Monday, January 31, 2005

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A Meditative Thought

The Rav of Tcherin wrote in Zimrat Ha'aretz...

The perfection of hitbodedut (secluded meditation) is to attain devekut (cleaving to or communion with G-d), to cleave to G-d until you become utterly subsumed with the Divine Oneness.

The word hitbodedut is a construct of badad, meaning either 'seculsion' or 'oneness', as in the phrase 'they shall be one with one [ie, of equal weight]' - Rashi on Exodus 30:34. That is, you must become "one with G-d" to the extend that all sensory awareness ceases and the only reality you perceive is Godliness. This is the mystical meaning of the verse "There is nothing but G-d alone" - Deuteronomy 4:35.


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Updates & Changes

I continue to work on this blog to provide the best blogging & reading experience I can. Over the past week or so, for those interested in the technical stuff and the links the blog offers, I've made these changes:

  • Subscriptions - right at the top I've added the most common subscription / site feed / syndication options. Clicking on Add to My Newsreader will automatically add the blog to your local newsreader program. If you use a service such as MyYahoo, Bloglines or Newsgator, I added those buttons also.

  • Israeli Headlines - scroll down a bit and on the right you'll see a live news headline feed from Israel. This is courtesy of Israel National News aka Arutz 7.

  • Key Posts - a little further down on the right I just added Key Posts. With some months of posts behind me now, I was able to select some of what I consider the best.

  • Interesting Links - periodically I update the links, adding those of great interest and removing any that have not stood the test of time. Recent additions include the Kabbalah Art category, Cross Currents and Deep Blog, which has honored me with a prominent place in their Spirtuality category.

  • Blogosphere Services - the blog world continues to grow in new services and/or those new to me. I've added several more Blog Directories, including GetBlogs, BlogHub, and BlogExplosion. In the tracking category, I've added feed-subscriber statistics via Feedburner.

  • Last but not least, as part of the Israeli/Jewish Blogburst group (the source of the Remembering Aushwitz post), I've added the Blogburst blogroll at the very end of the right side.

I'm always open to suggestions, so if anyone has any ideas on how to improve the blog please post a comment or email me (info on the right).

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, January 30, 2005

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Iraqi Success, Incredible Media Bias

As this post from Iraq shows, the elections have gone stunningly well...

We had all kinds of feelings in our minds while we were on our way to the ballot box except one feeling that never came to us, that was fear. We could smell pride in the atmosphere this morning; everyone we saw was holding up his blue tipped finger with broad smiles on the faces while walking out of the center.

I couldn't think of a scene more beautiful than that. From the early hours of the morning, People filled the street to the voting center in my neighborhood; youths, elders, women and men. Women's turn out was higher by the way. And by 11 am the boxes where I live were almost full! Anyone watching that scene cannot but have tears of happiness, hope, pride and triumph.

The sounds of explosions and gunfire were clearly heard, some were far away but some were close enough to make the windows of the center shake but no one seemed to care about them as if the people weren't hearing these sounds at all. I saw an old woman that I thought would get startled by the loud sound of a close explosion but she didn't seem to care, instead she was busy verifying her voting station's location as she found out that her name wasn't listed in this center.

How can I describe it!? Take my eyes and look through them my friends, you have supported the day of Iraq's freedom and today, Iraqis have proven that they're not going to disappoint their country or their friends.

Is there a bigger victory than this? I believe not.

Yet, with a reported 72% voter turnout and direct reports like the one above, what does the media report?

CNN: Iraqis vote amid violence - BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Polls have closed and ballot counting has begun after Iraq's first free election in a half century, with officials reporting a higher than expected turnout of registered voters amid attacks and threats of violence.

Insurgents carried out more than a dozen attacks across the country on Sunday, killing at least 25 people and wounding 71 others.

So there you have it, media bias in a nutshell.

The good news is that media bias is not limited to Israel. The bad news is the level of bias has reached Orwellian proportions.
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Some Introductory Info.

Some questions I've seen here and elsewhere make it clear there's alot of confusion in the complex and esoteric area of Kabbalah, so I thought some general introduction is in order.

Kabbalah studies are generally classified into 3 categories.

  • The Theoretical - studies of the details of G-d's interaction with the world.

  • The Meditative - somewhat as it sounds, meditation, though both for the purpose of focusing ones mind properly on the creator, and for mystical influence of the world by properly focusing on the secrets of G-d during prayer.

  • The Practical - actions that influence the spiritual realms to practically affect the world.

  • Theoretical Kabbalah is the study of texts (and so forth) that lead one to understand the world, G-d's relationship to it, your actions in it and the impact of those actions. This often leads to one changing those actions to improve oneself and/or (and more importantly) improve the world, at least your little corner, in the best way you can. These actions would best be described as the application of theoretical kabbalah to your life.

    Meditative Kabbalah is somewhat as it sounds, actual meditation. There are two general categories of this. The first is somewhat generic meditation with a kabbalistic flavor, that is, meditating to focus the mind and control the thoughts using kabbalah concepts as the points of meditative focus.

    The second is kavanot, focused meditations as part of Jewish prayer that comprise permutations of G-d's names, through which one can focus G-d's energies in this world and bring down blessings or repair spiritual breaches (tikkunim), or transport oneself to visit the heavenly realms. This is only for those with years of proper foundation, instruction, and study, with high levels of purity and holiness.

    Practical Kabbalah is using of kabbalistic techniques to directly manipulate the spiritual forces of the world, including spiritual beings (best english translation but not exactly the same 'western' concept, angels), thereby directly impacting/manipulating the physical world. This is absolutely only for those masters of all the above, the highest levels of purity and holiness, and under direct instruction of a holy master.
    READ IT!
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    The Precipice - follow up.

    In comments on my previous post, an interesting question was raised, "Why do you take his word for it?". While I didn't post the full article or the thoughts that brought, in light of that question, I think it's important to add to what I posted previously...

    (more from Daniel Pipes...)

    The subsequent 60 years, however, witnessed a resurgence of the Orthodox element. This was, again, due to many factors, especially a tendency among the non-Orthodox to marry non-Jews and have fewer children. Recent figures on America published by the National Jewish Population Survey also point in this direction. The Orthodox proportion of American synagogue members, for example, went from 11% in 1971 to 16% in 1990 to 21% in 2000-01. (In absolute numbers, it bears noting, the American Jewish population went steadily down during these decades.)

    Talking about the 5% figure, it seems pretty reasonable and matches most other info I've read that most of American Jews and most of the population in the Yishuv (pre-Israel-nationhood Jewish settlement in Israel) was minimally observant and not sending their children to Torah based education institutions (which were pretty much non-existant outside of Europe pre-World War 2).

    The percentage of the Jewish population that is religiously observant is growing, and the pace of growth is also growing, both because of birth-rate (large family sizes) and because of outreach efforts. Though I have no official statistics, I've heard and personally seen that yeshiva's are larger than they have been in hundreds of years, and the largest yeshiva's (Mir & Ponevetz for example) are 5 times larger than they were before World War 2. Further, the percentage of the religious jewish population that is engaged in full time Torah study is also at a (seemily) all time high.

    There are, of course, a number of enabling factors making this possible. The tremendous relative wealth increase of the Western world (including Israel), where probably over 98% of the world jewish population resides versus the 18th century (for example), allows the jewish community to focus a significant amount of resources beyond direct survival needs.

    The story, however, of how the religious jewish community got from a post-World War 2 precipice to the stable and strongly growing position of today is a cloaked miracle and an amazing statement of complete life long dedication and effort by both the selfless leaders of the generation and the communal focus on what's truly important.
    READ IT!

    Friday, January 28, 2005

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    A brief glimpse at the precipice

    Cross-Currents reposts an article in the New York Sun by Daniel Pipes (The Future of Judaism). Here's the key part that I want to emphasize:

    Until the 18th century, there was basically only one kind of Judaism, that which is now called Orthodox. It meant living by the religion’s 613 laws, and doing so suffused Jews’ lives with their faith. Then, starting with the thinker Baruch Spinoza (1632-77) and moving briskly during the Haskala, or enlightenment, from the late 18th century, Jews developed a wide variety of alternate interpretations of their religion, most of which diminished the role of faith in their lives and led to a concomitant reduction in Jewish affiliation.

    These alternatives and other developments, in particular the Holocaust, caused the ranks of the Orthodox to be reduced to a small minority. Their percentage of the total world Jewish population reached a nadir in the post-World War II era, when it declined to about 5%.

    Doing some quick math and guesswork, it's my understanding that the holocaust killed 6,000,000 Jews, and 1/3 of the jewish people on earth. If that left 12,000,000 jews in the world, and 5% orthodox aka religious aka torah observant jews, that left 600,000 or less after World War 2.
    READ IT!

    Thursday, January 27, 2005

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    Remembering the Wannsee Conference and the Liberation of Auschwitz

    Blogburst! Remembering the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp, sixty years ago, on January 27, 1945.

    January 20th marked the anniversary of the 1942 Wannsee Conference (see previous post here). In the course of that Conference, the Nazi hierarchy formalized the plan to annihilate the Jewish people. Understanding the horrors of Auschwitz requires that one be aware of the premeditated mass-murder that was presented at Wannsee.

