Monday, February 28, 2005

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Simple Faith and Ovadiah

As I wrote here, Ovadiah says...

They will inherit the South, the Mountain of Esav, and the lowlands, the (land of the) Palestinians.[28] And they will inherit the field of Ephrayim and the field of Shomron.[29] Binyamin the Land of Gilad.[30]

28. Literally 'Philistines', where the Palestinians get there name and the biblical nation located in Gaza, meaning physically Gaza. 29. These areas today are known as The West Bank, Ephrayim being the West Bank just north of Jerusalem and Shomron the West Bank north of Ariel. 30. Part of modern day Jordon, or the areas south of Jerusalem in the West Bank.

A Simple Jew's current post (Simple Faith) relates well to this:

In June 2004, David Hatuel asked the Sanzer Rebbe, Rabbi Tzvi Elimelech Halberstam, whether a settlement in Gaza should construct a permanent or temporary ark for Torah scrolls dedicated in the memory of Hatuel's murdered family. The Sanzer Rebbe replied that a temporary ark should be built, not because of the planned withdrawal from Gaza, but because one day the ark will need to moved it into a larger shul once the settlement expands.
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Posts that caught my attention today...

The following posts are definately worth taking the time to read...

DovBear writes about the Heavenly Voice...

Every day a bas kol, a heavenly voice, calls "shuvu banim shovavim, return to me o' wayward sons." [Chagigah 15]

Every day a bas kol. The trick is, you have to hear it.

Referring to this post by Orthodox Anarchist, On Becoming Shomer Shabbat, which is absolutely fantastic...

...Hasgakha partit [divine intervention], despite how ludicrous a concept it may be to the rational athiests I at times identify with, is something that holds a great deal of water for me. Robert Anton Wilson would probably intimate I was delusional before forgiving me for subscribing to this ideology. But that night, God spoke back to me. I didn't necessarily hear him at the time. I went home and asked my roommates why on Earth God has it out for me. "Am I so bad a person that I deserve this kind of night?" But the answer to my question is now staggeringly clear to me...

This post and this post (The Land of Magog) at End Of Days are practically scholarly works on prophecy and events in Iraq...

For Western Man the purpose of serving G-d is to make money for the individual in particular and the community as a whole. If one's World to Come has already been sealed for him through believing in another way of cleaving to the Almighty than through doing what is right in His eyes, it is an easy next step to see that the average man living under this delusion might only come to believe that the purpose of doing the right thing is for the purpose of building his fortune and the nation's fortune in this world. When doing what is right in G-d's eyes is in concert with prosperity, so much the better for the both. If one can do what is right without sacrificing prosperity, then how much the good public relations helps to increase the common prosperity becomes at least a part of the bottom line in deciding whether to act "altruistically". The biggest skeleton in the closet of Western Civilization is when there is a clash between prosperity and doing what is right in G-d's eyes.

Where is Magog? Throughout the ages those who have scrupulously studied Yehezkel (Ezekiel) 38-39 have tried to grapple with that question. Christian and Jewish scholars alike have tried to read through the tea-leaves of history while basing their conclusions on non-objective evidence which often existed in research on the subject that was being done outside the sphere of knowledge of those pundits in the religious world. The Jewish world had a few objective sources from which certain but incomplete conclusions could be drawn....

And this new blog, Israel: Journey to the Crown of Creation, was a nice read and recommended to take a look at...

We are blessed every day with countless instances of hashgacha pratis, divine providence. Sometimes we see 'em, sometimes we don't, and sometimes we don't want to see.

But whether we are aware of these instances or not, or whether we want to see them or not, or whether we attribute these instances to "other" causative factors, the fact is ...

Speaking of which, it came up accidentally while I was trying to find the link to the previous one. Hashgacha Pratit :-)
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More on The Wounded

Relating to my last post, The Wounded, Smooth Stone sent a link to a post of his, also about the prophet Ovadiah, that relates well...

On this sad day when more Israeli families are mourning for their dear-ones whose blood was shed by evil inhuman people, messengers of satan, I also want to say to the enemies of Israel and these evil terrorists and their allies in the world...

Read Smooth Stone's post here.

And, following his post there's a link to a related post from The Temple Mount Faithful...

Many politicians in Israel and abroad had illusions that peace could be achieved with the so-called "Palestinians". These illusions gave rise to much pressure on Israel to again give up the most holy Biblical places of the land of Israel in Judaea, Samaria and Gaza and even Biblical Jerusalem and the Temple Mount and to sign another false "peace" agreement...

Read The T.M.F.'s post here.

And lastly, if my words were not (unfortunately) graphic enough, here is a link to a video of the December '04 bus attack. WARNING - This immediate post-bombing on-the-scene video is extremely gruesome. (Link credit to comments by Yael on Smooth Stone.)

Do not stand idly by.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

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The Wounded

(This article is not for the faint of heart.),

Suicide bomber Friday night killed three men and a woman and wounded more than 50 others...(news article here)

Of the more than 50 people who were wounded, 29 are still hospitalized...

What does it mean to be wounded, injured in a terrorist attack in Israel? A bomb which has sufficient power to structurally blow apart a bus and to totally destroy cars impacts the human body.

But the blast damage is not considered sufficient (by the manufacturers). So they pack an outer layer with ball bearings, screws, nuts, bolts, nails, any small metal objects they can aquire. Thousands of them.

A number of local shopkeepers administered first aid, "binding tourniquets around chopped limbs. (news article here, page 2)

To be injured in a terrorist attack in Israel means burns over 50% of your body, losing hands and feet (only fingers if your lucky, whole limbs if your not), it means being peppered with the equivelent of multiple medium-caliber gunshot wounds (multiple like 8-12).

It means months in the hospital to be rebuilt, and years of therapy to be functional. A recovery to full functionality is very unlikely.

The ratio of injured to killed is 10-20:1, meaning at if Israel has had 1,500 deaths from such attacks, there's another 22,000 permanently seriously disabled, disfigured, people who's lives have been horribly damaged.

How anyone can justify doing this to other people is beyond me.

There are many worthy organizations to help the victims and needy in Israel, I discuss my favorite here and have them listed on the right side blog toolbar (over there, maybe down or up a bit --->

Another approach is also taken here, Victims of Arab Terror web site.
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The Works of Kabbalah - Chassidut

From, the writings of Rabbi Ginsburgh (hassidic kabbalist in Israel), from his weekly mailing list (available to all, click here):

"In general there are 5 stages in the revelation of the wisdom of Kabbalah, each stage appearing (one might say, even encoded) within a particular text."

The Fifth Stage of Kabbalah: Chassidut

More than a century and a half after the Arizal’s statement that the time has come for Kabbalah to be revealed, the Ba’al Shem Tov (1698-1760) founded the Chassidic movement. As explained in length by one of the greatest Chassidic scholars, Rabbi Isaac of Homil (who was a disciple of Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the founder of the Chabad branch of Chassidut, his son, Rabbi Dov Ber, and his grandson, the Tzemach Tzedek), the Ba’al Shem Tov’s teachings in particular and Chassidut in general are a final tier of Kabbalah. They are a unique revelation of the Divine wisdom of Kabbalah in the sense that they form a new corpus of teachings that as a whole provide a deeper insight and a more advanced conceptual scheme than ever revealed before with which to understand and internalize the teachings of the Zohar and the Arizal.

Chassidut is thus the fifth stage of the revelation of Kabbalah. But, the Ba’al Shem Tov’s Kabbalah is not different only in its breadth of explanation; it is also wider in its scope. Whereas the Arizal still imposed limitations on who is worthy to study Kabbalah, the Ba’al Shem Tov advocated a radically new approach. The Ba’al Shem Tov experienced an elevation of his soul to the dwelling place of the Mashiach in heaven, where the Mashiach revealed to him, that the redemption would occur once his [the Ba’al Shem Tov’s] wellsprings of teaching would spread forth to the most remote extremes (yafutzu ma’ayanotecha chutza). Subsequently, the Ba’al Shem Tov explained that the “most remote extremes” specifically refers to those Jews who until now could not have been considered sanctified enough to study Kabbalah.

Obviously, spreading the wellsprings of Kabbalah to these extremes means specifically addressing every single Jew, regardless of level of observance or commitment to the Torah. Not only that, but even non-Jews, who also require the wisdom of Kabbalah in order to participate in the redemption in a compassionate and merciful manner, should also be addressed and taught those parts of the wisdom that pertain to them. This implies there really are no longer any conditions placed on the study of Kabbalah. Since all souls require this wisdom to rectify themselves, there is also no difference between genders. Until the coming of the Mashiach it is our task to do all in our power to spread the wellsprings of Chassidut, the fifth level of Kabbalah.

Revealing the Concealed

It is important to mention that whenever we speak of “new teachings” we of course mean not that some new Torah has been given from God through someone, but rather that some righteous individual has merited revealing hidden parts of the Torah that were always present but remained concealed until that point in time (for reasons known only to God, in His providence to bring creation and history to the utopian state for which the world was created). Those unique souls sent from Heaven at certain critical moments in history to reveal new dimensions of the Torah will of course never contradict or nullify any of the Torah's laws or teachings that had been revealed until that point in time.

Rabbi Shneur Zalman, the found of Chabad, stated that “there will not be a second giving of the Torah,” meaning that all new teachings must always truly be founded on the Torah as it has been transmitted and developed from generation to generation. The Torah that was given by G-d at Mt. Sinai already contains all the new teachings and understandings of all the generations up to and including even the deepest revelations that will be taught by the Mashiach. In fact, the prophets clearly stated that just before the final revelations of the Torah by the Mashiach, prophecy will return to the Jewish people. The purpose of this prophecy is, again, not to reveal a “new” Torah, but rather to prepare the soul so that it can integrate the depth of the revelation of the Torah’s hidden teachings as they will be revealed by the Mashiach.
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Chassidus versus Kabbalah

“The earlier Kabbalah tried to bring man into heaven. The main idea of Chassidus was to bring heaven into man.”

