Thursday, March 31, 2005

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Posts that caught my attention...

Occasionally I make note of posts from other blogs that I consider particularly attention getting, here's some from today...

Engage for a Secure Israel is a new effort to coordinate bloggers and others against disengagement. For more info, click this button...

ENGAGE - For a Secure Israel (EFSI)

The Belmont Club, at their new blog site, writes an analysis of actions (and predicted actions) in Lebanon and Syria...

If this analysis is correct, the world crisis should accelerate rather than diminish in the coming years and months, not in the least because the United States seems to have no plan to fill the power vacuum with anything.

Click here to read it.

Hamikdash has a downer of a story...

I was walking near Ben Yehuda Street when five or so Israelis in their early twenties burst out of a bar dressed in costumes. They were shouting "Hag Samayach!" (happy holiday).

I was so happy to see my young brothers and sisters celebrating Purim with such joy (albeit a bit early).

Then my heart sank. I realized they were celebrating S. Patrick's Day.

Read the whole thing.

while IsraellyCool has an upper of a story (I love this one)...

I enter my code and start the engine. Phew! The engine starts.

So does the alarm.


As I am contemplating my next move, a bald-headed, tough looking guy knocks on my window. I open the door. He asks me, in Hebrew, what the problem is.

I cannot disable the alarm.

Is this your car?

Well, it's my company car. The company leases it for me.

Give me your keys and I'll see what I can do.

Now, in most other countries, I would never just hand my car keys to some strange, tough looking guy in the middle of nowhere. I would be too afraid. But in Israel, I feel differently. Crime is certainly lower than in most places, and I am used to Israelis bending over backwards to help someone in distress. So I hand over my keys without blinking.

The man takes my keys and starts playing with the button to deactivate the alarm. He is no more successful than I was. He then asks me to open the car bonnet. I ask him:

Do you think you can disable the alarm?

Well, I have stolen a few cars before.



So here I am, having given over my car keys to a man with experience in stealing cars. Yet I am not overly concerned that he will pull a knife on me and steal mine.

Read the whole thing!

Hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

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Audio Post: What is a Tikkun?

this is an audio post - click to play

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

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The Path of the Businessman

The book HaYom Yom, from Day to Day, daily is a source of deep insights that I find very profound... Sunday, 16 Adar II, 5765 - March 27, 2005...

Avoda (G-dly service) for the businessman includes arousing within himself the faith (emuna) and perfect trust (bitachon) in the One Who feeds and sustains all flesh, that He will provide him with an ample livelihood. He must be truly happy and cheerful, as though all his livelihood were already in hand.

This past Shabbos (Sabbath / Saturday), I had a discussion with another hossid, a hasidic Jew, (Reb Chaim) who delved into the difference between emunah (faith) and bitachon (perfect trust).

The difference is best explained with examples. I have faith that G-d exists and created this universe. I don't, however, make decisions on this basis (such as choosing a place to work or live). I have bitah'on (emphasis on the last part of the word) [perfect trust] that G-d will fulfill the words of the Torah and prophets, that I can rely on G-d, and may choose to take or not take a particular action because of it.

The power of bitachon (perfect trust) is that by taking action based on bitachon (perfect trust), one can actually draw down blessings.
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Annoyance and Inconvenience

How do we deal with annoyances, all those little inconveniences? Do we act as a child and get upset when the world doesn't meet our expectations? Stamp our feet and huff in frustration? Do we sit and cry? Do we get angry (at what, the world?)

My 6-year son sat and huffed this morning, "Momma, I can't find my tzitzis (ritual fringed garment)".
My 5-year old daughter cried, "Momma, I can't find a blouse."
My 13-year old daughter (who reads this blog occasionally and is going to be very upset when she reads this) huffed, "Tatti (daddy), you said you'd print out that Torah information for me to take to school.", and then when I did, "the font is too small, too hard to read."

R. Nati and I posted a lengthy audio post last night, it didn't show up on the blog (so much for AudioBlogger). Disappointing.
Feeling bad about not having a daily post, I created another this morning (thought it was pretty good too). It also didn't show up. Annoying.

Posted a note about those not showing up, Blogger errored-out on me. Humf humf.


The Baal Shem Tov taught that a leaf doesn't turn over in the wind without it being hashgacha pratit (divine providence). Is it part of the divine plan that we all get annoyed?

Yes! We are given challenges to overcome.

Thank you, Ribbono Shel Olam (Master of the World), for this chance to overcome my natural tendencies!

Monday, March 28, 2005

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I forgot to say Sh'ma

"Tatti", my 5 year old daughter quietly whispers by the side of my bed, "nobody said Sh'ma with me." (What's Sh'ma, click here.) (It's 10:00 at night, what's she still doing up?)

We were busy this evening, house repairs in progress, an emergency mitzva drew my wife away, the kids had fended for themselves through bedtime.

"Oh", I said, "you know what, I didn't say it either", trying to make her feel better. "Why don't we say it together?"

"Ok", she said, and looked at me expectantly.

"But", I said, "I don't remember how it all goes, why don't you start and I'll say it with you?" It's very important that a Jewish child know this most central of all Jewish prayers.

"Ok", she said, "Ready?"


She began, "Sh'ma", "Yisroel", (I repeated after her), "Ado-noy", "Echad".

"Umm", I said, "I think you missed something."

"I did?" she answered.

"Yea", "Elo-" I responded.

She jumped in, "Ok yea, Elo-haynu", "Ado-noy", "Echad",
she then put her finger to her lips in a shhh sign,
"baruch shem kvod mal"
(she had a little trouble with that word, it's hard)
"malchuso l'olam voed"
(the shh is because it's said quietly).

We recited the rest of the first paragraph of the prayer together, followed by Hamalach (another bedtime prayer that children learn early), I got a kiss and a hug (worth every penny!) and off she went to bed.


There's a story told about Rav Yoseph Kahanaman, zt"l, the only surviving teacher from the great yeshiva Ponevetz in Eastern Europe after World War II (only the Rav and 4 students from the yeshiva survived the Holocaust).

After the war, the Rav returned to Europe looking for Jewish orphans to take to Israel. He visited some orphanages where hundreds or thousands of war orphans were living, asking the workers to point out which were the Jewish children. With respect, they told him that with hundreds or thousands of orphans, most without any kind of identification and most under 6 years old, it was impossible to determine which were Jewish.

The Rav said not to worry, he would be able to determine which were Jewish.

He walked to the middle of the playground and shouted at the top of his voice, "SH'MA YISROEL ADO-NOY ELO-HAY-NU ADO-NOY ECHAD"

At which point a number of children ran over from the crowd crying "Mama", "Tatti" (mommy, daddy), looking for their parents and thereby identifying themselves as Jewish orphans.

Why? Because most every religious Jewish parent (and certainly many less so as well) begins to teach their child this prayer, or more appropriately recite it with their child as they put them to bed nightly, often literally from birth.


Sunday, March 27, 2005

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Fundamental Principles

The book HaYom Yom, from Day to Day, daily is a source of deep insights that I find very profound... Tuesday, 11 Adar II, 5765 - March 22, 2005...

Chassidus contains two fundamental principles:

  • Understanding every Halacha (Torah law) on its spiritual plane, in its root and ultimate source, namely in the Sefirot and planes in every World according to that World's character, as explained in Chassidus.

  • Comprehending the subject of every Halacha (Jewish Law) in Avoda; meaning, although the Halacha is an expression of G-dly wisdom and intelligence and is a law in Torah, nevertheless one must discover in it an Avoda - concept to guide man's conduct in his life here in This World.
  • READ IT!
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    Danger of Uncensored Kabbalah

    Kabbalah and Chassidut

    The third danger is to study Kabbalah in our generation without Chassidut. As previously explained, the fifth stage of the revelation of the wisdom of Kabbalah is Chassidut. From the time that Chassidut was revealed it is the preferential form in which to study this wisdom. Kabbalah must be studied from the original texts as well, but always with the inspiration and highest sources that Chassidut gives and reveals. The Ba’al Shem Tov explained that even when the classic texts of Kabbalah (that predate Chassidut) are studied with a heart for inner understanding, nonetheless, because of the coarseness of the human mind, the teachings may be misinterpreted and the result may be an anthropomorphizing of the Almighty, which is otherwise known in Hebrew as hagshamah.

    The teachings of Kabbalah especially in the texts of the Arizal, involve a personification of the Divine. The Divine is described by an entire sequence of interlocking personas (partzufim). The only way to avoid a misunderstanding of this personification is to study Kabbalah with Chassidut. For example, even without going as far as the Arizal’s personas of the Divine, we can take the secret of the contraction (sod hatzimtzum), which is the first thing taught in Eitz Chayim, the Arizal’s central work. If, G-d forbid a person understands this secret literally they may think that G-d is not omnipresent in reality; that somehow “G-d has left the earth” and receded from it. Only by studying the teachings of Chassidut are we convinced that the contraction of G-d’s light should not be understood as literal, but as a metaphor. The correct way to interpret this teaching can be understood only by studying Chassidut.

    Submission, Separation, Sweetening

    These three dangers correspond to the basic model of psychological change introduced by the Ba’al Shem Tov. The three stages of this model are known as submission, separation, and sweetening.

    The stage of submission corresponds to the first danger, because to overcome it one has to submissively acknowledge that action must come before understanding and that in order to study Kabbalah there must be a commitment to the Torah as a whole, just like the Jewish people did as a whole at Mt. Sinai.

