantled. Fences, buildings and equipment are being removed. Whatever is going on has not been made public (yet)...
On Saturday's, when most of the West Bank Jewish community is celebrating Shabbos (the Sabbath), 10's of heavily loaded UN labeled semi-trucks head down the main road from Jerusalem towards Shechem (Nablus). This has become a regular event, though the numbers are growing rather startling (over 120 counted in a single weekend), as is the fact that the trucks are unescorted, no security or protection.
Yesterday at Tzomet Tapuach (Apple Junction), the main East-West North-South crossroads in the Shomron (West Bank) north of Jerusalem, 2 UN humvee's were stopped and unloaded 25 fully armed blue-helmet UN troops, at least one of which appeared to be very high ranking.
In the past two weeks, U.S. consular armored Suburban's have also been seen traveling the roads in the area as well (recognizable via unique appearence, traveling in pairs and diplomatic plates).
West bank Israeli army bases being dismantled, heavily loaded UN supply trucks headed in, UN troops and high ranking officers in the area, U.S. consular vehicles in the area. What's going on that's being kept quiet???
Examples of towns between Shechem (Nablus) and Jerusalem...
West Bank Arab Town
Do Jews Believe in an Afterlife?
There isn't anything after life, because life never ends. It just goes higher and higher. The soul is liberated from the body and returns closer to her source than ever before.
Read the whole thing (though note Barabara's site has some really annoying background music).
Hasidic Rebbele is having a running argument with another site, Shtreimel...
"Prove to me there is a G-D"- Part 1
On a previous post I asked if there is anyone “here who thinks that they could PROVE to me that there is a G-D out there to step forward. If you can send me an email with an argument I promise to post it, discuss it and comply with the conclusions.”
...it is interesting that I just started to write about Jews like yourself. With a hectic Chanuukah schedule, I will attempt to begin some simple stuff and I hope to continue until we will all be clear here.
Therefore, I accept your challenge.
I will try to write here and continue on my blog, 'cause you are not the only one that is "hurting".
I compliment you for being brave to bring this and other issues to the masses so that we can finally address this accordingly.
and a follow-on post, "Prove to me there is a G-D"- Part 2
I also picked up this most interesting link from Hasidic Rebbele,
The Hasidic Masters' Guide to Management. I've just ordered the book, I'll let you know how it is.
The website Tsel Harim is in news for posting great pictures of Shechem (Nablus), the site of the Tomb of Joseph (as in the biblical patriarch). The picture clearly shows the heavy Arab population in the area (heavy sarcasm)...
As you can clearly see, The Tomb of Joseph in Shechem (Nablus) was surrounded by empty fields 100 years ago. No city, no historical property passed down through generations of Palestinian family. Empty fields. Credit to the site Tsel Harim for the photograph (which they are selling for framing as well).
The site has some interesting additional pictures to show the influx of migrant Arabs over the past 100 years...
******** THEN ********
******** NOW (blue arrows show the tomb) ********
******** BEFORE OSLO, WYE, and the ROADMAP ********
******** AFTER 'PEACE' and the MURDER of those at the site ********
And the bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel brought up out of Egypt, buried they in Shechem, in the parcel of ground which Jacob bought of the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for a hundred pieces of money; and they became the inheritance of the children of Joseph. - Joshua 24:32
(Click on any picture to be taken to the source site, Tsel.Org)
Cross posted to Mystical Paths and Israpundit.
What in the world is with this Kabbalah for the stars thing? Just stop on by down at your local Kabbalah market and pick up some mysticism!
A post on IsraellyCool...
"I did start to look into the whole Kabbalah thing a while ago, just because my mom was like, 'Maybe you should try it.' And Demi was on the set one day at 70's Show, and it interested me, because they talk about ego and stuff." - Teen actress Lindsay Lohan explaining her profound interest in Kabbalah
One of the interesting things about Scientology, which unfortunately an acquaintance of mine became involved in several years ago (via one of their Israeli chapters, who knew they had Israeli chapters, Hashem Yazo [G-d help us!]), is that it does have a practical effect. Using their pop-psychology techniques that are part of their 'philosophy', they do actually make a difference in peoples lives. One of the draws of their organization is that with little investment and limited personal effort, except of course for financial investment (which is not little), the applicant gets a quick return.
Now we have, Hashem Yazo, Kabbalah-tology (aka The Kabbalah Centre). The Jewish mystical tradition thousands of years old and with limited circulation is hot, hip, and creating it's own line of products...
Got your Kabbalah candle?
How about your Kabbalah water?
Again, with limited personal effort (except of course for financial investment), no actual belief or involvement with G-d, the buyer gets a quick return. All through the Kabbalah Centre (a.k.a. Kabbalah-tology). The difference is, unlike Scientology, a philosophy/religion made up by a science fiction author in the 1950's, Kabbalah is real. Through study, effort, purity, and holiness, one may learn secrets of creation and how to improve ones direction in life and goals for the soul, and align them with the dictates of the Creator.
Through Kabbalah-tology, one may believe what one wishes, do what one wishes, buy a red string, a candle, some water, and a copy of the holy Zohar (large set of books), take some expensive classes, and instantly plug in to the 'light of the creator' (after drinking some water and lighting your candle of course)...
Interview with Yehuda Berg - USA Talk Today/May 27, 2004
Yehuda Berg is the son of Rabbi Philip Berg founder and leader of the Kabbalah Centre. He is also the associate director for communications of The Kabbalah Centres. Yehuda Berg is the author of The 72 Names of God.