    Highlighting these events now has become particularly important, even as the press reports that 45% of Britons have never heard of Auschwitz (Jerusalem Post, December 2, 2004)

    The Holocaust, symbolized by Auschwitz (the worst of the death camps) occurred in the wake of consistent, systematic, unrelenting anti-Jewish propaganda campaigns. As a result, the elimination of the Jews from German society was accepted as axiomatic, leaving open only two questions: when and how.

    As Germany expanded its domination and occupation of Austria, Czechoslovakia, France, the Low Countries, Yugoslavia, Poland, parts of the USSR, Greece, Romania, Hungary, Italy and others countries, the way was open for Hitler to realize his well-publicized plan of destroying the Jewish people.

    After experimentation, the use of Zyklon B on unsuspecting victim was adopted by the Nazis as the means of choice, and Auschwitz was selected as the main factory of death (more accurately, one should refer to the “Auschwitz-Birkenau complex”). The green light for mass annihilation was given at the Wannsee Conference, January 20, 1942.

    The Wannsee Conference formalized "the final solution" - the plan to transport Europe's Jews to eastern labour and death camps. Ever efficient and bureaucratic, the Nazi kept a record of the meeting, which were discovered in 1947 in the files of the German Foreign Office. The record represents a summary made by Adolf Eichmann at the time, even though they are sometime referred to as "minutes".

    Several of the Conference participants survived the war to be convicted at Nuremberg. One notorious participant, Adolf Eichmann, was tried and convicted in Jerusalem, and executed in 1962 in Ramlah prison.

    The mass gassings of Europe's took place in Auschwitz between 1942 and the end of 1944, when the Nazis retreated before the advancing Red Army. Jews were transported to Auschwitz from all over Nazi-occupied or Nazi-dominated Europe and most were slaughtered in Auschwitz upon arrival, sometimes as many as 12,000 in one day. Some victims were selected for slave labour or “medical” experimentation before they were murdered or allowed to die. All were subject to brutal treatment.

    In all, between three and four million people, mostly Jews, but also Poles and Red Army POWs, were slaughtered in Auschwitz alone (though some authors put the number at 1.3 million). Other death camps were located at Sobibor, Chelmno, Belzec (Belzek), Majdanek and Treblinka. Adding the toll of these and other camps, as well as the mass executions and the starvation im the Ghettos, six million Jews, men, women, the elderly and children lost their lives as a consequence of the Nazi atrocities.

    Auschwitz was liberated by the Red Army on 27 January 1945, sixty years ago, after most of the prisoners were forced into a Death March westwards. The Red Army found in Auschwitz about 7,600 survivors, but not all could be saved.

    For a long time, the Allies were well aware of the mass murder, but deliberately refused to bomb the camp or the railways leading to it. Ironically, during the Polish uprising, the Allies had no hesitation in flying aid to Warsaw, sometimes flying right over Auschwitz.

    There are troubling parallels between the systematic vilification of Jews before the Holocaust and the current vilification of the Jewish people and Israel. Suffice it to note the annual flood of anti-Israel resolutions at the UN; or the public opinion polls taken in Europe, which single out Israel as a danger to world peace; or the divestment campaigns being waged in the US against Israel; or the attempts to delegitimize Israel’s very existence. The complicity of the Allies in WW II is mirrored by the support the PLO has been receiving from Europe, China and Russia to this very day.

    If remembering Auschwitz should teach us anything, it is that we must all support Israel and the Jewish people against the vilification and the complicity we are witnessing, knowing where it inevitably leads.

    To download an extended version of this post (in Word format) click here.

    Blogburst site participants can be viewed on right at the bottom (scroll down)-->
    READ IT!
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    The Wannsee Conference to Exterminate the Jews, 1942

    Protocol of the Wannsee Conference, Jan. 20 1942 - Classified Secret of Reich

    (which took place here)

    30 specimens - Exemplar n°16

    I - on January 20, 1942 in Berlin, Grosser Wannsee n° 56-58, took place a conference on the final solution of the Jewish question, to which took share:

    Gauleiter Dr. Meyer Ministry for Territory occupied
    of East and director of office of Reich Dr. Leibbrandt

    Secretary of State Dr. Stuckart
    Ministry for Interior

    Secretary of State Neumann
    Delegate with Plan of four year

    Secretary of State Dr. Freisler
    Ministry for Justice

    Secretary of State Dr. Bühler
    Office of Governor general

    Under-Secretary of State Luther
    Ministry for Foreign Affairs

    Oberführer SS Klopfer
    Chancellery of party

    Directing ministerial Kritzinger
    Chancellery of Reich

    Gruppenführer SS Hofmann Office central of race and of establishment

    Gruppenführer SS Müller

    Obersturmbannführer SS Eichmann
    Office central of safety of Reich

    Oberführer SS Dr. Schöngarth
    Organizes safety and Ordering SD of the police force of safety
    and the SD for the general Government

    Sturmbannführer SS Dr. Lange
    Organizes safety and SD Commander of the police force of safety
    and SD for the district of Latvia, representing the commander of the
    police force of safety and the SD of the police station of Reich for
    the areas of the East

    II - The head of the police force of safety and the SD, Obergruppenführer SS Heydrich, made share in opening of the mission which was entrusted to him by the Marshal of Reich for the preparation of the final solution of the Jewish question in Europe, and indicated that the objective of this meeting was to clarify the basic problems. The wish of the Marshal of Reich to see itself presenting a project of organization, of unfolding and material conditions from the point of view of the final solution of the Jewish question in Europe, required as a preliminary a harmonization of all the central authorities directly concerned with these questions, from the point of view of a parallel control of the orientation of the actions.

    The responsibility for the treatment of the final solution of the Jewish question raises, without consideration of the geographical borders, Reichsführer SS and head of the German police force (head of the police force of safety and the SD).

    The head of the police force of safety and the SD then gave a short retrospective of the combat carried out hitherto against this adversary. Strong times were:
    a) The repression of the Jews out of the territory of establishment of the German people,
    b) The repression of the Jews out of the vital space of the German people.

    To make these efforts, the only solution then possible was temporarily to reinforce and plan the acceleration of the emigration of the Jews out of the territories of Reich.

    On order of the Marshal of Reich, a central direction of Reich for the emigration of the Jews was created in January 1939, and its direction entrusted to the head of the police force of safety and the SD. It had the specific roles:

    a) to take the required measures to prepare a reinforced emigration of the Jews,
    b) to direct flows of emigration,
    c) to accelerate with individually the application of the procedures of emigration. The objective was to clean Jews German vital space in all legality.

    All the services were conscious of the difficulties caused by such a precipitation of the emigration. It was well initially necessary to put up with it, for lack of any other solution.

    Thereafter, the tasks relating to the emigration were not only any more one German problem, but also a problem of which the authorities of the immigration, countries of destination possibly, had to be occupied. Financial difficulties, as the rise, by the various foreign governments, of the taxes of entry and unloading, but also the lack of place on the boats, the reinforcement growing of the limitations, even prohibitions of immigration, complicated the efforts of emigration enormously. In spite of these difficulties, 537 000 Jews were brought to emigrate between the seizure of power and October 31, 1941, of which:

    - Since January 30, 1933, approximately 360 000 of Reich,
    - Since March 15, 1938, approximately 147 000 of the East’s Steps
    - Since March 15, 1939, approximately 30 000 of the protectorate of Bohemia-Moravia. The emigration was financed by the Jews, even by their political organizations. To prevent that the proletarian Jews remain, it was made so that the fortunate Jews finance the departure of the others; a taking away, a tax with the emigration fixed according to fortune, was used to cover the expenses of the emigration of the poor Jews.

    In addition to the re-entries in Reichsmark, currencies were required for the payment of the taxes of entry and unloading. To preserve here the funds German of currencies, the international Jewish financial institutions were called, by the intermediary of the Jewish organizations of the interior, to provide for covering with the corresponding sums in currencies. On the whole, until October 30, 1941, the foreign Jews thus provided, by way of donation, 9 500 000 dollars.

    Since, Reichsführer SS, head of the German police force, prohibited 1' emigration of the Jews, because of the dangers of the emigration in times of war, and consideration of the new possibilities in the east.

    III - From now on, in the place of the emigration, the new solution with the preliminary downstream of Führer, is the evacuation of the Jews towards the east. These actions are however to regard only as transitory solutions, but which will enable us to acquire practical experiments which will be very invaluable for the final solution to come from the Jewish question. During the final solution of the Jewish question in Europe, will be to take into account approximately 11 million Jews, divided as follows in the various countries:

    the number of the Jews indicated in the various foreign countries is however that of the religious Jews. the definition of the Jews according to racial criteria's missing partially in these countries. The treatment of the problem will run up in each country against certain difficulties due to the attitude and the state of mind of the populations, in particular in Hungary and Romania. In Romania for example, a Jew can, today still, to buy papers attesting a foreign nationality officially.

    In the USSR, the influence of the Jews on all the territories is well-known. Five million Jews approximately live in the European part, hardly 250.000 in the Asian part.