Chassidic thought is predicated on Kabbalah, Jewish mysticism, but Chassidic works differ greatly from Kabbalistic tracts. Chassidus emphasizes practical application while Kabbalah describes Heavenly domains. (Audio Torah site) presents the first half of a new book online:

Flames of Faith: An Introduction to Chassidic Thought (Adobe Reader required)

While I've only read the introduction, it looks like a very nice introductory read to the topic.
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Achdus - Unity, and the lack thereof

Unity, Achus in Hebrew, is a key strength, perhaps the key strength.

There is no greater concern over the current situation in Israel, in particular the moves of the government, than the damage to achdus (unity).

A government making the kind of drastic decisions it is making has a responsibility to lead the people, direct the nation to it's line of thinking. Not bully the people and demonize the segment that disagree's.

The people are truly in turmoil and internal disagreement with each other, and this has worked it's way down into day to day interactions.

It's a bad situation. Regardless of the result or whether you agree or disagree with the direction, serious harm to the Israeli national psyche is occurring.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

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Reb Lazer: History Bears Witness to the Truth of Torah

Reb Lazer Brody has distributed this nice article for publication...

Dear Rabbi Lazer,

I'm a history major at the University of Michigan, and Jewish, but I come from a totally nonreligious home. I'm curious to know if it's possible to substantiate the Torah from solid recorded historical evidence. Please understand, I'm not trying to be argumentative, I just want to understand, because if my heritage is authentic and not a collection of folk stories, I certainly want to know more. Thank you for your time and patience.

Kimberly from Ann Arbor

Dear Kimberly,

What a timely letter! This week's Torah portion contains one of the most convincing pieces of historical proof to the timeless truth of Torah. Open up your Bible to Leviticus 34:24, which states: "No person shall covet your land during your pilgrimage to Hashem's holy temple three times a year". This is a strict Torah ordinance that requires every Jew to come to the Temple in Jerusalem 3 times a year - once for the festival of Passover, once for the festival of Shavuot, and once for the festival of Succot. That means that 3 times a year, during the months of Tishri (Succot), Nissan (Passover), and Sivan (Shavuot), the entire army was required to pack up and leave the Jordan border, the Syrian border, the Lebanon border, and the Egyptian border, and report to Hashem in the Beis HaMikdash (holy temple).

The first and second temples stood and were active for a total of 830 years. Never in these more than 8 centuries, was Israel ever attacked during the above mentioned 3 months (except for once, as we'll soon see), that is, at the time of the festivals. How can that be? The borders were wide open! Since the dawn of history, The Land of Israel was the most coveted chunk of real estate in the world!

The famed 13th Century CE commentator from Spain, the Ibn Ezra, explains that when Israel comes to do G-d's will at the Holy temple, then G-d does two things:
First, He removes the covetry from the hearts of Israel's enemies, and second, He personally guards the borders.

Notice that both temples were destroyed in the month of Av, when there are no holidays. This is a historical fact substantiated by any source you like (the Talmud, Josephus, Roman Articles, and more).

The only recorded attack against Israel during the festival periods while the Holy temple was still standing occurred at the beginning of Passover, during the first temple period during the reign of King Hezekiah. Sennaherib and the Assyrian army came to conquer Jerusalem. One morning, the entire Assyrian legion failed to wake up. They were struck dead as a doornail. This is also a historical fact that can be substantiated by cross references in both biblical and secular sources.

Kimberly, this letter notwithstanding, the Torah doesn't need proof. Any individual with normal intelligence simply has to take a close objective look to see how the Torah is alive, vibrant, and true as ever. I wish you success in your search for your roots. Don't
hesitate to contact me if I can be of further help.

Best wishes,
Lazer Brody

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

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The Works of Kabbalah - The Tree of Life

From, the writings of Rabbi Ginsburgh (hassidic kabbalist in Israel), from his weekly mailing list (available to all, click here):

"In general there are 5 stages in the revelation of the wisdom of Kabbalah, each stage appearing (one might say, even encoded) within a particular text."

Four: The Tree of Life

By the work of the Ramak and others on the Zohar many of its mysteries were revealed. Nonetheless, the deepest teachings and concepts could not be fathomed by the human mind alone if it were not inspired from above by the Almighty. The Holy Ari, the acronym for Rabbi Isaac ben Shlomo Luria, was the new soul sent from above and chosen to reveal these. The Ari arrived in the Ramak’s hometown, the holy city of Safed , on the same day that the Ramak passed away and was being buried.

Beyond having the intellectual skills and knowledge of his predecessors, the Ari merited to receive a completely new revelation of wisdom from Heaven. Though this new wisdom could be taught independently, the Ari chose to “enclothe” it as an interpretation of the Zohar, that is, to teach it in context of the language and style of the Zohar. The Ari’s teachings were then compiled into the text titled The Tree of Life (Eitz Chayim). So all-inclusive and penetrating were the Ari’s teachings, that a student of Kabbalah who has not yet learnt the fifth level of Kabbalah, will tell you that the classic work for the study of Kabbalah in our generations is The Tree of Life.
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Interpretive Prophecy: Israel in Danger, America at Risk - Part 2

Part 1 Here.

Given the current circumstances in Israel, I find myself compelled to look to the prophets for insight. How can we understand current actions? As success is being reached by Israel against the terrorists attacking her, as America is moving strongly against terrorism, the government of Israel capitulates to the terrorist enemy under the apparent demand of the U.S.?

My reading of the prophet Ovadiah...I invite corrections from my masters and teachers and beg forgiveness for my ignorance and mistakes. I truly hope and pray that I am completely mistaken in what I am about to write.

Continuing at Ovadiah 1:12

You should not have looked on at your brother, on the day of his banishment (from his land)[18], and you should not have rejoiced at the Children of Yehudah when they were destroyed. Nor should you have spoken proudly on the day of his distress.[19] You should not have entered into the gates of My people on the day of their calamity. [20] Nor should you have gazed at his misfortune on the day of his downfall. You should not have stretched out over his possessions on the day of his calamity.[21] You should not have stood at the crossroads to cut off their fugitives, and you should not have arrested his survivors on the day of his distress.[22]

18. Translation according to Radak.
19. The day after Israel announces withdrawal from Gaza, President Bush proudly announces "Bush stated bluntly that “a state of scattered territories [for the PLO] will not work.” (me)
20. The U.S. has committed to sending CIA, State and Army personnel to train and assist the Palestinians. (me)
21. USAID has offered to assist the PA in determining usage of settlement land. (me)
22. They stood and observed which way Israel fled and passed on this information. (Ibn Ezra) Will the U.S. be assisting the Israeli government through observation in the evacuation, satellite intelligence? (me)

For G-d's day against the nations is near.[23] As you have done, so will be done to you. You will be punished in kind for your deeds. For just as you have drunk on My Holy Mount, so will all the nations drink always.[24] They will drink and go mad. They will be as if they never were.

23. When G-d will judge the nations who persecuted Israel. (Malbim)
24. Addresses the Edomites, "Just as you drank on the Temple Mount and celebrated your victory over Israel, so will all the nations who oppressed Israel drink from the cup of wrath on the day of retribution. (Rashi, Radak)

But on Mount Zion there will be deliverance. It will become holy. And the House of Yaakov[25] will possess their inheritance.

Then, the House of Yaakov will be a fire, the House of Yoseph[26] a flame, and the House of Esav[27] will be straw. They will set them alight and consume them. There will be no survivors from the House of Esav, for G-d has spoken.

25. The Jewish nation. (me)
26. Another term for the Jewish nation, different aspect. (me)
27. The enemy nations, or in particular the related semites (Arabs). (me)

They will inherit the South, the Mountain of Esav, and the lowlands, the (land of the) Palestinians.[28] And they will inherit the field of Ephrayim and the field of Shomron.[29] Binyamin the Land of Gilad.[30]

28. Literally 'Philistines', where the Palestinians get there name and the biblical nation located in Gaza, meaning physically Gaza. (me)
29. These areas today are known as The West Bank, Ephrayim being the West Bank south of Jerusalem and Shomron the West Bank north of Jerusalem. (me)
30. Part of modern day Jordon (Rashi, my geographic adjustment).

The diaspora community of Israelites that are [with the exiled] Canaanites, the Ashkenazim[31], and the exiled Jerusalemites, the Sephardim[32], will inherit the towns of the Negev.

The saviors will ascend Mount Zion to rule Mount Esav. Then, the kindom will be G-d's!

31. Radak says the Canaanites ran away in the time of Joshua to Europe, mainly Germany and France. So, the diaspora from Israel in Europe and America is 'living with the Canaanites'. Jews from this part of the world are known (and have unique cultural aspects) as Ashkenazi.
32. The diaspora from the Jerusalem area was exiled to the Arab countries, and lived in the golden age of Spain (Sepharad in hebrew). Jews from this part of the world are known (and have unique cultural aspects) as Sephardim.

Here ends the prophecy of Ovadiah.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

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Stepping into the Minefield: Slifkin & the p'shat

Sometimes a person just can't resist stepping into the minefield...

There is currently a big controversy within the Jewish orthodox/ultra-orthodox community regarding a rabbinic author, Rabbi Slifkin, and the books he wrote which, according to some significant rabbinic authorities, contravene conventional doctrine (regarding science, Torah, and the possible age of the universe).