Monrovia, California: In the Kabbalah, do you teach obedience and reverence for the 10 commandments? If yes, do you stress the teachings of the Torah and Talmud regarding the sin of homosexuality? Does Madonna and other red string wearers understand their obligation to the law?
Yehuda Berg: Kabbalah teachings of the 10 commandments isn't about just these ten laws there is much more than that. It's not just the laws but the codes hidden inside --They are to restrict our desires, not live in a reactive behavior and live a proactive life.
We teach that people who study spirituality should take responsibility. We are a non-judgmental system so we don't enforce any of the responsibilities.
Atlanta, GA: Is there a specific "higher being" that is worshipped/followed by Kabbalists or is this more of a spiritual mindset?
Yehuda Berg: There is a higher power that is discussed in Kabbalah. But a being could be God, Jehovahx, Allahx, it's all-denominational. Even if a person doesn't believe in God he or she could still benefit from its teachings.
Anaheim, California: What are Kabbalah's principles regarding pre-marital sex and abortion?
Yehuda Berg: The major part of Kabbalah is non judgmental. If a person makes a decision to do either, that's their decision. However in our world together, people have to think about the results, do we really want to have sex or because of outside forces. So we teach to focus on what you really want to do versus outside forces.
Kansas City, Missouri: Does Kabbalah consider Buddhax, Mohammadx, and Jesusx prophets?
Yehuda Berg: Prophets and Kabbalists, yes.
Ahhh, just makes me want to scream. Yet, when examined a little closer two significant points come to light. The first is that the non-judgementalism ("If a person makes a decision to do either, that's their decision") and non-committment ("we don't enforce any of the responsibilities") make it easy for people to get involved. The second is that the basic 'technology' they present is realistic ("restrict our desires, not live in a reactive behavior").
Many of the people becoming involved via this wacked organization, The Kabbalah Centre (which is the route of all of the involved pop stars), are very sincere and become very committed to improving themselves and, gradually, improving others. This leads me to wonder if this is another angle in the great plan of introducing people to the right direction and concepts, so they will recognize the ultimate truth when it becomes apparent to us all. Or, as the Rambam says in Mishneh Torah, Hilchos Melachim uMilchamoteihem, recovered uncensored edition, chapter 11 #4...
The intent of the Creator of the world is not within the power of man to comprehend...All the deeds of Jesusx of Nazareth and that Ishmaelite who arose after him (aka Mohammadx) will only serve to prepare the way for the Messiah's coming and the improvement of the entire world, motivating the nations to serve G-d together...
The entire world has already become filled with mention of the Messiah, Torah and mitzvot. These matters have been spread to the furthermost islands, and to many stubborn-hearted nations, and they discuss these matters and the mtizvot of the Torah. They say: "These mitzvot are true, but were already superseded in the present age and are not applicable for all time."
Others say: "Implied in the mitzvot are hidden concepts that cannot be understood simply. The Messiah has already come and revealed those hidden [truths]."
When the true Messianic King will arise and prove successful, his [position becoming] exalted and uplifted, they will all return...
May it be speedily in our days!
My advice to those who are looking at or involved in The Kabbalah Centre:
Be skeptical of people "selling" the truth. The truly righteous, truly mystical and truly knowledgable aren't selling, they're just quietly speaking.
Current Photos (from December 2004) of the Twin Tower site. Note World Trade Center building 7 is being rebuilt... (3 buildings from the World Trade Center complex collapsed because of the horrible attack, the Twin Towers and World Trade Center 7)
"Then I turned and raised my eyes and looked, and behold, four chariots were coming from between two mountains, and the mountains were mountains [made] of bronze" - Zechariah 6.1
"In the day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall" - Isiah 30.25
Zohar Parshat Balak - In the first day it will be seen in one city, and at that day three high places shall fall down in that city. And the Palace of Strength shall fall down.
This heralds a time of war, the rise of a king, troubling times for Israel and the Jewish people, and the coming of the Messiah. One particularly frightening line reads:
"And one cave shall be revealed beneath the earth. And from that cave a big fire shall emerge to burn the world. And from that same cave shall emerge a huge superior bird" -- A nuclear missle launch? G-d forbid!
In the northern mountains of Israel is the city of mystics, Safed (aka Tzfat). On the side of the mountain by the city stands an ancient cemetery filled with the burial place of ancient prophets and mystics.
At the beginning of the cemetery stands a small building with a sign...
The Mikveh of the Holy Ari
(The ritual bath of the holy rabbi and kabbalist, Rabbi Yitzchok Luria, known as the Holy Lion)
As water flows from the rocks on top of the mountain into the bath...
where it is said none who enter will die without returning to their creator in repentence
Many miracles are recounted by those who come to purify themselves in it's freezing waters.
I would also like to point out that a large portion of the rest of the book Avkat Rochel (the whole work covers four volumes) is devoted to illustrating in niglah [revealed Torah] all the various points of these "signs" you say are from ambiguous Midrash [commentary]. Perhaps now you can better appreciate my reluctance to attempt to translate into English for you a couple of pages of the "signs".
To illustrate the point about incorrect expectations in context to the first redemption, after the plagues and even after the splitting of the sea and receiving mannah and water from the well of Miriam, almost the entire Jewish people believed from what they "saw" with their physical eyes, that they were in exile. This occurred at the time of the giving of the Torah. According to their "calculations", Moshe [Moses] was delayed. According to the commentaries around this section of Torah, the Soton caused the entire world to become dark and gloomy. The people became depressed and lost faith in the promise from HaShem [God] and Moshe [Moses]. It even states that the Soton showed the people the funeral bier of Moshe [Moses], meaning they saw his apparently lifeless body. As all the commentaries maintain, Moshe [Moses] was not "late" or delayed. The error was in Israel's expectation of what was supposed to occur.