    The distribution by profession of the Jews of the European part of the USSR is approximately the following one:
    Farmers 9.1 %
    Working 14,8%
    Tradesmen 20,0%
    Civil servants 23,4%
    Private Sector (medicine, press, theatre, etc.) 32,7 %

    During the final solution, the Jews of the East will have to be mobilized for work with the desired framing. In large columns of workers, separated by sex, the Jews suited to work will be brought to build roads in these territories. What undoubtedly will allow a substantial natural reduction in their number.

    To finish, it will be necessary to apply a treatment appropriate to the totality of those which will remain because they will be obviously the most resistant elements, since resulting from a natural selection, and which would be likely to be the germ of a new Jewish stock, for little that one leaves them in freedom (see the experiment of the history).

    During the practical execution of the final solution, Europe will have passed to the fine comb of West Is the operation will begin on the territory from Reich, including protectorates of Bohemia and Moravia, because of the situation of housing and specificity socio-policy of Reich.

    The evacuated Jews will pass from access convoy by convoy, by ghettos of transit, and from there will be transported more to far in the East.

    Obergruppenführer SS Heydrich continued by specifying that one of the significant conditions for the good walk of the evacuation of the Jews was to fix exactly the group of the people concerned.

    It is not envisaged to evacuate in the East the Jews of more than 65 years, but to transfer them in a ghetto from old men - probably to Theresienstadt. In addition to this age bracket - among the 280 000 Jews residing in Germany and Austria at October 31, 1941, approximately 30 % have more than 65 years -, the invalid large Jews of war and those which carry a military decoration (EK I) there will be accommodated.

    This suitable solution will make it possible to cross short to the many foreseeable interventions. The beginning of the greatest operations of evacuation will depend largely on the revolution of the military situation. With regard to the treatment of the final solution in the occupied European territories or under influence, it was proposed that the persons in charge concerned for the Ministry for Foreign Affairs act in concert with the qualified head of section of the police force of safety and the SD.

    The business is not more difficult in Slovaquia and Croatia, since the questions essential to regulate from this point of view already found a solution. In Romania, the government named responsible for mission for the Jewish questions. To settle the question in Hungary, it is necessary as fast as possible to force on the government an adviser for the Jewish questions.

    Because of the reception reserved for the preparations of payment of the problem in Italy, Obergruppenführer SS Heydrich estimated that it was advisable, in this business, to establish a contact with the head of the police force.

    In occupied and non-occupied France, the census of the Jews for the evacuation will be carried out, according to any probability, without much difficulty.

    On this subject, the under-secretary of State Luther pointed out that the thorough treatment of the problem would encounter difficulties in some countries, like the States of north, and consequently, it was recommended, for the moment, to leave these countries outstanding.

    If one considers the restricted number of Jews concerned, this setting outstanding does not represent a significant obstacle.

    On the other hand, the Ministry does not envisage great difficulties for the south-east of Europe. Gruppenführer SS Hofmann plans to send in Hungary an expert of the central office of the races and establishment to take part in the general orientation, if as regards head of the police force of safety and SD one attacks this business over there. It was decided to temporarily detach this expert of the central office of the races and the establishment: it should not be itself active, but appear officially as assistant near the attaché of the police force.

    IV - During the implementation of the projects for the final solution, the laws of Nuremberg must to some extent form the base of it, but the condition of a liquidation of the problem without leaving of trace also passes by the resolution of the questions relating to the mixed marriages and Mischling.

    The head of the police force of safety and the SD continued the theoretical discussion, starting from a mail of the head of the chancellery of Reich, on the following points:

    1) Treatment of Mischling of the 1st degree

    In comparison with the final solution of the Jewish question, Mischling of the 1st degree are equivalent to the Jews.

    Make exception to this treatment:
    a)Mischling of the 1st degree has married to Germans of blood and having children (Mischling of the 2nd degree) resulting this marriage. These Mischling of the 2nd degree are for 1' essential equal to the Germans.
    b) Mischling of the 1st degree on which the highest authorities of the party and the State hitherto conferred a situation exception in tone the fields.

    Each particular case must be controlled, and it is not excluded that the decision is unfavourable, even for these Mischling.

    The conditions so that the exception is granted must always concern the fundamental merits of Mischling in question (and not of the merits of the German blood parents).

    Any Mischling of the 1st degree profiting from the exception as regards evacuation will have to be sterilized, to prevent any descent, and definitively to eliminate the problem from the interbreeding. Will be carried out to sterilization on the basis of voluntariate. But the maintenance on the territory of Reich is subjected to this condition. Sterilized Mischling will be released thereafter from all the restrictive provisions to which it was subjected hitherto.

    2) Treatment of Mischling of the 2nd degree

    Mischling of the 2nd degree are basically related to the Germans of blood, except for the following cases, for which Mischling of the 2nd degree are placed on a plan of equality with the Jews:

    a) Mischling of the 2nd degree resulting from a bastard union (couple of Mischling).

    b) Particularly unfavourable racial appearance for Mischling of the 2nd degree, placing it by its appearance on the side of the Jews.

    c) Police or political Reports/ratios particularly bad concerning Mischling of the 2nd degree making appear that it feels and behaves like a Jew. But it will not be made exception, even in such cases, if Mischling of the 2nd degree is married with a German of blood.

    3) Marriages between Jews and Germans of blood It should be decided with individually if the Jewish spouse must be evacuated or if it is transferred towards a ghetto from old men, in consideration of the consequences of such a measurement on the German relationship of this mixed couple.

    4) Marriages between Mischling of the 1st degree and Germans of blood

    a) Without child If no child comes from the marriage, Mischling of the 1st degree will be evacuated, possibly transferred in a ghetto from old men (even treatment that for the marriages between Juifs and Germans of blood, at the point 3).

    b) With children If children (themselves Mischling of the 2nd degree) come from the marriage, and if they are placed on a plan of equality with the Jews, they will be evacuated with Mischling of the 1st degree, or will be transferred in a ghetto. Insofar as these children are in the same plan as the Germans (normal cases), they profit from the exception to the evacuation, just as their Mischling relative of 1st degree.

    5) Marriages between two Mischling of the 1st degree or Mischling of the 1st degree and Jew. In the case of these marriages, each member (including the children) is treated like Jew and thus evacuated, even transferred in a ghetto from old men.

    6) Marriages between Mischling of the 1st degree and Mischling of the 2nd degree

    Without consideration of the existence or not of children, the two joint ones will be evacuated or transferred in a ghetto from old men, insofar as possible children present on the racial level, in general, of stronger traces of Jewish blood than Mischling of the 2nd degree.

    Gruppenführer SS Hofmann expressed the opinion that it was necessary to use largely of sterilization, more especially as Mischling, placed in front of the choice between evacuation and sterilization, will be subjected rather to sterilization.

    The Dr. Stuckart, Secretary of State, made the report that the implementation of the solutions which have been just expressed for the liquidation of the questions relating to the mixed marriages and Mischling would involve, in the forms envisaged, an immense quantity of administrative tasks. To take account of the biological data present in all the cases, the Secretary of State Dr. Stuckart, proposed moreover to adopt obligatory sterilization.

    For simp1ify the problem of the mixed marriages, it would be necessary to think of provisions by which the legislator would say: "these marriages are dissolved"

    On the question of the consequences of the evacuation of the Jews about the economic life, the Secretary of State Neumann explained why the Jews employed in the essential companies in times of war could not be evacuated as long as they would not be replaced.

    Obergruppenführer SS Heydrich indicated that these Jews would not be evacuated within the framework of the directives which it had approved for the execution of the actions of evacuation currently in hand.

    The Dr. Bühler, Secretary of State, noticed that one would greet, with the general Government, the fact of beginning the final solution in the general government, because the problem of transport would not add to it an additional difficulty, and that missions of mobilization for work would not come to block the course of the action there. It would be necessary to as quickly move away as possible the Jews from the territories of the general Government, because the Jew, carrying epidemic, represented a particular danger there lies eminent, and brought moreover, by his continuous traffics, the disorder in the economic structure of the country. On the 2 million and half of Jews concerned, the majority were in addition inapt for work.

    The Dr. Bühler, Secretary of State, continued by noting that the solution of the Jewish question in the general Government came under the responsibility of the head of the police force of safety and the SD, and that its efforts were to be supported by the authorities of the general Government. It had one wish: that the Jewish question is settled about this territory as quickly as possible.

    In conclusion, the various resolutions were discussed, and it came out from it, as well as regards Dr. Meyer, Gauleiter, as of that of the Secretary of State, Dr. Bühler, as one was of the opinion that it was necessary to carry out immediately, in the territories in question, certain preliminary works with the course of the final solution, while however avoiding causing the concern of the population. By putting a term at the meeting, the head of the police force of safety and SD asked the participants to grant to him all their support in the execution of the decided tasks.

    Translated by Harald at Harald Tribute

    Full details of this nightmare event here.
    READ IT!

    Wednesday, January 26, 2005

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    A Little More on Hasidic Management

    "The truths, while told by Jewish storytellers, are helpful to everyone - both Jewish and non-Jewish leaders in everyday business situations. Moshe Kranc has hit on some of the core issues that make or break a company long and short term, top line and bottom line. While recent case studies are always helpful in facing tough business challenges, timeless experience and wisdom are even more valuable." - Steve Odland, Chairman, CEO, President, AutoZone, Inc.