The books and author info can be seen here.
The major condemnation here. (Adobe Acrobat required)

And some absolutely top-of-the-line thoughts and comments about it here, here, and my favorite sarcastic critic here.
A real detailed list of everything about this here and here.

As I read through these thoughts an opinions on this controversy, and I have to admit that I have one of Rabbi Slifkin's books on my bookshelf, the following thought came to mind:

In generations past, community rabbinical authorities had the responsibility to direct the spirtual and religious life of their community. They directed the educational direction and religious approaches. At various times and in various communities, these changed to follow the needs and influences of a given community.

There have been occasions in the past where works of great rabbi's have been limited in certain communities, as the mindset of the given community was not condusive to that particular work at that particular time. (The specific example that comes to mind is the Rambam's Guide from Egypt and it's proscription in France.)

It's my belief that's what's happening in this case. A select set of rabbinical authorities have seen that Rabbi Slifkin's books are problematic within the mindset and operational parameters of their relatively-closed communities, and reacted to prevent it.

The problem they have encountered is twofold: one, statements targeted at their community are basically instantly transmitted world-wide (note that one major form of communication for the target community is posting on neighborhood billboards, which people are writing down and posting on the internet within the hour), two, it's no longer possible to limit a community's outside influences (within the circle of religious communities, wide ranging contact between themselves is now the norm), rather one must prepare the community to handle what will come.

The world has changed, for good or bad, whether we like it or not. Deal with it with must.

From the mystical tradition side, I find it very odd that this issue is being only addressed from the p'shat (see explanation below), simple age of the universe issues (less than 6,000) are clearly meant for the simple explanation and understanding only.

PaRDeS : Each passage of the Torah is subject to 4 general levels of interpretation/understanding. The four level of interpretation are called: P'shat, Remez, D’rash & Sod. The first letter of each word P-R-D-S is taken, and vowels are added for pronunciation, giving the word PARDES (meaning "garden" or "orchard"). Each layer is deeper and more intense than the last, like the layers of an onion.

# P'shat (pronounced peh-shaht' - meaning "simple"): The p'shat is the plain, simple meaning of the text.

# Remez (pronounced reh-mez' - meaning "hint"): This is where another (implied) meaning is alluded to in the text, usually revealling a deeper meaning.

# D’rash (pronounced deh-rahsh' also called "Midrash"): This is a teaching or exposition or application of the P'shat and/or Remez.

# Sod (pronounced sawd or sood [like "wood"] - meaning "hidden" or "secret"): This understanding is the hidden, secret or mystic meaning of a passage.
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Related: Edomites

Relating to my previous post on Ovadiah, Bloghead picks up this recent archaelogical fact:

A new archaeological dig has confirmed the existence of the Edomites as early as 1000 BC.:

While previous investigations in Edom had been carried out in the Jordanian highland zone and put the rise of the Edomite kingdom during the 8th to 6th centuries BCE, the new archeological data from modern-day Jordan presents strong evidence for the involvement of Edom with neighboring ancient Israel as described in the Bible and indicates the existence of the biblical nation of Edom at least as early as the 10th Century BCE – when David and Solomon were alive....

The archeologists dug up evidence of construction of massive fortifications and industrial-scale metal production activities, as well as over 100 building complexes. Egyptian scarabs of a "walking sphinx" and a hunting scene provide additional evidence of metal-working activities at the site in the period around 1200 to 900 BCE.

Noted here: Bloghead-Edomites get a whole lot older

Monday, February 21, 2005

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Interpretive Prophecy: Israel in Danger, America at Risk - Part 1

Given the current circumstances in Israel, I find myself compelled to look to the prophets for insight. How can we understand current actions? As success is being reached by Israel against the terrorists attacking her, as America is moving strongly against terrorism, the government of Israel capitulates to the terrorist enemy? There is no doubt misunderstandings and bad judgements being made in good faith. But there is also no doubt there is pressure, arm twisting, and some very severe threats behind the scenes.

President Bush speaks words of strength, words from the bible. He acts with honor and conviction. He stands proud and tall (and alone) against terrorism, fighting in Afghanistan and attacking Iraq, and battling in other places around the world (ex. Phillipines). Yet at the same time the State Department and CIA are pressuring Israel to surrender and training the Palestinians (who then turn around and use those skills to kill Jews)?

Is there no justice? Will there be no divine result from such a twisted action?

In my reading of the prophet Ovadiah, it seems that there will be. It is with fear and trepidation that I undertake the task of translating the prophet in light of current events (majority taken from classic sources, any and all mistakes my own). I am not qualified; I am not a learned expert. However, perhaps my limited understanding allows me to place the translation in the context of events rather than properly understanding generations of interpretation and commentary.

I invite corrections from my masters and teachers and beg forgiveness for my ignorance and mistakes. I truly hope and pray that I am completely mistaken in what I am about to write.

The vision of Ovadiah: This is what G-d the Lord said concerning America[1]. We heard a report from G-d, and a messenger has been sent to the nations[2]. “Get up! Let’s wage war against her!”

1. Literally 'Edom', why do I write America?… This prophecy will only be fulfilled in the future. (Radak) Edom no longer exists, it’s attributes were assimilated by the Roman Empire. (Radak) References to Edom are understood as alluding to Rome and by extension to the entire Christian world. (Malbim) The Western-World, and certainly the leading power of the Western-World, America, are the spiritual and practical inheritors of the Roman Empire. Democracy (in a more limited fashion) and Materialism are original attributes of Rome and the driving attributes of America. (me)

2. So many nations will desire to wage war against America[1] that it will seem as if they had sent messengers among them (Ibn Ezra). This verse refers to the war of Gog and Magog, between the descendants of Ishmael [Ishmael = the Arabs (me)] and America[1]. (Malbim, more is written).

See how I’ve made you small among the nations[3]. You are thoroughly despised[4]. Your heart’s conceit has enticed you. You who makes the skyscrapers[5] your lofty abode, who says to himself: “Who can bring me down to earth?” Even if you lift yourself high like an eagle[6], and even if you establish a space station[7], I will bring you down from there!” says G-d.

3. Although past tense, this speaks of the future when America will be destroyed. (Radak) Emphasizing world opinion of America[1], it's philosophy and lifestyle (me)

4. Current world opinion of America. (me)

5. Literally ‘mountain caves’.

6. An illusion, a hint, to the national symbol of America. (me)

7. Literally ‘even if you place it among the stars’. Note the same day Israeli government approved the withdrawal from Gaza, NASA announced a return to space with newly scheduled Space Shuttle launch dates [both occuring on Feb. 21, 2005]. (me)

How is it that you’ve remained silent[8]? If thieves and robbers came to you in the night, wouldn't they have stolen only their fill[9]? If grape gatherers came to you, wouldn't they have left behind gleanings[10]?

8. Translation according to Targum.

9. Whereas, when they come to Israel they want everything [Abbas announced right after Israel announced a withdrawal that more more is required] (me)

10. More of the same? (me) or The hebrew for grape gatherers is the plural of Basra, the southern Iraqi city (see Isaiah 63:1, Amos 1:12, Daath Mikra), so this might also say: In Basra, all they will leave behind is gleanings. [a warning to America, and a tie in to other significant prophecies about Basra] (me)

How have Esav been searched and his hidden places found[11]? All your allies accompanied you only to the border[12]. Your comrades duped you. They got the better of you. Your friends set a trap under you[13]. You lacked understanding.

11. Iraq was searched for years and years, the hidden places were known! (me)
12. They stood together in the U.N. Security Council, but would not go in! (me) A prophecy that America's[1] allies will convince her to wage war and guarantee military support, but they do not fulfill their promise (Daath Mikra, one of several )
13. They set you up! They corroborated your intelligence reports (Russia, France) falsely! (me)

Surely on that day, says G-d, I will make the wise men disappear from America and understanding from the mountain of Esav.[14] Your warriors will be broken, you who live in the south, so that the slaughter will wipe out every last man from the mountain of Esav.[15]

14. A reference to the capital of America[1] (Malbim) The men of wisdom leave the government before the disaster. Colin Powell [Sec. of State], John Ashcroft [Attorney General], Tom Ridge [Sec. of Homeland Security], among the majority of the cabinet that left with the start of President Bush's second term. (me) The mountain of Esav may refer to the British. While Bush's cabinet has changed, the British government hasn't changed any personnel, they'll just act without understanding when the time comes. (me)

15. If [14, last item], then..within Iraq, the British control the southern part of the country, including Basra. When the disaster occurs, the British contingent will be destroyed.

But why why why? What does the prophet say about why?

Because you oppressed your brother Yaakov, you will be covered in shame and you will be cut off forever.[16] When you stood aside on the day that strangers confiscated his possessions and foreigners entered into his gates, and cast lots over Jerusalem. You too are like one of them (since you did nothing to help).[17]

16. Yaakov means Israel (me)

17. President Bush, Feb. 17 2005 "And in that Israel is our ally, and we have made a very strong commitment to support Israel, we will support Israel if her security is threatened". Secretary of State Rice, Feb. 6: Well in fact I really do believe, and President Bush believes, that the disengagement plan is potentially of historic proportion, and that it is in fact one of the things that will help us to get back on to the Roadmap, perhaps even in a much accelerated fashion because the decision, I know very difficult decision, to disengage, to dismantle settlements in the Gaza and in the four West Bank cities creates a new dynamic on the ground. It gives to the Palestinians an opportunity to govern areas in which Israelis will no longer be. And so, we believe that the disengagement plan is actually helpful to moving forward on the Roadmap and ultimately then to the two-state solution. Secretary Rice: We do believe that unilateral steps in Jerusalem, particularly those that might appear to pre-judge future discussions, would be unhelpful at this time. It is essential that the parties who we really do believe now have a new opportunity to move forward toward peace, that everything be done to make the circumstances and the conditions as favorable as possible. And so, we would hope that the Palestinians and the Israelis, as well as the neighborhood, would consider all steps in the context of what will contribute most to sustaining a momentum toward peace.