As I am sure you are aware, the resurrection of the dead was also connected with this event except that it happened before Moshe [Moses] ascended Mount Sinai. In the final redemption, the order of events seems to be reversed.
A bit deep. Some explanation and tie-in's to current events later.
"Everyone says there is This World and the World to Come. We believe that the World to Come exists. It could be that This World also exists - somewhere. But here? From the suffering everyone goes through the whole time, it would appear that this is Gehenim. (Jewish purgatory a.k.a. hell, though not in the classical sense of other religions.)" - Rabbi Nachman of Breslov in Likutey Moharan 2:119.
Please, don't support this blog, do help those who are truly in great need, such as Yad Eliezer, who helps the truly hungry and poverty stricken, and Yad Sarah, who helps the sick, disabled, and terror victims. I've added permanent links on the right for info and donations to these incredibly worthy and competent charities. These organizations are helping amazing amounts of people and are incredibly efficient and innovative with their use of every dollar, shekel, pound and euro...
Yad Eliezer is currently the largest anti-hunger agency in Israel. And each day it struggles to fulfill the many requests for assistance that it receives. As Yad Eliezer’s executive director, Dov Weisel describes it, “Each month is it’s own miracle.”
Exposure to the plight of the poor opens one to the almost insurmountable problems they face. Poverty is a lot more than a lack of funds to cover the budget. It is only a symptom of a whole host of layers upon layers of problems which can be called “the cycle of poverty”. By visiting the homes of those with not enough to feed their children, we find serious cases of undernourishment among children (especially babies). Children who resist going to school because they fear being laughed at by their peers because of the clothing they wear, and children who fall far behind in their studies as a result of a home environment that does not allow them to study.
While Yad Eliezer cannot address every single aspect of this circle of poverty, we do extend ourselves wherever possible. Yad Eliezer offers sufficient food to prepare basic meals. We have addressed the issue of undernourished babies by distributing bay formula to mothers who cannot nurse and who have resorted to diluting the little formula they have to dangerously low levels. Yad Eliezer has an extensive program whereby vast quantities of perfectly good used shoes and clothing is distributed to children so their parents can clothe them with dignity. Our latest program is dealing with the social and educational needs of young boys who have no father figure in the home.
Yad Sarah, the largest voluntary organization in Israel, provides a spectrum of free or nominal cost services designed to make life easier for sick, disabled and elderly people and their families.
Yad Sarah's mission is to keep the ill and the elderly in their homes and out of institutions as long as possible. Home care in the natural environment of the family is most conducive to healthy recuperation, both physically and emotionally. It also costs both family and State much less.
Yad Sarah's best-known service is the lending of medical and rehabilitative equipment on a short-term basis free of charge to anyone who needs it - from a stock of over 250,000 items, from crutches and wheelchairs to oxygen concentrators and electronic monitors.
In addition, Yad Sarah provides a wide range of other services, including transportation and day care centers for the disabled, drop-in centers and minimum-charge dental clinics for the elderly, personal computerized emergency alarms monitored 24 hours a day, and guidance/exhibition centers which help disabled people choose the assistive devices most suited to their needs.
The organization also provides equipment and services for new mothers, infants, recently discharged hospital patients and others in need, and a wide range of volunteer-run creative, recreational and rehabilitative activities for homebound people
Please, make the words and effort put into this blog worthwhile, lend a hand to those who truly need it.
For many years, practically for the last two generations, Western society (Edom in kabbalistic terminology) has taught in it's schools the philosophical-religious approach of scientific atheism (or, sciencism). This 'philosophy' goes something like this: 'we basically know all about how the universe works though there are a few final details left to fill in, we haven't found G-d, therefore He doesn't exist'.
In this context religion is presented from a variety of approaches, all negative. Taking from communism, it's the opiate of the masses. It's a societal control technique. It's simple minded stuff for the less intelligent among us. It's childhood stories to be outgrown. Telling a college professor you are religious is akin to saying you've never successfully been potty trained. A reaction of 'and how does a person with your condition find him/her self in our institution of higher learning?' is common.
Suddenly, the scientific knowledge base itself has begun to encounter hints and complexities that the generic anti-religious position might be wrong. One of the first major scientists to point this out was Stephen Hawking, who said in his famous book A Brief History of Time that science can describe how in great detail. But, the question why is outside the realm of science. Further, much of science is actually predicting previous results. If I drop the ball it will fall at such a rate impacting with so much force. Well, maybe, if gravity continues to operate as it did when that rate was measured and many other scientific principles continue to operate as they have in the past, then yes.
Operating in the context of a world where those things haven't been observed to change leads one to automatically assume that they indeed don't change, and never will. Why not? If the system continues to operate as it has, then science can do a pretty good job at describing how it operates. Why does the system operate this way (as opposed to some other way)? That question is beyond the realm of science (though science keeps stretching to try to answer what it can't, see the Time Magazine article, "The universe seems uncannily well suited to the existence of life. Could that really be an accident?", which guesses that one answer is there's many universes with different parameters, we just happen to be in the one that is just right to suite life. Guesses because there's no data at all to support [or deny] the idea, nor can there ever be as it would require to ability to measure and interact outside this universe, which by definition is impossible).