    More on the Hasidic Management book and concepts can be found at the web site

    And here's an interview with the author.
    READ IT!

    Tuesday, January 25, 2005

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    Hasidic Management? Hasidic Management!

    In an earlier post (here) I mentioned I had come across a book The Hasidic Masters' Guide To Management by Moshe Kranc and ordered a copy:

    There are many stories of hasidic masters and the miraculous occurances that often surrounded their lives and the lives of their followers, and a series of such stories (really good ones) are captured in this book. However, when reading such stories there is often the problem of understanding the lesson and determining how to apply it to ones life. In this most interesting book, Mr. Kranc takes these stories, demonstrates how the hasidic masters were also masters of understanding human nature and successful leaders of large organizations, and relates appropriate parts of these stories to current day management concepts and applicability in today's businesses.

    He successfully mixes stories and concepts from such luminaries as the Baal Shem Tov, the founder of chassidus, and Peter Drucker, one of the world leaders on business organizations and management, as well as many others.

    While many current day business books are either ridiculously simplistic (such as Who Moved My Cheese, which explains the difficult concept that things change a lot, and you should be ready to deal with that) or extremely difficult (such as Competitive Advantage, which explains at a Ph.D. level how businesses develop and maintain a competitive edge within their industries), Hasidic Management maintains a respectful level of not being too simplistic yet not requiring a Ph.D. to interpret.

    Perhaps the most beautiful thing about this book is the management positions wrapped by hasidic philosophy: treat your people with love and respect, provide kind and gentle direction, and you can only succeed.

    I highly recommend this book.
    READ IT!
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    Chasidei Umot Haolam writes about The Nation and the Land

    Chasidei Umot Haolam (The Righteous Among The Nations) has this beautiful post on the Jewish relationship to Israel (The Nation and the Land):

    "The holy association between Israel and its Holy Land is not comparable to a natural affiliation through which all other nations and peoples are tied to their lands. The natural affiliation develops over a long period of time and through the occurrence of many incidents and through a great many people who come to live permanently in a specific land and thus begins the development of the historical affiliation by way of habit, causing for the generations to come, a spiritual association between the nation and the land. Such an idea does not exist within the Divine realm emanating from the Holy source which ties the people of Israel to the holiness of the beautiful land whose sanctified seal became apparent when we were but 'a few men.'

    - Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook 1865-1935 First Chief Rabbi of Israel
    READ IT!

    Monday, January 24, 2005

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    Practical Kabbalah in a story.

    The following story is told of the Rebbe (grand hassidic rabbi) Rabbi Shmuel of Chabad Chassidus, who lived 1834-1882:

    In lieu of thanks for something his son had done, his father the Rebbe took him among the Heavenly chambers. They came together to a certain spot, and from there only the Rebbe could continue.

    As the son (who later became the Rebbe Rabbi Sholom Dov Ber of Chabad Chassidus, 1860-1920) waited for his father's return, he noticed a brilliant light emanating from one of the chambers. A man sat inside the dazzling brightness with closed eyes. Evidently, he did not really belong in this lofty place.

    Soon the Rebbe returned and his son seized the opportunity to ask about the strange spectacle. "That person is a simple Jew," answered the Rebbe, "ye he is fluent in Tanya, which he knows by heart. In his lifetime, he always reviewed the words of Tanya, and the merit of these holy words deemed him worthy of such great revelation."

    This story emphasizes the holiness that is attained through reviewing the words of Torah...

    As told by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson.

    Beyond the clear lesson stated by the Rebbe, what further does this story teach us? That certain people ascend to the Heavenly spheres and that they can view and/or interact with souls there.
    READ IT!

    Friday, January 21, 2005

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    Tsunami Relief Update from Rabbi Kantor in Thailand

    Having donated to Chabad of Thailand to assist in their Tsunami relief efforts, I received this update:

    By the Grace of G-d

    3 Shevat, 5765 * January 13, 2005

    Dear Friend,

    To witness the loving care of one human being to another is a humbling experience.

    I am moved beyond words by the love you expressed toward the victims of the tsunami disaster but would still like to share a brief report with you:

    My colleagues and I witnessed the unspeakable horror of little bodies mangled beyond recognition, felt the indescribable joy when someone presumed missing was discovered alive elsewhere, and experienced the tenuous irony of families' relief when a brother or sister or child turned up "only" badly injured. Days later, incongruously, we were part of the "excitement" every time a body was positively identified…

    Throughout all this the light of a world united in its effort to alleviate the plight of the victims shone brightly. We cannot possibly calculate how many calls and emails have come our way. Some offered their manpower services, others asked how to care for the children, and you, and other angels like you, sent money to be put to immediate use.

    During this trying period Chabad of Thailand focused its efforts in large part on the search and recovery effort -- compiling and updating lists of the missing, flying down Zaka to identify bodies, preparing bodies for burial, securing authorities' compliance for Jewish bodies to be handled in a manner prescribed by Jewish law, and much more.

    Our dedicated staff also worked tirelessly to deliver food, lodging and emotional support to the survivors of this horrendous event. We visited the hospitalized, created and sent off food packages for survivors and aid workers on the ravaged islands, and alerted and facilitated thousands of travelers to get in touch with their families via our free internet cafes and complimentary long distance calling facilities.

    In addition to our Thailand efforts, Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg of Chabad in Bombay traveled to the Andaman Islands where he helped the young Jews vacationing there to get in touch with their families after miraculously escaping death and even injury by the deadly Tsunami.

    As I write, our three Chabad Houses are still flooded with thousands of young travelers, some still recovering from the shock, keeping our rabbis and rebbetzins busy from early morning till early morning. (These travelers have benefited from our regular activities, which includes hosting some 1,000 persons every Shabbat and creating thousands of Kosher meals weekly.)

    We are now focusing our efforts on delivering aid directly to the hardest-hit victims.

    Two of us flew down to Krabi and met with aid workers, helped update the rolls of the missing, and met with groups of locals -- and heard and saw their heart-rending stories of devastation.

    We met with the country's Minister of Agriculture and gave the mayor of Kao Lak (considered to be the hardest hit city in the country) funds for rebuilding.

    We just completed the purchase of a refrigerated truck which will assist us greatly in our efforts to gather and deliver food.

    We are working with home improvement stores to create a voucher system to pass on to villagers in order to improve on whatever basic housing they receive -- to help transform whatever will be built for them into a home truly their own.

    Two of our rabbinical students are setting up a center for long-term relief on Phuket.

    For me personally, one of the most heartrending things to see during my visit were the thousands of battered toys strewn throughout the devastation.

    When I then saw groups of kids walking around dazed with nothing to do I made a steadfast resolution:

    With G-d's help, we are starting a toy drive for the children.


    And the list goes on and on.

    You've entrusted us with your precious funds in order to apply it to our life-saving work. We hope that we've made you proud.

    On behalf of the six families and 12 rabbinical students serving in Chabad of Thailand: Thank you immensely for entrusting us with this sacred mission of representing you in this relief work!

    You cannot imagine how crucial your help has been.

    Thank you again for your friendship to Chabad of Thailand and may we always bear only good tidings.


    Rabbi Yosef Chaim Kantor
    Chabad-Lubavitch of Thailand
    READ IT!
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    Rav Kaduri on Practical Kabbalah

    (Everything in parenthesis is the responsibility of the author of this blog.)

    Interviewer: "Does the Rabbi (the great and holy rabbi and master kabbalist Rabbi Yitzchok Kaduri) deal with practical Kabbalah?"

    The Rav: "No, we only deal with kavanot, not with practical Kabbalah. In practical kabbalah, there are hashbaot of malachim (the influencing of spiritual entities). We don't deal with that, only with prayer and kavanot (focused meditation on the forms of the names of G-d)."

    "We don't perform wonders, no more than this, or hashbaot (the influencing of spiritual entities), only prayer (with kavanot)."
    READ IT!

    Wednesday, January 19, 2005

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    A Pertinent Thought Today about The Holocaust

    Rabbi Noson Weisz writes in this article on


    As we know from the Holocaust, the memory and impact of extraordinary historical incidents fades rapidly indeed. Because the Holocaust was such an impossibly unlikely event, some people find it difficult to give it credence a short half century after it was concluded, and this in spite of the extensive records and even pictures available. If this is true of the Holocaust how much more does this apply to the Exodus. The Exodus lives on only in the mitzvot that commemorate it.
    READ IT!
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    Anti-Semitic Protests in S. Francisco

    Photographs taken by photographer 'zombie' at anti-semitic events in the San Francisco Bay Area. (Who's 'zombie'? I don't know, but the pictures speak for themselves.) Check out their whole site!

    Remember, your looking at the S. Francisco Bay Area, U.S.A. here...

    Counter-protest from an Anti-Terror Demonstration, featuring the Bus 19 exhibit, in Berkeley, on January 16, 2005 (full picture set and site, with video, here, full credit to photographer 'zombie', as referred to by Jerusalem Posts, not the newspaper)...

    in response to this...

    (Click on any picture for it's full original site context.)
    READ IT!