Part 2 will follow, G-d willing, soon.
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The 10th Hour has an exciting selection of material on End Times and kabbalistic calculations of the ultimate redemption. All information below from the site...

Rabbi Winston Interview: ...Torah Logic. It is a master plan for Creation. It is a timetable for that master plan. Man wakes up daily and goes to work, doing his own thing, oblivious to a supernal undercurrent to history that has been flowing since G-d first said "Bereishis," and will continue until the end of history, and beyond for that matter. When things happen that shock us, it is because they didn't fit into our timetable and plan for Creation. But they had to happen exactly when they did and as they did, according to the master plan for Creation.

5765 - 5790: A 25-year period of time during which Moshiach must come.

According to tradition, each day of Creation corresponds to one millennium of history, and one hour corresponds to a period of 83.33 years ( Pirkei d’Rebi Eliezer Ch. 48). This would mean that the tenth hour of Day Six, during which time Adam ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (Sanhedrin 38b), corresponds to an 83.33 year period of time that began in 5750, or 1990 CE.

According to the Zohar, Techiyas HaMeisim (Resurrection of the Dead) will begin 210 years in advance of the year 6000, or 25 years from 5765, in 5790 or, 2030 CE (Midrash Ne’elam 140a). By this time, Moshiach will have already come and prepared the world for this next stage of history.

The Timetable of History Chart, Focused on the 10th Hour, click here. (Adobe Acrobat reader required.)

Note a similar chart is available at, broken down according to the writings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.
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Smooth Stone asks uncomfortable questions

Smooth Stone asks uncomfortable questions about the circumstances surrounding Israel, such as:

The Kurds want their own state, too

Why is it that world leaders are so frothed up about establishing a Palestinian state, a concept with no legitimacy, but disinterested in a state for the Kurdish people? The Kurds in Iraq, Turkey, Iran, and Syria can make a much more convincing case for their own nation, but few listen.


Check it out, and it's joining my recommended links.
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Thanks for the Link

I'm truly honored that some consider it worthwhile to read what I write and let it touch their thoughts. I'm especially honored that some do this regularly and even more so when they link to me (well, to this blog) from their own blogs.

For those who don't blog themselves and/or are on the less technical side of the 'net, IMHO one of the best ways to traverse the Blogosphere is following links from one blog to another. Many blogs maintain a list of other blogs which they find of interest (which I do as well, if you look right and scroll down you'll see 'Interesting Links & Blogs').

These links often lead to some very interesting places and are well worth checking out (both the list I have here and the lists other blogs maintain).

In the reverse, here are some of the blogs that I've found link to this one. I can't speak for why they find it worthwhile to do so, but I appreciate that they do:

American On Line
A Simple Jew
Barbara's Musings
Deep Blog - Portal to Great Blogs
Destination Jerusalem
Hasidic Gentile
Hasidic Rebbele
Lets Talk Politics
Snugg Harbor

I'm sure there are others that I've missed. If you link here or have any comments for improvements, please let me know. I can be emailed at the word 'akiva' followed by letter 'm' @ (at) 'gmail' followed by '.com'.

(For the less technical, the reason for writing an email address like that is because spammers, those who send junk mail, use programs to scan web sites for email addresses automatically [harvesting the 'net]. If I put the email address in normal form [such as], within 2 days I'll start receiving hundreds or thousands of email advertisements a day. The hope is that writing the address in a human-but-not-computer readable form will result in those harvesting programs not working.)

Sunday, February 20, 2005

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Mysticism and Holiness is not for Angels

(Paraphrased from a note to me.)

"Wow, it's almost weird to hear about your night juggling the kids while trying to deal with your son's emergency. You're human! For some reason I was starting to think you were floating around on a spiritual cloud with no problems and all the answers."

The challenge of spirituality, Judaism and Jewish Mysticism is maintaining the spiritual-religious connection while involved in the world, thereby raising up the world itself. Work, children, family, neighborhood, community, friends, less-than-friends.

It's easy to feel religious when your a monk, to feel spiritual on top of the mountain. It's truly an effort when the children are a challenge, and work is a pain, and the checking account balance is low.

But that's also when it can really make a difference.

There is no challenge, and therefore no reward, for a spiritual being's holiness, or spirituality.

It's the human, that combination of the physical, an animal, a mammal, who needs to eat, drink, sleep, be warm, be 'satisified', and the reach beyond the physical, to consider the world, to pray, to perform acts for others that don't do anything to fulfill his/her own private animal needs.

That's the challenge. With the opportunity, the effort, comes the reward.

Are there those that reach and fail? Yes.
Are there those that fail to reach? Yes, and these are the sadder case, the wasted opportunity.

There are those who look at the community who is reaching, who is trying, and point out only the failures. Look look, the community is not perfect! No, it's not, it's human, not a community of angels.
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Regarding Another's Suffering

The book HaYom Yom, from Day to Day, has daily sayings by the 6th chassidic leader, or rebbe (aka grand rabbi) of the Lubavitcher hassidim, as organized by the 7th rebbe.

Here's the entry for 6 Adar I, 5765 - February 15, 2005...

From my father's Sichot (talks):

"It is a magnificent gift of G-d to merit an innate sense - "feel" for doing kindness to another, to derive deep pleasure from it.

This can develop to the point that one cherishes the other more than one self. He may find many explanations as to why he deserves his own tribulations, G-d forbid, but to do so with regard to another's suffering - is absolutely impossible.
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The Works of Kabbalah - The Pomegranate Orchard

From, the writings of Rabbi Ginsburgh (hassidic kabbalist in Israel), from his weekly mailing list (available to all, click here):

"In general there are 5 stages in the revelation of the wisdom of Kabbalah, each stage appearing (one might say, even encoded) within a particular text."

Three: The Pomegranate Orchard

The Ramak’s work represents the third stage of the evolution of Kabbalah. His interpretation of the Zohar was based on a rational mindset (not very different from the mindset used in explaining other Midrashic literature) and a wide and circumspect knowledge of the entire Torah in all its strata exoteric (revealed) and esoteric (hidden) alike. The Ramak’s commentary on the Zohar, titled Or Yakar, is tremendous in its scope, spanning dozens of large volumes. But, his magnum opus was the volume titled The Pomegranate Orchard (Pardes Rimonim), based on what is perhaps one of the most enigmatic verses in the entire Bible: “Your shoots are an orchard of pomegranates with pleasant fruits, henna and nard.”

This verse is from the Song of Songs, a poetic and metaphoric description of the love between a bride and her groom. Even though all the sages of the Talmudic period knew about and were involved in the study of Kabbalah, the Talmud does not openly delve into its mysteries. However, there is one chapter dedicated to this topic: the second chapter of the tractate of Chagigah. There, the sages who were initiated into the study of Kabbalah are described as having entered the Pardes, the “orchard.” The Hebrew word pardes is also understood in Kabbalah to be an acronym for the four parts of the Torah: literal, allusive, homiletic/hermeneutic, and secret. That the “orchard” contains all four parts of the Torah implies that it is impossible to truly be initiated into its secrets without studying the three other strata.

Friday, February 18, 2005

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The book HaYom Yom, from Day to Day, daily is a source of deep insights that I find very profound...the entry for Sunday, 4 Adar I, 5765 - February 13, 2005:

The initial preparations for delving into deep intellectual concepts, especially concepts of G-dliness, are

  • A strenuous effort of the body to be rid of one's delight in worldly matters, and

  • A strenuous effort of the soul to stimulate delight in intellectual pursuit in general, and in G-dly matters in particular.
  • READ IT!
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    The Works of Kabbalah - The Book of Brilliance, the Zohar

    From, the writings of Rabbi Ginsburgh (hassidic kabbalist in Israel), from his weekly mailing list (available to all, click here):

    "In general there are 5 stages in the revelation of the wisdom of Kabbalah, each stage appearing (one might say, even encoded) within a particular text."

    Two: The Zohar (the Book of Brilliance)

    Unlike The Book of Formation, the Zohar, the text revealing the second stage of Kabbalah, is a very large one. Its content is primarily structured as an interpretation of the Bible in general and the Five Books of Moses, in particular. The Zohar, though it speaks in a usually less enigmatic language than the Book of Formation, is structurally varied. Some of the content appears as story-telling, some of it as an in-depth analysis of “higher worlds,” the reality of sefirot, the way in which the sefirot develop into “figures” (partzufim) spiritual personas of the higher worlds, and so on. There are some parts of the Zohar (like the Idra Rabbah and Idra Zuta), which remained almost completely incomprehensible until the Arizal (16th century CE) shed light shed on them (more on the Arizal in the fourth stage). In the complete corpus of the many writings that make up the Torah, the Zohar is considered a midrash—a homiletic or hermeneutic discourse on the Torah. Sometimes the Zohar is even referred to as Midrash Rashbi, Rashbi being the acronym of its author’s name: Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai.