ABC News: Famous Atheist Now Believes in God
A British philosophy professor who has been a leading champion of atheism for more than a half-century has changed his mind. He now believes in God more or less based on scientific evidence, and says so on a video released Thursday.
At age 81, after decades of insisting belief is a mistake, Antony Flew has concluded that some sort of intelligence or first cause must have created the universe. A super-intelligence is the only good explanation for the origin of life and the complexity of nature, Flew said in a telephone interview from England.
Flew said he's best labeled a deist like Thomas Jefferson, whose God was not actively involved in people's lives.
"I'm thinking of a God very different from the God of the Christian and far and away from the God of Islam, because both are depicted as omnipotent Oriental despots, cosmic Saddam Husseins," he said. "It could be a person in the sense of a being that has intelligence and a purpose, I suppose."
Flew first made his mark with the 1950 article "Theology and Falsification," based on a paper for the Socratic Club, a weekly Oxford religious forum led by writer and Christian thinker C.S. Lewis.
Over the years, Flew proclaimed the lack of evidence for God while teaching at Oxford, Aberdeen, Keele, and Reading universities in Britain, in visits to numerous U.S. and Canadian campuses and in books, articles, lectures and debates.
There was no one moment of change but a gradual conclusion over recent months for Flew, a spry man who still does not believe in an afterlife.
Yet biologists' investigation of DNA "has shown, by the almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements which are needed to produce (life), that intelligence must have been involved," Flew says in the new video, "Has Science Discovered God?"
The video draws from a New York discussion last May organized by author Roy Abraham Varghese's Institute for Metascientific Research in Garland, Texas. Participants were Flew; Varghese; Israeli physicist Gerald Schroeder, an Orthodox Jew; and Roman Catholic philosopher John Haldane of Scotland's University of St. Andrews.
The first hint of Flew's turn was a letter to the August-September issue of Britain's Philosophy Now magazine. "It has become inordinately difficult even to begin to think about constructing a naturalistic theory of the evolution of that first reproducing organism," he wrote.
The letter commended arguments in Schroeder's "The Hidden Face of God" and "The Wonder of the World" by Varghese, an Eastern Rite Catholic layman.
This week, Flew finished writing the first formal account of his new outlook for the introduction to a new edition of his "God and Philosophy," scheduled for release next year by Prometheus Press.
Prometheus specializes in skeptical thought, but if his belief upsets people, well "that's too bad," Flew said. "My whole life has been guided by the principle of Plato's Socrates: Follow the evidence, wherever it leads."
A tradition is recorded in the Talmud (Tractate Megillah 17b, Rashi) that the Sanhedrin will be restored after a partial ingathering of the Jewish exiles, but before Jerusalem is completely rebuilt and restored. Another Talmudic tradition (Eruvin 43b; Maharatz Chajas ad loc; Rashash to Sanhedrin 13b) states that Elijah the Prophet will present himself before a duly-ordained Sanhedrin when he announces the coming of the Messiah. This indicates that despite common misconceptions, a Sanhedrin is a pre-, not post-messianic institution.
This past October, the Sanhedrin was reestablished for the first time in 1,600 years, at the site of its last meeting in Tiberias.
Israel National News (aka Arutz 7) reports Members of Reestablished Sanhedrin Ascend Temple Mount
In a dramatic but unpublicized move, members of the newly established Sanhedrin ascended the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site, this past Monday.
Close to 50 recently ordained s'muchim, members of the Sanhedrin, lined up at the foot of the Temple Mount Monday morning. [The word s'muchim comes from the same root as s'michah, , rabbinic ordination.] The men, many ascending the Temple Mount for the first time, had immersed in mikvaot (ritual baths) that morning, and planned to ascend as a group. Despite prior approval from the Israeli police who oversee entry to the Mount, the officers barred the group from entering the Mount all together, and allowed them to visit only in groups of ten.
As I've previously mentioned, such items are very exciting news according to the mystical path. Quiet steps are starting to come out.
Credit to Rabbi Yess and his mailing list for alerting me to the primary reference article.
“Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai said...when it will be close to the days of Moshiach, even children who will be in the world at that time will find secrets of wisdom, and will know from them ends [of exile] and calculations [of redemption], and at that time [Hashem] will reveal [them] to everyone." (Zohar Vayeira 118a) [quote from the site below]
I just read this online today and found it of great interest. The source/site is usually reliable, but of course there's no guarantee of authenticity of material on the 'net...
The sequence of events that are described herein come from a precocious six year-old Jewish boy living in the greater New York City area. They were recorded by his father from conversations they have had over several months of this year (2004 on the secular calendar).
The father emphasizes that almost none of this information was told or taught to the child; on the contrary, the child often made statements pertaining to the coming of Moshiach (the Messiah) the likes of which the father had never heard; the child's father suspected that they were simply the results of a colorful imagination. However, when he began to research the matter, he was astonished to discover that in fact what the child said was to be found in the words of the prophets or other ancient Torah sources!
Powerful prophecy, read it here...A Child's Vision of Redemption
Note the dates in the article are given according to the Jewish Hebrew Calendar. 'Menachem Av 5765' equates to August, 2005.
In honor of the festive occasion of Hanukah, a constant reminder that a little light dispels a lot of darkness, I humbly offer my favorite Hanukah story:
Adapted from the Hebrew weekly, Shav'uon Kfar Chabad, a wondrous account sent in by Rabbi Moses Hayyim Greenvald from 10 years ago...