    The stage of separation involves distancing oneself from a non-authentic teacher of Kabbalah.

    The final stage of sweetening corresponds to the sweetness of studying Kabbalah in our generation as it should be studied with the inspiration offered by the teachings of the Ba’al Shem Tov.

    ...from, the writings of Rabbi Ginsburgh (hassidic kabbalist in Israel).
    READ IT!
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    Catching up.

    Before adding more to the previous post, I've got some accumulated materials I want to catch up on. Watch to see some new posts slip in off the previous thread.
    READ IT!
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    Prophecies and World Events, Heads Up

    With so much happening in the world, world shaking events happening so fast and so frequent from so many places, and the troubling events happening in Israel, it's hard to tell where things are headed. Can we see the master plan? Can we spot the key events before or while they are occuring (or will we only figure it out afterwards)?

    Yiddishkeit.Org posts these prophecies of note:

    The Talmud, Yoma 10a, states: Rabbi Yochanan said in the name of Rabbi Yehuda in the name of Rabbi Ilai: In the time to come, Rome will fall at the hands of Persia.

    The Yalkut Shimoni (midrash, compiled circa 500 c.e.) states: Rabbi Yitzchak said: The year that Melech HaMoshiach will be revealed, all the kings (leaders) of the nations will be struggling against each other. The leader of Persia will contest with a western leader and the western leader will go to Edom to get council from them.

    The leader of Persia will respond and destroy the entire world. All the nations of the world will be trembling and shaking and falling on their faces. They will be seized by pains like labor pains.

    The Jewish people will be trembling and quaking and saying: "Where can we go? Where can we go?" And [Moshiach] will say to them: my children, do not fear! Everything I did I did only for you! Why are you frightened? Don't be afraid--the days of your redemption have arrived!

    Rabbi Yonasan Eibshetz, ztvk"l, (1690-1764) states in his sefer: Yaaros Dvash: At certain moment the time will come when Moshiach should have already arrived but the redemption has not yet come. The Moshiach will ask how it could be that the time for redemption has arrived and he still undergoes sufferings? The response that he will receive is that he must wait for nine months. Why? In order to wait for the fall of Persia at the hands of Edom, and then the final redemption will come.

    This page from Yiddishkeit.Org led to some good investigation and learning by R. Nati and myself this evening. The Gemorrah and associated prophets have quite a lot to say about this, and G-d willing I'll write some of it up tomorrow.

    For now, when reading the above, keep in mind (as I discuss in this post) that Edom refers to the West, or more specifically America. Persia refers to Iran.

    Tying into the above, Rabbi Yess recently forwarded this article from WorldNetDaily...

    Three carrier battle groups are converging on the Persian Gulf. The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson has departed Singapore and is currently crossing the Indian Ocean, en route to the Middle East. The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt is also on the move, crossing the Atlantic Ocean, reportedly headed toward the Mediterranean.

    Reports are also circulating that the U.S. Navy has dispatched ships containing nuclear armaments to reinforce the battle groups. This will be the first time since February 2004 that the U.S. has had three major carrier groups stationed on or around the Middle East...

    READ IT!

    Friday, March 25, 2005

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    Audio Post: Meditative Music

    This post is a sample of some meditative music from Breslov Hassidus. The quality is a bit low, as audio posts are via phone. Let me know what you think.

    this is an audio post - click to play

    READ IT!

    Thursday, March 24, 2005

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    Politically Correct vs Morally Correct

    There is a point, a line if it were, of no return. Hashem says he withholds His judgment and provides mercy till this point. This point is called the pervertion of justice. Once crossing this line there is no return. It is there to provide us a chance to do t'shuva (repentance). But once we cross this line there is no hope of return. We see an example of this in Berayshis (Genesis) when we read the statement 'the fullness of the sin of the Amorite is not full or reach it fullness...'

    And now Am-Recha(a play on the name America) which literally means an empty or naked nation. a nation who's sole historical value was to provide a haven for justice has now turned it's back on this and crossed the line.

    Of course, I refer to the Terry Schiavo case. The American courts, all of them, from the lowest to the Supreme Court itself, have decided that's it's ok to starve to death this poor woman. Thus a precedent is set, no mercy.

    Hashem says He hears the call of the widowed, the orphan, the poor. This woman is for sure one of these cases. He hears and, I'm sure, judgment is to follow. And America heads towards it's destiny.

    He will remember this when they come for us in the our land, Israel, for as they do to themselves they shall surely do to us! This is a nation that is not a nation, a nation that our father's knew not. One who's sole existence was to provide a haven to His people and was founded for and on justice. Now they act as did Sodom. What mercy will be there for the righteous, for the Jews, when it becomes politically correct to rid itself of the inconvenient?

    Today I read an article "Throw them out like dogs". It described how the Jews of northern Shomron (northern West Bank towns) will be cast out of their homes and left on the street or jailed.

    The Mishna in Sotah, the 9th chapter, describes these times right before the coming of Moshiach (the righteous redeemer). "Children will rebel..." but then speaks of the Galilee, Gavlan, and the border areas in Israel. What it says of these areas is that the homeless of the Stachim (this frontier) will wander without anyone to show them mercy or to help them.

    Are we seeing this now about to happen? (G-d forbid!)

    As it's now politically correct to throw Jews out of their homes in Israel, what is the message to the world? If it's ok in Israel, why isn't it ok in Kansas, Kiev, London, and Paris (oh wait, it's already happening there, with Jews being attacked daily).

    We are the sons and daughters of Avraham (Abraham), Yitzchok (Issac), and Yaakov (Jacob). We have a spiritual inheritance, an ancentral moral basis.

    If we ourselves say to the world that this type of action is morally acceptable (and politically correct), how can we complain when they agree and do the same.
    READ IT!
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    Schiavo - Moral Value of a Nation

    From Blue-Eyed Infidel (warning, graphic language on this link):

    "Dear Terri Schiavo,
    Die already, vegetable.
    The Supreme Court of the United States"

    Meanwhile, the young woman's skin is cracking, her lips are peeling away, her nose is bleeding, her eyes are sunken in. Her brother says she looks like a concentration camp prisoner.

    Because apparently we live in a G.D.-(censored) BARBARIC society that allows innocent people to be starved to death - because the machines say there is no brain activity - although at the same time, because we are demonstrably batshit insane, we would collectively freak out if it were announced that from now on, death row inmates were to be killed in a way that caused any pain whatsoever beyond the prick of an IV needle. Because that would be 'cruel'.

    It is absolutely f-(censored) confounding.

    How do you measure the moral value of a nation? How many go to church/synogogue? How much charity is given?

    When things such as this have reached the U.S. Supreme Court and it fails to act for justice, we see (unfortunately) the true moral value of a nation.
    READ IT!
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    In the spirit of Purim (which includes joke telling and spoofs), Israel National News presents this timely article...

    Supporters of the disengagement are being provided a chance to show their solidarity with Israel in accordance with a new DJNF campaign (the JNF - Jewish National Fund, has run a campaign for generations to plant trees in Israel), it was announced this week.

    "For decades," states the promotional literature, "planting trees in Israel was the way you showed your support. Now, for the nominal fee of only $18.00 (plus $4.95 postage and handling), our dedicated staff of volunteers will personally uproot a growing tree in either Gaza or the West Bank."

    Supporters are thus offered a chance to take an active part in the Sharon government’s plan to rip out a flourishing, growing part of the Jewish homeland. "What better way to show the Palestinians that their years of terror were not in vain?" asks the DJNF.

    The DJNF offers supporters a chance to "commemorate that special event in your life or in the life of a loved one! After the tree has been pulled out by the roots, an appropriate plaque will be placed next to the gapping hole. Here is a real chance to show your support by having your name, or the name of a loved one, placed near a tree you helped destroy. You will also receive a certificate suitable for framing to prove to the world just how much you care about the land of Israel. (For a nominal additional fee of $10.00, we will even uproot a tree that was planted in the year of your bar/bat mitzvah.)"

    The DJNF offer also includes a warning: "Don’t be fooled by imitators! There are some organizations that will put your plaque on one of the thousands of holes made by Palestinian-fired Kassam missiles! Only a certificate bearing the DJNF logo will guarantee that a live tree has been ripped from the ground. So send in your donation now before the all the good trees are gone."

    All proceeds go towards the Keep the Sharon Family Out of Jail Legal Defense Fund.
    READ IT!
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    Audio Post: Devikut - Cleaving

    this is an audio post - click to play
    READ IT!

    Wednesday, March 23, 2005

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    Standing Together, Falling Apart

    We're here again in the time of year when we are to increase our simcha (joy), the Jewish month of Adar.

    However, it is increasingly difficult for me to do so, as I see that Amalek (may the name be blotted out) is winning the war (for the moment, as per the plan of Hashem).

    Once again Amalek comes and places doubt, has come to cause doubt in your mind. Once again the affected are the weak and the stragglers, those who can't or won't see that the geula (time of the redemption) is happening with or without them, try as they will to stop it.

    As they did in the Midbar (wilderness), (as written in the Torah) where they're only success was to prevent that dor (generation) from entering the promised land, Eretz HaKodesh, they're doing again.

    They failed then as will these in this day. Then they all died in the Midar (wilderness) of doubt and rebelliousness, losing the bracha (the blessing that had been promised), as was will be.