    Tuesday, January 18, 2005

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    World Reporters on PLO's Payroll

    (Cross posted to Mystical Paths and Israpundit)

    Why is it so hard to understand what's going on in the Middle East and in particular in Israel? One report says 2 terrorists killed, the next report says 20 civilians killed. What's going on?

    Could it be that the reporters are intentionally falsifying their reports? "I will never work on a story that defames my people or leadership," boasts a Palestinian "fixer" (mediator/guide/translator) who works on a regular basis with many foreign journalists. "It is my duty to protect my people against Israeli propaganda."

    The Counterterrorism Blog writes (Reporters worked for Saddam and Arafat - but the Media Elite ignored it)... about the "journalists" in the Arab world who were either on Saddam's or Arafat's payroll? Why hasn't the media seen fit to pursue those secret arrangements and admit that perhaps those payments twisted the coverage of those two thugs by Westeern media?

    Regular readers of this blog might remember one of our first posts, which referred to a report from the Foundation for the Defense of Democracy that revealed that Arab journalist Hamida Nahnah was clearly influenced in favor of Saddam Hussein's regime by her receipt of Oil-for-Food vouchers. She is found on tape to announce to Saddam's son, Uday," "The campaign to defend Saddam's regime is about to start worldwide, thanks to the support." And a report in today's Jerusalem Post outlines how numerous "reporters" for major Western media have been, in fact, on the payroll of the Palestinian Authority. Palestinian journalist Majida al-Batsh was reporting for the French news agency, Agence France-Presse (AFP) while she was also on the payroll of the PA's official organ, Al-Ayyam. Adel Zanoun eported for AFP while serving as the chief reporter in the Gaza Strip for the PA's Voice of Palestine radio station. And, quoting from the JP report, "The Associated Press also has a journalist – Muhammad Daraghmeh – who works for the PA's Al-Ayyam."

    The Jerusalem Post details this further (Where the reporting stops)...

    Palestinian journalist Majida al-Batsh surprised most of her colleagues late last year by announcing that she would run in the election for the chairmanship of the Palestinian Authority.

    Batsh, a resident of the Old City of Jerusalem, had been working for many years as a Palestinian affairs correspondent for the French news agency, Agence France-Presse (AFP).

    Before she presented her candidacy in the January 9 vote, Batsh was a frequent panelist on Israel TV Channel 1's Politica talk show, where she would speak more like a representative of the Palestinians than an impartial journalist from an international news organization.

    Her colleagues claim that shortly before she joined the race, Batsh resigned from the news agency, saying she wanted to devote her time to the election campaign. However, they add, this did not prevent her from seeking the agency's help in her campaign.

    "One day she showed up and asked to use the fax machine to send some documents," reports one coworker. "The agency did not object."

    The story of candidate Batsh, who wound up withdrawing her candidacy weeks ahead of the vote, highlights many concerns about the identity and political affiliation of several Palestinian journalists employed by international news organizations and TV networks to cover the Palestinian issue. It also underlines concerns about the credibility of much foreign news coverage in general in regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    In addition to her work at the French news agency, Batsh was also a reporter for the PA's official organ, Al-Ayyam,. In other words, she was also on the PA's payroll, since the Ramallah-based newspaper was established and is financed by the PA. Al-Ayyam's editor, Akram Haniyeh, has been listed as an adviser to Yasser Arafat.

    But Batsh was not the only journalist at AFP who was working simultaneously for the PA. One of the agency's correspondents in the Gaza Strip is Adel Zanoun, who also happens to be the chief reporter in the area for the PA's Voice of Palestine radio station.

    The AFP bureau chief in Jerusalem, Patrick Anidjar, refuses to discuss the issue, saying, "I don't understand why you have to have the name of our correspondents." Pressed to give a specific answer, he says: "I don't want our correspondents' names to go into print. I don't want to answer the question. What is this, a police investigation?"

    Regarding the ratio of Palestinian to Israeli correspondents employed by AFP, he says that it's about 50-50.

    "We have 20 Palestinian journalists and 20 Israeli journalists, including photographers. Most of those working in the the West Bank and Gaza Strip are Palestinians, and most of those working in Israel are Israelis, as is logical, no?"

    IT IS perhaps less logical when the covering of Palestinian affairs is entrusted only to Palestinian journalists, some of whom are openly affiliated with the PA or other political groups.

    "I will never work on a story that defames my people or leadership," boasts a Palestinian "fixer" (mediator/guide/translator) who works on a regular basis with many foreign journalists. "It is my duty to protect my people against Israeli propaganda."

    Read the whole thing:

    The Counterterrorism Blog: Reporters worked for Saddam and Arafat - but the Media Elite ignored it

    The Jerusalem Post: Where the reporting stops
    READ IT!
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    Mystical Places: Rabbi Meir, The Master of Miracles

    In Teveria (Tiberious), on the shore of the sea of the Galilee, just south of the city, is the resting place of Rabbi Meir Baal HaNess, the master of miracles:

    The story of Rabbi Meir: In the Talmud (hebrew/aramayic), Audio & translation

    אלקא דמאיר ענני - אלקא דמאיר ענני - אלקא דמאיר ענני - Simply saying the phrase אלהא דמאיר ענני "elokeye d'meir annaynee" three times , which means "G-d of Meir Answer Me!", a person will be saved from trouble, if they promise to give charity to the poor and needy in the memory of the soul of Rebbe Meir Baal Haness.

    Aug-21 011

    Aug-21 004

    Aug-21 013

    Charity in the name of Rabbi Meir Baal HaNess, click here.
    READ IT!

    Sunday, January 16, 2005

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    The Tsunami in Psalms and written about in 1944?

    In 1944, it was written that a flood disaster of 'biblical' proportions would occur right before the period of redemption...

    Psalms Chapter 93

    The Lord reigns, he is clothed with majesty; the Lord is clothed with strength, with which he has girded himself; the world also is established, that it cannot be moved. Your throne is established of old; you are from everlasting. The floods have lifted up, O Lord, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their roaring. The Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, than the mighty waves of the sea. Your testimonies are very sure; holiness becomes your house, O Lord, for length of days.

    From HaKri’a V’hakedusha” of Tammuz 5704 (1944)

    This chapter of Tehillim was composed by the G-dly poet regarding Yemos Ha’Moshiach (coming of the redemption). He hints briefly at the events which will take place before the geula (redemption). The central theme of the chapter is that the Jews living at that time will understand by means of these events, that the galus (exile) is over and geula has begun.

    “Hashem moloch gai’us lovaish, lovaish Hashem oz his’azar af tikkon taivail bal timot” - “Hashem (G-d) will be king by wearing greatness”! We generally think the world is run by nature and we forget entirely that there is a G-d who rules over nature. It’s only when an unnatural occurrence takes place such as a flood, earthquake, and other terrible upheavals - that we remember that there’s a ruler of the world who rules over nature; Then all will say that G-d is king! He put nature aside and showed his absolute sovereignty over nature...

    “Nos’u neharos Hashem, nos’u neharos kolam, yis’u neharos dochyom”: the literal meaning of the pasuk (passage) is that the rivers will lift up Hashem; the rivers will raise their voice, the rivers will make a lot of noise! This means that the roaring and raging of the rivers will elevate Hashem. The only meaning in this is that Hashem will be uplifted by His making the oceans roar before the geula. Through this noise everybody will understand that Hashem is elevated.

    The practical conclusion is that the roaring rivers will bring great changes to the world; for example: they will drown an entire nation or at least a great portion, and this natural disaster will cause a revolution in man’s perspective. They will see this as a G-dly punishment. It’s also possible that this natural disaster will change the world political map by a chain of events which will begin with that nation that drowns.

    Full article, English reference.

    Full article, Hebrew / Yiddish reference.
    READ IT!

    Friday, January 14, 2005

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    John Kerry pushes Israeli Concessions???

    (Cross posted to Mystical Paths and Israpundit)

    I received a copy of this email today (making it's way through some Jewish groups) about a meeting this week with John Kerry in Jerusalem, discussing his pushing for new Israeli-Palestinian peace proposals...

    I thought you would be interested in hearing about a meeting in which I took part this week with John Kerry, who was visiting Jerusalem after having observed the Palestinian elections. He asked to meet with a few heads of research institutes to get "an informal view of the future of Israeli-Palestinian relations," and present at the meeting were Shai Feldman of the Jaffee Center at Tel Aviv University, Asher Susser of the Dayan Center at Tel Aviv University, Dore Gold of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs; in addition, U.S. Ambassador Dan Kurtzer and various other State Department officials took part as silent observers.

    The main subject Kerry wanted to discuss was his desire to accelerate the achievement of a final-status agreement with the Palestinians, which he considers to be desirable within the next few years as the only way to prevent them from losing hope-and therefore turning to even greater radicalism, terror, and the like. Kerry did only a small amount of the talking, and mostly listened; Dore and I used the opportunity to take the lead in trying to push Kerry towards a more realistic understanding of the chasm separating Israelis and Palestinians, as we sought to convince him that the culture of hatred that had been developed towards Israel and Jews in every medium from kindergarten classes to mourning customs to mainstream media is not going to fade in one presidential administration-but is rather a matter of a generation or more. Consequently, we argued, it would be far more fruitful for the U.S. to push for pragmatic, interim steps aimed at separating Israelis from Palestinians and allowing time and the changing of the guard in the Palestinian leadership to do its work.