Since the passing of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, zt"l, may his merit guard over us, Jews all around me -- of every stripe and persuasion -- can't seem to stop talking about the Rebbe. At the synagogue I pray at, at work. It amazes me to see how every Jew seems to have a story about a personal encounter or experience with the Rebbe.
I say it's a mitzvah to tell these stories so that our children and children's children will hear about the Sanctification of G-d's name by means of a tzaddik who walked amongst us and was a faithful shepherd for all the children of the generation. It's widely known that Hasidim place great importance on tales of the righteous, as it is written, "Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord O ye Servants of the Lord" (Psalms). In order to comply with this precept myself, I offer a wondrous account about the Rebbe and my father. Until now this was known only in our family circles. I now find it incumbent upon me, after the Rebbe's passing, to tell the story publicly.
My father, Rabbi Abraham Zvi Greenvald, was born in Lodz, Poland, and was orphaned from his father at the age of 8. His mother was left with seven little orphans, and she worried much about the education of her eldest boy, whom she sent to live with a cousin, the exalted scholar Rabbi Menachem Zemba, may G-d avenge his blood. It was he who raised my father with great self-sacrifice. Understandably, he was concerned about my father's studies and even tutored him personally.
My father was almost 17 years old when there took place in Warsaw "The Great Wedding" -- the nuptials of the daughter of the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Joseph Isaac (Schneersohn) with Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, who would later become the seventh Rebbe. My father used to tell about this wedding almost as a spiritual exercise -- both regarding the wedding itself, in which participated the cream of Polish Hasidic leaders, and also that my father was able to meet personally with the young bridegroom. This meeting, my father would later realize, would portend much in the future.
A youth of about 17, my father arrived at the wedding together with his relative and teacher, Rabbi Menachem Zemba. On the morning after, Rabbi Zemba told him he was going to visit the bridegroom in the hotel, and if my father wished, he could accompany him. Understandably, my father agreed.
My father could not remember and repeat all that the two spoke about, but he did remember well the end of the conversation, before these two personalities parted ways. The Rebbe turned to my father and said, "In another few days, it will be Hanukkah. Do you know why many small synagogues hold festivals on the fifth day of Chanukah?" My father did not know what to answer, and he recalled that Rabbi Zemba just looked at the Rebbe waiting for an answer. Then the Rebbe, turned to my father and said, "The fifth Hanukkah candle signifies great darkness because this day cannot fall on the Holy Sabbath. And through the Hanukkah candles, the greatest (spiritual) darkness of the world is illuminated. And for this reason, the potential of Hanukkah comes to fruition specifically through the fifth candle, which signifies the darkness. And this is the function of every Jew, in every place -- in Warsaw or London -- to illuminate the darkest place."
As mentioned earlier, my father did not remember what the Rebbe and Rabbi Zemba spoke about during their long conversation. But he said he would never forget that all the tractates of the Babylonian Talmud flew around the room. When they left the hotel, my father recalls, Rabbi Zemba was extremely excited and didn't stop speaking about the meeting to everyone with whom he conversed for several days.
After that meeting, nearly 10 years passed.
My father survived the Holocaust, first in the Ghetto, and afterwards in the Extermination Camps. His first wife and their five little children were slaughtered in front of his eyes. When the war ended, and he was left alive by the grace of G-d, he experienced a mental and physical breakdown. For two years, he moved from displaced persons camp to displaced persons camp, trying to learn if there were relatives -- close or distant -- who survived. In the end, it became clear that all his brothers and sisters -- each one of them -- was liquidated by the oppressor, may its name be blotted out.
In the year 5708 (ca. 1948), he traveled to the United States, to Philadelphia. There lived his uncle, Rabbi Moshe Hayyim Greenvald of the Amshinov Hasidim, who he had never met because the uncle immigrated to America before he was born. But the uncle arranged my fathers travel to the U. S. and received him with great love, and did everything to make it easier for him and to comfort him after the portion of awesome suffering he underwent . . . Under pressure from his uncle, with the intervention of the Amshinov Rebbe, my father decided to put his life back together, married a second wife (my mother, of blessed memory).
She was a child of Karkov, daughter of Rabbi Zushya Sinkowitz, may G-d avenge his blood, of the elders of the Alexander Hasidim. Together with his sister, he succeeded in fleeing immediately at the beginning of the war, running from country to country until they set sail for Canada. There, they raised in the house another cousin, the great leader, Mr. Kuppel Shwartz, one of Toronto's leading Jews. Before my parents were wed, Mr. Shwartz took my father to New York for an audience with the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Joseph Isaac (Schneersohn) to obtain his blessing.
My father told me that he trembled to see the change that had overtaken the Previous Rebbe, how age had crept up on him since the Warsaw wedding. (It was very difficult to understand the Rebbe's speech; one of the Hasidic elders who stood in the room explained what the Rebbe was saying). Mr. Shwartz told the Previous Rebbe that my father had been saved, but lost his family in the Holocaust. Then, from the holy eyes of the Previous Rebbe there began to fall streams of pure tears. The Rebbe blessed my father and wished him a long and good life. Before he left, my father told the Rebbe that he had been fortunate to be at the wedding of his son-in-law, the Rebbe, in Warsaw. Then, my father tells, the Previous Rebbe's eyes brightened and he said that since his son-in-law lived here, and he was at the wedding, he should certainly visit him to pay his respects.
Mr. Shwartz and my father left the Rebbe's chambers, and after they were shown where to find the chambers of the Ramash, as he was known then, they knocked and entered, saying they came at the instructions of the Previous Rebbe. My father was elated that the Ramash remembered him immediately. His first question was that my father should tell about last days of Rabbi Zemba because he heard he was killed in the Warsaw Ghetto but did not know any details.