    Though originally composed by Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai in the 2nd century CE, the Zohar was not openly published for another 1200 years. During the interim, it was passed from mentor to disciple. “A thing in its [proper] time is good,”and such was the public revelation of the Zohar. Immediately upon its revelation, the Zohar spread throughout the Jewish world of learning, and many of the Kabbalistic scholars began to try to unlock its secrets, by properly interpreting its myriad of allusions and metaphors. This went on for almost 200 years, until this process reached its zenith with the work of Rabbi Moshe Cordovero (1522-1570), known by his acronym, the Ramak.
    READ IT!
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    Avoda - Labor

    The book HaYom Yom, from Day to Day, continues to be a daily source of deep insights...the entry for Thursday, 1 Adar I, 5765 - February 10, 2005

    It is written: "Man goes out to his work and to his labor (Avoda) until evening." [Tehillim / Psalms Tehillim 104:23]

    Every soul in its descent into this material world has general and personal tasks. This, then, is the meaning of the verse:

  • Man goes out to his work - the soul "goes out" from its position in the trove of souls, in the highest heavens, and descends from plane to plane until it comes to be invested in a body and in the natural and animal souls.

  • The purpose of this descent is "man to his work" - to his general task of achieving dominance of "form over matter" (meaning, the spiritual over the material), to illuminate the world with the light of Torah and the candle of Mitzva.

  • " his labor refers to each individual's particular mission, for every soul has its unique Avoda (labor) in intellect and emotions according to its nature and character.

  • "...until evening - while there is still time to accomplish, as it is written, "Today, to perform them (the mitzvot)."

  • On a more profound level the verse may be explained as follows:

    The verse refers to the ascent of the soul in general, achieved by its prior descent (Man goes out) into the material world:

    When the soul ascends from its being enclothed in the body in this material world, then... his work - the soul's occupation in the World To Come is commensurate with its occupation in the material world.

    If he had studied Torah regularly, there too (in the World To Come) the soul is ushered into the "Tents of Torah"; his labor - if he performed his Avoda properly then his ascent goes on...

    ...until erev ("evening") - higher and higher until he attains the ultimate delight and Areivut ("sweetness") of the Essence of the En Sof (The Infinite), may He be blessed.
    READ IT!

    Thursday, February 17, 2005

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    Slaughtering the Sacred Cows

    DovBear pokes fun at all I hold sacred, slaughtering the sacred cows right and left (and he's not even a schochet [ritual slaughterer]).

    The man is clearly a dybuk possessed soul completely controlled by his yetzer hara [evil inclination]. That's my official kabbalistic opinion.

    His commenters (or is that commentors, as in tormentors?) are even worse!

    Whatever you do, don't visit there!
    READ IT!

    Tuesday, February 15, 2005

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    The Works of Kabbalah - The Book of Formation

    From, the writings of Rabbi Ginsburgh (hassidic kabbalist in Israel), from his weekly mailing list (available to all, click here):

    "In general there are 5 stages in the revelation of the wisdom of Kabbalah, each stage appearing (one might say, even encoded) within a particular text."

    One: The Book of Formation

    The text revealing the first stage that corresponds to the vital level of the soul is The Book of Formation (Sefer Yetzirah). According to Jewish tradition, the wisdom in this text is attributed to the first Jew, Abraham. In length, it is a relatively short text, and most of its content appears in enigmatic phrases, and it appears clear from its language that it indeed has very ancient roots. Explicitly, this means that the wisdom contained in The Book of Formation antedates the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai . Nonetheless, traditionally, the final edition of the book as we have it before us, was compiled in the generation before the destruction of the Second Temple (1 st century CE) by the greatest sage of the Tannaic (Mishnah) period, Rabbi Akiva. Rabbi Akiva was also the master and teacher of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, the author of the Zohar, literally The Book of Brilliance.
    READ IT!
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    Thoughts on Prayer

    If G-d's 'energy/light' fills the world, if creation wasn't an event but is a continuous operation, if 'a leaf doesn't turn in the wind without it being part of heavenly plan', if time itself is a creation, then we have so much to pray for.

    Are we buffeted about randomly by the winds of the world, or is the Ribbono Shel Olam (Master of the World) involved day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute?

    Are we safe and warm, our tummies full? Thank G-d! Is our income stable, our bills paid? Thank G-d! Are our children healthy, safe and uninjured? Thank G-d! Do we have family, friends, a spouse, children? Thank G-d! Do we have a school to learn in, a place to pray at? Thank G-d!

    Thank G-d we have them, may we continue to have them!

    Are things tough, should they be better? Ask G-d for help! Need a job, or a better job, or a way to pay those bills? Ask G-d for help! Need a spouse, friends, children? Ask G-d for help!

    Everything is fine today, will be be tomorrow? Please G-d may it be so!

    Thank you Ribbono Shel Olam, Master of the Universe, Avinu Malkaynu Elokaynu, our Father, King, our G-d, for all the blessings you provide us with every day, and so many that we don't even realize how good we have it. Please, PLEASE don't remind us the hard way, with an illness, a terrible loss, or a child's injury!

    That is prayer.

    This week I pray for my child, who suffered a serious but (Thank G-d!) not life threatening injury, that he will suffer no permanent damage. I cry for his pain, and pray he has as few difficult lessons in his life as possible. And I pray that while everything that comes, comes for the good, it should be in such a way that these simple fleshy eyes can recognize as such.
    READ IT!
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    Kabbalistic Analytical Prophecy: The Tsunami and the Sweet Letters of Judgment

    Dov Bar-Leib at the new blog End of Days posts this extensive kabbalistic analysis of the Tsunami and Rav Kaduri's (world's leading kabbalist) predictive statement before hand (2 weeks before), as well as his (Dov Bar-Leib's) interpretive prediction for 4 additional 'biblical' sized catastrophic events. While it's not my normal custom to reproduce entries in total, I think this one warrants it. The original post is here.

    Be warned in advance that it's a pretty complex kabbalistic argument and I haven't had time to include the normal (inserted terminology explanation) inclusions that I usually do. Post any questions in comments and I'll try to break down any unfamiliar terms or concepts. (Or, go to the original post as Reb Dov Bar-Leib has responded to some questions there.)

    The Tsunami and the Sweet Letters of Judgment by Dov Bar-Leib

    Earthquakes and their destruction are a part of history. Thousands have died before. On December 26, 2004, coinciding with the 14th of Tevet 5765, which was a full moon, the deadliest underwater earthquake in recorded history[1], measuring a 9.0 on the Richter Scale, occurred in the depths of the Indian Ocean, less than 100 miles off the coast of Sumatra Island in the Indonesian archipelago. As is well known by now, the major cause of death, which as of the date of this writing has exceeded 289,000, was not the earthquake itself but the resulting tidal waves, tsunamis, which roared onto the shores of eleven countries in the South Asia Indian Ocean Basin and along the coast of northeast Africa. Yet, even though it is not the deadliest earthquake of all time, it is noteworthy that it is one of two of the ten deadliest earthquakes in recorded history, the other of which occurred in Iran exactly one solar year prior, on December 26, 2003.

    The frequency of strikingly deadly earthquakes is increasing, yet one might be inclined to dismiss this acceleration of the pace of disaster as mere events of Mother Nature. I might also agree if it were not for the prediction of Rabbi Yitzchak Kaduri, considered Israel’s leading kabbalist, who was quoted in Yediot Acharonot on December 12th, two weeks before the catastrophe. “Great tragedies in the world are foreseen, that's the thing of Jews going to the East." How is it that Rabbi Kaduri knew at least two weeks before it occurred about a catastrophe that would bring Jews back hopefully alive from the East? Apparently he did know, but the real bell ringer regarding what he said is mentioned in the previous line of the article. “The world is mitmatek mehadinim,” it is ready to be judged with sweetness. This is a statement that is loaded with intense “End of Days” meaning.

    Anybody who is moderately familiar with Jewish “ritual” should immediately think Hoshanah Rabah (The Great Redemption), the 7th day of Sukkot (Tabernacles). On that day the judgment, which was decreed on Rosh Hashanah and sealed on Yom Kippur is delivered to us in a this-worldly form. We pray that this judgment should not only be pleasant, but also that the nations of the world should receive adequate water to provide their physical needs for the coming year. We do this because, especially during Sukkot, it is Israel’s responsibility as a Nation of Priests to pray that the entire world be sustained for the year to come. On a deeper level, we pray that the world be sustained one more year with the proper mixture of G-d's attributes of justice and mercy so that Israel itself can be sustained in its long exile, yet will suffer for its sins in this world and not in the next. In this way, when Mashiach (the messiah) comes and Israel has been cleansed of its sins through suffering, only the wicked will be punished so that the righteous will not die with the wicked. Then shall the righteous, Jew and gentile alike, live to witness the Messianic era.

    One may ask, “How do we pray for the world’s sustenance?” We do this while holding five aravot (willow branches) asking G-d to save us now so that we do not have to suffer another year of painful judgment in order to experience G-d's greater good in the World to Come and in the time after the Resurrection of the Dead. This gets to the essence of our divine service on that day. But why willows? Because the willow branch, one of the four species which we are commanded to hold in our hands during Sukkoth, corresponds with the Yud in HaShem's name which decrees the deserved amount of water for the nations of the world. The other three species appeal to the other three letters of HaShem's name and correspond to the three other physical states of matter: earth (solids), air (gases), and fire (plasma). An understanding of these correspondences is useful to know but not necessary in understanding Rav Kaduri's statement.

    What is important to know is that at the very end of our Hoshanah Rabah prayers, we take our aravot bundle – which has been our tool to appeal for the proper judgment of water for the coming year – and whack it on the ground five times.