    I won't try to reproduce the whole exchange here, but instead will give a few representative highlights. One such moment came when I cited a recently televised Palestinian sermon in which America and the Jews were accused of being the root cause of the tsunami that struck Asia. Sen. Kerry challenged me to explain how I know that this view is considered mainstream, and I answered that the broadcast was on the Palestinian Authority's own television station, and that the preacher who made it-who surely would have been removed from any positions he held if he lived in the United States-instead continues to be honored by government and religious leaders alike as one of the leading spiritual leaders of the Palestinians. Kerry conceded the point and said that this does make the viewpoint and its spokesman part of the Palestinian mainstream.

    Likewise, I noted that for an entire decade, between one-third and two thirds of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza have consistently supported suicide bombing attacks against Israeli civilians as being both moral and prudent; and I argued that this represents a level of collective hatred and social pathology that people such as Sen. Kerry and myself, raised in America, can hardly fathom. He responded that these numbers are of course troublesome, but that they are largely a response to Israeli roadblocks and other deprivations the Palestinians face-to which Dore answered respectfully but forcefully, by explaining that there are many people in the world who face roadblocks, poverty, and the like, but that the Palestinians stand virtually alone in converting their anger into the societally-sanctioned sending of sons and daughters to kill themselves so as to be able to kill as many unarmed men, women, and children as possible. Kerry conceded the point, but said that perhaps within a few years, this could change, especially if Abu Mazen continues making speeches against violence. At that point, I slightly pushed the envelope on what was considered proper behavior towards a recent presidential candidate, and "respectfully submitted" to Kerry that as an American with a touch of the naive, he is almost uniquely unqualified to get inside the mindset of the Palestinians, and is therefore failing to grasp what it means to be part of a culture in
    which women can expect to be praised by hundreds of their neighbors and tens of political and religious leaders for encouraging their sons to be suicide bombers-and that it simply would not help matters to assume that Palestinian society is anything like that in the West on matters connected to hatred, violence, and the like. He acknowledged the point, but stuck to his guns in saying that he still hopes that reduced roadblocks, moderate political leadership, and a final-status agreement along the lines of the Clinton plan would bring about a genuine transformation among the Palestinians.

    One other exchange worth reporting concerned Palestinian elections, as I used my opening remarks (each of us was allowed a few minutes to set forth what we saw as the leading opportunities and challenges) to argue that a more pluralistic Palestinian politics is crucial for the future of peace, and that the victory of Abu Mazen was very far from sufficient. Popularly elected executive leaders, I argued, are hardly the key ingredient for the emergence of a pluralistic regime, and indeed, the world is filled with dictators who received a popular mandate of one kind or another; it is far more important for the U.S. to be pushing for a freely and fairly elected Palestinian legislature the current Council's elections are six years overdue), as well as an independent judiciary. Sen. Kerry said that Abu Mazen promised him elections in July 2005, I answered that these elections would take place precisely to the extent that Sen. Kerry and his colleagues insist on them, and Kerry answered that he would personally continue pushing this issue to make sure the elections in fact take place.

    I have little experience in meetings of this kind, nor do I typically meet with politicians. Judging as a rank amateur, I can note only that Kerry seems quite knowledgeable about the issues in the region, intelligent in the questions he asks, and a surprisingly good listener, who even gives the impression that he is willing at least to consider alternative viewpoints. I am not under any illusions that Dore, our two colleagues, and I succeeded in changing Kerry's world view on the matters we discussed, as his naivete appears to verge on being a character trait. Nonetheless, I think the exchange was worthwhile, and certainly interesting; to my surprise, it even proved to be enjoyable.
    READ IT!

    Thursday, January 13, 2005

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    A Simple Jew is greater than it sounds.

    At the end of services in synogogue on Shabbat, there was a delay as the rabbi was temporarily distracted and drawn off into a side issue. As the delay lengthened a bit, the group I was sitting with turned to me and said, "how about you get things going?". I responded, "I'm just a simple Jew, I'm not of the level to represent the community." One of the men challenged me, "No, your complicated! What makes you think you've reached the level of 'a simple Jew'???"


    Being 'simple' implies a straightforward faith in our creator, no calculations or wondering or complications, a simple faith, a direct connection. 'Simple' is a very high level nowadays.

    A Simple Jew, a great blog, today presents a simple story that I highly highly recommend reading: Zusia is very hungry and desires to eat something!

    It was the custom of Rebbe Zusia of Anapol, to recite his morning prayers at length. After he concluded, he would retire to his room next to the shul. Once there, he would open the window and, lifting his eyes to the heavens, call out, "Ribbono shel Olam (Master of the Universe), Zusia is very hungry and desires to eat something!"

    Every morning, his attendant would wait until he heard Reb Zusia's appeal, then he would bring in Reb Zusia's morning meal of cake with a little schnapps. One morning the attendant thought to himself, "Why doesn't Reb Zusia ask me directly for his meal. In fact, who does he think he is fooling by calling out to G-d like that? He knows full well that I bring him his food everyday." So on the spot he decided that the next morning he would not bring Reb Zusia's meal when he called out. He would just wait to see what would happen and where Reb Zusia's would look for his meal.

    Read the whole thing!
    READ IT!

    Wednesday, January 12, 2005

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    The Science of the Divine Utterances

    There's quite a bit of discussion in Kabbalah and Hassidus of the Divine Utterances (G-d said ... and it was) that created (and are creating and sustaining) the universe.

    But wait, sound in space?

    New Scientist: Big bang sound waves explain galaxy clustering

    Sound waves that roared through space after the big bang left behind a subtle imprint in the way galaxies are clustered today, reveal two major studies.

    New Scientist: Universe started with hiss, not bang

    For those worried that you cannot have sounds in space, that is true today, but it was not so in the Universe's infancy...the Universe was small and dense enough that sound waves could indeed travel through it - so efficiently, in fact, that they moved at about half the speed of light.
    READ IT!

    Tuesday, January 11, 2005

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    Hot political blogs, Tsunami relief (or the lack thereof)...

    In the Politics & General Interest links section, I've added two new hot political blogs:

    The Counterterrorism blog is a new blog by a series of 'professional's' in the field. Take a look.

    The Diplomad has ongoing comments from an American foreign service representative who's overseas in the Tsunami affected area...

    By now we think most of our readers have figured out the very low opinion The Diplomad has of the UN and its wasteful, cynical "relief" agencies, in particular the notably odious UNICEF. The Diplomad has tried to give our readers a taste of just how truly obscene these agencies are and how they feed off the misery of the world's poor and the money of world's rich. The Diplomad also has been and remains very critical of the response of local people to the tragedy that has befallen their compatriots...

    The Diplomad has written previously on the Saber-toothed Tiger Law of Life which, in essence, dictates that nature meant for us to be tiger lunch by the age of 40, give or take a year or so. For those of us in the First World and those in the Turd World with access, however,modern science, technology and the free enterprise system have pushed our ability to exist well-beyond our original design specifications. The history of modern man is one of fighting Mother Nature and her nefarious plans for us as individuals; we are not content with ensuring that the human species as a whole survive, we also insist on ensuring that human individuals survive. No other species does that; in fact, as we will discuss, much of non-Western mankind still doesn't either.

    We have all heard how the quake-tsunami that has cost perhaps as many as 160,000 lives, thus far, has produced an unprecedented outpouring of global generosity. But has it, really? As we have tried to document, for example, the UN bureaucracy has not shown itself particularly concerned with saving lives, but more with preserving its status as a politically correct over-paid elite. But even more troubling than the antics of the increasingly incompetent, cynical and irrelevant UN has been the tepid or non-existent response to the disaster from the majority of mankind, including from citizens within the most affected countries.

    I see, however, no outpouring of support in most of the world's countries. The oil-rich Arabs? Where are they? But most frustrating and even angering is the lack of concern exhibited by average and elite members of the societies most directly affected. This was driven home in the course of an interminable meeting a few days ago discussing some silly resolution or another calling on the UN to appoint a "Special Representative for Tsunami Relief." A relatively senior Sri Lankan official leaned over and said to me, "Why do we want to bother with this? We all know you Americans will do everything." A nice compliment, I suppose, but on reflection a sad commentary not only about the rest of the world but presumably about Sri Lanka, itself. One would expect the affected countries to take the lead in relief efforts. None of the most seriously affected countries (Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Maldives) is a dirt poor country; all have well-established governments and national identities.

    In Jakarta, aside from flags at half-staff, we have seen no signs of mourning for the victims: while employees and dependents of the American embassy spent their holiday loading trucks and putting together medicine kits, the city's inhabitants went ahead with New Year's parties; nightclubs and shopping centers are full; and regular television programming continues. At least 120,000 of their fellow countrymen are dead, and Indonesians hardly talk about it, much less engage in massive charitable efforts. The exceptionally wealthy businessmen of the capital -- and the country boasts several billionaires -- haven't made large donations to the cause of Sumatran relief; a few scattered NGOs have done a bit, but there are no well-organized drives to raise funds and supplies. We have seen nothing akin to what happened in the USA following the 9/11 atrocity, or the hurricanes in Florida of this past year.
    READ IT!
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    Eliyahu (Elijah) the Prophet's Place

    READ IT!