After my father told all he knew, the Ramash said, "since the Rebbe told you to visit me, I am obligated to say to you words of Torah. And since the month of Kislev is close to Hanukkah, it is known the custom of many Hasidim," followers of the Baal Shem Tov, to celebrate the fifth day of Hanukkah. What is the reason? Since the fifth day can never fall on the Sabbath, if so, then it implies strong (spiritual) darkness. This is the potential of the Hanukkah candle -- to illuminate the greatest darkness. This is the mission of every Jew in every place he may be -- New York or London -- to illuminate the darkest place.
Needless to say, my father was startled as he had all but forgotten the very same thing that the Ramash had told him nearly 20 years earlier. And now, his memory was jarred, and he realized that the Ramash had repeated, almost word-for-word, what he told him then, in the hotel in Warsaw.
After his wedding, my father served as a rabbi and teacher for Congregation Adath Israel in Washington Heights. There we were born, my sister and I. My father remained there some five years, and, with the help of Mr. Shwartz in Canada, moved to Toronto and worked there as a rabbi and teacher in the Haredi congregations there.
Over the course of years, in Toronto, my father became close to the Satmar Hasidim in the city, since he ministered in his rabbinical work to these Hasidim. Though he never sent us to the Satmar schools, he sent us to educational institutions that were spiritually similar. Me and my brother were sent to the well known Nytra Yeshivah. Though my father's outlook was philosophically close to Satmar, he never spoke against the Lubavitcher Rebbe. On the contrary, he always spoke of him in with praise and in especially respectful terms, as did his children.
In the winter of 5729 (ca. 1969), I was married. My father told me that even though I wasn't a Lubavitcher Hasid, he feels the need to go with me to visit the Lubavitcher Rebbe to receive his blessing for my wedding -- just as he had done, even though he had not seen the Rebbe for some 20 years. I agreed with a whole heart.
But then, I learned it's not so simple to visit the Rebbe.
Only after negotiations with the Rebbe's secretary -- and only after my father explained to him that we could not wait several months to reserve a place in the queue for audiences -- did he agreed to place us in line, but only after we promised we would only ask for a benediction and would not detain the Rebbe. My father promised and we left Toronto on the appointed day. I don't remember the exact hour we entered the Rebbe's chambers, but it was closer to morning than night, if not dawn itself.
I saw the Rebbe's face for the first time in person. His face, especially his eyes, made a great impression on me. My father gave the Rebbe the customary epistle on which were inscribed the names of myself, my bride-to-be and my father's request for a benediction. The Rebbe took the epistle from my father's hands. Before he opened it, he looked at my father with a broad smile and said, "Not more than 20 years ago the time had arrived, especially as the Previous Rebbe sent you to me." My father stood, scared and trembling, and couldn't find the energy to open his mouth.
Meanwhile, the sexton banged on the door, but the Rebbe waved his hand as to negate the knocking, like someone who was saying, don't pay attention.
In the midst of all this, the Rebbe opened the epistle, glanced at it, and immediately began to give us his blessing, blessed my father with a long life and good years, and said, roughly, "Just as you rejoiced at my nuptials, may the Lord give you nachas and strength to dance at your grandchild's wedding." Tears poured from my father's eyes, and I was also elated. My father had been physically broken from all he had endured in the camps, and this benediction of the Rebbe's was especially dear.
Before we left, my father got together the strength to ask the Rebbe that since he had promised the secretary we would enter solely to request a blessing, and he has a pressing question, would the Rebbe permit him to ask it. The Rebbe smiled and laughed, and said (roughly): "Since the Rebbe the father-in-law sent you to me, I am obligated to answer all questions. And as before, we heard loud banging on the door, and the Rebbe signaled we should ignore it.
My father turned to the Rebbe and said that for different reasons, we had lived among the Satmar Hasidim and their fellow travellers for many years. There, we frequently hear complaints about the views of Lubavitch. "Even though I do not accept all the gossip that I hear, they have nonetheless succeeded in raising within me a great doubt about the Lubavitch view in connection with working together with the "wicked people." The verses are well known, such as "And those that thou hatest the Lord shall hate." "How is it that Lubavitch can openly work together with those who battle against G-d and his Torah?"
My father told the Rebbe that he requests forgiveness for the question, and did not mean to offend. Quite to the contrary, he really wants to understand the Rebbe's view so he can answer others as well as himself. The Rebbe then turned to my father with a question. "What would your neighbors do if a neighbor's daughter began to keep bad company? Would they attempt to return her to the way of Torah and the Commandments, or would they say, 'And those that thou hatest the Lord shall hate and it is forbidden to involve oneself with the wicked; therefore, we should distance ourselves from her and not bring her closer?'"
The Rebbe did not even wait for an answer, and promptly added: "This zealous one would answer that with a daughter, the injunction of 'From thy flesh do not conceal thyself would apply.'" And then the Rebbe's eyes became serious, and he knocked on the table, and said: "By the Al-mighty, every Jew is as precious as an only child. With the Rebbe, the father-in-law, every Jew was 'From thy flesh, do not conceal thyself.'"
Then the Rebbe looked at me, and at my father with a constant gaze, and said: "One concludes with a blessing. As it is known, it is customary among Hasidim to celebrate the fifth day of Hanukkah with festivities. What is the reason? Since the fifth day cannot ever fall on the Sabbath, this signifies that it is the height of darkness. With the light of the Hanukkah candle, it is possible to illuminate the darkest thing. This is the mission of each Jew, to illuminate even the darkest places. It does not matter where he lives -- Toronto or London. Every Jew is veritably a part of G-d above, the only child of the Holy One, Blessed be He. And when one lights his soul with the candle of holiness, even the distant Jew is stirred in the darkest place."