    I see in the news that there is a separation taking place, a sifting is happening. It's not first in Am Yisroel's (the nation/people of Israel's) history. The Erev Rav (mixed mulitude), the idol worshiper, the Hellenized, the Roman sympathizers, the assimulationists, the maskilim (enlightenment movement), and now the violently anti-religious (Shinui party).

    They'll try but won't succeed as all before them. They have chosen not to believe in the Creator, who is control of all the workings of this world. They are but a kli (a tool) in His hand performing His will.

    In the end they won't succeed because there will always be a remnant who will maamim (believe) and bitahon (trust) with emunah shalama (with faith that brings action).

    Achdut (unity), standing together as echad (one). This is how this battle must be fought, how this war must be won. Against us comes the Tsunami of Doubt. "If you will not harken to My voice the you will here the voices of your enemies".

    Just as Amalek has a primary weapon and mission, lehavdil, so do we. His is to place doubt in our colective minds by all the terrorism and lies spun by the governments (and news programs) of the world. We have the weapon of the truth, the torah, the tanach (prophets), and the ketuvim (writings), and our mission is the opposite of his. Where his is to spread lies, we're to spread the truth. We have a promise (among many ) "no weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every word raised against us we shall condem". That's a promise!

    (Below, wherever you see 'my', replace it with 'our', the 'me' speaking is the Jewish people...)

    Tehillim (Psalms) 27 - "Hashem is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? Hashem, He is the strength of my life, whom shall I dread? When the evildoers approached me to devour my flesh, oppressors and my foes, they stumbled and fell. If an army were to beleaguer me, my heart would not (should not) fear, if wars are to arise against me, in this I trust. One thing have I asked from the L-rd, this I seek: that I may dwell in the House of the L-rd (Eretz Hakodesh, the holy land of Israel) all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the L-rd and to visit in His sanctuary. For He will hide me in His Miskan (Tabernacle) on the day of adversity, He will conceal me in the secret places of His tent, He will lift me upon a rock. Then my head will be raised above my enemies around me, and I will offer in His tabernacle sacrifices of jubilation; I sing and chant to Hashem. Hashem hear my voice as I call, be gracious to me and answer me. Of you (Hashem) my hearts says, "Seek My countenance (face)". Your face I will seek, do not conceal Your face from me, do not cast away your servant (the Jewish people) in wrath; You have been my help (in every generation), do not abandon me nor forsake me, Elokim (G-d) of my deliverance. Though my father and my mother (and my country) have forsaken me, Hashem has taken me in. Hashem teach me your way and lead me in the path of righteousness, because of my watchful enemies.

    Do not give me over to the will of my oppressors, for there has risen against me (this is very important) false witnesses and they breathe (speak - from the headlines) VIOLENCE, they would have crushed me,

    (this is very very important) had I not believed that I would see the goodness of Hashem in the land of the living (a promise for now, not 2500 years ago)

    [here's the remez (secret) of how to survive this time of doubt] HOPE IN HASHEM, BE STRONG (even stubborn) AND LET YOUR HEART BE VALIANT, AND HOPE IN HASHEM
    READ IT!
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    Cool the Sanctity

    The book HaYom Yom, from Day to Day, daily is a source of deep insights that I find very profound...Thursday, 13 Adar II, 5765 - March 24, 2005...

    "Amalek came forth and fought with Israel at Refidim."

    "Refidim" implies "weakness of hands," Israel's neglect of Torah.

    When Jews become weak in Torah - and Torah study is directed to fulfillment - then Amalek comes and cools the Jew's ardor.

    "Amalek fought with Israel." The word "Israel" is an acronym in Hebrew for "there are 600,000 letters in the Torah"; (Every Jew has a letter in the Torah, and this is the reason for the universal Jewish custom of each person writing a letter in a Torah scroll.)

    Amalek cools this sanctity of Torah.

    The antidote for this is (Moshe's [Moses's] command to Yehoshua [Joshua]) "Choose men for us" - Moshe's men, and "In every generation there is an extension of Moshe," for in every generation there are the "heads of the thousands of Israel."

    "And go forth and fight Amalek."

    Note the verbs in singular form (addressing each individual), for Torah is eternal, equally relevant in every generation in every time and place.

    (Relating to the Torah, Sh'mot/Exodus 17:8-9)
    READ IT!
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    At Work

    R. Nati at work. Posted by Hello
    READ IT!
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    Boker - Neitz - Morning in the Shomron


    The blessed G-d, great in knowledge, prepared and made the radiance of the sun...

    2005-03-23nati 002

    the Beneficent One created glory for His Name

    2005-03-23nati 004

    Be blessed, Lord our G-d, in the heavens above and on the earth below, for all Your praiseworthy handiwork!
    READ IT!

    Tuesday, March 22, 2005

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    Purim Jokes and a Sad Story

    Aish has put out a cute Purim video short of jokes (click here) which asks the important question, How Many Kabbalists Does It Take To Change A Lightbulb?

    They also put out this sad but uplifting purim story, Purim in the Valley of Tears. Highly recommended.
    READ IT!

    Monday, March 21, 2005

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    Matanot Le'evyonim - Gifts for the Poor

    With the festival of Purim coming, one of the most important mitzvot of Purim is the mitzva of Matanot Le'evyonim, giving gifts (charity) to the poor.

    If you wish to fulfill this mitzva by helping the needy in Israel, I recommend this organization:

    Yad Eliezer - Matanot Le'evyonim Campaign Here

    Help them out!

    Repeated from an old post...

    Everyone says there is This World and the World to Come. We believe that the World to Come exists. It could be that This World also exists - somewhere. But here? From the suffering everyone goes through the whole time, it would appear that this is Gehenim. (Jewish purgatory a.k.a. hell, though not in the classical sense of other religions.)" - Rabbi Nachman of Breslov in Likutey Moharan 2:119.

    Yad Eliezer is currently the largest anti-hunger agency in Israel. And each day it struggles to fulfill the many requests for assistance that it receives. As Yad Eliezer’s executive director, Dov Weisel describes it, “Each month is it’s own miracle.”

    Exposure to the plight of the poor opens one to the almost insurmountable problems they face. Poverty is a lot more than a lack of funds to cover the budget. It is only a symptom of a whole host of layers upon layers of problems which can be called “the cycle of poverty”. By visiting the homes of those with not enough to feed their children, we find serious cases of undernourishment among children (especially babies). Children who resist going to school because they fear being laughed at by their peers because of the clothing they wear, and children who fall far behind in their studies as a result of a home environment that does not allow them to study.

    While Yad Eliezer cannot address every single aspect of this circle of poverty, we do extend ourselves wherever possible. Yad Eliezer offers sufficient food to prepare basic meals. We have addressed the issue of undernourished babies by distributing bay formula to mothers who cannot nurse and who have resorted to diluting the little formula they have to dangerously low levels. Yad Eliezer has an extensive program whereby vast quantities of perfectly good used shoes and clothing is distributed to children so their parents can clothe them with dignity. Our latest program is dealing with the social and educational needs of young boys who have no father figure in the home.
    READ IT!
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    Faith? Faith!

    Is faith such a foreign concept in Judaism? Or is it just, with a significant percentage of the Jewish population in the Western world, being surrounded by another religion that has major faith based fundamental principals, there's a natural Jewish tendency to create separation from dominant religious-cultural themes?

    From A Simple Jew...

    The arm tefillin represent physical action while the head tefillin represent the intellect. By putting on the arm tefillin first we are reconfirming our complete faith and commitment to Torah. When we accepted the Torah on Sinai - we first said that we would fulfill the Torah then we would listen to what it involves and try to understand its meaning. So too by tefillin, we bind them upon our arm as a sign that we fulfill the mitzvah simply because we were commanded to, then we place the tefillin upon the seat of our intellect - to say that even though we may not (yet) fathom their meaning nevertheless, we place our complete trust in Hashem.

    (Rabbi Shimshon Raphael Hirsch)

    (Source post here.)

    READ IT!
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    Doing vs. Thinking About It

    (A lesson in a story...)

    Before joining the select circle of the Baal Shem Tov's disciples, Reb DovBer – (known as) the Maggid (preacher) of Mezritch - had studied Kabbalistic teachings with a childhood friend. Years later, when he met his friend again, the Maggid was asked about his method of prayer. "Why do your prayers take such a long time?" his friend ques¬tioned. "I also pray according to the Kabbalistic meditations of the AriZal (the holy Ari, Rabbi Yitzchok Luria), yet my prayers take nowhere near as long as yours. What takes you so long to pray?"

    The Maggid did not immediately offer an explanation. Instead, he began conversing with his friend, inquiring after his welfare, his daily life, and his business. "Thank G-d, I spend my days immersed in Torah study," explained his friend. "My wife runs a small store that ably supports our family. However, once a year, during the annual country fair, I help my wife in running the busi¬ness. She supplies me with a detailed list of merchandise and a purse full of money."

    "I take my time traveling to the fair," continued the Maggid's friend. "I learn Torah every day during my journey, and only then do I continue traveling. Due to this, it takes me many weeks to get to and from the fair. When I finally come back home, my wife takes care of the merchandise and I return to my studies."

    "Such a waste of time!" exclaimed the Maggid. "I don't understand why you need to spend weeks traveling to the fair and home again. Why not just sit at home, closeted in your room, and imagine you are at the fair. Having traveled there every year, you are certainly familiar with the route, and you can picture yourself in the various stops and stations along the way. Visualize the entire trip there, the business dealings at the actual fair, and the journey home. Say to yourself, 'Now I am stopping at the first motel; now I am stopping at the second rest area,' until you have enumerated all the stops. Then say, "Now I have arrived at the fair; now I am taking out my purse to buy some; now I am checking if the merchant overcharged me ...'