    Sunday, January 09, 2005

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    It's not Kabbalah Water, but...

    Ok, it's not Kabbalah water (oy vey!) ...

    See the movie!
    READ IT!
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    The Damoclean Sword over Bin Laden and Egypt?

    The phrase ‘the sword of Damocles’ is generally understood to refer to the perilous situation in which that unfortunate person was placed, sitting beneath a sword suspended by a single horsehair, showing the seat of power under the threat of being taken away in an instant. More on this esoteric phrase here.

    To The Point writes, "Why hasn’t there been a repeat of 9-11? How can it be that after this unimaginable tragedy and Osama’s constant threats of another, we have gone over three years without a single terrorist attack on American soil? ... That we have taken the fight to the enemy in Iraq, drawing their attention and energy away from America; that the intel and law-enforcement folks have caught and prevented a number of planned attacks. These are good reasons why there haven’t been more attacks – but they don’t explain why there haven’t been any."

    Word Net Daily reports (Has U.S. threatened to vaporize Mecca?):

    "Israel … recognizes that the Aswan Dam is Egypt's Damoclean Sword," writes Wheeler. "There is no possibility whatever of Egypt's winning a war with Israel, for if Aswan is blown, all of inhabited Egypt is under 20 feet of water. Once the Israelis made this clear to the Egyptians, the possibility of any future Egyptian attack on Israel like that of 1948, 1967, and 1972 is gone."

    "There has been a rumor floating in the Washington ether for some time now that George Bush has figured out what Sword of Damocles is suspended over Osama bin Laden's head." ...

    "Completely obliterating the terrorists' holiest of holies, rendering what is for them the world's most sacred spot a radioactive hole in the ground is retribution of biblical proportions – and those are the only proportions that will do the job.

    "Osama would have laughed off such a threat, given his view that Americans are wussies who cut and run after a few losses, such as Lebanon in 1983 and Somalia in 1993. Part of Bush's rationale for invading Afghanistan and Iraq – obviously never expressed publicly – was to convince Osama that his threat to nuke Mecca was real. Osama hates America just as much as ever, but he is laughing no more."

    Wheeler says bin Laden is "playing poker with a Texas cowboy holding the nuclear aces," so there's nothing al-Qaida could do that could come remotely close to risking obliterating Mecca.

    Writes Wheeler: "So far, Osama has decided not to see if GW is bluffing. Smart move."
    READ IT!

    Thursday, January 06, 2005

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    The time is now. Your part counts.

    From the book HaYom Yom, from Day to Day, for the hebrew date that fell on December 27 this year...

    Hearken and hear Israel, this is the time marked for the redemption by Mashiach.

    The sufferings befalling us are the birth-pangs of Mashiach.

    Israel will be redeemed only through Teshuva (repentence or, better, reconnecting with G-d).

    Have no faith in the false prophets who assure you of glories and salvation after the War.

    Remember the word of G-d, "Cursed is the man who puts his trust in man, who places his reliance for help in mortals, and turns his heart from G-d" (Yirmiyahu 17:5).

    Return Israel unto the Eternal your G-d; prepare yourself and your family to go forth and receive Mashiach, whose coming is imminent.

    From the book HaYom Yom, from Day to Day, for the hebrew date that fell on January 4 this year...

    Groaning by itself won't do a bit of good.

    A groan is only a key to open the heart and eyes, so as not to sit there with folded arms, but to plan orderly work and activity, each person wherever he can be effective, to campaign for bolstering Torah, spreading Torah and the observance of Mitzvot.

    One person might do this through his writing, another with his oratory, another with his wealth.
    READ IT!
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    Political Analysis: Government Formed, Shinui Wins Their Heart, Loses Their Soul

    (Cross posted to Mystical Paths and Israpundit)

    As the report below shows, United Torah Judaism, one of the Israeli ultra-religious political parties, has approved joining the government. With Sharon set to give away parts of the holy land of Israel, many may wonder how a religious political party can join such a government.

    The surprising answer is that, while losing their seats in the coalition, Shiniu (Israeli's anti-religious party) has actually won their heart. Through the previous period of the coalition government of Likud, Shinui and National Religious Party, the key ministries for social control where in the hands of Shinui. They radically gutted 50 years of standing social policy, de-funding everything and anything religious. This includes a series of religious school systems that provide education for 40% of Israel's children.

    While the religious parties and portion of Israeli society absorbed the changes, which included de-funding of religious services, reduced support for large-size poor families (most religious families in Israel have many children), kosher supervision, sabbath law enforcement, town religious councils (responsible for providing religious services to poor neighborhoods and making sure that all citizens desiring services are able to receive them), and legal controls of marriage, divorce and custody rights. What this part of Israeli society is unable to absorb is the financial impact of reduced or eliminated school funding (though the reduced poor family support really hurt as well and as left many families literally poverty stricken).

    The religious school systems of Israel (as is true in many other parts of the world as well for all types of religious school systems) have higher graduation rates, lower (to almost non-existant) incidents of in-school-violence, drug use, teen pregnancy, the previous coalition reduced or eliminated funding as much as possible, and was in the process of changing laws to permit the forced application of outside antithetical standards.

    Under these pressures, Shinui won and Mr. Sharon has performed an incredible job of political judo. By leveraging one opponent against another, the religious political parties find themselves in an incredibly difficult position. Lose their children, or lose the Land?

    The Shas party, with spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, made the unbelievably difficult decision to tell Mr. Sharon 'no deal'. They won't support the government in giving away land.

    United Torah Judaism, with spiritual leader Rabbi Shalom Yosef Elyashiv, faced the same difficult choice. For his response, see the quotes below... The Jerusalem Post reports:

    After receiving the long-awaited approval from United Torah Judaism to form a 64-MK coalition with Likud and Labor, Sharon intends to expedite a cabinet vote on his unilateral disengagement plan...

    UTJ spiritual mentor Rabbi Shalom Yosef Elyashiv decided to allow the party to join the coalition for a three-month trial period, during which he will gauge whether the Likud has kept its promises to UTJ on reinstating religious services and maintaining the independence of the haredi school system...

    Elyashiv's main reasons for allowing UTJ to join were the opportunity to repair changes Shinui made in the government on matters of religion and state, plus the promises exacted from Likud on educational issues. He also figured that the disengagement plan would pass whether or not UTJ joined.

    In all of this, Shinui is both the winner and loser. They won their heart, they got their chance to strike out at the religious sectors of Israeli society (Shinui is rabidly anti-religious, seeing anything in Israeli society dealing with religion as religious coercion, which occasionally really is the case but not anywhere near their paranoid perception.) They also propound a strong nationalist position which they were willing to give up in a second, losing their soul to engage their true love, striking out at the religious.

    Perhaps Shinui's core voting group will continue to enthusiastically support them in the next election but a significant part of their votes came from middle-of-the-road Israeli's who said 'yes religion wields too great an influence in our society, and a strong nationalistic and economic position is important'. They'll lose on the second part of that equation.
    READ IT!

    Wednesday, January 05, 2005

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    Cultural Differences and Relating to the Creator

    Different cultures have different perspectives on a variety of things. While some of the global world views are similar, in the smaller aspects differences are startlingly significant.

    Some years ago, my father vacationed in Europe (traveling from California). He travelled to a variety of cities and countries via a Eurail pass. Culturally he noted that the German trains arrived and left exactly on time, and everyone closely held to their proper spacing and orderliness in the station. The countryside viewed was pretty, neat and well organized, houses, gardens, fences all being neat and clearly deliniated. On one train, he travelled to Italy where he said the contrast was very significant. The countryside was beautful, though somewhat disorganized. Overgrown fences (overgrown with flowers or vines or grapes), homes and neighborhoods that were, lets say unique in their individual organization. The station was, shall we say, comfortable, not businesslike, a little hard to find things, trains ran some minutes late.

    One of the interesting aspects of the religiously observant Jewish community is the cultural mixture. In the US, Israel, and somewhat in the UK, the elder generation came from 'over there'. From the late 1800's through post-World World II, large numbers, in some cases the majority of Jews or even almost all (that survived) emigrated from Poland, the Baltic countries, Germany, Austria, Italy, France, basically from most of Europe. (Or course, in Israel as well as the US, the Jewish communities from Arab nations left or were expelled after the Israeli 1948 independence war or after the Israeli 1967 6-Day War.)

    So, the elder members of the community usually were born and raised in another country, or rather a number of other countries. And if they weren't, they're parents probably were. (While the US, UK, and Israel all had historic Jewish families that have been there for over 125 years, this is definately the small minority.)

    And naturally they bring along their cultural perspectives. The German Jews expect synogogue services to start exactly on time, if it's 3 minutes late they're seriously upset (if it goes long everyone is upset!). The UK Jew expects a certain proper decorum. The Jews from Mediterranean Arab countries greet you (male to male) with a hug and a kiss, which drives the US Jew nuts.