My father was startled in the most shocking way. He didn't even hear the last words of the Rebbe's blessing, nor how we left the Rebbes chambers. All the way back to Toronto he was silent. Only two words: "wonder of wonders. Wonder of wonders."
Since then, about 10 years passed.
In the year 5739 (ca. 1979), my youngest brother was married in the city of London. The whole family, my father, my mother, my sister, my brother-in-law, and I flew to the wedding in an airplane. On the way to London, I saw my father was preoccupied. Something was bothering him. I asked him what was wrong and he didn't want to say. Only after I asked several times, he told me. "A few minutes after I left the house in Toronto, the neighbor -- one of the dignitaries of our congregation -- came to see me, rivers of tears pouring from his eyes. He said he would tell me a story that he would not otherwise tell to anybody willingly, but that maybe I could help.
It turned out that the daughter of this community leader wavered very much in her ritual observance. In the beginning, the parents didn't really know about it, because she hid it from them. But two weeks earlier, the great catastrophe became known to them: she eloped with a Gentile to London. Since then, the atmosphere at home was one of crying and mourning, the 9th of Av.
All the efforts of relatives in London came to naught. Therefore, he asked my father, since he was travelling to London, maybe he would look into the matter, and G-d would be merciful. Maybe he could find the daughter and prevent her from descending into the depths of iniquity? My father was a close friend of this neighbor, and was affected greatly by the story. I also took it to heart and thought about what I could do in London.
The nuptials were held at a good and auspicious hour. On the first night of the Seven Benedictions, my father turned to the bride's father and told him the story about the neighbor's daughter. Perhaps he had some advice, who, where? Maybe he could look into the matter and do something? The bride's father, as soon as he heard the story, said to my father that he had no understanding of such matters, but did have a friend who was a Lubavitcher Hasid, who the Lubavitcher Rebbe had always charged with all types of errands. The man's name was Rabbi Abraham Isaac Glick, and if there's somebody who can help, it is this man, who had already managed to save from the streets of Europe many confused souls.
That night, the bride's father telephoned Rabbi Glick, told him the story and explained how pressing the matter was. Rabbi Glick asked for the telephone number of the girl's parents in Toronto -- perhaps they knew some details that would help, like addresses, telephone numbers. Perhaps they would give him some clue where to start searching. Rabbi Glick promised to do what he could.
I don't know where Rabbi Glick searched, where he went, nor with whom he consulted. But one night, about 10 days later -- my father and my mother decided to stay in London until after Hanukkah -- Rabbi Glick called the bride's father and told him to come immediately. "I have a very good surprise," he said.
The bride's father and my father hurried to Rabbi Glick's house. As they entered, they saw a girl sitting, crying. At the entrance of the salon, a Hanukkah candelabrum was lit. Suddenly, as my father looked at the menorah, he saw five candles lit, and he almost fainted and fell to the ground. He remembered the strange sentence the Rebbe had told him some 50 years earlier, then 30 years earlier and then 10.
"The fifth Hanukkah candle signifies the power of the Hanukkah menorah, and the mission of every Jew is to illuminate even" the darkest place -- Warsaw or London, New York or London, or Toronto or London . . ."
"What will that zealous one do when his daughter wavers ...with the Holy One, Blessed be He, every Jew is an only child ... With the Previous Rebbe, every Jew is 'From thy flesh, do not conceal thyself.'" There's no need to mention that the girl completely repented and became on observant Jew. There's also no need to mention that the zealous one shut his mouth and ceased speaking against Lubavitch.
When my father returned to Canada, he made every effort to obtain an audience with the Rebbe. He felt a need, a spiritual duty after what had happened, to see the Rebbe. But in those years, it had become very difficult to obtain a private audience. But the following month of Tishrei, the year 5740 (ca. 1980), my father succeeded seeing the Rebbe on the night that a group of holiday visitors had a group audience. My father said that from all the emotions that were coursing through him, he could not utter anything during the audience. When he tried to tell the story, he would break into tears. The Rebbe heard just a few sentences, turned to my father and said, "The father-in-law has a very distant vision."
Every time my father would tell this story, he would say that the real wonder was the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Even more than his vision of events to come from 50 years beforehand, was his heavenly humility of, that he said, "The father-in-law has a very distant vision."
The chain of wonders has not stopped. On 14 Kislev 5748 (ca. 1989), exactly when the Seven Benedictions for my firstborn child ended, on the day which represented the passage of 60 years from the Rebbe's wedding in Warsaw, my father passed away -- all just as the Rebbe had blessed my father, that he should rejoice at the wedding of his grandchild.
We should be happy that this man, Holy to G-d dwelt amongst us. Since it is known that "The righteous are greater in their death than in their lives," certainly the Rebbe will cause a flow of blessings, salvation and comfort from On High, to each and all, until we merit to the promise of the verse, "And a Redeemer shall come unto Zion," in accord with the holy will of the Rebbe, soon and in our time. Amen.
-- Rabbi Moshe Hayyim Greenvald
The copy that I received 9 years ago was originally provided by Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Kazen, a"h (who has passed away), the original founder of Chabad Online (www.chabad.org), one of the primary web sites for the Chabad Lubavich Hassidim. At the time I received this, an online web site was a new thing (for those who know 'net history, it originally came with a Gopher address), and a religious web site was a wonderous thing. It came with the stipulation that the site be advertised, which I have done here, and donation info provided. To donate to Chabad Online, click here.