    "If you do this," explained the Maggid, "the entire process will take merely a few hours, instead of many weeks!"

    "B-but I need the actual merchandise!" stammered his friend in confusion.

    "Really?" said the Maggid. "This is precisely the answer regarding the difference between your prayer and mine. Meditation alone hardly suffices when you need the 'actual merchandise.' Therefore, I am forced to pause in every stop within the Heavenly spheres, and this takes plenty of time."
    READ IT!

    Sunday, March 20, 2005

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    Yizkor - Remember

    Remember what Amalek did,
    or is that doing, right now?
    READ IT!

    Friday, March 18, 2005

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    Prophetic Thoughts: Divine Timing?

    The new blog Jerusalem Mandate writes:

    There are no coincidences. G-d is moving His chess pieces into position for the checkmate of human history.

    This reminds me of an excerpt from a letter purported to be from Rebbe Nachman (first and only grand rabbi of the Breslov hassidim) when in referring to the revelation of Mashiach he wrote (as I recall): "..and the sign will be, on the 17th of Tammuz (mid-summer Jewish fast day commemorating the breaching of the walls of Jerusalem) they will say you are not fasting."

    Mofaz Fears Failure, Cuts Expulsion Time to 3-4 Weeks

    ...Another obstacle to quick execution of the plan is the coincidence of the pullout period with two fast days during the traditional three week period in which Jews recall previous disasters in Jewish history. The first fast day (the 17 th of the month of Tammuz) falls on Sunday July 24, and continues until sunset. Three weeks later, on Saturday night, August 13, a 24-hour fast on the ninth of Av (Tisha B'Av) begins . The fasts will further complicate the planned expulsion because they immediately follow the Sabbath, during which Mofaz has promised the evacuation will cease.

    The emotions of a forced evacuation on the fast days, which are in memory of previous disasters in Jewish history during the same period, will make it difficult for defense forces to execute the operation on those days.

    Hot Comment added by the author of the End of Days blog:

    Rav Mordechai Eliyahu and other mekubalim have said that the turning point on the Gaza capitulation plan will take place between Purim and Pesach. G-d willing we will feast on the 17th of Tamuz.

    Original post here.
    READ IT!

    Thursday, March 17, 2005

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    Lessons from my child

    "Tatti, Tatti (daddy), my head hurts", cries out my 5 year old daughter this morning. She has an earache and a fever, she visited the doctor yesterday, of course her head hurts.

    "Hold on, we'll get you something" I reply, as my wife scrambles around the house to get the other kids ready for school. But I've got to get ready for work.

    "Tatti, Tatti, my head hhhhhuuuuuuuuuurrrrrtttttsss". Ugh, where'd she learn how to screech like that? I'm trying to get myself put together, please wait a few more minutes.

    "Come get into my bed", I snuggle her in all wrapped up. That usually works. Back to the routine.

    "Tatti, Ttttttaaaaaaaaatti" she cries. "Ok, here's your Leapster" (favorite toy) I say, that usually works.

    The Baal Shem Tov said there are 3 things we learn from a young child:

    1. They're always busy. (Make use of your time, every moment.)

    2. They're always happy {unless suffering a specific problem or need}. (Be happy.)

    3. When they fall, they cry out to their father. (When you fall, cry out to your Father in Heaven for help!)

    "Tatti, Ttttttaaaaaaaaatti" she cries again, bored with her toy. I lie down and snuggle up with her. The pain's not so bad, but being ignored is.

    She feels better after that, and so do I.
    READ IT!
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    Conversations that bring Introspection

    While commenting on another blog, where I often find myself challenging the cynical sarcastic critical positions taken against my community, I had this conversation (edited for readability):

    Akiva : Gotta clarify, I haven't the slightest idea what this is about. Or would you say that's because I'm Haredi and therefore must be ignorant?

    DovBear : ...and you're not a Haredi.

    Akiva : ...So, the black hat, untrimmed beard, long black coat, white shirts only, large family, overwhelming yeshiva tuition costs, no television, only chalav yisroel and pas yisroel, and I don't qualify as Haredi!

    Oy, Ribbono Shel Olam! Truly, you are a channel from heaven.

    I must examine my deeds, as my internal (as communicated through my messages) is obviously not matching my external.

    T'shuva! I must do t'shuva!

    (No, I'm really not kidding.)

    Amshi : Your not charedi your chabad!!!!! And we love you

    DovBear : You accept too much of the kabalistic hocus pocus to be a real haredi, I think. You seem very new agey to me.

    Shifra : Plus you are on the internet... and you seem kinda open minded to boot... Quick to the mikva with you before it's too late!!!


    While some would take the compliments from the above, rather I find myself forced to examine how I'm presenting myself (via my writing) if I'm giving the impression, at least to some cynical members of my (extended) community, that I'm not Haredi (a definition of significantly committed religious-cultural-ethnic practice level).

    This is an important thing to do on occasion, to look in the mirror and examine ones deeds, level, practice, etc.

    It's not, however, something I expected to be brought to through blogging.

    Indeed, I was not making a joke above when I said that the blogger who responded to me, DovBear, was acting as a heavenly messenger. I'm sure he'd be horrified to hear this.

    I am also saddened at the impressions and negative interactions some have had with some members of my (extended) community.

    Hashem Yazo (G-d should help), and so should we.
    READ IT!
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    Aish has a great article this week about the Sacrifices and relating to G-d, by Rabbi Ari Kahn. Here's an excerpt...


    Nachmanides (the Ramban) writes:

    But the true (Kabbalistic) path has an elusive mystical reason for korbanot ... the name of God exclusively used in regard to the korbanot is not "El" nor Elohim ... rather YHVH, the unique name, ... that no one should think that the korban is in order to feed God.

    Nachmanides reminds us that the name YHVH refers to the transcendent aspect of God; it is the name which indicates that God is beyond man’s understanding. The Torah employs this name in reference to the offerings --to the exclusion of all other names of God -- pointing up the incongruity of the idea of "God’s needs." The name Elohim, on the other hand, refers to God as judge, a concept which humans can grasp. Had this name of God been used in connection with offerings, one might have been tempted to imagine that a "bribe" is possible. But when we contemplate that the offerings are commanded by YHVH, we realize that no bribes can be offered.

    Additionally, YHVH -- the singular, timeless name -- refers to God's trait of existing outside of time. This may help us understand how forgiveness takes place: If a man sinned yesterday, and repented today, how can his present attitude undo that which he did yesterday?

    If we understand that God exists outside of time -- indeed, God created time -- when we try to reestablish a relationship with God, then time becomes less of a factor.

    When man connects with the transcendent God, "yesterday" becomes limited to the human perspective, which no longer confines him.

    Read the whole thing!
    READ IT!
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    Dangerous Teachers

    Real, Knowledgeable, and Inner Teachers

    Real: The second danger involves who one chooses to learn Kabbalah from. Even if a person is willing to live according to the Torah as part of the study of Kabbalah, he or she may nonetheless be receiving wisdom from an inauthentic source.

    Let us give some examples of false sources. If you go to see some so-called kabbalist and he starts performing all kinds of calculations on your name (and your spouse’s name) and his conclusion is that either your name is no good and has to be changed, or you are not a good match for your spouse, then you can be a hundred-percent certain that this person is a charlatan. You would do best to keep as far away as possible from someone like this. The Arizal impressed upon us that in our generations there is no longer any need for, or legitimacy in using practical Kabbalah.

    Knowledgeable: Secondly, there are many teachers who though they may mean well, are actually ignorant when it comes to the rest of the Torah. Because their knowledge of the revealed part of the Torah is so lacking, they cannot possible fully understand its concealed facets; consequently, whether consciously or unconsciously, they teach incorrect knowledge.

    Inner: Finally, an even more subtle flaw regarding the source of one’s learning is that many of the teachers teaching today only understand the external aspects of Kabbalah. The largest part of the Arizal’s teachings is based on the distinction between external and internal aspects of things.7 Even someone who knows the Torah and knows Kabbalah, may be wholly lacking an inner understanding of them. Inner understanding refers to being able to not only intellectually understand the meaning of the teachings of Kabbalah, but rather, as explained in length in Chassidut, to be able to experience them in a rectified and holy manner. An authentic teacher of Kabbalah understands and relays to his students that Kabbalah is not referring solely to external reality. Recognizing a teacher who understands the wisdom of Kabbalah in an inner manner is dependent on the student’s sensitivity to truth.

    The previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak, said something very important in this respect. If a person gets used to looking at the world externally, it ruins his or her ability to later acquire an inner point-of-view or perspective. It is as though the external perspective does some kind of mental or spiritual damage to the Divine soul.

    To explain this flaw a bit more, we may use the statement of the sages that a woman forms a bond only with the first man who makes her into a vessel (i.e., that she is intimate with).8 A teacher of the Torah is called a Rav. A teacher of the inner dimension of the Torah is called a Rebbe (with an additional Hebrew letter yud, at the end). The relationship between a student and a teacher of Kabbalah is like that between a wife and her husband. Thus, like a woman, you create a bond or intellectual covenant with the first teacher who inspires you with the teachings of Kabbalah. It is hard to break this bond—not entirely impossible, but very difficult.