    Here, the explanation for what we are doing gets wild and mind-boggling.[2] The world was created with the 22 letters of the Hebrew aleph-bet. With these 22 letters the world was brought to a state of “tohu vavohu” (chaos and void), and with 10 statements the creation was refined to its present state. If it were not for the straight-back shape of an additional five final letters of the aleph-bet, the world would be destroyed with strict justice. These letters are khaf (kh - ך), mem (m - ם), nun (n - ן), pey (p - ף) and tsadee (ts - ץ) which have a different shape when they appear at the end of a word. This straight-back shape is required to prevent the world from being destroyed every time G-d speaks and causes things to happen in history through His words. Without the straight-back shape of these final letters, the world would be reduced to “tohu vavohu,” the state in which the world existed as described in the second verse of the Torah. At the “End of Days,” though, these five final letters will need to be bent into their curved form in order that mankind be judged for its torment of Israel amongst its nations.

    By slamming the aravot bundle on the ground we pray that we are sweetening this final judgment so that Israel will be redeemed along with all the righteous gentiles, while the rest of the world pays dearly for its sins. Every generation of Jews for 3315 years since Matan Torah (The Giving of the Torah) has been doing this. First, it was the prophets who did this, and since as the makhzor says we are descendants of these prophets, we do it too. Every time we do this – year after year, decade after decade, generation after generation, century after century – we are building up a storehouse of sweetness so that finally, finally when the world is judged at the End of Days, all of Israel that repents for its sins, along with the righteous amongst the nations, will be saved from the torrent of strict justice that is imposed upon mankind. Until now, not one generation ever got to see the result of their divine service of slamming their aravot on the ground. Until now, not one generation was ever able to taste the sweetness of its divine service.

    Until the tsunamis hit on the 14th of Tevet 5765.

    Finally, finally, according to the kabbalist sage Kaduri, in the year 5765 after creation, it is our generation, the 111th since the receiving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, which was privileged to witness the result of the first whack of our collective beating of our aravot throughout the last 3315 years of Jewish history.

    Now let us examine these five letters more closely. According to the Maharal of Prague, the Rav of Prague in the 16th century, in his commentary on Zechariah Chapter 6, these five letters correspond with five of the seven shepherds of Israel: Avraham, Yitzchak, Yakov, Moshe and David (actually, Mashiach ben David). Each shepherd is associated with a pasuk (biblical verse) which represents him in which his corresponding letter is repeated in at least two or three adjoining words. For example, Avraham Avinu (our Patriarch Abraham) is associated with the khaf from “Lekh Lekha” (“Go for yourself.” Gen. 12:1) Yitzchak Avinu is tied to the letter mem from the verse which is an admonition from Avimelech to leave Gaza: “Atzamta mimenu meod.” (“You have greatly waxed stronger than us.” Gen. 26:16) Yakov Avinu’s letter is nun from “Hatzileni Na Meyad Achi Meyad Esau.” (“Save me from the hand of my brother from the hand of Esau.” Gen. 32:12) This, of course, is Yakov's plea to G-d when he is returning from Haran and Esau is approaching with an army of 400 Centurions, each with 100 more men following them. The letter pey refers to Moshe: “Pakod pakaditi.” (“I will surely remember you” or “I will surely do an accounting of you on the side of redemption.” Ex. 3:16) This is the sign of the prospective redeemer who was to take Israel out of Egypt through the Hand of G-d. Finally, the letter tsadee is assigned to David and Mashiach ben David from the pasuk in Zechariah: “Hineh ish tzemach shmo umitachtav yitzmach uvanah eth heichal HaShem.” (“Behold, here is a man whose name is Tzemach and through his offspring or in his stead he will sprout or flourish. And he will build HaShem's sanctuary.” Zech. 6:12) Here, Zechariah is referring to two separate people. In the context of the prophecy, Tzemach is most probably Zerubavel from the House of King David who traveled back from Bavel with approximately 42,000 exiles with a decree from Koresh, King of Persia, who had just conquered Bavel. Yitzmach is a probable reference to Mashiach ben David who may also be a descendent of Zerubavel, but is most definitely a descendent of David. We know this from the context of the prophecy in which both the King and the High Priest are at peace with each other, a situation never realized during the 2nd Temple period, especially because during the period of the Hashmonaim (The Maccabean kings), the High Priest was the King. Also, at no other time during the 2nd Temple period except for Zerubavel himself did Judea actually have a king from the House of David.

    Arutz 7 quoted the December 12 article in Yediot Acharonot. “The Messiah is already [here] in Israel,” says Rav Kaduri. “…Great tragedies in the world are foreseen, that’s the thing of the Jews going to the East.” Is it possible he was referring to American Jews who have wandered off to the East? Probably not, since the bulk of the Jews who were wandering around Thailand came from Israel, not America. Going back to the idea of the five shepherds of Israel that are associated with those five verses revealed by the Maharal, two of them, Yitzchak and Yakov, were born here. One of them, Mashiach ben David is already here. The other two, Avraham and Moshe, were prospective olim (those who leave their countries of birth to “go up” and live in Israel). One made it here while the other was not permitted to enter by G-d himself. The important point to understand about them is that Rav Kaduri was not referring to an event that would bring massive Aliyah (immigration or “going up” to Israel) but rather to an event that would bring those who were born here back from their wanderlust. At least at this juncture, from this specific event, Avraham and Moshe were to be left out of the process. The final khaf and the final pey would not be bent by this catastrophe. Yet, the other three letters would be sweetened. The tsadee from the scion of David who is in our midst would combine with the letters representing the two shepherds of Israel that were born here, the nun from Yakov and the mem from Yitzchak. From this we see that the first catastrophe that would befall the world to make way for Mashiach would be a ts-n-m-, all three letters in their bent sweetened state. That is the essential reason why the deadliest tsunami in recorded history took place two weeks after Yediot Aharonot quoted Rav Kaduri.

    Here you may ask was not the death toll horrendous? How dare you condemn the 289,000+ who died for being wicked evil people! On this I whole-heartedly agree. I do not dare. On this point one must understand Hoshanah Rabah. On Hoshana Rabah, the 21st day of Tishrei, the decree that was decided on Rosh HaShanah, the 1st of Tishrei and the New Year commemorating the creation of Man, is sent into the physical world of flesh and blood. Every individual Jew's this-worldly providence is handed out to him on that day. Yet, also on that day only the collective providence is handed out for every gentile nation. Notice that the individual amongst the gentiles is not singled out for special judgment on that day. Only on Rosh Hashanah is the fate of the soul of every human being decided as to whether it will have eternal life or whether it shall be extinguished upon death. The this-worldly judgment on Hoshanah Rabah, the day that Israel beats the willow branches on the ground five times, for the gentiles is only a national judgment. It is not a day of judgment for individual gentiles. Sadly and bitterly the gentiles who kept G-d's laws of common decency died with those who did not.

    Having said that, there is one statement about the judgment of this tsunami which can be made, and that is that these ten nations that lost two or more lives deserved their fate. HOW DARE I SAY THAT, you may ask! The answer is as follows. On the eve of Rosh HaShanah 5761, a vicious war to wipe Israel off the face of the map began in the Holy Land. This war began after the then Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered to throw in the kitchen sink as he gave into every Palestinian demand except for one. He would not accept the extinction of the state by allowing every pretend resident of the Holy Land to return to their non-existent home within Israel’s pre-1967 border (the 1949 armistice line) making the Jewish state, the burning ember of Jewish survival, obsolete. When Arafat realized that his charade of peace would achieve for him no more concessions, the butchery of unarmed Jewish civilians began. Every Jew was a target. The living Hell of the Gehinnom (The Underworld) was brought to every nook and cranny of this Holy Land. The armed soldier was not his target. The JEW was his target! Every suckling baby, every teenage schoolgirl, every innocent with blood running through his veins. These were his targets from Day One. The line between murdering children in Ma'alot in the 1970s and blowing up this restaurant or that Pesach Seder is direct. Yassir Arafat, born in Cairo long before 1948, may be the hero of the French Republic, but on heaven's ledger is boiling away in his own bodily fluids with Bil'am in the adjoining tank somewhere beneath the 7th level of Dante's Hell.

    Yet, when Israel dared to react and defend itself in retaliation for the savage mutilation of unarmed Israeli soldiers brutally murdered in Ramallah in October of the year 2000, the United Nations General Assembly, in an emergency session, approved by 92-6 a resolution condemning Israel’s “use of force.” 46 nations abstained. The date was Friday, October 20, 2000, coinciding with the 21st of Tishrei 5761, or Hoshanah Rabah. That is right. On the Day of Judgment for the nations of the world it was Israel that was on trial and condemned that evening for daring to survive. Included amongst the 92 condemners were Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand and United Republic of Tanzania.[3] Who in the literal hell do they think they are to sit in judgment of G-d's first born!! It is noteworthy that Kenya abstained. Only one person died there. Also even more noteworthy is the fact that the tsunami took place in the Indian Ocean and not in the South Pacific where tsunamis are far more common because of the constant seismic activity around the Ring of Fire. Yet, listed amongst the nations that voted against the resolution are five nations which have coasts on the Pacific Ocean: Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Tuvalu, and, of course, the United States. It would not have made sense to have a judgment for condemning Israel take place in the Pacific Ocean.