It also came with the stipulation that this acknowledgement be included, though I can no longer guarantee the contact information is accurate:
Translation provided courtesy of:
FRIENDS OF LUBAVITCH OF FLORIDA, (Est. 1960)
Rabbi Abraham Korf
Lubavitch Regional Director-Florida
voice: (305) 673-5664; fax: (305) 673-0269
One of the internets greatest Gadol's (great men) has shut down. Reb Lazer (of the popular blog Reb Lazer's Shtibble) has announced that he has closed his Shtibble after coming to the conclusion that all the negative influences and crackpots out there on the net who haven't respected the sanctity of his site, is doing him more harm then good. I think I can speak for all my friends on the net from all over the world that we will sorely miss the daily insights and inspiration that we have had the good fortune to acquire by visiting the Reb's Shtibble. Reb Lazer WE MISS YOU ALREADY! G-D BLESS AND PLEASE COME BACK! :-)
I can only say I strongly second that opinion. But the 'net is a rough neighborhood, people do things, write things and say things they certainly wouldn't consider doing in person.
In searching for a definition-link in my last post, I came across this site: Farbrengen.com. I've seen their material in their occasional holiday paper publication in the past, and it's a nice site to visit. Their home page has some great thoughts pertinent to this blog's focus:
Throughout the year, children, families and tourists have been brutally murdered. On September 11, the world witnessed one of the most horrific terrorist acts of history. A reason offered by the terrorists and their sympathizers? Jerusalem.
Jewish mysticism teaches that Jerusalem is the barometer of the world. She cannot be at peace if the world is at war, and what occurs within her walls affects all of humanity. All prayers travel through Jerusalem to the Heavens; simultaneously, G-d showers blessings upon Jerusalem, and from there they radiate into the world.
She is remembered every day in each of our (Jewish) prayers, at (Jewish) weddings, (Jewish) funerals and at every Jewish occasion. Synagogues all over the world face her direction. Though our ancestors were exiled from Jerusalem over 2,000 years ago, she has never left us. Is it not significant that the entire world is so concerned with what Jews have focused on for thousands of years?
The Midrash tells a story of two brothers who lived on separate sides of a mountain. One was blessed with a wife and children, but was poor; the other was blessed with wealth, but had no family.
They became partners in a farm and split its produce evenly. Since they loved each other dearly, each felt the other’s plight. The wealthy brother thought, “My brother has a large family. He needs this more than I,” and he would secretly move some of his produce to his brother’s section in the middle of the night. The brother with the family thought, “My brother is all alone, with no one to take care of him. He needs this more than I,” and he would secretly move some of his produce to his brother’s section.
Each was amazed that, no matter how much he gave away, his produce did not diminish. Knowing that G-d works in mysterious ways, they didn’t question too much. Then late one night, they ran into each other at the top of the mountain. Both were carrying some produce. They fell into each other’s arms and cried.
Their actions, so pure and selfless, affected the very mountain upon which they stood. G-d vowed that His presence would never leave this place. This farm later became a village, then a city, and eventually the capital of the Jewish nation under King David. Her name: Jerusalem.
These acts of kindness which gave birth to Jerusalem sustain her to this day. Unlike any other city, she represents a state of consciousness to which we can all aspire. In fact, the Torah tells of the day when Jerusalem will extend throughout the globe.
The Zohar teaches that the world is now on the threshold of this consciousness, and that the forces of darkness and despair will stop at nothing to prevent her dawn. Particularly at this critical time, our every thought, word and deed can illuminate the world. As the Lubavitcher Rebbe teaches, “All it takes is one good deed to change the world for good.”
Their mysticism article is quite nice as well.
As with many, I'm learning about blogging as I go along. Note my email address is at the right (over there, near the top ---> ), so if you have any comments, questions, or suggestions, please let me know.
Obviously (at least it's obvious to me now), blogging late at night when you are tired doesn't always result in the highest quality posts, as my previous post demonstrated. So, though I spent the evening at a large hassidic gathering (a 'farbrengen') focused on the topic on which I posted, the time and the travel effort didn't leave me posting my best (I consider my last post to be very unclear).
Thank G-d, with life there is hope, so I hope to continue to learn and always improve.
Among certain hassidim (in particular, the Chabad or Lubavitch hassidim), the hebrew date of the 19th of Kislev, which was December 2 this year, is a special occasion.
On this day, the founder of the movement was released from prison and a death sentence which he received for teaching Torah (Jewish religious studies) in Russia. This day starts a learning cycle for his primary work of hassidic philosophy and kabbalah...
The Book of the Intermediates
“For this thing is very near to you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it”; explaining clearly how it is exceedingly near, in both a lengthy and a short way, with the aid of the Holy One, blessed be He.
Also known as The Long Shorter Way, and best known by the first word of the book in hassidic circles, 'Tanya'.
It is written of the author...When my master and teacher was in a state of d'veikut (lit. "attachment," a trance-like state of ecstatic cleaving to G-d) he would cry out: "I want nothing at all! I don't want Your 'garden of eden,' I don't want Your 'world to come'... I want nothing but You alone."
The book explains the path for the average person (the intermediate, neither a saint nor an evil person) to become perfectly in sync with the master of the world in all ways.
Seek those who are truly pious, who's great words are studied centuries after they are written, and who's wisdom survives generations.