    ...from, the writings of Rabbi Ginsburgh (hassidic kabbalist in Israel).
    READ IT!

    Wednesday, March 16, 2005

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    Seeing vs Believing


    I was looking at the news tonight and became dizzy with all the shtus (cow poop), Bush wants us to dismantle our country (Israel), the Arabs want us extinct(Jews), Canada wants our passports, all these things. But the truth is they are there only to blind us to the truth. It's a spiritual matrix. In this way Hashem (G-d) hides His involvement in the affairs of men. It's called hester panim (the hiding of the face). It causes all to appear natural (derek a teva), by natural means. This is to provide us the chance to have free will, for He is a just and righteous king and His justice is pure. We have to believe without seeing, this is called emunah (faith).

    But I believe so that I can see. It's only by believing that we may see clearly. What happens day to day in this world is a lie,( olam shecker) for the Torah of truth tells us what was and what is, and what will be. All we have to do is not to be distracted along the way.

    We are nearing the end of history. I know "they've said that for thousands of years". But I don't care what they say, I believe Hashem, and His word says differently.

    So I asked a question (previous post), have you found an answer? Are you comfortable with where you are? If not there is a path, and there are those of us who can help. But you have to take the first step. You have to decide to believe to such a degree that it becomes action, only when your belief becomes action (mahahsey) can you call it emunah (faith) and without emunah we can't see the truth.

    In the morning prayers there's a pasuk (verse) and I paraphrase "let man always fear heaven and speak the truth in his heart" Make sure you're not lying to yourself, because when we start to believe ourselves and/or CNN, Fox, ABC, CBS, NBC, and not the Word, then we're in the most dangerous of all places.

    The creator of the Heavens and the Earth He alone is King, He alone is truth, for it says "He is not a man that He should lie". So with all that is going on in this loud world of lies, find peace in the fact that there is a manager who sees hears and controls all. Trust in Him, and have the courage to believe in the quiet of His truth.
    READ IT!

    Tuesday, March 15, 2005

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    The first thing that one should ask before learning Kabbalah is what is the correct way to do this without endangering oneself due to the highly energetic (psychological) and consciousness altering (spiritual) power of this part of the Torah. Past experience provides many examples of people who lost their mind, or were psychologically hurt from studying Kabbalah in an inappropriate manner. Most of these individuals were not entirely stable to start with, nonetheless, there is no question that the improper study of Kabbalah contributed to some extent to their psychological breakdown.

    In our generation, this is less frequent, because those people who are not psychologically stable usually seek professional help of some sort and are in some kind of treatment program. Nonetheless, while many of the psychological dangers are no longer so much of an issue, spiritual dangers still exist. The spiritual dangers that we are speaking of are of the type that place a person’s spiritual and consequently physical well-being in jeopardy.

    Kabbalah Is a Part of the Torah as a Whole

    The first danger lies in the notion that it is possible to study Kabbalah without performing commandments (mitzvot). The Jewish people received the Torah at Mt. Sinai on the basis of their declaration “Na’aseh Venishmah,”1 which means “we will do and we will understand.” Doing creates vessels, while understanding brings light, or soul into these vessels. It is important to know that the ultimate purpose for which G-d created the world was the formation of vessels, by living a good life by emulating G-d—the essence of the Torah and its 613 commandments for Jews and 7 commandments for humanity.

    The attempt to have mystical experiences or even prophetic experiences without creating the proper vessels to contain them is hazardous, because it is like creating “a soul without a body.” Most times these experiences themselves are simply illusory, and there is nothing but the person’s imagination at work. But, if they do become real then in essence they are the equivalent of death, because that is essentially what “a soul without a body” is. The importance of creating vessels parallels the importance that the Torah places on life. In this sense, the Torah’s commandments “give life,” that is, they make life possible by forming the vessels into which the soul enters.

    The Torah tells us of great souls, like the two eldest sons of Aaron (Moses’ brother, and the High Priest) Nadav and Avihu, who were deeply immersed in the most profound mysteries of the Divine, yet, because they did not perform a commandment of G-d, perished while serving in the Tabernacle. In Kabbalah, their mistake is described as an overly enthusiastic “run” to G-d, without the anchor provided by the proper performance of commandments that allows the person to remain grounded, even while transcending to the highest levels of spirituality. This is the essence of the first danger: without being properly grounded through the performance of mitzvot, a person can easily lose touch with reality.

    We mentioned that from the time of the Ba’al Shem Tov, the study of the inner dimension of the Torah became permissible and even necessary for everyone, men and women alike. This is especially true of Kabbalah as it appears at its highest level of revelation, in Chassidut. Kabbalah as manifest in Chassidut is a must for all. The Lubavitcher Rebbe writes that the permissibility and advisability of studying Kabbalah as it appears in the Arizal’s Eitz Chayim depends on the level of yearning that each particular person has for this type of study. In order to safely enter into and depart from the figurative orchard, the pardes, it is necessary to be well protected from overly powerful energy and well-grounded in reality through a serious commitment to the entire Torah.

    The teacher must never give the false conception that commitment to the Torah as a whole is not required by someone wishing to learn Kabbalah. Nonetheless, the teacher has to know how to fulfill the Ba’al Shem Tov’s legacy that even those Jews who are still far from the Torah study this wisdom, even though many Jews who have grown up distant from the Torah are not initially willing to take on the commitment of performing commandments. The real teacher of Kabbalah has to know how to properly take the risk of bringing someone who is not yet ready to commit to the Torah as a whole closer to the Torah.

    ...from, the writings of Rabbi Ginsburgh (hassidic kabbalist in Israel).
    READ IT!
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    Wake Up!

    I've been a bit sidetracked from where I was going today. In the News was a small but very disturbing article. It was in fact a renforcement of an incident I had on way to visiting the U.S.

    I went to the U.S. consulate in East Jerusalem to renew my U.S. passport. I was asked for my Israeli ID (first time ever, and very odd as U.S. citizen services don't recognize foreign papers) to see where I lived. Seeing I'm from the Shomron (West Bank) I was very politely informed that soon citizen services (such as passport renewal) to Americans (though implied specifically American Jews) who live in the 'Occupied Territories' would be cut. I asked to see the citizen services manager, who performed quite a bit of back peddling, and said that this is pending State Department policy and was not to be said as of yet.

    I was, however, informed that I could only renew my U.S. passport in the continental U.S. or via the continental U.S., as all passport making equipment has been removed from overseas (via meaning the consulate forwards the request to Washington, who then forwards back the completed passport, at which point you return to the consulate to get your passport, which takes up to 2 months).

    I'm not the only one, I met others on existing, also from Yesha (the West Bank) who were protesting these type of changes (U.S. citizen services discrimination against American Jewish citizens who live in areas that the State Department has declared politically incorrect.)

    Today in the news I see that Canada is recalling the passports of Canadian citizens (specifically Jews) who where born in Jerusalem to remove the word Israel from their documenation (which states place-of-birth).

    This disconection of Jerusalem from Israel or vice versa is a grave error, but this reminds me of Tehillim (Psalms) 2: "Why do the nations gather in rage, and why do the peoples scheme in vain, why do the kings of the earth rise up, rulers assemble against the L-rd and against his annointed".

    All this brings me back to my question, "Where are you!" Ask your self? This alone should be motivation enough! And if not, maybe this will be: "and now therefore you kings, be wise, draw a lesson, you rulers of the earth; serve the L-rd in awe and rejoice with trembling. Yearn to purify yourselves (your heart) lest He be angered and you perish on the way, even if His wrath will blaze only but for a brief monent. Happy are we all who place our trust in Him."

    "Modei Ani"

    Wake up and say with full heart: "Henayni" Here I am!
    READ IT!

    Monday, March 14, 2005

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    A little background - Modei Ani

    A little background on Reb Nati's post for those unfamiliar with traditional Jewish prayer.

    This prayer: "I offer thanks to You, living and eternal King, for You have mercifully restored my soul within me; Your faithfullness is great" (or in transliterated hebrew : Modei Ani Lefanecha Melech Chai Vekayam Shehechezarta Bee Nishmati BeHemla Raba Emunasecha) is the waking Jewish prayer. It's said upon waking in the morning, while still in bed. It's the first prayer in the siddur (jewish prayerbook) and the second one taught to children.

    Unfortunately in some Kabbalah circles, where the selling of material is more important that the truth, this prayer is presented as 'The Morning Meditation'.

    Of course, as Reb Nati wrote, it indeed can be much deeper than a simple prayer said upon awakening.

    The Modei Ani Jewish Prayer, Page for adults (click for a larger view)...

    and, as this one says at the top, "as soon as a child can speak, his father should teach him" (click for a larger view)...
    READ IT!
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    Where are you?

    The answer should be, Modei Ani Lefanecha Melech Chai Vekayam (I offer thanks to you, Living and Eternal King), Shehechezarta Be Nishmati BeHemla Raba Emunasecha (for You have mercifully restored my soul within me, Your faithfulness is great).

    Every morning we must make an honest assessment, where are we? Look in the mirror and say, 'Where am I'. Because in the beginning the answer isn't Modei Ani (I offer), it's this personal circumstance or that private issue or this excuse, it's the urgent versus the important.

    When we come to a place that we're honest with ourselves, it doesn't matter where we are physically, emotionally, financially. We have to come to a place in ourselves where we speak truth in our heart. From there we can proceed. Only from there we can proceed.