    It must be stressed that this was a tragedy of “biblical” proportions. Thousands died and were injured because they were caught up in the judgment. Their deaths and injuries were decreed by the Creator on Rosh Hashanah for reasons unknown except to Him. But it is our responsibility and obligation to do everything within our capacities to help the lives of the victims and their families. G-d only knows the reward for the chesed we do at this time in response to this judgment. In this vein this most awesome judgment must be understood in terms of the sanctification of G-d’s holy name. Within hours after the tsunami, the various victim nations were involved with either burying or cremating their dead. There was only one group of volunteers on the scene who had both the expertise and, sadly, the experience to properly identify bodies. Because of their volumes of bitter experience here in Israel, the Zaka volunteers successfully identified almost all Israelis who were intermingled with the thousands of dead in Thailand, in particular, and throughout South Asia in general. They were so efficient with their methods of identification that these men with pe’ot (sideburns left untrimmed because of Torah injunction not to shave the corners of one’s head) down to their shoulders, for one week at least, were the most sought after men in Southern Asia for the purpose of helping the other nations who had co-nationals on the scene.[4] As of this writing, only five Israelis are confirmed dead, and two are still missing. The vast majority of the thousands of Jews[5] who were following their wanderlust in the East have returned home unharmed. The kabbalist sage was right on the money. Most were brought back alive, thank G-d.

    In addition to all of this Israeli chesed, the billions of dollars in world-wide chesed that was exhibited to alleviate the suffering from this tragedy should not be diminished before the heavenly throne. The countries that contributed these billions should be rewarded as long as they do not use their acquired merit to heap more scorn on G-d’s first-born, for I am sure the L-rd is not yet finished with His judgment of Man. There are still four whacks left in the storehouse of all the collective beating of aravot throughout the generations. It is just too bad, and demonstrably anti-semitic, that Sri Lanka in their hour of need refused all human assistance from Israel during the critical time when Israeli doctors could have saved lives and when Zaka volunteers could have identified bodies. Hatred by this small country off the boot of India seems to know no bounds. Perhaps this is why of all the countries to have been hit by this disaster, Sri Lanka was hit the hardest in terms of their population. Over 30,900 people from Sri Lanka are now known to be dead, 0.16% of its total population. Another 5000+ are still missing, now presumed to be dead. True, two weeks after the tragedy they sent a thank you note to Israel via a third party for the bounty of supplies that they did accept from Israel. Interestingly, less than 10% of their country is Muslim. Yet, all of these years they have been so frightened of their Muslim population that they voted like puppies to condemn Zion.

    Let us look again more closely at the bent letters that have been released upon the world and their associated biblical verses according to the Maharal. Besides the tsadee which obviously represents the sprouting of the House of David, the mem should stick out because of the verse that it represents, Avimelech’s admonition to Yitzchak to leave Gaza. It is not an accident that during the week after the tsunami, the Sharon government received a boost from the most unexpected source, fervently Orthodox Ashkenazic Jews, or at least at this juncture it “seems” that he received a boost, in the implementation of his evil plan to yank Jews out of their rightful homesteads in Gaza. I do understand the nature of the need to feed starving teachers of Torah and their large families in the Hareidi (fervently orthodox) world. One can only pray that in the merit of all that new and more concerted Torah learning that they will do, Hashem will reverse this situation and turn Sharon or his successor around, away from the side of despair and darkness. Or perhaps that is why these sages joined all along. One can only pray that this aspect of the attribute of Din (judgment) on the world will pass before the worse scenario occurs in Gaza. Just one word to the wise. According to the Rashbam (Rav Shimon ben Meir), grandson of Rashi (11th century France), Yitzchak’s need to flee from Gaza may have originated from his father’s (Avraham Avinu’s) peace treaty with Avimelech. It was a treaty for three generations, and it involved Avraham’s acceptance of Avimelech’s control of Gerar and all lands to the west of Gerar for those three generations. Because Avraham was so happy to make this treaty for his son’s generation, G-d immediately tested him with the sacrifice of his son for whom he thought he had just sealed this wonderful peace treaty. G-d was very upset with Avraham. In G-d’s eyes, Gaza was not for sale even with a cultured fellow like Avimelech. How much more so would G-d be upset if Gaza were abandoned to the enemies of Israel with no peace treaty whatsoever.

    Secondly, we have the nun, Yakov’s plea “to save me from the hand of my brother from the hand of Esau.” Here the double language “the hand of my brother” and “the hand of Esau” does not go unnoticed by our sages. Esau has two faces, one where he behaves like our brother and one where he hunts us down, for we received Yitzchak’s inheritance in the World to Come while Esau did not. Understanding that Esau only has his glory in this world is the key to understanding both faces. On one hand, Esau is determined to do what is right to inherit this world. Yet, even as our brother, he will turn on us in desperation when he sees that this world, in which the purpose of serving G-d is to make money, is about to end. On the other hand, the second face of Esau which hates Israel from the outset for usurping his Olam Haba sets out to destroy us by governing the world with rules which are impossible for us to live by. The first face of Esau, I believe, is none other than George W. Bush. He wants to be our brother, but his deals with the Saudis to keep the world price of oil from sky-rocketing prevent him from being our true brother. When Esau’s governance of this world and its prosperity are at stake, he will sell us out in a Texas minute.[6] The second more ominous face of Esau is our good enemies in the European Union who, now that Germany, France, and Rome are all one, would squash us the minute that they could get the chance.[7]

    Somehow both faces of Esau have been unleashed upon Israel as a result of the tsunami. Israel is truly the sheep amongst seventy wolves. Only our Father in Heaven can save us now. “For the L-rd will annul the Council of Nations, and He will disrupt the intentions of Peoples.”(Psalm 33) The stage is set. It seems that the Final Act of the kingdom of Man has commenced. Oh G-d, Hoshanah! (Save us now!)


    [2] See the Artscroll Sukkoth makhzor (holiday prayer book) commentary on the special prayer said just after beating the branches on the ground.

    [3] It is worth noting that Somalia also lost hundreds of lives in the tsunami. For a reason unknown to this author, they were not present at this particular vote. Yet, of all the nations on planet earth, the one nation that rose to principally sponsor the infamous 1975 “Zionism is Racism” Resolution was Somalia. When the resolution was repealed on Dec. 16, 1991, Somalia was one of the few non-Arab Muslim nations which voted against repeal. The two other non-Arab nations that voted against the repeal were Indonesia and Sri Lanka. These two countries by one order of magnitude had the highest death toll in the tsunami. To their credit, only India and Thailand amongst the ten victim countries voted for repeal, even though in 1975 India had voted for the Zionism = Racism resolution while Thailand had abstained.

    [4] Arutz 7 –, “Israeli Teams Bring Number of Missing Down to 3,” Jan. 2, 2005

    [5] This figure comes from a letter written on December 28, 2004 by Rabbi Yosef C. Cantor, the Executive Director of the Chabad of Thailand, who wrote in his appeal to the Jewish public for urgent funding that “Chabad has been instrumental in notifying thousands of Israelis in Thailand who have not been affected by the quake to contact their families back home.”

    [6] S.R. Hirsch on Num. 29:13 discussing Ezek. 38-39 tells us that at the End of Days this personality characteristic of Esau that will sell us out for prosperity is a principal characteristic of Gog from the Land of Magog.

    [7] Gemarah Megillah 6b
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    Monday, February 14, 2005

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    Terrorism Humor?!?

    Humor on the terrorism front from Bore Me, short Quicktime video: click here.
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    Sunday, February 13, 2005

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    Finding the Holy Treasures of the Temple!

    "Vendyl Jones is a Ben Noach, one who scrupulously follows the seven laws of Noah. A man of deep faith, he is steeped in the study of the Torah and Talmud. The breath and depth of his knowledge have been vouched for by a number of rabbinical scholars, including Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz."

    "In that day, I will raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old: that they may possess the remnant of mankind. Thus says HaShem, upon them, the gentiles that are called by my name, that do this!" Amos 9:11-12

    On the basis of this pasuk (passage), Vendyl Jones has spent a significant part of his life searching for the holy treasures of the First Temple. And, he's found some and close on others...

    The Shemen Afarshimon, the Holy Anointing Oil, from the Holy Temple, was found in April, 1988 by the VJRI excavation team. After intensive testing by the Pharmaceutical Department of Hebrew University, financed by the VJRI, the substance inside the small juglet was verified to indeed be the Shemen Afarshimon of Psalm 133.

    The oil was used as the fragrance on the oblation for a sweet smelling savor on the sacrifices. It was also used as the Holy Anointing Oil for the priest, prophets and kings.

    The Qetoret - (Temple Incense) - Vendyl Jones examines samples of temple incense found in 1992 dig.

    An estimated 600 lbs. of what looked like "reddish earth" was uncovered at the North entrance of the Cave of the Column by excavation volunteers in the late Spring of 1992. Team members reported detecting the smell of cinnamon present in the substance. Preliminary analysis by Dr. Marvin Antelman of the Wiezmann Institute revealed that the find was indeed, organic. "Density indicates that the material which is lighter than water is excluded from the category of red soil or red minerals......also the high percentage of ash is typical of plant source." Dr. Antelman later told the Jerusalem Post in a story dated May 1, 1992, "I'm very excited about this find. He added that he had positively identified borit karshina (karsina lye)which is one of the ingredients spelled out in the Talmud."

    The quantity of the Incense is also significant. It corresponds to the amount prepared for one year of daily Temple service. The Torah only lists four ingredients for the Qetoret. The Mishna lists eleven, in addition to Sodom salt and Karcina lye. The latter text also tells of the Avtinas family and how they were charged with the secret of compounding these precious spices. The fragrance of the Qetoret was said to be so powerful that that when it was being prepared, one could smell it as far away as Jericho, 12 miles to the north of Qumran.

    Mr. Jones believes that he's close to finding the Aaron, the Holy Ark of the Covenant . More info can be found at his web site here.

    An interesting side note, Mr. Jones tells an interesting story of being raised in another religion and proving what is true and what is not. Since then his family has converted to Judaism, though he himself has not, specifically so that he can enter those places or touch those artifacts that are forbidden by Jewish law for Jews to.
    READ IT!