    How do we relate to our Creator, the Master of the World? In many ways, the relationship is supposed to be that of a king and his subject. The king commands, the subject obeys. The subject respects the king, and certainly would never second guess the king or ever attempt to put himself in the king's place. You don't 'relate' to a king.

    One of the overriding beliefs in America is that everyone can succeed. No one is better than anyone else, opportunity is available to all. No, not everyone has equal ablities. But, you can go as far as your abilities, hard work, and luck take you. You can even be president! While today you are the worker, tomorrow you certainly can be the boss. Which means today your watching the boss and just knowing how you could be doing it better.

    This cultural aspect of America has made great leaders, captains of industry, incredible inventions, and drawn great people from around the world to attempt to access that opportunity for themselves and their children. But it has also led to the complete lack of respect. If no one is better, if everyone has the opportunity to succeed, then there is no reason to respect the leader, the boss, the inventor. After all, it could just as well be me that has succeeded! He's no better than I, he just had better circumstances.

    No respect. Call the president an idiot (freedom of speech after all), after all, I could be president too! (And, I'd do a better job at it!)

    No respect for authority, it's a major American cultural trait.

    You can see where this is leading. How can an American relate to the King of Kings when he doesn't know how to respect authority?

    Currently America is in the midst of an internal struggle. To protect the U.S. from terrorism, the national government, the national police (FBI) and other national agencies need more authority to do their job. Half the country says "Great, give them whatever they need to protect us." The other half says "No, we don't trust anyone with authority."

    How can American's bow to the authority of the Creator when they can't even trust their own police with sufficient authority to protect them?
    READ IT!

    Tuesday, January 04, 2005

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    Kind of speaks for itself...


    See Cox & Forkum for more.
    READ IT!

    Monday, January 03, 2005

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    Compendium of Israel/Jewish Blog Entries - I'm in Haveil Havalim Edition #3

    READ IT!
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    Yet More on Fad Kabbalah - An Expose' on the 'Centre'

    AmbivaBlog has an extensive expose' on the Kabbalah Centre, doing an excellent job of contrasting traditional Kabbalah versus the Fad Kabbalists, here's an excerpt, but I highly recommend reading the whole thing...

    My new Publishers Weekly arrived yesterday. The front cover, inside front cover, and first three pages are entirely devoted to an extended advertisement for a book called TRUE PROSPERITY: Success Without Side Effects, by Yehuda Berg. It's published by Kabbalah Publishing, which is an arm of the Kabbalah Centre, a self-described "educational organization" that has fifty locations and many celebrity enthusiasts. It's where Madonna got the knotted red string around her wrist. (Yehuda Berg described this in an online interview as "an old technology used to ward off jealousy and negativity from other people." You can see how that might come in handy if you were Madonna.)

    ...Kabbalah Centre asserts that Kabbalah is for "people of all faiths and no faiths." The message, however, is similar: spirituality is both a technology for acquiring prosperity and the prosperous person's ultimate acquisition, the crowning gem without which all the wealth and luxury in the world won't bring satisfaction. "SUCCESS PLUS!" trumpets the cover of PW. Here's a bit of the cold-blooded ad copy for TRUE PROSPERITY. It's this relentless new "spirituality" of success that gives me the creeps:

    Kabbalah is first and foremost a highly practical set of tools and techniques for improving people's lives in the contemporary world. . . . Yehuda Berg describes True Prosperity as a solution-oriented guidebook. Its purpose is meeting the financial needs of the successful young trend setters who are driving the Kabbalah phenomenon. "They're looking for financial success without the emotional and spiritual downside that seems to come with wealth," says the author. True Prosperity focuses on hard core career topics like negotiation, goal setting, and compensation, all of which are an intrinsic part of authentic Kabbalah.

    Oh, really? I just helped my brother, David Gottlieb, edit a book of letters he exchanged with an eminent scholar of Torah, Talmud, and medical ethics (he's an M.D. too), Rabbi Akiva Tatz. Here's Rabbi Tatz in an excerpt from their book, Letters to a Buddhist Jew, forthcoming from Targum Press:
    Search for the masters. They are rare and retiring, but they can be found. . . .

    To find mastery in Torah today you have to search for it as you would for treasure; it may be buried deep. You will have to exert yourself; you may have to travel. You will have to seek out that narrow niche where the real Torah is found. If you find it too openly on the street or calling to you from a seductive doorway, look away; if it is selling itself cheaply it is not Torah. Torah must be sought; but when you find it, you will know it. . . .

    In this generation, look to those dedicated to Torah learning. These days, they are often to be found in enclaves of poverty, not wealth. In fact, in the modern yeshiva world poverty happens to be more or less the standard; I personally know many families in that world who live on less than you probably waste. A Buddhist monk who lives on the alms that provide him his one daily meal would feel right at home there. . . .

    Rabbi Shach, Talmudic and halachic luminary, until his recent passing the Torah leader of this generation, used to sleep without a blanket. He did not own a blanket. A blanket, David. He used his coat; his wife used their only blanket. . . . [T]he only way the students in his yeshiva could get him finally to accept a blanket was when a Swiss student returned home and left his blanket behind ownerless; only when the other students assured Rav Shach that no-one else needed it did the Rosh Yeshiva acquire a blanket. This is not far-fetched; I had the privilege of visiting Rav Shach at his apartment . . . and I can tell you that it was bare.

    You may know that the Chafetz Chaim, Torah leader of the pre-war generation, had virtually no possessions. A well-known anecdote tells of the surprise of a wealthy Western European Jew who visited the Chafetz Chaim at his home in Radin; the man expressed his amazement at the spartan emptiness of the home. The Chafetz Chaim asked him: “Where is all your wealth? You do not seem to have much, either.” The visitor replied: “Rabbi, I am only passing through. Where I am going, I have plenty.” The Chafetz Chaim replied: “I am also only passing through...”

    But these great Torah minds were rich in another way. Their heads were in another place entirely, and in that place they were drunk with the richness and joy of Torah. . . . They live in the Talmud . . . That is the locus of their consciousness, that is where they live. . . .

    To be sure, we need to live in the world, and when we engage the world we need to do that fully and responsibly. But that is not where we live; we live in that other place, on that higher plane.
    You've noticed that Kabbalah is not mentioned in this passage. It is mentioned, sparingly but rivetingly, in Letters to a Buddhist Jew. As Rabbi Reuven Bulka, who "chairs the religious and inter-religious affairs committee for the Canadian Jewish Congress," told Toronto Star writer Leslie Scrivener, "Serious students of Kabbalah don't identify themselves as Kabbalists. Those who do, don't say."

    There's quite a bit more, I highly recommend reading it all.
    READ IT!
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    Messages from the next world...

    Once again, comes through with an amazing link to an amazing site.

    Galia - Messages from Heaven, is the (seemingly) true story of a severely brain damaged austistic child that begins to communicate with her mother (and other trained Facilitated Communication specialists) far beyond the limited capabilities of her physical body, speaking in detail about the heavenly realms, speaking literally from her soul.

    Check out the site here: Galia - Messages from Heaven
    And the published book (in English) here: Galia - Messages from Heaven

    One time Galia said, “Mum, everything you do to help the public has great power to bring people closer to their Father in heaven. It’s all very spiritual and far beyond our limited ability to understand here in this world, the world of falsehood where people’s ability to understand is limited by their physical brains. Even the smartest brain is totally primitive next to the amazingly powerful soul. Compared to the soul, the intellect is like a rudimentary invention.”

    I asked her, “Is that so even with big geniuses like Einstein?”

    She answered. “For sure, mum. I’m talking about the greatest human intellect imaginable. But even the greatest, the most intelligent and most educated elderly genius, someone who has spent his whole life amassing knowledge and wisdom, is like a caveman compared to what the soul is capable of. Mum, you can’t even begin to imagine what I mean because even the most imaginative person in the world couldn’t understand what I’m talking about.”
    Here is part of a message given by Galia to Rabbi Moshe ben Lulu director of the religious radio station “Channel Two Thousand,” written on January 5, 1999.

    The dear rabbi has to understand that there is a harsh decree concerning the Jewish people. We are all required to wake up the sleepers immediately because very soon the whole world is going to start convulsing furiously like a giant mixing bowl or an enormous pressure cooker, and a fearsome war will break out in Eretz Yisrael and in the whole world, and this will be the final, very painful, process of selection. The Jewish people is asleep in its apathy. A big blow can wake them up from the deep sleep they’re in. Many people are becoming religious but that’s not enough. If people knew what’s going to happen, they would fast over it. This is the calm before the great tempest. Everything will be in turmoil -- mountains, continents, people, armies -- everything will be in motion and very, very soon will come the long-awaited redemption of the Jewish people.

    One time she wrote to me: “Mum, if someone is truthful and observes the mitzvot and serves God truly and faithfully with all his heart, no harm will come to him and it will be easier for him to get through the difficult times ahead of us. But some children need a beating to get them to mend their ways, while those who are already on the right path don’t need beatings and don’t need troubles. Anyone who genuinely fears God and serves Him will not suffer any harm. If we all go in God’s ways, all the decrees will be rescinded and eradicated and not one person will be harmed.”

    It's an amazing site, have a visit.

    READ IT!
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