    Modei Ani, I offer, is where we have to reach every morning. We're not offering our finances, we're not offering our circumstances, we're offering the "I". I offer. I offer myself.

    My faith. Emuna.

    Henaini. As Avraham (Abraham) said when G-d called to him, Henanai (here I am).
    READ IT!
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    Where are You?

    Where are you? Up, down, left right, sideways. The first question that's relevent in life is, where are you? Spiritually, emotionally, physically, financially, it doesn't matter. Whatever is relevent. Where are you?

    Think about this for a day or two, and I'll have another question for you.
    READ IT!
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    Running to Work

    A Jew once ran out of synogogue in the middle of his prayers, too rushed to finish. "Where are you running?" he was asked. "What could be so important that it prevents you from finishing praying?"

    "I am running to fulfill G-d's commandmant," he answered. "G-d commanded us to find work, to make a vessel in which His blessings can reside."

    "How do you know that you are running toward your source of livelihood?" retorted the others. "Perhaps you are running from it? Maybe your sustenance is not in front of you, but behind you! For example, it may be that in another few minutes someone will come here to offer you employment..."
    READ IT!

    Sunday, March 13, 2005

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    New Blogger Joining the Path

    I'm honored and pleased to announce that a good friend of mine, Reb Nati, will be joining me occasionally with some posts to this blog.

    Reb Nati is an orthodox rabbi and a student of multiple hassidic and mystical traditions. He's also located in the Shomron (West Bank) and will have some political and observational insights that the regular news won't offer.

    I hope you enjoy his insights as much as I do in our conversations.
    READ IT!

    Friday, March 11, 2005

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    Reb Lazer's famous video.

    Hasidic Gentile offers a link to Reb Lazer Brody's famous video:

    Click here.
    READ IT!
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    Reb Lazer is Back Online

    Rabbi Lazer Brody is back online with his extremely well regarded blog, "Lazer Beams: An invigorating spiritual journey with Rabbi Lazer Brody up The Trail to Tranquility".

    Keep an eye out as Rabbi Brody's posts are always attention getting.
    READ IT!
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    A Vessel

    The book HaYom Yom, from Day to Day, daily is a source of deep insights that I find very profound...2 Adar II, 5765 - March 13, 2005...

    A B'racha (a blessing) must have a hold in something, [A blessing has no effect in a vacuum] just as rain benefits only the plowed and sown field, and early and later heavy rains benefit the crops of field or vine. But a waste field, unplowed and unsown, will benefit from neither soft rain, nor the early or later heavy rains.


    This lesson teaches us that to receive a blessing, one must create a vessel. This is done by performing mitzvot and good deeds, creating a merit to contain / hold / draw in the blessing. (Contain, to receive it, Hold, to keep it, Draw In, at the highest level to actually bring it.)
    READ IT!

    Thursday, March 10, 2005

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    Newborn euthanasia?!

    MSNBC reports...

    In 2002, doctors at University Medical Center Groningen (Netherlands) helped create the so-called Groningen protocol, a list of standards for performing and reporting euthanasia of newborns with serious, incurable deformities. The aim was to encourage more reporting and discussion.

    “Do we have them continue life in suffering or do we end the life and end the suffering?”

    Full article here.

    Do we have the right to consider such a decision (terminating life because it's not sufficiently worthy)? (No.)
    READ IT!
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    A Word about Purim

    My daughter was selected by her school to give a D'var Torah (a word of Torah) as part of this Motzie Shabbat (Saturday night) school celebration of the coming of the month of Adar and soon arrival of the festival of Purim.

    Here's what we came up together (credit to the writings of the Rebbe's [grand rabbi's] of Lubavitch chassidim):

    Are you afraid?

    Israel is in danger. Terrorists, non-religious government.
    Terrorists threaten America.

    Mordechai refused to bow down. He was not afraid.

    Why not? Because he was "Mordechai Hayehudi" (Mordechai the Jew). Yehudi (Jew)? He was from shevet Binyomin (the tribe of Benjamin, he should have been called Mordechai HaBinyomini, Mordechai the Benjaminite)! "Yehudi" is from "hoda'ah", meaning "to acknowledge". By refusing to bow to Hamon harasha (harasha=the evil), and the idol he wore, the Talmud says "when a person rejects idols, it's like he acknowledge the whole Torah". Yehudi, Yehudim, Jews, acknowledge the whole Torah.

    We do not bow, generation after generation, we stand with Torah.

    That's Purim.

    Halacha says, "One who reads the Megillah backwards has not fulfilled the mitzva of reading Megillah."

    The Baal Shem Tov says a special meaning, if you read the Megillah thinking it's only about the past (backwards), you missed the point, instead it's about how a Jew should be at all times, now as in the past.

    A story from Russia. There was a revolution, communists. They made Torah and mitzvot against the law.

    In the city of Rostov, the 5th Rebbe of Lubavitch was with his yeshiva.
    Purim came, the students came to the Rebbe, what to do?

    The Rebbe said, "For the sake of Purim, we'll forget the situation. Go and buy drinks and let there be light for the Jews!"

    They had a Purim party (a farbrengen).

    Suddenly the police came and started banging on the door.

    Said someone "Rebbe, the police are demanding to come in. If they see us gathered here it will be our end...G-d forbid."

    The Rebbe said, "Open the door for them".

    In the doorway stood two tall and scary policemen. "What is this gathering? What is going on?"

    "This is the Rebbe Sholom Dovber of Lubavitch. He is teaching Torah to his Chasidim. The Rebbe is busy with his talk and he cannot be bothered."

    The two police were amazed at the Chasid's nerve, and they turned and left.

    "An open miracle!" the Chasidim exclaimed to one another. They felt protected and sang with greater energy. Thus passed two hours.

    So in their joy, they did not hear the police knocking again... "Rebbe, what shall we do?" several scared Chasidim cried out.

    The Rebbe said, "Open for them! I don't fear them." The Chasidim understood that another great miracle was about to occur.

    The police burst through the door, their weapons in hand. The Rebbe ignored their threatening presence and said,

    "We will begin saying some words of Torah." The Rebbe raised his voice and began, "Amalek is first among the nations but his end will be destruction."

    The faces of the police softened. The swords returned to their sheaths, and they watched with growing perplexity as the Chasidim listened to their Rebbe. They looked at one another and then, without a word, turned and left...
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    A Little Site Trouble

    Not sure what is going on today, but Blogger (the host of this blog) is having a variety of intermittant problems today.

    If you can't get through or see odd results, please try again later.

    Sorry for any inconvienence.
    READ IT!

    Wednesday, March 09, 2005

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    Jacob and Israel

    "Whenever the prophets refer to Yaakov (Jacob) or the children of Yaakov, the prophets are referring to the Jewish people located within the nations of the world. Whenever the prophets refer to Yisroel (Israel, the name not the country) or the children of Yisroel (Israel), the prophets are referring to the Jewish people located within the land of Israel."

    -- as heard from Rabbi Kinstein
    READ IT!

    Tuesday, March 08, 2005

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    Solar versus Lunar Cycles

    A nice article from Arutz Sheva on the lunar cycle versus the solar cycle, in people and Kabbalah...

    A young scholar from New York was invited to become the rabbi of a small old Chicago community. On his very first Sabbath, a hot debate erupted as to whether one should or should not stand during the reading of the Ten Commandments.

    The next day, the rabbi visited 98-year-old Mr. Katz in the nursing home.

    "Mr. Katz, I'm asking you, as the oldest member of the community," said the rabbi, "what is our synagogue's custom during the reading of the Ten Commandments?"

    "Why do you ask?" asked Mr. Katz.

    "Yesterday, we read the Ten Commandments. Some people stood, some people sat. The ones standing started screaming at the ones sitting, telling them to stand up. The ones sitting started screaming at the ones standing, telling them to sit down."

    "That," said the old man, "is our custom."

    Sun People and Moon People

    Some of my teen-age students are stable, firm and consistent. What was yesterday will be tomorrow. They are in control of their schedules, patterns and interactions. They can be defined as sun-characters. As sure as tomorrow's sunrise, I am sure to encounter them tomorrow in the same mode I encountered them today. They shine today and they will shine again tomorrow.

    Others are moon-personalities. Some days they shine beautifully, illuminating us with their warm glow and soulful mystique. Yet, at other times, they become invisible. Sometimes I gaze at them and I see light; at other times I look at them and I encounter darkness.

    These are the moon people - those human beings whose psychological, moral and spiritual selves fluctuate continuously. Like the moon, at some point in the month they are well-rounded, wholesome and marvelous to look at. They generate light and warmth to their environment. At other times they are half-lit, half-inspired, half-involved in life. There are times when their light is thin and miniscule, barely seen and appreciated. And at some point during the month, they enter into the "dark haze", disappearing from the horizon completely, offering not a trace of light, not a glimmer of hope.

    Which one of these two personalities would you prefer to be? And if you are frustrated with your "moon" personality, should you strive to become a "sun", or should you just resign to your unstable moon-condition?

    Nice article (a bit complex on the calendar calculations). Full article, click here.
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    Truth is the middle path

    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).

    For Tuesday, 27 Adar I which is equivalent to the english date March 8, the Rebbe writes about a saying of his father, the 5th chassidic leader of Lubavitcher hassidim...