    Friday, February 11, 2005

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    Musings of a Jewish Soul speaks words of great wisdom couched in language we all can grasp. I recommend checking it out, and it has joined my Interesting Links. Here's a sample...

    “Will you listen to me with the front of your face?” – A three-year-old’s request of her mother. (Mimi Doe,

    After hearing this, it struck me that G-d did not just speak to Moshe (Moses) “Face to Face,” He paid attention. More than I want to hear what G-d has to say, I need him to listen.

    By Yehoshua Karsh

    Check it out!
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    Reb Lazer is posting again!

    The blog Reb Lazer's Shtibble was one of the best in the Jewish religious realm. Unfortunately, as I discuss here, he decided to take his blog offline.

    However, he seems to be returning by posting on a few other blogs. Reb Lazer's postings can be seen here at (see the column on the right side titled The LazerBeam) and also here (at HasidicGentile). Check them out!

    Here's a sample:

    Remedies for Spiritual Freeze By Reb Lazer Brody 22 Tevet 5765

    Dear Rabbi Brody,

    I don't feel any kind of emotion when I go to synagogue. Praying seems to be a drag, and I feel nothing. What should I do? Thanks, FR from Chicago

    Dear FR,

    The old Novardok Yeshiva remedy for firing up a person with your problem is to say the prayer "Nishmas kol chai" from the Shabbos morning service; you can say it at any time or at any place, and it works wonders. Say each word slowly, enthusiastically, and with fervor, as if you're counting one-hundred dollar bills. If you don't understand the Hebrew, say the translation from an English prayer book, then go back and say the Hebrew. Contemplate every word. By the time you're through, you'll have at thawed out; normally, when a person says "Nishmas" like he/she should, he/she kindles a bonfire of love for Hashem in their heart.

    Here's another remedy for spiritual chill: Take a pen and paper, and make a list of all the things you are thankful for in your life. Don't forget your eyes, ears, arms, leg, heart, kidney, lungs, and other vital organs. Don't forget your home, your furniture, and your clothes. Contemplate all the people in the world who lack your good fortune. Now, thank Hashem from the bottom of your heart. You'll certainly feel a lot warmer inside.

    A third remedy for spiritual chill is to say Psalm 19, outside under a clear blue sky, contemplate the magnitude of Hashem, and then gaze at the sky. Wait and see what happens to you!

    If you take all three of the above bits of advice, you'll be warming up all of Chicago this Shabbos.

    Best wishes always, Lazer Brody
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    Thursday, February 10, 2005

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    Some thoughts on Kabbalah

    (From some answers I posted on another blog which I think makes some good general points about Kabbalah...)

    Through the course of history, there have been nine major famines; immediately before the Messianic Age, there will be a tenth. But the hunger pangs will be of a different sort, as the prophet (Amos 8:11) said, "Behold, days are coming, said G-d, the Lord, when I will send hunger to the world; not a hunger for bread, and not a thirst for water - but to hear the words of G-d." (Bereishit Rabba on Gen. 25:3, Gen. 40:3, and Gen. 64:2)

    Eliyahu (Elijah) the Prophet said to Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (author of the Zohar): Many people down below will derive nourishment from this book of yours [the Zohar], when it will be revealed [finally] in the last generation, before the End of Days. But it has been already been revealed for hundreds of years!? Close to the Messianic Age, however, even the deepest passages will be explained. (Tikunei Zohar, end of Tikun 6, Kisei Melech, ibid.)

    (Quotes from KabbalaOnline.Org, here in this article.)

    In discussions of End of Days prophecies according to Jewish tradition, Rabbi Yess (his somewhat confusing site here) brings this well known idea...

    Whenever a great influx of Holiness occurs it is opposed by spiritual impurity...

    It should be apparent to anyone that if you are given the wrong directions you will never get to your proper destination...

    Religion is a real good business. Convince enough people that you know all about Him (Upstairs) and that you speak with knowledgeable authority about G-d’s Wishes and you have made yourself a power to be reckoned with in any society. Lotsa money in it too.

    We live in a confusing time. More information that we could possibly absorb in a lifetime available at our fingertips. War. Cultural conflicts. Mass facts and news from around the world.

    Kabbalah is an exceedingly complex philosophical - religious - mystical - theological system, the deepest, most complex, most hidden part of Judaism. It's sufficiently complex that it has historically recommended that people not become involved in it until age 40 and having a firm and complete foundation in Jewish religious texts [specifically the tanach (old testament and prophets), talmud (jewish legal-philosphical-oral tradition), and shulchan aruch (jewish law)].

    Given the complexity however, it's cool stuff. In today's world, science presents itself as knowing all (except when it doesn't, see this). All that G-d, religion and soul stuff seems a bit old fashioned.

    Along comes Kabbalah, the ancient Jewish mystical system, that has a thorough, complete and complex spiritual system that rivals the awe inspiring complexity of science. You got quarks and super-strings, we've got sephirot and divine energy channels. You've got the big bang, universal expansion and curved space, we've got tzimtzum (divine energy contractions), the Or En Sof (the infinite light), and the Kav (the light-channel from the creator and the infinite to the finite).

    Finally, G-d can stand on his own against science. And that's a good thing. Suddenly, the majority of people who have successfully been convinced that G-d is passe', that faith and belief was no longer enough in our complex scientific well defined over-stimulated world, have an option to hold their own and bolster faith and belief.

    But, "Whenever a great influx of Holiness occurs it is opposed by spiritual impurity". Free will requires an option, reward requires difficulty in achievement.

    It's Complex

    It's pretty difficult to understand DNA. Try explaining it to a 10 year old (I have, it's not easy, don't think I've succeeded yet). There's a series of foundational concepts that are absolutely required to get even the most simplistic understanding.

    Kabbalah is no different. This doesn't stop some salespeople from trying to sell advanced stuff without noting the foundation necessary for understanding or use.

    It's Mixed Up

    Kabbalah is different things, depending on who you buy it from. Are there people now making a living off selling this stuff? Definately. Any businessman wants to increase his sales. Package the material for maximum sales potential. Are there unscrupulous people doing their best to line their pockets? Yep.

    It's difficult to sort the quality material, the true material, from the well packaged fluff. Even worse, the fluff is not hollow, since the origin is solid, but it's not solid on it's own.

    This is perhaps the best way to destroy the 'hope' of Kabbalah in improving the world or improving the self, and sowing maximum confusion. Suddenly, Kabbalah, the ancient Jewish mystical tradition of purity and holiness is selling Sexual Energy Kabbalah Candles??? [Hashem Yazo! G-d should Help & Protect Us from such stuff!]

    Kabbalah can help in the current moral and directional challenges the world presents us with. But, both the current sales ploys going on and the complexity can also confuse you or obscure the truth.

    Unfortunately, much of what's being sold is designed for sales, not for effect or for truth.

    Each person is created B'Tzelem Elokim, in the image of G-d. Not of course physically, but in the ability to make decisions, do things, and communicate.

    Someone might ask, what have you done that you deserve being listened to? G-d does constantly, creates and maintains the world. To be the image of G-d, one must also make a point of doing. Of course, we don't have unlimited resources, we have to work with what we have. Give a hand. Give a smile. Give a kind word. Help a friend. Help a neighbor. Help a stranger. Give some charity. Help a charity.

    Do you have to do all those? No. Plus, we all have lives, work, families, children, parents. But one doesn't preclude the other, it may even facilitate it. Put those actions in the context of your work, home, family, neighborhood.

    Then, having given, having helped, then pray. You have made yourself a partner in the goodness of creation, you've earned the right to speak with the main partner. In Kabbalistic terminology, you've created a vessel to receive and initiated an arousal from below, which should draw an arousal from above.

    Don't think one can just open a book on Kabbalah and receive a mystical telephone line to the heavenly throne, or can find the mystical energey socket into which one can connect. Don't buy it! And I mean that both mentally and pocket-book wise.
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    Tuesday, February 08, 2005

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    Truth and Politics - U.S. Political Doublespeak

    Emet (or Emes) - Truth

    ...Put the ways of falsehood away from me; and grant me your Torah graciously.
    I have chosen the way of truth; your judgments have I laid before me...(Tehillim, Psalms, 119)

    How can you tell when a politician is lying? Their lips are moving.

    As the Torah tells us outright, in plain language (parshat mishpatim), keep away from falsehood. I'm not writing this today to get into a long discussion of the importance of truth, personally, religiously, in business, and in civil society. I am going to briefly discuss it in public discourse.

    It's one thing to present information from my perspective, it's another to twist it to my perspective.

    "Truce with the Palestinians!" - "7 Soldiers Killed in Truce Violence" ... wait, wouldn't that be 'truce broken by violence' or 'promises of truce shown to be false by violence'? Truth and reporting from Israel never seem to go together, but that's a topic for a future post (and a past post of mine here on Israpundit).

    Yesterday in the U.S. the president presented the 2005 national budget. This budget is considered a tight budget, in that the increases in spend are significantly lower than previous years. Yet every single report, news and opposing politician is "MAJOR BUDGET CUTS THREATEN (insert poor injured needy party here)". To make matters even worse, these are the same politicians that 2 weeks ago were complaining about high budget deficits!

    When the whole political dialog has become based on falsehood, and the whole political class is considered entirely self serving, the unsurprising result is a complete loss of faith and respect for all institutions of government and a societal deterieration.

    Personally, I consider it frightening to be living in a time of Orwellian doublespeak and doublethink (the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them. ... To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies—all this is indispensably necessary. Even in using the word doublethink it is necessary to exercise doublethink. For by using the word one admits that one is tampering with reality; by a fresh act of doublethink one erases this knowledge; and so on indefinitely, with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth.

    READ IT!
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