    My father said: Truth is the middle path. An inclination to the right, to be overly stringent with oneself and find faults or sins not in accord with the truth, or an inclination to the left, to be overly indulgent, covering one's faults or being lenient in demands of Avoda [service to G-d] out of self-love - both these ways are false.
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    Monday, March 07, 2005

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    Incarnation, the Past and the Future

    When a new disciple would come to the Ba’al Shem Tov, the first question he was asked was “what do you remember?” The Ba’al Shem Tov was jingling the deepest levels of the new disciple’s soul preparing him for the study of Chassidut. In the Arizal’s Kabbalah there was also “memory triggering” but it involved “recollecting” one’s previous incarnations, which of course do not reveal the soul’s existence as it was before the creation of the world, when it was still an actual part of G-d, the yechidah, the singularity aspect of the soul.

    A well-known Chassidic story illustrates this point well:

    After the Maggid of Mezheritch passed away (the Maggid was the Ba’al Shem Tov’s successor), the disciples each looked for a Rebbe to follow. The eldest of the disciples was Rebbe Menacham Nachum of Chernobyl. Rebbe Shneur Zalman, the founder of Chabad, did not follow his close friend Rebbe Nachum, but instead looked to Rebbe Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk for guidance. Rebbe Shneur Zalman and Rebbe Nachum would visit one another once a year on Sukot.

    On one of those visits, when they were sitting and discussing the deep mysteries of the Torah in the sukah, Rebbe Nachum asked Rebbe Shneur Zalman: “Why did you take Rebbe Menachem Mendel as your Rebbe and not me?”

    Rebbe Shneur Zalman replied: “I once saw him when he was giving audience and I realized that everything that the person seeking his council had done in his life was known to him.”

    Rebbe Nachum shrugged as if to say that he too saw past actions.

    Rebbe Shneur Zalman continued: “I then realized that not only could he see all his actions in this present lifetime, he also was aware of all of the person’s previous incarnations since the six days of creations.”

    Rebbe Nachum shrugged again.

    Finally, Rebbe Shneur Zalman said: “In the end I realized that not only could he see his past actions and past incarnations, he could also see everything that this soul was destined for in the future until the coming of the Mashiach and after.”

    At that moment Rabbi Nachum raised his brows in wonder, thereby acknowledging Rabbi Shneur Zalman's choice of a Rebbe, but the conversation abruptly ended, as the Chassidim, who had been intently listening to the holy words of the two tzadikim from on top of the sukah, suddenly moved and were heard...

    ...from, the writings of Rabbi Ginsburgh (hassidic kabbalist in Israel.
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    Doublespeak of the Day - AP Report on Attack in Hebron

    Have we truly entered the era of George Orwell and 1984? Doublespeak at it's best:

    AP - Palestinians Open Fire at Israel Army Post

    Palestinian militants shot and wounded two Israeli border policemen Monday in an attack on a military post near a West Bank shrine, the latest attempt to disrupt a delicate cease-fire.

    Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, reacting to the attack, said Jews would continue to live and pray in Hebron, endorsing the settler presence in the tense city.

    Article here.

    That happened, or, maybe this happened...

    Shortly before 9:00am, an Arab terrorist sprayed gunfire at Israelis standing at the entrance to the Machpela Cave, the tomb of the Biblical Patriarchs in Hevron. Four people were injured including a Border Guard soldier who sustained serious wounds.

    The terrorist emerged from the crowded Hevron kasba market to perpetrate the attempted murder.

    Article here.

    So, either a military post near a shrine was attacked or the enterance to the 2nd most holy site in Judaism was sprayed with automatic gunfire (the guards jumping to the front to protect the worshippers, getting shot in the process), with the attacker taking advantage of Jewish & Western sensibilities by firing from inside a crowd to prevent response (as of course Jewish soldiers aren't going to slaughter a crowd to get at 1 attacker, even at the cost of their own lives).

    And the Prime Minister stating that Jews will continue to pray at the Tomb of the Patriarchs, the 2nd most holy site in Judaism, the site specifically mentioned in the bible as personally purchased by Abraham for family and generational use (the ultimate property deed), is "endorsing the settler presence"???

    The AP article is despicable. Even Reuters (article here) was reasonable (at least in comparison to the AP).

    (Cross posted to Israpundit and Mystical Paths.)
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    News: Atheism in decline worldwide

    From (article here)...

    There seems to be a growing consensus around the globe that godlessness is in trouble.

    "Atheism as a theoretical position is in decline worldwide," Munich theologian Wolfhart Pannenberg told United Press International Tuesday.

    His Oxford colleague Alister McGrath agrees. Atheism's "future seems increasingly to lie in the private beliefs of individuals rather than in the great public domain it once regarded as its habitat," he wrote in the U.S. magazine, Xianity Today.

    Two developments are plaguing atheism these days. One is that it appears to be losing its scientific underpinnings. The other is the historical experience of hundreds of millions of people worldwide that atheists are in no position to claim the moral high ground.

    This would, in most religious communities of whatever type, be considered a good thing, except...

    Zulehner cautions, however, that in the rest of Europe re-Xion is by no means occurring. "What we are observing instead is a re-paganization," he went on, and this worries Xian theologians such as Munich's Pannenberg and the Rev. Gerald McDermott, an Piscopal priest and professor of religion and philosophy at Roanoke College in Salem, Va.

    For although in every major European city except Paris spirituality is booming, according to Zulehner, this only proves the emergence of a diffuse belief system, Pannenberg said, but not the revitalization of traditional Xian religious faith.

    Observing a similar phenomenon in the United States, McDermott stated that the "rise of all sorts of paganism is creating a false spirituality that proves to be a more dangerous rival to the Xian faith than atheism."

    After all, a Stanist is also "spiritual."

    Hmm, re-paganization? Rather odd, have to consider it in context of the various propetical writings previously presented on this blog.
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    Interesting, Rabbinical Authority Consortium of HACKers

    Well, this is one of the more odd blog titles I've encountered, The Rabbinical Authority Consortium of HACKers.

    The posts can be interesting, and they've got some good links (they link here :-).

    Check them out.
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    Technical Changes

    I've made a few changes to the blog, hopefully you'll find them of some value.

    • The Israel National News headlines box has been dropped. While I liked it, to display it required that you're computer load another program (the Java runtime), and this made the blog pause during loading for some seconds. Tell me what you think (or if you even noticed), add a comment.

    • Blog Search Added. You can now search this blog's archives via a blog search. If you scroll down a bit you'll see a Search Posts box on the right side in the Key Posts section. If you're looking for more info on a given topic you may find some other posts on it. Try it out. Courtesy of Technorati.
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    R. Ginsburgh - The Road to Prophecy

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

    The Road to Prophecy - Let us now see how the 5 stages of the development of Kabbalah relate to the 5 aspects of the soul:

    vital - nefesh (natural faculties)
    spirit - ruach (emotional faculties)
    breath - neshamah (mental faculties)
    life - chayah (super-rational faculties)
    singularity – yechidah (one with G-d)

    As mentioned, the 5 stages of Kabbalah constitute an unfolding of the Jewish consciousness. We find in the prophets that real prophecy will return to the Jewish people just before the final redemption. Essentially this is not only a sign of the coming redemption, it is also a prerequisite. As we mentioned in the beginning, Kabbalah is actually the unification of wisdom with prophecy and is what prepares the Jewish people for the return of prophecy.

    The first text, Sefer Yetzirah, talks about the different phenomena of nature (the seasons, the days of the week, the planets, the human body, etc.) and corresponds them with the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, thus it corresponds with the revelation of the natural, vital (nefesh) aspect of the soul.

    The second text, the Zohar, when stripped of the deep contemplative explanations offered on this text by the later stages and read at face value, has the special power to arouse the spirit (ruach) of the soul. As stated by one of the Rebbe’s of Chabad, as a text, there is nothing like the Zohar to arouse a person’s emotions. Of course, the spirit aspect of the soul includes the emotional faculties.

    The Kabbalists of the third stage, epitomized by the Ramak and his work, sought to use their mental faculties to comprehend the inner mysteries of the Zohar. This stage was continually underscored by Judaism’s greatest philosophical text, Maimonides’ Guide to the Perplexed (Moreh Hanevochim). The ideal was to unify the Zohar’s esoteric wisdom with the Jewish philosophical tradition; to unite Kabbalah with Chakirah (Jewish philosophy). The neshamah aspect of the soul1 contains its mental faculties, which unfolded and reached an apex during this stage.

    The new revelation of the Arizal taxes the mind’s faculties to the limit, but more importantly it challenges the soul to go beyond the mind’s rational approach. Its essence is super-rational, though the Arizal did present this essence in intellectual terms. Unlike reading the Zohar which leads to an emotional experience, reading the Eitz Chayim requires a deep intellectual endeavor, which still leaves a sense of being something beyond the intellect. Thus the Arizal’s Kabbalah serves to unfold the level of soul’s aspect of chayah. The chayah is described as having the quality of “touching/not-touching” (noge’a v’eino noge’a); it hovers ever so closely to our mind, yet always eludes it.

    The final revelation is known in Chassidic tradition as the “soul of the Kabbalah of the Arizal,” or the “soul of the soul of the Torah” (nishmeta lenishmeta de’orayta). The classic text of Chassidut is the Tanya, written by Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi. One of the most important teachings in the Tanya is that the Jewish soul is an actual part of G-d (cheilek elokah mima’al mamash). Though this thought appears in earlier Kabbalistic texts (in various formulations), it was never stated so unequivocally and had not yet formed the basis for an entire conceptual scheme as it does in the Tanya. What this statement says is that we have an eternal continual connection with G-d, and that every action that we do reflects the essence of the Divine. Chassidut thus reveals the level of Divinity before the initial contraction of G-d’s infinite light that allowed the creation of finite reality; Chassidut thus reveals the infinite capacity of the Jewish soul. In order to understand how novel a revelation this is, the Arizal did not expound regarding the stages that came before the initial contraction. It was left to Chassidut to reveal and unfold these stages, in virtue of the fact that the essence of our Divine soul was indeed there. Chassidut is revealing a pristine, unconscious memory of the soul before creation.

    (Continued in a future post)
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    Friday, March 04, 2005

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    Lazer Brody's Weekly Thought - Politics

    To my favorite people, may Hashem bless you and keep you always!

    A Chassidic tale says that a "shadchan", or matchmaker, succeeded to pair up Dishonesty with Treachery. A year after the wedding, Treachery gave birth to her firstborn son. They named him "Politics".


    I care very much about your good health and wellbeing. Therefore, please don't allow politics or the news worry you. In fact, the less time you spend reading newspapers and listening to news broadcasts, the happier and healthier you'll be. Why? Hashem runs the world, and only He can and will decide what will happen to each and every one of us. Besides, ritual impurity enters the soul just as fast via the eyes and ears as it does via the mouth. That means that people are liable to contaminate themselves by listening to a dishonest and treacherous politician as they would by eating forbidden foods.

    From a spiritual standpoint, politicians are powerless, here today and gone tomorrow. Try this test: Take a bucket of water, and vigorously splash with your arm inside it for a few seconds. Now remove your arm; in less than twenty seconds, the water will be as calm as if nothing ever happened. In like manner, so many national "leaders" make a lot of noise, but as soon as they leave the stage (as they all eventually do), the world returns to normal, as if they were never here.

    The saintly Klausenberger Rebbe of blessed memory once told a story about getting into a cab; the taxi had a second steering wheel on the right side. The Rebbe asked the driver what the second steering wheel is for. The driver answered that whenever he takes his 5 year old son in the car, the little tike drives him crazy by grabbing the wheel, honking the horn, etc., to the point that it was becoming dangerous. One day, when the taxi was in the garage for a tuneup, the driver saw an old steering wheel lying around in a junk heap. He had it installed. Now, whenever he takes his son in the cab, the little guy is preoccupied with his own steering wheel. "Now I can drive peacefully," said the driver, "because my boy is busy turning his own wheel, waving out of the window to other drivers, and yelling 'varoom-room' every time we accelerate."

    The Rebbe later said that he learned a fantastic lesson from the extra steering-wheel episode in the taxi. Hashem gives politicians - most of whom have the spiritual maturity of 5-year olds - the feeling that they're running the world. The make a lot of noise and hold what they think is the helm. In reality, they're doing nothing. We all know who's really doing the driving..."

    * * * * *

    In light of the above anecdote, we don't need to worry about what Bush, Ms. Condy Rice, Sharon, or Abbu Marzipan is saying or doing. We don't need to worry about disengagement or a Palestinian state. Personally, I don't want to see a human lose his/her home anywhere in the world, especially a Jew in Israel. Therefore, I pray every day asking Hashem to make everything work out for the best, so that 9,000 wonderful people in Gush Katif and in Northern Shomron won't have to lose their homes. No politician has a solution to the mess over here. Yet, this is the month of Adar, with Purim soon on the way; this is the season when Hashem turns everything around for the best. Our job is to beef up our prayers and our faith.

    Apropos prayer, a very special young wife and mother in New Jersey needs our prayers to overcome a nasty sickness in her trigeminal nerve. Let's pray that Hashem sends Shaina Chana Bas Itcha a quick and speedy recovery, amen.

    This week's "Lazer Flash" is sponsored by The Lener family of East Brunswick, New Jersey. May the mitzva of Torah Outreach protect them and their children always, amen. Have a wonderful Shabbat and weekend,

    Yours always with warmest regards from sunny Israel, Lazer Brody
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    Thursday, March 03, 2005

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    Vendyl Jones: History is Prophecy! 2005 is The Year! See the Pattern!

    Vendyl Jones writes about the historical pattern of events around Israel, which he predicts will repeat in 2005!

    (A previous post about Vendyl Jones and his finding items from the First Beit HaMikdash (Jewish Holy Temple) here, and his web site and additional info here.)

    This is an excerpt from a pamphet he publishes titled "Vendyl Jones and The Dead Sea Scrolls", which can be ordered by calling his research institute at contact info here. Also note on his web site a new book on the topic coming out this month, click here.


    Several weeks ago on Pal Talk, I related how that I had published a paper in 1959 stating that the then "Undeveloped Jewish Stale of Israel" would be­come a fully recognized Nation in 1961 and sit at the Table of Nations in the U.N. There would be a war in Israel in 1967 between Passover and Sha-vuot —— probably on or about Lag-B-Omer the 33 day between Passover and Shavuot. (fifty days af­ter Passover). The Adolph Eichman Trial brought Israel to the Table of the Nations in 1961, which was Israel's Bar-Mitzvah of years at the age of 13.

    The 20th year of Israel as a "Man of War", Num­bers 1:3 "From 20 years old and upward, all that are able to go to war in Israel, Aaron shall num­ber them by their armies. Therefore, I calculated that May 14, 1967 would be the year of "The War of Liberation ". It was exactly on that day that Nasser moved his Egyptian Forces into the Sinai that resulted in the Six Days War.

    Calculated on the concept that "If History repeals itself —— then History itself is Prophecy!". Israel is different from all other nations in many, many ways. The greatest difference between Israel and all other nations is that Israel is the only Nation whose History was written before it happened! Accordingly, I took the pivotal time sequence of events and years of Israel's First Commonwealth and conjectured them over the Third Commonwealth and the repetition of events were, and con­tinue to be astonishing! There was one thing that I missed in my observations and our friend of many years, Miriam Ben Ya'acov, filled in the gap be­tween 1967 and the year 2005.

    This specific year, 2005 intercalates perfectly with Miriam Ben Ya'acov's insight on the 38 years of wilderness wandering.

    Two years after the Exodus in 2448 (1312 B.C.E.), the Torah had been given at Mount Sinai and the Tabernacle finished. Israel arrives at Kedesh Barnea in the year 2450.

    G-D commanded Israel to go into the Land of Ca­naan and to take it. The enemies would flee and they could take the land without having to fight for it. Conversely, when the spies brought back an evil report and caused the people to fear. Any vacancy of the fear of G-D in the hearts of men will in­stantly filled by the fear of man.

    G-d, therefore sentenced Israel to wander in the wilderness for 38 years. During those 38 years of the wilderness wandering, they were under con­stant attacks by the terrorist of Amalek, who mer­cilessly and constantly murdered the elderly, the women and the children. Furthermore, the sur­rounding nations at that time did not care how many Jews the Amalek terrorist killed!

    At the end of those 38 years wandering, they crossed the Jordan in the 10th day of the month (April 1st) in 2489 (1271 BCE) and camped at Gilgal. Now, this time they had to fight to liberate the Land of the Hebrews from the insurgent Canaanites.

    In the reoccurrence of Israel's Third Common­wealth, the 1967 Six Days War was a replay of the experience of Kedesh Barnea! If Israel had gone in and occupied the land in 1967 the enemies would have fled as they fled in 1948.

    On the contrary, because of the evil reports of Moshe Dayan, Motti Gur and Golda Meir and other Labor Party Leaders who have no fear of G-D! And because of the totally empty vacancy of the fear of G-D in the hearts of the Socialist Labor Party leaders, their hearts were filled with the "the fear of world opinion".

    They made the exact same mistake as their ances­tors at Kedesh Barnea. Therefore, it is no wonder, that Israel has been forced to wander for these 38 years under constant attacks from the very same Amalek Terrorist. The year 2005, will be 38 years form 1967! Is it again time to return to Gilgal?

    On that year , and on that date April 1st 2005, we believe that the Tabernacle will be returned to Gilgal! We found the Holy Anointing Oil on April 1 1998. We found the Holy Incense on April 1st 1992. We found Gilgal on April 1st, 1994. Is this perhaps G-D'S "April Fool's Joke on the world?"
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    Wednesday, March 02, 2005

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    Siyum HaShas - The completion of/start of the Talmudic learning cycle

    Thanks to the kindness of a cousin, I had the privilege of attending the Siyum HaShas this evening in Madison Square Garden in New York City. Over 120,000 religious Jewish men and women took part in this celebration of the completion of/start of the Talmudic learning cycle, the Daf Yomi (page-a-day).

    2005-02-EliTrip 069

    Pictures from the Siyum HaShas. Unfortunately my pocket camera was not up to taking as good a picture as I had hoped, given the lighting and size of the place.

    It was an inspiring evening.
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    Tuesday, March 01, 2005

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    Kavanot (intentions) and Prayer

    The book HaYom Yom, from Day to Day, daily is a source of deep insights that I find very profound...11 Adar I, 5765 - February 20...

    The following is well-known and is a tradition, regarding the Kavanot
    (mystical "intentions") in Davening [prayer]:

    For those intellectually incapable of meditating on those Kavanot
    (either because they lack knowledge, or because they cannot
    remember the specific Kavanot during prayer) it is sufficient
    that they keep one general Kavana in mind:

    That his prayer be heard by G-d, with all the Kavanot described in the
    Kabala literature.

    For more on Kavanot, see here (Medatative) and see this post about Rav Kaduri.
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